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I love the business of Real Estate even as difficult as it is. For one, I like to triumph over the odds which my team and I do year in and year out, but that's not the primary reason why. I pride myself on doing the very best I can for each and every client as does everyone within the River to Shore Group team and it shows by increased sales each year the market is in decline. While it's certainly nice to receive the paycheck at the end of what sometimes is a long and protracted deal, it's even better when you receive a note of thanks, a gift, or other gestures that one might send our way to that shows their appreciation. It is truly rewarding and gratifying. 

This week we received certainly one of the most creative expressions of thanks from Mark and Nancy Tepping formerly of Rebecca Lane in Guilford. We met through an on-line connection and we hit it off from the start. We made our plans, executed the preparation punch list, got their home on the market and had it gone in 7 weeks. We negotiated an nice deal on a model home condo in Chester for them and got both places closed as they desired overcoming the normal bumps in the road you sometimes get in today's market. 

After they settled in they had a party celebrating all that those that assisted them in their big move. They had the Pizza truck onsite that provided marvelous fare, from appetizers to dessert, and all had a very nice time.  We met family, new neighbors, and even their sales person from the Old Saybrook Barn. No one was forgotten. It was certainly a first for us to experience a loving and genuine act of gratitude of this level. During the event, Nancy read aloud many limericks. She wrote one for each professional she hired to assist her in their move. It was flattering for sure and we all felt honored.

 I felt compelled to blog about this because of the level of vitriol we see between the daily discourse on the air and in print.  There's been a serious decline of civility in the world and a decline in simple politeness. There was a recent news article on NBC news that interview a waitress who's tip was "try losing a few pounds." instead of the 15% gratuity she had hoped she would get for her good service. People on the road are in a rush, will cut you off, or won't let you in when the traffic is stiff. It's sad. 

It's really simple: If you want love, give love. 

OK...so the real reason I love this business is because of all the great people I have met and made friends with along the way. I can say the only downside is that I certainly have more wonderful relationships today than I have free time to nurture so Facebook and blogging and the occasional personal note to many will have to suffice between those rare personal visits.

Mark and Nancy, thank you so much for being a great example of what true gratitude can be. We are honored, flattered, and appreciate your gestures beyond words. May you have the best of luck in your new home and have many happy healthy years there.

I respectfully submit to you, the reader, for your consideration that the next time you're at a restaurant to leave a larger tip than you normally would and write a note, if deserved, to let the server know how much you appreciated the good service. Thank the service rep at your auto dealer, the cashier, your massage therapist by sending them a card. I recently sent a card to the manager of the Old Saybrook spa telling her what a great experience I had with staff member Eleni. I had also sent a gourmet package of cookies that I asked the manager to give to Eleni as a token of my appreciation. The next time in I was even more appreciated. Hence...if you want love....give love. That is all.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Hypocrisy

by Mick Marsden

 

This blog is on what irks me most about the media these days. They don't really cover things that expose the hypocrisy and abuse from thieving CEO's and politicians alike. It seems like the last bastion of radical thinkers and those shining a light of the truth is left to folks like Jon Stewart. A few weeks back there was minimal news coverage on homeowners doing strategic defaults on their mortgages. A strategic default is where some one who can actually pay their mortgage payment defaults because it makes no short or long term sense to keep paying for an asset that is worth so much less than the balance they're paying down. Businesses do it all the time. Many businesses don't hesitate to simply not pay a vendor or keep to an agreement that no longer works for them. They selectively screw a few people they promised to pay to fatten their bottom line and to turn towards more profitable situations…even thought they could have been honorable kept to their word. 

I was blown away by the true and humorous spot that exposed the Mortgage Banker's Association's hypocrisy. After thinking about it, I wasn't surprised. It's the status quo of the power wielding CEOs and politicians doing the old do what I say not as I do deal. So here's the story:

Hypocrite John Courson talking out one side of his face...

The Mortgage Bankers Association bought  a building for their headquarters 3 years ago for $79 million dollars with just 5% as a down payment. A real sub-prime dream deal that no doubt was packaged up with the rest of the crap they sold to investors, retirement accounts, and even other countries. The very sliced and diced crap they shorted because they knew it was going to fail. The Mortgage Bankers Association most likely could have continued to pay their payments but decided to default on their loan and walked away from it’s headquarters in Washington DC because it was so underwater.  This does have a familiar ring to it, no?

