Your Home: You deserve more

August 29th, 2016

Simply stated, as a selling client, you deserve more. My industry gets a bad wrap quite a bit, and a lot of it is self-inflicted in my opinion. Our job is to provide great service and great results for our clients. But what do great service and great results look like? Let’s start with what the National Association of Realtors tells us is our fiduciary obligation to our clients.

Once we have been hired by someone to be their agent, NAR states that we owe the following fiduciary duties:

  • Loyalty. This duty obligates a real estate broker to act at all times solely in the best interests of his principal to the exclusion of
    all other interests, including the broker’s own self-interest.
  • Confidentiality. An agent is obligated to safeguard his principal’s confidence and secrets. A real estate broker, therefore, must keep confidential any information that might weaken his principal’s bargaining position if it were revealed.
  • Disclosure. An agent is obligated to disclose to his principal all relevant and material information that the agent knows and that pertains to the scope of the agency. For example, an agent must disclose all offer received on a property for sale whether they are in writing or just a verbal offer.
  • Obedience. An agent is obligated to obey promptly and efficiently all lawful instructions of his principal.
  • Reasonable care and diligence. The standard of care expected of a real estate broker representing a seller or buyer is that of a competent real estate professional. By reason of his license, a real estate broker is deemed to have skill and expertise in real estate matters superior to that of the average person.
  • Accounting. An agent is obligated to account for all money or property belonging to his principal that is entrusted to him.

The aforementioned are the fiduciary duties owed to a client. Consider them a starting point. As a client, however, don’t you deserve more than the minimum standard of conduct? Of course you do. You deserve much more.

You deserve a full-time Realtor. I myself was once a part-time Realtor as I transitioned into the real estate business from the food service industry. Because I have been both part-time and now full-time, I understand the time it takes to stay fully informed of the market and to provide great service. You can’t serve two masters. They say that for a reason. You deserve a full time Realtor who is dedicated solely to serving his or her clients.

You deserve professional photographs. Holy cow! Is this one basic or what? There are even websites dedicated to making fun of bad MLS photos like We know that your first showings are online, not in person. Your first impression is everything and may determine whether or not a potential buyer chooses to schedule a showing to actually see your home in person. The cost of professional photographs is not worth the risk of loosing a potential buyer. In my opinion, it is one of the smartest investments a Realtor can make on behalf of his client.

You deserve professional staging. Although there are a select few agents who have a great eye for staging, you deserve to have professional staging services when preparing your home for sale. There is a tremendous amount of perspective provided by a third party whose sole purpose is to make the seller’s home as marketable as possible. And it takes all of the guess work out of the home staging process. Every seller’s time is valuable and, therefore, each seller should be provided with a detailed list of specific staging suggestions to help maximize their home’s value and make the best use of the seller’s time.

You deserve not to work with someone just because they are a friend, a relative, a fellow church member, etc. Please don’t take this one the wrong way. I celebrate loyalty as it pertains to our clients. However, I don’t expect them to be loyal to me, but rather to be loyal to our level of service and our results. Oftentimes sellers allow a friend or family member to guilt them into hiring them even when they would prefer not to. Here is the way I see it: Go ahead and interview your friend and also interview other Realtors as well. Then choose the one with the best proven results (i.e. lowest days on market, highest list price/sales price percentage, fewest number of price adjustments, etc). If your friend gets mad because they don’t get the job based on a factual comparison of the results, then that friend is more concerned about themselves than they are about what you deserve as a seller. What was that first duty again? Loyalty, to the exclusion of all other interests, including the Realtor’s.

An unprofessional interior photo...

An unprofessional interior photo…

...and a professional one.

…and a professional one.

Your Home: It’s time for mom and dad to sell

August 29th, 2016

Over the last five years or so we have had the privilege of assisting several clients in the sale of their parents’ homes. I, for one, have a soft spot for seniors, so I could sit and listen to them reminisce about all of their great family memories in their home for hours. It is an honor to work with a family as they close the chapter on a family home and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. In many cases, I have sat in the cozy living room of a home surrounded by family photos with tears in my eyes as the husband or wife shares with me how hard it is going to be for them to leave their family home. Yet, in most cases, I know in my heart that the family knows that the move is in the best interest of their aging parents, and our team is there to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.

That all sounds great, but honestly it is hard. In most cases, selling a family home can be a hard change for the parents and kids alike. Even when all are confident that it is the best move for the parents. So where do you begin? I wanted to offer a few thoughts on this delicate subject that may help along the way.

