Posts Tagged ‘homes for sale’

Still on the Fence? U.S. Home Prices are Still Rising

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

The new housing report was released yesterday by Case-Shiller, indicating that U.S. home prices are still rising. Of course this is really area dependent, but if you are a potential buyer or seller you might feel worried, and justifiably so. Keep reading for important information and advice.

The report covers major metropolitan cities and states that prices in these areas rose by 5.27% in November – above expectations of economists, and also up from the previous month of 5.1%. What does this mean for buyers and sellers? Let’s take a look at some important considerations.

Local markets: Of course these studies are general and tend to focus on big cities, so it is important that you contact an experienced real estate agent in your local market to see what is going on in the area. But, the thing to take away from this data is that prices are not easing up. Combine that with the next factor…

Inventory is still very low: Again, your local market must be studied to get an accurate glimpse and set expectations (your real estate agent can help with this), but using my local North San Diego market as an example I know that this is painfully true. I have buyers who simply cannot find homes, and multiple offer situations in some categories – like properties under $600,000 – are still the norm. With low inventory and prices staying put or rising, a buyer does not benefit from waiting to purchase, especially considering the next factor…

Springtime is coming: Traditionally the “hot” season for housing, spring and summer are just around the corner. But in my view we are already in the heat of things. Hopefully more inventory will pop up as we head into that “busy” season, but honestly I think the entire last year and especially this Fall and Winter, can be considered busy in housing – at least here in San Diego. Waiting until Spring could put buyers in even more of a quandry, bringing an  increase in the buyer pool: more competition can drive prices up again.

The National Home Price Index also rose by 5.6% annually – up from 5.5% the previous month. High demand is causing these prices to continue on an upward trend. It is important to note, as some doubters or “bubble-talkers” as I call them, may believe, that these trends are NOT similar to those that occurred prior to the last housing crisis in the early 2000s.

How is this market different than that prior to the last crash?

1. Factors driving prices are not the same. Prior to the crash people were driven by speculation and anticipation of growth. Instead, healthy market factors like a strong job market and low mortgage rates are driving this market.

2. Lending is stricter. Lending requirements are not as loose as they were during the time prior to the last housing crash, so not everyone can qualify for a loan.

3. Demand is high but supply is not. Prior to the last market crash, there is a much lower supply of inventory in most areas. It is not so easy to find property to purchase. Many would-be sellers are afraid to sell, as they don’t know where they will move if there is such low supply and so much demand – so it’s a great time to be a seller if you have the time to wait it out on a subsequent purchase.

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The moral of all this information is that if you are a potential seller you are in a great position. But if you have to buy after selling you need to have a “plan B” in place – e.g. stay in a furnished month to month apartment or temporarily move in with a relative or friend will put these people in ideal situations to sell and wait for the right home. But buyers have it a bit tougher – the best advice I can give is to BE PREPARED. Get preapproved, start looking at everything in your price range and desired area – even those homes that may not be as upgraded as you like or in the exact neighborhood you wanted. Do your homework and be ready to pounce once you find that “right” home.

 

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Will Lower Commissions Become Standard in Real Estate?

Monday, April 25th, 2016

For years the idea of lowering real estate commissions has been the topic of conversation amongst many in the real estate industry. Since the discount brokerages came onto the scene in full force back in the early 2000s, many home sellers have sought out agents who will cut commissions to save sellers money. Could lower commissions eventually become the norm? http://www.dreamstime.com/-image4640694

A recent study by Realtor Magazine indicated that 62% of buyers and sellers want lower fees in real estate transactions, yet of those 22% still want to receive quality service and worry that low fees do not go hand in hand with that type of service. So while sellers want to pay Wal-Mart fees, they obviously still want Nordstrom service.

I have written many blogs over the years about the benefit of working with agents who provide stellar service – not just in marketing a property or knowing a neighborhood, but with respect to the very important legalities of real estate transactions – negotiations (by the way, 89% of sellers in a recent study indicated that negotiation was the number 1 skill they desired of their real estate agents), paperwork, disclosures and other potential liabilities.

