Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Our Heavy Internet Advertising Has A Purpose......

In the latest National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, based on a survey of 7,500 home buyers and sellers, 80 percent of home buyers used the Internet in searching for a home, up from 77 percent in the 2005 survey and 74 percent in 2004. And the 2006 survey found that 24 percent of buyers learned about the home they purchased from the Internet, which is even with the 2005 survey and is up from 15 percent in 2004.

Courtesy of Inman News

Fed Keep Interest Rates Unchanged as of January 31, 2007

By MARTIN CRUTSINGERAP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve, faced with a strongly rebounding economy, left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday while repeating concerns about inflation.
The central bank voted to leave the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, at 5.25 percent, where it has been since last June.

That decision had been widely expected given an economy that is exhibiting better-than-expected growth. While the Fed had been expected to start cutting rates later this year, economists are now worried that the central bank may feel the need to resume raising rates for fear that inflation pressures will not keep easing.

The rate action was supported by a unanimous 11-0 vote of the Federal Open Market Committee, the panel of Fed board members in Washington and regional bank presidents who meet eight times a year to set interest rates.

At the previous four meetings, Jeffrey Lacker, the president of the Richmond Fed regional bank, had dissented in favor of a further boost in rates. However, he is not a voting member of the FOMC this year.

The action means that banks' prime lending rate, the benchmark for millions of consumer and business loans, will remain unchanged at 8.25 percent.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Should home buyers make backup offers?

What to consider when making this type of offer
Monday, January 29, 2007By Dian HymerInman News

Missing out on a home you'd like to own can be heartbreaking. But, not all home sale transactions close, so you might have a second chance. Or, you could consider making a backup offer.

A backup offer is an offer that is negotiated like any other offer until the buyers and sellers reach a price and terms that are mutually acceptable. A unique term of the agreement is that it is accepted as a backup offer subject to the collapse of a previously accepted offer that is in primary position.

In an active, low inventory market, a seller might receive multiple offers and accept more than one backup offer. In this case, the backup offers would be ranked. For example, backup offer #3 would be subject to the collapse of backup offer #2 and backup offer #2 would be subject to the collapse of the primary offer.

Backup offers also come into play in softer markets. The best listings at the best prices attract the most buyer attention regardless of market conditions. Even in a slow market a prime listing can sell quickly. If you're a little late to the table and no one else beat you to it, you might look into submitting a backup offer. But, first, consider the pros and cons.

One disadvantage is that you may be tempted to postpone looking at any other listings until you find out if the first deal goes through. By doing so, you could potentially miss out on other good properties.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: If you decide you want a property enough to accept a backup position, continue to look at new listings that fit your parameters. Also make sure that your contract includes a provision that allows you to withdraw from the contract without penalty at any time up until you are notified that your offer is in primary position.

Another disadvantage of being in backup position is that your commitment to buy the property could strengthen the primary buyers' resolve to continue with the transaction, even when issues come up like property defects that might otherwise kill the deal.

Be aware that the sellers may have the right to renegotiate their contract with the primary buyers.

Because of these drawbacks, many buyers shy away from making backup offers. They prefer to wait on the sidelines to see what happens with the first contract. A benefit of this approach is that the sellers might be easier to work with after having had a deal fall apart.

There is, however, a risk in this approach. An attractive listing could draw serious interest from other buyers. If so, one of them might end up in backup position and preclude you from buying the property

When there's an accepted backup offer, a listing doesn't come back on the market when the primary contract fails. The backup buyer is elevated to primary position without giving other buyers a chance to buy the property.

Before deciding whether or not to make a backup offer, try to find out how much interest there is in the property. If there are other buyers serious about the property, it might be worth your while to submit an offer for a backup position.

The other risk of waiting to see if the first deal collapses is that you could find yourself in competition with other buyers who are also waiting to see what happens.

A lot of time and emotional energy goes in to making any offer. Some buyers would rather save this effort for a listing that is definitely available to buy.

THE CLOSING: The best stance to adopt if you're a backup buyer is: If it's meant to be, it will happen.

Dian Hymer is author of "House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide," Chronicle Books.

Copyright 2007 Dian Hymer, Courtesy of Inman News 01.29.07

Friday, January 26, 2007

December 2006 Home Sales - Central Ohio


Buyers controlled the Central Ohio real estate market in 2006

(January 24, 2007) Residential home sales slowed down in 2006 but still managed to end as the third highest year on record. Sales dropped only 4.5 percent below last year and just 1.5 percent from the total sales in 2004 according to the Columbus Board of REALTORS®.

Mortgage interest rates peaked at 6.5 percent last summer and then dropped to under six percent for the remainder of the year. Buyer interest, oddly enough, followed the same trend, peaking mid summer and then dropping steadily throughout the second half of the year.

Most notable in 2006 was the significant number of homes listed for sale. Throughout the course of the year, inventory levels were anywhere from 12 to 31 percent higher than the previous year. In July of 2006, there were 18,859 residential homes on the market, the highest number on record for central Ohio.

"Buyers controlled the market in 2006," said Brad Bennett, 2007 President of the Columbus Board of REALTORS®. "Although lower than the year before, home sales were still very healthy. Not, however, healthy enough to satisfy the sizeable number of owners wanting to sell their homes. With such a high level of supply and not enough demand, buyers held the stronger hand when negotiating for a home last year."

Under the circumstances, it comes as no surprise that homes took 11 days longer to sell last year and the average price of a home in 2006 was 1.8 percent lower than the year before.
Fortunately, inventory levels began receding during the second half of 2006. At the beginning of 2007, there were over 15,600 homes on the market. Although this is still 11.6 percent more than were listed the previous year, it is considerably lower than the levels during most of 2006.

"The good news is activity is up," comments Bennett. "We're hearing from many agents that calls and showings are picking up. There are already more homes under contract this month than were sold during the entire month of January last year."

"It used to be that housing activity woke up after the Super Bowl. But, in central Ohio, housing comes to life after the National Championship!"


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Radon - A Brief Overview

RADON – What it is – What it does

You can’t see or even smell it because it is colorless and odorless gas. Radon is a decay product of uranium and occurs naturally in the soil and rock and Radon levels will vary from home to home, new or old. Other sources of Radon are well water & some buildings. The only difference from home to home is the level of Radon concentration.

The Health Risks of High Radon Levels

When radon decays within your lungs it releases energy that can damage lung tissue and lead to LUNG CANCER over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. Your chances of developing lung cancer from radon gas depend mostly on:

Ø how much radon is in your home

Ø the amount of time that you spend in your home

Ø whether you are a smoker or have smoked

According to the EPA, radon causes an estimated 7,000 to 30,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year.

What can you , Mr. and Mrs Homeowner do ?

Have your home tested. When shopping for someone to test for radon levels in your home, ask if they have been certified by NRSB, National Radon Safety Board, to assure that testing is done accurately, and according to EPA standards and guidelines.