  • Don’t wait until it is too late. In many cases, elderly home owners have established a set routine in their current home and the thought of a major change at this stage in life can be daunting for the entire family. This line of reasoning can cause the family to keep their family member in their home for too long. How long is too long? Too long is when the health or strength of the aging family member is such that the condition of the home is suffering. For some families, when the upkeep becomes too much for the family member, this is the catalyst for the conversation about a potential move. Too long is also after a catastrophic health event occurs that causes the family to sell the home in a rush. In this case, families may have to cut corners as it pertains to conditioning in the essence of time which will have an effect on value. Additionally, an urgent health event could affect the family’s ability to give careful consideration to pricing the home appropriately. If funds are needed quickly to offset medical costs and such, some equity may be left on the table in a rushed situation.
  • Know where your family is going. In my experience, before an elderly homeowner can conceive of selling their current home, they have to know their destination. The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing for any seller, especially a senior one. Having a clear picture of the patio/villa, retirement community, or assisted living facility that your family member will be moving to will also help the family when thinning out furniture and personal belongings. In most cases, this is a down-size move and thinning is probably an understatement. This thinning process takes time and having an end game can take a lot of the anxiety out of the move.
  • Start early. In many cases, a move for a senior family member can take months or even years. I have found that the earlier the conversation is started, the easier it is for all parties involved. Early conversations allow for careful consideration and much needed communication as to why the time for a move is now inevitable. In some cases, a sibling can be the hold-out for selling a family home and you won’t know it until the family starts to talk about it. You don’t want the hold-out in your aging parents ear without the other family weighing in. Open communication between family members is a step in the right direction especially because most seniors have to make the move psychologically before they can physically make the move.
  • Go out on a high note. This goes back to the discussion of not waiting too long. This is my personal opinion, and I don’t ever like to “should” on someone, but here I go. Nothing breaks my heart more than to see a senior seller who is embarrassed by the condition of their home and the lack of upkeep has become a daily reminder of their physical challenges. It breaks their spirit, I think. When I look back on my career, the most stress-free and I would say happy senior moves that we have helped with have been the ones when the seller leaves the home with pride knowing that their home is still in tip-top shape. It is a graceful transition for them and one, I feel, they have earned.

If your family is in the beginning stages of similar conversations, or are in the middle of the process, and you have questions about the next steps, please do not hesitate to call or email me directly. I would consider it an honor to help your family.

Your Home: 2017, it’s no 2016

August 29th, 2016

It is hard to believe that we are in full-swing back-to-school mode at my home already. New shoes have been purchased. The boys have their back-to-school haircuts and I am excited to get back to my daily walk to Prairie Elementary to drop them off in the morning. Back to school has additional significance when it comes to the real estate market. Historically each year, the housing market takes a little pause for a week or two when school gets back in session. And then it kicks right back into gear. In 2015, October was a record month for our team, so it can be a pretty significant kick.

The next few months are going to set the stage for the housing market in 2017. So let’s take a look at some national trends and then we will look a bit more closely at our local market.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.42.00 AM

As you can see, homes sales nationally have already outpaced total sales from 2003 and are on track to potentially rival 2004. Overall home sales are still setting records for the post-recession market. However, sales are slowing in some markets due to an unsustainable increase in home values. We have seen some of this push-back in our market in certain price ranges and neighborhoods. For a while, the demand has been justifying the big jump in home prices, but as demand lessens, downward pressure on pricing is present. The number of price adjustments has increased as of late as well as average days on market.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.42.16 AM

National home prices are projected to peak well above 2006 values by the end of 2016. Sustainable appreciation in overall home values is a good thing. As long as they are in the sustainable range of 4 to 6 percent. So far, the national numbers have stayed in that range. However, as values continue to rise and income growth does not, this will create a problem at some point. And it is important to know how your local market is competing in comparison to the entire city or the national real estate market. Kansas City, for example, is predicted to see slightly more than 6 percent appreciation this year and saw a similar gain last year. So we are just outside the sustainable range which puts us on notice of a possible shift in the market.

Now let’s take a look at our local market. For this example, I am going to use Prairie Village. I chose Prairie Village because I often hear comments like, “It is always a hot market in Prairie Village,” or, “With all of these tear downs going on, clearly the market is strong in PV.” Both comments have some truth to them, yet no city or neighborhood is completely insulated from a shift in the market.

