Real Estate

How to Win in a Seller's Market

How to Win in a Seller’s Market 

Have you been hearing people talk about the real estate climate being a Seller’s Market?

Well it’s true. A seller’s market happens when there are more buyers than homes for sale. The Louisville area has been experiencing this market for the past two years. 

So how do you come out a winner in today’s market and find the home of your dreams while fighting against the other buyers?

Work with a Realtor

Real estate agents constantly research the market for the ideal homes for their clients. Your realtor will likely set up a search for you with your preferred criteria, but they will keep their eye on all the homes in your price range to make sure there isn’t something you’ve missed. Realtors also will hear about properties before you may see them on real estate websites or in the search your agent sets for you. Having a close working relationship with your agent will ease some of your stress.

Prepare for Multiple Offer Situations

Most sellers will have multiple offers on their home so it’s important to make your offer as enticing as possible. When writing an offer keep these items in mind:

Price – Make sure to research the price before putting in an offer. Trying to put in a lower offer than asking can get your offer discarded pretty quickly. When listing a home, most sellers will have a certain profit they desire to make. Buyers should put forth their best offer. Keep in mind that sometimes the best offer may be over asking.

Pre-Approval – Sellers want to consider offers from qualified buyers. Make sure you have a pre-approval letter available from a reputable institution. Your realtor should send that in with your offer. Though a pre-approval letter is not a guarantee of a loan, it shows you have visited with a lender and started the process.

Contingencies – Some buyers out there may ask for an offer to be contingent on the sale of their current home. If you have a home to sell, consider putting it on the market before starting your search. This may mean moving items into storage and renting an apartment for a short time until you find and close on a new home.

Home Warranty – Some real estate contracts will include that the seller purchase a home warranty of the buyer’s choosing. A home warranty is a great idea because it covers the appliances in the home, but it also can be an added expense of $500 or more for the seller. If the seller receives a like offer without having to purchase a home warranty, they will likely take that one. Remember, if it’s important, buyers can purchase a home warranty themselves.

Ultimately you will need to have patience in a seller’s market. Many homes will get listed and go under contract all in the same day. If you see something of interest, get with your realtor and try to get in as soon as possible. 

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Fix it or Forget it

Fix it or Forget it… 

Believe it or not no home is perfect; not even a newly renovated home or new build. Every sales contract includes the right for the buyer to have their potential new home inspected by a licensed home inspector. A typical contract will include a timeframe to have the inspection completed and request submitted followed by deadlines for the seller to respond.

Getting the right home inspector is key. Get someone you trust; if you are unsure ask your realtor for suggestions. Realtors work closely with inspectors and can point you in the right direction.

The home inspector will take several hours looking at every nook and cranny in the home. The report they issue will include everything from the mundane cracked paint to the any serious structural issues. You may be wondering, why not focus just on the big stuff? Buyers need a professional, impartial eye to let them know what they really are buying. Not everyone can fix the mundane so it’s best to know what truly lies under the cosmetic. The home inspector will sometimes suggest the buyer get an expert opinion on certain things. For example, they may know they air conditioning unit is not functioning properly but they aren’t trained to diagnosed the problem.

After the buyer receives the inspection report its time to compile their list of items they would like the seller to fix, replace or correct.

But be wary buyers; ask for the moon and you may be denied, but if you don’t ask for enough you could be in for a headache. 

So what do you ask for?

Consider your needs:

Are you a handy person? If there are things you could fix yourself with little expense consider keeping them off the list and focus on the heavier jobs such as electrical or roofing repairs. 

New vs Replaced

A buyer's request for repairs, replacements or corrections must relate to issues the inspector found in the home. For instance, if the windows are operational but outdated a buyer typically wouldn't ask for them to be replaced with a new model. However, if the seals are broken you could ask for them to be replaced.

Keep in mind, every repair, replacement or correction you request will cost the seller additional money, making the seller more hesitant to do a long laundry list of repairs. The seller may opt to provide a credit at closing to put toward repairs rather than completing themselves. Sellers typically will do a combination of things to complete the buyer’s requests. After all they do want to sell the home.

Keep in mind repairs are a negotiation process. Your realtor will be your closest ally. Remember they’ve bought and sold thousands of homes and can help ease your fears and get you the house of your dreams.

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Contingencies

Contingencies 

Spring is just around the corner and with the warmer season, buyers and sellers will be out and about exploring their options. 

Every residential sales contract typically is filled with standard conditions that must be met for a sale to be finalized; i.e. the home must appraise or the buyer must secure financing within a certain timeframe. These are called contingency clauses. Though these are standard in every contract, there are a couple more clauses to be aware of. 

In a perfect world, every buyer would have all the funds needed to move ahead with a home purchase regardless if they currently own a home. Though we do not live in the perfect world, there are ways to move forward with purchasing a new home while waiting for your home to sell – Contingency. 

The most common contingency added to a contract is the sale of a current residence. This can be tricky for both buyers and sellers. 

What happens when a home has an accepted contract with a contingency?

When a seller accepts a contingent contract, they still have the right to continue showing their home in hopes of getting a non-contingent offer. If they do get another offer, the buyer has 24 to 48 hours, depending on how the provision was written, to decide if they could drop the contingency and continue on with the purchase despite not having a pending contract on their home. If they cannot move on with the purchase, they unfortunately lose the home and have to re-start their home search. 

What other less common contingency options could you see?

The seller could ask to make the sale contingent on purchasing another property or a specific piece of property. 