For more information about Radon just call or email me. Also, check out the EPA’s website for detailed radon facts at: www.epa.gov/radon.html

Greg Etter is a Certified and Licensed Home Inspector. He is president of Home Worx, a Virginia based Home Inspection and testing frim. He is also a licensed real estate agent, staff member and contributor to Virginia Advantage Realty, LLC dba Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion, News and Information Services. He can be contacted by email at greg@husoldedom.com .

Courtesy of: Mike Ognek- HUS Owner

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Short Sale

Homeowners who purchased their residence within the last several years and are now in a position where they need to sell their home for financial reasons, relocation, or any number of other life events may find themselves in a “Short Sale.” A “Short Sale” is when the market will not support a price that is equal to or higher than the current owners debt on the property plus any Realtor fees, taxes, and closing costs. In other words, the seller will have to bring money to closing in order to sell the home. Many homeowners who find themselves in this position feel they have no way out of this property and will be forced to allow the mortgagor or trustee to foreclose. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid foreclosure and reduce the damage to their credit ratings.

First, lets expand on the “Short Sale” concept with an example:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith purchased their home in November of 2005 for $400,000. They obtained 100% financing with an interest only payment for 5 years. One year later, November 2006, they are notified that Mr. Smith has lost his job and they can no longer afford the payments. Mr. and Mrs. Smith decide that selling is the best option for them, so they meet with a Realtor and discover the identical homes in their neighborhood are selling for only $369,000. If they were to sell the home for that amount, they would have to make up the difference between the sales price and their mortgage, or $31,000. In addition, they would also be responsible for paying taxes, closing costs, and Realtors commissions; approximately $23,000* more for a total of approximately $54,000. The Smiths do not have the money to pay for this shortage; they are in a “Short Sale” situation.

In this example, this couple is experiencing a financial hardship that will create an inability to maintain their monthly mortgage payments. There are steps they should take in order to make an informed and financially correct decision.
Get Qualified Financial and Legal Advice

The first step the Smiths should take is to contact an accountant or Enrolled Agent (EA); a professional accountant or EA will assist them in evaluating their financial situation and creating a true picture of their financial health. Without this true picture, they are not basing their decisions on accurate information and can not truly incorporate any tax consequences into their decision making process.

The accountant will include all liabilities such as short and long term debt as well as assets such as retirement funds, other properties, and personal property in the evaluation of their financial condition. They should then evaluate the tax and overall financial consequences of a short sale with the Smiths and make recommendations on an appropriate course of action. This information will also be necessary for the lien holders to evaluate the potential for a short sale.

Next, the Smiths should speak to a credit professional. There are lawyers and non-profit agencies that specialize in credit issues. The Smiths need to understand the ramifications of a short sale with regard to their credit file and rating.

If, after analyzing the risks, consequences, and benefits, the Smiths decide they should still investigate the potential of a short sale, they should continue by contacting additional professionals to assist them.

Speak to a Realtor who is familiar with Short Sale Situations

There are many options when choosing a Realtor, from fee structures and advertising methods to levels of experience and specialties. In this case, their decision must be based on several factors. First, they need to find a Realtor who is willing to accept less than the traditional 6% commission, because in a short sale situation the mortgage holder will most likely require that as part of their terms for accepting less than agreed to in the terms of the note. Choosing a company that employs a set fee model, such as Help-U-Sell, will allow them to have the benefit of a full service real estate firm, while reducing the amount of potential financial liabilities.

In order to get the best service available, they should also choose a Realtor with experience in dealing with short sales. As the real estate market has seen record growth over the last several years, it may be difficult to find a Realtor who has experience in this area. As we progress further into deteriorating market conditions, many more will be faced with the opportunity to assist in the coordination of such a sale. The Smiths should ensure the agent they choose has done so or has access to a team leader, supervisor, or broker who has.

Coordinate with Lien holders

The Smiths lien holders must be contacted prior to placing the home on the market. A thorough analysis of whether or not the Smiths are candidates for a short sale approval will be done and that decision must be made before the home is offered for sale. If the lien holders refuse to entertain accepting a short sale, the owners could be placed in a situation where they would be held liable for the difference between the sales price and amount owed at closing. In this example, the Smiths would not be able to do that and could possibly be in default of the sales agreement. Confirming the lien holder will entertain a short sale does not guarantee they will accept the offer to purchase; they are not obligated to do so.

Many Lenders have established “Short Sale Departments” to assist sellers with the process. All offers will have to be submitted to the lender for approval before the contract is fully ratified. In order to protect the Smiths, their Realtor should ensure that all offers include a “Third Party Approval” contingency for the sellers. In doing so, if the lender ultimately rejects the terms of the offer or denies the short sale entirely, the Smiths are protected from defaulting on the sales agreement.

Attract the Right Buyers

The contract process for a short sale can be time consuming; not all buyers have the liberty to endure the elongated time line associated with it. In most cases, the sellers lien holders will have to approve the contract, as they will be “taking a loss.” This can sometimes take 30 days or more. The lien holders will evaluate the sellers overall financial situation in their decision process. Until they approve or reject the contract, the buyers will be waiting to move forward on locating another property, unless other wise specified in their offer. Most buyers have defined time periods for locating and closing on a home. This may preclude them from meeting those deadlines and therefore from purchasing the property.

Often one of the first ideas a seller in this position has is to locate an investor. The myth is investors like to purchase properties where the owners are “desperate.” Although that may be true, in a short sale the offer price still has to be satisfactory to the lien holders. An investor certainly would have the tolerance for the time involved, but the margin of profit would most likely not be adequate. If we return to the Smiths example, a desirable sales price for the investor would be well below market value, in this case $369,000. Lets assume the investor wants a 20% return, his offer price would be around $295,000. After fees and commissions, the bank would net approximately $277,000 or $123,000 less than the Smiths owe; the lien holders will most likely not accept an offer with those, or similar, terms.

Although it can be difficult to attract buyers of this nature, the sellers and their Realtor should clearly state the fact this is a short sale and requires third party approval to all interested parties. Doing so will avoid that surprise for otherwise qualified buyers as the negotiations progress. Explaining how the process will transpire to any prospective buyers allows them to plan ahead and evaluate whether or not their timeline allows their participation. In addition, the buyers Realtor may also have to accept less than traditional commission for the lien holder to accept the offer.

Closing an Offer

Throughout the ratification and closing process, all parties will need to stay well informed and up to date on all aspects of the transaction. This includes the lien holders, closing company, sellers, buyers, and agents. After ratification and lien holder acceptance, the seller should once again meet with their professional financial advisor to recalculate potential tax consequences with the actual amounts in the transaction. It is likely there will be tax issues that need to be addressed and it is beneficial to begin that process early.

*Assumes traditional real estate commission of 6%. Costs are approximate based on average expenses. Does not include buyers closing costs.