8.12 slide 1
As you see here, in December 2015 we ended the year with only two months of housing supply available. This means that it would only take two months for all of the available homes to sell. Two months of supply is a strong seller’s market and that occurred in what is supposed to be the worst time of year to sell. This lack of inventory started 2016 off with very little housing available. The lack of inventory coupled with high demand created a vacuum, of sorts, which resulted in bidding war after bidding war. Fast forward to July 2016 and you can see that we are at 2.5 months of supply. That is higher than any point in 2015.

I am not trying to convey a doom and gloom message about the real estate market. I will say that based on current inventory levels and the fact that historically inventory will continue to increase throughout the remainder of the year, 2017 will more than likely not be as frenzied of a market as 2016. More inventory means more options for buyers which typically causes prices to get more competitive as well. Therefore, if you are waiting until Spring of next year to sell, thinking that it will be just like spring of 2016, you may want to rethink your plan. An increase in inventory caused by a drop in sales is one of the first signs of a market shift. We could be on the front end of a shift as we speak.

Your Home: Pre-inspections – best money a seller can spend

August 11th, 2016

One of the most joyful times for a home seller is when they get word that their home is officially under contract.  The moment right after that is when the fear sets in for most of them.  Fear of the upcoming…dum, dum, dum – whole house inspection.  That’s right, most sellers fear what the home inspection will uncover and that their beautiful home will be picked apart by the home inspector and his or her team.  Oddly enough, most buyers are also quite nervous about the home inspection.  What if the home that they are in love with turns out to be a lemon?  What if skeletons in the closet are the least of their worries?

The best solution for eliminating anxiety from the inspection process is a pre-inspection.  I have mentioned them before, yet I don’t think that I have given them enough credit for ensuring a smooth sale.  A pre-inspection is a whole house inspection that is completed prior to a home going on the open market.  Once the pre-inspection is completed, the listing agent and their client can then sit down and prioritize the repairs that must be done in order to ensure a smooth sale.  We usually target any active leaks, safety issues (electrical issues, carbon monoxide risks, etc.), structural concerns and the like.  The goal is to identify the items that any buyer would want fixed, and then fix them prior to listing the home for sale.

 But aren’t you just opening a can of worms by doing a pre-inspection?  No. The buyer of a home will most likely complete their own home inspection.  And when they do, their home inspector will more than likely find a similar list of items to those that the pre-inspection uncovered. The difference is that when a seller uncovers needed repairs during a pre-inspection, they can be proactive with the repairs and they remain in the driver’s seat.  When a buyer discovers deficiencies during their inspection, they are now in the driver’s seat and will do their best to get as many repairs completed by the seller or perhaps a credit towards repairs.  The major difference is that the buyer is making repair requests of the seller after the seller has perhaps already negotiated the sales price of their home.  When repairs are made from a pre-inspection and the home is marketed as pre-inspected, the pre-inspection then helps to defend the list price of the home. 

 Here are some other benefits to a pre-inspection:

 Higher bids for the home.  In a multiple offer situation, we have found that buyers are willing to bid the price up more aggressively when there is a pre-inspection because they know what they are buying and they have a clear understanding of the overall condition of the home.

 Fewer surprises.  I learned at Houston’s many years ago to never surprise your boss.  Once your home is under contract, the buyer is kind of like the boss.  You don’t want them to be surprised by some unexpected defect with your home.  This surprise could have an adverse effect on negotiations, or even worse, cause them to cancel the contract.  The seller then gets to go back on the market, but this time with a black eye.  Future buyers will wonder why the first buyer cancelled.  Regardless of the reason, the seller has lost leverage at this point.

As-is – two very sweet words to a seller’s ears.  We have been performing pre-inspections on our listings for almost 3 years now and in many cases, a buyer has accepted a home as-is or in its present condition.  They may choose to perform their own inspection just to get another perspective, or they may not.  Either way the seller is not responsible for any further repairs.

Good faith.  A seller who provides a pre-inspection on their home is in my opinion operating in good faith and is going above and beyond.  I am a firm believer that you get the energy out of the sale that you put into it.  A pre-inspection is good energy and starts the buyer/seller relationship off on a good note. 

