Palm Beach County Real Estate News
Get the latest Palm Beach County real estate market information about what is going on in cities including Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Singer Island plus hot communities like: BallenIsles, Mirasol, The Bears Club, Frenchman's Creek, Steeplechase, Frenchman's Reserve plus many more!
May 10, 2013
The real estate market has had its ups and downs over the years but it finally seems as though we are in the midst of a recovery. It was a mere six months ago that we were in a completely different state of mind when it came to which party was on the beneficial side of the spectrum – the buyer or the seller. It’s because of this that we wanted to point out some key components of what makes Spring 2013 different from Spring 2012 in terms of the market, and what it means for both parties.
In a recent article from MSN Real Estate, 8 significant points were highlighted to help instruct readers on how to best navigate through this changing environment. Here are just a few bullet points:
- A New Mortgage Rule Will Protect Buyers from Shady Lenders – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has recently created the Ability to Repay rule, which ensures that prospective buyers are actually able to repay their mortgage loans. This rule doesn’t officially take effect until January of 2014, but it will be utilized by most lenders at some point this year. It will require that the borrower’s financial information be supplied and verified by the lenders, and be used to prove that the borrower has the ability to pay back the loan that they are being set up for.
- Homes are More Expensive – But Not by Much – “An improving economy and low interest rates have boosted buyer demand in most markets, decreasing supply and raising prices.” Clear Capital, a data company that offers clients intelligent valuation solutions for properties, expects that home prices will only rise about 2.1% nationally during 2013. Though the housing market will undoubtedly experience upward growth, it will be modest for the time being.
- Home-Equity Loan Rates Drop – With rates on home-equity loans continuing to fall, more and more homeowners are looking to undergo those remodeling projects that they’ve been putting off for years now. back in November of 2012, the average rate for a fixed-rate home-equity long was at 6.3%. Since then, that percentage has dropped moderately, falling to 6% in the beginning of January 2013. As the economy recovers and home values continue to increase, we’ll see many more lenders be willing to make these kinds of loans.
To view the fill list of changes for the 2013 housing market, visit MSN Real Estate. Let us know which points we’re most shocking to you and which you’re most excited to see unfold over the remainder of the year.
April 11, 2013
In a real estate industry that has gone through so many changes in the last few years, there is finally some positive news that shows that things are looking up. Homes are beginning to sell and there are more qualified buyers than in previous years.
One trend happening in the industry, that is surprising to many, is the demand for luxury homes. Though most of the global economy is still in a somewhat sluggish state, buyers in certain areas are not hesitating to purchase multi-million dollar homes.
Extravagant properties are selling, with buyers competing for a very small list of high-end luxury homes. Homes selling for over $80 million dollars are receiving multiple offers from potential buyers, even causing the listing prices to rise. Jonathan Miller, President of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers, in New York City, calls these high-end home purchases, “trophy sales”.
What are the reasons behind the boom of multi-million dollar home purchases?
U.S. News spoke with some industry experts to gain some insight on this trend.
- High net worth individuals find the United States to still be the safest and most stable country on the globe. Though the U.S. has certainly had its economic turmoil, compared to many European countries, we appear to be the most economically stable. Buyers that fall into the financial category of Fortune 500 executives, see areas like New York City, as a safe financial haven.
- The purchasers of these high-end homes are buyers with a lot of residual cash on hand. One of the reasons for slower sales on moderately priced homes is the lack of credit being given. These high-end buyers can afford to put down more, needing less credit than your average buyer, who has less available currency and in need of more extended credit and long-term loans.
- Even in the luxury market, prices have dropped to rock bottom, so even if a home is selling for a couple million dollars less than it was last year, to a multi-millionaire, that is a deal.
Paul Bishop, VP of research at the National Association of Realtors, says, “All segments of the market have seen declines in prices, including the luxury market.” Though these prices may seem outrageous to most, they are still more affordable to the wealthy buyer than they were five years ago. So like everything else in life, when it comes to real estate deals, it is all a matter of perspective.