**Nothing is this article should be construed as legal or financial advice. For legal/financial questions, seek a the advice of a professional advisor.

Article courtesy of Mike Ognek, Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion http://husoldedom.squarespace.com/

For local perspective on the central Ohio real estate market, please contact us:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com
Office: 614.447.3050

Contact Me: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com/Consumer/Content/Forms/ContactMe.aspx

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Will Multiple Listing Services (MLS) remain relevant?

The reality is that the historical MLS model is fundamentally broken, and will soon be dead unless the MLS organizations recognize that innovators are essentially re-writing the rules of the game and changing consumer expectations (both buyers and sellers) on how, where, and to what degree of detail real estate listing information is made available to the public at large.

MLS organizations deal in data. However they are proprietary entities that apply arbitrary controls and rules to how data is handled managed and ultimately made visible to interested parties.

We can all see that every day new web based service providers (lets call them listing services or engines) and aggregators (those taking a variety of sources of data and subsequently knitting it together, think Zillow or down the road, Google) are providing increasingly robust and feature filled sites that tear down the barrier walls that MLS organizations have always hidden behind. Consumers do not care by which specific path their property data is taken into the public domain, what they do care about is that the data related to their property that is listed for sale is presented in the maximum level of detail, with visual tools (think videos, pictures and mapping functions), and the greatest possible transparency for potential buyers. Sellers understand that Buyers want lots of information, that is easily accessible, and that comes without obligation. Buyers want maximum personal control over their selection sorting and decision process until they are specifically ready to physically view a property or make a purchase offer.

These buyers and sellers will also want the ability to offer as much or as little compensation to intermediaries as they deem necessary. They will not necessarily think in terms of + or – 6%. They will see what others are offering, they will evaluate how their homes compare and they will factor in their selling criteria and need for representation or not, and assign a value to what they believe they need to do to be competitive. Some may offer far less than 6%, others may offer far more. Again the market will determine what is appropriate in any given transaction.

The market will ultimately define and determine who wins and who loses. MLS organizations that try to retain and defend their artificially defined “Area” will find themselves slowly squeezed to death. Those entities (MLS or otherwise) that provide complete accurate data in a timely fashion, and in variably configurable formats that consumers can manipulate depending on their wants and needs, will win.

Realtor’s or more broadly, professional real estate practioners, will always have a place in the market, however they will NOT be the FUNNEL. As professional advisors they have a role to play for those consumers who desire assistance on either side of a transaction. Consumers will evaluate what level of service they are willing to pay for and from those providers of services they wish to choose from. Again, a transparent market will self-determine who gets compensated and at what levels. Those who provide superior value added service and advice will be compensated accordingly. Those who simply previously acted as a data funnel into and out of an MLS database will be eliminated from the market.

For more information and perspective on the central Ohio real estate market please contact me at:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43214

Email: northhighrealty@helpusell.com

Office: 614.447.3050

Web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com

Blog: http://northhighrealtyhelpusell.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What is happening out there?

Inman News readers report on markets
Thursday, January 11, 2007 By Matt CarterInman News

Real estate professionals would be lost without statistics. Records of sales volume and price in their local markets, the number of homes for sale, the sales price of individual properties -- all are all vital in helping sellers price their homes and buyers negotiate the best deal.

But statistics say more about the past than they do about the future. The numbers can lag behind weeks or even months, and the first indications of what many in the industry are hoping to see -- renewed buyer interest -- may not be captured by any statistic. Brokers and agents will see increased traffic to their Web sites and more phone calls, e-mails and pages long before the results of that activity show up in closely watched statistics.

To get a grass-roots feel for whether that's happening, last week Inman News Publisher Bradley Inman posed this question on the Inman News blog: "What is happening out there? The market is turning UP, we hear from our sources. Were the bears wrong, are buyers ringing you up, asking for listings and combing the Web probing your inventory? If so, we want to hear from you NOW!"

The post sparked dozens of comments, which can be read in their entirety (and commented on) here. To make it easier, we've rounded some of the best (non-anonymous) posts and organized them by region.

Although anecdotal, many of these responses show optimism about the potential for a turnaround. Some who wrote remind us that all markets are local, and that many areas have not seen a downturn.

In areas where times are tough, there's a familiar refrain: the reason homes aren't selling is because sellers haven't come to grips with the fact that price appreciation has slowed or reversed. If interest rates go up, expect that to be an even bigger issue as buyers find the same monthly mortgage payment buys less house

Many of the most pessimistic posts were left anonymously.

One observer in the Washington, D.C., area said, "You have got to be kidding me. Are things turning up? … We just came through the most spectacular and speculative real estate boom in the history of the world, prices went up 100 percent or more in most urban areas, and the market has given back maybe 5 percent in those areas, and you are asking if the market is done
correcting and things are turning up?"

Low interest rates encouraged speculation, the post continues. The media "helped people catch real estate fever; and it built on itself like a Ponzi scheme. The whole thing was without merit."
Now, the anonymous poster said, "We have a lot of inventory to work through, which is still growing and will continue to thanks to increasing foreclosures and speculators dumping more and more property on the market; and in most urban areas there is two to five years of new supply still coming on in the overbuilt condo market; and interest rates are expected to go up this year. That does not sound like a recipe for a real state recovery."

But most of those who identified themselves were optimistic, if not upbeat, about their local markets.

Andrew Waite, publisher of Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine, said advertising sales and contracts with real estate vendors can "predict a lot of forward behavior," as can subscription trends.

"We have broken records in both categories in (the fourth quarter of 2006) and into the first issues of '07. Life is good and getting better," Waite says. "The illusion is looking at a highly inefficient market and trying to apply economic metric that fit commodity markets. It does not work."

What others around the country are saying:

California

Catherine Myers, a certified residential specialist with Alain Pinel Realtors, in Walnut Creek, Calif., says things are looking up in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco. "I've had more Web inquiries at my site www.diablovalley.net this week than I had in all of December," Myers says. "My listings are getting showings, a stale listing got an offer, and our office had one of the best Decembers on record. I think as the December numbers start to filter out to the public it may spur these reluctant buyers into action. No, the sky is not falling, and if we can sell off some of this stale inventory we'll be in great shape for spring. There are some great deals out there now."

In nearby Berkeley, Ira Serkes of REMAX Bay Area reports putting two homes on the market in December, which were "well presented, well marketed, (and) well priced. We received five offers on one, and nine offers on the other. So, I'd have to say that it is (and has always been) a normal market! Well-priced homes sell, others don't!"

South of San Francisco in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose-based Michelle C. Carr-Crowe, owner of Judy Carr & Associates Inc., says she has 35 pre-approved families who want homes in the neighborhood she specializes in, but there are only five homes available there.