Limited opportunity for recourse.  Pre-inspections which are disclosed to the buyer prior to contract almost eliminate the argument that a seller failed to disclose – in the event that something fails on the home after the sale is completed.  I am not a lawyer, however, it seems to me that it would be hard to argue that a seller withheld material facts about their home when they provided the buyer with a fifty page pre-inspection.  The rule for all sellers should be “when in doubt, disclose.” A pre-inspection coupled with a thorough seller’s disclosure statement should certainly eliminate any doubt.

 If you have any questions about the pre-inspection process or would like a referral for a great inspection company, feel free to email me or call me at 913-825-7540.

Your Home: The election and the housing market

August 1st, 2016

What an exciting couple of weeks it has been. Both Republicans and Democrats have had their week in the limelight. And because of it, I have almost had to avoid social media. The polarizing positions of both sides of the aisle have brought out the worst when it comes to passive-aggressive posts to social media. They are like little unsuspecting landmines in my news feed.

Truth be told though, I am a political junkie. I just can’t get enough of it. I am fascinated by both parties and their processes. Just ask Leah. I have recorded all four nights of both conventions because I want to hear all sides of every issue facing our beautiful country. After all of my years of watching elections, debates, and conventions, I am shocked at how dramatically different both political platforms are on pretty much every issue. I mean polar opposites. Even for an old school political junkie like myself, it is a little disconcerting. So how does that affect the real estate market?

Historically, elections do have a direct effect on the markets. The more uncertain the outcome, the stronger the chance that the markets will take a hit. This year, not only is the election outcome hard to predict, but the proposed policies of the two candidates could not be more different if they tried. Sounds like uncertainty to me. “This election, we’ve got a lot of uncertainties. And if there’s one thing markets hate, it’s uncertainty,” Mary Ann Bartels, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Portfolio Strategy. recently said.

As I read about this topic, I was not surprised to find that during election years when the incumbent president was running for office, the markets did not take as big of a hit. This is the case regardless of the political party of the incumbent. Fascinating, right? But not surprising. In most cases, people don’t love change. Even if the incumbent does not align with your political views, at least he or she is predictable in a sense.

In recent conversations I have heard people say that the markets like it better if a Republican is elected versus a Democrat because Republicans are better for business. Again, when I researched this topic, I found it to be quite untrue. Especially in recent history. Change is change, and remember that the markets don’t like change.

I bring this year’s election up because number one, everyone should go and vote on election day. And not just presidential election day, but also for local and state elections. And two, yes the real estate market may very well be affected by this year’s election. As we near the election, the slow shift in our market that we are currently seeing could be intensified going into November. Seasonally we historically see a lessening of demand and an increase in inventory going into the holiday months. As we build up to the election, this shift could come much sooner creating opportunities in the market. Opportunities like more housing options for buyers, fewer multiple offer situations, even lower interest rates, and so on.

After three-and-a-half years of a highly competitive sellers’ market, the tides could start to turn. We are already seeing some signs of a shift and if you are looking to enter the real estate market in the near future, you might consider making election day your target for closing on your new home, or for selling your current home.

Your Home: Buy before you sell – why not?

July 28th, 2016

It is most common when a homeowner decides they need to purchase a new home that they sell their current home first and then go out and find their new home. But why? The answer is because that is the way it has always been done in the past. And because most homeowners need the equity from their current home to purchase their future home. So, in turn, they must sell their current home first, right? Wrong.

At our team meeting this week, we were identifying the reasons why some homeowners are not taking advantage of the current seller’s market even though a move is inevitable for them. Doesn’t it make sense to sell now instead of waiting? The consensus was that the number one reason for not selling today is the fear that a seller’s home would sell really fast. Seems like a great problem for a seller, right? But the real fear is not having a home to purchase when they do sell. The fear of being homeless, moving in with in-laws, or getting an apartment is paralyzing for some. So what is the solution?

In some cases, the solution may be what is called a loan recast. A loan recast is when a homeowner is approved for a loan without the sale of their current home. The homeowner then moves forward with purchasing a new home, again non-contingent upon their current home sale. A best practice would be that once a contract is in place on the future home, the homeowner would then put their current home on the market and get it sold as well. A loan recast allows the homeowner to close on their future home and then recast the loan once their current home closes and apply the equity earned from the sale to the new home loan. No, this is not a refinance or a bridge loan. Bridge loans and refinances both require a new appraisal to be completed and can involve double closing costs.