Many homeowners over the past few years have been dealing with the very issue with their slice of American pie, their humble abode, their home. For most homeowners there's significant anguish, guilt, and shame. There's also a fair amount of fear. They may ask themselves questions like: Where can we go?  What can we rent? Will anyone rent to us after with my credit is trashed from this default? Will I ever be able to buy another home? All legitimate concerns for sure. 

However, CEO, John Courson of the Mortgage Bankers Association added to the emotional burden for these homeowners in an interview about people deliberately walking away from their mortgages. He said that it was a “moral imperative” that homeowners need to continue to make their payments. (Mostl likely a position driven by his need to be overpaid for his services). This is an amazing statement coming from this pedantic, narcissistic hypocrite that strategically defaulted on his MBA headquarters loan that screwed the investors who bought their mortgage of $75m!  

So where did the MBA go? They rented just a few blocks away and they no longer have the nastily underwater property on their balance sheet. 

Am I advocating Strategic Defaults?  You bet because it's done by the very corporations who are buying elections and dismantling our middle class. I can't stand on ceremony and state that I don't advocate them when the CEO of the MBA has done it on a huge scale and represents the very industry that's party at fault for where our housing market is.  

My main message here is that if you are having trouble making mortgage payments, then a short sale may be your path to getting out with the least damage. You need a real hardship here. Get help sooner than later in this case. Visit: http://CTShortSaleInfo.com and https://www.hmpadmin.com/portal/programs/foreclosure_alternatives.html. 

If you can afford your payments and are considering a strategic default consult with your accountant and lawyer and weigh out your options carefully. Create a plan that will be solid for the future instead of sitting and waiting for things to happen. 

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Foreclosure Crisis
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

 

Want to laugh and get the sad truth that the real media wouldn't report? Watch the Daily Show's report about the Mortgage Bankers Association Strategic Default. It’s about 5 minutes and worth it.

If your a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association and don't like this blog. Too bad. The truth hurts. If you're not then you'll probably agree with me 100%.

Moving In: East Hampton, CT

by Loretta Waldman

Can a couple with West Coast tastes and a sense of history find a house in Connecticut that satisfies both? Absolutely, say Derek and Joyce Hyde, a pair of fortysomething professionals who closed last month on a home in East Hampton that is a rare blend of old and new. 

The core of the 3,200-square-foot colonial was an overgrown shack of a sea captain's house built around 1850 but meticulously restored and added onto by the previous owner in 2007. The newer, 2,200-square-foot portion of the house includes a state-of-the-art kitchen, master suite, great room, mudroom and attached two-car garage. 

"The only parts that are really original are the upstairs guest bedrooms," said Joyce Hyde, executive director of the Glastonbury Wellness Center and Healthtrax, "but even those are updated in this interesting combination of old and new." 

The Hydes were living in Southern California and moved east to find new jobs. Joyce lived most of her life in California, but Derek, a claims manager with The Hartford, was born and raised in East Hampton and has two brothers still living there as well nieces, nephews and many friends from high school and college. 

When their yearlong house hunt began, the couple looked at just about everything, including land, trying to figure out what they wanted, said their agent, Mick Marsden of Page Taft GMAC Real Estate. 

Coming from Orange Country, the couple figured they could afford waterfront. When they realized they could not, they refocused their search on other properties. All told, Marsden said he showed the couple about 48 properties in what seemed like every town in Middlesex and Hartford counties. In the end, they narrowed their choices to two: a house in Glastonbury that needed work but had a gourmet kitchen, pool and nice backyard, and the house in East Hampton, which didn't have a pool but was priced right and was move-in ready. 

"It was hard to pass up, but it would have taken too much work to feel comfortable," Joyce said of the Glastonbury house. "For the same amount of money, we could get a completely done house." 

By the time they made their offer, the house had been on the market for 325 days and the asking price reduced several time. The Hydes paid $530,000, $45,000 less than the lowest list price.

"They got a tremendous deal," said Marsden. "This is one of those cases when it was a buyer's market, and they scored."

