The holidays. It’s a time for celebration, a time for good food and good cheer, and - for many homeowners - a time for out-of-town visitors. And while gathering your loved ones from all corners of the globe to celebrate with you and your family undoubtedly brings holiday joy, it can also bring more than a bit of holiday anxiety.
Over the years, I've had friends, family & colleagues coming to me asking about appraisals. Usually, it's to say that they just got one and the appraiser "clearly must have been smoking something"... A lot of folks are looking to take advantage of the low interest rates that are teasing them. If you haven't refinanced your house in the last year (or even last 6 months), it might be time to check your current interest rate against market interest rates because they've dropped substantially over the last year. I personally have refinanced my home twice this year.
It’s 2018. Home automation has come a long way from uber expensive systems that took lots of wiring and money to harness. It’s easy to implement some of these tools for under $20. This video gives a brief overview of each.
When was the last time you asked "how are you" and didn't hear a response involving the word "busy"??
We're all wrapped up in the minutia of doing more with less, the endless imbalance of work/life & trying to achieve all of these things to feel good about ourselves. The end game is that we're all overworked, over-tired, stressed & probably not having as much fun as we think we should. Believe it or not, these sentiments creep into our home. When real estate was BOOMING, this was reflected in our homes with opulence- luxurious finishes like marble, onyx, travertine, scrolling iron, rich, silky textiles & all that... stuff. Our homes were literally bursting at the seams with THINGS. We all know where that time went...
In a nutshell, here’s a market recap of how real estate went down in April…
Cromford Report: April 2017 Recap
“Seller Concessions Have Risen Despite Buyer Frenzy
For Buyers: Buyers continue to find themselves in a frenzy of competition for homes as March recorded the highest number of non-distressed sales through the MLS since September 2005. While supply has dropped a significant 12.7% overall compared to this time last year, it’s dropped a whopping 22% in the Southeast Valley and 27% in Pinal County! Despite the extreme lack of supply under $300K, 30% of closings in this price range are showing some form of seller-paid concession at close. Compare this to 27% in March of last year and it indicates that even as demand and prices are on the rise, a larger percentage of sellers are contributing financially to closing costs, home warranties and repairs in order to get top dollar for their home.
For Sellers: March 2017 recorded the highest Listing Success Rate for normal listings since July 2005 at 81.8%, which means more homes are coming off the market because they successfully sold and not because they cancelled or expired. In a balanced market, the Listing Success Rate ranges between 60-65% for this time of year. To compare, the lowest Listing Success Rate was recorded in December 2008 at 21% and the highest was in May 2005 at 87%.
Normal listings between $100K and $200K currently have the highest success rate at 90%, followed closely by the $200K-$300K range at 87% and $300K-$500K at an impressive 79%. It’s a good time to be a seller!” – source The Cromford Report
The market is strong! At face value, this is all good stuff, but what the numbers don’t say is that supply is not evenly matched with demand at all price levels- namely the high demand for affordable homes (under $300K) & very little supply; conversely, there’s lower demand for luxury homes, and LOTS of supply. And seller concessions (sellers pitching in cash to help their buyers close)? Whaaaaat?! Stay tuned for more!
We're in a legit seller's market & have been through 2017 to this point. This summer, typically our S.L.O.W. season, was so busy that I haven't had a vacation yet... The last 2 homes I've put in escrow sold with multiple offers after being on the market for a little while. It's enough to make sellers crazy! That said, there are a few things you MUST keep in mind and a few things agents do that separate the rookies from the pros, who're worth every penny you pay them.
Here's what you need to know...
Get bent out of shape!PLEASE. STAY. CALM. !!! I can show you scientific proof that your chances of making good decisions (i.e. wise choices- financial, far-reaching, irreversible, etc.) go out the window when your heart rate exceeds so many beats per minute (BPM). If you're not careful, you could lose the sale & blow your chances with other buyers too. I once had 20 offers on an REO listing I had in Laveen years ago. I had to make it through the top 6 or 7 before I found one that stick. Losing your momentum is the worst thing to happen to a listing that's hot out of the gate!! The next place to stay calm? After you receive the Buyer's Inspection Notice (AKA "the BINSR").
Be too demanding. There's a lot of emotion in selling a home, especially when 2 buyers want YOUR palace. It's easy to get a little opportunistic and start expecting the sun, moon & stars. Buyers are flaky- they are very emotional too. An emotional buyer & seller is a recipe for disaster! This town isn't that big (I grew up outside NYC) and people (read: agents & buyers) talk. In close-knit communities, like Arcadia & PV, sometimes I know exactly where buyers who walk away from my listings are headed.