The reality of choosing to go this route is that you must be able to get pre-approved for a purchase without the sale of your current home. For some, this is a scary thought. Two mortgages! I don’t want to pay two mortgages! Well you shouldn’t have to. Let’s remember the original fear that we identified. It was that a homeowner’s current home would sell too fast. So why the fear of two mortgages? In a seller’s market, homes that are priced fairly and conditioned well will sell quickly. That is that. Mike Miles with Fountain Mortgage recently said it this way, “The current supply (low) and demand (high) can provide some insulation against the risk of having to make two mortgage payments.”

Here are a few additional benefits to a loan recast:

  • All original loan terms stay with the recast. A recast allows a homeowner to capitalize on today’s low interest rates and then maintain those same terms after they have recast the loan. Unlike a refinance, a recast eliminates the fear of refinancing at a higher interest rate further down the road.
  • The rate is the rate. The interest rate on a loan to be recast is the same as any other purchase loan in today’s market.
  • Time is on your side. When a homeowner sells their current home, the closing date is often times negotiated with the buyer. If the buyer is in a lease which is ending very soon, they may ask for a 30 day closing. If the seller accepts, this would not allow much time for the seller to find a new home, get it under contract, inspect it, appraise it, and so on. Conversely, if you purchase your future home first and then sell your current home, you can adapt to almost any closing date scenario. Even a cash purchase that closes in two weeks. Imagine the stress that this takes away from the sale. Time is also on your side when you make your purchase. In a competitive situation, you can allow the seller to determine their preferred closing date without any fear of lining it up with the sale of your current home. Again, the recast allows you the flexibility to adapt and compete.

Just this last week, we helped a great client of ours purchase the home of her dreams using this exact loan product. All the while she was following our program to prepare her current house for the market. Once she was under contract on her future home, we put her current home on the market that next weekend. Her home went live on Friday and by Saturday night was under contract. She knew that her current home would sell quickly, however, she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to find a home that she would love. By purchasing first, she stayed in the driver’s seat on both her sale and purchase. And, by the way, we lined up her closing dates so she will not have one month of double mortgage payments.

If you would like more information about a loan recast program, please email or call me directly. You can also reach out to Mike Miles with Fountain Mortgage as well. We are here to help!

Your Home: The next housing bubble?

July 28th, 2016

Who would have ever thought a sweet little word like “bubble” could be so scary to buyers and sellers. But it is. One of the most often received questions lately has been,”Are we headed toward another housing bubble?”

And my answer is: “Depends on what you mean by bubble.”

Are we approaching the pre-recession values that helped cause the housing crash in the mid 2000s? Yes we are. A recent CNBC article about home equity said that nationally we are just a little less than 3 percent under the June 2006 value peak prior to the financial crisis. It went on to say that currently 23 states have already passed their 2006 peaks. Many of the markets that we work in every day have most certainly passed their peak from 2006. On several occasions this year I have been surprised at the values our market is supporting based on the high demand.

So back to the bubble… Do I think that we are reaching a value peak again in our market? I think we are close, and in some micromarkets we are there already. For example, the $175,000-$200,000 price range has been explosive this year. The demand in almost all areas in unsustainable, which has caused bidding war after bidding war. This has also caused the dollar per square foot numbers for smaller houses to increase dramatically. At some point, a buyer is only willing to pay so much for a two-bedroom, one-full bath home.

In some markets I feel we have reached that point. I say this because I am hearing the frustration from the buyers and their agents out there about the pricing. In many cases, buyers have decided that they are not interested in the frenzied competition after loosing several homes to other buyers and have decided to bow out at this time.

This “bowing out” is usually one of the first signs of a shift in the market. A shift, but not a bubble. In my mind, a substantial difference between today and the days before the financial crisis began is that borrowers and lenders are both leery of the overall market stability. This same CNBC article said 38 million Americans now have 20 percent equity in their homes. To put that number in perspective, only 24 million Americans had that much equity when the markets hit the bottom in 2012. That said, while 42 percent of the loan originations in the first quarter were “cash out” refinances, the homeowners only borrowed $20 billion. According to Black Knight Data and Analytics, this is only one half of 1 percent of the equity available to homeowners.

In addition, lending practices are much more stringent compared to the “willy nilly” practices that occurred pre-recession. The investors backing today’s loans want to make sure that before they lend, they have a solid borrower. Especially as it pertains to credit score and debt-to-income ratio. In addition, the appraisers who complete the appraisals for both refinances and purchases are under intense scrutiny from the investors. Their process is much more detailed in an effort to ensure the appraiser’s valuation is accurate and timely.

Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, Sean Becketti, was quoted saying, “During the mid-2000s, as house prices went up, borrowing went up almost dollar for dollar. In the last few years, when house prices have again been increasing more rapidly than the long-term average, mortgage borrowing has not increased at all. In fact it has decreased.”

As a seller or a buyer, I do think it is prudent to closely watch the markets and prepare for a shift. But not a bubble. Today’s homeowners have equity. This is the major difference between today and 2006. Not only are sellers cautious about “cashing out,” but today’s buyer (with very few exceptions) is required to put at least 3-5 percent down when making a purchase, contrary to the pre-recession days when 100 percent financing options were prevalent.

Your Home: Considering a second home? Think about this.

July 28th, 2016

As I write this, I am looking at and listening to the waves from the Atlantic Ocean breaking on the beach just about 100 feet from the back deck of our rented VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). I can’t help but consider how beneficial it could be to own a second home in a destination location.

In today’s market we are seeing more and more investors entering the market to purchase rental properties. But what about vacation homes?

My wife and I have gone back and forth on the topic of purchasing a vacation home. Although we have found some beautiful places to stay for a week or so, we just find it hard to tie ourselves down to one location. But if we did want to purchase a second home, what should we take into consideration?

Down payment. Unlike the purchase of a primary residence, investment properties require at least 20 percent down to show the lender that you have the financial wherewithall to afford the home and to limit the lender’s potential liability.

Location, location, location. Of course, this rule applies to all real estate purchases, but even more so when it comes to an investment/vacation home that you intend to rent. For your first investment property purchase, it would be wise to partner with a Realtor familiar with the rental market in your area. You might also reach out to your social network to see who you know who currently owns an investment property and pick their brain a bit. Show me a man or woman who owns investment properties and I will show you someowne who has lots of stories of how they learned lessons the hard way.

Should you hire a management company or not? For most people an investment property is a way to diversifty their portfolio. Not a job change. Remember the old saying, “If you don’t have a housekeeper, then you are one”? The same applies to investment properties. If you don’t have a management company to rent your properties and maintain them, then you just became a management company. So how much does it cost to hire a management company to do the work for you? A good rule of thumb is half of the first month’s rent when they find you a tenant and 10 percent of the rent each month moving forward. So if they rent is $1,000 a month, then they get $100. All of this has to be taken into account when you calculate your expenses to ensure cash flow.

Now let’s get back to vacation homes. With the proliferation of VRBO and Homeaway and websites like them, it has never been easier to rent out your vacation home. I think that we are on our ninth or tenth beach trip where we have rented someone’s vacation home for our stay. And we love it. Unlike a hotel or resort, we have a full kitchen, more space, and oftentimes a more secluded location.

These vacation homes that we rent also charge a premium for their location. In most cases, the beach homes that we have rented are booked solid for most of the year. And when I calculate what they are raking in each month, it is astounding.

So if you are thinking of purchasing a vacation home, perhaps you should consider traveling to a destination and staying in a VRBO. It may help to see things from the renter’s perspective. And if nothing else, you will get a great trip out of the deal.

If you are considering the purchase of an investment property, and would like more information about dos and don’ts, email me today. I would be happy to help.

Your Home: The gift of the shift

July 28th, 2016

It is almost time to say Happy 4th of July and not only does this time of year bring fireworks and cookouts (two of my favorite things), but it also brings a shift in the real estate market. This shift that I speak of is normal for this time of the year. Historically, we see the highest absorption rate (percentage of active homes going under contract each month) during the early spring market and from then through the rest of the year this rate continues to slow. Yet again this is the case in 2016.

In most markets in the city, the fastest rate of absorption took place in February and March of this year. This was when the supply of homes was extremely low and at the same time the demand was kicking into high gear. This was probably the time of year when you were hearing unbelievable stories about bidding wars and and homes selling for 10 percent over list price. It was bananas to say the least.

As we shift into the summer market, more homes are available for sale. And although the demand is still high, it is not absorbing the active inventory as quickly as it was earlier in the year. Have you noticed more for sale signs recently? Probably so. This is not necessarily a bad thing. And we are still in a great market.

Here’s why.