March 25, 2013
Sales of existing homes reached a three-year high in February and their prices rose, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday, adding to signs of an acceleration in the housing recovery even though the supply of properties on the market increased.
The association said sales increased 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 4.98 million units last month, the highest level since November 2009. The January sales rate was revised up to 4.94 million units from the previously reported 4.92 million units.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to rise to a five-million-unit rate. Homes took about 74 days to sell in February, according to the median estimate, down from 97 days a year ago.
In another report, the Labor Department said the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid barely changed last week, while the average over the last month fell to a five-year low. The decline in layoffs is helping to strengthen the job market.
Weekly unemployment benefit applications rose just 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, the department said.
Over the last four weeks, the average number of applications has dropped by 7,500, to 339,750. That is the lowest level since February 2008, just three months into the recession.
In a third economic report, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to 2 from minus 12.5 in February, topping economists’ expectations for minus 2.
Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region’s manufacturing. The survey covers factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Before March’s gain, the index had contracted in three of the last four months.
New orders rose to 0.5 from minus 7.8, while inventories rose to zero from minus 10. The gauge of the number of employees gained to 2.7 from 0.9, but the average employee workweek dropped to minus 12.9 from minus 1.6.
The survey is seen as one of the first monthly indicators of the health of manufacturing in the nation. Survey respondents’ view on the coming months perked up slightly with the gauge of business conditions for the next six months rising to 32.5, from 32.1.
The rise in home sales last month was the latest indication that the housing market was gaining more ground. Data this week showed builders broke ground on more houses in February and permits for future construction approached a five-year high.
“With buying conditions remaining very supportive to demand and overall economic fundamentals continuing to improve, we expect the momentum in housing activity to improve further, providing a supportive backdrop for the recovery more generally,” said Millan Mulraine, a senior economist at TD Securities in New York.
The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, holding mortgage rates near record lows, is helping to lift the housing market and bolster the economy.
Last month, the inventory of unsold homes on the market increased 9.6 percent to 1.94 million. That represented a 4.7 months’ supply at February’s sales rate, up from 4.3 months in January, the first increase since April. Inventories typically rise in February.
Still, the months’ supply remained below the six-month level that is normally considered a healthy balance of supply and demand.
Since surging in August, home resales have increased only modestly, an indication that tight supplies in some parts of the country are constraining sales.
The median home sales price in February rose 11.6 percent from a year ago, to $173,6000.
Posted by Reuters March 21st, 2013. Read original here.
March 25, 2013
For a who's who of tour pros -- Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and more -- a 30-mile stretch of Florida's southern Martin County and northern Palm Beach County is a happening place to live, practice and just plain hang...
Whether sitting behind the Nicklaus family for Christmas Eve services at Christ Fellowship, seeing Ernie Els playing with his kids at Juno Beach or awaiting a table on a January night outside the Reef Grill with Luke Donald, chances are you're going to bump into a tour player living in or around Jupiter, Fla. If you're lucky, you might even be in the Hobe Sound Deli when Tiger Woods is grabbing a sandwich on his way home from Medalist GC.
My local knowledge comes from decades of living in this sweet spot of the golf world -- a period that dates to the late-1980s when Greg Norman and Nick Price left Orlando and eventually made Jupiter Island their home. More recently Woods arrived in 2011, Rory McIlroy has closed on a compound along the Intracoastal in Palm Beach Gardens and Lee Westwood is awaiting completion of his mansion at Old Palm GC, where 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is a neighbor.
There has been such an influx of tour pros over the past five years into the Jupiter area that Isleworth (Woods' former community in greater Orlando) and Lake Nona (Els' old U.S. base) have been replaced by Medalist (Tiger's new club) and The Bear's Club (home course for Els, McIlroy and Donald) as stomping grounds for the world's best golfers. There is even talk of a Tavistock Cup-like competition between Medalist and Bear's Club or, on a less public level, a home-and-away series between Tiger and Rory -- loser buys at the Capital Grille. "I think having [McIlroy] down there, I'm sure we'll have a few dinners together and certainly hang out a bit more," Woods says.