Moving furniture early: With this contingency, you and the seller agree to allow you to move personal property in (or move in entirely) earlier than the seller anticipated. You may have to agree to pay the seller rent if you move in before closing, but it will spare you from putting your belongings in storage and finding temporary lodging. Most sellers and agents are reluctant to pursue this avenue because of the liabilities involved.

Homeowners insurance: To get your loan, you will have to obtain homeowners insurance. It’s not optional. However that insurance could cost far more than you expected. You can protect against this by making the purchase upon your being able to obtain affordable insurance. 

The biggest thing to remember about contingencies is that they should be in the contract to benefit both parties. They also should have expiration dates; no sale can be contingent indefinitely.

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Tips to Sell Your Home Quickly

Tips to selling your home quickly

 

First impressions can make or break a deal; same goes with your home. Whether you are selling a showplace or a smaller condo there are some things you can do to make your place more enticing to potential buyers. 

1. De-clutter

If it isn’t essential to the décor it’s time to pack it away. Potential buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your home. Some people will have trouble seeing their stuff if they’re wading through yours.

2. Start with the outside

When a potential buyers pulls into the driveway start their tour off right. A little landscaping and some color in the yard or garden will make the right impression. It also will add a smile to their face and get the tour started on the right track.

3. Update the interior

You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money updating the interior because buyers will always have their own ideas. But have you ever walked into a home with neon blue throughout the house? Try to tame any eccentric color choices with neutral paints. It’s all about helping the buyers visualize themselves in your home. If they are overwhelmed buy potential maintenance issues they will move on.

4. Stage your home

If you have rooms in your house that are rarely used give them a purpose during showings. It never hurts to be creative and show what could be. If you’ve already moved out, this could be very important to making sure you’re home isn’t sitting on the market for long.

 

 

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Negotiating

Negotiating

"I'm gonna make him an offer he won't refuse," is a famous line from The Godfather but not everything is that simple especially in real estate transactions. When buying or selling a home everything is negotiable including when you can start moving in. Here are some tips to make sure everyone can come out a winner. 

1.Price

Sellers - This isn’t an arbitrary number. If the house is priced too high it’ll sit on the market, too low and you’re missing an opportunity. Your realtor will help you determine a fair price that considers the value of the home as well as values of other homes sold in the nearby area. 

Buyers – You potentially will be competing against others, so make the most compelling offer you can. Sellers will quickly discredit your offer if it’s too low. Make sure to consider all aspects of your offer including closing or maintenance costs.

2.Finances

Sellers – Know what your final selling price is including what you want or don’t want to put toward closing costs.

Buyers - make sure to have your finances in order before making an offer. If you love the home so does someone else. Sellers may have several offers at once. Showing you are preapproved will help make sure your offer is given the consideration it's due. 

3.Don't get hung up on the small stuff

 Sellers – you love your home, but remember everyone has their own style. Changes will be made but try to not get bent out of shape with buyer maintenance requests.

Buyers - no home is perfect so go into negotiations knowing what maintenance issues are a must fix and which you could live with fixing yourself. 

4.Inspections

Sellers – Inspections can make or break a deal so make sure you’re not waiting around on pins and needles. When negotiating you can request a time frame for buyers to have inspections completed.

Buyers – Inspections are important! Inspectors are trained to spot things that you may not realize could be an issue. Partner with your realtor to get a recommendation.

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Don’t go it alone

Don’t go it alone

When buying or selling a home there are numerous decisions to make and roads to travel, but one of the biggest decisions you have is who will help guide you through the process.

In 2014, 89 percent of sellers sold with the assistance of a real estate agent according to the National Association of Realtors. Using a realtor is a wise choice; there is someone there to help you navigate through the nuances and unique situations that arise in the real estate market. 

“One person may buy or sell three to four homes in a lifetime. We sell thousand,” says Julie Pogue.  “We can only get better with practice.”

But still, there are eight percent of sellers who chose to go the process alone.  Over the past 20 years in real estate, Julie says she has worked with a number of sellers who initially try the market on their own. 

“The home is usually over priced and sits forever; then they call a realtor anyway, or it is severely under priced and sells too quickly,” Pogue says. 

The National Association of Realtors reports that in 2014 sellers without an agent sold their homes for $30,000 less than those with an agent. So why chance losing money? The association says most FSBOs hope to avoid paying a commission on the sale of their homes.  Typically during the sale of a home the seller’s agent receives a three percent commission and the buyer’s agent receives another three percent. 

 “What if something goes wrong and there’s no one there to help you”, Julie says. “It can be terrifying. Everything is a liability. It helps to have a go between buyers and sellers. It’s really a business partnership. Why would you want to risk on if not the biggest assets that you own.”

Julie’s Top 5 Reasons to use a Realtor

Relators save you time and money. Realtors have easy access to home prices in the area so they can ensure a fair listing price.

Realtors solve problems before/if they occur.  An experienced and full time agent has seen it all. They can work with you to develop solutions to the most complex situations. The longer you do it the better you get.

Realtors help with negotiations. It’s not just the price that can be negotiated, but repairs, time of possession, etc. There’s also more to consider.

Realtors think of things you’ve never considered. Without many years of experience, you can never know every situation that will arise. Every sale is unique

Realtors are in your corner and want to make sure you are successful. Selling or buying a home can be stressful. Why worry when you can have someone you trust to watch out for your interests.

FSBO Statistics

FSBOs accounted for 8% of home sales in 2014. The typical FSBO home sold for $210,000 compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales.