Moving towards a more balanced market is healthy. A strong seller’s market or a strong buyer’s market are fun for a while, but they are not healthy long term. As with anything, you can only stay out of balance for a certain period of time before you have to counter balance. A more balanced market provides opportunities for both buyer and seller. And we need both sides to sustain a healthy real estate economy.

A balanced market is less emotional. Earlier this year, in February and March for example, the market was crazy! Sellers were receiving multiple offers for well over list price. Buyers were panicking to find a home and they were throwing everything in minus their first born to try and be the winning bidder for a home. Calling it emotional would be an understatement. Although this type of market can be fun for a seller, it is no fun for the buyer. No fun at all. And even though the sellers are having fun, they are anxious. They have dollar signs in their eyes and their greatest fear is to leave money on the table. Can you see how fear of not getting a home on one side, and the fear of not getting every dollar possible out of the sale on the other side can make for a highly anxious environment? As the market shifts and balances out more, the playing field is leveled a bit and the environment feels much more like a win-win. Calmer heads are allowed in a more balanced market, and personally, I prefer it.

Finally, buyers will have more options. And options are great! Don’t get me wrong, in most markets we are still in a seller’s market. And in some, a strong sellers market. But as we shift, more and more housing options will present themselves. For the potential seller out there who has been scared to sell because of the fear of being homeless, your prayers may be answered in the coming months. As this additional inventory hits the market, the sellers out there need to be aware of this new competition. When buyers have more options, they tend to expect more from a home as it pertains to condition and home prices will need to get more competitive for a seller to sell quickly.

Overall, a shift in the market has gifts to offer both buyers and sellers. As the market shifts, it is important that you connect with a local Realtor to keep you ahead of the market. If you have questions about how the shift will affect your home purchase or sale, feel free to email me. Our team is here to help!

Your Home: Tips for keeping your home secure while you’re on vacation

July 28th, 2016

‘Tis the season for weekend getaways and family vacations. I love this time of year, as do most people — including thieves. Sorry to sound so gloomy, but it’s true. It is reported that over 2,000,000 homes are broken into each year in the United States. And the highest percentage of home break ins occur during the summer months. Some neighborhoods see anywhere from a 10-18 percent increase in break ins during the months of July and August according to the FBI.

So how do you keep your home safe while you are traveling?

Here are some security tips to keep in mind:

  • 1. Don’t close all of your window treatments before you leave. If you typically have your curtains and blinds open, then leave town with them in their usual state. By closing them, you not only alert any criminals of a potential change in occupancy, you also prevent any neighbors from being able to monitor your home while you are away. Which takes us to number two.
  • 2. Tell a trusted neighbor (or two) that you will be out of town. This is one of the best systems to protect your home. Your neighbors know your routines and how things typically look at your home. A trusted neighbor can tip off the police before a break in ever occurs. Also, if a neighbor is taking out your trash in your absence, make sure that they put the cans back in their usual place the same day as trash pickup. Empty cans sitting out for days is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
  • 3. Don’t turn off the A/C. Although it may sound like a good way to save money while you are away, a silent air compressor on a hot summer day is a clue that the homeowners are away. Consider setting your thermostat to a higher temperature or your thermostat may have a vacation setting that you can utilize.
  • 4. Lock your garage door. If your automatic garage door has a lock, then use it when you are out of town. If it does not, simply unplug your garage door opener. In a world of universal remotes it is simply too easy to drive down the street hitting the button until you come up with a winner.
  • 5. Alert the police. If you are going to be gone for an extended trip, it is not the worst idea to alert the local police department. The more eyes on your home the better.
  • 6. Don’t leave all the lights on. Unless you just want to showcase all of your belongings for the criminal world, don’t leave the lights on 24/7. Invest in some inexpensive light timers that can kick the lights on in the evening and turn them off after bed time. Again the goal is to replicate your normal routine. If you are usually up late, then set the timer to stay on later.
  • 7. Share your vacation pics on social media after you are back in town. Posting up to the minute status updates on social media can be a mistake. Think of it as placing a sign in your yard that says, “We are on vacation. Help yourself!”
  • 8. Not safety related, but still important. Before you leave town, turn off the water supply to your washing machine, especially if it is on the bedroom level or main level of your home. The same should be done for your water supply line to your ice maker (if a shut off is in place). A leaking water line can wreak havoc on a vacant home and can make for an unhappy surprise upon your return.

We at the Taylor-Made Team wish you all safe travels and many happy memories during this vacation season.

(This column originally ran in June 2015).