Many sellers for years have complained that it is not right that an agent can be paid 2 1/2-3% of the purchase price for a million dollar home and the same for a $300,000 home. The real question is how much work is that agent doing? I personally know of listing agents who “list and pray,” doing virtually no or little work to market a home and bring a buyer without spending time or money out of pocket. Also, what about the buyer’s agent who has been working for months with her buyers, showing them 20, 30+ homes, driving the around to show them areas and being there on hours of phone calls, writing offers…that agent gets nothing until she actually closes a sale, which may or may not happen.

If you wonder what agents actually do, here is a list of some of the things your agent should be doing…so do not be afraid to ask your agent what he or she is doing for you.

1. Marketing – this varies vastly so make sure you understand the marketing plan that is proposed

2. Open houses – if desired

3. Broker caravan

4. Professional photography

5. Creating custom flyers and other marketing pieces (mailers, ads, emails, etc.)

6. Showing advice/preparation and staging, if necessary

7. Handling all paperwork and explaining it all to you

8. Showing the property (being available to do so – you’d be surprised how many agents are not)

9. Negotiations with the other party/agent – this does not stop after a contract is signed, as it is still often necessary for repairs/credits.

10. Providing a list of repair people if needed

11. Constant communications with all parties involved – agents, lender, escrow, title, and of course, you

12. Making sure you have copies of your entire file at the close of escrow, and helping with other things like finding agents out of the area if you are moving somewhere else, or helping you synchronize closings of current and new homes. I have even helped clients move out and clean up after everything is taken from a home.

Of course each listing may require a different plan, and some may need more pre-listing work or more marketing than others, which of course means more money. So, will lower real estate commissions eventually become standardized? That remains to be seen but hopefully if they do, quality service won’t go down with them.

 

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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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How is that Real Estate Market?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Tax day is over…time to turn our focus back to the real estate market. I have to take a moment to say that I truly admire my accountants, because I could never do what they do – and so competently! Kudos to all you accountants out there for making peoples’ lives easier, and I am glad we all survived another tax day!

How is the real estate market doing? I get asked that question several times daily. My answer: it is HOT! Demand still has not met supply, and properties are selling quickly and oftentimes with multiple offers. It is great for sellers, but not so wonderful for buyers because there is little to choose from and they have to make quick decisions. For those buyers who are well-educated and know where they really want to live and what they can afford, they have to be ready to see new listings right away and ready to draft offers if they like what they see.

The Catch-22 in the real estate market today is that there are many sellers out there who would like to sell, but have nowhere to move to due to the lack of inventory, so they stay where they are and wait. Unfortunately this keeps the inventory tight in a market where demand is great.

Interest rates jumped a little this week, and many buyers are worried about the rumors that they will rise significantly in July. This is yet another reason for them to start searching for homes, which circles back to the low inventory levels.

Coming Soon! houses seem to be on the rise. I mean homes that have signed listing agreements but are not yet on the MLS. Agents put “Coming Soon!” signs in front to alert neighbors and those who drive by, creating excitement. Since I just had clients sign a listing and the tenants won’t be be out for about a week (and then another week for new flooring and paint)…I thought “what a great way to let the neighbors know this home will soon hit the market!” so I tried it. We’ll see what happens.

The bottom line is that the real estate market is strong in most areas, from what I have heard and read lately. Of course, as always I advise you to consult with a local area real estate agent before buying or selling a home. It seems that we have definitely climbed out of the doldrums and that the market has sprung back, so if you are thinking of purchasing or selling a home you should be in a good position to make that decision.

