Monday, November 18, 2013

What are the Advantages to List Your House During the Holidays?

Christmas trees, menorahs, sleigh bells, hot chocolate and Under Contract signs are the signs that the Holidays are here!   Common belief in the real estate market is that now is not the best time to list your house for sale, but those naysayers have not talked to me about that!  There are some real advantages to listing your house NOW.  Here are my top 11 reasons...
11.  If you sell your house during the holidays, you can purchase when the inventory levels increase in January-March and be a non-contingent Buyer!  This would be a major advantage for you as a Buyer to already have closed on your current house so that you could make a "clean" offer on the property you want to buy.  A Buyer whose offer is not contingent on selling their current home is much more attractive to Sellers.  This will allow you to sell high and buy low.
10.  You can sell now for more money and we can provide for a delayed closing or a "rent back" which may allow you to close and lease your own property back from your Buyer for a 30-60 day period while you shop for a new home at the beginning of the year.
9.  Even though your house would be on the market, you can restrict showings during the week around the holidays if you wish.
8.  January is typically the month for employees to begin new jobs.  Since transferees cannot wait until early spring to buy, you would capture this important market segment if your house is on the market now.
7.  Some people have to buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.
6.  Buyers have more time to look for a home during the holidays than during the work week.
5.  During the holidays, Buyers tend to be more emotional and you are more likely to get your price!
4.  Houses show better when decorated for the holidays.
3.  Right now there is a SEVERE LOW INVENTORY of available homes for sale in Atlanta.  The supply of listings will increase dramatically in January.  Right now, you would have little to no competition.
2.  Serious buyers have fewer houses to choose from during the Holidays and less competition means more money for you!
And the NUMBER ONE reason why you would benefit from having your house for sale during the Holidays is... (drumroll please)   bddbddbddd
1.  Buyers who are looking for homes during the Holidays are SERIOUS buyers and are usually highly motivated.
If you are thinking of selling your house now (or next year), please contact me.  I will help you determine how to get the most money in the least amount of time for your home!  

I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays and a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!
Jackson Bass, ABR, Associate Broker
Keller Williams Realty of Buckhead
source: from MAPS, Dianna Kokoszka

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Things to do to Prepare Your House to $ELL.

As we approach the holidays, many of you may be thinking of making a change in 2014.  Maybe you're planning to make a MOVE!  Now that the Atlanta Real Estate Market is back in full swing, and while interest rates are still very low, now may be the perfect time to plan your strategy to sell your house.
If you are considering selling next year, I suggest targeting a time frame of early to mid January of 2014.  The market has exhibited very low inventory this year which has led to very high Seller success.  The inventory will go down even more from Thanksgiving until mid January.  If you bring in the new year with your house on the market, you're going to have very little competition and I think buyers will be out in droves in January. 
Now is the time to plan, organize and strategize to be ready come January.  Following is a checklist to prepare your house for the market.
1.  ORGANIZE.  Everything.  Organize everything.  Organize, everything.  Organize>everything!   Now is the time to make 3 piles of your "stuff" (I'm cleaning up my language on this one).  One pile is "keep", one is "donate" and one is "toss".  I'm expecting the toss pile is going to be huge.  You'll find it therapeutic (and possibly emotionally exhausting) to get rid of stuff you've been hanging on to for no apparent reason that has added clutter and chaos to your life.  Buyers do not like to see clutter and chaos when they look at houses that they may want to call home.  Of the things you decide to keep, put them in their place or better yet, go ahead and pack any items that you aren't going to use (like summer items, fine china, small appliances that aren't used frequently, etc.).  This would also apply to your closet.  Your closet should look as big, uncluttered and organized as possible to buyers when they are coming to judge you and your house.
2.  Clean out the garage.  Clean out the cabinets.  Clean out the gutters.  Just clean.  And then more cleaning.  Clean the drapes.  Clean the windows.  Buyers adore clean houses.  Clean as if you are expecting a drill sergeant to come inspecting.   You would be surprised (shocked and horrified to) if you could see what I see in the market when I'm showing houses.   Dirty and disorganized houses may still sell- but at a deeply discounted price.
3.  Get estimates.  Many times, when I go to list a property for sale, I will ask the owner if they have a termite bond.  Oftentimes, they are not sure or they say no.  Rather than buying a termite bond, it may be smart to go ahead and get an estimate from 2 to 3 companies to find out how much a bond would cost for your house.  You will be armed with accurate information if a buyer asks you to provide a termite bond during the negotiations.  Other examples of estimates you may want to obtain are obtaining a roof replacement estimate if your roof is 12 years old or more, or an HVAC equipment replacement if your heat and air system is old.  If your hardwood floors are not in really good condition, get an estimate to find out how much refinishing will cost.  Knowledge is POWER, and you will be able to intelligently address Buyer objections as they come up.   This is a really powerful step for you to take in preparation of selling, because the majority of buyers almost always overestimate how much repairs or upgrades cost. 
4.  Repaint, refresh and STAGE.  Your Realtor (that would be me) will help you determine if you really need to repaint rooms, replace carpet, or make other significant changes to the house to make sure it shows it's best and will sell for the most money in the least amount of time.  Most often, touch up paint and repairs may suffice, but sometimes, it is much better to replace carpet rather than offering a "carpet allowance".  The better your house looks, the more buyers will be interested.  The more buyers that are interested, the higher (and faster) it will sell.  Your Realtor (that would be me) will help stage your house for the market or bring in a staging consultant for big jobs (such as staging a vacant house) if necessary.
5.  Create Curb Appeal.  Take a very critical look at the front of your house.  Try to be as objective as possible.  Does your house have curb appeal???   If your house is very plain and architecturally uninteresting, adding a pergola, shutters, window boxes, and other architectural features may help.  In these instances, your investment can really pay off.  Is the front door freshly painted and inviting?  Get those spider webs out of the front porch (I know they are there, I've seen them).   Prune and shape overgrown shrubs, create a flower bed or beds at front (pansies are great now through spring).  Again, your Realtor (me) can help you to know what, specifically, you can do to dress up your house for the market.  Repair any driveway cracks, wood rot, etc..  Buyers are crazy about houses with curb appeal.  And, this is the first impression any Buyer will have of your property, whether in person or online.  "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression"- (I'm not sure who said that so I am going to claim it). 
Getting a house ready to sell can be very time consuming and involved.  During the holidays may be the absolute best time for you to tackle these preparations so that you will be way ahead of your competition early next year.  Contact me and I will help you determine what changes you can make to maximize your selling potential and we will make a plan together.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my blog.  It is my intention to give you content that will benefit your life in some way.  I appreciate my blog readers, my clients and all the friends of my business who support me.  You've made 2013 the best year of my 19 year career and I am so grateful to you!! 
Happy Thanksgiving!
Jackson Bass, Associate Broker, ABR, Keller Williams Realty of Buckhead