— Loretta Waldman, Special to The Courant





EAST HAMPTON FACTS:

• Population (2008): 14,651

• Median single-family home sales price (Jan.-Oct. 2009): $230,000

• Median condo sales price (Jan.-Oct. 2009): $170,000

• Number of single-family home sales (2007): 162

Less than $100,000: 4

$100,000 - $199,999: 19

$200,000 - $299,999: 67

$300,000 - $399,999: 51 

$400,000 or more: 21

• Number of new housing permits in:

2008: 34

2007: 71

2006: 85 

2005: 134

2004: 158

• Housing stock (2007): 5,207 units; 84 percent single-family

• Owner-occupied dwellings: 76 percent

• Housing stock age, pre-1950: 27 percent

SOURCES: Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; Connecticut Economic Resource Center; The Warren Group

Nine Consecutive Gains for Pending Home Sales

by Mick Marsden
 
Pending home sales have risen for nine months in a row, a first for the series of the index since its inception in 2001, according to the latest survey. The Pending Home Sales Index increased 3.7 percent to 114.1 from 110.0 in September, and is 31.8 percent above October 2008 when it was 86.6. The rise from a year ago is the biggest annual increase ever recorded for the index, which is at the highest level since March 2006 when it was 115.2. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home sales are experiencing a pendulum swing. “Keep in mind that housing had been underperforming over most of the past year. Based on the demographics of our growing population, existing-home sales should be in the range of 5.5 million to 6.0 million annually, but we were well below the 5-million mark before the home buyer tax credit stimulus,” he said. “This means the tax credit is helping unleash a pent-up demand from a large pool of financially qualified renters, much more than borrowing sales from the future."

Forecast for 2010
In all, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, 4.4 million Americans look to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit before it expires by the middle of next year. From the enactment in February of this year through October, NAR estimates 1.8 million households would have qualified to claim the first-time home buyer tax credit. Now with the tax credit deadline extended till the end of June 2010 (for closings, with contracts signed by the end of April, 2010) and also available to many move-up buyers, an additional 2.6 million families would likely claim the home buyer tax credit. 

Real Estate Downturn

by Michael Marsden

A colleague sent this YouTube link to me. It's a video parody on the current investment and real estate markets. I am a big believer in how comedy and a good laugh can heal. So maybe it will bring a smile to your face. 

 




Its not routine to your seller or buyer

by Michael Marsden
Like many people in the world, I have sought the help of a therapist to get through some rough patches in my life. During one of those sessions a therapist handed me a list of the greatest stressors that one can endure in life. At the top of this list was: divorce, marriage, bankruptcy, a change in employment...and yes..buying or selling a home.

I just closed on my 55th home this week looking back just 4 years. Its become quite routine. I am good at it whether I am on the buyer or seller side of the transaction and even when I do both sides. Lawyers and and loan officers do a bunch of transactions too so I imagine it becomes pretty routine in their eyes too.

I represented first time home buyers this last time and as a result of being their first time I got more text messages, emails, and phone calls at all hours 7 days a week from my young couple than I could count. That's to be expected and I really don't mind. I got into the business to do a great job and to make the process fun, smooth, and as stress free as possible. Our experience is what clients really want to tap into although no one really articulates it.

My clients had asked their lender and closing attorney for the amount they needed to get bank check for on the Friday before their Monday closing. They waited all day and called me after hours on that Friday because no one called them with the number before the weekend. They wanted to get the check on Saturday so they would have the stress of doing on Monday, the closing day, due to their heavy schedule that day. The paralegal did get a bank package from the lender and the lender didn't give them an updated good faith estimate, so the stress was on for them Both the lender and the paralegal should have called them at least to let them know they didn't have the info to tell them the exact number.

As my promise to all who work with me is unprecedented access by the text, email, or voice 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, they were able to reach me and I was able to let them know that they could use the figure on the good faith estimate and bring a personal check for the difference, all was ok and that I would try to reach the lender and/or attorney that weekend to see if I could bring in a better number

I was lucky in that I had after hours contact information for both attorney and lender and was able to get the exact number. But the real point here is that although it was no big deal and not a real problem at all, it was the perception of this buyer that it was a big deal and it stressed them out. So I make a point of being available so no one loses any sleep.

