Archive for the ‘real estate’ Category

Why is Home Inventory Scarce (even in San Diego County)?

Monday, February 1st, 2016

If you are a buyer you have likely noticed that inventory is scarce right now, in San Diego county as well as many other areas. As we head into the Spring/Summer “busy” home selling season, many wonder whether the inventory will pick up, and that has some buyers and sellers worried. For sale

Here are some of the likely reasons why inventory levels remain low right now:

1. Rate increases. In December of 2015 the feds slightly raised interest rates, with the hint that more increases would follow. Many buyers got off the fence and are not out looking for houses before any further increases might price them out of the buyer market. This could be good news for sellers, but it seems they are not jumping to list their properties – likely because they are concerned with finding replacement property themselves.

2. Buyer inability to qualify for a loan. Many buyers may not be able to qualify for loans. Price increases in 2015 and mortgage interest rate increases could cut out the ability of some buyers to qualify.

3. Sellers don’t want to give up prop 13 tax basis. Some sellers may not want to list their properties because they could lose their Proposition 13 tax benefits if they sell – especially if they purchased their homes when prices were lower, the assumption being that a new home purchased will  be priced higher and thus have a higher tax base.

4. Sellers worry they won’t find replacement property. This was mentioned above, and it is a Catch-22 situation: sellers may have plenty of interested buyers and great offers, but they are afraid because of the lack of inventory available for finding replacement property; thus many sellers stay put.

5. U.S. and foreign economic issues. Although this may not play into selling and purchasing decisions as much as some of the other reasons, it could be a deal breaker for some buyers/sellers, who may perceive threats in the economic system and decide it is best to stay put until things feel safer.

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The bottom line is that we do not know how the inventory will be affected as we head into 2016. Buyers who are qualified should probably focus on finding properties sooner rather than later, if they want to avoid interest rate hikes. Sellers who have replacement property, are moving out of the area, or must sell for other reasons will likely find themselves in a great position to sell. Make sure to talk to a knowledgeable and experienced local area agent and mortgage professional to understand what it going on in your hyper-local market, so you know when is the best time for you to buy or sell real estate.

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Keeping the “Real” in Real Estate

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

The real estate business has definitely evolved over the last few decades, with the growth of technology being the main contributor. But when it comes down to it, working with a real estate agent is not just about finding a savvy salesperson, but rather it is about finding someone who truly has your best interests at heart and is willing to work hard to find the right property or sell your home, at the right price, with the best terms. It is not so much a sales relationship as it is a trusted adviser relationship. An agent plays many roles throughout the buying and selling process – researcher, chauffeur, adviser, negotiator, paperwork coordinator, and therapist – to name a few. For sale

As they always will, many people try to come up with ways to find and convert “leads” to clients, from advertising to cold calling to handing out cards to people all day long and asking for referrals from past clients, friends and family members. In the last year I have seen some interesting attempts to woo potential buyers and sellers, and although I am impressed with those who are trying hard, I must say I have been surprised at some of these methods:

1.  Recorded Calls: I received my first recorded sales call from a real estate agent last year. I was surprised because the agent, who had a lot of enthusiasm, sounded like he was trying to sell me a used car. He went on and on about how he could help me buy or sell a home, and about his strengths as an agent. Now, I must say that selling real estate is not difficult – anyone can do it. BUT not everyone can do a great job at taking care of the PEOPLE, the clients. I have always said that this business is not about houses, it is about people.

2.  Print Marketing: Marketing via mail and email has always and will continue to be a very strong way for the real estate agent to get business – s/he creates a lovely flyer or brochure and lists skills and past sales and testimonials to make her/him look amazing. S/he even uses words like “Number 1 agent” and “Top agent,” “sold more homes than anyone else.” The trick is that many agents can say these things by putting a spin on the information, and these statements can be true.

justice-scalesMany of these advertisements actually constitute ethical violations in my opinion (and I have been trying to get the rules changed to prevent this, but that is another story). For example, if you are a broker who oversees say 30 buying agents, and among those agents your brokerage or team sold 100 homes last year, how is it ethical for you yourself to claim you sold over 100 homes last year – you did not do that personally, your agents contributed many of those sales. But to the average homeowner who receives your marketing piece, you look like you have done more business than anyone else. Glossy marketing pieces with claims to being “the top producer” do sway the average Jane and Joe many times. Like the political arena, I think that if agents are going to make claims like this they need to explain the truth behind the claims.

