Topic: Home Selling

Selling A Home Takes Work.

I came across this old photo from Twitter today, and it made me chuckle. I’ll save calling out the person who sent it to me, although i still remember when she sent it – three years ago.

We were prepping her house for sale, and I’d given them their homework. They had a long list of things to do – some of them were pretty standard, like making sure all the light bulbs worked, or the registers were vacuumed out – and some of them were more labor-intensive. We also wanted to do some remodeling and decided to visit Atlas Ceramics for mosaics to replace our patio tiles. Although the list was daunting they were making progress, but at some point in the process she sent me this tweet:

Selling a home

Love ya mean it, EG!

Look, selling a home isn’t easy, but if you want to sell house fast in Texas, I don’t care how much stuff you read on the internet, or how easy it looks on HGTV, in order to get top dollar it takes work … and before it goes on the market, the bulk of that work falls on your shoulders. As we get closer to putting the house up for sale, much of that work will fall to me; things like professional photography, aerial work, laser measurements, and advance ad placement, for instance. But we currently have dozens of things in our workflow that need to be done when a home is ready for sale, and each of them – when done correctly – help to make the difference in getting a house sold, and getting a house sold for top dollar.

Want to see more of how we do it? We’re glad to talk. But regardless of whether you use us or not on your next home sale, remember my 3L’s of selling your home – Lights on, Lids down, and Leave.

New Phishing Scam Targets Home Buyers

Scammers – they’re the lowest of the low. And now, we’re seeing them go after home buyers, attempting to steal money via wire transfers. It’s something we’ve been watching gain momentum for a few months now, and while Nest Realty has taken steps to continue to safeguard our clients’ information, it’s still important to stay vigilant.

Nest Managing Broker Keith Davis has put together a really great blog post detailing the scam, and highlighting ways that you, as a home buyer or seller, can protect yourself. Even if you’re not working with Nest Realty, make sure your agent knows of the scam, and talk with them about steps to protect yourself. You can read the full post here.

Thanks, Keith, for the information.

When Do Houses Come On The Market?

Seems like, for years now, people continue to ask “when do more houses come on the market in the New River Valley?” It’s true that, as I write this a few days before Christmas 2016, inventory is down, as it is every year. For instance, if you were looking for a single-family home between $250,000 and $300,000 in Christiansburg right now, you’d have twenty six homes to choose from. In Blacksburg, that number would drop to eleven. This makes sense, of course, as in the last six weeks of the year there are three major holidays, and lots of traveling, but for a buyer who’s ready to buy NOW, it can be frustrating.

With that in mind, our real estate market follows most in the country – a typical bell curve, with more listings coming on the market in the spring, peaking in the summer, and falling off in the fall. It’s a pattern that’s been repeated for years now, and one we can reasonably expect to continue.

So – looking to buy in 2017? Don’t be disheartened by lack of inventory at this moment in time. Consider the chart below, which shows activity levels for the New River Valley real estate market going back to 2003. You can clearly see a sharp peak, year after year, as more and more properties came on the market. And for home sellers, fear not – the same pattern applies to you, as well.

So if 2017 is the year that you’re looking to buy, or sell, know that your options – and competition – may be limited right now, but that will likely change as we head into the New Year. As always, if you have any questions, any of our Nest brokers are happy to discuss further.

Have a Merry Christmas!

The Fed Raises Rates – So Now What?

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Federal Reserve

As expected, the Federal Reserve raised short-term rates today. This is the first such increase they’ve made in a year, and the second in a decade. So what’s it mean for real estate mortgages?

The Federal Reserve is the bank of the United States – they regulate monetary policy, and they provide stability within the central banking system. And while an increase in short-term rates might seem to be a bad thing, it’s actually an indication that the Fed sees the US economy in positive terms, and is bringing interest rates up to better mirror inflation. While it’s true that mortgage rates will now rise – local lender Robert Mitchell of Movement Mortgage is already reporting that they’ve seen rates rise to 4.25% – the truth is that this is really a sign of an improving economy. With quoted rates effective today of 4.25% on a 30-year fixed loan, let’s run some numbers to see what the difference in today’s advertised mortgage rates look like:

$200,000 loan at yesterday’s closing rate of 4.125% – Principal & Interest payment of $969.30
$200,000 loan at today’s current rate* of 4.25% – Principal & Interest payment of $983.88
* rate pulled from www.Movement.com

For home buyers, today’s news is going to mean a slight increase in the overall cost of a loan. Again, based on the calculations above, that cost is going to be minimal, but each hike in the Fed’s rate will mean a slight increase in the monthly cost of a home loan. And for sellers, it puts a small amount of downward pressure on you, as well – rising rates are going to keep a small number of buyers out of the market initially, but we’re predicting that’ll reset a bit as we head into the spring market. And remember – rates are still incredibly low, historically. The chart below, from HSH.com, shows 30-year conventional rates over the last 16 years.

30-year mortgage rates since 2000

30-year conventional rates since 2000

 

When’s A Good Time TO Sell A Home?

“Hey Jeremy, when’s a good time to sell my home?”

