Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Lack of Listings Remains 'Huge' Challenge in the Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rearview mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures & short sales) are at their lowest mark in over 8 years. This has been, and will continue to be, a great year for real estate.
However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic and demand continues to be the strongest it has been in years. The supply of homes for sale has not kept up with this demand and has driven prices up in many areas as buyers compete for their dream home.
Traditionally, the winter months create a natural slowdown in the market. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, points to low interest rates as one of the many reasons why buyers are still out in force looking for a home of their own.
“Overall, the fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the traditionally slower sales season, and pent-up demand remains substantial as buyers seek to get a home under contract while rates remain so low.”
NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, points out that the inventory shortage we are currently experiencing isn’t a new challenge by any means:
"Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won't be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand."

Bottom Line

Healthy labor markets and job growth have created more and more buyers who are not just ready and willing to buy but are also able to. If you are debating whether or not to put your home on the market this year, now is the time to take advantage of the demand in the market.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Buying a Home? 4 Demands to Make on Your Real Estate Agent

Are you thinking of buying a home? Are you dreading having to walk through strangers’ houses? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of buying. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge, just like a great doctor or great accountant.
You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish an average agent from a great one.
Here are the top 4 demands to make of your real estate agent when buying a home:

1. Tell the Truth About the Price

When making an offer on the home you want to buy, make sure that your agent walks you through their plan for getting both the seller – and the bank – to accept that price. Too many agents will just take the offer that you suggest and then try to ‘work’ both you and the seller in the negotiating phase later. In a competitive market, you need an agent who is going to help you make the best ‘initial offer’ so that you stand out from the crowd. Every house in today’s market must be sold twice – first to you and then to your bank.
The second sale may be more difficult than the first. When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the original offer.

2. Understand the Timetable with Which Your Family is Dealing

You will be moving your family into a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of the new school year or a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan.
This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. Your agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can to make it work.

3. Remove as Many of the Challenges as Possible

It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.
Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on parts of the purchase offer, don’t expect them to turn into a superhero when they are negotiating with the seller for you and your family.

4. Find the Right HOUSE!

There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving.
You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with buying. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family; if they discover something needs to be done in order to attain your goal, insist that they have the courage to inform you.

Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Strong Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace Inventory of Homes for Sale

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.
Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would your rate buyer traffic in your area?”
The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only four states came in with a weak or moderate demand level.

Seller Supply

The Index also asked: “How would your rate seller traffic in your area?”

As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together and discuss the demand in our area.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Americans Believe Real Estate is Best Long-Term Investment

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According to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index Poll, Americans who have money to set aside for the next 10 years would rather invest in real estate than any other type of investment.
Bankrate asked Americans to answer the following question:

“Which would be the best way to invest money you did not need for more than 10 years?”


Real Estate came in as the top choice with 25% of all respondents, while cash investments (such as savings accounts and CD’s) came in second with 23%. The chart below shows the full results:
Sterling White, co-founder of Holdfolio, gave one reason as to why real estate may have ranked so high.
"Houses are tangible. You can physically see and feel the product. So you know where your money is going."
July’s poll also found that for the “26th consecutive month, Americans’ sense of financial well-being improved when taking into account debt, savings, net worth, job security, and overall financial situation.”

Bottom Line

There are several reasons, both financial and non-financial, as to why homeownership makes sense. It is nice to see that Americans have returned to a belief in homeownership as the best investment.



Monday, April 25, 2016

Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price Is Right!

In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.
There is no “later.”
Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered their price. His article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price,published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.
Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

One great way to see this is with the chart below. The higher you price your home over its market value, the less potential buyers will actually see your home when searching.

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.
Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Look for an agent that will take the time to simply and effectively explain what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home. You need an agent that will tell you what you need to know rather than what you want to hear. This will put you in the best possible position.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

91.5% of Homes in the US have Positive Equity

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that one million borrowers regained equity in their homes in 2015. The outlook for 2016 remains positive as well, as an additional 850,000 properties would regain equity if home prices rose another 5% this year. 

The study also revealed:

·         95% of homes valued over $200,000 now have a positive equity position
·         87% of homes valued under $200,000 have entered a positive position
·         The 11.5% growth in home equity in Q4 marked the 13th consecutive quarter of double digit gains
Below is a map showing the percentage of homes with a mortgage, in each state, that have positive equity. (The states in gray have insufficient data to report.)