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December Real Estate Sales are HOT!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

It may be a little cooler here in San Diego than we are used to, but the real estate market is definitely heating up. Every year I think that December will be a slow month and that I will get to relax a bit, and every year I am wrong..this year is no exception. There are 1179 pending sales in the county as of December 1. I think this December could end up being one of the busiest in years for homes going into escrow.images

Why is the market so hot right now? I think there are a few reasons, but suffice it to say that the buyers who are out there looking are very serious, and they are making very strong offers to boot. Here are a few reasons why I believe the market is on fire this December:

1.  Market changes: I think the biggest factor in the buyer frenzy is that there have been some significant changes in the market here in San Diego (and in many other places as well). For starters, most listings are priced well, and the multiple offer frenzy seems to have died down. Even though inventory is still on the low side, those homes that are listed tend to show well. Priced right + show well = interested buyers. The buyers who are out there looking are very savvy – most of them have seen multiple properties and know not only what they want, but how much homes are worth. When they find one that meets all their criteria, they are willing to make offers over asking price to prevent multiple offer situations.

For sellers this holiday season is going to turn out to be a great time to list and sell – if their homes are priced right and show well, most sellers will be happy they lived through the hassle of selling during this time of year.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image276597342.  Loan qualification changes: I have discussed this in several blogs, so it is no surprise to hear that the major lenders have stated that it will be more difficult for people to qualify for loans come the new year. Tougher qualification standards will be put into play, creating the possibility that some buyers may be pushed out of the market. This could have some potential buyers worried, creating more of a sense of urgency to find properties sooner rather than later.

3.  Interest rate rise: We have been hearing about this one for a while as well, and there is no doubt in my mind that there WILL be rises in interest rates in the new year. How much and how many is a mystery, but this still seems to have an affect on those buyers who are ready to purchase and want to lock in the lowest rates possible.

4.  The unknown future: Given the status of last year’s Spring inventory (which was very low), it remains to be seen what will happen come Spring 2014. There are many factors that will influence whether we will see an inventory surge – interest rates, loan qualification standards, the economy and job market, etc. There will be a big comfort factor involved in whether sellers choose to list their homes or wait until things stabilize further in the economy. Fear of the unknown future may cause some buyers to buy now rather than wait to see what happens. Many feel that real estate is on the mend, but that it is still a volatile economy. This can go either way, but with the number of serious buyers out there right now I think it is creating the desire to buy now rather than wait it out and see what happens in the Spring.

It definitely is a hot market here in San Diego this December…it will be interesting to see the numbers come out and be able to compare them to the last several Decembers for previous years.

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Pristine Cul de Sac Home in La Costa Greens

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Absolutely pristine La Costa Greens cul de sac home – upgrades galore with a bright, open floor plan and a fabulous, private entertainer’s backyard. This home shows like a model and is move-in ready.image_029_mls Offered at $829,000.

Features include:

• Granite kitchen counters with large island/breakfast bar

• Stainless appliances with double oven, custom hood, 5 burner stove and oversized built-in refrigerator

• Plantation shutters throughout

• Custom tile flooring downstairs

image_014_mls• Dark distressed wood flooring in master

• Full bedroom and bathroom downstairs

• Granite wet bar and wine bar ”2nd kitchen” off dining room

• Custom paint throughout

• Large loft upstairs

• Side patio with water feature off dining room

• Professionally landscaped private yard with fruit trees, large outdoor fireplace with generous seating area, water featuresimage_023_mls

• Wrought iron banisters on staircase and designer carpeting upstairs

• Front courtyard entry with fountain

• Golf course and sunset views from master bedroom

• Spa like master bath with sunken tub, large shower, walk in closet and stone floors

image_028_mls• Upstairs laundry with sink

• Oversized garage with built-in storage

• Central alarm system

• Located in the coveted La Costa Greens community, complete with access to the

Presidio (resort-like pool/spa and clubhouse, gym area), tennis courts

• Close to shopping, dining, schools, highways, and beaches

For more information, photos and a virtual tour click here. MLS number 130063268. Call Rachel with questions and for showings at 760-310-9466.

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