FSBO methods used to market home: 

  • Yard sign: 42%
  • Friends, relatives, or neighbors: 32%
  • Online classified advertisements: 14%
  • Open house: 14%
  • For-sale-by-owner websites: 15%
  • Social networking websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.): 15%
  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website: 10%
  • Print newspaper advertisement: 3%
  • Direct mail (flyers, postcards, etc.): 3%
  • Video: 2%
  • Other: 1%
  • None: Did not actively market home: 25%

Most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers:

  • Understanding and performing paperwork: 12%
  • Getting the right price: 6%
  • Preparing/fixing up home for sale: 6%
  • Selling within the planned length of time: 18%
  • Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale: 6%
  • to all aspects of the sale: 6%

Source: 2015 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

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Replacement Cost...Do I need it?

How do you determine if you need replacement cost as part of your homeowners policy?  What does replacement cost even mean? Take a look at the article below and give us a call for any questions.  We are always here to help.

http://homebuying.about.com/od/glossaryqr/g/Definition-Of-Replacement-Cost.htm

SOURCE: About/Money

By Janet Wickell

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Single Women Are Making A Difference

Here's a link with some insight of how the buyers market is trending in the area of gender and generaton. You might find it quite surprising! 

http://blog.rismedia.com/2016/how-single-women-are-changing-the-home-buying-market/

Source: Rismedia housecall

By: Megan Wild 

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What do YOU think the current housing trend indicates?

Home Prices Are Climbing Faster and Faster, but This Is Not a Bubble

This spring buying season is off to a strong start—in fact, prices are going up faster than they were just a few months ago, according to nearly every recent metric. So does that mean we’re in a bubble?

Nope, that’s just what happens when demand increases faster than supply. After all, existing-home sales were up 9% year over year in March, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Inventory is also increasing, but not as fast as sales, resulting in a tight supply getting even tighter.

An equilibrium level of supply on the market is considered to be six to seven months; supply has been under five months since December. Looking at every quarter since 1988, when supply was under five months, prices rose 8% year over year on average. When supply was in the equilibrium range, prices went up only 4% on average.

The median existing home price in March was $212,100, up 8% over last year, according to the NAR. The median list price in March onrealtor.com® was $220,000, which was up 11% over last year.

During the peak years of the housing bubble, from 2003 to 2005, the data on supply versus price appreciation looked very similar to what we are seeing now. But there are key differences, which is why I’m confident that on the national level, this is no bubble.

Here’s why, this time, the price increases should stick:

The level of the current price appreciation is not like the bubble. Prices went up 7% and 12% in 2012 and 2013, respectively, as the market corrected for too-severe price declines in the prior years. Last year, the appreciation level moderated. Even factoring in the one-time bounce from the prior overcorrection, median prices have grown less than 8% on a compounded annual basis over the past three years. Median prices, by comparison, grew 10% on a compounded annual basis from 2002 to 2005, without any bounce from a prior decline.  On an inflation-adjusted basis, we are 30% beneath the peak set in 2005.

Likewise, relative to rents or incomes, median home prices are not “unhinged” from long-term averages. The price-to-rent ratio is similar to the rate in the mid-1990s. It was 35% higher in 2005. The price-to-income ratio is now where it was in 2001, and it was about 30% higher in 2005.

During the housing bubble, we saw both prices and sales grow to historical levels fueled by a rapid expansion in mortgage financing. We are clearly not experiencing record sales or record mortgage originations now.

As a result, we are not seeing vacancies increase like they did at the end of the bubble. In 2005, vacancies started to rise before sales and prices reached their peak as a result of flipping activity and overleveraged speculative investing. On the contrary now, vacancies have slowly trended back to more normal levels.

So, today’s higher prices are only to be expected as the economy improves and first-time buyers gradually return to the market. Eventually, those higher prices should encourage more owners to list their homes and builders to start construction on new housing—which in turn should solve the problem of supply.

As chief economist of realtor.com®, Jonathan Smoke leads its efforts to develop and translate real estate data and trends into accurate and relevant consumer and industry insights on housing.

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A Piece of Anchorage History

The beauty of Anchorage can be yours!