I get this question all the time – twice today, in fact. A few times this week. There are thousands of other Realtors that are going to tell you “now’s a great time to sell a home!”, but you might have noticed that earlier they said “now’s a great time to buy a home!”, too. So which is it?

The truth is, I really don’t know. Your situation, and your motivation, is going to be different from someone else’s. One person today was looking to sell in order to pay off student loans, so he and his family are looking to downsize for a while so that they can put themselves in a better financial position. The mortgage payment is comfortable, but they want to do more. Another has a house that reminds him of painful times, and he wants the house sold yesterday in order to put the hurt behind him. Think the motivations are different?

Don’t be fooled by those who seem to be saying “NOW” when trying to answer the question of whether it’s a good time to sell. A home will sell in any market – it might sell better in one market than another, but a home will still sell. So weigh your options, review the data, and talk to your Nest agent – we’ll help you work through your options and decide what’s best for you.

 

Should I Sell My Home As A “Pocket Listing”?

A client of mine is always on the lookout for properties for sale. Although she is not ready to buy yet, she likes to see what options are out there for her, and she’s always checking out the available inventory.

Recently she was driving through a very desirable neighborhood and saw a higher-end home for sale. Curious, she checked the local listings on Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and the website of the Realtor advertised as the listing agent but did not see the listing. After several days of looking, she contacted me and asked about why a Realtor would not list a home online. She wanted to know more!

What my client saw was a home that is a “pocket listing.” This type of listing is pretty popular in extremely high-priced markets or celebrity neighborhoods. The idea is the listing Realtor will speak with other Realtors in the area about the property, and sell the home that way instead of publically listing it. For those who want to sell and have their private lives remain private, this may be the way to go. I said, “may be”.

According to CNN Money, pocket listings are becoming more common as the market is gearing more towards the seller in larger markets like Los Angeles and Manhattan. But as you’ll notice, we’re not LA or Manhattan. In some markets, I”ve heard of these being as much as 40% of the market!

If you are a celebrity, it might make sense to do a pocket listing, but in this area, not so much. Even in a seller’s market, why in the world would you want to be exclusive if you live in the New River Valley? Homes get snatched up pretty quickly if they are move-in ready.  If someone wants a higher-end home, there are several listed on MLS that are easy for buyers to research before buying. (You can find your next home here.) Having it online allows the potential buyer to do research before making an appointment to see the home which leads to fewer looky-loos and more serious buyers. A quality Realtor will not take anyone other than someone who can afford the home into your exclusive home.

Additionally, there are some other potential problems with a pocket listing, namely dual agency. A pocket listing allows a Realtor to do dual agency, where both buyer and seller are represented by the same Realtor. Dual agency in and of itself isn’t illegal, but it serves to benefit no one but the agent (who pockets the full brokerage fee). As a seller, do you want to expose your home to the broad market, or just who your Realtor knows?

Although the pocket listing my client saw is located in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in town, as of today, it has been for sale at least a month. It’s competition has already sold, because buyers knew where to look.

Search available homes in real-time here. It’s a Pocket Listing Free Zone.

Why I Want To Work With Vendors I Know

Local. It’s all the rage these days – local food, local business, local anesthesia. Okay, so that last one doesn’t apply, but you get the point. Heck – even Blacksburg has gotten into the act.BlacksburgLooking through the lens of supporting local business, or eating locally grown food, it’s easy to see why local is important. But when I recommend wanting my clients to work with local vendors – folks like home inspectors, or lenders – I’m not doing so because it’s the catchy thing to do. I’m doing so because it matters to getting things done. An example:

Recently, we listed a beautiful home in Christiansburg, on an acre, for $269000. The owners had remodeled everything, and done a fantastic job – they’d made a master suite downstairs, complete with a sliding barn door, updated the kitchen with beautiful counters and crosscut tile floors … it was stunning for the price point, and a home the sellers had hoped they’d be in for years to come, until life took them in another direction. When the house went on the market, activity was high, and it went under contract quickly, in 3 weeks, at 96% of list price. While the sellers gave a bit of a discount to be sold quickly, it was obvious that demand was high on a property that was in good condition, and priced well. Everyone was happy.

As part of the closing process, the buyers had an appraisal done. By all accounts, the appraised price should have been at least the sales price, if not higher. But when it came back, it came back almost 20% lower than the sales price – a full $7000 HIGHER than what it had been purchased for 5 years ago, and before the upgrades had been made.. Unbelievable. If the house had been 20% over priced, we wouldn’t have had more than a dozen showings, and gone under contract, so quickly, in a strong sellers market. Somewhere a mistake had been made; everyone – except for the appraiser and the bank – agreed on that point. Of course, appraisals are a bank’s way of making sure that the value of a property is in line with the market, so this low appraisal meant the bank wouldn’t make the mortgages, and the buyer couldn’t buy. Also i have to mention, that Bespoke Guttering supplied all the aluminium gutters for this project that i want to talk with you, but this on another post.