"Unless truly motivated, potential sellers want to wait and see how someone else does rather than spend the time and effort to prepare to sell -- only to sit unsold," Carr-Crowe says.

"Roughly one-third of those are move-ups (meaning they'll sell when we find the right home), one-third will buy only a specialized property and neighborhood … (and) one-third are hoping for special bargain (prices from 2002), and the last tenth are still refining what they want/need.
Carr-Crowe said her buyers are pre-approved and can make significant down payments of $100,000 to $400,000, but "are conservative and concerned about the market and buying too much house/mortgage."

The last home she sold "was aggressively priced," and she received 15 offers, selling as-is for nearly 10 percent over the $898,000 asking price. "I'm just looking for more sellers!" she says.
Elizabeth Weintraub, Lyon Real Estate

Elizabeth Weintraub reports "a buzz stirring" in the Sacramento housing market.
"It takes buyers a while to get moving, and often I see a lull between market changes and action, but buyers are beginning to venture forth," Weintraub says. "Interest rates are low, inventory isn't as high as it will be in April, and sellers who are willing to wheel and deal are making deals."

In the last two weeks, she's received three calls on two pending sales. "When was the last time that happened? Those buyers asked to be put on a waiting list for similar inventory. Guess I better get busy and take more listings! The holidays are over. It's time to get back to work," Weintraub says.

Weintraub says that while 2007 may be the Year of the Boar in China, she's calling it the "Year of the Buyer. I predict buyers will rule all year long."

If a home hasn't sold after a few weeks, it's priced too high, Serkes says.

Down in Southern California, Linda Slocum of Vintage Sotheby's International Realty in Valencia said the housing market in the north end of Los Angeles County seems to be stabilizing.

Many of the bigger price decreases in the area were due to unrealistic pricing in the first place, she said -- like homes with comparable sales at $775,000 priced at $950,000.

"Some builders are having trouble selling new construction, but most of these are not in the most popular sections of town," she said. "Lennar didn't have much trouble cashing in on $1.3 billion recently for the sale of their majority interest in the largest upcoming development in the region, Newhall Ranch. Much of the funds for this came from CalPERS," a retirement fund for government workers.

Also in Valencia, Bob Haas of Pacific Real Estate Network he doesn't see a recent trend other than "the typical end-of-year flurry."

"As I see it, we have the press still saying the sky is falling, most sellers still overpricing, buyers are still sitting waiting for the bottom without understanding that if (interest) rates go up 1 percent … their payments will increase dramatically" even if prices come down 10 percent.

Buyers base their purchase decisions on "monthly payment and the interest-rate terms, and conditions on home loans over the past two months have been fantastic and continue to be very good while the market allows the buyer to negotiate an extremely aggressive price," Haas writes. But "the press has done a terrible service to the public buy not informing them of these facts."

Haas predicts the next round of price reductions will be driven by higher interest rates, "which by all financial indicators (are) coming, it is just a matter of exactly when and by how much."
Charles Ritz of Tarbell Realtors in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., says business is slow in the Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles.

There are fewer homes in escrow and more on the market than in resent history, Ritz says, and prices have been dropping in the past couple of months by 1 percent to 2 percent.
For prices at the lower end, Ritz recommends having the "seller offer at least 2.5 percent to buyer's agent and the home will sell quickly."

Florida

Sally Daley, broker-owner of Daley & Company Real Estate, says buyers still control the Vero Beach market, even after last year's 20 percent price correction. There's been wholesale investor pullout, Daley reports, "with a whopping two to three years of inventory on our barrier island, as many sellers continue to price their homes to pre-correction levels and buyers say 'no.' "
Slow market conditions in the Northeast United States -- a key feeder market for the barrier island's second-home-buyer segment -- "clog our market with buyers from equally slow areas ready and willing but unable to buy until they sell up North," Daley says.

But Daley reports a big uptick in buyer interest on the company's Web site as buyers "get off their proverbial fence of indecision." Prices have moderated up a bit from their low after last year's big correction, "but it is still a great time to be a buyer here!"
Spring is traditionally the strong season for sales, but a return to normal inventory levels could also depend on action by the state's new governor on "the insurance and property tax elephant in the living room," Daley says.

Realtor Kevin Orak of The Selby Group in Flagler County said the area is "surrounded by water on all sides and actually still affordable for those looking to live in the Sunshine State." The past few months "have been absolutely dismal," but Orak says his phone has begun to ring again.

"Buyers have plenty of inventory to choose from and we are waiting longer for buyers to make a decision," Orak says. "I am staying upbeat and this has been chance for those of us who want to work in this business full time to change our way of thinking regarding pricing, advertising, etc."

Carolyn Burns, RE/MAX Partners
Fort Lauderdale broker-associate Carolyn Burns, of RE/MAX Partners, offers a similar assessment.

"In south Florida, buyers have the luxury of being picky and choosing the best-looking house in the best condition and in the best location," Burns says. "They can ask for closing costs credits and get them. Sellers that have the luxury of getting an offer should thank their real estate agents for presenting their homes in the best light, and take the first offer they get."

Burns says Florida is experiencing "a crisis" of high property taxes and enormous increases in property insurance, "which is deterring buyers from getting properly qualified with their mortgage payments (PITI) to purchase the type home they want."

The homes that are selling are either priced very reasonably -- between $300,000 and $350,000 -- or newly constructed, high-end homes in the $700,000 to $1.5 million range built to withstand hurricanes. Houses priced in the middle, between $450,000 and $550,000, are taking six to nine months or longer to sell, Burns reports.

"Patience is needed to stick it out, and work with our sellers to be realistic in pricing -- even pricing back to 2005 prices, if necessary," Burns advises. "A seller in denial is not going to help matters. Agents need to work harder to hold open houses for maximum exposure. Houses on lockboxes don't sell like they used to."

Marcus Burke at CondoMetropolis in Orlando says central Florida has "much inventory and slow sales," but isn't worried about the long term. "With a thousand folk a week moving here and the baby boomers still to come, I think central Florida won't suffer for too long ... unless of course, we get a another Wilma."
South

Flynn Taylor of Keller Williams Lanier Partners does business in northeast Georgia's Habersham and White counties -- a bedroom community for Atlanta.

"(Home builders do) not seem to be concerned about the market," Taylor says. "New subdivisions are cropping up all around (with homes) in the $200,000 range. Buyers are anticipated from the Atlanta area and from Florida."

There was a "definite slowdown" in the third and fourth quarters of 2006, and the region always sees decreased activity from December through February, Taylor says, "but being a bedroom community of Atlanta will help our market carry on in 2007."

Dianne Dunn of Keller Williams Realty in New Bern, N.C., says eastern North Carolina had only "a minor setback last year," with prices continuing to appreciate. The area is a haven for retirees and second-home owners looking for a moderate climate and less hectic pace of living, she said.

