Top 3 Reasons Buyers and Sellers Should Ignore Some Online Info

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As a consumer, especially a real estate buyer or seller, you’re empowered with massive amounts of information online.  You have access to thousands of articles, MRIS data, and Q&A from “experts” all around the country.  All that information makes you feel empowered and informed.  Guess what?  You’re not.

Much of the information you read online falls into three categories; platitudes, regional articles, and falsehoods.  The problem is that as a consumer you don’t know how all that compares to the information that is, in fact, real and useful.  How do you tell one “expert” from another?  Good question but here are a few reasons to ignore a good part of what you read online.

#1 PLATITUDES – GENERIC ADVICE WHICH DOESN’T GO INTO ENOUGH DETAIL TO BE USEFUL

You see these all the time on the major consumer websites.  They look good with great fonts and well organized to look like useful information.  Unfortunately they leave out a lot of detail because they’re written for home buyers in all 50 states.  The result is an article which gives you enough information to be dangerous.  Instead of platitudes, talk to a local agent you can trust.  They’re far more likely to give you accurate insight into local rules, regulations, laws, customs, and the market than some generic article.

#2 REGIONAL ARTICLES – INFORMATION ABOUT A LARGE REGION THAT GIVE FALSE IMPRESSIONS OF THE LOCAL MARKETS

This is REALLY dangerous because it seems like such a credible source.  For example, you might read an article in the Washington Post are real estate sales in Washington, DC.  They say the market is up, slightly, and tough to find a home in. That’s true, but totally misses how intense the Ashburn, VA market is or Clarksburg, MD market is – which is far more competitive than Washington, DC.  As a consumer, you think you’ve got the inside scoop on the market – without talking to a REALTOR® – when in fact you’ve been duped by a generality.  Talk to an agent who works in that market and you’ll get the REAL story.

#3 FALSEHOODS – Articles written by people who know less than you do

Reporters are hired to write on all sorts of things in this industry from lending practices to buyer strategy.  Now, in all fairness, they do their research to find out what is correct and accurate.  However, they also tend to write for a wide audience.  So, you’ll read an article online from a writer in Texas that talks to real estate issues and dynamics that do not apply in…say…California.  They’ll quote laws and rules that are completely false…for where you are.  It’s not intentionally misleading, but it is. 

BOTTOM LINE:  If you need good, relevant advice, talk to us. If you’re not in DC, MD or VA, we’ll find you the best REALTOR® serving your area, who knows the laws and market dynamics for the specific areas you’re living or looking in.

http://www.DCMetroHomes.com                                                (202) DC METRO

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Difference Between Expert Advice and Perfect Advice

Remember:

  • · An expert doesn’t mean you’re going to give perfect advice.
  • · An expert means you’re going to give excellent advice.

Here’s the difference:

If you go to a doctor with a serious illness, she can’t tell you how it’s all going to wind up in the end. She can’t know for sure. Therefore, she can’t offer perfect advice.

However, your doctor can only give you excellent advice. She can tell you about your illness and your options, whether it be surgery or medications. She can also explain what she believes to be the best option for you based on your history, symptoms, and overall health. Ultimately, though, you’re going to make the final decision of whether you go through with the treatment plan.

Once you make that decision, your doctor will take you by the hand and walk you down the road to recovery. She will explain to you that there might be adjustments that need to be made to the treatment plan, because no one can know for certain how things will turn out.

She might have to adjust your medications or increase or decrease your treatment schedule. But every step of the way, she’s there with you, helping you get to your ultimate goal. This is called excellent advice. (By the way, does this sound like what we do with our clients?)

Similarly, if you went to an attorney, he can’t tell you how the case is going to end up or how the judge or jury will rule. That would be perfect advice. What an expert attorney can do is explain your options. He might pick one or two he believes to be the best ones to pursue. He will then leave you to make the decision on which option you want to take. Once you decide, he will help put a plan together based on the facts at hand. He will help you get to the best possible resolution of the case. And along the way, he’ll make whatever changes are needed. This is excellent advice. (Again, does it sound similar to how we help our clients?)

Our role as a real estate professionals is similar to the role of the doctor and lawyer. We can’t give buyers or sellers perfect advice because we don’t know what’s going to happen— we can’t know the future. However, we can give excellent advice based on the information and situation at hand. We can guide you through the process and help you make the necessary changes along the way. And that’s exactly what you want…and deserve!

3 Reasons to Sell Your House Today! (Part III)

Part III – New Construction Will Soon Be Your Competition

home builder

Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block. As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in. As an example, the National Association of Realtors revealed, relative to last year, year-to-date new home sales are up 19%.

These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they can be an attractive alternative to many of today’s home purchasers.

Here are the numbers regarding new construction about to come to market from theCensus Bureau:

BUILDING PERMITS

  • Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 600,000.
  • This is 25.5% above February 2012.