3. TV Commercials and movie theater advertising: These types of marketing can also be valuable, but again the time is limited and the agent has only a few moments to convince you of how incredible they are at their job. There is no fine print – but if it gets you to remember their name and call them then the piece has achieved the goal set by the agent. Again, anyone can make a great marketing piece that makes them look like the best agent ever – and of course that is what all salespeople try to do.

4. Broker Calls to Agents About Homes “Coming Soon” to the Market: This newest method is interesting, and is aimed at local area agents. A broker has an agent make calls to other agents’ voicemails, reading from a script about a home that is not yet listed on the open MLS but soon will be – they tell the agents (it seems agents are chosen based on who sells the most in a given area – not all agents receive these calls) that they are giving them a chance to show the property to their buyers before it hits the MLS. Now, if you happen to be an agent working with a buyer and get a call describing the perfect home, this could be a win-win for your client. But if you are an agent and do not get that call, or if you are a buyer looking online and waiting for the perfect home to pop up, you are truly at a disadvantage in such a situation. So this can be a good or poor method of advertising, depending on how you look at it.

5. “Coming Soon” Listings Posted on Third Party Sites: There are some third party sites (such as Zillow and Trulia) that allow agents to post “coming soon” listings. Not all agents can do this – they must pay to become an elite member of these sites, and then they have the “privilege” of posting such properties. It’s great for the agents – they likely get at least some calls from potential buyers – but for those buyers who are not looking on those sites they get the short end of the stick if the home sells before hitting the MLS. Similarly, agents can send out e-flyers or emails about listings that are coming to the market soon, and if this is done fairly (sent to ALL agents in a county), then that is a great advertising tool. It is not fair to the potential buyer who is not working with an agent and who waits for properties to list on the MLS, but of course this is just one of the many benefits of working with an agent (we tend to hear about up and coming listings from many industry sources – agents, appraisers, lenders, sellers, etc.).

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From my perspective I believe that all agents should be able to advertise and “sell” their services and skills. But I think there are 2 rules that need to always be adhered to by real estate agents and brokers: 1. Keep it classy. 2. Be honest and ethical. If the local real estate associations who govern agents and make rules set out to make the rules stricter, I think it would be beyond valuable to potential buyers and sellers.

If you are looking for a real estate agent, remember to get the full picture – what can s/he do for you that is different from other agents? Make sure you will not be just a number – some agents have teams of people working for them and they represent many clients – if you like this than great, if not you may want to look for an experienced agent who treats you like you are the only client. Everyone has different needs, so make sure you get all your questions answered and find the person who is best able to help you; shiny materials and boasts about being a “top producer” should play into your decision minimally (although you do want someone who can sell your home with strong marketing and advertising abilities), but you need to feel comfortable with the person and what s/he can offer you.

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California Real Estate is Heating Up

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

CaliforniaHomeSales

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Your Real Estate Agent: The Value of Experience

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

valueofexperience_6-17-2013

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10 Reasons to be Optimistic About the Real Estate Market

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

top-ten-reasons-to-be-optimistic

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Gorgeous New Listing in Escondido!

Friday, January 11th, 2013

If you are looking for land, or have horses, this is the property for you! Nestled on over an acre, this private oasis has everything…you can move right in. Features include:

•            3209 square feet with over $100,000 in upgrades

•            Over an acre, with all living space -except for bonus room – on the same level

•            Hardwood flooring, travertine tile in bathrooms and laundry room

•            Custom paint throughout

•            Remodeled kitchen: Granite, top of the line stainless appliances, new cabinetry w/sliders, glass cabinet facades

•            Plantation shutters

•            New dual pane windows throughout

•            New electrical panel

•            Dual water heaters

•            Remodeled master bathroom – marble sinks, Jacuzzi tub, stained glass

window, wainscoating, new fixtures and lighting, extra large marble shower

•            Recessed lighting

•            High beam ceilings in bright family room, plus built-in storage, and adjoining den/office/playroom

•            2 fireplaces, in family room and master

•            Master suite southwest-facing view deck with French door

•            Office/playroom/craft room off living room

•            Spacious living room with bay window and window seat

•            Pool and spa

•            Large bonus room – use as a studio, guest suite, office, pool house

(square footage not include in assessor record)

•            Koi pond with pump

•            Numerous fruit and nut-bearing trees – apple, orange, lime, tangerine,

avocado, almond, walnut, lemon, peach, pear, plum…

•            Tons of storage throughout home

•            Three car garage

•            Bernardo Elementary, Bear Valley Middle School, and San Pasqual High

•            No mello roos or HOA

•            Property is zoned for 2 horses (buyer to verify)

•            Close to parks, highway, shopping, dining and Lake Hodges

To see the virtual tour, click here. Call for a showing or more information – 760-310-9466. CA DRE number 01399682. MLS #130001828