Further validation for the area as golf's hot spot came last month when President Obama chose the Floridian in Palm City for a weekend golf vacation. The avid left-hander played 27 holes then met with Butch Harmon at the instructor's learning center at the club for an extended lesson. The next day, after some consideration of whether to drive 30 minutes to meet at Medalist, the president stayed at the Floridian, where he and Woods played their first round together.
Why Jupiter? Well, it's about more than no state income tax, although that is a contributing factor for those relocating from outside the Sunshine State. Northern Palm Beach and neighboring Martin counties, about 150 miles southeast of Orlando, simply have better weather, less traffic, the ocean and what transplanted Rhode Islander Brett Quigley calls, "the Jupiter lifestyle of shorts, golf shirts and flip flops."
The lifestyle includes paddle-boarding (Stacy Lewis), surfing (Fredrik Jacobson has his own coach), cycling (Camilo Villegas is known to make 100-plus mile rides to Miami and back), weekend boat runs to the Bahamas (Robert Allenby) and dining at laid-back restaurants such as Guanabanas, The Food Shack, The Dive Bar and Hog Snappers with their fresh, flavorful seafood. If Price isn't hitting balls at McArthur GC, he's having lunch at the Lazy Loggerhead Cafe or sitting three miles off the Jupiter pier on his boat Caddyshack, fishing for pompano or whatever might be biting at the spot where the gulfstream comes closest to shore.
The vibe and the weather -- the January average low in Jupiter is a not-so-cruel 57 degrees -- put the pros in a good frame of mind. "In Chicago, it's a quicker lifestyle. In Florida, I can relax," says Donald, whose family splits time between the two locales. "The weather does have an effect on your attitude. When you see blue skies nearly every day and are able to pull on your shorts to practice, it's definitely a more serene atmosphere when I'm in Florida. I don't worry about things so much."
This Land of the Tour Pros starts at PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens and extends approximately 20 miles north to Hobe Sound, from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the backwaters of the Loxahatchee River a few miles inland. I was playing with Tom Fazio at Jupiter Hills recently, and the golf course architect recalled the pre-boom period in the 1970s, when there was concern the club's name wouldn't be recognizable because nobody had heard of Jupiter, and when the mega-resort and golf community known as PGA National was populated by wild boar and bobcat. Fazio told me he recently counted 33 courses from McArthur (which he co-designed with Price) to PGA National, where he and Uncle George originally designed the Haig and Squire courses that opened in 1980. I told him we had almost that many pros as members at Medalist.
The irony is that PGA National, with its "Bear Trap" and history of holding a Ryder Cup, a PGA Championship and several Senior PGA Championships, had little connection to the golf community until the Honda Classic made it a permanent home in 2007 and Els blessed it internationally with a one-stroke victory over Donald in 2008. Even today you won't find tour pros on the PGA National tee sheet with the resort guests other than during Els' Autism benefit, but this is the one week of the year that seems to connect everybody, starting with the Nicklaus family (Barbara's foundation is benefactor; Jack redesigned the Champion), to the Woods-McIlroy rivalry that took off in last year's shootout.
"I'd like to think the new Honda Classic has played a vital role in this," says tournament chairman Ken Kennerly, who came to North Palm Beach in 1994 to work for Nicklaus and cried at the event's media day in 2012 announcing that Woods had committed to the field. Kennerly has been around long enough now to say, "It's hard to find a better quality of life than Palm Beach County, and slowly it's become a haven for tour pros. What we have down here is the perfect blend of all worlds. A lot of guys saw that they could feel right at home."