HOUSING UNDER CONSTRUCTION

  • Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 618,000.
  • This is 18.5% above February 2012.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS

  • Single-family housing completions in February were at a rate of 574,000.
  • This is 32.9% above February 2012.

As we mentioned, new construction can be strong competition to a seller of an existing home. It may make sense to list your home before this new inventory makes its way to market.

3 Reasons to Sell Your House Today! (Part II)

Part II – Housing Supply is Low

Homes for Sale

A seller’s ability to sell their home in today’s real estate market will be determined by both the supply of homes for sale and the demand for that housing. In real estate, supply is represented by the current month’s supply of homes for sale (the number of homes for sale divided by the number of homes sold in the previous month).

While there is no steadfast rule that will apply to pricing in every category of housing, here is a great guideline:

  • 1-4 months’ supply creates a sellers’ market where there are not enough homes to satisfy buyer demand. Appreciation is guaranteed.
  • 5-6 months’ supply creates a balanced market. Historically home values appreciate at a rate a little greater than inflation.
  • 7-8 months’ supply creates a buyers’ market where the number of homes for sale exceeds the demand. Depreciation follows.

What is happening across the country right now?

In most parts of the country, supply is dropping like a rock. According to the National Association of Realtors, total housing inventory is below a five months’ supply. This is almost 20% below inventory numbers of just a year ago and at levels we haven’t seen since 2005.

Based on the table above, we can see that the supply/demand ratio is showing a sellers’ market where prices appreciate. This has created positive movement in housing values in most parts of the country.

Sellers have a great opportunity right now. Historically, inventory increases dramatically as we approach summer. Selling now while demand is high and supply is low may garner you your best price.

FSBOing: This Time It Was Embarrassing

With the housing market beginning to heat up, we are afraid some sellers may consider trying to sell their house as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). This week we will  post the reasons that we believe trying to sell on your own may be a mistake. Here is an article we have run before which sellers should consider. – KCM Crew

embarrassed

This blog prides itself on the quality of real estate information we deliver each and every day. We try to gather empirical evidence to validate the positions we take. We do not use just an anecdotal story to make a point. We also do not get caught up in the sensationalism. However, today will be different.

We can’t resist commenting on the story which appeared in the Wall Street Journal a while back regarding Colby Sambrotto, the founder and former CEO of forsalebyowner.com. It seems the founding father and lifelong evangelist of the concept of selling your home without a real estate agent was forced to hire a broker to sell his home after failing at what he preaches others should do.

After failing to sell his NYC apartment on his own as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), Sambrotto hired a broker and paid a 6% commission in order to get the job done. His personal experience helps refute some of the myths Sambrotto has been espousing for over a decade. Let’s look at two of those myths:

Myth #1 – You Will Pocket More Money Selling on Your Own

Most FSBO sites say you can save the commission by selling on your own. What happened in Sambrotto’s sale?

From the WSJ article:

“The broker, Jesse Buckler, said he told Mr. Sambrotto the apartment in the Lion’s Head building on West 19th Street near Sixth Avenue was priced too low and wasn’t drawing the right buyers.

By May, it went into contract, he said, after attracting multiple offers. It closed in the last few days for $150,000 more than the original asking price.”

Myth #2 – The Internet Alone Can Sell Your Home

Many have said that, with the introduction of home search on the internet, hiring an agent is no longer a necessity. What happened to the FSBO guru when he attempted to only depend on the internet?

From the WSJ article:

“Looking to move his family to the suburbs, [Mr. Sambrotto] said he carefully staged his apartment for sale himself, and put it on the market. But after using a mix of websites to publicize his apartment, he said he had only ‘middling success’ and switched to a broker because many buyers were so reliant on brokers.”

Bottom Line

There is a reason the real estate industry has been around for centuries: it performs a valuable service.

3 Reasons to Sell Your House Today! (Part I)

Part I – Demand for Real Estate is Much Stronger This Year

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When selling anything, owners can only hope there is a strong demand for that which they are selling. The great news for today’s home sellers is that the current housing market is experiencing a stronger demand than we have seen in some time.

The  spring housing market of 2013 is projected to be one of the best in years.

Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors(NAR) reports monthly on both pending sales (houses going into contract) andexisting home sales (actual closed sales).

In the first quarter of 2013, pending sales have consistently outperformed the numbers reported in 2012. Contract activity has been above year-ago levels for the past 22 months. Before this year, the last time the index showed a higher reading was in April 2010, shortly before the deadline for the home buyer tax credit.

NAR also revealed that closed home sales have been above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months and sales are at the highest level since the tax credit period of 2009-2010.

Impact on Sellers

This increase in demand has created bidding wars for properly priced homes across the country. This has resulted in two favorable changes for home sellers:

  1. They are receiving offers closer to (if not greater than) the list price.
  2. The average days it takes to sell a home has dropped by over 20% from last year.

If you are thinking about selling your home, don’t miss out on the strong demand that exists in the current spring market.

