The Importance of Using an Agent when Selling Your Home

The Importance of Using an Agent when Selling Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. Today, 92% of all buyers use the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that 96% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know. Buyers search for a home online but then depend on the agent to find the actual home they will buy (52%) or to help them handle the paperwork (24%) or understand the process (24%).

It is true that the percentage of buyers that are using the internet to search for homes and information on the home buying process has increased dramatically over the last decade. But the plethora of information now available has also resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

BOTTOM LINE

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

Zillow + Trulia: Why it is NOT the End for Agents

Zillow + Trulia: The Death of the Real Estate Agent? | Keeping Current Matters

KCM founder, Steve Harney, occasionally asks to do a personal post on what he sees as important to our industry. Today is one of those days. Enjoy! – The KCM Crew

Yesterday, Zillow announced the acquisition of Trulia. Some industry experts are predicting the end of the real estate business as we know it. They used words like “checkmate” and “kill shot”. Though we agree that aspects of the industry will be forced to evolve perhaps quicker than they had hoped, we believe this will be an evolution…not a revolution. No one needs to die.

THE EVOLUTION

Will companies and agents need to massage the way they do business? We think so. Marc Davison, the co-founder of 1000WATT Consulting, put it best when he explained that companies needed to:

“…focus on brand marketing, content marketing, data-driven advertising and other more intelligent means of engaging homebuyers and sellers.”

Sites like Zillow/Trulia give the consumer the dots (data) of real estate. Like Davison, we believe the consumer needs the real estate professional to ‘connect those dots’.

I did not have to go far to find anecdotal evidence proving this hypothesis. I just needed to look at my own family.

Massapequa, New York

Five years ago, my older son and his wife bought their first home. They found that home on Zillow and told their agent, “this is the home we’d like to live in”. The agent helped them decide on a target price. She helped them negotiate that price with the seller. She found the industry professionals they needed and coordinated the inspections, the walk-throughs and the appraisal. She helped them work with an attorney and a mortgage professional.

She was their agent and represented them throughout the entire purchasing process. She made sure that they were confident and comfortable at every stage.

They found the house online; that was the easy part. They needed an agent to help them with the hard part: actually getting the house without headaches or stress. My son and his wife truly believe she was worth every penny of her commission.

South Beach, Miami

Two years ago, my wife and I were thinking about buying a winter residence in South Beach. Every day, my wife searched the listing portals for condos for sale. We got a really good feel for South Beach and even picked out a few buildings we liked. However, even though I have been in the industry for over 30 years, we called a real estate agent who specialized in South Beach.

She explained to us how the fiscal responsibility of each building’s board would impact future “special assessments” (something we hadn’t even considered). She explained how proposed new construction might impact the ocean views of certain properties. She helped us find the perfect spot and guided us through the entire buying process.

The nights my wife and I spend eating dinner on our balcony overlooking the ocean would not have been possible without our agent.

Meadville, Pennsylvania

Just this month, my younger son got his dream job; coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level. It required him to relocate out of state. He needed a twelve month rental. He searched Zillow, Trulia and Craig’s List. He got a feel for the types of units available and the rental costs. But when it came down to it, a local real estate agent named Vic Kress found my son a great place in a sensational building in a perfect location. My son is signing the lease today.

Just the other day, when someone questioned my son on how difficult it was to find a place so far away in such a short period of time, he answered:

“I have a guy down there that is looking out for me.”

That’s what real estate professionals do. They ‘look out for’ their customers and help them through the process.

BOTTOM LINE

Technology has definitely given consumers easier access to information about the housing industry.

However, we believe that buyers and sellers need more than just information. They need an analysis of how that information impacts their family. Every family should feel confident when buying or selling a home. Real estate agents must reach out to these families and simply & effectively explain a complex housing market to them.

That is what will guarantee their existence.

What is holding back the Real Estate Market?

What is holding back the Real Estate Market? | Keeping Current Matters

Though the housing market is recovering nicely, it is not doing quite as well as some analysts had predicted. There has been no shortage of excuses offered as to why this is: the rise in interest rates, more stringent lending standards, the weather.