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Appraisal Nightmares and Seller Horrors!

By now you all know that the Atlanta Real Estate Market is in full recovery.  Prices are shooting up in many neighborhoods (gotta love it), but with escalating prices, come some new challenges- the dreaded "failed appraisal".
In our Georgia Association of Realtors purchase agreements, we have a form that we attach to the purchase agreement if the Buyer is making the purchase contingent upon their ability to get financing for the property.  This document has an appraisal contingency as well.  This document (an Exhibit to the contract) gives the Buyer an out of the contract if he  a) gets turned down for financing within the allotted time of the financing contingency or b) the appraisal is lower than the agreed upon price.
These contingencies have time limits that are negotiated between Buyer and Seller upfront as part of the negotiations.  Most of the time, the time limits for the appraisal to be completed is around 21 days from the Binding Agreement (Acceptance) Date.  The appraisal is ordered by the Buyer's mortgage lender.  If there is a 21 day appraisal contingency in a purchase agreement, it means that the appraisal must be completed and back to the lender within 21 days or less. 
If the appraised value is less than the Buyer and Seller negotiated upfront, the Buyer can send a copy of the appraisal to the Seller and request that the Seller lower the purchase price to meet the low appraisal ("failed appraisal").  The Seller can then either lower the price and move forward with the deal or refuse to lower the price, or the Buyer and Seller may agree that the price may be lowered some, but not as low as the "failed appraisal" value.  This would mean that the Buyer's loan is based on the appraised price and the Buyer will have to pay out of pocket anything over the appraised value. If the Buyer is unwilling to pay over the low appraised value and the Seller is unwilling to reduce the purchase price to the low appraised value, the Buyer may void the Agreement and get a refund of Earnest Money.  The seller is then screwed. 
As you can imagine, this scenario can be a nightmare for Sellers!  I've heard of many cases this year that homes sell over the asking price with multiple offers and the appraisal comes back lower than the agreed upon price, but the Buyer will pay the difference because they want the house.  This could be a smart move for a Buyer in today's market as inventory is very low and prices and interest rates continue to rise.  
I had three deals so far this year that the appraisal came back low.  The first, I represented the Buyer and the appraisal came back at $275,000 against the agreed upon price of $305,000.  The Buyer agreed to challenge the appraisal with the bank, but the bank would not budge on their acceptance of the low appraisal even though the appraisal said the house had 4 bedrooms when it really had 5!  In this case, we were able to get the Seller to come down to the lower price and my Buyer client was very happy!
The second incidence I represented a Buyer in a multiple offer bid and the price went $1000 over the $600,000 asking price.  The Buyer was putting down a ton of money so they opted not to have an appraisal contingency to make their offer more competitive than the competing bid.  The appraisal came back at $570,000.  The Buyer was ok with it as they were putting down over $200,000 anyway, but the lender challenged the appraisal as the appraiser also made mistakes.
In the third incidence,  I was the listing agent for a townhome priced at $169,900 and negotiated a full price contract.  The appraisal came back at $150,000.  The appraiser's data was inaccurate as he used a foreclosure comp and skipped better comparables that were not distressed sales.  We challenged the appraisal, but the appraiser would not change his appraisal.  The solution was to encourage the Buyer to re-apply for their mortgage with a more reputable lender and the Seller agreed to pay for a new appraisal to save the Buyer from two appraisal fees.  This appraisal came back OVER the purchase price at $171,000.  SWEET!  If we had not worked out a solution, the Buyer would have lost a great property and/or the Seller would have lost $20,000 in equity.
This just goes to show you appraisals are opinions of value.  And just like assholes, every appraiser has one.  You need a good Realtor to guide you through this process. 
Jackson Bass, ABR, Associate Broker
Keller Williams Realty of Buckhead