Jack and Barbara were among the original settlers, moving from Columbus, Ohio, to Lost Tree Village in 1965 at the behest of Dr. Cary Middlecoff. Back then Jack would hit balls at Frenchman's Creek under the watchful eye of Jack Grout, while a young apprentice named Jim Flick observed and took notes. Among the range rats at Frenchman's was Gardner Dickinson, the devoted disciple of Ben Hogan. It was actually Hogan who migrated first to the Palm Beach area, getting ready for the Masters for many years at Seminole GC (see page 40).
The Nicklauses had two of their five children (sons Jack II and Steve) when they moved 47 years ago. Now, at 73 with 22 grandchildren, Jack doesn't play much golf but still competes against his friends in tennis -- hosting the Golden Bear Sports Camp on the grass courts behind his house every year. (He won this past Christmas with playing partner Bob Bryan, a two-time Wimbledon doubles champion.) He is still readily available for golf advice, coaching Charl Schwartzel on how to play Augusta National before the South African's 2011 Masters victory and McIlroy (whom he first met at the Gardens Mall) before his win at the 2011 U.S. Open.
Friends say Jack's as crotchety as ever at times, but I keep catching him in good moods, whether it's hosting a dinner at his house in a benefit for Bear Lakes member Dana Quigley, whose son Devon suffered a traumatic brain injury, or doing a Q&A with Jack and Bill Belichick at last year's Honda Classic pro-am draw party. I don't know what was better: catching Jack, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player hanging out in his kitchen or seeing Belichick so animated in Nicklaus' company.
March 20, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — Builders began construction on more homes in February, and permits for future construction rose at their fastest pace since 2008. The increases point to a housing recovery that is gaining strength.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That rate was 910,000 in January. February’s pace was the second-fastest since June 2008, behind December’s rate of 982,000.
Single-family home construction increased to an annual rate of 618,000, the most in four and half years. Apartment construction also ticked up, to 285,000.
The gains are likely to grow even faster in the coming months. Building permits, a sign of future construction, increased 4.6 percent to 946,000. That was also the most since June 2008, just a few months into the recession.
The figures for January and December were also revised upward. Housing starts have risen 28 percent over the last 12 months.
Separately, a private report showed that the number of Americans with equity in their homes increased last year. That suggested that one of the biggest drags from the housing crisis was easing, and it could clear the way for more people to put homes on the market.
“The road ahead for housing is still, so far, looking promising,” Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note to clients.
The housing market is recovering after stagnating for roughly five years. Steady job gains and near-record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy.
Still, the supply of available homes for sale remained low. That has helped push up home prices. They rose nearly 10 percent in January compared with 12 months earlier, according to CoreLogic, a research firm, the biggest increase in nearly seven years.
Higher prices mean more Americans have equity in their homes. Last year, about 1.7 million Americans went from owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth to having some ownership stake, CoreLogic reported on Tuesday. Still, 10.4 million households, or 21.5 percent of those with a mortgage, remain “under water,” or owe more on their home than it is worth.
Read the original article by the Associated Press here.
March 13, 2013
It is no secret that the housing market has been a very rough rollercoaster ride as the market has suffered its highs and lows over the last fifteen years. However, 2012 brought with it some positive industry changes that bring hope for a more stable market in the near future. For the first time since 1997, housing prices are as close to “normal” as they were before the market crash, according to David Stiff, Chief Economist for Fiserv, a company that records trends and reports data on the housing market.
Housing prices were increasing by 5% each year for a series of years between 1998 and 2006, but endured the worst of the “bubble burst” after 2006 by dropping over 30%. The effects of this crash lasted through to September 2012. Now in late 2012/early 2013, the housing market is finally beginning to see prices stabilizing. This positive recovery in the housing industry is expected to continue to rise at a rate of 0.6% through the third quarter of this year, and then steadily increase to 3.7 % during the last quarter of 2013, moving into 2014. According to an article in RIS Media, and current data from Fiserv, the steadily rising increase will settle itself at around 3.3% in 2014 and remain at that rate for the next three years.