 

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2013 Real Estate Market Predictions

Friday, December 28th, 2012

There has been a lot of speculation as to what will happen in the real estate market as we head into a new year. Here is my take on real estate market resolutions for 2013:

Home prices will rise, slowly. Based on the current market and the rise in prices in 2012, especially toward the end of the year, I believe that prices will continue to rise, although at a very slow pace. People who are thinking they should wait to sell in order to make a big profit will be waiting a long time, but those who see the opportunities – demand, low inventory and continued historically low interest rates – have the chance to sell in what will slowly become (if it’s not already) a seller’s market. Those homes that show very well and are well-maintained will garner the most interest and could set trends for neighborhood comparables.

Interest rates will remain low. Because of continued uncertainty with the economy interest rates have to remain low. If the feds raise them at this volatile point, when Americans are just beginning to feel comfortable spending again, albeit cautiously, it would be devastating. I do not believe that such a risk is healthy and thus I think rates will stay low for some time.

Inventory will rise. This one is hopeful, but I truly believe that due to the fact that markets are becoming seller’s markets, more people will decide to list their homes in the coming year. 2012 was a difficult year for inventory in most areas, and San Diego county was no exception. Multiple offer situations on the first day properties listed were not uncommon, and many buyers ended this year without the new homes they so desired, feeling frustrated. I think savvy homeowners will see the silver lining in selling their homes as we head into the new year.

Distressed sales will slow. Many lending institutions and federal and state governments vamped up programs in 2012 to assist troubled homeowners, and the numbers from many of these programs indicate that they are working. There are still many more people who need assistance, but I believe that we will see fewer foreclosures. Most banks seem to have warmed to loan modifications and short sales, bypassing the rush to foreclose.

More underwater homeowners may be able to refinance in the future. There is finally a rumbling about extending refinancing programs to those non-equity homeowners who fall outside of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loan requirements – this could be HUGE and prevent a slew of foreclosures and even short sales down the road…this will be the real estate story at the top of my watch list in 2013.

All in all, the housing market it improving. It is important to mention, as I always do, that every market is different. If you want specific information about your area/market, consult with a qualified local agent before making any decisions about buying or selling real estate. One more caveat – keep in mind that market improvement is relative. The above analysis is based on numbers that show improvement in the local San Diego market, as well as reports from trusted sources and personal experience working in the local market.

I think 2013 will be a great year for real estate. Please let me know if I can provide any information about your San Diego home sale or home search, and have a very happy New Year!

 

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Homes Are Selling FAST in California!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

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Why Selling Your Home by Owner is Tough in Today’s Market

Monday, November 26th, 2012

I recently came across a home that was for sale by owner. My client and I had been out looking at properties, and she later drove back through a neighborhood she particularly liked. She noticed a For Sale sign partially obscured on a home, which we had not noticed. I searched the internet for information about the home, but found nothing indicating it was for sale. I called the very nice owner, but when we finally connected my client had already flown back home and he did not want to cooperate with agents.

I know there are many agents out there who specifically seek out for sale by owner (or FSBO) properties, and many of them make it a priority to get those homes listed. But there are some big problems on both sides that need to be considered before hanging up a FSBO sign.

Issues Owners Must Consider

1. Exposure. As indicated in my example above, if you are going to sell your home it is extremely important to get exposure. The MLS is the number one place to showcase your listing, as thousands of property sites (where the buyers are looking) link to the MLS. Most active buyers have searches, oftentimes multiple searches, set up on agent sites and other house hunting sites like Zillow, Trulia and Redfin. If your home is not there, these buyers have NO idea it is for sale. In today’s market, where there is little inventory in most places, and where there ARE active buyers (and many multiple offer situations), it is simply silly not to have your home on the MLS.

If you still insist on trying to sell yourself, my best advice to you is to get your listing on the MLS. There are brokerages that will charge a small fee to do so, without doing any other work for you. It is well worth the expense.

2. Calls from LOTS of agents…who will want to know if you are willing too cooperate with them should they bring a buyer to your home. Most buyers DO work with agents, and if you are not willing to do so yourself you could be losing qualified buyers. An agent will not show your home if s/he will not get paid for making a sale and doing all the work involved in an escrow.

3. Unqualified buyer issues. If you do find buyers who are interested and not represented by an agent, you will be responsible for making sure they are qualified. This requires a lot of leg work, which most agents do before showing homes to their clients. You could take your home off the market for weeks assuming your buyers are qualified, only to find they are not. During that time you could have found other buyers, and then you will have to start all over.