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Atlanta's Median Home Price Rises 39.6% and other Delicious Goodies

Atlanta’s Median Sale Price Rose by 39.6% in the 2nd Quarter this year. Can I get a witness?? The market is WHITE HOT. I am on track to have the best year of my 19+ year career! Amen brother! What this means for the economy is great, what this means for you is that if you are thinking of selling your house, now is the best time in several years! If you are thinking of buying, you missed the bottom of the market, but it’s still a great time to buy. While interest rates rose sharply (about a full point), they are still well below 5% and in the long term, that’s a darn good interest rate, my friend. Prices are rising… fast. I have 2 properties currently under contract that are at higher sale prices than when they were purchased (2006 and 2007) at the market’s height, and I’m seeing many other examples of prices bouncing back to market highs.
The following report is for single family detached houses. Our statistics are gathered from FMLS and consider all listing periods for the most accurate information.

Median Sale Prices Rose for the 5th Straight Quarter
The new Atlanta Median Sale Price is $192,000. While that may seem pretty cheap to you and me, please note that it was $135,000 in 2012. Besides home prices increasing, this new median price is due to fewer homes selling in the below $100k range. The below $200k price range sales kept the market going when the going got really tough in 2010 and 2011.

LUXURY Home Sales Rose Sharply
2nd Quarter sales of luxury homes priced above $1 million were 46.9% (not a typo, I double–checked) higher than that of the 2nd Quarter last year. That said, the luxury home market is still a Buyer’s market with 11.9 months of inventory as of June 2013 (down from 16.9 months of inventory in June 2012). Every price category below $750,000 is in a Seller’s Market.

Median Days on the Market Reduced by 42.3%
I keep wanting to end all of these bullet points with an exclamation mark!! (See, I did it again). The truth is that this is exciting stuff! This is really a big deal for folks selling their houses. In the 2nd Quarter of 2011, it was taking 110 days to sell a house. In the 2nd Quarter of this year, it only took 45. That’s HUGE, people! If you’re trying to sell your house, you don’t want to have to keep making up the damn bed and leaving lights on and vacuuming every day for months on end! (Let’s not even discuss the kitchen). You want to sell fast– and painlessly as possible. And it’s now happening fast, and painless for so many Sellers.

Seller’s Maximize Sales Prices compared to their List Price
I ought to slap an exclamation mark at the end of that bullet point. This is sooo exciting!! Sellers got a median 95.8% of their asking price in the 2nd quarter this year. In 2011, they only got 84.8% of their asking price. This is great news for Sellers, indeed, but what about Buyers? My advice to Buyers these days is to expect to pay close to asking, and over asking price in some cases. I am going out on a limb right here and now to predict prices will continue to climb through 2016. So buyers, get it while you can.
Short Sales/ Schmort Sales
I’m glad to finally stop hearing about all the short sales.(!) They are fewer and fewer these days, which is fine by me. In fact, 24.2% of all sales in the 2nd Quarter were distressed sales (9.3% foreclosures and 15% short sales). This is significantly less than 2nd Quarter last year, when distressed sales made up a whopping 45.9% of the total sales in Atlanta. I’ve been telling you all along that all those distressed properties are mainly OTP, but let me tell you, only .6% of sales in Midtown (fmls area 23) were foreclosures for the entire 2nd Quarter. If you were one of the .6% of Buyers who got lucky with the bank last quarter, congrats, my hat is off to you!
27.8% of ALL SALES in 2nd Quarter Sold for Asking Price or MORE!!
I just had to give this one two exclamation marks. While this breaks down to 17.3% of these over-achiever Sellers were distressed sales, 10.5% of the non-distressed sales sold for at least their asking price. Word to the wise (Sellers): prices are escalating and homes are selling quickly, but you can still overprice your house. In fact, in spite of all this great news, 23% of Sellers were unable to sell in the 2nd quarter due to condition problems, overpricing or both. So as not to leave you on a downer, the flipside of that coin is that 77% of sellers DID sell in the 2nd Quarter of 2012. 62% of all the Sellers sold in a record 15 days for 98.9% of their asking price. Now that’s what I call closing on a high note!
If you are thinking of selling your home, please contact me so that I can show you how the market shift has affected your home’s value.  
Jackson Bass, ABR, Associate Broker
Keller Williams Realty of Buckhead
404-694 HOME (4663)


