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AgentMatch

Realtor.com is beta-testing AgentMatch in Las Vegas and Boulder, and just announced that they have selected 16 realtors to form a advisory board “to work in tandem with us on this important project”.

From the article:

AgentMatch ranks agents by city, ZIP code and neighborhood based in part on their transaction histories, with data sourced from the local multiple listings services. Other information, including certifications and recommendations, is also factored in.

The agents’ reaction to AgentMatch has largely been negative, with many expressing apprehension toward the accuracy of rankings that rely on statistics, and the inherent ambiguity in determining what makes one agent rank higher than another.

Redfin, Google, and others have rolled out their versions, and if it weren’t for the vehement objections by realtors, there would be several agent-rating websites in business by now.

There needs to be a solid, dependable agent resource center – the data is available, and third-parties are going to publish it, if we don’t.

It makes sense that realtor.com would be the natural portal.  They have the direct connection to every MLS, and should be able to verify its accuracy.  Agents should trust realtor.com more than the rest, and if realtor.com would have been dedicated to lead the industry, then we probably wouldn’t be talking about this.  It would have already happened two years ago, before Redfin tried their agent-ranking version for a week.

Here’s what I wrote about it then:

https://www.bubbleinfo.com/2011/10/03/redfin-scouting-reports-guidance/

I’m not on their advisory panel, but I’ll offer my thoughts anyway:

1.  Delete the ‘ranking’ of agents, and just make it an agent-resource center loaded with facts – and education.  Give instructions on what the data means, and on how to properly interpret it.

2.  Include an agent-profile box where realtors can manually input their own introduction and make a pitch why they deserve your business. Provide a link directly off the website to the agent.  If an agent wants to dispute their sales counts publically, do it here.

3.  Make the data readily consumable – easy to read with helpful tips along the way. For starters:

  • Total sales closed in the last 12 months:
  • Number of agents in group who reported sales under this agent:
  • How many off-market deals did you close:
  • Short-sales listing closed:  Short-sale buyers closed:
  • REO listings closed:  REOs sold to buyers:
  • Total sales closed in the last 36 months:
  • (comparing 12-month totals vs 36-month shows professional growth)
  • And more.

4.  Allow clients and other agents to give feedback, just like Ebay.  The realtor would be allowed to give rebuttals, and we’d have to deal with fake feedback.  To make everybody happy, we’d probably have to allow agents to delete negative comments up to a point.

Realtors have enjoyed relative anonymity, and our commitment to educate the consumer is dreadful.  A powerful agent-resource center that was properly positioned would help focus the attention on facts, and give the industry some much needed direction. It is in everyone’s best interest to work together to create a package that works.

Transparency would be greatly enhanced.  Agents who focus on truthfully marketing themselves would benefit – the stats would back them up.  The agents who depend on a fluffy image would still get by, because consumers attracted to that, probably wouldn’t be scouring the internet for data.

Some of the biggest objections will come from those whose shady dealings will now be exposed – it would help keep agents honest!

Most of all, it would give clients a resource from which to learn about the agents who are assisting them with one of the biggest decisions in their life.  It’s the least we could do to help.

Articles:

http://www.inman.com/next/real-estate-agent-matching-rating-and-ranking-the-big-data-placebo-pill-and-quelling-the-angry-mob/

http://www.inman.com/2013/11/22/franchisor-keller-williams-realty-strongly-urges-agents-to-oppose-realtor-coms-agentmatch-tool/

http://agbeat.com/editorials/agentmatch-launches-objections-appear-anti-consumer/

http://www.inman.com/2013/11/22/zillow-adds-transaction-histories-to-agent-profiles/

http://www.homelight.com/agents/jim-klinge-ca-00873197

http://www.inman.com/2013/01/17/agent-matching-site-homelight-rolls-out-client-reviews/

http://www.inman.com/2013/11/19/realtor-com-seeks-more-agent-feedback-on-controversial-agentmatch-ranking-platform/

Waning Or Correcting?

From BloombergBusinessweek.com:

ahwatukeeMike Imgarten, a 29-year-old civil engineer, encountered a frenzy of demand and a dearth of inventory during a two-month house hunt this spring in Sacramento, Calif. Fearing he’d end up paying too much, he took a break from the search in June. Sales in Sacramento now are off by more than 25 percent from a year ago.