Bellewood Home

The opportunity of a lifetime to own a piece of history in Anchorage is available!  This National Register of Historic Homes property was originally built in 1869 and has been extensively transformed over the years into a magnificent Southern Colonial 8 bedroom, 4.5 bath home designed by architect Frederick Morgan.  ''Bellewood'' offers 14' ceilings, random-width hardwood flooring, Terrazzo flooring in the sunroom and magnificent moldings and architectural details throughout.  The 3,215-square-foot first floor showcases a formal center foyer and large formal dining and living rooms, a gum wood paneled library, kitchen, sunroom, butler's pantry, formal breakfast room and a powder room. The second floor is 2,866 square feet and contains three guest bedrooms, two full baths, a sewing room and master suite with private bath, dressing area and a large study. There are 1,250 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 1 full bath and another bath construction started on the renovated third floor. The unfinished basement offers additional storage with a lower-level entrance. The recently renovated exterior of the home offers thousands of square feet of custom brick and limestone terraces on three levels, including a breathtaking 30-foot Belgium fountain centered on the front property. The first floor has refinished floors, extensive new custom mill work, new ceilings, new wainscot paneling, kitchen updates, and butlers pantry renovations including new cabinets, a wine cooler, ice machine and second dishwasher. The home boasts period high-end light fixtures throughout. The dining room features original Zuber wallpaper. The ceilings and walls throughout the home have been reskimmed and painted. The baths have offer the original fixtures that have been rebuilt. The remodeling of the third floor includes new wiring, wormwood maple trim, surround sound, custom cabinets for the kitchenette, and custom built-ins. Exterior updates include excavation of front drive, terrace and stone walls, new heated circle drive made of limestone and brick pavers, stone block foundation, imported Belgium fountain, heated brick terraces and brick walkways, new retaining walls and extensive landscaping. More than 150 trees were removed and lumber was milled on site to provide much of the random-width pegged hardwood flooring and cabinetry in the completely renovated cottage. The cottage was raised and a new stone foundation built. The cottage was enlarged to 1123 square feet on two floors and features a copper roof and copper guttering and outdoor shower. A bath with laundry hook ups was added to the cottage and features Carrera marble. The cottage windows are custom built with wood and glass insets. New mechanicals including electric, most plumbing, water lines, Sonos sound system, camera system, computer network, and electrical service updated to 1200 amps. Home is wired for satellite, DSL and technology and security systems. Exterior security lights, and central vacuum. A magnificent covered outdoor kitchen was created with vintage lighting, copper mantle over the 30-foot stone fireplace, two grills, gas burner ideal for crab boils, three sinks, ice maker, granite countertops, cedar beams and copper and mahogany bar. A large outdoor television hangs above the covered entertainment area which leads to the refurbished pool. All custom blinds and drapes remain. All electric and plumbing has been run to the carriage house, cottage, stables and four-car garage. Call Julie Pogue Properties at 502.238.7400 to schedule your private showing today!

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Bathroom Trends 2015!!!

The Spa-Like Bathroom: 10 Top Trends for 2015

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

NKBA_bathroom

Photo Credit: National Kitchen & Bath Association

Just like the kitchen, contemporary designs are growing in popularity in bathroom remodels. These contemporary touches in the bathroom equate to clean and open designs, with floating vanities and freestanding tubs.

Last week, at Styled Staged & Sold, we highlighted the top 10 trends for the kitchen this year. This week, we focus on the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s latest trend report on what’s driving bathroom design in 2015.

Here are the top 10 overall bathroom design trends NKBA designers expect to be hot this year:

1. Clean, white, contemporary designs
2. Floating vanities
3. Open-shelving
4. Electric heated floors
5. Purple color schemes
6. Trough sinks
7. User experience (ease of use and low maintenance) and accessibility features
8. Extra amenities (like steam showers, anti-fog mirrors, lighted showers, and shower seats)
9. Innovative storage (such as drawer pullouts and rollouts to hold hair styling equipment)
10. Showers and freestanding tubs

Most popular colors: White and gray are the dominant colors for bathrooms. Half of designers expect to see gray growing in 2015, and several designers also mentioned the growing popularity of purple, lavender, and lilac tones gaining steam in bathroom designs. For fixtures, white continues its dominance.

 

Out of style: Jetted tubs, whether whirlpool or air, are decreasing in popularity, according to NKBA’s report. “People are moving away from jetted tubs to more classic soaking tubs,” says Bill Donohoe with Donohoe Design Works in the Los Angeles area. Also, beige fixture colors are increasingly dropping in popularity.

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Kitchen Trends 2015!

The Contemporary Kitchen: 10 Top Trends for 2015

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

NKBA_kitchen

Photo Credit: National Kitchen & Bath Association

Contemporary is the buzzword when it comes to kitchen designs this year, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Streamlined designs, eclectic touches, and multiples of appliances lead the trends, according to NKBA’s 2015 forecast.

Here are the top 10 overall kitchen design trends expected to be hot this year, according to NKBA’s report:

1. Clean with an overall contemporary feeling: A fusion of styles and multiple colors in one kitchen
2. European-styled cabinets
3. Multiples of appliances in one kitchen (most notably two dishwashers, like a dishwasher and a dishwasher drawer, or the addition of a refrigerator/freezer)
4. The rise of steam ovens
5. Furniture-like pieces (such as furniture-styled dry bars)
6. Outdoor kitchens
7. Fewer standard kitchen tables, replaced by counters or tall gathering tables
8. TVs and docking stations (many kitchens have desks or home office areas as well as flat-screen televisions and docking/charging stations)
9. Wine refrigerators
10. A focus on the user experience, from easy maintenance to accessible design

Most Popular Colors: The most common color scheme for kitchens: White, followed by gray, according to NKBA. About a third of NKBA remodelers also said they did black or blue kitchens in 2014. Kitchens in green tones were also gaining in popularity. Designers are increasingly reporting an appetite for kitchens with multiple color schemes.

“I am seeing lots of white painted kitchen perimeters with espresso stained islands and dark stained kitchen perimeters with light colored painted islands,” says Christine Shorr with Morris Black Designs in Allentown, Pa. “Lots of painted white kitchens with light countertops and espresso islands and painted gray cabinets.”

Out of style: Country/rustic, Tuscan and Provincial looks with distressed finishes, as well as color schemes in reds, bronzes, and terra cottas are on their way “out” in the kitchen.

 

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Women Leadership In Real Estate

It’s Time For More Female Leadership in Real Estate

Brooke Wolford

Brooke Wolford

By Brooke Wolford

I recently had a conversation with other real estate professionals about the industry’s lack of women in leadership roles. For an industry comprised of almost 60 percent women, this doesn’t make sense. I have been blind to this issue because I am fortunate to work for a broker who’s management team consists of mostly women. The culture within our office is also very diverse.