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5 Secrets to Successful Power Negotiating

Whether you're buying a retro mid-century mod lamp at a flea market or negotiating on the purchase of a gorgeous mid-century modern house on a beautiful lot with an in-ground pool, there are certain strategic elements of negotiating that can help you achieve your goal.  For the purpose of this article, I will be referring to negotiating strategies that win in real estate, but try out these principles the next time you're at Scott Antique Market, or Macy's for that matter.
What is your goal??  The obvious would seem that you want to get the property (or product) at the best possible price and terms.  In other words, we want what we want, when we want it, and we want to pay as little as possible for it.   Right?  Maybe there's more to it.   Here are my five strategies for successful power negotiating in real estate.
1.  Aim for a Win-Win.  That means, you win and the other party wins.  Everyone is happy.  Better yet, everyone is thrilled.  If your negotiating can make you and the other party thrilled, wouldn't that be awesome??  I can tell you as a Real Estate Broker, when both Buyer and Seller are happy with the deal to purchase a home, the rest of the stuff from contract to close goes much, much easier and things will fall into place.  When we allow others to win and ourselves to win, we are spreading good vibes.  A ripple effect is generated that spreads out in every direction.  Good will is established.  The ultimate secret for effective negotiation is to achieve this win/win.  
2.  Be nice, be respectful.  Come with an attitude and mindset of respect for the other party.  If the other party is selling due to undesirable circumstances that have happened to them and they need to sell or have to sell, be compassionate.  Yes, these circumstances will allow you to potentially negotiate a better than market deal, but be aware that the other party is hurting and your interest in purchasing their home (or product) will be of help to them, while you are getting a great deal.  If your negotiating method is one of "taking advantage" of someone else's misfortune you might be a bully.  That negative energy will come back to bite you right on your ass, eh, behind.  Do you believe in Karma?   I do.   Plus, bringing a spirit of cooperation and respect goes a lot further in getting you what you want than an attitude of "it's my way or the highway".  Know what I mean?
3.  Know your market.  Be armed with solid information.  Know your stuff.  If you are buying a house, your Realtor should be able to help you determine what the market value is based on the most recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood.   When I get offers on my listings that are lower than the asking price, I supply information to the Buyer that let's them know that we have priced the property according to the comparables and we know the value of the property is there.  On the other hand, if I represent a Buyer and we are making an offer on a property that may be priced a little too high, I respectfully request from the listing agent to provide me with the comps he or she used to price the property since I cannot find information that supports the Seller's asking price.  If the listing agent cannot come up with solid supporting information, it makes a darn good argument that the property is priced too high.  It's difficult to argue with facts.  Logic usually trumps emotion.
4.  Know your limits.  Know what you can afford and what you are willing to pay.  These days, multiple offers (aka bidding wars) are not uncommon.  If you are interested in buying the hottest new listing in the neighborhood that just hit the market for $500,000, understand that the seller is not going to negotiate much off the price right off the bat.  If there is another offer (or even several other offers) my advice is to offer the most you are willing to pay for the house with the most favorable terms you can possibly give the seller and that if you win the bid, you would be delighted with the home purchase and if you don't win the bid, you would be happy that you didn't offer any more and that you can happily move on to the next property.  Don't get caught up in being competitive or emotional if at all possible.  Multiple offers on a property is a pressure cooker situation for all parties, and it's easy to lose your focus if you're not careful.  No one wants the buyer to win a bid only to have buyer's remorse.  It is also a bad idea to be competitive to win a bid with a "strategy" to take the house off the market and then try to renegotiate terms when you have the Seller by the short hairs.  Remember what I said about Karma biting your ass??
5.  Don't get too emotionally involved.  It is easy to get caught up in the emotional high of a major purchase such as buying a home.  After all, it's not just a "thing", it's a lifestyle change.  It is a grand experience!  Buying (and selling) a home is emotional for all parties (with the exception of dealing with corporate relocation or a bank sale), but if you get too emotionally caught up, you will lose your negotiating power and you may make poor judgments about important factors that you should consider.  This goes for both Buyers and Sellers.  Sometimes, if a Seller is too emotionally attached, they will be unrealistic about the value of their home and potentially screw up their best offer, only to realize their mistake after losing valuable time and money.    The biggest mistake I see from Buyers is when Buyers purchase new construction.  It never ceases to amaze me  how Buyers' eyes will glaze over when they spot the shiny new appliances.  They become hypnotized from the intoxicating fragrance of the polyurethane vapors that arise from the newly finished hardwood floors and seem to miss the glaring power station that sits just behind the retention pond adjacent to the back yard.  Until it comes time to sell and that new house smell is replaced by a litter box and worn carpet that the baby threw up on.  And the power station and the retention pond are still there. 
In the words of the great country crooner, Kenny Rogers, "you got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em.  Know when to walk away- know when to run".
Thanks for reading my blog.  I'm Jackson Bass with Keller Williams Realty of Buckhead and I LOVE REAL ESTATE!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Can an Appraisal Make Your Contract to Sell Your Property Fall Through?