While inventory remains tight by historical standards, the supply of homes on the market has almost doubled, says Erin Stumpf, Imgarten’s real estate agent. “Six months ago, if I listed a property under $400,000, I would expect multiple offers within a few days,” she says. “Now, I might get one offer within the first couple weeks.”

In California, Arizona, and Nevada, where bidding wars have caused the country’s largest gains in home prices, markets are showing signs of cooling. The surge in prices, combined with higher mortgage rates, is reducing affordability while encouraging more sellers to list properties.

“We are shifting from a frenzy to where buyers are taking a step back and being more analytical and unwilling to just make rash decisions,” says Ellen Haberle, an economist for Redfin, a real estate brokerage based in Seattle.

A reduction in homeowners who have negative equity—owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth—is pushing more homes onto the market. Negative equity had been limiting sales in regions hard hit by the housing crash. Thanks to rising prices, more than 2.5 million homes returned to positive equity in the three months through June, according to research firm CoreLogic.

Sellers lowered asking prices on about 25 percent of listings in September, the biggest share in two years, according to Redfin, which tracks 22 cities across the country. In October the figure was 23.8 percent.

The inventory of unsold U.S. homes climbed in September from a year earlier for the first time since 2011, while contracts to buy previously owned dwellings plunged the most in three years, data from the National Association of Realtors show.

The pullback comes at a time of year when sales typically slow. Still, the drop-off in heated markets such as Phoenix is far greater than expected, says Michael Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at Arizona State University.

A jump in borrowing costs since May has discouraged some buyers, and the government shutdown may have weakened confidence, he says. The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 4.35 percent, Freddie Mac said on Nov. 14. That compares with 3.35% in May.

“We have buyers, but they’re on strike,” Orr says. “This caught everybody by surprise, including me.”

Some markets have been super-charged by investors flipping houses and institutional purchasers such as Blackstone Group acquiring large numbers of single-family homes to rent. Many of these buyers are pulling back in the cities with the fastest price growth, says Sam Khater, senior economist for CoreLogic.

Demand slowed after institutional investors began withdrawing from the southern Nevada market a few months ago, says Dave Tina, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. “We did a catch-up from being as low as we were,” he says. “Now we’re going to see normal raises in prices, not the craziness of 32 percent.”

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-11-21/house-bidding-wars-wane-as-booming-real-estate-markets-cool

USSales &PricingWeeklyHistory.jpg

There will be more national stories of despair in the coming months, but I think we just got overheated between May and September (see graph above).

If prices would have topped out around $215,000, then 2013 would have looked a lot like 2012 with 14% appreciation – which is less remarkable during a ‘bottoming’ era.  It’s when prices are going up 2% or more per month that it feels crazy.

John F. Kennedy in San Diego

President John F. Kennedy came to San Diego on June 6, 1963 to address the Marines at the MCRD. Governor Pat Brown also convinced him to give the commencement speech at San Diego State College, and receive an honorary doctorate degree in law at the ceremony. It was the first time a California State College had awarded an honorary doctorate degree.

The tour was covered by local media outlets. Here is the KFMB version – note the sign at the filling station that was advertising gasoline for 29.9 cents per gallon, and that was back when they pumped it for you!

Spring Flood Watch

spring surgeFrom bloomberg.com:

The number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth fell at the fastest pace on record in the third quarter as prices rose, a sign supply shortages may ease as more owners are able to sell.

The percentage of homes with mortgages that had negative equity dropped to 21 percent from 23.8 percent in the second quarter, according to a report today from Seattle-based Zillow Inc. The share of owners with at least 20 percent equity climbed to 60.8 percent from 58.1 percent, making it easier for them to list properties and buy a new place.

“Home sales will pick up very nicely when people gain the equity they need to sell their house and have a down payment for the next one,” said Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York. “There’s a magnifying effect on sales — people are able to list their home and sell it, and odds are they’re going to go on and buy another one.”

A shortage of inventory has forced homebuyers to compete, driving up prices and leaving some shoppers out of the market, said Thomas Lawler, a former Fannie Mae economist who now is a housing consultant. The number of homes for sale reached a low of 1.8 million in early 2013, the fewest in more than a decade, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

“The pent-up demand from people who now have enough equity to sell their homes will help next year,” said Lawler, president of Lawler Economic & Housing Consulting LLC in Leesburg, Virginia. “We’ll see the effect during the spring selling season. Not a lot of people put their homes on the market during the holidays.”