Out of curiosity, I did a little research. I pulled demographics and surveyed a small group of people within the industry, all of whom are from different areas of the country and work at different companies. The results were mixed.

This is not an issue that only affects the real estate industry, but rather a workplace issue in general. Just the other day there was an article in the New York Times about the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins case and the small percentage of women who are venture capitalists. The story also highlighted the lack of female leaders in Silicon Valley. I found this report by Catalyst, which is further proof that we have a long way to go in terms of female corporate leadership:

Now, I believe there are solutions to this problem, not only at the company level, but also at the individual level. Let’s seize this as an opportunity. Here are some points based off of the research I did with my peer group, as well as some statistics I found:

  1. Many in my peer survey suggest that women are very motivated and have additional skills that can be great in leadership.
  2. Many real estate pros surveyed said there is a lack of female leaders at the brokerage level. When asked the average number of people in upper management at their brokerage, they said seven, and the average number of females in upper management: one.
  3. Some said that their companies have had the same people in leadership roles for many years (10 to 20 years or more).
  4. According to NAR, 57 percent of REALTORS® are women.
  5. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 61 percent of the U.S. workforce; they earn almost 60 percent of all undergraduate degrees and 37 percent of all MBAs, yet many companies continue to lag in placing females in executive positions.
  6. Many people I spoke to suggested that some women are motivated to advance but they seem to get stuck in the middle management limbo.
  7. Several studies I read show that women are often held to a higher standard than men.
  8. According to the U.S. Census, women account for a little over half of the population.
  9. In 1980, the portion of female leaders of the top 500 companies was at 11 percent, and today, that number is roughly 18 percent.  That’s only a 7 percent increase – in 35 years!

As I look at myself and look back at my history, I see that I made a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am now. I sacrificed sleep, health, and having a personal life to run a business while simultaneously being a single mom. There were times that I only slept a couple hours a night. A lot of this was my own doing. I also didn’t have a strong support system, like family to help, a supportive significant other, etc. But why should I not be able to have it all? When there are 12 million single parent families in the U.S. as of 2014 – and more than 80 percent are headed by single mothers – working toward success both professionally and personally is clearly not uncommon.

I could go on and on about this, but I think it’s more important to stress that there is an opportunity here. Being the diverse and constantly changing industry that real estate is, there is plenty of untapped talent and ways to improve.

The best chance of changing obstacles in business is to tip the gender scales in leadership.

To all the women reading this: Become the leader of your own career and life. Be authentic authors of your own lives. Take responsibility for your professional development. No one has a greater investment in your success and satisfaction than you. Don’t depend on the traditional management structure of your organization to put you on the path to achievement. It’s up to you to direct and protect your career and to develop your own potential. You cannot afford to be passive or to accept roles assigned to you. Know what you want and why you want it, then be prepared to take action to make it happen. This means maintaining your focus on your goals in spite of any feelings of discouragement. Tell yourself this: I simply will not give up. If your goal is to become a leader and to help real estate industry become truly diverse, then don’t give up. Your leadership is most needed.

Our industry...

Rising Home Sales!!!

Pending Home Sales Rise in January to Highest Level in 18 Months

MEDIA CONTACT: ADAM DESANCTIS / 202-383-1178 / EMAIL

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2015) — Improved buyer demand at the beginning of 2015 pushed pending home sales in January to their highest level since August 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions except for the Midwest saw gains in activity in January.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, climbed 1.7 percent to 104.2 in January from an upwardly revised 102.5 in December and is now 8.4 percent above January 2014 (96.1). This marks the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year gains with each month accelerating the previous month's gain.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says for the most part buyers in January were able to overcome tight supply to sign contracts at a pace that highlights the underlying demand that exists in today's market. “Contract activity is convincingly up compared to a year ago despite comparable inventory levels,” he said. “The difference this year is the positive factors supporting stronger sales, such as slightly improving credit conditions, more jobs and slower price growth.”

Yun also points to more favorable conditions for traditional buyers entering the market. All-cash sales and sales to investors are both down from a year ago1, creating less competition and some relief for buyers who still face the challenge of limited homes available for sale.

“All indications point to modest sales gains as we head into the spring buying season,” says Yun. “However, the pace will greatly depend on how much upward pressure the impact of low inventory will have on home prices. Appreciation anywhere near double-digits isn't healthy or sustainable in the current economic environment.”

The PHSI in the Northeast inched 0.1 percent to 84.9 in January, and is now 6.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index decreased 0.7 percent to 99.3 in January, but is 4.2 percent above January 2014.

Pending home sales experienced the largest increase in the South, up 3.2 percent to an index of 121.9 in January (highest since April 2010) and are 9.7 percent above last January. The index in the West rose 2.2 percent in January to 96.4 and is 11.4 percent above a year ago.

Total existing-homes sales in 2015 are forecast to be around 5.26 million, an increase of 6.4 percent from 2014. The national median existing-home price for all of this year is expected to increase near 5 percent. In 2014, existing-home sales declined 2.9 percent and prices rose 5.7 percent.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1According to NAR's January Realtors® Confidence Index, all-cash sales were 27 percent of sales, down from 33 percent in January 2014. Sales to investors represented 17 percent of the market in January, down from 20 percent a year ago.