The Atlanta real estate market is about as fast and furious as I've seen it in my 19 years of experience.  It has become a scorching hot SELLER'S MARKET which is an about face from the "Extreme Buyer's Market" of 2008-2011.  
Prices are rising quickly and on many properties, multiple offers are coming in just days (or hours in some cases) after the sign goes in the front yard.  Buyers are freaking out because we have such a low amount of inventory available (75% lower than in 2008) that when a buyer finds a house they love, chances are, it already has offers on it.  This skewed demand vs. supply model has stimulated home prices to escalate, and many times the buyer may agree to pay full price or even more than full price to get a house.  A staggering 25.3% of all homes sold in the first quarter this year were at or above asking price, and it seems to me that that even more than that are selling for at or above asking price so far in the second quarter.
So what happens if you're the happy yet overwhelmed Seller of house that just went under contract for $8000 over your asking price??  What happens if the bank appraisal that was conducted in order for the buyer to get a loan falls short of the inflated price the buyer agreed to pay?
That depends on how your contract was written.  If the Buyer of your home has a Purchase Agreement with an Appraisal Contingency, the language is likely to say that if the appraisal from the Buyer's lender is less than purchase price, the Buyer shall have the right to request that the Seller reduce the sales price to meet the appraisal price.  If the Seller refuses to reduce the price to the appraisal price, the Buyer may void the agreement without penalty.  There is also usually a time frame that the parties agree to in which the appraisal has to be conducted and that time is often 21 days from Binding Agreement Date.  So yes, indeed Mr. and or Mrs. Over List Price, your deal can definitely fall through if your contract has an Appraisal Contingency.  You may not be willing (or able) to come down in price to the lower appraisal price.  You would also need to evaluate the appraisal to determine if it is accurate.  And, your agent can contest the appraisal (although the appraisal may not be adjusted even if it's incorrect).  Would you rather come down to the appraisal price or let the deal fall through and take your chances by going back on the market?
I am advising my Seller clients to try and negotiate that the Buyer will agree to pay the difference between the appraisal price and the purchase price if the appraisal is less than the purchase price- in other words, no appraisal contingency.  If there are multiple offers on a property, one of the Buyers is likely to agree to this if they have enough desire to purchase and the cash to back it up.
If you're a Buyer, BEWARE of the trap I just spelled out for you, especially if you're trying to minimize the cash you need to close.  If you don't have an Appraisal Contingency and the appraisal comes back lower than purchase price, you will have to pay the difference between the appraisal price and the purchase price!  Sometimes appraisers make mistakes and will not accurately appraise a house.  I just had this happen with a Buyer I represent.  The appraiser appraised a 5 bedroom house and said it was a 4 bedroom house, missed some square footage and used bad comps.  Ultimately, the appraisal was $17,500 lower than the purchase price.  Fortunately, the Buyer had an Appraisal Contingency and the Seller agreed to lower the price to make the deal go through.  Unfortunately, the faulty appraisal cost an innocent seller money. 
As always, I love and appreciate you and thank you so much for reading my blog.  And as I always say, "it pays to have a good Realtor"  big smile : )  Jackson Bass, Keller Williams Realty of Buckhead

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Atlanta Home Prices Rise- What's the NEW MEDIAN PRICE in YOUR Neighborhood??

The Atlanta Real Estate Market is back! My listings selling in days-close to or greater than asking price! I am making offers for buyers which are often competing with other offers. There is an urgency in the market now, as prices are climbing, buyers want to buy NOW while the rates are still unbelievable and before prices get too high. You have no idea how happy I am to report this! But the market still has its challenges. The number one challenge today is the critical shortage of inventory available. In March 2008 there were 38,130 available property listings in FMLS. In March 2013 there were only 10,446 active listings– a gigantic, gargantuan 72.6% drop in available homes to sell! As a result of this inventory shortage, prices are going UP. There is not enough supply to meet current demand.

The following report is for single family detached houses. Our statistics are gathered from FMLS and consider all listing periods for the most accurate information.

1st Quarter 2013 Sales Volume DROPS by 8.4%
I was surprised to learn that sales volume dropped! There are a couple of reasons the numbers dropped year to date over last year. Over the past few years, the market has been flooded with homes in the “investor” range of homes below $100,000. These homes were mostly distressed sales (short sales and foreclosures) and were primarily in outlying counties in Metro Atlanta. As this inventory was gobbled up by investors, it affected our sales volume and median sale price. There was a 46.5% drop in sales volume in this “investor” price category– which of course, affected the overall sales volume. The other factor at play is the lack of inventory. We are down in sales a little because there aren’t as many homes to sell. But you will see later in this report, many price categories rose in sales volume and price, indicating a much healthier and robust market than we’ve seen in a long, long time.