Dunn said the market started tempering in the second quarter of 2006, "and the last three months were fairly slow. During the week between Christmas and New Year's, I had three listings sell, and we're experiencing great buyer activity, and numerous showings as we start 2007!"

Southwest

Linda DeVlieg, broker-associate at Albuquerque Real Estate, reports the "pitter patter of buyer feet are starting to be heard again."

Good homes priced well are still selling, DeVlieg says, and the ratio of new listings to pendings is "growing a smaller gap than it was a few months ago. I see things improving and looking up."

The only downside, DeVlieg says, is in new construction. "I believe that the builders are suffering from the over-sell to investors in the last 18 months, and buyers are reluctant to go as far out as it takes to get to the new developments; more infill building is moving buyers closer into town," she says.

Midwest

In the western suburbs of Chicago, Eric Rogers says single-family resales lost steam in December, but inventory continued to decrease from a high this fall. Rogers, a Realtor with Century 21 Pro-Team in Aurora, Ill., analyzes local market conditions on his Web site. He thinks the market is seeing "the beginning of the end of the downturn," with home values are about where they were in January '05.

Vito Boscaino, owner of Help-U-Sell North High Realty in Columbus, Ohio, says inquiries from sellers and buyers picked up after the holiday. An interesting trend is that many buyers making inquiries of late are not represented by an agent, he said.

Direct inquiries are "great for our listing clients as it provides them with the opportunity to potentially sell their homes while paying a low-set fee with no co-op commission to be paid," Boscaino reports. "This positions them to capture the maximum level of savings versus a standard 6 percent commission that a traditional agent would generally charge."

Matthew Benedict, RE/MAX Metropolitan
Matthew Benedict of RE/MAX Metropolitan in Utica, Mich., says the metro Detroit area " has an overload of inventory, including a ton of bank repos." That makes it "a good time to buy and take advantage of the market. Its funny, when the market is peaking and homes are overpriced everyone wants to buy. Yet when there are some tremendous values out there, buyers are on the fence. The time to buy is now! I have noticed an increase in buyer inquires and showings on our listings. The market is turning."

Northeast

Marabeth Gildersleeve of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Glastonbury, Conn., says inventory is down, but that's partly because of expired listings in the month of December. "Right now there is not much out there," Gildersleeve reports. It "will be interesting to see what happens in the next month or two with inventory, which will tell where the market is going." In the mean time, sales are off about 15 percent, but closing prices are up 1.5 percent, she says.

Geri Sonkin of RE/MAX Hearthstone in Merrick, N.Y., reports "a definite difference in the Long Island market." Sonkin said she began to notice the change in November, when buyers were out in greater numbers than they had been in many months. "When checking with my colleagues, their experience seemed to mirror mine. Inventory, growing at an alarming rate earlier in the year, has trimmed back as well. There is no doubt, however, that buyers are still in the driver's seat since their options are many."

Earni Young, who writes about real estate for the Philadelphia Daily News, says the market there is faring better than the rest of the East Coast, "primarily because our housing prices are far lower than in New York City or Washington, D.C."

"Our luxury condo and townhome market consists primarily of empty nesters moving in from the surrounding suburbs, a smattering of New Yorkers and Washingtonians willing to commute by Amtrak," Young says. Nevertheless, sales have slowed and there is currently a three-month inventory of unsold homes.

Several large condo projects either are on hold or are being revamped as rentals, but a number of new projects are in the pipeline.

"Despite the gloom of those who can't seem to remember what the real estate market was like pre-1998, our current market is not bad," Young says. "The difference is that homes that once sold in three days with multiple bids, now take three months to pull in the first offer."
West/Pacific Northwest

Craig Pattberg an investor and Realtor with AllPro Realty Group Inc. in Midvale, Utah, reports the region has been immune from the slowdown in the market, with prices on the rise and inventory low.

"Here in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah we experienced a 19.4 percent appreciation for the fourth quarter of 2006 over 2005. We are 43.2 percent over the fourth quarter of 2004."

It takes an average of 32 days for homes to sell, with a three- to four-month inventory, and an average sales price of $284,193.

"Hot!" Pattberg says of his market.

In Portland, Ore., Patrick Brown of Windermere Cronin & Caplan Realty Group says he's seeing a "big jump in activity" in the below-$300,000 market, but his $600,000-and-over listings "are getting no showings."

Brian Quilty, president of Online Land Sales LLC, says sales through the company's Web site, Landbidz.com, are "good," with "a steady increase in demand" for land in rural Nevada and Texas. Prices "seem to be rising," Quilty said.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., Harlan TenNapel of Ameri/Star Real Estate said there has been no downturn. Although there inventory is three, four months and more, that represents a balanced market, he said.

"We are seeing most price ranges still have a 3-4 months' supply of homes, with a few price ranges considerably out of that range," he said. "I was always taught in my 27 years (in the business) that if you have a 3-4 months' supply you have a balanced market. It is not a buyer's market, and it is no longer a seller's market, it is a balanced market as a whole."

*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*


If you need assistance with you real estate needs, please do not hesitate to contact me:

Vito Boscaino
Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43214

email: northhighrealty@helpusell.com

web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com

office: 614.447.3050

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When is the Best Time to Find a Realtor?

Chris Ognek, Owner, Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion writes:

As a buyer, the answer is simple – as soon as you know you want to buy a home.
Briefly, your home buying process should unfold in four steps:

1. Define your goals! Many people decide they want to buy a home, find one they like, and then worry about the details. That can work but for such a large financial decision that you may only make a few times in your life, there is a much better way to do it - one that will leverage your home as a wealth building tool. Defining your professional, personal and financial goals will quickly reveal your “time horizon” which is how far into the future you can either plan or set goals. All financial decisions, especially buying a home, come from your time horizon.

2. Get your financing in order. After defining your goals, we will assist you in choosing a financing option that will help you achieve those goals. As part of step one, you should define how much you plan to spend on your new home and remember, the right answer isn’t the maximum amount you qualify for but what will help you reach your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to save or invest an additional $5,000 each year, you may have to purchase a home for less than you qualify for. That is a good thing! Living below your means is the key to building wealth. Another example of a financing decision is if you plan to move in five years, there is probably no reason to get a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Whatever your circumstances, we can help you make the right decisions.

3. Find a home. This is the fun part! The Internet now gives buyers access to nearly every home on the market, all from the comfort of their own home. Let your agent know which homes are of interest to you and we’ll schedule the showings and bring you to the properties, offering our expert advice and answering all of your questions along the way. We’ll also introduce you to properties we know of that might be of interest to you. Consider us your personal home buying consultants.

4. Make an offer. When you choose a home, we will do a complete market analysis of the property to determine an appropriate offer to get you the best possible price. We’ll compose an offer that meets your needs and protects your interests and continue to act as your representative and personal consultant through the home inspection and closing process.
Buying a new home is fun and exciting but it’s not without pitfalls. Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion’s professional guidance will help you find a home, protect your interests and save you THOUSANDS!