*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: Existing-home Sales for February will be reported March 23, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be March 30; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

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Commercial: Secondary Markets Gain Attraction

Commercial: Secondary Markets Gain Attraction

The dollar is strengthening, so you would expect institutional real estate investors from outside the U.S. to hesitate before buying here. But that’s not happening, because the relative stability of the U.S. economy and commercial real estate markets offsets the higher buying costs. That’s one of the takeaways from Scaling New Heights, a 2015 commercial real estate outlook from NAR, Deloitte, and Real Estate Research Corporation/Situs, which the groups released February 5.

What’s more, big buyers from outside the U.S. aren’t just looking at properties in New York, L.A., Washington, and Miami; they’re looking at properties throughout the U.S., including secondary markets.

That means buyers from London or Toronto might be interested in your apartment or office property in Omaha or Indianapolis. What investors are looking for, says George Ratiu, NAR’s manager of quantitative and commercial research, is higher yield, and they can often get that more readily in secondary markets than they can in the big markets.

If you have commercial properties in even smaller, “tertiary” markets, your buyers will probably be mainly from the area or region, as they always have been, Ratiu says.

Looking ahead, expect financing to be more widely available this year than in the previous few years. That’s because all the major sources of financing are back: pension funds, commercial banks, institutional investors, even commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS), which virtually disappeared during the recession. Today they account for about 30 percent of financing.

Despite the improved availability of money, you still have to have a performing asset to get financing at the best terms, as you would expect.

All in all, it’s a good time to be in commercial real estate, because the momentum is on the upswing.

Learn more about the findings in the video with NAR analyst George Ratiu.

More about the report.

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The Internet is Great but…...Get Out There Into the World!!

Source: Written by Andrew Fortune for GreatColoradoHomes.com

Looking at Homes Online Versus In Person

Posted by Andrew Fortune on Monday, March 3rd, 2014 at 1:31pm. 10,166 Views

Looking at Homes Online Versus In Person Real Estate Infographic

In an effort to help online home shoppers avoid the emotional let down of falling in love with homes before they visit them, I wrote this article to point out some of the main differences between online listings and real life homes.

I often get contacted by homebuyers in Colorado Springs who have found their dream home online and want to see it immediately. They haven't communicated with a real estate professional yet, and they haven't looked at a home in person for many years, but somehow they know that the home they just found online is the right one. Usually, they have been looking online for a few months and the excitement has been building. This is very common for first time home buyers. After personally showing homes for so many years, I’m constantly reminded that the perfect home for sale online rarely become the perfect house in person.

Here are some things to consider. First of all, when someone hires a real estate professional to list their house for sale, the #1 one job of that agent is to get the most amount of showing activity possible. That is why they are referred to as the “listing” agent. Their #1 priority is to list the property to the best of their ability with all the tools available. Listing agents use photo and video tricks to showcase the property's highest and best qualities. For this reason, real estate tend to look better online, than in person. You’ll find out the real details upon visiting the property.

Here are a few issues that are nearly impossible to identify in an online real estate listing:

real estate online vs in person gif


1.) Don’t Trust Room Sizes by the Photos

Good photographers know how to make a space look larger than normal by using wide angle lens and imaging software. The lens will capture as much of the room as possible and display it in a wide image. This will cause a “fisheye” effect that distorts the image, so the photographer will us software to correct the distortion. I use Adobe Lightroom to adjust the image. It aligns the image back to a parallel shape, while still maintaining the depth of field. This usually makes the room look more spacious online.

camera wide angleGood photographers will also crouch, or lay down in the corner of the room to get a view that makes the ceilings look taller than they really are. It also causes the room depth to appear farther than normal. If there are too many pieces of furniture in a room, listings agents will advise sellers to put those pieces of furniture in storage to create more floor space. When an image is taken from a low spot in the farthest corner with a wide angle lens, the result look like the room is huge with extra tall ceilings. You can’t trust images online to accurately show the dimensions of a room.


2.) It’s Not Always As Clean As It Looks Online

It’s very hard to tell how clean a home is from the photos online. Experienced sellers have been preparing their home for months in advance by doing repairs, painting, rearranging furniture, etc. When it comes time to take the listing photos, they are exhausted. They will do a deep clean in all the main areas, but not necessarily throughout the whole house. When you visit the home, you may find that the closets, secondary bedrooms, bathrooms, and/or garage spaces are not very clean. Dusty blinds, baseboards, and decor can reveal a home that is not cleaned as often as the online pictures may appear. This can be a major turnoff for many homebuyers.

HDR ComparisonHDR image processing is also a tool that real estate agents and photographers use to make a house "sparkle" online. HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing is slightly deceiving and unfair to the viewer, in my opinion. With that said, I do use it. It’s just too powerful of a tool to not incorporate into my toolkit. An HDR capable camera is setup in the corner of a room (usually at a low angle), on a tripod with a wide angle lens. Using a remote trigger, the camera will snap of a serious of images using different light exposure ranges. These images are then oversampled together into imaging software to use the best possible lighting for each pixel. This creates an effect of perfect lighting. Sometimes the software is overused as well. Have you ever seen an online listing photo that looked more like a computer graphic than an actual house photo? That’s caused by overusing HDR processing. When used correctly though, HDR imaging will cause a home to shine in the perfect light and appear to look “heavenly”. What it looks like in reality may be another story though.


3.) What’s That Smell?