However, we feel that there is one factor that is most responsible for curtailing the number of houses sold – the number of houses available for sale!

Inventory Levels are BELOW Historic Norms

In a recent economic forecast, Freddie Mac addressed this exact issue:

“Including newly built homes in the inventory count, the total number of homes offered for sale relative to the number of households in the U.S. has been running at the lowest level in more than 30 years, as shown in the second exhibit. The relatively low for-sale inventory reflects several features of today’s market.”

“A supply-constrained market (holding other factors constant) will result in a decline in the volume of sales and an increase in real transaction prices.”

NAR Report Confirms Inventory Constriction

History shows us that a balanced real estate market requires a six month supply of available housing inventory. The National Association of Realtors released their Existing Homes Sales Report earlier this week. The report revealed that we are still only at a 5.5 month supply of homes for sale. We have not reached the 6 month mark in over two years.

The recent increase in buyers now looking will again put a strain on this number.

Bottom Line

While inventory levels remain below historic norms, it will remain a seller’s market. This being the case, if you are considering selling your home, now may be the time to list it for sale.

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do It Now!

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do It Now! | Keeping Current Matters

Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage?  These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.

1. Demand is Strong

There is currently a pent-up demand of purchasers as many home buyers pushed off their search this past winter & early spring because of extreme weather. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of buyers in the market, which feel off dramatically in December, January and February, has begun to increase again over the last few months. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply is still under the historical number of 6 months’ supply. This means that, in many markets, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as prices increased over the last eighteen months. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future. Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference). The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen.  Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate in the low 4’s right now. Rates are projected to be over 5% by the end of next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market and pricing it so it sells. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

13,397 Houses Sold Yesterday!

13,397 Houses Sold Yesterday! | Keeping Current Matters

If you read certain headlines, you might be led to believe that the housing recovery has come to a screeching halt. Naysayers are claiming that the threat of rising mortgage rates and a lack of consumer confidence are keeping Americans on the fence when it comes to purchasing real estate. That is actually far from reality. After all 13,397 houses sold yesterday, 13,397 will sell today and 13,397 will sell tomorrow.

13,397!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. According to the report, annualized sales now stand at 4.59 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 13,000 homes sell every day. If you are considering whether or not to put your house up for sale, don’t let the headlines scare you. There are purchasers in the market and they are buying – to the tune of 13,397 homes a day.

When Character is More Valuable than Competence

When Character is More Valuable than Competence | Keeping Current Matters

Today we are pleased to have Nikki Buckelew back as our guest blogger. Nikki is considered a leading authority on seniors real estate and housing. Enjoy!

It was her 80th birthday and as Sue’s family gathered around in celebration, she announced a major decision. After years of toying with the idea, she had come to the conclusion that now – yes, now – was the proper time for her to move into a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

Although they were a bit surprised, Sue’s two adult children (both seniors themselves) nodded to each other and expressed relief that their mother would have access to the support and care she needed. Both admitted to a bit of worry about her living alone since their dad died, especially as they both traveled extensively and were not available to see her or care for her on a regular basis.

But, of course, they all realized that such a move would require a massive commitment of time and energy, with the first necessary step being to find a good real estate agent to help sell the longtime family home.

Sue mentioned that she was acquainted with an agent she had met at church and who regularly sent her mailings. The agent seemed quite nice and professional, had won numerous awards, was active in the community, and owned a variety of impressive-looking credentials. You know, she had a whole bunch of letters and acronyms at the end of her name.

Sue and her children arranged for a meeting with the agent, and while she was clearly competent and well-educated in her field, Sue just couldn’t get past a nagging feeling that something was amiss. The agent was nice enough, but throughout Sue’s entire life, she had tended to gravitate toward doing business only with those to whom she felt some sort of connection. Perhaps it was something she had learned from her father, a man who valued relationships in business dealings as much or more than mere competence. Not only did she want help, but she also wanted to feel a special sort of bond and trust.

The practice had served her well throughout life and now – with such an important transaction – she wasn’t about to change her approach.

