Posts Tagged ‘Real estate market’

Home Seller Dilemma: Sell Now or Wait Until Spring?

Monday, January 29th, 2018

A lot of homeowners have been wondering whether to sell now or wait until Spring. While Spring and early summer are typically the best times to sell, when a large majority of buyers are searching for homes, this year there is no reason to wait if you are a seller…and here is why:

Low Inventory – although picking up in some places, housing inventory is still low. The last year has been challenging for those who are ready, willing and able to buy, since they are unable to find homes that meet their needs or desires. This puts sellers in a great position while it is still a seller’s market.

Mortgage rates will continue to rise – rates have risen once already and will likely do so twice more this year. Combined with low inventory this double whammy will effect homebuyers, effecting their purchasing power and pricing some out of certain markets. If inventory picks up and the rates rise it will start to shift to a buyer’s market, and prices could come down in the long run.

Here is an example I read on a lender’s blog: If rates increase by 1%, from 4% to 5%, a buyer will lose 10% in purchasing power. This means that if a buyer can afford to purchase a $600k home today, but rates increase by 1%, she will only afford $540k using the same monthly payment.

Borrowing is still cheap – from a historical perspective it is still inexpensive to borrow money.

Prices will likely continue to rise – most economists and those who watch the real estate market predict that despite rate increases, prices will continue to rise in 2018. In the last year prices in San Diego County increased 9.1% – this was higher than the yearly increase of 4.2% in 2016. Again, this could impact homebuyers in many areas of the county.

New tax laws will likely effect high-end borrowers – those who are obtaining loans for high end properties will be effected from a tax perspective, as the new laws cap the mortgage interest deduction and the ability to deduct state and local taxes. Therefore the higher end market will be impacted this year, but we will have to wait and see the extent.

Based on the above it is an ideal time to sell. There is a great demand out there – I get emails from agents every week asking about whether I have any upcoming listings in certain neighborhoods. Many homes are selling before they even hit the MLS, and many agents are choosing to put their listings on sites other than the MLS first, in order to try to represent both parties in the sale (so some buyers may not even be aware of listings in neighborhoods they like).

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Crazy Things Are Happening in Local Real Estate Markets

Friday, August 18th, 2017

The real estate market is going CRAZY…well, at least in my local area. After over a year of increased prices and low inventory, multiple offers and crazy shenanigans so that people can get into homes, there are some strange things going on all of a sudden – since the start of August.

Here is what I am seeing in the San Diego market:

Longer market times – Many homes are taking longer to sell compared to those that sold just within the last few months. Even neighborhoods where homes were literally receiving multiple offers on the first day on market are sitting now. Many eventually reduce and on the average I am seeing some homes take around 60 days just to go into escrow.

No more multiple offers in most cases – You would think that the continued lack of inventory would make multiple offers a common occurrence still, but many homes are sitting on the market and reducing prices before they finally go into contract.

Lots of price reductions – I am seeing this all across the board – from condos to single family homes to 2-4 unit income properties. Sellers continue to hit the market with high prices – at comparative sales value or higher – only to have to reduce after 30 days or so due to lack of offers.

Buyers are making low offers – This is for real folks, so if you are a seller be prepared! It is happening all over. I think buyers are tired of rising prices and competition for homes, and they are starting to feel that if a seller won’t take a lower offer, they won’t buy. This is also true with short sales, even though banks no longer accept crazy low offers like they once did years ago.

Escrows are cancelling – I have seen this first hand with my own listings and I have heard from other agents as well – buyers are cancelling escrows at what seems to be a higher rate than we have seen in a long time.

I have reached out to other agents and escrow officers and it seems I am not the only one who feels the market is in such an interesting place. Many agents feel that August has always been a slow month for real estate sales – the end of summer with last vacations prior to kids returning to school, visitors leaving the city, etc. (here in San Diego we have a LOT of summer visitors!)

But there are some who think that this change is indicative of what is to come. Many buyers who were unable to purchase homes due to lack of inventory and multiple offer situations, have decided to rent and wait until the market drops or until there is more inventory available (which really goes hand in hand with prices dropping or at least stabilizing).

I will reiterate my belief, as stated in many blogs, that I do not think we will have a bubble burst or a housing crisis in the near future, but I do think tides are changing. A buyer’s market is starting to blossom and at some point it will flourish. If inventory picks up it will only fuel the change.

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Home Buyers: Purchase Now or Wait Until Prices Drop?

