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.

Is Residential Real Estate Really a ‘Crapshoot’?

Is Residential Real Estate Really a 'Crapshoot'? | Keeping Current Matters

We are pleased to have KCM Founder and Chief Content Creator, Steve Harney, do a personal post today. Enjoy!

That is what a headline announced in a CNNMoney post Monday. They were quoting Karl Case “an economist whose name is synonymous with home prices. He is co-creator of the much watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes with Bob Shiller, who won the Nobel Prize in economics last year.”

Case did explain that the commonly held belief that housing prices could ‘never’ depreciate was corrected over the last decade. And it is true that Case referenced a home he bought during that time had lost almost half its value.

However, there were other comments attributed to Case in the article:

  • He bought one home at $54,000 which he later sold for over four times that amount ($240,000)
  • Another home he purchased for $375,000 is now worth a million dollars.

He bet on three houses; one lost 50%, one gained over 400% and the other gained approximately 300%. Sounds like great odds to me.

Give me the dice and get out of my way. 

Last week, John Maxfield, in a The Motley Fool blog post, wrote:

“Over the past year, [home prices] are up by 8.9%. Over the past two years, they’re up by 19.7%. Over the past three years, they’re up by 23%. And there’s little evidence that this trend is coming to an end anytime soon…

[It] should be obvious why now is such an opportunistic time to buy a house. Of course, if you want to wait, that’s up to you. But doing so could very well be a source of regret later on down the road.”

Give me the dice and get out of my way. 

If buying residential real estate is actually a crapshoot (as the headline claimed), it seems the odds are in the shooter’s hand.

PLEASE give me the dice and get out of my way. I really want to roll.

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.

NAR Reports Reveal Two Reasons to Sell Now

NAR Reports Reveal Reasons to Sell Now | Keeping Current Matters

We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited. The last two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now may be the best time to sell your house. Let’s look at the data covered by the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.

THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORT

The report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) “surged” by 6.1%. The increase was “the largest month-over-month gain since April 2010, when first-time home buyers rushed to sign purchase contracts before a popular tax credit program ended”.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, expects improving home sales throughout the rest of the year:

“Sales should exceed an annual pace of five million homes in some of the upcoming months behind favorable mortgage rates, more inventory and improved job creation.”

TakeawayDemand is beginning to increase dramatically compared to earlier in the year.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data point revealed in the report was not sales but instead the inventory of homes on the market (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory climbed 2.2 percent to 2.28 million homes available for sale
  • That represents a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace
  • Unsold inventory is 6.0 percent higher than a year ago

There were two more interesting comments made by Yun in the report:

1.)   “Rising inventory bodes well for slower price growth and greater affordability, but the amount of homes for sale is still modestly below a balanced market.”

In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies. When there is less than 6 months inventory available, we are in a sellers’ market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than 7 months inventory means we are in a buyers’ market and should expect depreciation in home values.

As Yun notes, we are currently in a sellers’ market (prices still increasing) but are headed to a neutral market.

2.)   New home construction is still needed to keep prices and housing supply healthy in the long run.”

As new construction begins to be built, there will be increased downward pressure on the prices of existing homes on the market.

Takeaway: Supply is about to increase significantly. The supply of existing homes is already increasing and the number of newly constructed homes is about to increase.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time.

Buying a Home? Know ALL Your Options

Buying a Home? Know ALL Your Options | Keeping Current Matters

In a post earlier this week, we suggested that the Millennial generation’s struggles with student debt and the overarching concept of homeownership are not the reasons for so many first time buyers hesitating to move forward with the purchase of their first home. Now there is another firm suggesting the same. The asset management company, Nomura, came out with strong guidance to their investors. According to an article in Housing Wire last week:

“Nomura’s note to clients has a take few have offered: The first time homebuyers are holding out and it’s not student debt, a shift away from homeownership as a choice by Millennials, or any of that.”

Instead, they think it is a lack of a full understanding of the mortgage process. The article explains:

“Analysts say it’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

This comes off the heels of a survey by Zelman & Associates that revealed that 38% of those between the ages of 25-29 years old and 42% of those between the ages of 30-34 years old believe that a minimum of 15% is required as a down payment to purchase a home. In actually, a purchaser may be able to put down far less.

The Reality of the Situation

According to Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management, in a recent Executive Perspectives piece:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • Freddie Mac’s purchase of mortgages with down payments under 10 percent more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2013.
  • More than one in five borrowers who took out conforming, conventional mortgages in 2014 put down 10 percent or less.
  • Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family or grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.

Ms. Boyle goes on to explain:

“Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

Bottom Line

If you have considered purchasing a house or moving-up to a new dream home, know all of your options. Reach out to a real estate and/or mortgage professional in your marketplace to get the best, most up-to-date information available. You may be surprised to learn what you and your family are capable of achieving.

Buying a Home: The Cost of Waiting

Buying a Home: The Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are a first time buyer or a move-up buyer, you should look at the projections housing experts are making in two major areas: home prices and mortgage rates.

PRICES

Over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists were recently surveyed. They were asked to project where home prices were headed. The average value appreciation projected over the next twelve month period was approximately 4%.

MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES

In their last Economic & Housing Market Outlook, Freddie Mac predicted that 30 year fixed mortgage rates would be 4.8% by this time next year. As of last week, the Freddie Mac rate was 4.14%.

What does this mean to you?

If you are a first time buyer currently looking at a home priced at $250,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait to buy next year:

First Time Homebuyer's Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters

If you are a move-up buyer currently looking at a home priced at $500,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait to buy next year:

Move Up Buyer's Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

With both home prices and interest rates projected to increase, buying now instead of later might make sense.