Tips to Help Your Home Sell Fast

What Can I Do To Sell My Home?
 

 

It’s a question that all sellers ask, yet, many are still searching for answers. At one time, houses flew off the market but today’s market conditions have changed.

 With the flood of foreclosures, short sales, and excess inventory, some houses sit for a long time on the market. It could take years to move some of those properties and see the excess supply diminish.

However, if you take action and you have a plan, there’s a good chance that your home will sell faster.

The first important action step is to bring in the most qualified expert to help. Finding the best agent to guide you through the real estate transaction can be the difference between a real estate dream or nightmare.

Make your home stand out. In a sea of homes for sale, you have to highlight and advertise what makes your home stand out. The upgrades, the location, the amenities, the curb appeal, the well-maintained landscape, the outdoor living space you’ve created, the “aging-in-place” remodeling you’ve done… you get the picture.

Take a pad of paper or your iPad and do a walk-through of your home. Look for all the things that a buyer would see as a benefit and list them. When you meet with your agent share these details. Your agent will be able to tell you which features are most important to highlight.

Get real on your pricing. It’s hard to deal with this next action step but it’s among the most important. Let your agent guide you to the right pricing. I’ve written columns in the past about how pricing a home too high and how it is a painful, humbling lesson. Your home will sit on the market and, in many cases, not even get walk-throughs, if it’s not properly priced.

A qualified, experienced agent, studies the market and understands realistic pricing. The agent isn’t emotionally vested in the price and therefore can help you compare your home to others that have sold or are currently on the market so that you can see how your home should be properly priced.

Then when an offer comes in be sure to give careful consideration to it. If it’s reasonable take it. If the home is priced right, you will see offers come in and you must be ready to take action.

Depersonalize and declutter. You must realize when you’re selling your home, that buyers want to see the home as their own. That’s really hard to do when you have your personal mark all over it. Sellers often say, “But I live here.” Yes, that’s true, but you’re now trying to sell the home.

So, pack up your personal belongings and declutter the areas so that the true value of your home can be seen. The rooms will look larger. Buyers will appreciate being able to see each room without getting lost in your pictures, memorabilia, and other stuff.

Also, some items that sellers have in their home might actually offend the buyer, such as game hanging on the walls. Professional stagers or agents, who also have a staging background, can help you easily decide which things should stay and which must go.

In the end, a little inconvenience for a faster sale is really worth it. Take the action steps needed, make your home stand out, and sell your home faster, even in a market that’s saturated with homes for sale. Contact the Dan Adler Team to have a free analysis done on your home.

 

Single Family Homes In A Growth Spurt?

The Changing Landscape of Single-Family Homes

 

As household spending and income adapt to meet the needs of today’s economic conditions, new single-family home have followed suite. In a surprise divergence from recent trends, homes seem to be on a growth spurt again.

 

According to the latest Census Bureau data homes for the first half of 2011 new home being built were following this surprising trend. Data found that in comparison to 2010 the average size of homes grew along with the number of four+ bedroom homes.

This data is surprising considering that many potential homebuyers have been sidelined by high unemployment and weak economic growth. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke recently about the slow economic recovery at the 2012 National Association of Homebuilders International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida.

He noted that “although some progress has been made in reversing the losses in jobs and income sustained during the recession, the pace of expansion has been frustratingly slow and the unemployment rate remains very high by historical standards. The state of the housing sector has been a key impediment to a faster recovery.”

Does this Census Bureau data mean we are on the road back to McMansions? The NAHB is asking the same questions, “These facts lead to an interesting question: how can the average home be getting bigger, more expensive, and have more amenities when the housing market remains weak and the overall economy is yet to see a robust recovery?”

They key difference in these early 2011 findings is who is building homes as well as the number of new housing starts. There were only 429,000 new housing starts in the first half of last year.