Friday, March 10th, 2017

This seems to be the million dollar question right now as home buyers survey the lack of inventory and multiple offer situations present in many markets. A strong seller’s market and high prices make some buyers nervous. So is it better to buy now or wait?

There are a few very good reasons why now is the time to make that home purchase:

Interest rates are rising – We have already seen this happen and word is they will do so again this year, likely several times. This affects mortgage payments and down payments, so jumping in and securing that lower rate now could be smart. It is also important to note that some lenders are charging a lot more for interest rate lock extensions, so that is something to think about if you have a long escrow period or are pursuing a short sale.

Lack of inventory – Inventory in many markets is still very low – San Diego County included. Many buyers cannot find properties to purchase and when they do there are often multiple offers, especially in the $650,000 and under price range. Cash buyers are out in force as well in many lower range markets, making it even harder for first time home buyers. Being picky is getting more and more difficult – right now is a good time to be preapproved and ready to write an offer once you find a home that meets your criteria. See the home as soon as it comes on the market and submit your best offer right away.

Prices are not dropping as we head into the “busy season” – Lack of inventory is making it difficult as demand outpaces supply. Unless this changes we will not likely see price drops in the busy Spring and Summer months to come. The buyer who decides to wait this period out may find herself down the road with still low inventory and higher interest rates.

Here is an example: A house that currently sells for $766,000 with an interest rate of 4.75% and a 20% down payment would yield a payment of a little over $4000 a month. To get that same payment down the road with a home price drop to $727,000, assuming a higher 5.125% interest rate increase, the buyer would be losing $1585 over 3 years. So even if prices drop 5% and rates increase 3/8th  of a percent, the buyer who purchases with a lower rate now will be ahead in the long run.

Uncertainty – Worry about the future and economy is still prevalent among home buyers. Uncertainty about taxes and home write offs, as well as the expected rise in interest rates, make some buyers hesitate to make big purchases. The real estate market, like any market, is cyclical. If you are buying a home with a long term commitment then it is a great time to do so, before there are more rate hikes.

Before you decide whether it is best for you to purchase now or wait, it is important to discuss your scenario with you accountant or financial adviser, an experienced real estate agent in your area and your mortgage professional. Information is power.

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6 Types of Monkey Business Going on in Real Estate Now

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

If you are a real estate agent or a home buyer you may notice that the market is obviously low on inventory right now. Being that it is the “selling season” of Spring/Summer, and since there are a lot of buyers out there looking at homes, there are many situations involving multiple counter offers and homes selling for well over asking price…all great if you are a seller. However, there are also some fishy things going on out there and it is frustrating to agents and their buyers. th

Let’s take a look at what is happening:

1. Homes listed well over comparable value. Many, and I mean a LOT, of homes in North San Diego are being listed over market value – some slightly and some way over. Buyers, who normally would avoid such homes until the price drops, are flocking to them and making offers anyway. No one seems concerned that the home likely will not appraise, and if one buyer walks there are many more who will step right in. This is pricing out first time homeowners and bringing prices up…you may think the latter is good, but it is dangerous because such inflation could create problems for the market – especially when there are many buyers who have incomes that will price them out of neighborhoods they should have been able to afford had prices reflected comparable sold values.

2. Many sellers are taking a long time to respond to offers – even very strong ones. If a buyer makes a very strong offer over asking price, many listing agents are waiting for 4 or 5 days to even respond, during which time they collect more offers. Many then submit multiple counter offers to all bidders asking for the best and highest price. This prices many potential buyers out of the running, and most already submitted an offer slightly over their budget.

3. Sellers are refusing to make repairs or pay for reports. In a seller’s market the seller knows s/he is in the driver’s seat, and many sellers are countering back stating the home is sold as is, and that they will make no repairs and pay for no reports – like termite reports. They want the cleanest offers possible with the least amount of money out of pocket. This means the buyer can get stuck with multiple repairs, termite work, etc. If the buyer is already paying top dollar for the home, s/he has to make sure those things are affordable. No one wants to see a new foreclosure wave hit in a few years.

4. Appraisals are not coming in at contract value – but that is not deterring sales. I have not had problems with appraisals on listings (I don’t market properties in the “insane” price category), but have heard from many agents who have. Even if the home does not appraise at contract value, there are plenty of buyers who are willing to pay the difference in cash if sellers will not negotiate prices down to the appraised value. They feel that is the only way to secure a home purchase in these crazy times. Does this sound like 2003/2004 – “pre-crash” – to anyone else besides me?