With all the positive news and encouraging data surrounding the industry, David Stiff from Fiserv still cautions that there are millions of homes currently in foreclosure due to delinquent mortgages, which was not the case back in 1997. Stiff also states that though so many homes are on the market waiting to be sold because of these delinquencies, the good news is that prices and mortgages are historically low, relative to the income of potential buyers; and this turn-around in the housing market could have a positive effect on the overall economy.
Fiserv's tracking of home prices in major metropolitan areas shows increases in cities such as Detroit, Phoenix, and San Jose, California, which were some of the cities that were hit the hardest by the “bubble burst”. These cities are now showing some of the biggest price increases in the country between September 2011 and September 2012.
Foreclosures are declining in most states, which is showing that the foreclosure issues in most areas is being resolved. With some modest job growth, increasing buyer confidence and many affordable properties on the market, the ingredients are all in place for a continued successful recovery.
Source: CNN Money
March 12, 2013
After the economic bubble and the real estate market crash a few years ago, the industry has been waiting for some good news. Well fortunately enough, there is now much data that reports encouraging news for the housing market. Any sight of promising news is helpful, and analyst's data reports show that home prices are on a steady increase, though mortgage rates remain steady.
According to the data analysis firm, Corelogic, the price of homes increased in December of 2012 by 0.4% from the previous month, which makes the tenth month in a row that home prices have been increasing since 2011. The Improving Markets Index (IMI) reported that the last quarter of 2012 showed the highest increases since 2005.
What does this positive news actually mean for the housing industry?
Sellers are beginning to feel that it is a good time to sell their homes, though the mortgage process is still challenging for buyers, who often need good credit to be eligible for low-interest rates. However, lenders like Fannie Mae are coming up with incentives to attract potential buyers. One of those incentives is a program called HARP.
HARP is a refinancing program for eligible homeowners. HARP was initially a program geared towards homeowners who had mortgage loans that had been resold to lenders, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, before June 1st of 2009. The goal is to open up the HARP refinancing opportunities to even more borrowers, not just those who are “underwater”.
For borrowers with less than stellar credit scores, there is still the FHA loan option, which is much easier to obtain than conventional mortgages. The FHA loans will allow borrowers to use grants, loans and approved gifts to qualify for a mortgage that is more affordable. Another advantage for borrowers, who choose to go the FHA route when it comes to obtaining a mortgage loan, is that FHA still allows sellers to put up 6% of the closing costs, which eases the financial strain on the borrower.
The industry is working hard to expand options to borrowers that will make it easier to obtain mortgages. Of course, this is beneficial to the home seller as well, who is then able to get their house sold quicker and off the market.
The Washington Post's Kathy Orton reported that Freddie Mac data states that though the fixed-rate 30 year mortgage went up slightly recently from 3.5% to 3.56%, it has been holding steadily at 3.53%, which is an improvement from last year's 3.95%. Freddie Mac's Vice President and chief economist, Frank E. Nothaft, states that because mortgage rates have been stable, “hovering near record lows”, this factor has also helped to encourage new home construction.
Things are looking up in the housing industry and it has been a long wait. Sellers are finding more confidence and feeling more positive about putting their homes on the market, while potential buyers are being offered more options to obtain lower rate mortgages. For the first time in many years, both sellers and buyers are experiencing the effects of good news.
March 7, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. home prices jumped in January, a sign the housing market is gaining momentum as it nears the spring selling season.
Home prices rose 9.7 percent in January from a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by CoreLogic. That's up from an 8.3 percent increase in December and the biggest annual gain since April 2006.
Prices rose in all states except Delaware and Illinois. And prices increased in 92 of the 100 largest metro areas, up from 87 in December.
Home prices also rose 0.7 percent in January from December. That's a solid increase given that sales usually slow over the winter months.
Rising demand combined with fewer available homes is pushing up prices. Sales of previously owned homes ticked up in January after rising to their highest level in five years in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, inventories of homes for sale fell to a 13-year low.