Sue scanned the yellow pages, spoke on the phone with a few agents, and even met with another over coffee, but still she couldn’t find the sensation of trust and comfort she desired. She even did a couple of quick internet searches leaving her feeling confused and frustrated. It occurred to Sue’s daughter that perhaps the CCRC that was to be Sue’s new home would be able to provide a recommendation for a good agent. Indeed, they did, and that’s when she met Joe.

Joe was different

He arrived at her home and immediately the two hit it off. Sue hired Joe to list and sell her house and as he began to take his leave, Sue touched him gently on the arm and said “Thank you, Joe. You are different than other agents I’ve met with,” she smiled. “I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel I can truly trust you to help me make this move.”

Sue’s home sold quickly, and with Joe’s help, she arranged for an estate liquidator to sell the belongings she no longer needed. He also arranged for a moving company to pack and transport what was needed to Sue’s new apartment at the retirement community, and made sure she was content in her new home.

A few days later, Sue’s children visited their mother, breathed a sigh of relief that everything seemed under control, that a large project was complete and that – most importantly – Mom was happy, healthy,  and safe. Her daughter (who admittedly had been a bit annoyed at Sue’s “pickiness” in choosing an agent) smiled and remarked that Sue had made a fine decision in choosing Joe to spearhead the sale and move. “But Mom,” Sue’s son asked. “How did you make your decision? Why did you choose him?”

Sue dug into her purse and drew out the list of notes she had made while interviewing Joe:

When Character is More Valuable than Competence | Keeping Current Matters

As her daughters looked at the list, Sue remarked “I felt ‘OK’ with the other agents. They were undoubtedly good at their jobs. But I wanted someone who was good for ME too.”

And thus ends the happy story of Sue, a senior whose outlook on doing business mirrors that of most of her generation, nearly all of whom value a firm handshake and “good vibes” as much as they do hard numbers and competency.

Bottom Line

As real estate professionals serving seniors, it’s important that we understand that what makes for a great partnership, truly is in the eyes of our clients.

Thinking of Selling? New Construction Will Soon Be New Competition

Thinking of Selling? | Keeping Current Matters

For the last several years, home sellers had to compete with huge inventories of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). The great news is that the supply of these properties is falling like a rock in the vast majority of housing markets. Many homeowners are now thinking of selling as the impact of this substantially discounted competition has disappeared.

However, every seller of an existing residential property must realize that there is a new form of competition about to hit the market: newly constructed homes.

As the economy improves, builders will again be bringing their housing developments to the market. Trulia recently reported that the purchaser, given a choice, actually prefers new construction. Here are two charts showing the results of the Trulia survey:

New Construction Trends | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, perhaps you should do it now to avoid the additional competition that will come to the market later this year.

Moving Up: Was it Worth Waiting?

Moving Up? Do it Now!! | Keeping Current Matters

New reports are revealing that the number of months’ inventory of existing homes available for sale is increasing. Some of these sellers are moving up, some are downsizing and others are making a lateral move.

There is no way for us to predict the future but we can look at what happened over the last year. Let’s look at buyers that considered moving up last year but decided to wait instead.

Assume, last year, they had a home worth $300,000 and were looking at a home for $450,000 (putting 10% down they would get a mortgage of $405,000). By waiting, their house appreciated by approximately 10% over the last year (national average based on the Case Shiller Pricing Index). Their home would now be worth $330,000. But, the $450,000 home would now be worth $495,000 (requiring a mortgage of $420,000 assuming the original $45,000 down plus the additional $30,000 from the sale of their home).

Here is a table showing what the difference in monthly cost (principal and interest) would be if a purchaser had waited:

Cost of Waiting: Was it Worth It? | Keeping Current Matters

3 dollars and 27 cents. Was it worth waiting a year to move up to the home of your dreams? Only you can answer that question.

Moving Up?

If your family plans on moving up in the next twelve months, it may make sense to move now rather than later. Prices are definitely still appreciating and, unlike the last year, interest rates are also projected to increase.