Because of recent crackdown on mortgage lending, many would-be buyers of new homes are instead waiting on the sidelines. Today’s buyers need excellent credit as well as at least 20 percent to put down. This has changed the pool of buyers and these buyers are building bigger.

Other key findings of the study were as follows:

  • Average size rose to 2,522 square feet, up 6% from 2,381 square feet in 2010.
  • The share with 4 or more bedrooms rose to 42%, up from 36% in 2010.
  • The share with 3 full bathrooms or more jumped to 28%, up from 23% in 2010.
  • The share with a finished basement jumped to 30%, up from 25% in 2010 (basement counts towards total square footage only if finished by the builder).
  • The share with a 3-car garage or more reversed a six year trend, rising to 18% from 16% in 2010.
  • The average sales price of homes started for-sale rose to $274,400, up from $264,900 in 2010.

To ensure more new housing starts hit the market in 2012, however, changes need to be made. Bernanke notes, “The weak housing market also impairs homeowners’ financial health and diminishes the quality and stability of neighborhoods and communities. For these reasons, and because the troubled housing market depresses construction activity and employment, we need to continue to develop and implement policies that will help the housing sector get back on its feet.”

Contact the Dan Adler Team to find out about the latest policy changes coming your way and how these could affect single-family housing across the nation.

 

Want to Impress a Buyer?

Entryway Impressions

Homeowners who have decided to stay put as well as sellers looking for ways to impress should pay close attention to the look and feel of their entryways.

 

We all know the power first impressions has over our society. We make snap-judgements of books, homes, and people in the first few moments of meeting. This makes it even more important for homeowners to get entry-ways looking their best.

According to a recent national home valuation study conducted by Therma-Tru, even the simple update of installing a new entryway door can increase the perceived value of a home by more than $24,000 on average!

When it comes to entry doors, the sky is the limit these days. Manufacturers know the power of a showstopping door. This is why, according to Therma-Tru, “manufacturers offer a wide array of choices for entryways incorporating decorative glass doorlites, sidelites and transoms. These choices allow homeowners to create a custom look for the home while making a statement about the homeowner’s personal sense of style.”

More and more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes to wait out the down market. Home prices have fallen across much of the nation. This has amped up remodeling across the nation.

Decorative glass entry doors are a great way to bring light into your entryway as well as add a spark of class to the exterior of your home.

Aside from updating your front door, a great tip for your entryway is to keep it organized. If you’re not careful, your entryway can be come a dumping ground for keys, phones, paperwork, bags, coats, and other often used items. The key it to have a place for everything.

Invest in a suitable entry table that can house a docking port for phones as well as a hidden area for keys.

If your entryway has a coat closet be sure that it is cleared out to make room for daily use and for guest coats. Put in a shoe rack or bin for shoes, boots, and umbrellas. There shouldn’t be anything cluttering up your space.

Add a few warm touches to this space by including an entry rug, which can also reduce slippage on tile floors. Place a warm lamp and some simple artwork on top of the entry table. Think about first impressions when you choose colors and styles. This space should make guests or prospective buyers feel warm and welcome!

If you’re looking for a simple way to capitalize on your home’s first impression, then consider adding a touch of class with some decorative glass as well as organizing your space.

For more information about real estate click here!

 

 

Because All Realtors Are Not The Same!

Because All Realtors Are Not The Same!                                 

In all candor, who you are in business with matters. In today’s real estate market it really matters! If you needed major surgery on your knee you would hire the best surgeon right? Of course you would. You wouldn’t hire someone from a billboard or bus stop sign would you? You wouldn’t hire a family member or friend just because they were an MD either. You’d hire the best! The same should be true in real estate. Dan Adler is a Veteran United States Air Force Officer, a recipient of Tucson’s 40 Under 40 Top Business Leaders Award, a certified real estate educator by the State of Arizona, a frequent guest lecturer to the University of Arizona’s Eller Business College, a U of A Alumnus, a Team Leader, an owner/investor in the Keller Williams Southern Arizona franchise and one of the top sales professionals in the state. Dan only hires the best and brightest talent for his Team. If you are considering selling, buying or investing in real estate, you owe it to yourself and your family to interview The Dan Adler Team. We cherish your trust!