5. Overly aggressive listing agents seem to be multiplying, and they are not being cooperative. There are many listing agents who are ruthless and even rude. They don’t care that your buyers love the home and have been looking in that neighborhood for a long time, or that they wrote a very strong offer and submitted it first. To these agents, it’s all about playing the game and finding the highest bidder. Some agents do not return calls and emails, and some violate the Realtor code of ethics – a few may even commit fraud. It is extremely frustrating for buyer’s agents, who are trying to find a home for their well-qualified buyers.

6. Pocket listings and homes listed “off the MLS” are increasing. Many agents are marketing their listings on third party sites like Zillow, and not placing them on the MLS – the cooperative tool used by Realtors to benefit all parties looking in particular areas/price ranges. While it is their right to do so, it makes a problem for buyer’s agents whose clients may see these listings and want to visit them – but when their agent calls the listing agent to make an appointment she is often told that the seller is not paying a commission to buyers’ agents. Imagine you have been helping your buyers for months to find a home and now you cannot show them this one home because the broker will not cooperate with your broker. It puts buyer’s agents – who play an imperative role in protecting buyer’s rights – in a very sticky situation. You may ask why listing agents do this: the answer is so they can find buyers who will work with them, thus saving the seller from paying out a commission to the buyer’s agent. Hopefully the California Supreme Court will soon put an end to double ending sales and this will no longer be a problem.

I am a bit concerned and hope that we are not heading into trouble in the real estate market. I hope that agents keep in mind the spirit of cooperation that is inherent in our business – we all need to work together and be fair. If we do not then buyers and sellers will not be protected from future lawsuits, and many people will be priced out of the housing market – which could cause a domino effect with local economies and eventually the US economy.

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December is a Busy Month for Real Estate

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

It never fails – every year I always think I will have a quiet holiday season and be able to catch up on personal errands and have extra family time. But every November things always start to heat up in my real estate business. Offers on listings tend to increase (often multiple offers), there tend to be a flurry of showings, and buyers step out in force to see properties.2014-2015

I hear many real estate agents say that the end of the year is accompanied by a slow down in the real estate market, but I have not yet found that to be the case. Those agents who decide to not work as hard or to take a break miss out on the plethora of opportunities at this time of year. But for those who continue to work hard with existing clients, answer their phones and tap into their client base, this time of year can be lucrative.

Busy Time for Sellers

As for sellers, I have written blogs over the years as to why the holiday time is a great time to sell. The main reason is that there is not a lot of competition, so the buyers who are out there searching for homes (and believe me, there are many) don’t have as many options. If you list your home at this time and it is priced and shows well, you may be surprised at the amount of interest you get… and of course there is the potential for multiple offers. If you are a seller, make sure to speak with your agent about the best way to market and stage your home during the holidays, because that will have an impact on its selling potential.

The other reason it is a great time for sellers is because interest rates and inventory are still low. This makes it an optimal time for buyers who may have otherwise decided to wait until Spring.

Finally, it is fair to say that the majority of buyers who are out there looking at this time of year are very serious, not just looky-loo buyers. Many people would rather not focus on purchasing a home during the holidays, so as they say “the early bird gets the worm.”

Busy Time for Buyers

The end of the year/holiday season is a great time for buyers, for many of the same reason outlined above. There is less competition, the listings that are active are usually placed there by serious sellers who need to sell, and right now interest rates are still very low. In my opinion many properties are priced more accurately at this time of year than say in the Spring, when many sellers test out the market to see how high they may be able to list above comparable sold properties.

Buyers, sellers and agents can all benefit during the last quarter and during the holidays if they continue to work extra hard into the New Year. Happy buying and selling, and I hope everyone has a prosperous and happy holiday season!

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It’s a Seller’s Market, But Where are the Sellers?

Friday, March 21st, 2014

You may have read lately that here in Southern California home prices continue to rise. You may also have noticed that there do not seem to be many homes listed for sale. Combine that with the fact that there are definitely buyers out there looking for homes to purchase, interest rates are still historically low, and it’s no wonder some people are concerned.For sale

Spring officially started yesterday, and with it comes the expected home selling season, which usually lasts into mid-summer. This is the time that those who are planning to move start seriously looking at homes, and those planning to sell get ready to do so. There have been new listings in my area, but it feels like a lot less than normal for this time of year. Where are the sellers and why are they not stepping forward to list their homes?