So to my fellow professionals in real estate, law, and lending, try to remember its a big deal for every customer. Sometimes getting an answer before they go to bed that night or go into the weekend will improve their quality of life and ease their stress. Even if you don't have the real answer for them, just knowing you're working on it and explaining things is all that's necessary. I remember how I felt when I bought my first and second home. It was scary and stressful. So I make a point of putting myself in my client's shoes even though my job has become routine.

Definition of a Buyer's Market

by Michael Marsden
Buyer's Market: A Definition
If you are about to put your house on the market, or are currently listing, get ready for a rude awakening. Many still have lingering memories of the past seller's market and would be shooting themselves in the foot but not understanding the current climate. A buyer's market really means that seller's have to do way more to get their home sold with the amount of competition there is out there. Let me break it down for you.


Pricing.
Don't think for a moment that the ploy of asking for a dream amount is going to bring a reasonable amount of people through your home or an offer. It's not a plausible scenario in this market and a real long shot. You have to have a very sharp price to get noticed and to garner offers. Many make the mistake of pricing their home based on what they want out after expenses, what they feel they should recover from improvements made to the home, and the like and ignore the sales data that's presented thinking they can do better than the historical fact. WRONG. It will not get a nickel more in the end, will extend your marketing time, and many priced this way see no prospects and thus no offers anyway. If you're lucky enough to get an offer it would be viewed as "insulting" as the buyer agent, if their performing their fiduciary responsibility, will present the comps that support offer presented. We all tend to think our bricks and mortar are worth more than the next, but that's an emotional not factual thing here. Some think or the neighborhood will carry the extra dollars they want for their home but at the end of the day the home is worth what a bank will commit a mortgage to or a cash buyer will write a check. Most cash buyers have the home appraised to make sure they're not over paying. Our advice is, and has always been since the market became a buyers market, is to price your home just above the bottom line you're able to accept and hopefully that is within what the comparables and current active listings will support.
Pricing barometer for most
If you're getting little or no showings, you're really overpriced. Because the majority of buyers today use the net to scope out the inventory they pass right by overpriced listings. The showings one does get are from the higher price bracket shoppers and after the showing will peg you as overpriced and then they're gone forever. Its way easier for buyers to negotiate from a lower than higher point to get the home they want for the price they're willing to pay. If you're getting an ample number of showings and no offers or a couple of low balls, you're still too high. This means that after seeing your home in person and visiting your competition, they offer on something else. So in fact your overpriced listing helps drive the sales of the homes that are priced right. If you price your home right, you'll get very close to your asking price and it will be done in a reasonable time in the majority of cases.
One of our recent sales showed us that even a $5K reduction can make the difference in the sub-$300K category. We were getting a luke warm turn-out on a home we listed at $284,900. The feedback would say we were priced right but our precious buyers were buying elsewhere. We suggested to our sellers to lower the price $5K and they agreed. We began showing the home a dozen times per week and a month later went under contract very close to asking. So in the end if we put the house up at $299K fishing for a higher price it would have just extended the market time, perhaps garnered a "market rot" reputation of "what's wrong with that house" and in the end wouldn't have fetched a higher priced. If the sellers had gotten lucky in this case, the sale price to listing price would have simply been a larger spread and days on the market longer.

Appraisals
Bank appraisals are caving a lot of deals. Sometimes a contract is put together where everyone agrees is the price except for the bank. We recently produced a fabulous offer that was at the top of what our comps said the home was worth and it was rejected by the seller. We even asked the opinion of a licensed appraiser to make sure we were offer the right advice in accepting the offer. We sold our hearts out to get this offer and it was rejected. The buyer came back a couple more times with offers over the homes value but now carried a condition that it appraised. It was still rejected because our sellers thought the home was worth still $10K more. Even if the deal did go together at their dream price, the bank would have come in at market and the buyer would have expected an adjustment to the market value. The home is now on the market waiting for another offer and the prospect of bettering the offer they had is dim. If another offer ever comes. So our advice is when you get the first offer on your home in over a year and its at or near your homes total value...TAKE IT. Its not a market where you're likely to see many offers given the selection one has and consider getting an appraisal before hand to help you get used to the idea what you're house is worth in this market. We even offer to reimburse our sellers at closing for this appraisal so its a net zero act with us. If you learn you can't sell because there's not enough of a bottom line for you then stay put until things improve. That could be a very long time, however, it beats preparing your house for showings and going through the pain without hope of really selling.