Click here to start your property search now!

 

The Future of Mortgage Interest Tax Benefits

Mortgage Interest Deduction

This term has been splashed across the front pages of many media outlets. What is it and what does it mean for today’s homeowners?

 

The “mortgage interest deduction”, or MID, is a way for homeowners to recoup some of the cost associated with interest paid on mortgage loans for qualifying houses (there’s a cap), for both equity debt (loans to improve your home) and acquisition debt (loans to build or buy a home).

How much does it save today’s homeowners? According to Trulia.com, 38.5 million homeowners (around half) take the mortgage interest deduction. The average mortgage interest tax deduction is $12,200, and a typical benefit for home owners is $3,050 a year.

The National Association of Realtors has been a leading proponent of keeping the mortgage interest deduction alive, despite Washington toying with the idea of eliminating the deduction in hopes of saving the government money during these tough times where federal debt has reached new highs.

With a federal debt load of over $14 trillion in 2011 it’s no wonder Congress is seriously considering ways of bringing in more taxes. Increased revenue could be a main solution in reducing our debt and increasing our financial stability as a nation.

Many first-time buyers aren’t even aware of this deduction, but the NAR retains that it is essential to keeping buyers coming to the table and helping the housing market improve. The real harm could come from essentially raising taxes on already struggling American families, they say.

Moe Viessi, NAR President, stated, “NAR firmly believes that the mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy. We urge the president and Congress to do no harm.”

He continued that “while progress has been made in bringing stability to the housing market, the recovery has been slow. The nation’s homeowners already pay 80 to 90 percent of U.S. federal income taxes. Raising taxes on them, now or in the future, could critically erode home values at all price levels. This would destroy middle-class wealth accumulation and trillions of dollars in home values nationwide.”

On the flip side of the coin it’s important to consider that a large portion of today’s buyers are making all-cash purchases. While many of those are investors, many still are buyers simply wanting to continue on in a debt-free lifestyle.

According the the NAR cash deals are up and now represent 30 percent of nationwide sales.

“We have been hearing about some baby boomers buying homes for their kids with all cash, giving their kids a loan that gets a better return than cash sitting in the bank,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said during a recent presentation at Cleveland State University, the Plain Dealer reported.

These types of purchases may mean missing out on certain deductions and on low rates, but it also means 100% assurance you own your home.

These all-cash buyers find ready and willing sellers who have the assurance that the sale will close, as opposed to the large number of buyers today who need to use financing to buy. The number of contract cancellations in recent months due to being unable to get a mortgage has been a large factor in slowed sales.

Additionally, a mortgage interest deduction isn’t an incentive for all-cash buyers, who now make up a large share of the market. The deduction could even be seen as a government reward for those that buy a house by way of a lender instead of through saved funds.

Still, the NAR presses that the MID is vital to the stability of the housing market and economy.

 

Short Term Rentals Growing in Popularity

Personal, Financial Investment Returns Make Short-term Rentals Ever More Popular

 

The short-term rental market – largely seconds homes and vacation rentals  – is alive and well, thanks largely to online portals thrusting this unique form of accommodations into the limelight.

 

The risks associated with short term rental investments can include governmental oversight, community scrutiny and the costs of the investment, management, maintenance and upkeep. And that bears mentioning.

However, the short-term rental sector thrives with growth not seen in other housing sectors, because the investment currently offers a bounty of rewards.

Revenue potential

Obviously the primary benefit is the revenue potential. Property owners can charge significantly higher rates for nightly and weekly stays, compared to long-term rentals. The opportunity to rake in more cash flow is often keyed to the property’s location, especially when it’s a travel destination or attraction-based region. Beach towns, lake-side resorts, mountain vistas, even hip urban cores can make a short-term rental profitable.