Picture this: You have been looking at homes for a couple of months and you haven’t found the right home yet. Your agent sends you a listing that just came on the market and IT’S PERFECT! You stop everything and rush to view the property immediately. You get to the home and are eagerly waiting at the front door for your agent to open it. As soon as the front door opens, your nose is inundated with the smell of a thousand city zoos. Aromas of cats, mixed with a hint of monkey and lama all dominate the air space. You really want to look at the home, but all you can think about is the overwhelming smell of animals. This is a classic scenario that every Realtor deals with. In my opinion, it’s probably the hardest issue to overcome when I’m showing homes. When I’m in a home with strong pet odors, it’s almost impossible to focus on anything other than, “lets get back outside”.

Pet OdorAnimal lovers don’t understand this problem. They are immune to the smell. In my experience, I’ve noticed that cats are worse than dogs. Male cats are prone to “spray” to mark their territory, even if they are neutered in some cases. This smell is almost impossible to get rid of. Regardless of the type of animal, it takes a very clean home owner to remove the smell out of the home on a daily basis. Many pet owners are not able to do this well. They will try to fix the problem with candles and carpet deodorizers 30 minutes before a showing. That only works for a few minutes. After a short time in the house, the pet hair and ammonia smell will start to come...

Tax Time Benefits for Homeowners!!

Don’t Miss These Home Tax Deductions

By: Dona DeZube

Published: December 22, 2014

From mortgage interest to property tax deductions, here are the tax tips you need to get a jump on your returns.

Owning a home can pay off at tax time.  
Take advantage of these homeownership-related tax deductions and strategies to lower your tax bill:

Mortgage Interest Deduction 
One of the neatest deductions itemizing homeowners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home -- and your home can be a house, trailer, or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.

Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million -- or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately -- is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.

If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.

If you use loans secured by your home for other things -- like sending your kid to college -- you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.

PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums
You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI) as mortgage interest on Schedule A if you itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.

By the way, the 2014 tax season is the last for which you can claim this deduction unless Congress renews it for 2015, which may happen, but is uncertain.

What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized downpayment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).

If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you can’t claim the deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).

Besides private mortgage insurance, there’s government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing, and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.

Prepaid Interest Deduction
Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest. 

If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year. 

But if you refinance to get a better rate or shorten the length of your mortgage, or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage. Say you refi into a 10-year mortgage and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.

So what happens if you refi again down the road?

Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the life of the loan.  

Home mortgage interest and points are reported on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.

Your lender will send you a Form 1098 that lists the points you paid. If not, you should be able to find the amount listed on the HUD-1 settlement sheet you got when you closed the purchase of your home or your refinance closing. 

Property Tax Deduction 
You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.

If you bought a house this year, check your HUD-1 settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades
If you made your home more energy efficient in 2014, you might qualify for the residential energy tax credit.

Tax credits are especially valuable because they let you offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades.  

The credit carries a lifetime cap of $500 (less for some products), so if you’ve used it in years past, you’ll have to subtract prior tax credits from that $500 limit. Lucky for you, there’s no cap on how much you’ll save on utility bills thanks to your energy-efficiency upgrades.

Among the upgrades that might qualify for the credit:

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

To claim the credit, file IRS Form 5695 with your return. 

Vacation Home Tax Deductions
The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

  • If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.
  • Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Your expenses are deducted on Schedule E.
  • Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days you rent it and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and allocate them based on how often you used and how often you rented the house.

Homebuyer Tax Credit
This isn’t a deduction, but it’s important to keep track of if you claimed it in 2008. 

There were federal first-time homebuyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

If you claimed the homebuyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest. 

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe each year until it’s paid off. Or if the home stops being your main home, you may...

Things to Consider When Buying a Home…..

14 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home

Don't let your emotions cloud your judgment
Wait! That house may seem like everything you’ve ever wanted, but before you make an offer, take some time to consider a few things beyond the size, style and price. 

When buying a home, it’s easy to let emotions get in the way of reality, or get sudden amnesia about factors that may make a difference.
"Sometimes we want something so badly, we’re not willing to ask all the questions we should,” says Leslie Levine, author of "Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home?" 