Median Sale Price Rises … Again!
The median sale price of homes in Atlanta shot up to $170,500 compared to $120,000 in 1st Quarter of 2012. While this median price may seem artificially low to you, remember this median price takes into account all of the metro Atlanta surrounding counties.  Read on, you will see the median price in your area is MUCH higher.

Distressed Properties as a Percentage of Total Sales Decreasing
Distressed properties still made up 36.9% of total sales in the 1st quarter, but only 13.4% of these were foreclosures. These numbers are skewed from the picture I see inside the perimeter. For example, Buckhead only had 1.2% of total sales as foreclosures and 7.2% of sales as short sales. So if you’re looking to buy a foreclosure in Buckhead, good luck.

Days on Market Decline while Sellers get Closer to Asking Price
The median number of days it took to sell a house in 1st quarter this year was 77 compared to a year ago at 104. That’s an entire mortgage payment of carrying cost, which really adds to a Seller’s bottom line. Sellers were also getting closer to their asking price– 94% of their original list price (compared to 83.4% of the original list price 2 years ago)–can I get an AMEN?

25.3% of All Sales in 1st Quarter 2013 were ABOVE Asking Price– Sellers Say HELL YEAH!
By now, you’ve heard of the buying frenzy abounding in the market. This frenzy has manifested into a quarter of all sellers getting their list price or above. This, of course, is a best case scenario for sellers and is one of the main reasons to sell your house now, if you are considering a move. Smart sellers are pricing their homes aggressively which is more likely to create a bidding war, bidding the price above list price and giving all the power to set the terms to the seller. I advise my sellers who have multiple offers not to take a financing contingency which lowers their risk of having a deal fall through due to a low appraisal. Appraisers have not caught up to the sharp rise in prices, and a low appraisal remains an issue in some transactions which can make a deal fall apart.
30% of Listings Failed to Sell
If you’re reading this, and your house was for sale and didn’t sell, you weren’t alone. This statistic proves that houses still have to look good, be in good condition and priced correctly in order to sell.
Luxury Home Sales up 21.6%
In first quarter this year compared to same period last year, sales of homes priced over $1 million were up 21.6%. Only 9.6% of luxury home sales over $1 million were distressed (down from 12.2% in 2012). The price ranges of $750,000 and above are still in a Buyer’s Market, so now is the perfect time to sell your home in a Seller’s Market if the value is below $750,000 and make a move up, capitalizing on the Buyer’s Market conditions in the luxury home segment.
Neighborhood    Foreclosure %     Short Sale%     Total % Distressed      Median Sale Price
Buckhead                    1.2%                     7.2%                       8.4%                        $620,000
Midtown                      2.1%                     6.3%                      8.4%                        $429,000
Dunwoody                   1.7%                     14%                       15.7%                      $360,000
Brookhaven                  1.4%                    13%                       14.4%                      $340,625
Emory/Decatur             6.5%                  16.2%                      22.7%                      $236,500
High Point                     4.1%                  8.2%                       12.3%                       $559,000
If you are thinking of selling your home, please contact me so that I can show you how the market shift has affected your home’s value.
-Jackson Bass, Keller Williams Realty Buckhead


Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Many Houses Should I See Before I Buy?

"How many would you like to see?"  That's snarky.  Let me try again.  "Are you a strong decision maker?"  That's pushy.  Ok, ok, try this "let's plan on looking until we find one you LOVE".  That's sweet. 
The real answer depends so much on you, the buyer.  On the average, I show about 15-20 houses before a buyer pulls the trigger.  But there are several times when I've shown a buyer one house and BOOM, we made an offer and bought a house!  Most buyers, however, are not so decisive or so fast.  I have also shown buyers upwards of 30-40 houses before they were comfortable making an offer but thankfully, this is very rare.  I do love showing qualified buyers houses, but come on.. they all start to run together after awhile.

