This time of year it’s great to have leaves and flowers popping out all over the place. Everywhere you look, there are wonderful colors. Taken as a whole, I do love to look at a field of flowers, or gardens full of blooms. But, I’d suggest that once in awhile, it’s worthwhile to just slow down and look at just one or a few blooms in order to be once again amazed at what nature brings us. Here are a few from my yard in Mooresville- mostly pansies that were planted last fall and have come back in full force. The heat will do them in soon. I’m glad I got a few shots for posterity!
Archive for April, 2009
People who are thinking of selling their home, whether to move to a larger or smaller one nearby, or to move to another area, often ask how long it will take to sell their home. There are many variables that affect this. A report just issued by the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association (CRRA) says, of reported home sales that closed from March 6 through April 5, 2009, 50 percent closed in 121 days or more; 14 percent closed between 91 and 120 days; 16 percent closed between 61 and 90 days; and 20 percent closed in 60 days or fewer.
As you can see, most homes take 4 months or more to sell, and some many months more than that. Just a few of the variables to consider are these:
- Price range- the higher end is moving more slowly than those below around $300,000.
- Motivation of the seller- those who are in no hurry set the list price much higher than what the market will generally bring. Those who are in a hurry will try to list their houses below their competition.
- Condition of the house and lot- if 5 houses at approximately the same price are being considered by a buyer , the one in the best condition will likely get the most interest.
- Location- of comparable houses, those that are in more convenient locations or have fewer location based negatives like being near industry or an active railroad will get more interest from buyers and sell sooner.
Keep in mind that some things you can control, like your motivation (to a degree) or condition of the property. Other things are beyond your control, like location issues, steep driveways or designs that are no longer “in style.” However, even in those circumstances, you can look at the property the way a buyer does and adjust the price to fit the situation. In other words, any property will sell at the right price. Buyers will buy properties that are less than ideal (after all, what is an ideal property), as long as they can factor in a discount for the negatives of a property. Some things that some folks consider negatives are positives for others- being “away from it all” is just the flip side of being inconvenient, so sometimes you just have to wait for the person who appreciates your positives to come along. Apart from that, be willing to make price concessions relative to your competition in order to get prospective buyers into the house and get a satisfactory offer.
Look back at the numbers above. Twenty percent closed in 60 days or fewer. That’s an indication that those properties were priced right for the market. Of course, that might’ve been the third time they were listed, reducing the listing price each time;-)
I plowed my Mooresville backyard garden plot yesterday, getting it ready to plant my vegetables. It’s still a little wet, but it looks good- rich and brown after almost 20 years of plowing leaves and grass clippings into the original red clay. I keep doing this because for me there is no way to match the taste and satisfaction of growing your own tomatoes and other veggies.
The plowing made me think about how in gardening and real estate, the only way to approach it is with patience (you think about a lot of things while you’re plowing). Those who need instant gratification need not apply. When you start a garden, you know that there will be a good bit of preparation and cultivating before you can enjoy the “fruits of your labors.” I started many years ago with space that was pure red clay (you know, like bricks), and every year with the addition of the leaves and grass, it’s gotten better. I could harvest at least a few vegetables from that first garden, but with my asparagus bed, it took two years before we could get a harvest.
Working in real estate is much the same. I’ve been in the business since 2001. When I started, it was pretty much “red clay” as far as the eye could see, because nobody knew that I ‘d changed from the corporate world to the real estate business. I had all the tools that I’d gotten from my training, but had to apply them to the market. So, I set about talking to everyone I knew about what I was doing, and eventually that started to bring some business. The more I cultivated that “garden” of people I know, the more business I got. The same is true of marketing a home. I’ve got lots of tools available to market a home, but the key is knowing how to use these tools to get the listing in front of as many people as possible, then having the patience to wait for that “planting and cultivation” in the market to take effect and bring us some buyers. One of my tools is understanding how to price the property to be competitive in the market (competitive market analysis). Like all tools, if you do this correctly and make adjustments as the market changes (it’s like weeding the garden), we’ll get the right person to see it and conclude that it’s the right house at the right price for them.
I’m expecting plenty of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and home sales this year.
OK, let’s review:
- House prices have come down to the lowest levels in years. There’s some evidence that many markets are finding a bottom.
- Morgage Rates are around 4.75% for a 30 year conventional loan or 6% for a jumbo (over $417,000).
- USDA mortgage loans that offer no money down transactions for qualifying buyers are still available (income limits at $56,600- joint- for Iredell residents- varies by county).
- The Federal government is providing up to $8,000 tax credits (like cash) to qualifying first time home buyers (income limits up to $75,000 single and $150,000 joint).
If you think it will get better than this, I’d not hold my breath. This is all driven by the difficult economy and slow housing sales. As soon as sales pick up substantially, you’ll probably see the interest rates go up and the incentives become harder to get. Timing markets like this is next to impossible- we’ve never seen anything like it, so how do you predict the future?
If all that looks to you like an ideal situation to buy a home, let me know. I’ll be happy to get to work finding the right home for you.
I keep running into people who don’t know about the government incentive to encourage first time homebuyers to go ahead and make that purchase. For gosh sakes, you can get up to $8,000 free and clear for buying a house. This is not a tax deduction like mortgage interest. This is cash that the government will send to a qualifying first time homebuyer. I’ve closed one transaction for a client who’ll amend his 2008 tax return and go ahead and get the cash. I’ve got another ready to close in May. Why let them have all the fun?
If you plan to buy your first home (or first after 3 years of renting) or know someone who’s thinking of doing it, now is the time. You’ve got to purchase your home by November 30, 2009 to get the tax credit as things stand now.