Stop showing your house or keeping it show-ready. Just like take off & landing are the most likely times for an airplane to crash, the inspection period (typically the first 10-15 days) & the closing are the most volatile times during a home sale. It ain't over till the fat lady sings- the fat lady is the escrow officer or me telling you the escrow officer sang. I can spot things going sideways from a mile away. Sometimes I may just sound cynical, but I've seen a lot. And what I haven't seen personally, my colleagues have warned me all about already. Please stay on the straight and narrow if you want to cross the finish line with minimal drama.
Share details of the sale price or terms with- neighbors, friends, your agent friends... There's a reason the Realtor® Code of Ethics forbids us to share the details of a sale with anyone, without the seller's written permission! I had multiple offers on a listing I just put in escrow. I'd had 4 offers before finally reducing the price one more time and getting multiple offers. The 1st buyer to the table had a number that was substantially above a previous buyer who was sniffing around again. The next buyer knew of the first one on the table and came in with a VERY strong offer & terms. The next buyer was someone I showed the house to myself. He wasn't aware of the other 2 and verbally planned to come in MUCH lower. When it finally sunk in he wasn't alone, he wanted me to share "the number" with him. I refused. He said, "I'll match the offer you have." I said, "I can't tell you the number or terms. Please tell me what it's worth to you and I'll write it up". I wouldn't give in, but can say within an hour he was willing to go $25K ABOVE my initial list price! Funny thing though, this cash buyer was never was able to get me: his proof of funds, the details I needed to write up his offer, etc. Good thing I didn't give in, get my seller all wound up on an unrealistic number that never materialized anyway...
Have a plan for a fast exit- rent, buy something else, move away. Nothing is worse than having no plan at all. In spring 2015, 2 clients' home sold in days (at the same time). Though one seller was in 85254 & the others were in McCormick Ranch and they were on different paths, they had to get out fast! The solution for both were fully furnished seasonal rentals. The couple stayed at theirs for about 6 weeks before relocating out of state and the other stayed for a month, and then another month and then scrambled to find something long term before the rent jumped up at high season! I've done that charade myself and it can be a bit scary, especially if you've got your whole house in storage and kids/pets trailing behind you. Whether it's Hotel Mom & Dad or a 6-month rental with a flexible termination, figure it out right away.
Make a list of what you need & want from the sale, then choose wisely from your offers! If you're a low-stress, low drama seller, a buyer who is a pain in the A$$ from the start, will probably be a pain in the EVERYWHERE in your body by the end. Trust me on this one. Pain in the a$$ agents are the same. If I had a nickel for every time a seller said "it wasn't worth the extra $X to deal with..." Actually, they never say it, but the sentiment seeps out of every pore of their body every time we speak...
Look at the ENTIRE OFFER & TERMS before you make a selection or counter. "Highest and best" offer isn't always the *best* offer for the seller!!! Even if you get an extra $10K, incurring an extra $5K in moving expenses for "rush" move & the hassle of figuring out how to locate a house that hasn't existed for 9 mos (IT HAPPENED TO ME!!!) may not be worth it. I can't emphasize how much the "little things" make a difference. Being able to lease back, buying all the furniture, cash sales with no appraisal, a fully pre-approved buyer with money already at escrow.
Pick a good agent who knows most of this ahead of time... like ME. Duh!. ;) All kidding aside, agents who've experienced the ups and downs of the market have good memory (or should). Making the same mistake over and over is crazy-making stuff. There's a movie about it... "Groundhog Day", coincidentally my birthday. Trust when I say, "don't do X", there's a reason for it. I won't say "I told you so", but knew it would blow up & really can't help with:
Buyers freaking out because the seller choose not to repair an item(s) the buyer's agent specifically said was a "big deal"
Expecting a fast sale on a dated home in Paradise Valley, DC Ranch, North Scottsdale priced over $2M (under-performing market), even though the rest of the market is "UP"
Not understanding why the house didn't appraise for the sales price, even though I told/showed/promised you I had nothing to support that value
Being surprised when some repair I brought to your attention before we listed, is suddenly a big deal *now* (i.e. a bad roof)
Trust me. NO ONE hates for a deal to fall apart more than me. In 12 years, I've been around the block though. Even when times are good, it pays to have a healthy dose of reality in your back pocket. When it's all over, we'll laugh about it over lunch/cocktails/coffee/whatever you want. I just need to get you get to the finish line... With that, I'm off to argue why ~$10K in repairs doesn't equate to a $25K price reduction for my sellers... (couldn't make this stuff up...).
Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!
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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.
It doesn't even MEAN ANYTHING, but we all got it. It's a little too emotional. A little irrational and kind of annoying...
Believe it or not, "Schmoopie" kind of goes hand in hand with "There's no place like home..." (I know I'm reaching, but just stick with me on this...). It all sounds totally cliche, right? But, who knew that when Jerry muttered those words that they'd collide some day with Dorothy's and make so much darn sense!
Our "home" is our sanctuary, kingdom, etc.
It's the place where we open our eyes to start our day, where we lay our heads at night, hang out and let it all hang out. Did you ever think yours would be anything more than a few walls that contain all our stuff? "Home" is also where we retreat, find strength, pull ourselves together after defeat, yadda yadda.
As a Realtor®, I'm amazed at how lightly many would-be buyers & renters take this. Don't get me wrong, many buyers absolutely understand just how important this is, but so many mores squander the opportunity. Yeah, I'm sure you're skeptically muttering under your breath something along the lines of "champagne tastes... beer budget". You're missing what I'm saying.
"Home" doesn't represent the latest design dream drawn up on HGTV by the Gaines' or Property Brothers.
I'm talking about the *real* stuff... waking up in the AM and hearing, seeing, smelling & tasting things that ground you. Knowing you can WALK, run, hike or ride out the door to something that means a lot to you. Let the emotion and sentiment guide you, but NOT blind you to reality.
Here are a few tips to make sure you get a good one...
1. Think about what you need.
It's knowing that the park where you do your circuit training, your favorite coffee place or grocery store or hiking loop, your bus stop, and even your job, if you work A LOT, is close by and you can retreat there in a heartbeat.
What does your ideal morning and/or evening look like?
Do you really not care about either of those but relish afternoon lunches at home? What do those moments look like?
Where's your dogs' favorite walking route or dog park?
Lest you think I'm off my real-estate rocker, clients like a couple I ADORE, bought their house just off Murphy's Bridle Path in North Central Phoenix because the backyard reminded the husband of a favorite pond when he grew up & the wife of the trees in her native European country. Another couple I worked with spent an entire weekend biking the greenbelts in McCormick Ranch before professing, "This is it! *THIS* is where we want to be!!". They loved that area until it no longer suited the needs of their families. I have tons of stories like these.
You can't put a dollar amount on any of this. It doesn't need to be deep. It definitely doesn't make sense, but being aware of these details could profoundly impact one of your life's biggest purchases.
2. Make a list.
Seriously. Don't keep it all upstairs and hope you can recall it at a moment's notice. I promise you. Inevitably, you'll be "blinded by the pretty" of some aesthetically pleasing aspect of a home. You'll forget all about [Kyle Jeanne, Sammy, ...], the [barrista, butcher, server, convenience store clerk] right down the street in your current hood [Old Town Scottsdale, Willo, Kierland, Arcadia, ...], who makes your [coffee, oatmeal, eggs, knows which newspaper.] *just the way you like it*. EVERY. DAMN. DAY. You'll kick yourself if you don't. Or maybe you'll do what I say and just be happy.
3. If you haven't put a ring on it (or received one) yet, PLEASE don't let your Schmoopie help you make the list.
Schmoopies come and go... This is YOUR pad. YOU pay for it & may really pay for it if the place sucks or the relationship doesn't work out... They don't even need to know about your list. I won't tell them... Promise! ;)
A couple who searched in vain to find the *right* home followed my advice and brought their list with them when they bought their 2nd home from me. The checked off each of the boxes in glee as they confirmed the home they were standing in, in N Central Phoenix was "their perfecthome" (they knew they were on to something) REALLY WAS their perfect home. Think I set the bar high? Not really. The 1st one I sold them near Uptown Phoenix was "too perfect" and they almost didn't buy it!! LOL Don't be intimidated. This home doesn't have to be the "end all be all".It just has to be the "end all be all" *right now*.
The Final Takeaway:
Whether you're buying or renting, put some thought into this and get organized. You'll probably live wherever you end up for a while- at least a year right? Life's too short to be unhappy. Find your inner Schmoopie and go get yourself someplace good. I'll help you! :)