If your real estate agent listens carefully to you and understands your wants and needs when it comes to finding the perfect property, they should be able to hone down the process for you by weeding out the houses that just don't fit.  They can weed these out by doing online previewing and the old fashioned get-in-the-car-and-drive-around previewing.  It's funny how the house looked so big and beautiful in the online pictures, but when I saw it in person, not so much.  Sounds a lot like online dating, doesn't it??  (I'm not assuming you're necessarily looking for someone big and beautiful to date- but I don't judge).  Seriously, many times there are factors that don't show up online- a freeway or a train track in the back yard, the house sits down in a hole below street level, a meth lab is next door, etc..  So it's great if your agent can take out some of the guess work for you and only show you houses that will be strong possibilities.  If this is the case, it should cut down the number of houses you would see in order to make a decision on which is your best option to buy.  Time is money, folks, and it could save you lots, if you are only seeing the best choices available to you.
The more specific you are to set up your search criteria, the more likely you will find what you're looking for without having to spend every weekend traipsing through dingy houses, with ugly furniture and smelly dogs that you could give a rat's ass about.  You could instead spend that time picking out paint colors for the new nursery or deciding on where to hang your awesome new 60 inch flat screen TV.
I'm not one to make (or encourage others to make) rash decisions.  I always advise buyers take as much time as they need to make a decision on making an offer on a house, but once they've identified a property they're really into, DON'T WAIT.  Especially in today's market!  Did you read my previous articles (part 1 and part 2) on multiple offers???  If not, scroll down.  The really good properties (those gorgeous darlings that look like a magazine spread and are priced just slightly above the most recent comps) are going in just days on the market for asking price or greater.  So when you've seen a few houses (10-15) you should know what your money is going to buy.  And you should be able to ACT NOW if you see one you love. 
When should you start looking for a house??  How long does it take to find a house, negotiate terms and close??  These are very common questions I hear from my dear buyers.  The answer really depends on the situation.  If you have a property to sell, it's usually a good idea to take a few hours with your agent to see what's on the market so that you can become informed before your existing property is under contract.  Then, when your property is under contract, you're armed and ready to go find your dream home.  At that point, you should be able to find a home within a week or two and negotiate the terms of the offer including closing on the new house to coincide with closing on your existing house.  When negotiating closing date on your existing house, try to get a closing date 45-60 days out so that you will have ample time to find a new house and get your loan approved.
If you do not have a property to sell, then when is your lease up?  (I'm assuming you're not homeless or living with your parents or ex-wife).  Check your lease terms to see what kind of notice you have to give.  Can you terminate early?  What is the penalty if you do?  Nowadays, buyers might consider paying a lease termination fee if they happened to stumble on a great house- especially since the rates are FANTASTIC!  But I would advise you to start looking about 45 to 60 days before your lease is up.  
Spring is here!  I'm itching to sell more houses (it could just be allergies).  As always, thank you for reading my wonderful blog.  I just love you for it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Multiple Offers Part Two: What Buyers and Sellers Should Know

So, if you read part one, you would already know that the Atlanta Real Estate Market has entered into a Seller's Market.  If you haven't read part one, please scroll down at once (there will be a short quiz later).  In Georgia in the last quarter, pending sales were up 21%, median prices were up 28%, the number of days on the market dropped 13%, BUT inventory levels were down 32% (the lowest level since Dec 1999).  With the combination of low rates, increasing values, and shrinking inventory, there has never been a better time for Sellers to put their house on the market and for Buyers to buy- as inventory is expected to continue to decline through 2015 and rates and prices are likely to rise!
Sellers:  Keep in mind that even though it is a Seller's Market (defined by months of available inventory), it is not a slam dunk that you will get multiple offers- or that you will even successfully sell your house.  Last quarter, 36% of all listings in Metro Atlanta failed to sell.  31% of listings took a median 168 days on the market and sold for a median 83.5% of their original list price, requiring price reductions to finally attract a buyer.  33% of the listings hit the sweet spot- 27 days on the market and sold for 98.4% of the list price.  22.6% of all sales sold for full price or more!   While 13.6%  of these over-the-asking-price sales were distressed sales, 8.9% were regular sales.
If you're a seller and you're presented with multiple offers at the same time, you could accept the best offer, counteroffer to the best offer, reject all offers, or call for a highest and best.  If you call for a highest and best, you will tell all offerors that they can resubmit their best offer by a certain date and time.  This strategy may actually turn some buyers off, as the competition may freak them out a little.  But if you have more than three offers, this strategy may prove very profitable.
The other thing I want Sellers to know about multiple offers is to consider any financing contingencies and appraisal contingencies in buyers' offers.  Obviously, cash is KING, and you might consider a slightly lower offer for a cash buyer since there is much less risk.  Your hope would  be to get the highest offer to be cash!  Your highest offer may not be your best.  How many contingencies are there?  How long are you taking your property off market for the Buyer's due diligence?   If there is an appraisal contingency and the highest offer price is a lot higher than the recent sales of your neighborhood, your deal could very well fall through if the Buyer's lender's appraisal is less than the agreed upon purchase price.  There are ways to minimize or even eliminate these risks, you must be an informed Seller!
Buyers:   If you're a Buyer who has found a great house in a great neighborhood, ACT FAST.  Your agent should let you know how long the house has been on the market.  If it has been listed less than a week or so, it's probably going to sell for close to or greater than the asking price- particularly if another offer comes in while yours is in negotiation.  Your agent should try and find out if there are any other offers on the table.   If you find out that there is already one or more offers on the table and you really want the house, I recommend that you make the offer as good as you possibly can. 
A skilled and experienced Realtor may be able to get you the house with an escalation clause.  You MUST have a pre-approval letter from a reputable lender which shows your ability to get a loan for at least the purchase price (or loan amount- show proof of funds for down payment as well).  Consider making your offer more attractive by not having a financing contingency (somewhat risky, but not so risky if you KNOW you can qualify or otherwise pay cash).  Consider not having an appraisal contingency.  Would you be willing to pay the difference out of pocket if the appraisal for your loan comes back lower than the purchase price? 
Write a letter to the Seller.  The Seller is mainly looking at numbers and what their net proceeds from the sale would be, but you might be surprised how humanizing the transaction with a personal letter can make a difference in your favor against other offers.  Explain why you love the house, and give the Seller assurance that you are committed to the purchase, tell a little about your employment and give them perspective about your house hunting.  The Seller wants someone who will love their house- appeal to their ego!   Also, the Seller wants someone who is not going to change their mind and back out during due diligence- let them feel your commitment!  Keep in mind (at the back of your mind) that you will likely have a due diligence period which will allow you to change your mind if you find yourself under contract with an offer to purchase a house for more than the asking price, and you have buyer's remorse.   On the other hand, you would know that you were awarded the contract out of several interested buyers, and chances are you got a great house!
Short Quiz at the End:
Which houses in Atlanta are likely to sell for more than asking price with multiple offers?
a)  houses that are overpriced because buyers are stupid.
b)  for sale by owner houses because realtors are stupid.
c)  houses that are underpriced because sellers are stupid.
d)  new listings that have a great realtor who has properly marketed the property, priced it correctly and staged it perfectly.
Answer: d) but you knew that because you're not stupid.
As always, thank you for reading my articles!  I am here to help you "make your best move"!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Multiple Offers: What Buyers and Sellers Should Know