Expert Help-U-Sell buyer agents consult prospective homebuyers through the entire home buying process everyday. From finding and choosing financing options and searching for a home to making an offer and coordinating your move, our professional guidance will save you both time and money. And the best part is our buyer services are free! There is absolutely no charge to you as a buyer for using our services. We will actually rebate a portion of our commission, paid for by the seller, back to you at closing!

Courtesy of: Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion, email: OldeDominion@HelpUSell.com. Mike Ognek- HUS Owner


For a local central ohio perspective please contact:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA

Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Our office:
http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com/ or call 614.447.3050

If you have any other questions please click on this link to contact me:

http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com/Consumer/Content/Forms/ContactMe.aspx

U.S. Home Prices Unaffordable for Many Workers: Study

U.S. home prices unaffordable for many workers: study
By Andrew Stern Wed Jan 10, 8:02 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. home prices may have dipped over the past year, but many American workers would still struggle to afford a median-priced home in major cities, a new study said on Wednesday.

"American workers are really not gaining ground and they're so far behind in the first place," said Barbara Lipman, research director for the nonprofit Center for Housing Policy, which conducted the study.

While the median home price in the 202 largest metropolitan areas declined 2 percent from a year ago to $248,000 in the third quarter of 2006, mortgage rates rose enough over the year that homes actually became less affordable as pay did not keep pace.

"The real story is what happened to salaries," Lipman said. "Lower-paid occupations -- such as in retail, or home health workers -- their salaries went up only about 3 percent."
The study found an annual income of nearly $85,000 was needed to afford the median-priced U.S. home.

In the New York metropolitan area, a $500,000 median-priced home required a $171,000 annual salary. The median-priced home in San Francisco, the most expensive U.S. market, was $759,000, requiring income of $260,000. In less-expensive Chicago, the median-priced home cost $254,000, requiring an $87,000 salary.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mansfield, Ohio, homes cost a median $85,000, requiring $29,118 in income.

The study assumed home buyers needed a 10 percent down payment and could afford to pay 28 percent of their income on mortgage payments, property taxes and home insurance.
In reality, many households expend a much higher percentage of their incomes on mortgage payments, Lipman said. To afford that, consumers cut other expenses such as for health care and transportation, she said, citing research showing unaffordable housing is the major reason families lack health insurance.

Other ways families cope with high housing expenses is to work longer hours or extra jobs, or by crowding in more income producers, she said. An October 2006 survey by the group found families who seek to buy less-expensive homes in further-out suburbs -- adding to urban sprawl -- pay so much more for transit that it eliminates the savings.

While home prices range widely across the country, wages for low-wage jobs -- from teachers to janitors -- are about the same no matter where they are located, Lipman said.

The report cited housing aid programs offered by some big-city hospitals that have plenty of modestly-paid workers.

"For the low- to moderate-income individuals that we're talking about, they're not going to be helped by marginal declines in home prices," Lipman said. "The only way to address the problem is to create more affordable units (homes) -- which may mean higher density units, townhouses and condos."


We can help Sellers SAVE Thousands and we also have a program for Buyers that can provide them with a credit of up to 20% of the commission that we receive, for properties listed in the MLS that are not listings of Help-U-Sell North High Realty.

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA

Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

office: 614.447.3050

web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Real Estate Debate: High Touch vs. High Tech

Real estate debate: High touch vs. high tech

Newcomer, veteran argue future role of Realtors

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 By Glenn Roberts Jr.Inman News

NEW YORK -- Some common labels land on various breeds of real estate companies -- such as "discount or "traditional" -- that seem to stick even though they don't quite fit, said panelists

Monday during a session at the Real Estate Connect NYC conference. The terms can result in adversarial connotations, including the perception of an uneven playing field that pits newcomers against a backlash from industry veterans.

While the labels may be misnomers, new low-cost business models can still feel friction from established companies and organizations, said Glenn Kelman, CEO for Redfin, a brokerage company that offers rebates to consumers while automating some aspects of the real estate transaction with Internet-based services.

Kelman, who debated Allan Dalton, president of real estate search company Move Inc., during a session at the real estate conference, said his company has experienced some pushback, including the threat of lawsuits and buyers who said they worry that other companies will ignore their offers made through Redfin.

"I don't think entirely we're imagining some kind of opposition here. I don't think we're inventing an enemy that doesn't exist," said Kelman, referring to a variety of "legal machinations" and letters from multiple listing services that the company has received since launching brokerage services last year. Any opposition to the company's business model is not warranted, he said.

"We just have no interest in screwing up the industry or hurting other people. But we do have an interest in protecting our consumers and protecting ourselves from legal attack."
Dalton, meanwhile, said that Redfin has announced savings over traditional real estate companies -- which implies that so-called traditional companies are charging a fixed rate. Commissions are, by law, negotiable. Dalton's Move Inc. operates several prominent property-search Web sites, including National Association of Realtors-affiliated Realtor.com.

"When you suggest to the consumer that they are saving something -- that implies that there's a standing rate -- and I'm concerned from an ethical, even legal standpoint that I don't think we should be implying to consumers that there's some type of commission-fixing cabal and that there's a set fee, and I think you're in danger of basically conveying that to consumers. I think you're on very slippery ground there," Dalton said.

Allan Dalton, left, president of Move Inc.'s Real Estate Division, and Glenn Kelman, center, CEO for Redfin, engage in a debate Monday moderated by Bradley Inman at the Real Estate Connect NYC conference.

Also, he said that Redfin's strategy appears to be "basically attacking what people are making as opposed to increasing the value," and that could lead to talk of overpriced stockbroker, doctor and lawyer fees. "We have to make sure that we make a distinction between serving consumers and trying to put consumers out of work. Nothing should ever be at the expense of consumers," he said, jokingly referring to a doomsday scenario such as that in the film "Escape From New York," with out-of-work people text-messaging and e-mailing from caves and "breadlines for bloggers."

The real estate industry should move beyond its perception as a service industry and be realized as a skilled profession, Dalton said. "We need to empower our industry to go beyond holding the (consumers') hand during the transaction -- the high touch, the high feel, the nurturing of consumers -- and empower them ... to a skilled Realtor who can help them plan their entire life as opposed to receiving calendars and refrigerator magnets," he also said.
Realtors, he said, offer skills such as negotiating, marketing, networking, merchandising and staging that can add to the sale price of a home. "That's a skill -- that's an acquired skill that has been developed -- it's not a service."

Kelman argued that real estate consumers may not be well-served by the long-standing commission structure that awards real estate agents with compensation that is typically based on a percentage of the sale price of a home. He criticized a system that rewards buyer agents more money when their buyer clients pay more, saying "there's no way that your advice can be objective" in that situation.