Short-term rentals are the accommodations of choice for a growing number of bargain-seeking travelers who, in a single night, shell out enough to cover 25 percent of the property’s monthly mortgage. In some instances, there’s an opportunity to charge even more during high demand periods, during special events, holidays, and seasonal peaks.

Tax breaks

Tax write-offs for short-term rentals can add to the financial benefits.

If a property is rented for less than 15 days out of the year the owner does not have to report the rental revenue as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, that also means the owner can’t make deductions for any costs associated with the property – upgrades, furnishings, maintenance or other over head costs.

If the property is rented for more than 15 days out of the year, the owner can take a business use deduction on a host of operating, upkeep and maintenance costs as well as the cost of large-ticket purchases such as hot tubs, replacing the HVAC, remodeling work and a host of other costs.

Short-term rental property ownersshould always consult with a licensed tax professional to determine the full list and value of deductions.

Calculated wisely, tax deductions can be a great asset to property owners.

Property preservation

Property owners also enjoy a certain sentimental appeal about caring for a property that’s been in the family or the neighborhood. Regular turnover allows owners to keep a closer eye on the property and to maintain it on a regular basis, avoiding some of the wear-and-tear complaints that arise from long-term rentals.

Sue Long, a founding member of the Austin Rental Alliance, prefers renting her property on a short-term basis because it’s a house she saved from destruction – a home neighboring the home where her father was born.

“I do it for the love of the house that I saved from being demolished. This house sat on a lot next door to the house where my father was born in 1914. We have such a cool neighborhood and I want people from out of town to have that experience. I don’t want someone in there for a whole year who won’t respect it or take care of it the way I do,” Long said.

Long says short-term renters are far less harsh on a property. For example, if a long-term renter doesn’t change air filters or perform regular maintenance, they can create the need for costly repairs.

Community benefits

Other owners say short-term rentals benefit the community.

Short-term rental owners must regularly upgrade, maintain and beautify their properties in order to compete and attract guests. That often keeps them in better shape than surrounding properties. Upgrading and maintaining a property helps boosts its value and homes in the neighborhood enjoy a trickle-down effect.

While the heightened value of the short-term rental helps raise the property values in the neighborhood, it can also encourage in all property owners a healthy, competitive “Keeping Up With the Jones” attitude about property care, creating a snowball effect on rising property values.

Short-term rentals can be long on rewards, but it’s important to research all the risks, weigh risks and rewards evenly, and make a decision based on knowledge and understanding before making an investment.

To view Arizona listings click here.

 

Today’s Real Estate Outlook

Real Estate Outlook: Job Growth and Builder Confidence

 

The latest monthly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate is still on its way down. This is good news for job seekers and home sellers alike.

 

The current unemployment rate is now at 8.3 percent. Last year the annual average was 8.9 percent, with nearly 14 million unemployed. February saw an increase of 428,000 employed, movement in a positive direction.

Will these newly employed be entering the housing market? We’ve heard it said over and over again over the last year that affordability rates are at historic highs.

This means more Americans today are able to afford buying a home than ever before. Does this mean more buyers for you home?

The latest Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicates that while many Americans can now afford to buy, the price range they can afford may be much lower than some sellers had hoped for.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) it takes around $26,430 of annual income to afford a $100,000 home. “In 2012, about 28.9 million households in the U.S. are estimated to have incomes lower than that threshold and, therefore, can only afford to buy homes priced under $100,000,” they reported. “These 28.9 million households form the bottom step of the pyramid. Of the remaining 87.5 million who can afford a home priced at $100,000, 23.3 million can only afford to pay a top price of somewhere between $100,000 and $175,000 (the second step on the pyramid).”

The higher the prices go, the smaller the pool of buyers. For many states and towns these average prices are much lower than their area median.

The Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau, both homeownership and rental vacancy rates are practically the same as they were in 2010. Does this mean buyers, even at lower income levels, are taking advantage of today’s affordable rates and prices?

National vacancy rates in the fourth quarter 2011 were 9.4 percent for rental housing and 2.3 percent for homeowner housing.

Among regions, the rental vacancy rate was highest in the South (12.0 percent) and lowest in the West (6.6 percent). The rental vacancy rate in the West was lower than in the fourth quarter 2010, while the rates in the Northeast, Midwest, and South were statistically unchanged.

Builders are building confidence in the multi-family housing market. The NAHB reports that the Multi-Family Production Index rose to the highest level seen since 2005.

Looking forward to the next six months, builder and developer expectations improved in the fourth quarter for all three components: low-rent units, market-rate rental units, and for-sale properties.

“The apartment and condo sector continues to be a bright spot in the housing market, with the overall index at its highest level in six years,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The rental components have been the driving force behind the increased index level. And although the for-sale component remains weaker, it is still double what it was just six quarters ago.”

This is good news since historical trends show that when these indices perform well, we’re likely to see movement in Census figure one to three quarters in advance.

 

Refinance Rates May Uptrend Soon

Bank Mortgage Refinance Rates At Risk of Increasing

Now that headlines out of Europe have calmed down, the focus has been on the economy here in the U.S. Although there are some mixed signals coming out of data reports, investor confidence is evident in the direction that markets are moving. Investors are turning to risky assets that offer dividends which has sent the S&P to a four year high. All mortgage rates, including bank mortgage refinance rates are at risk of increasing now that the economy is showing some signs of improvement. It has been tough week for MBS prices that have been falling and, ultimately, sent mortgage rates higher by Thursday. Freerateupdate.com’s survey of wholesale and direct lenders shows that while most mortgage rates rose .125%, 30 year fixed mortgage rates increased .250% and are at 3.750%. 15 year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.000% and 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are at 2.375%. With good qualifications and acceptable credit, these are the lowest mortgage rates available with 0.7 to 1% origination fee. These bank mortgage refinance rates increased just a few days ahead of the start of the Harp 2.0 refinancing program which is open to underwater borrowers who have mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since this program is a regular refinance with special guidelines, borrowers should research for the lowest mortgage rates available in order to recognize the most savings possible.

 

Also increasing .125%, FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.375%, FHA 15 year fixed mortgage rates are at 2.875% and FHA 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are at 2.875%. FHA mortgage rates are not risk based according to credit scores which makes them more appealing to borrowers who do not have perfect credit. FHA’s streamline refinance program with no cash out now has a new incentive. The upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums will be lower starting in June, 2012. This program is a quick and easy refinance for FHA borrowers that does not require an appraisal or other verifications, but still offers the same low FHA bank mortgage refinance rates. Any upfront mortgage insurance premium, whether for a purchase loan or refinance, will make FHA closing costs (APR) higher, but FHA allows these costs to be included in the mortgage.  

Jumbo 30 year fixed mortgage rates increased again by .125% and are now at 4.625%. Jumbo 15 year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.375% and jumbo 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are at 2.500%. Borrowers are required to have excellent credit in order to obtain these lowest jumbo mortgage rates with 0.7 to 1% origination fee. Jumbo mortgages are a smaller market and are not government insured or sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Most often, jumbo mortgages are held by the lender within their portfolio which is why they tend to have stricter guidelines.  

MBS prices were lower this past week after Greece received final approval for a second bailout from Euro zone finance ministers. Mortgage rates move in the opposite direction of MBS prices. Reports showed that retail sales rose in February, import prices increased, February PPI and Core PPI both rose while jobless claims dropped to 351,000. All of these reports are pointing to an improvement with the economy and has increased investor optimism. In the meantime, the price of gas has brought a drop to consumer confidence for this month. Last week’s Fed meeting indicated a somewhat more positive outlook of the recovery which is drawing investors away from bonds.