"I'm BAAAACK" says the Atlanta Real Estate Market.   And yes, it's back!!  We've missed you, so, Atlanta Real Estate Market!  Nowadays, unlike the bleak years between 2008-2010 (and who am I kidding.. 2011, too), we are getting MULTIPLE OFFERS on many of our listings in the Atlanta market.  Inventory levels are the lowest I've seen them in 19 years of selling real estate in Atlanta.  Combine that with CRAZY-LOW interest rates (the lowest>>>> EVER!) there is pent-up demand from buyers.  If a property looks great and is priced correctly it will sell close to, at or above the asking price in just days on the market.  Just days (it makes me giggle like a school girl).
Buyers: Listen Up!  The game has changed, and you are no longer calling the shots.  You were very obnoxious to sellers who were desperate to sell their underwater homes in 2010, and now the tables have turned.  (Don't worry, I still love you).  It is still a fantastic time to buy!  The National Association of Realtors just released the report indicating that homes are at an all time affordability level.  As home prices and interest rates dropped, median income increased.  So now is the time.  
If you are a buyer and you see a new listing on the market and it looks great and is priced as good or better than other properties you've seen, you should act immediately by making an offer.  Your agent should ask if there are other offers.  The agent does not have to tell you (and may not be allowed to tell you if the seller has instructed them not to divulge offers on the property).  The seller's agent will most likely tell you if there are offers currently on the table or expected.  If you are in competition, don't play games.  Give your best shot up front.  Don't ask for the drapes if the seller has said they aren't leaving the damn drapes.  It would be wise to offer your best price.  You MUST have a pre-approval letter from your reputable lender if you are planning on getting financing to give to the seller so they know you are a safe bet. 
If you are getting a loan and have already been PRE-APPROVED, you might consider not having a financing contingency in your offer in order to entice the seller to pick your offer.  There is some risk to this strategy (what if you were to lose your job between now and closing for example?).  If you have a property to sell, it is highly unlikely the seller will consider your offer unless your property is under contract with contingencies removed.  You would likely need to prove to the seller that your deal on your existing house is solid.  There's a lot more stuff to share with buyers, but I am running out of time.
Sellers:  A New Day has dawned.  Now don't go crazy thinking your value spiked up back to 2006 levels.  However, it is now officially a SELLER'S MARKET in the peachy city!  Praise the Lord.  We are inching out from the mud that our underwater houses left us in- and not a minute too soon.  If I  am listing your house, my goal is to sell it in UNDER 30 DAYS.   The reason is obvious (to me), but let's review: the less time on the market, the higher your potential net on the sale.  Buyer's don't typically go into a feeding frenzy over your stale listing that's been on the market for 90+ days.  But if your house is staged well, maintained well, in a great neighborhood and priced just slightly above the neighborhood's most recent comps, statistically, it will sell for 98.7% of the list price in 23 days on the market.  And maybe it will sell for more than asking price with no loan contingency. (More school girl giggling/squealing). 
Next time, I will talk more about some of the finer points of handling multiple offers.  I have to go now, I am getting my 3rd offer on my newest listing that I listed 2 days ago- I kid you not.  Wish us luck!