The main reason is that there is low inventory of homes on the market in many areas. Most sellers sell and simultaneously buy another property. If there are no homes on the market for them to consider they will likely hold off on listing their property until that changes, creating a Catch-22 situation. This keeps the cycle going and in turn causes housing prices to rise, as buyers have to compete for the little inventory that is on the market.

Another reason for lower inventory could include lack of sufficient equity in the home to purchase a replacement property (although many homeowners have come out of negative equity situations in the last year or so due to price increases).

Hopefully the sellers WILL soon step up and put their homes on the market. When this happens we will see a few things:

-  Lots of interest from buyers

-  The possibility of multiple offers

-  A likelihood of higher prices as a result of the above

Hopefully more sellers who are not buying replacement properties (such as 2nd homeowners, investors, or those moving out of the area) will step forward soon to give the market some momentum. It is a great time to be a seller right now.

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Home Prices Start to Return to the “New Normal”

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

For those who are regulars to my blog, I have predicted that home prices will soon stop escalating and will return to a “normal” growth, one that ascends slowly but steadily over time. I predicted we would start to see this by the end of this year, and especially heading into 2014. It appears that it is starting to happen right now, even in light of a new study that says that Americans believe housing prices will continue to rise despite rising interest rates.statistics

Clear Capital predicts that home prices across the country will “experience more moderate and sustainable increases” for the remainder of 2013, as we slowly transition into this “new normal” of slower and more consistent gains moving ahead into 2014 and beyond.

In the short term many areas will likely continue to see price increases  through the end of the year, despite the rise in interest rates. This could be due in part to rising inventories in many areas. Another explanation is that the rise in interest rates, along with the commonly held notion that these rates will continue to rise with time, may actually push buyers to make purchases in order to avoid higher rates. Likely, many sellers may see this as an opportune time to unload properties while the market is still rising and before rates climb higher, which will undoubtedly price some buyers out of the market.

As rates rise and inventories increase, we may also see a shift in the market, from a seller’s market (which we currently are experiencing in many areas, especially here in the western states), to a buyer’s market. Heading out of the summer buying season and into the Fall and beyond to the holidays, this is a realistic possibility. Demand will of course also continue to be fueled by the strength of local economies.

Interestingly, a study by Fannie Mae in July, the National Housing Survey, found that despite rising mortgage rates, consumers believe that prices will continue to rise. 53% of those polled thought that prices would rise in the next year. Those expecting prices to drop came to under 6%.

All in all, it is still a very interesting time in the housing market. I stand by my theory that prices may continue to rise through the end of the year, although possibly not as drastically. I believe we will continue to see inventory levels inch up in many areas, and that as we head into 2014 we will see prices stabilize somewhat, although I do believe tight lending standards could effect the state of the market as well (a topic for another blog). From there on out I believe we will see a more “normal” market moving forward, meaning one that grows slowly and consistently over time.

If you are thinking of buying or selling it is important to contact a knowledgeable Realtor and mortgage professional in your area to understand the makeup of your specific area.


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Is San Diego a Seller’s Market?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Things are really heating up in the real estate market in San Diego. Encountering multiple offer situations is not uncommon these days, especially with properties that are priced well and are in good condition. So, is it a seller’s market?

To answer the question we need to divide the market into attached and detached homes.

Attached homes: In the attached market many areas of San Diego are officially in the seller’s market territory. What does this mean? It means that sellers are receiving multiple offers, prices are going up, and sellers are able to often drive prices higher and pick their choice of offers. This means that buyers do not have as many opportunities to submit lowball offers, even when they would realistically pay more but want to “feel the waters.”

Of course, long gone are the days of severely inflated prices, but I will take a thorough look at comparable sold properties, and advise my clients to stay as close as they can to those numbers (assuming the properties are similar to the one on which they are placing an offer). Slight increases from the comps are definitely justified, as the market is trending upwards in many developments.

Overbidding is often something a buyer may want to do to secure getting their offer accepted, and as a listing agent I have received multiple offers sufficiently over the asking price. However, as much as I would like my sellers to get the highest price possible for their home, when I doubted that the offered price would survive an appraisal I counseled my sellers to choose not the highest offer, but the one most likely to close (cash offers first, and then loans with very qualified buyers and nice downpayments). So, it is not just about the numbers, but buyers DO have to be aware that if they truly want a certain property they need to present their highest and best offer in today’s attached home market.