Read full article here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-21/americans-recover-home-equity-at-record-pace-mortgages.html

Evaluating Realtors Using the Internet

Are you accustomed to using the internet for all your shopping needs?  Those who prefer to research and buy products and services on-line will find it natural to do the same for agents.

Here are four ways to use the internet when selecting a realtor:

1.  Google their name.  Any realtor worth considering should have a decent web presence, and hopefully some evidence of their past performance.  Check the dates of their latest blog posts or featured listings.

2.  Check their license number.  Every piece of advertising has the realtor’s license number on it, including websites and business cards.

There are some new agents who are really good, and there are older agents that should be put out to pasture, so it’s not a perfect guide.  But at least you can easily tell how long an agent has been in the business with a simple glance at their license number.

The real estate licenses are issued with sequential numbers.  I just use my company’s broker number as a guide.  If they have a lower number than Klinge Realty, they’ve been around for more than ten years, and if they are a new or newer agent, then I need to check how many sales they have closed on the MLS.  Here are the months that these licenses were issued:

License Number Month Issued
01900000 June, 2011
01800000 April, 2007
01700000 June, 2005
01400000 Nov, 2003
01388871 (Klinge Realty) June, 2003

3.  Check their profile on Zillow.  The industry’s leader now includes both reviews of agents, and how many sales they have closed in the last twelve months.

An agent who has something to offer should have double-digit reviews and sales (good agents should sell at least one home per month on average).  Any agent who has more than 75-100 sales has a big team of agents who are all reporting under the leader’s name, which is somewhat deceiving.

4.  Look for videos.  Every agent worth considering should be using video in some fashion – at least a video of themselves on Zillow or their website, and/or real video tours of their listings with commentary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yelp used to be a reliable source, but they have been under fire lately.  They have deleted positive reviews from my actual clients, and here a Carlsbad dentist gets on TV with his experience:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Yelp-Under-Fire-for-Alleged-Pandering-to-Advertisers-232472381.html

Yelp hides additional reviews – check at the bottom of each Yelp page where you see this link: other reviews that are not currently recommended

Get good help!

At or Above Peak Pricing

The Home Value Index has not only been a pretty good measure of pricing trends, but it has also been a good predictor of the Case-Shiller indices.

The next Case-Shiller Index is due out a week from today, and is likely to show more deceleration.  The HVI is predicting a less-than 1% increase month-over-month for the 10-City, and 20-City composites.

But the local pricing has been spectacular this year, and we are back to peak pricing – or higher – in some areas:

San Diego Zillow Home Value Index

More cities here:

San Diego Zillow Home Value Index

Bubbleinfo TV in Tijuana

Jenna and her family were involved in building other homes with a group known as Build A Miracle, and she decided to sponsor the building of a home too.

She produced this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoRy262KM9c

which helped her raise $14,000 on her own to help this needy family.

Here’s how it wrapped up yesterday.

For more information on how you can contibute, click here:

www.buildamiracle.net

Build a Miracle was formally established as a non-profit corporation in 2001, but the true origin dates back to October 14,1986, the day the founders, Julianne and Chris North, met while painting the dormitory at an orphanage and school in Tecate, Mexico. Chris was a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University and Julianne was a sophomore. Shortly afterward they met Adolfo Noguez, director of an educational and athletic program working with hundreds of impoverished children in Northern Mexico.

Chris and Julianne were married in 1988. Along with Adolfo, they continued to work
together on various charitable projects in Tecate and Tijuana. The transformation into Build A Miracle – a home building organization – began in the late 1990s, when they built one home each year for single mothers struggling to keep jobs and to keep their kids in school. At the same time these women volunteered at the local Esperanza Community Center and Chapel run by Sister Gene McNally.

The excitement about helping build permanent homes for families living in squalor became contagious for Chris and Julianne’s friends, family, neighbors, schoolmates and fellow parishioners. Donations started coming in and it was time to make it official.

In 2001, Build a Miracle was born.

JtR: It was the first time I had met these folks or participated, but I experienced everyone involved as genuine, caring people who insist on 100% of contributions going towards the home construction, college scholarships, and vocational training in this community.

The people who receive the houses own their land, but don’t have enough money to afford a decent structure. In return for receiving a 400sf house, they agree to keep their kids in school, and complete 500 hours of community service.

Inventory Watch – Static

The inventory is hanging tough, with no big dropoff due to the holidays yet. But the cancelled and withdrawn counts are slightly higher this year than last (42 vs 25 in the November 1-15 period).

