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Inventory Correction

On Monday, I got my two counts backwards for 2020 & 2021, which made it look like the number of new listings was picking up.

But it was wrong – here is today’s counts of new listings in the first quarter:

New NSDCC Listings in the First Quarter:

2017: 1,296

2018: 1,230

2019: 1,278

2020: 1,081

2021: 931

If we’re usually around 1,250 new listings in the first quarter, then in 2021 we are 25% under normal – which would push for a stronger seller’s market in any given year.  But with demand increasing at the same time, it’s a wild mix.

There is more desperation among the buyers who don’t have a house here yet – they are struggling just to get a piece of the pie. It limits how many existing homeowners can move up or down, because they are always comparing homes and prices to what they already have.  Without those existing homeowners moving, it’s restricting the supply mostly to just those who are willing to leave town – which we’re finding isn’t as many people as needed.

95 Units

The City Council has already approved this project so the public discussion is over.

But it’s interesting to note that the owner of this 7.2-acre parcel – who also owns the shopping center next door – chose to re-zone the property for apartments, instead of office space. Did they figure that rents in SE Carlsbad would keep accelerating while office rents have been stagnant, at best? Or did the developer want to supplement the attendance of his family-friendly shopping center next door? Probably both.

https://thecoastnews.com/carlsbad-approves-95-housing-units-at-la-costa-town-square/


Listing Scam

Surprised we don’t see more of these – and wouldn’t you disappear after stealing $5 million?

LOS ANGELES – A Southern California brother-and-sister team were arrested today on federal charges alleging they orchestrated a $6 million real estate fraud scam in which they listed homes without the owners’ consent and collected money from multiple would-be buyers for each of the not-for-sale homes.

Adolfo Schoneke, 43, of Torrance, and his sister, Bianca Gonzalez, a.k.a. Blanca Schoneke, 38, of Walnut, each pleaded not guilty this afternoon to nine charges contained in an indictment unsealed after their arrests. The indictment charges Schoneke and Gonzalez with one count of conspiracy, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Schoneke and Gonzalez, with the help of co-conspirators, operated real estate and escrow companies based in Cerritos, La Palma and Long Beach under a variety of names, including MCR and West Coast. The indictment alleges Schoneke and Gonzalez found properties that they would list for sale – even though many, in fact, were not for sale, and they did not have authority to list them for sale – and they then marketed the properties as short sales providing opportunities for purchases at below-market prices.

Using other people’s broker’s licenses, Schoneke and Gonzalez allegedly listed the properties on real estate websites such as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). In some cases, the indictment alleges, the homes were marketed through open houses that co-conspirators were able to host after tricking homeowners into allowing their homes to be used.

As part of the alleged scheme, the co-conspirators accepted multiple offers for each of the not-for-sale properties, hiding this fact from the victims and instead leading each of the victims to believe that his or her offer was the only one accepted. The co-conspirators allegedly were able to string along the victims – sometimes for years – by telling them closings were being delayed because lenders needed to approve the purported short sales.

The indictment also alleges that Schoneke and Gonzalez directed office workers to open bank accounts in the office workers’ names. Those accounts were used to receive down payments on the homes and other payments from victims who were convinced to transfer the full “purchase price” to these bank accounts after receiving forged short sale approval letters. Schoneke and Gonzalez also allegedly directed the office workers to withdraw large amounts of cash from these accounts and give it to them – a procedure that allowed Schoneke and Gonzalez to take possession of the fraud proceeds while hiding their involvement in the scheme.

Investigators estimate that several hundred victims collectively lost more than $6 million during the scheme.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/torrance-man-and-his-sister-charged-multimillion-dollar-real-estate-scam-involving-fake

Staging in 2021

Staging and professional photos create the best first impression of a home, which helps to pre-sell the buyer. It makes them want to get there faster to confirm they’ve found the right house for them. How much does staging add to the price? Hard to put a specific number on it, but you should have more offers faster.  What drives the eventual price in this market is how the listing agent handles multiple offers.

WASHINGTON (April 6, 2021) – A new survey from the National Association of Realtors® reveals that home staging continues to be a significant part of the home buying and selling process.

The biennial report, the 2021 Profile of Home Staging, examines the elements of home staging, including the perspectives of both buyers’ and sellers’ agents, the role of television programing and the expectations of buyers.

“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”

Buyers’ agents overwhelmingly agreed, as 82% said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.

These agents also said that visuals themselves are helpful, even more so in relation to buying a house during the coronavirus outbreak. Eighty-three percent of buyers’ agents said having photographs for their listings was more important since the beginning of the pandemic. Seventy-four percent of buyers’ agents said the same about videos, and 73% said having virtual tours available for their listings was more important in the wake of COVID-19.

“At the start of the pandemic, in-person open house tours either diminished or were halted altogether, so buyers had to rely on photos and virtual tours in search of their dream home,” said Lautz. “These features become even more important as housing inventory is limited and buyers need to plan their in-person tours strategically.”

Staging also increased the sum buyers were willing to spend for a property, according to the report. Twenty-three percent of buyers’ agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered between 1% and 5%, compared to similar homes on the market that hadn’t been staged.