The states with the biggest price gains were Arizona, where prices rose 20.1 percent, followed by Nevada, with 17.4 percent, and Idaho, with 14.9 percent. California and Hawaii rose 14.1 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The cities with the biggest gains were Phoenix, Los Angeles, Riverside, Calif., New York, and Atlanta.
Nationwide, home values were still down more than 26 percent from their peak in April 2006 through January, CoreLogic said. But in some states prices have recovered a lot of lost ground. In 15 states, home prices are within 10 percent of their peak values, CoreLogic said.
There have been other recent signs that the housing market is going strong. A measure of the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January from December to the highest level in more than 2 ½ years. That suggests sales of previously occupied homes will keep rising in the coming months.
Steady increases in prices help fuel the housing recovery. They encourage some homeowners to sell homes and entice some would-be buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.
Higher prices can also make homeowners feel wealthier. That can encourage more consumer spending, which drives 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER for the Associated Press. Click here to read the original article
March 1, 2013
It might finally be time to come out of the basement....
Seven years after the housing market began to collapse, rising prices and thinner inventories are presenting new opportunities for home sellers. Some hot markets are even seeing multiple offers for the same property—a phenomenon rarely seen since the boom years—as buyers become more confident and seek to take advantage of today's near-record-low mortgage rates.
Home prices nationally climbed 8.3% in December from the same period a year earlier, according to CoreLogic, a real-estate analytics company. The increase was the largest since May 2006 and the 10th consecutive monthly gain. The CoreLogic figures include foreclosures and other distressed sales.
The gains are good news for would-be sellers who have been stranded on the sidelines since home prices peaked in 2006. Nearly one in four homeowners and renters say now is a good time to sell a home, according to a survey released this month by Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage company, up from 11% a year earlier.
"You will unambiguously see more people test the water," says Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist in Leesburg, Va. He expects home prices to rise another 3% this year.
Thinking about selling? You are likely to find a buyer more quickly and at a better price if you factor in local market conditions and recent sales before setting an asking price, burnish your home's Internet profile and plan ahead for a home appraisal.
Acting soon may pay off as well. While trends vary by region, buyer search activity generally peaks in March and April, while seller listings peak in July, says Jed Kolko, chief economist at real-estate website Trulia.com. "Most sellers would be better off if they pushed the process up a couple of months," he says.
Sellers could face headwinds if mortgage rates jump or the economy weakens, while the supply of homes for sale is likely to increase over the next few months, creating more competition, say real-estate agents.
Don't expect to make a killing. Even after the recent gains, home prices remain about 27% below their 2006 highs, according to CoreLogic.
In some markets, prices remain so low that selling is likely to prove painful—unless you are looking to buy a more expensive home at a discount.
"The only reason I would sell today is if I wanted something more than I currently have," says Craig Beggins, president of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises in Tampa Bay, Fla., where prices are still off more than 40% from their 2006 peak.
Still, in many markets, sellers have more of an edge than they have had in years. One big reason: The number of existing homes on the market dropped to 1.74 million in January, down 25% from a year earlier and the lowest level since December 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Houses are also selling faster. The median number of days on the market for homes in January was 71, according to the Realtors group, meaning half of all homes sold within that time. That's down from 99 days one year ago.
Elizabeth Tolli first put her 4,400-square-foot St. Petersburg, Fla., house up for sale in late 2009, but took the listing down a year later after not receiving any offers. She recently put it back on the market.
"I feel more confident, even if prices aren't at the height they were six or seven years ago," says Ms. Tolli, who has set a $1.2 million asking price for the five-bedroom waterfront property. That is more than it would have fetched a year or two ago, she says, but still well below its peak value of more than $2 million.
If you are thinking of making a move, start by assessing conditions in your local market. Lanny Baker, chief executive of ZipRealty, an online real-estate brokerage based in Emeryville, Calif., suggests focusing on five measures: price changes, the inventory of homes for sale, competition from foreclosures, the average time it takes a home to sell and the gap between selling prices and list prices.