For instance, she says, you may see a basketball hoop over the garage and assume the neighborhood is great for kids. But a closer inspection may show that it’s rusted and hasn’t seen a ball in a decade, and that other yards in the neighborhood have no jungle gyms or tire swings out back.
1. Visit at various times of day
The windows that let in so much light during the day may be a peeping Tom’s dream at night. That seemingly quiet residential street may be a noisy, highway-feeder street during morning or evening rush hour; or it may be near impossible to get from your quiet street across traffic and onto the feeder street in the morning. The adjacent school may seem like a nice perk if you’re buying in the summer, but during the school year, daily playground noise and extra traffic may be more than you bargained for.
2. Look through recent newspaper archives
“Make sure you’re getting information on what you can’t see,” Levine suggests. Perhaps the municipal water well that feeds your neighborhood has high levels of contaminants or a proposed high-voltage power line may soon be coming through your back yard. You can also check with the city or county to see if there are any proposed projects.
3. Talk to neighbors
How many people in the neighborhood own their homes? Sometimes it’s hard to tell at first if you’re choosing a neighborhood that’s primarily rental houses.
4. Ask if the neighborhood has an association
“Is there a newsletter for it? How often does the neighborhood get together? Do they have a block party every year?” Levine asks. “Even if you don’t plan to attend, the fact that they’re having a gathering says they care about their community, that they want to get to know each other, that they’re willing to socialize that way. People who behave that way are building a community. They’re going to look out for your kids; they’re going to look out for your house. It’s a nice, safe way to celebrate something.”
5. Quiz the sellers 
What problems are they aware of that the house had in the past – even if they’ve been fixed? An ice dam five years ago may have caused water damage that has since been repaired. But it’s good to know that the house may be prone to ice dams so you can take preventive measures rather than find out the hard way. Discovering the basement flooding was solved by building up the landscaping in a particular area will prevent you from leveling the ground there in later years.
6. Get a home inspection
Virtually all houses have defects, according to National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents. Some will be obvious and most will be curable. But knowing what needs fixing can help you negotiate a lower price – or at least prepare you for costs you’re soon to incur. Strongly consider getting inspections, too, for lead paint, radon and wood-eating pests.
7. Get detailed records on past improvements 
This isn’t always possible. But if you’re told the house’s exterior was painted two years ago – and then see a receipt noting the whole project cost just $1,000 – then you’ll be forewarned that cheaper materials were used and that you may be looking at repainting sooner than you thought.
8. Don’t just assume remodeling will be a snap 
If you voice your ideas to the sellers, you may be able to glean valuable insights. For instance, perhaps that shower is in an odd location because, when remodeling 10 years ago, the previous owners discovered a costly structural impediment to putting a shower where it would seem more appropriate.
9. Consider the view 
“So many neighborhoods now have teardowns. So look at the two houses on either side of you. If this neighborhood has had some teardowns, one of those houses might be a candidate. And they may build some behemoth structure that affects your light or the way your house looks or your view,” Levine says.
10. Ask for utility bills 
You may adore the Cape Cod architectural style or the high ceilings and walls of glass in a modern home – but those winter heating and summer cooling bills may push your monthly payments beyond affordable. Ditto for the water bills you’ll pay to maintain a pristine landscape.
11. Pay close attention to taxes
Don’t just ask what the seller’s most recent tax bill was; ask what several recent tax bills have been. In some areas, houses are re-appraised – and taxed at higher rates – frequently. That great deal and good investment may not seem quite so grand if the property taxes skyrocket year after year. Again, look at newspaper archives or talk to your...

Winter is the Best Time to Sell Your Home

Winter Is Apparently The Best Time To Sell Your Home. Here's How To Prep It In One Weekend.

Posted: Updated: 
Winter is known for many things, the least of which may be that it's the best season to sell a home. Granted, winter isn't exactly the most convenient time to move, but according to a study from real estate company Redfinhomes listed between December and March sell faster than homes listed in other months, and for more money. (That's been the case recent years, at least -- the market changes often).
Redfin says that anytime between December and May is an ideal time to list your home -- and February is the hands-down the best month. The company's analysis of nationwide listings from 2014 showed that 74 percent of homes listed in February sold within 90 days, and 13 percent of them sold for more than the list price. (Compare that to September, when 61 percent of homes sold within 90 days and October, when just five percent sold above list price).

In short, "shoppers in January and February are motivated," says Christin Camacho, a Redfin spokesperson. "They're looking in winter because they need to move, not because they're just looking for fun." And if people are going to brave the cold to househunt during winter, then they're going to make their effort worthwhile.

But before you pull a huge remodel to get it ready for the market, let's get one thing clear: Interior designers, realtors and home stagers almost unanimously agree thatyou should NOT stage large-scale remodels of ANY kind before selling your house. The investment, they say, simply isn't worth it.

The key to successfully selling your home lies in mini renovations -- the ones you can do on tight budgets, in a couple of days, and (most of the time) without professional help.

Feel free to breathe a sigh of relief and check out the suggestions for mini-improvements below.

Mini-remodel #1: Front porch paint job
Cost for gallon of paint: $33 Time to complete: Two days
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Repainting your front door is the most important revamp to execute, says Zillow interior design expert Kerrie Kelly. A fresh coat of color -- or a whole new door, if you're in need and willing to hire professional help -- will boost your home's "curb appeal," letting visitors know they can expect good things before they even get inside. Complete the front porch look with new address plates, light fixtures, potted plants and a welcome mat.

Mini-remodel #2: New kitchen and bathroom hardware
Cost of new knobs: $25 for 10-pack Time to complete: A few hours
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Kelly recommends picking up bulk packs of drawer knobs and door handles and replacing worn, rusted ones. "If you can streamline the hardware on your cabinetry, it's fantastic," she says. Oh, and organize your shelves while you're at it. "People don't like to see clutter."

Mini-remodel #3: Replace entryway light fixtures 
Cost of indoor wall lamp: $17 Time to complete: A day
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It's hard for designers to pinpoint exactly why perfect lighting puts house hunters in the mood to buy, but they agree that bright, warm lighting is key. First-impression areas like the entryway are especially important.

Mini-remodel #4: Paint with neutrals
Cost for gallon of paint: $33 Time to complete: Two days
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Remodeling Magazine editor Craig Webb has crunched the numbers to find out which large-scale remodels make the most returns for homeowners, and he recommends one very simple trick: "If you talk to realtors, one of the first things they'll say is to repaint." Add a coat of "light, bright and neutral" paint to any room (and...

Charming St. Matthews Rental!!

A fabulous rental home is coming available in St. Matthews! Exceptionally large and beautifully landscaped backyard provides private space for outdoor entertaining. Hardwood floors, cozy family room along with the kitchen, a formal dining room, an adorable 1/2 bath and one bedroom on the first floor. On the second floor, you will find two additional bedrooms and a full bath. Lots of storage space in the large unfinished basement. Don't miss out on this opportunity to call one of St. Matthews' premier streets your home!

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