While skilled work is needed in real estate transactions, many processes can be automated. "We think we can combine real estate agents with Internet technology to make the process more efficient," he said, adding that most of the "traditional industry hasn't necessarily been interested in automating the business."

"So we're just trying to introduce a competitive force in the market such that we can use technology and let the agents focus on what they really want to be doing, which is negotiating the deal on the house," Kelman added.

Dalton questioned Kelman's view on the industry's standard compensation structure using an analogy: "I want my sports agent to have an incentive to have a greater outcome. You think it's not right that real estate agents don't want homes to sell for more?"

While agents may believe their most valuable service is in finding a "dream home" for their clients, Kelman said that consumers are capable of finding a home on their own and just want an agent to seal the deal for them.

"We do think that real estate can be more efficient. We think that most of the technology sites that have been developed in the real estate industry are really designed to benefit the real estate agents and not consumers," Kelman also said.

"People automatically assume that we have it out for real estate agents, and first of all we are real estate agents. We want to be good partners in the industry because we've got to work with all the other brokerages," Kelman said.

Consumers can potentially save thousands by working with a Redfin agent, he said, and the company's typical agent completes 10-20 real estate deals per month.

Dalton, who earlier referred to "some of the zeal that's been manifested here for this Redfin reformation in the country," said that consumer choice is a good thing, and he also said that consumers will ultimately decide which business models succeed.

"Sometimes we have people who ... get so venomous, and they shouldn't. It's great that the consumer finally has more choices ... and that's what it's all about. Let the consumer decide," he said.


Let us provide you with an alternative to the traditional real estate approach:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA

Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Office: 614.447.3050

Web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com



Help-U-Sell North High Realty

Friday, January 05, 2007

Are Realtors becoming irrelevant in todays market?

Brad Inamn was soliciting perspective on his blog regarding how industry participants perceive the consumer perspective towards Realtors or agents, if you will. This was my response posted to the Inman Blog:

The better question to start with is what does the average consumer think of when the term Realtor is used? My guess is "Realtor" is synonymous with "agent". To that end I believe that agents who provide obvious value added services will not become obsolete. The 85% of "realtors" or agents who simply throw a listing in the mls and then pray that something happens are already obsolete, they just haven't checked their bank accounts recently enough to know it.I believe the historical broker/agent office model is fundamentally broken and effectively dead.

How many traditional realty firms are busy downsizing and consolidating offices to reduce overheads? As more information is made available to the general public through all sorts of websites, the traditional role of a broker/realtor/agent as a "funnel' of information is increasingly irrelevant. As well, the age old advertising techniques and methods are also becoming more and more irrelevant. Those who embrace change, stay on the leading-edge of not only technological change, but societal changes as well will grow and prosper. Those who continue to muddle along on auto-pilot are dead.

As we move forward, I think consumers will be far more self-educated regarding all aspects of real estate issues, practices and transactions and will have far more sophisticated demands of those professional practioners who will need to be able to respond to consumer needs with demonstrable skills, techniques, technological capabilites and overall business savvy.

MLS's (and by association, Realtor.com) will become increasingly less important, and in my mind far more quickly than many expect, as replacement mechanisms will quickly evolve to displace them. There is no rocket science involved in putting sellers and buyers together. Many other "trading" or "brokering" industries have already gone through this evolution. It will happen and will happen soon.

Just remember - Think outside of the box or you will end up being buried in the box.

Have a great and prosperous day!

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High StreetColumbus, Ohio 43214
Web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com

Office: 614.447.3050

So these are my thoughts. What are yours? I would be interested in hearing from the general public about their views on the role of the traditional real estate agent and how important they perceive an agent to be in the process of buying or selling a home. Share your thoughts with us.....

Consumers Slam Wallets Shut for Christmas

An already disappointing holiday shopping season turned out to be even worse than expected for many of the nation's retailers, who Thursday reported tepid sales gains for December.
The downbeat results came from merchants in all retail categories, from Limited Brands Inc. to jewelry chain Zale Corp. But Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted better-than-expected results for December following a dismal November, but the discounter's overall holiday season was the worst on record, analysts said.

Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research company in Swampscott, Mass., said retailers were forced to mark down heavily to bring in sales.
"Clearly, this was a promotional Christmas," he said. "Consumers clearly waited until the last minute."

Such aggressive discounting led a number of merchants including Zale, BJ's Wholesale Club Inc., Gap Inc. and AnnTaylor Stores Corp. to cut their profit outlooks.

After a solid start to the holiday season, many stores struggled with disappointing business in December, and a shopping surge in the days just before and after Christmas wasn't strong enough to make up for lost sales. Merchants tried to stick to their previously planned discounts, but at the season’s end they resorted to bigger-than-anticipated cuts to pull shoppers in.
Mild weather across much of the country meant consumers were in no hurry to buy cold weather wear such as coats and gloves, depressing sales at many apparel stores. Declining gasoline prices and a steady job market should have helped merchants, but Perkins believes the recent drop in home equity loans — a big source of buying power over the past few years — curtailed spending among middle-income shoppers.

Sales results were also hurt by two big shifts in the way consumers are shopping: the increasing popularity of gift cards and robust online buying, which is not included in same-store results. Gift card sales are only posted when they are redeemed rather than bought, helping to extend the holiday season into January.

Wal-Mart, which warned earlier in the season that its sales gain from stores open at least a year would be no better than 1 percent, posted a 1.6 percent for December. Retail industry analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected 1 percent gain.

Sales from stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales are sales, are considered the industry standard for measuring a retailer's health.

The results followed Wal-Mart's 0.1 percent decline in same-store sales in November, its first monthly same-store sales drop in a decade.

Last month's sales figure was the company's weakest December performance since 2000 when Wal-Mart posted a 0.3 percent gain, according to Thomson Financial. The slim 0.8 percent increase for November and December combined was the worst since Thomson Financial began tracking same-store sales data in 1995.

Wal-Mart has struggled with a mix of problems, including the fact that its lower-income customers were hurt by soaring gas prices. But the company's lackluster sales have persisted even as the cost of gas retreated — partly because its attempt to broaden its appeal to higher-income shoppers was poorly executed, particularly in apparel and home furnishings.
Wal-Mart reported Thursday that it had a strong performance in electronics and the grocery business in December.

Rival discounter Target Corp. had a 4.1 percent gain in same-store sales, below the 4.5 percent estimate.

Costco Wholesale Corp. posted a 9 percent gain in same-store sales, beating Wall Street's 5.7 percent estimate. BJ's Wholesale had a 0.6 percent gain in same-store sales, less than the 1.3 percent estimate.

Among department stores, Federated Department Stores Inc., which acquired May Department Stores Co. last year, had a 4.4 percent gain in same-store sales, below the 5.5 percent estimate from Wall Street. The same-store results include only the Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores that existed before September, when the company transformed most of the former May Co. stores to Macy's units.