 

Arizona home prices on the rise?

It’s only one report.

But it could be that the worst of Arizona’s housing market is now behind us.

New figures Thursday from the Federal Housing Finance Agency show the price of homes in Arizona actually rose more than 4 percent in the last quarter of 2011. By contrast, the national figure was still one-tenth of a point in the red.

Even looking at a broader index that measures home values — one that also takes into account appraisals done to refinance homes as well as sales prices — Arizona is still in positive territory, versus a 0.8 percent drop nationwide.

Still, the state has a long way to go to dig out of the hole.

One quarter of positive numbers does not erase even the losses of the past year. Overall home prices at the end of last year in Arizona were still 2.4 percent below where they were the same time a year earlier.

And the typical Arizona home is still worth only about half of what it was five years earlier.

The report also shows some areas of the state remain weaker than others.

Coconino County home values continue to slide. In fact, its 9.7 percent year-over-year drop is the seventh worst of the 306 metropolitan areas in the FHFA study.

Yuma County is not far behind, with its 8.7 percent annual decline only five spots above that.

And Pima County, which eeked out a 1.1 percent quarterly price increase, is five positions above that with an 8.4 percent drop between prices this year and last.

“The question is, is this just a blip or a long-term trend,’ commented Michael Orr, a real estate analyst with the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Orr said he’s willing to predict that it is the latter, saying there were some indications last fall that the housing market might finally be ready for a turnaround.

“This is really good news,’ said economist Marshall Vest of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. He said the numbers, coupled with prior reports that showed price declines flattening out, suggest the bottom may have been reached.

But Vest was not quite ready to break out the champagne.

“I think we still need to see one more quarter or two to see if this thing holds,’ he said.

The “why’ of it all is more complex.

Orr sees it as a simple matter of supply and demand, particularly at the lower end of the market.

“It would be very rare to have any home below $300,000 not receive multiple bids,’ he said. “In that situation, competition sets in and prices tend to rise.’

And the lower the price goes, Orr said, the fewer homes that are available for sale. That includes foreclosures.

“We’ve got foreclosures still happening above normal, but about half of what it used to be,’ he said.

Vest said just news like this will help accelerate the rise in prices.

“The idea that we’ve had prices moving up will definitely change the psychology in the market,’ he said. “Some people who have been sitting on the fence may decide that now is the time to jump in which would, of course, boost demand and boost prices even further.’

Orr said prices for townhomes and condos have not been affected as much as for single-family homes. But he said that, here too, the supply of lower-priced units is drying up which should force sales prices up.

Even with the higher prices on existing homes, Orr said that’s not going to suddenly result in a big increase in new construction.

He said there still is a gap between what existing homes are bringing and what builders need to charge to cover their costs and make a profit on new ones.

“But they are starting to ramp up a bit,’ Orr said.

 

Forclosure Sales Dropping Early in 2012

To search for Arizona foreclosures click here.

Nevada has long held the No. 1 spot for the most foreclosures in the nation. And while it still does, a dramatic shift is taking place in the state. Foreclosure sales dropped 40 percent in February in Nevada, according to foreclosure data of western states by ForeclosureRadar. 

Other western states hard-hit by foreclosures are also seeing big improvements in a reduction to foreclosure sales. Foreclosure sales dropped in Oregon by 32 percent, 22 percent in California, 17 percent in Arizona, and nearly 7 percent in Washington. 

Nevada has seen dramatic decreases in its foreclosure sales and filings since the state implemented a new law that says lenders can be held criminally liable for any errors made in the foreclosure process. Other states are considering adopting similar measures. 

While states have seen a drop in foreclosure sales, some state are continuing to see an increase in foreclosure filings, a sign that the foreclosure crisis is not completely behind hard-hit western states. For example, foreclosure filings increased 39 percent in Oregon and 6 percent in Arizona in February. Spikes were offset by steep declines in the month prior.