Low Rates, No Nuts

Ryan is probably the most similar blogger to me because he’s in the business and sees what is actually happening on the street.  He does a ton of charts and graphs, so if you’re analytical give his blog a look:

www.sacramentoappraisalblog.com

He sums up his current market conditions quite well with these thoughts:

Normal: The market felt really dull last year, but it’s been a somewhat normal year so far in 2019. There are certainly concerns about affordability, but from a stats perspective it’s been a pretty standard first half of the year. Pendings continue to be strong also, so buyers still clearly have a strong appetite for the market.

14 months in a row of slumping volume: Despite mortgage rates being low we’re seeing somewhat sluggish sales volume. In fact, sales volume was down 11.6% in the region last month and it’s down 8.6% so far in 2019. Moreover, we’ve had fourteen months in a row with lower sales volume compared to the previous year. In my mind it’s still best to say we’re having a slower year instead of a volume meltdown because levels aren’t alarmingly low by any stretch. Let’s watch this carefully.

Dude, rates will never get below 4% again: It’s been a little surprising to see how low rates have gone again, right? The narrative for a while was, “Dude, they’ll never go below 4% again. We’ve bottomed out.” Yet here we are. My sense is if rates keep going down it’ll only increase competition and artificially inflate prices. That would be temporarily nice for buyers, but an unfortunate byproduct is low rates in a wider picture tend to create less incentive for sellers to move. Why sell if you’re sitting on a 3.5% mortgage rate?

Purplebricks & the tech invasion: Last week it was announced that Purplebricks will be exiting the United States housing market after a 75% loss in shares. This company is going to the grave in the U.S., but the reality is we’re still in a market where tech companies are trying to disrupt the traditional real estate model. Next up? Zillow is said to be coming to Sacramento by the end of the year.

Joe Montana’s $49M overpriced listing: Former Quarterback Joe Montana listed his property for $49M and it didn’t sell because it was profoundly overpriced. In fact, the price has now been reduced to $28M. Many sellers are like Joe in trying to attract mythical unicorn buyers who will mysteriously overpay for some reason. My advice? Be aware that today’s buyers are incredibly picky about paying the right price.

The dream of selling at the top: I met a guy who wants to sell because he says the market might top out soon. His concern is a friend sold two years ago thinking the market was at its peak, but it wasn’t. The truth is it’s not so easy to time a market perfectly. We talk about how simple it is to do this, but most people pull it off from dumb luck more than anything. The reality is the bulk of buyers don’t buy based on price metrics, but rather lifestyle and affordability.

My thoughts on his thoughts:

The first time mortgage rates went under 4%, it did spark a mini-frenzy because no one had seen that before.  Those who moved up – or refinanced – were able to mitigate their payment shock with a lower rate than they had before.  But now the sub-4% rates are a yawner for those who already have them, and as a result, we’re not seeing the same enthusiasm we saw previously.

I’ll add a bit to his thoughts on Joe’s mansion.  Are buyers being extremely picky? Yes, absolutely, yet it’s more about finding the perfect house than the perfect price.  Once buyers find a great fit, they will pay whatever it takes.  I saw a starter home in Carlsbad yesterday get four offers over list price, which will make it the most expensive sale for that model ever. But it was also a great location and house was dialed in.

Selling at the top used to be a big driver for decision-making back in the old days.  But the market is so tight today that you can’t just go out and replace a quality home without a real struggle.  Now, selling at the top is only one of the criteria for home sellers, and it’s dropped down the list for most.

Ryan has more thoughts and graphs here:

www.sacramentoappraisalblog.com

Getting the Price Right

I don’t know if they surveyed actual home sellers, but if these stats demonstrate the current sentiment, it shows how critical it is to list a home at ‘market price’ vs. ‘dream price’.

An excerpt from this HW article:

You’ve listed your home for sale, and no one is taking the bait. One month passes, then two. How long do you wait before you increase the odds of an offer by dropping the price?

According to a recent survey, most American home sellers opt to reduce their asking price after three months of zero offers.

Specifically, a survey of 1,000 consumers revealed that 33% would opt for a price reduction after three months, making it the most common choice.

Just under 20% said they would wait one month, while 17% would wait five months. For about 9%, it would take an entire year before they’d reconsider their price.

But for others, they’d rather not sell at all as opposed to selling for less than they originally wanted, with about 12% said they would never lower the price of their home.

The 33% would wait three months, but 38% would wait at least five months or longer to lower their price, if at all (17%+9%+12%).

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Zillow says that the average price reduction is 2.9%, which isn’t going to impress buyers much.  When prices were rising 5% to 10% annually, the market would catch up with a wrong price before too long.  But now that pricing is flat, we don’t have that luxury – and we need to be smarter about price strategy.

https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/when-to-reduce-house-price/

Compass Concierge

Are you thinking of selling your home, and curious about the idea of out-fitting it for a multi-gen buyer?  Or want help in getting the home into top condition in order to sell it for top dollar?

We’re here for you!

The Compass Concierge program is willing to pay for repairs/improvements to your home, and be reimbursed at the close of escrow.  At first, the program was just for the basics, but it’s been expanded to include virtually everything!

And it’s free – the service comes with listing your home with us, at no extra charge!

Here are examples of what’s been done lately:

In Los Angeles, an agent used Compass Concierge to buy — not stage, but buy outright — $900,000 worth of furniture in order to win two listings, one worth $23 million and the other worth $87 million.

In Philadelphia, an agent was in the midst of a contentious divorce sale. The husband and wife weren’t talking and neither wanted to pay for the staging, painting, and cosmetic repairs the home needed. So the agent pitched Concierge as the solution, and solved the problem!