Here is a pdf summary of the details.
Here is a much longer explanation.
Here is a look at the IRS form that you’d use to claim the tax credit.
Now, you have no excuse. Call me, and we’ll find the right house for you!
I was talking to a fellow the other day about listing a property he owns. He’s a landscaper, and occasionally I have need of that service at my house (my bride would like to have a landscaper on retainer, I think). Anyway, we were talking about things like quality of service, the price to charge a customer, and how to get future business. We’re both in business for ourselves in fields that don’t involve drawing a salary. In other words, each job we do and get paid for stands on its own. The only expectation of future income from working with a client is if they need that service again, or if they recommend me to someone else based on their satisfaction in the work I’ve done for them. We agreed that the best thing to do is not focus on making the most money from any individual transaction, but rather to charge a fair fee and concentrate on doing the job in such a way that the client will enjoy recommending you to other people the client knows. Then, you can anticipate future income from those referrals.
We know that there are folks out there who believe that the “smart” way to do business is to separate a client from as many dollars as possible when involved with them in a business deal. They don’t anticipate future business, so they figure they better fleece the sheep as close as they can for this one time transaction.
Which kind of business person would you rather work with? I follow the lead of my father who was a television repairman in Troutman when I was growing up. He was always covered up with work, but never did any advertising. His work came from people who knew him to be fair and a man of his word. They recommended him to other people who needed new TVs or repairs (TVs were new then, so customers were just starting to buy them and have them installed). I was always proud that people thought so much of my father and felt comfortable for him to come to their homes and do work for them. That feeling has stuck with me ever since. That’s the way I would like people to think of me in my real estate business.
I’ve got a list of folks who I cheerfully recommend to my friends for home repairs, car repairs, and all other types of services. It makes me feel good to make one of those recommendations because I’m giving something of value to my friends. Hopefully, I’m on a similar list kept by my friends and clients.
That’s how I build my business. It works just fine.
Today I attended a final planning meeting for the upcoming Realtors Care Day. On Friday, April 24th, around 700 volunteers, primarily Iredell and Mecklenburg County Realtors, will go to over 30 homes in both counties to do repair work on homes that were selected from over 60 applicants who need the work done but don’t have the physical ability or financial resources to do the work themselves. The Realtors of the Charlotte Regional Realtors Association in association with the Housing Opportunity Foundation will do this work as a way to celebrate home ownership and to make a very personal contribution to the well-being of these homeowners and to our communities. This is a new program that will likely become an annual event. We’ve been really excited to see the enthusiasm of the Realtors in our association. The planning that has gone into this event has been monumental, but the planning is done, and now it’s time to get to the physical labor of helping these worthy homeowners maintain their homes. The work will be overseen by multiple site captains (I’m one of those), volunteer captains, primarily from CRRA staff, and volunteer project managers who are professionals in various home construction and maintenance fields. The project managers will see that the work is done in a workmanlike and satisfactory manner.
Additional contributions of materials, services and food are coming from many project sponsors. See more about this at the Realtors Care Day web site.
Realtors know how special home ownership is, and we want to do as much as we can to demonstrate that to these home owners and the public. So, if you’re out in our communities this Friday and you see a bunch of people decscending on homes and doing all kinds of repair work from roofing, to painting, to carpentry, stop by and say hello, and thank them for all of their work.
I’m on the mailing list for the Iredell County Technical Review Committee- part of the Planning & Development Department. These folks review and approve new subdivisions and changes to existing ones in the county. For quite some time now, I’ve gotten emails that say that the meeting was cancelled because there was no new business to be considered by the TRC.
This month, there actually was one new subdivision considered and approved with some required changes. It is around 44 lots called The Glen off of Sheperds Rd. north of Mooresville. That, of course, is encouraging from an economic standpoint because developers, regardless of what you think of them, do not invest money in land for future development unless they have a pretty good degree of confidence that they will be able to convert their investment into income within what they consider to be a reasonable time.
Some people think that being a developer is a sure way to riches. Having been involved with some residential subdivision development, I can tell you that even in good economic times, it can be quite a gamble. Before the developer ever sees any actual income, he/she must :
- Find land that will appeal to builders and/or homebuyers.
- Negotiate a price that will result in a reasonable profit margin after all the costs of development.
- Decide the lot sizes and shapes and have them surveyed and recorded.
- Design and install infrastructure like streets, curbs, street lighting, water, sewer- all very expensive stuff.
- Market (advertise) to builders or individuals either as lots or homes.
- If building homes, have a few model homes built to show the style and quality of construction.
All this can take several years to work out, and only then can the developer hope that there is a good market with enough motivated and capable buyers but not too much competition for the buyers’ dollars. We’ve recently seen a number of fairly large builder/developers go under due to lack of sales- no piece of cake as you see.
So, the beginning of development in Iredell County is to me an encouraging sign. As I mentioned previously about Langtree at the Lake, if you get in at the right time, building costs will be a relative bargain.
Before the Revolutionary War, the area that is now Iredell County was actually considered “Frontier.” Most of the white man’s world was far to the east. England and France were trying to out-do each other to see who would dominate the continent. In the 1750′s and early 1760′s, they fought the French and Indian War. Part of that action occured right in our area north of Statesville at Fort Dobbs.
This coming weekend, April 18th and 19th, the Fort Dobbs State Historic Site will have demonstrations of military and civilian life at that time. HERE is a link to more information on this interesting event.
…from my yard. Click on ‘em to see ‘em better.