A for Accessible

When purchasing a home there are many considerations – space requirements, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, proximity to work and services. Additionally, there are the aesthetics, the style of the home, its condition, and price. However, there are other important considerations that many people overlook – and these fall into the realm of Accessibility.

The term Accessibility is often used in relation to public buildings and public transportation, and we know about it largely because of a piece of important legislation called “The Americans with Disabilities Act”, or ADA. The ADA provides the framework that ensures that public structures are able to be used by a wide population, including people in wheelchairs and those who have other physical challenges, to ensure their success in a wide range of “major life activities”.

If you have ever tried to go somewhere or reach something that was essential to your well-being, but beyond your grasp, you know the frustration and helplessness that this can evoke. Imagine facing this time and again, in your own home. Whether you are facing a physical challenge due to an accident, or aging and can no longer move and achieve as you used to, your home should be a place where you can live, work and play in a way that is easy for you. Sometimes this means that issues of “accessibility” are at play.

Accessibility can also come into focus when you have a visitor to your home that uses a wheelchair or walker, is blind, or cannot use stairs for some reason. Aged or injured guests benefit from a home that is thoughtfully designed with accessibility as a focus.

While it is possible to retrofit or remodel a home to make it more accessible, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Some of the principles of accessibility to consider when purchasing a home include:

  • Can everyone, of all ages and abilities, use the home equally well?
  • Are the rooms “flexible” – can they be used for a variety of activities?
  • Are items in the house simple and intuitive to use?
  • Is it easy to see where you are in the house?
  • Do the entrances make sense?
  • Is storage easy to find and use? Are closets in the right places?
  • Is it a safe place?
  • Are there railings and places to hold on to, at heights good for all ages?
  • Do stairs, windows, and hallways make sense? Are bathrooms where you expect them to be?
  • How much physical effort is required for day-to-day activities?
  • Has effort been made to make it easy to see and get to all features?

When a home is designed and built, it should meet the needs of people despite their age or ability. The ability for it to be flexible and adaptable is an important factor, so that as needs change the home does not create obstacles for the inhabitants or guests. Modern architecture began following the adage, “Form follows function” early in the 20th century, and home buyers are advised to evaluate homes in light of functionality as well as style.

Difficulties arise when homes present barriers to the people who live in or visit them. If the owner ages significantly and loses abilities that made living in the home possible, then something must change. If babies or children enter the scene who might be hurt by stairs or other hazards, those dangers must be addressed. Accidents or other medical issues can result in sudden changes in mobility or self-sufficiency requiring adjustments to improve accessibility. In short, it might be prudent to consider accessibility when buying, building, or remodeling a home.

Looking at a building’s “bones” enables you to understand right away where barriers might occur. Pay attention to hallways, doorways and stairs – even when there are just one or two steps, as each of these elements can be an obstacle to someone who has mobility or sight issues. While doorways can be widened, hallways are more difficult to modify. Additionally, hallways can be dark areas and “wasted” space. Is there a good place for a lift-chair or elevator should someone in a wheel chair have to go up stairs? How easy will it be to control the light, reach counters and cabinets, enjoy the grounds, live daily life?

Cabinets, doors, faucets and switches can be difficult to operate, but easy if you think clearly while choosing these options. As you move around your home, look at these features and how it would feel to use each of these should your hands become stiff or painful. Traditional doorknobs can be replaced by lever-style “knobs” that could even be operated with an elbow or chin in an emergency. Faucets that operate with levers are also useful, as are switch-plates that operate with a simple touch – but beware that they are intuitive to use.

When you are buying a home that might require “adjustments” to afford the accessibility that you desire, consider the spaces and structure of the home. Is there enough property to create ramps to the entrance? Is it feasible to enjoy the best areas of the home and property if mobility is impaired? Are there steep inclines on the property or is the property exposed to extreme weather conditions that could increase hazards seasonally? Look at the approach to the property and how close you might bring a car to the entrance. Are the walkways easy to traverse?

Understanding the more challenging issues around a home or property might not rule it out, but will give you insight into the cost of overcoming these potential obstacles. Pay close attention to bathrooms and stairwells to ensure that you would have the space you need to adjust bathtubs and showers, or to install lifts. Is there a bedroom or office on a lower floor? In the event that it is needed, having an option to create single-level living arrangements could be a boon to your family.

Homes are designed to shelter people and their possessions, provide space for cooking and eating, hygiene, and sleeping. Entertaining in your home is a luxury for some, and a necessity for others. In each function, age and physical ability must come into play, and so architects and builders who consider accessibility up front will usually build more adaptable homes. If you believe that accessibility could be an issue for you or members of your family, consider taking the time to have an expert evaluate a property that you would like to buy. There is a list of professionals in the area of accessibility through the National Council on Aging In Place (NAICP.org). Going in with your eyes open will result in long-term satisfaction and a plan for the house and people alike.