There was a buyer looking at a million-dollar property listed by a Compass agent that needed a lot of work, but the buyer couldn’t afford to pay a $200K down payment and then shell out another $200K in cash for remodeling. The seller and buyer came to an agreement that the seller would use Concierge to do a $200K remodel first — raising the sale price to $1.2 million but only increasing the down payment by $40K. The buyer was floored.

To get started, click below:

https://www.bubbleinfo.com/compass-concierge/

Ten Reasons Why You Want A Great Agent

It looks easy, doesn’t it?  With the internet, how hard can it be to buy or sell a home?

There are no shortage of options. Buyers see thousands of homes for sale, and sellers find thousands of agents happy to list a home for fees ranging from $100 to 6%.

Yet the perception remains that the process is stressful and costly.  Why, when it looks so easy from the outside looking in?

Here are ten reasons why buyers and sellers should Get Good Help:

Friends and family – Buyers and sellers have friends and family who are happy to critique every move.  Most of all, they remind sellers not to give it away, and possible deals get crushed regularly over 1% to 2%.

HGTV – Where consumers learn how the home-selling game works.  The fact that HGTV is scripted entertainment doesn’t phase the viewer – the content seems plausible enough that it could be real, and the industry doesn’t provide anything better so by default HGTV has influence.

Inexperienced and unethical agents – Agent blunders can cost you a sale. But whether they were accidental (inexperienced) or on-purpose (unethical), they also cast a pall over the industry that causes participants to be frustrated and leery.  You need to get good help to endure and triumph over these agents.

Escrow, title, and lenders – These folks have been over-worked since the beginning of time, and they make mistakes.  Consumers need good help on their side just to minimize the impact.

Appraisals – A bottle of scotch doesn’t work any more – appraisers are independent and untouchable now, which means they can kill any deal.  They are like baseball umpires – they can strike you out, even if the pitch was a ball, because it’s just their opinion.

Shoddy Repairs – Whether it’s to fix any historical work or corrections done to satisfy today’s repair requests, the house needs to be in decent shape to close escrow – or the sellers need to be willing to take a sizable discount.  Having vendors who can quickly make impressive repairs for a reasonable fee is critical.

Packing and Moving – A great agent has ways to prevent your move from turning into an evacuation.

Gimmicks – This business has always been notorious for its deceitful gimmickry, and these days you need a supercharged BS-detector to get the truth.

Correctly Interpreting Market Conditions – Get the right answers to: Are we in a bubble?  Should I wait? How much is this home really worth? Are there two birds in the bush?

Consumer Inexperience – This might be the biggest hurdle of all, and what causes buyers and sellers to rush a decision before doing enough investigation. Having proper guidance throughout the process is what relieves the stress and costly experiences you hear about!

Get Good Help – it’s never been so important.  These are the highest home prices ever!

Sweeteners

A combination of mine and Leonard’s lists of sweeteners:

In an increasingly competitive environment – especially on the high end – it may be wise to sweeten the package you are selling by including some value or time-savings item.

Some mega-homes include expensive fancy cars or artwork and other gimmicks, but of course those items are factored into the purchase price and often appear as somewhat desperate. Some may want to increase the commission incentive for the buyer’s agent.

It may be wiser to include certain items that are more focused on time-savings…..and something that may have practical value to make a buyer feel there is less to be spent after closing.  Here are 10 ideas:

1.  A buydown of the mortgage rate probably has the best financial impact – it can last for 30 years!

2.  Pre-paid real estate taxes for the first year could be appealing, or paying HOA/Mello-Roos fees.

3.  How about $5-10,000 worth of new landscaping, or window coverings?

4.  One year’s worth of weekly yard maintenance would be appreciated.

5.  $1,000 worth of Home Depot, Amazon, or UBER dollars could be appealing.

6.  If a home has gorgeous views and big windows, include a year’s worth of window cleaning.

7.  Offer to have the interior painted to colors of the buyer’s choice at closing.

8.  Pay for a maid service to come weekly for a year.

9.  If the house is staged, offer a price list of all the furnishings that could be bought. The buyer may see great time-savings value in not having to furnish themselves.

10. Lower the price!

These are just some simple ideas that may make your listing more memorable and more appealing to some buyers…..and possibly sweeten the deal enough to make them choose your listing over another one!

Is This It?

More data released today on pricing trends, and though San Diego didn’t make this chart, we’re probably in the normal range with Los Angeles because our Case-Shiller indicies have been similar (+1.8% vs +1.1% YoY in SD).  Interesting that they call San Francisco ‘undervalued’.

Both the HPI and the Case-Shiller Index were the February readings.  There is optimism that YoY pricing will pick up as the selling season rolls on, but they are predicting that prices will decline from March to April, which is unusual:

Looking ahead, after some initial moderation in early 2019, the CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will begin to pick up and increase by 4.8% on a year-over-year basis from March 2019 to March 2020. On a month-over-month basis, home prices are expected to decrease by 0.3% from March 2019 to April 2019. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices calculated using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

These guys don’t make their data public. Using the Case-Shiller Index instead, we see that the last time we had a drop between March and April was in 2009, at the bottom:

Zillow is predicting virtually-flat MoM results too.

Flat pricing during the prime selling season, and after we had six months of declines at the end of 2018?  Could this be where we top out, exactly ten years later?

If you’re thinking of selling, contact me today!

Link to Press Release

Softer 2019

More homes are for sale this year, which is helping to keep a cap on pricing.  The rent increases are subsiding too – San Diego has cooled off more than any other major metro area dropping from 4% to 2% this year (see above).

Less pressure on buyers means sellers should try harder.

Spruce up your home, price it attractively, and hire a great realtor!

Link to CoreLogic article

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