Coincidently, the response from sellers’ agents was nearly identical, as 23% reported a 1% to 5% price increase on offers for staged homes.

Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%. None of the agents for sellers reported that home staging had a negative impact on the property’s dollar value.

Moreover, 31% said that home staging greatly decreased the amount of time a home spent on the market.

Exactly which parts of a home to stage vary, although living rooms (90%) and kitchens (80%) proved to be the most common, followed closely by master bedrooms (78%) and dining rooms (69%). As many workers were forced to work from home due to the pandemic, 39% staged a home office or office space.

Television programing played a noticeable role in how buyers viewed a potential property, according to Realtors®. Agents surveyed said that typically 10% of buyers believed homes should look the way they appear on TV shows. Sixty-three percent said buyers requested their home look like homes staged on television. Sixty-eight percent of Realtors® reported that buyers were disappointed by how homes appeared compared to those seen on TV shows.

In some cases, agents found that TV shows could influence a buyer’s perspective about a home. Seventy-one percent of respondents said that TV shows that depict the buying process impacted their business by setting unrealistic or increased expectations. Sixty-one percent said that TV programs set higher expectations of how homes should look, while 27% said that TV shows result in more educated home buyers and sellers.

“The magic of television can make a home transformation look like it happened in a quick 60-minute timeframe, which is an unrealistic standard,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and broker/owner of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “I would advise buyers and sellers alike that before house hunting or before listing, they connect with a trusted Realtor® to get a reasonable sense of what’s out there and an idea of what to expect.”

Eight-one percent of those surveyed said buyers had ideas about where they wanted to live and what they wanted in an ideal home (76%) before they began the buying process.

Forty-five percent of surveyed Realtors® said they have seen no change in the share of buyers who planned to flip a home in the last five years, while 42% said they had.

Also, 59% said they have seen an increase in the buyers who planned to remodel a home in the last five years, while 34% said they have seen no change. Agents surveyed said that typically 25% of buyers who plan to remodel will do so within the first three months of owning their home.

https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/nar-finds-home-staging-helps-buyers-visualize-homes-sell-faster

When The Frenzy Busted Loose

The real estate market was boisterous in last half of 2020, which made it easy to predict that once we got past the election and into the new year we’d probably see the Greatest Real Estate Frenzy Ever.

Let’s use February 22nd as the day the frenzy really kicked in.

It was the day that this home was listed for sale, after a troubled past:

2005: $679,000 Sold (vacant lot)

2007: $550,000 Sold (vacant lot)

2008: $2,000,000 borrowed from WaMu

2009: House built

2015: $2,137,500 WaMu/Chase FORECLOSED

2016: $1,930,000 Sold

2018: $2,875,000 listed for sale for the next 18 months

2019: $2,044,000 Borrowed in January

2019: $2,225,000 last list price before FORECLOSED

2019: $1,540,000 sold at trustee sale 12/27/2019

2021: $2,595,000 listed for sale

2021: $2,840,000 sold 4/6/2021

Timing is everything!

Listing Agents & Bidding Wars

Let’s review how some listing agents have been handling their bidding wars in 2021.

  1. Ignored a $60,000 non-refundable deposit and took an offer that was $40,000 lower.
  2. Once they get to the highest offer, they insert their own buyer at the same price.
  3. Let an escalation clause determine the winner, and ignore the others.
  4. Counter for highest-and-best, then pick a winner before everyone responds.
  5. Not respond at all.

There are no rules. No guidelines. No laws.

The best our association can do is to issue a spreadsheet form.

Thus, anything goes.

Here’s how I handle it.

The home on Galena Canyon had originally listed for $1,599,000 and had 25 showings and six offers over the first weekend in March.  We had three buyers (one was contingent) who were willing to pay around $1,750,000, so I asked the two non-contingent buyers to make their second highest-and-best offer to determine the winner – which they did, and $1,770,000 won it. I changed the list price in the MLS to $1,770,000, and marked it pending.

Last Friday morning, the buyer had an unforeseen glitch, and we fell out of escrow.  We go back on the open market for Easter weekend, hoping for the best – knowing that the urgency is much higher when the listing is new and fresh.

I had added this to the confidential remarks:

Since we hit the market, these have happened: 16175 Deer Ridge 3,451sf closed for $1,775,000 on March 1st. 15288 Cayenne Creek 3,877sf closed for $1,800,000 on March 30th. 16342 Cayenne Creek 3,446sf pending, listed for $1,825,000. 9716 Wren Bluff 3,780sf pending, listed for $1,835,000. Plus Mark listed one for $2,795,000 around the corner. Built-in equity!

This time, we had six showings and three offers over list, which I thought was pretty good.

I had told the agents to make their highest-and-best offer, and while they were all competitive, I thought there might be more gas in the tank. So I politely asked all three to H&B again, and one emerged from the others by packing another $40,000 onto their first offer.

We are in escrow at $1,840,000, after starting at $1,599,000 a month ago.

Isn’t that the result you’d like to see for yourself, or someone you know?

It is not a given how listing agents handle a bidding war. Most agents just grab their favorite, and turn off their phone.  You deserve better.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking of selling, I’d sure appreciate a call!

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