4. Possibility of no showings, as many buyers are working with agents. This goes hand in hand with some of the above points.

5. Loads of paperwork and legal ramifications. If you are representing yourself in the sale of your home, you’d better be careful. You need to fill out a disclosure packet, and if you leave out crucial information it could come back to bite you down the road. An agent on your side is there to make sure you have filled out the disclosures correctly, and that all the paperwork is in order. Also important, if there ever is a legal problem down the road (and this is not a rare occurrence), it is nice to have the brokerage on your side to help you.

6. Other warnings. It is very important to note that if you are delinquent in your mortgage and are trying to do a FSBO, BEWARE. This is not something you should attempt on your own. You need to find a local agent who is experienced in delinquent properties so that you can discuss your options. If a short sale is an option I advise you to not even contemplate attempting one on your own. There are people who are experienced with short sales who can help you, providing a much stronger chance of approval.

Issues Buyers Must Consider When Purchasing a FSBO

1. No representation = Possible Legal issues. As discussed above, if you are a buyer purchasing a FSBO without an agent to represent you, you need to be very careful. If the owners do not fill out paperwork correctly and fail to disclose something, which later becomes an issue, you could be stuck with a legal dilemma. If you have an agent on your side to review all documentation and make sure you are legally protected, you will be in a much better position.

2. Escrow is a neutral party. It is important to know that the escrow officer can help you in some ways, telling you what paperwork you need. But keep in mind that escrow is a neutral party, and cannot give you any legal advice – they do not represent the interests of any single party to the sale.

3. Pricing. Make sure, if you are purchasing a FSBO property, that you have a copy of recent sold comparables in the area, and that you understand the prices and reasons for them. You obviously do not want to overpay for a home. This is not something you have to have an agent to do, but local area agents are usually very in touch with area sales and could explain to you why a particular home sold for more or less than the comps, and in doing so figure out the “right” price for a home you are thinking of purchasing. Most FSBO owners are savvy and know the neighborhood comps, but it is still important to study them yourself, especially if you are purchasing the property with a loan – lender scrutiny is rigid, and if the home doesn’t fit in with the recent comparables your loan will be denied (unless of course you renegotiate price with the seller at that point…something you need to be prepared to do well).

4. Must-Do’s in Buying FSBOs. If you are a buyer contemplating a FSBO purchase, it is imperative you do the following: get pre-approved with a lender first, get a good comparable market analysis – CMA (which you may be able to get from a local area agent even though they are not representing you), make sure you connect with escrow to understand what paperwork is needed, and have a home inspection.

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Real Estate News REcap

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

HARP is helping more borrowers to refinance: HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, has recently been restructured, and this has allowed more homeowners to be able to take advantage and refinance to lower rates. The new guidelines allow those who are underwater with their mortgages to take avail of the program – a big welcome to homeowners struggling with mortgage payments. This also effects the foreclosure and short sale rates, which are good for the housing market and economy. As of July, approximately 75,000 homeowners have refinanced under HARP, up 50,000 from before the program was extended to help underwater homeowners. This is great news and hopefully it will continue to help people. Now if only they would apply these programs to non-Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans!

New home sales hit two year high: It’s official: builders are back in business. New home sales have reached the highest numbers in over two years. Here in North San Diego several new communities have popped up over the last 1-2 years, and they are all selling well. This is another great sign for the housing market recovery.

Pending home sales numbers increase: Pending home sales have been increasing lately, and September numbers, although slightly up from the previous month, held steady. The increase has been in effect for 17 consecutive months, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR’s chief economist believes that this upward trend should continue into 2013. This coming Spring should be a great time for sellers and buyers.

Number of low priced homes shrink in California: Although inventory is scarce everywhere and in most price ranges, properties around $300,000 and under are suffering worse. According to Zillow, there has been a 40% reduction in inventory under $313,000 in California in the last year. This explains the multiple offer situation in these categories – there simply is not enough supply to meet the demand. Hopefully after the holidays we will see more properties on the market.

Big banks being sued:Wells Fargo is being sued over alleged fraud in a mortgage lending program administered by the Federal Housing Administration. Bank of America is also being sued, by the Justice Department, for mortgage fraud to the tune of over $1 billion. The B of A cases involve loans created through Countrywide, before Countrywide was acquired by B of A in 2008…gee, maybe borrowers will see some of the fruits of the penalties if B of A is found liable – but of course that it doubtful (one can hope). Many of the claims involved in both suits go back over the course of 10 years. Well, I would wish these banks good luck in their suits, but as I have no sympathy I hope they get what they deserve.

 

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