Detached homes: Detached homes are still in the buyer’s market category here in San Diego in most areas, but in reality it depends on the area, inventory and price range. In most north county coastal cities, such as Carlsbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach, we have seen prices stabilizing and little change in trending. As more inventory comes onto the market as we head into summer it just may create a trend toward higher prices, but we will have to see how strong demand is at that time.

Personally, I have seen that listings are going very quickly in the detached market. Three recent listings of mine all received offers within days of listing, including multiple offers. So my advice is that it really matters in which area the property is located, and that buyers still want to write offers as strong as possible, unless they know there are no other offers and they feel they have time for negotiations. It is important you work with a skilled buyer’s agent who knows the local market and can negotiate well on your behalf.

The bottom line is that if you are a buyer looking for a detached home, it is still a great time to negotiate. Have your agent do her research on the comparables, and come in with a strong offer…but there is no need to offer an amount sufficiently above comparable solds. If your agent knows there are other offers on the property of course you need to discuss how to present your offer in the best light to give it the highest chance of acceptance.

Happy house hunting, and please let me know if you have any market questions you would like to see answered here.


Photos courtesy of Dreamstime.

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Weekly News REcap 12-2-2011

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Happy December everyone! I can’t believe the year is almost at an end (we won’t mention that I am completely unprepared for the holidays either). Here is what has been happening in the real estate market this week.

Foreclosure Moratorium for the Holidays. Some lenders are finding kindness in their heart to put in place foreclosure moratoria over the holidays, like they have done in the last few years. Fannie and Freddie have already announced a temporary moratorium on all foreclosures of single family homes and 2-4 unit properties for the holiday period, and all evictions will be delayed until after the New Year. California groups like Occupy L.A. and Occupy Santa Cruz are also trying to get lenders in their respective counties to place moratoria on foreclosures for the holidays. If you are facing foreclosure you can call your lender to see if they have instituted such a policy.

Fewer American Homowners are Underwater. A new study just published by CoreLogic concludes that the number of Americans whose homes are “underwater” (they owe more on their mortgage(s) than the current value of their homes) has decreased to 1 in 5. It used to be 1 in 4, so this sounds like good news, although there will be more foreclosures to come due to the large amount of negative equity in the housing market.

Reverse mortgages to have new requirements, may make it harder to qualify. Getting a reverse mortgage may soon be more difficult. Reverse loan originators will soon begin looking at the financial status of applicants, to see if they are able to cover the costs of homeowners insurance and property tax. The goal is to prevent future defaults. Reverse mortgages are obtained by borrowers over 62, and allow them to convert the equity in their homes into cash, which is used to live on. The loan is due, with interest, at the time the owners die, move, sell the home, or fail to pay homeowners’ insurance or property taxes.

Home values have declined in most markets; buying cheaper than renting in many places. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal it is cheaper to buy rather than rent a home in 12 major metropolitan markets. Home values also have declined in all but 5 markets. Low mortgage rates and timing make this a great time to buy for many buyers, and prices are predicted to continue to decline, mostly due to distressed sales. To read more on this study click here.


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What’s in Your Problem-Solving Tool Box?

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

A client told me a few days ago that I have one of the hardest jobs, and she doesn’t know how I do it every day. She was referring to the difficult situations I face daily in regards to short sales, short sale lenders, and getting buyers qualified to buy properties. There are some days, I admit, where I want to just turn off my phone and go sit on the beach, ignore all the problems…but I persist.

In realizing that a solution is only as good as the work put forward to obtain it, I have come to the conclusion that there will always be problems, as in any business. Instead of dreading them, or slacking off, or even throwing in the towel, we need to approach each transgression with not only persistence and a plan, but with the best tool of all: laughter.

How does laughter help, you ask? If you have a stressful day or week, go and watch a funny movie. Aside from exercise, laughter is one of the best ways I know to get through anything. My new pastime is finding and making jokes about lenders, especially those I do not favor (like the ones who Chase off short sale buyers, Chase down bad BPOs, or Chase after foreclosure as a preference). See? I feel better already.

Laughter may not solve your problem, but it will definitely give you renewed energy to go out there and keep fighting. I am ready for a day in the trenches  tomorrow (I am hoping to Chase a big problem away), so tonight I plan on watching a funny movie. How do YOU deal with problems?


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