Significant Equity Is On The Rise

Anand Nallathambi, President & CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is great news for the“long-term health of the U.S. economy.” He went on to say:“The number of homeowners with more than 20% equity is rising rapidly. Higher prices driven largely by tight supply are certainly a big reason for the rise, but continued population growth, household formation and ultralow interest rates are also factors.”Of the 91.5% of homeowners with positive equity in the US, 72.6% have significant equity (defined as more than 20%). This means that nearly three out of four homeowners with a mortgage could use the equity in their current home to purchase a new home now.The map below shows the percentage of homes with a mortgage, in each state, with significant equity.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is unsure of how much equity you have in your home and are curious about your ability to move, meet with a local real estate professional who can help evaluate your situation.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Designing an Outdoor Dining Space



Whether your home is a house in the suburbs or a high rise in the city, taking advantage of the outdoors is a great way to expand your livable space. If you are working with a large backyard, your possibilities may be endless, but even the tiniest balcony can be transformed into a functional area. There is nothing quite like enjoying a delicious meal al fresco, so here are a few tips to consider when designing an outdoor dining space.

Determine Your Function

Depending on the square footage of your outdoor area, consider what you will be using it for. Are you creating a dining space on a cramped balcony, or do you have a sprawling back yard with room for several areas? Smaller spaces can be tricky, so try to find furniture that can double as storage, like a bench with space beneath or a table with drawers or an extra shelf. For larger spaces, consider separating areas with rugs or using potted plants to establish borders between the dining and lounging spaces.
If dining will be one of the main uses of your outdoor space, be sure to consider proximity to the kitchen or grill. Having a clear path between the cooking area and the dining area will make serving much easier and help prevent trips, drops and spills.

Find Your Color Scheme

Consider what your focal point will be to help determine your color scheme. If your outdoor space overlooks the ocean or a beautiful landscape, then choosing neutral materials will create fewer distractions from the view. Alternatively, if you’re working with an urban setting, bring in a bit of color with potted plants and vibrant seat cushions or pillows. Ultimately, your space should be a reflection of your own style, but should also complement the surroundings.

Know Your Environment

With many different materials to choose from, selecting the right outdoor furniture can be tough, but considering your environment is a great place to begin narrowing down the list. If your space gets a lot of direct sunlight, metal furniture may not be your best choice as it can get hot and uncomfortable to touch. Additionally, if you are near the ocean, salt water in the air can be harsh on metal surfaces and require additional treatment and cleaning to maintain.
If you live in an area that experiences all the major seasons, you will want to consider if you will need to store your furniture for the winter. Plastic, resin, or wicker patio furniture can be a bit lighter weight than other materials and easier to put away for the off season.

Know Your Surroundings

Is your outdoor space small and intimate or large and sprawling? For smaller spaces, less can be much more. Be careful not to force a small space into something it can’t handle, like cramming an eight-seat table into a 4-seat space. Bistro tables can be an excellent fit for city balconies and smaller patios as they don’t take up too much space and can be easily moved around. Forcing too much furniture into a small space will make it feel even smaller and may deter you from enjoying it.
For larger spaces, be careful not to overdo it! Ask yourself what you are most likely to use the space for before you plan a 50-person dinner party. Large spaces are often best utilized by sectioning into several areas. For example, an outdoor dining space, a lounge area, room for the kids to play, and a pool can coexist in a very comfortable way by sectioning each area as if it were a room inside your home. Create obvious walkways between each area, and utilize area rugs, planters or potted plants to give the illusion of borders for each area. If you need a bit of privacy, a trellis covered in vines is the perfect divider to create a more intimate outdoor dining area.

Know Your Audience

Is your outdoor dining space for you and your spouse, or do you have a large family or entertain frequently? If you pride yourself as the host with the most, make sure your outdoor dining layout allows for a smooth cooking and entertaining experience. If your grill is the primary cooking space, make sure it is safely separated from the crowd, but also close enough that you can cook and entertain at the same time. If you plan to mostly cook inside, try to plan the dining space in close proximity to the indoor kitchen to avoid long trips back and forth and easy access to the refrigerator.

Have Fun with It

There are a million different ways to design an outdoor space and it really just boils down to your own personal style. Inspiration is often just a few clicks away, or you can view hundreds of patio dining sets at PatioLiving.com.

By Aaron Lewis