Terry Lundgren, Federated's chairman, president and CEO, noted that that performance at the converted May stores improved in December.

"While December sales were somewhat softer than expected, we overcame unseasonably warm weather in most of the country and ended the month strong," said Lundgren in a statement.

© 2007 Associated Press.


Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com
Office: 614.447.3050

Contact Me: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com/Consumer/Content/Forms/ContactMe.aspx

Inflation, Housing Worry Fed

The Federal Reserve is anticipating a battle on two fronts: rising inflation and a slowing economy. But right now, the Fed is sitting on the sidelines.

The minutes from the Fed’s December Open Market Committee meeting show a central bank torn between its duty to quell inflation and its obligation to help the economy grow: "Several members judged . . . the downside risks to economic growth in the near term had increased a little and become a bit more broadly based than previously thought."

The minutes continued, "Nonetheless, all members agreed that the risk that inflation would fail to moderate as desired remained the predominant concern."
But instead of tackling the risks head on, the Fed held rates at 5.25 percent. The Fed did add language to the Fed statement indicating that a rate increase to combat inflation is possible in the future.

Proof that the Fed is between a rock and a hard place is one member’s request for the statement to say that rates could go up or they could go down. That’s reassuring!
The Fed next meets at the end of January. Whether they’ve picked either battle to fight will be revealed then.

Courtesy of: Moneynews.com

For more perspective on real estate conditions in the central ohio area, please contact:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty
4485 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com
Office: 614.447.3050

Contact Me: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com/Consumer/Content/Forms/ContactMe.aspx

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Interest Rate Trends in Ohio Remain Favorable

Well the Holidays are now behind us, and we have begun to see an increase in Listing inquiries from Sellers and almost an equal number of inquiries from Buyers. The interesting aspect of the Buyer activity is that it is direct (i.e., Buyers not represented by an agent), which is great for our Listing clients as it provides them with the opportunity to potentially sell their homes while paying a low-set fee with no co-op commission to be paid. This positions them to capture the maximum level of savings versus a standard 6% commission that a traditional agent would generally charge. Our Buyer leads appear to be generated equally across three channels: Yard signs; internet and newspaper advertising.




We can also see in the chart above that interest rates, though having risen slightly over the last two weeks, still remain favorable when viewed over the longer historical term. This positions Buyers to have the best of both worlds: plenty of inventory to choose from with affordable financing terms still available.

As we look towards the end of January and the end of our first full twelve months of operation, we are proud of our great success in our first year. Our transaction base was almost equally split between Sell side and Buy side transactions. We delivered over $100,000 in savings to our clients while providing complete transaction support to all of our clients. As we begin 2007, we look forward to working hard to achieve our goal of driving a 200% increase in transactions over 2006. As the market conditions have weakened and sellers have had more difficulty in selling their homes, our marketing system becomes even more valuable for those homeowners who are even more sensitive about protecting their shrinking equity. Clients truly appreciate being represented by a real estate marketing company that knows how to reach out to the buyer community regardless of where they start looking for a home, with a specific focus on advertising the product, "The Home".

If you are considering selling or buying a home in central Ohio, please contact us as we can help you save thousands. We can be reached at:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA

Sheila Dawson
Owner / Realtor


Help-U-Sell North High Realty
office: 614.447.3050
web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com

Sheila Dawson email: sheiladawson@helpusell.com
Vito Boscaino email: vitoboscaino@helpusell.com

Monday, January 01, 2007

Overpriced Listings

During a recent conversation with one of our clients, he asked “why do agents continue to take listings they know are overpriced?” I considered that a great question and worthy of comment.

There are several reasons why agents take “overpriced” listings. In default, with the simplest solution usually being the most correct, the agents may not actually know or believe the listing is overpriced. They may lack experience or expertise in a flat or declining market and not have the study habits or initiative to continually analyze the market conditions.

There are, however, some more complicated and sometimes intentional reasons for knowingly accepting a listing that is priced above what the market can bear; we are assuming, for this example, the seller is the driving force in the inflated price, not the agent.

Primarily, a listing is a venue for advertising and lead generation. Once an agent secures a listing, they advertise that home in any number of places- beginning with a sign in the lawn with their company or personal name and continuing through that agents choice of advertising media.

Experience shows that signage is among the very best sources for generating new leads, so an agent can even find some level of success with simply displaying yard signs and not spending any money on advertising. In traditional real estate, listings are generally considered the key to an agents success because of their capacity to generate new buyer leads.

Once a potential buyer calls on their listing, they now have an opportunity to convert them into a client and secure a buyer side sale. Some simple math shows if an agent takes an overpriced listing that does not sell, but converts 1 or more buyer calls into sales they are making a profit similar to or greater than the commission they would have earned on the sale of the listing. This is, of course, assuming they have refrained from spending large amounts on advertising.

There are some pitfalls in this system. First, it is unfair to the property owner as the agent is giving them an unfair expectation of selling as they are “overpriced.” Second, sellers expect advertising from the agent. If the agent is poor at converting buyer calls and securing buyer side sales, they will quickly deplete their capital by carrying undesirable listings and advertising expenses. Finally, agents rely heavily on referrals; unsold listings do not generate referrals.

The moral is, take a hard look at your price when listing. If you still feel it will sell for more than what the comps have sold for (which it most likely will not in the current market) and your agent is willing to list it without an agreement for price reduction, or a similar strategy, question why they would do that and also ask for the number of listings and sales they have had over the past 3-9 months. If the number of listings is high, but the sales are low- question that as well.

The bottom line is there are some phenomenal agents who are very adept at handling the current market, but there are also those who are not and for most Americans, selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions they will encounter during their lifetime. It behooves them to research the process, the market, and the people they choose to represent them.

Article courtesy of Mike Ognek, Help-U-Sell Olde Dominion Real Estate.

For more information on listing your home, please contact:

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty

email: northhighrealty@helpusell.com
web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com
blog: http://northhighrealtyhelpusell.blogspot.com
office: 614.447.3050

Are you ready for the Winter Season?

As the Winter months bring colder temperatures, make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulking windows and doors will help you save energy and money. If you have exposed pipes, be sure to insulate those to prevent them from bursting as temperatures drop below freezing.

Winter is also the prime time for illnesses such as colds and flu, so decrease indoor pollutants by cleaning and vacuuming dust from your vents. Maintaining your thermostat is another important step to efficiency. Keep it set at the lowest possible temperature that will keep everyone comfortable (usually in the 68 to 72 degree range). You may want to consider purchasing a programmable thermostat that will adjust your temps automatically.

Let us provide your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers with the finest real estate information and services.

Vito Boscaino
Owner / Realtor / MBA
Help-U-Sell North High Realty

email: northhighrealty@helpusell.com
web: http://northhighrealty.helpusell.com
blog: http://northhighrealtyhelpusell.blogspot.com
office: 614.447.3050