In markets such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., "prices are up, competition is down, bank competition is down more, days on the market are shorter, and the prices being realized relative to the list price have really improved," all good news for sellers, Mr. Baker says.
But sellers shouldn't be complacent. Here are some steps to consider.
Interview multiple agents. Some people prefer to handle the selling process themselves. But if you plan to use a real-estate agent, start by interviewing several contenders.
Mr. Baker of ZipRealty suggests narrowing your search to agents who have handled many sales in your neighborhood. They are likely to have the best view of local market conditions and can better assess what your home may sell for and how it should be marketed, he says.
Nancy Vaske, a jewelry designer in Chicago, interviewed four brokers before putting her 1,800-square-foot condominium on the market this past week for an asking price of $995,000.
"I wanted to know whether they had sold any units in my building because it's a specific market in the city, and whether they've represented the buyer or the seller," she says.
The broker Ms. Vaske chose has represented both sellers and buyers in her building, and "probably knows more details about the workings of this building than most residents do," she says.
Adjust your sights to today's market. Set aside what you home might have fetched in 2006 and focus instead on what homes are selling for today.
Dan Elsea, president of Real Estate One in Detroit, uses recent sales as his guide, paying particular attention to properties that have received multiple offers. He prefers the homes he sells to be among the five lowest-priced properties among similar homes. "Typically, a buyer will see and remember five homes at a time," he explains.
Pay attention to how long competing homes have been on the market. These days, well-priced homes often sell in a week or two, while homes that languish for months are typically priced at unrealistic levels.
Don't overreach. Given today's thin inventories, it is tempting to reach for the stars. But if you get greedy and set the price too high, you are likely to wind up in a downward spiral.
"You are going to have your largest viewing audience in your first days on the market, when the house is the newest product on the shelf," says Lloyd Fox, a broker at Long Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz. If the price is too high, buyers and agents are likely to relegate your listing to the sidelines.
Properly priced homes are likely to get eight to 10 showings their first week on the market and an offer soon after, Mr. Fox says. If not, "you have missed the market" and it's likely a price cut is in order, he adds.
Make the Internet work for you. Most home buyers and agents are now starting the search process online, which means it is important to make the Internet a key part of your marketing strategy. Begin by carefully selecting the photos you will post online.
For maximum impact, start with the photo "that is going to tell the best story of your home," whether it's the front view or a special feature, says Mr. Fox, the Scottsdale broker. Too many shots of a single room could bore buyers, he adds.
For Kenneth Vaughan's Phoenix home, Mr. Fox started with a photo of the home's exterior to show its "curb appeal," followed by photos of the living room, kitchen, backyard and master bedroom and bathroom. The home, which is selling for $119,900, received three full-priced offers in the first week, says Mr. Vaughan, a retired police officer.
Factor in Internet searches when setting your listing price. Because most buyers tend to search in $25,000 or $50,000 increments, you can maximize your exposure by pricing your home at a round number, such as $400,000. That way the house will show up when buyers search for homes in the $350,000 to $400,000 range and for those priced at $400,000 to $450,000.
Weigh multiple offers carefully. In cases of multiple bidders, you should focus not just on price, but also on terms.
In comparing two competing bids at similar prices, Kristine Lambrecht, an agent at Real Estate One in Clarkston, Mich., recommends choosing the buyer who is putting down more cash or is willing to forgo an inspection, since those deals are likely to close sooner and with fewer hassles. If she thinks the appraisal will be lower than the sale price, she will take a slightly lower bid if the buyer is willing to guarantee the purchase price.
Clean up your act. Even in a market where inventories are thin, a home isn't likely to sell if it looks shabby or crowded. At a minimum, you'll need to touch up the paint, clean the carpet and pare your possessions.