Prepare to do more and be asked for more
We received an offer on a home that was at top value for the house, but the buyer decided to ask for items not included as real estate. He asked for a chandelier that was excluded, riding mower, washer and dryer. The sellers were extremely annoyed and even thought we weren't advocating for them because the buyer was asking for what was not included in the listing. Don't take this kind of thing personally. Buyer's expect, and in many cases, are getting more in a sale because qualified buyers without something to sell are in short supply. If you like the chandelier you don't want to part with or a special cabinet door or a sink or anything else that's screwed down, change out in advance. In CT anything screwed down or installed like a light fixture considered real estate and the buyer expects those items to be included. It will go easier for you, trust me. Your selling agent cannot control what is asked for and not negotiating some personal items away may cost the best deal you're likely to see in this market. We've witnessed this and hope our readers will take heed. Once that precious buyer is gone...they're gone.

Detach and Depersonalize
It goes without saying that each of us has created memories in the home we may to have sell. However, when it comes time to sell, its time to look at the home as wood, bricks and mortar. Its an asset. If you buy with emotion or remain emotionally attached during the selling process you'll find yourself in trouble. You'll be insulted by even the smallest things. The buyer doesn't care if you built the home with your own hands, designed it, had your first born there or anything else. Its an asset worth X on the market at any given time. Have a home stager help you prepare your home which means it will be depersonalized, become more neutral, and at times seem like no one lives there. If you can wrap your arms around this concept you won't get emotional during the negotiation and blow it for yourself. Ask yourself if your really want to sell before you engage a REALTOR to sell your home.

Prep your Home
We as a team supply a free two hour consult from a licensed and accredited home staging professional. If we didn't believe in it we would not pay for it up front out of our own pockets. This consult helps you get your home into shape. It may cost you time and money, but in the end you're home will be memorable, appeal to the widest cross-section of the buyers in your price range, and make the best first impressions. As a result you're more likely to sell in a shorter time for more money in any market.

Is the water beginning to boil?
You know how you see a few small bubbles rising to the surface when the water in the pot is just coming to temperature? Well that seems to be a fitting metaphor for what we see in current buyer prospects. I am not kidding when I told you at the start that the reason we're so behind writing our newsletter is how busy we've been with servicing our listings. We're now getting more and more busy with buyers. In the lower CT River Valley and CT Shoreline, our team has been out straight every day the past couple of weeks with buyers. I think there's a sense of this is pretty much near the bottom and its time to act before it turns and heads north. Even though energy and the lending crisis adds a bit of a wild card in calling a real turn, things are brisk and deals are going together. Two this week, two last week, and many in the works simultaneously. Negotiations are indeed tougher but we're up to the task in facilitating win-win deals in a majority of cases. If you're a buyer reading this, now is a great time to get to it.

Blood in the Water?
Low ball offers are routine these days as there is a class of buyer whom think they smell blood in the water and that every home has 25% or more movement in it. We cannot prevent a buyer like this from showing up at your listing, so prepare yourself for those kinds of offers. It does NOT mean everyone will tender an unfair offer. I was working with a first time home buyer whom I had to part ways with. They had read somewhere that 10 or 15% off the ask was the generic place to start offering on a home regardless if it were fairly priced. When I tried to explain what reaction they'd get from sellers who already made major adjustments to the asking price they had me charge in. Those sellers were resentful, countered with $100 off the ask or simply told them to go away and come back with a realistic offer. I as a listing agent would definitely support a seller in no counter response or one that just as unrealistic as the offer tendered. The point is that as a seller, don't be discouraged as they weren't your buyers anyway and another will happen along that is. Buyers, listen to your agents advice and look at the comps. There's plenty of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure product out there for the bottom feeder. Its not that you can't find an exception deal, they're out there.

Before we sign off, is there any particular topic you'd like me to research and write about? If so, drop us a line and we'll do next time out.

All the best,

Mick, Gigi, and Tina

 

PS: Check the blog soon. I am going to write about the new iPhone and how its helping us serve you better.

iPhone and Real Estate

by Michael Marsden
Firstly you haven't seen a blog from me for some time. Not because I've nothing to say or was lazy. Its that I've been working 60-70 hour weeks keeping up with our job of listing and selling homes with a high degree of customer service and dedication. OK...now about iPhone 3G!