After some time of going back and forth, both the buyer agent and I realized that the bank was just looking at the buyer as a number. The buyer was a number, the house was a number, and it didn’t matter the circumstances. It didn’t matter that everything else in the market said the value was the sales price. It didn’t matter that the house had gone under contract quickly. It didn’t matter that the buyer’s income supported the sales price. The bank wasn’t local, the underwriters weren’t local … the whole transaction was just a small number that made up a bunch of much bigger numbers. So we shifted course, and the buyer agent went to a local bank. The representative there, who knew the agents on both sides, spoke to the borrower at length, and within 36 hours we had FULL approval. Not preapproval, not conditional approval, FULL approval.

Moral of the story? Local matters. The parties involved knowing each other matters. It doesn’t always make the difference, but in this case – and in many cases – it did. Real estate is about people – not numbers, not algorithms, but people. It’s a home, a place to create memories.

 

2014 Nest Report Is On The Way!

There are tons of things I’m proud of about Nest Realty, but one of the things I get really excited about is our Nest Report. It’s a statistical look at what’s happening in the New River Valley real estate market, and it’s put out every quarter. Visually, it’s stunning – thanks to the amazing folks in our Marketing Department. Statistically, it’s one of the most accurate representations of our real estate market – thanks to the bean counters who compile the whole thing. And, interestingly enough, two real estate agents from another company told me yesterday how impressive a report it is … they look through it each time it comes out and think “wow”.

Download the 2014 New River Valley Nest Report here.

  • Median and Average Sales Prices both fell 3% in 2014 throughout the New River Valley MSA.
  • In Blacksburg, the Median Price was flat, but inventory was up slightly.
  • In Radford, Median Price was up quite a bit, rising more than 12% from 2013 levels.
  • Conventional Interest rates, projected to be at or above 5% by the end of 2014, were actually at 4%, much lower than expected by those in the know – proving once again that no one has any much of a clue.

We’re extremely proud of what has been happening at Nest Realty, and the Report will talk a little bit about that, as well. The full report will be hitting mailboxes soon, but here’s a sneak peak! You can see earlier reports here.

Want to talk further? Let’s grab a cup of coffee/tea/water/insert favorite beverage here soon!

 

The Difference Real Estate Photography Makes

This is a tale of two homes; or, more specifically, the same home looked at in two different lights.

I’ve written about how great real estate photography can make the difference in the way a home is presented when it’s for sale – I firmly believe it’s a crucial component to the process of selling your home. In fact, starting in 2009 I was the first real estate agent in the New River Valley to use a professional photographer on all of my listings, and Nest Realty believes so much in professional real estate photography that we use it on every home we list – including foreclosures.

Sean Shannon and I have talked for years about doing a “With v. Without” series of photos, showing how a home looks both with and without professional photography, but we’ve never gotten around to it. Yesterday, a house came back on the market (listed with Coldwell Banker Townside) that highlights just what this looks like. The house – previously listed with photos presumably taken by the homeowner or agent – looks dark inside, but in reality it’s really a beautiful, light-filled home … which Sean’s photos captured. Here are some photos, of both the interior and exterior … most likely we buy houses that show beauty not those that seem out of the market.

Kit_1 Kit_2 LR_1 LR_2 WB_1 WB_2The same home, viewed through two different lenses (literally), looks completely different.

Professional real estate photos matter. Whether we ever work together or not – and I’d certainly welcome the opportunity to talk – insist that your listing agent present your home in the best possible light.

Want to see this house? Let’s set an appointment soon.

 

How To Sell A Home This Fall Or Winter

Like it or not, the season here in the New River Valley is getting ready to change from summer to fall, and then winter. Like death and taxes, the seasons here in Blacksburg are guaranteed.

While it’s hard to think about winter when it’s bright and sunny outside, humor me. It’s likely your house looks so much better with green grass, full leaves on the trees, and colorful flowers in the flower beds, than it does with gray cloudy skies, scraggly trees, and patches of snow on the ground. If you’re expecting to sell this fall or winter, go ahead and have a professional photographer take photos – at least of the exterior, we can bring Sean Shannon Photography in for the inside later – while the landscaping still looks great. The inside can wait until you are done getting the house ready, but I can promise you the outside photos will benefit from having clean, crisp images and lots of color. Your listing will look better for it, I guarantee it.

And don’t worry about the fact that there’s a foot of snow on the ground outside, while the photos show a lush, green yard; buyers aren’t going to rule out your house because it doesn’t seem to “match” the season. If anything, with the right photographs, your house is going to look so much better than anything else, it won’t matter.

Want more tips for selling your house, anytime of year?  I have 3 Ls that I can’t stress enough …

  1. Lights – turn on the lights. All of them. Open the drapes and blinds, turn on the lamps, and let the light shine in. It’ll make every room look 10x better, even if there’s a wall painted deep black.
  2. Lids – put down the toilet seat lids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been showing a house, and seen a kid’s doodie floating in a toilet with the lid up. We all know what happens there – close the lid.
  3. Leave – get out. Scram. It’s awkward for buyers to walk through a house when the seller is there; they don’t talk as candidly with their agent, which can often mean the difference between an offer and an early exit. Go watch a movie, or drive around the block … nothing says “make this house your home” like the seller following you from room to room.

And because I just think time lapse photography is so cool …