The higher-end set did get thrown off this week when a 1,460sf house on 16.5 Covenant acres listed for $19,995,000. I gotta re-format this page!

The UNDER-$1,200,000 Market:

Date
NSDCC Active Listings
Avg. LP/sf
DOM
Avg SF
April 29
201
$384/sf
36
2,599sf
May 5
195
$381/sf
36
2,633sf
May 9
207
$387/sf
35
2,624sf
May 18
241
$397/sf
33
2,566sf
May 23
236
$397/sf
34
2,529sf
May 30
230
$391/sf
35
2,591sf
June 5
229
$393/sf
35
2,577sf
June 11
239
$390/sf
34
2,569sf
June 17
246
$389/sf
36
2,577sf
June 24
255
$397/sf
36
2,535sf
July 1
244
$401/sf
38
2,526sf
July 8
256
$398/sf
38
2,530sf
July 15
269
$403/sf
38
2,486sf
July 22
258
$401/sf
39
2,442sf
July 29
262
$386/sf
39
2,493sf
Aug 5
287
$393/sf
38
2,495sf
Aug 12
300
$391/sf
40
2,521sf
Aug 19
304
$395/sf
41
2,491sf
Aug 26
308
$392/sf
41
2,469sf
Sep 2
304
$395/sf
41
2,453sf
Sep 9
303
$402/sf
40
2,453sf
Sep 16
309
$395/sf
39
2,463sf
Sep 23
311
$398/sf
40
2,431sf
Sep 30
293
$398/sf
42
2,448sf
Oct 7
280
$394/sf
43
2,451sf
Oct 14
278
$398/sf
43
2,432sf
Oct 21
273
$402/sf
47
2,428sf
Oct 28
267
$408/sf
49
2,432sf
Nov 4
264
$408/sf
52
2,436sf
Nov 11
252
$408/sf
52
2,421sf
Nov 18
249
$414/sf
53
2,391sf

The OVER-$1,200,000 Market:

Date
NSDCC Active Listings
Avg. LP/sf
DOM
Avg SF
April 29
620
$806/sf
94
5,183sf
May 5
606
$806/sf
93
5,223sf
May 9
628
$808/sf
93
5,150sf
May 18
653
$807/sf
92
5,161sf
May 23
661
$814/sf
92
5,141sf
May 30
659
$805/sf
95
5,222sf
June 5
663
$794/sf
96
5,185sf
June 11
672
$779/sf
96
5,163sf
June 17
661
$787/sf
99
5,164sf
June 24
679
$791/sf
98
5,097sf
July 1
705
$785/sf
94
5,084sf
July 8
702
$779/sf
95
5,100sf
July 15
736
$776/sf
94
5,038sf
July 22
748
$782/sf
96
5,043sf
July 29
736
$782/sf
100
5,057sf
Aug 5
754
$765/sf
100
5,024sf
Aug 12
750
$767/sf
102
5,032sf
Aug 19
742
$769/sf
104
5,009sf
Aug 26
740
$781/sf
106
4,962sf
Sep 2
736
$773/sf
107
4,928sf
Sep 9
724
$781/sf
108
5,006sf
Sep 16
738
$773/sf
107
4,993sf
Sep 23
736
$776/sf
109
4,953sf
Sep 30
717
$765/sf
111
4,954sf
Oct 7
709
$769/sf
111
4,960sf
Oct 14
719
$780/sf
111
4,965sf
Oct 21
704
$781/sf
111
4,976sf
Oct 28
702
$766/sf
114
4,993sf
Nov 4
684
$762/sf
112
4,975sf
Nov 11
674
$776/sf
116
5,019sf
Nov 18
660
$801/sf
118
4,989sf

Buyers don’t seem to be particularly interested in the pricing of the newer listings. Of the 131 new listings this month, only 19 have found a buyer.

Weekly NSDCC New Listings and New Pendings

Week
New Listings
New Pendings
May 30
70
84
June 5
87
64
June 11
77
69
June 17
73
66
June 24
100
69
July 1
86
64
July 8
81
53
July 15
106
54
July 22
105
89
July 29
71
74
Aug 5
105
64
Aug 12
77
61
Aug 19
88
73
Aug 26
87
77
Sep 2
76
55
Sep 9
85
58
Sep 16
102
61
Sep 23
84
54
Sep 30
73
80
Oct 7
80
61
Oct 14
78
53
Oct 21
70
63
Oct 28
54
40
Nov 4
63
53
Nov 11
49
64
Nov 18
52
44

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