Yes I was one of those nuts who got in line way early (6:00 am with fellow iPhone lover Carl and Christine Bulgini of Fenwick Mortgage who actually got there at 5:45am and held me a place. We were 7,8, and I got the 9 iPhone 3G 16gb. Its kind of like the Grand Canyon though...you gotta see it!!

Its really not right to call it a phone. Its more like a handheld computer sporting a mini OS X and you can make a call on it. The upgraded hardware now incorporates a GPS chip and the ability to take advantage of ATT's broadband speed 3G network that covers about 85% of the state according to an ATT rep in Clinton. So now its like being connect to a WIFI hotspot to get email and surf the web almost like in front of a full Mac or PC. Email attachments can actually be read and navigated with ease and forwarding to a real world desktop computer is not a problem. Its great when you need to read an time urgent addendum to keep a deal moving forward. In addition to all the things you'd expect in a cellphone, like names, and numbers, calendar and important dates, texting, taking photos and the like, Apple does it with such elegance, simplicity, functionality, and efficiency. iPhone's address book, calendar, Browser are extensions to the same on your PC or Mac. When I respond to an email, the reply I send and that email's status is updated on Apples new push technology servers at MobileMe.com which then pushes to my Mac. MobileMe is a wireless sync between a website version of your world, your iPhone and laptop or desktop.

I can keep a huge number of photos on my iPhone and connect via the net or 3G to share my photos posted in my galleries. I was able to show one of our listings not on our buyer's tour right in the car. She like what she saw and booked to see it. The screen is incredible, large because there's no cumbersome hard keyboard to steal valuable real estate and high in brightness and resolution. I am able to show videos, stills, or video podcasts through the iPod which hitches a ride on iPhone. So its an iPod touch too.

Everyone I show this too is blown away. Many ask what's going to happen to RIM's Blackberry? I say their days are numbered unless they unleash one hell of a new piece to compete. Being an ex-Blackberry user, I can say I did like my Blackberry, but now that I've lived with iPhone there is just no comparison. Blackberry's OS and setups are not intuitive, the interface is klugey, and performance lackluster.

The map feature with GPS is wonderful and robust. When a client asks how far away a home is from the beach, I have the phone locate us or enter the address of the house in question and locate the beach with a slick interface or drop a virtual pin on it they have the information with drive time immediately. All on a map, hybrid, or satellite photo like Google would do on any computer.

I am looking forward to the Statewide MLS to begin developing special applications that will give us a more robust interface with the CTMLX database. Applications that will assist in planning the perfect route and suggest the time it would take for each viewing. You can use the free Loopt application so you can know where each of your team members are. The sky's the limit. And its exciting.

Is the tide turning for the housing market? Some think so.

by Michael Marsden

For the first time since last July sales of existing homes rose 2.9%. It could be the first sign that we've hit bottom and things are beginning to turn. Especially if you're a home seller. Prices of homes are simply too low for some to ignore! Sales were still down in the west by 1.1%, but the midwest was up 2.5% and the south up 2.1%. What carried the overall national number was the northeast with double-digit gains of 11.3%. This is the best time to buy if you're a buyer when things are at or near the bottom. Pierre Ellis, Senior Economist for Decision Economics said "the housing market seems to be giving the first indications that [the economy] is stabilizing at least in terms of home purchases. A Today show report stated other economist caution that sales of existing homes across the nation are still down 23.9% when compared to last year. Some say the the free-fall may be over.

Sellers who price their homes right will be the beneficiaries of the early signs of the housing recovery and buyers won't miss the boat if they step up from the side-lines and buy the home they've been considering.

MY OPINION ON THE LOCAL MARKET AND LENDING CRISIS

So what's going on in the much of the CT Real Estate Market? Well, as most are aware, the lending industry has been turned upside which has created a tumultuous stock market, put more pressure on housing prices, and in a market that has never been better for a one to buy a home, more difficult than ever to obtain a mortgage. I know the latter first hand as my first two sales that closed this year was challenged by lenders.