Suzanne Peltier, who lives in Farmington Hills, Mich., hired a handyman to patch loose bricks and touch up the paint on her four-bedroom Colonial before putting it on the market. She also removed some of her furniture so the home looks bigger.
Julie Kaczor, a broker at Baird & Warner Real Estate in Chicago's western suburbs, advises clients to get rid of magazine racks, statues, fireplace tools and anything else that can clutter up the edges of a room. She looks for inexpensive fixes with good payoffs, such as a fresh coat of paint, removing outdated window treatments or a carpet cleaning.
Ron Phipps, principal broker at Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., often sends clients to other sellers' open houses to size up the competition and get a better sense of how buyers may view their home. "It's a good way to do counterintelligence," he says. "It's also a good way to see what works in terms of staging and presentation and what makes you uncomfortable."
Plan ahead for the appraisal. About 30% of real-estate agents reported that low appraisals had resulted in the cancellation, delay or renegotiation of a purchase, according to a January survey by the National Association of Realtors.
You can reduce the chances you will encounter problems by providing the appraiser with examples of comparable sales and pointing out special features. Barbara Moody, an agent at Coldwell Banker United Realtors in Sugar Land, Texas, prepares a booklet for appraisers that includes examples of comparable sales, information about the home and receipts for substantial upgrades such as a swimming pool or kitchen renovation.
When a recent sale was almost torpedoed by a low valuation, Ms. Moody showed the appraiser comparable homes he had missed. The result: The appraiser raised his valuation by $7,000 to $129,000. The buyer and seller then split the difference between the appraised value and the $132,000 price they had initially agreed on.
Jan Baker, the home's former owner, says the deal would have fallen through without the higher appraisal. "I would have had to have rented it again," says Ms. Baker, a lawyer who purchased the home in 2005 for $136,900 and now lives in Midland, Texas.
@The Wall Street Journal: Februrary 3, 2013. Click here to read the original article
Dec. 29, 2012
Finding a realtor and listing a home is only the first phase of a successful sale. Most buyers are not just purchasing a home, they are purchasing a fantasy, a dream – their ideal life, and it’s up to the seller to create an atmosphere that allows the potential buyer to see themselves living in the home. This could include anything from de-cluttering and rearranging, to replacing or removing certain furniture items. In the real estate industry, this process is called "staging", and according to industry experts, if a seller chooses not to stage the home, they could lose more money in price reduction, than it would have cost them to hire a professional stager.
There are a number of benefits when it comes to investing in home staging. Besides potentially saving the seller money in the long run, a staged home is likely to attract more buyers than a home that is haphazardly or poorly decorated, untidy or cluttered. In turn, the more interested buyers there are, the greater the chance that the home will sell quickly and close to the asking price.
In the competitive real estate market, professional staging can help a home stand out from the wide range of other listings in the Palm Beach Gardens area. A potential buyer may look at several properties in the same area and price range and if so, they are then more likely to choose the one that more closely matches their vision of their ideal home. In 'All Their World's a Staging', an article published by The New York Times, real estate broker and president of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, Barb Scharwz says, "...staging is preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in. " She also emphasizes the difference between staging and decorating, by stating that "Decorating a home is personalizing it. Staging a home is depersonalizing it.", therefore the seller is creating the perfect atmosphere for the buyer.
Additionally, in a video posted by The Huffington Post, real-estate expert Barbara Corcoran emphasizes that staging a home is extremely important, stating that after choosing the perfect location, the number two reason that buyers choose or reject a home, is lighting. She advises sellers to make sure that the home is as light and bright as possible; paint the walls white, get light-colored lamp shades, and up the wattage. Corcoran says that lighting is one of the simplest but best tools to sell a home quickly.
When you really stop to think about it, you’ll be able to see that this whole (simple) process can help to save both the seller and the buyer a lot of time, stress and uncertainty. Ultimately, there’s no question that the benefits of staging a home far outweigh any negative thoughts you may have about hiring a professional to help you.