Both of my buyers had excellent credit, ample down payments, and the home they were buying appraised as expected. So why the trouble? There has been so much wrong doing by predatory lenders, middle men who unscrupulously packaged the loans for sale on the secondary market, they then became AAA rated by Standard and Poor (the fox guarding the hen house) and sold as investments to places like Bear Stearns and other investment banks who are now all in big trouble. Off course all the folks who made money on these loans are not only getting off scott free, the CEO's of the lenders at fault, like the moron who was running Countrywide was rewarded with millions in a parting bonus. Go figure.

Those lenders still standing and making mortgages are afraid of their own shadow and thus are getting at times 2 appraisals, and they're looking very hard at every aspect of the package. My sales did close, it was just very difficult for Fenwick Mortgage who was handling these for the buyers, and added stress to my buyer's life that they didn't need. Then again...who needs stress today?

Condo buyers should note at some lenders are add as much as a 1.5 points to the prevailing residential rate mortgages. Some lender's condo questionnaire are more comprehensive and if there is one answer they don't like the loan is denied! We found that New Alliance is the bank to do business with as of late if your buying a condo.

Rates are continuing to improve for conforming loans while jumbos are costing 1.5 points for most products. Seller's offering mortgage buy down programs can really create a win-win deal for buyers of their homes. Middlesex County's new conforming loan limit is now $470K. So if your home is listed north of $564K, consider a buy down option. Fenwick Mortgage is quite adept at creating a profile that can be used as a marketing feature for your home.

THE NUMBERS

While 2007 finished strong and ahead of 2006, 2008 is showing the signs of the credit crunch. New lending rules and a dearth of stated income and stated asset products has created an even smaller buyer pool. New listings have decreased 2% when compared to last year which is a trend that is welcomed. The number of closings are down 30%. Sales volume fell $30M or 12.5% over 2007. These figures are for residential home sales for both January and February. Deeper discounts from asking prices were noted where at least 9 towns in our service area gave more than a 10% discount. When I look at that a bit closer, many were asking too high a price for the market. What that does is increase selling time, carrying costs, and creates a stigma for the property. That is reflected in the market area absorption rate which jumped from 11 months to now 14 months. The absorption rate is the number of months it would take to sell all existing inventory at the current sales rate if no additional inventory was added. You could also look at this number as the length of time it could take to sell your home. This year so far the average days on the market are standing at about 5 to 6 months, so don't be surprised if agents start asking for 9 or 12 month listing contracts. The numbers show that the average list price per square foot rose when it should have fallen and stands at $252.33, slightly higher than las year. The average selling price per square foot is at $214.09! That's a 15% spread! This is proof that sellers are asking on average 15% more than what the market value is this year.

NEVER A BETTER TIME TO BUY

If you're a buyer, especially with nothing to sell, its the best time in recent memory to step up and make a purchase. Even though there are many "underwater" or "upside down" mortgaged properties, banks are negotiated what we call "short sale" purchases. This means that they are allowing the seller to sell below what they owe rather than to foreclose on the property. There are many bank owned properties out there as well. A lived in short sale property is a safer buy for most because it follows the normal protocols of a sale. Properties can be inspected and you know its a functioning residence. Empty bank owned properties can be plagued with many hidden defects. Those who couldn't pay mortgages could not obviously do the maintenance needed to keep the home up. So in some cases the discount that you get can be less than the repairs and improvements needed to make the home habitable.

ADVICE TO SELLERS

Seller's need to know that there is always a buyer for your home. There is a smaller pool of buyers out there but they exist. To sell your home you need to do more to prepare your home for sale, price it right, and be marketed where you're noticed over the other competing properties. People are still getting married, divorced, having babies, becoming empty nesters, coming to the area, and leaving the area. What we can do for you is offer you professional photography, data to help you price your home right, create the very best print and digital marketing websites, put you in a national listing service to make your property greatest exposure, give you the service of 3 full time agents instead of 1 (and for the price of 1), and promise you that we'll be present to show your home to prospective buyers instead of putting your home on automatic by putting a lock box on your home.

No one can guarantee when and for home much your home will sell for, but we can guarantee to give you the best possible chance to do so. If you're in a situation where your "underwater" with your mortgage, call us or visit: http://www.CTShortSaleInfo.com and we'll help you get out from under with dignity and without foreclosure. We are experts and professionals available from 8am to 8pm everyday of the week.

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