Presidential election and home sales

election and home sales
Election and home prices (from movoto.com)

Elections have vastly changed in mood and intensity.  It used to be that the candidates debated about substantive issues looking for win-win solutions, including housing.  Maybe some of you remember how both the Clinton and Dole campaigns showcased their ideas of expanding the capital gains exemption during the 1996 election.  Housing and home sales doesn’t seem to be a platform issue anymore.  Elections have become divisive and nasty, even among the electorate; and for many Americans, the trending (real estate) election issue is – whom is moving to Canada!

That’s right, moving to Canada.  Maybe you’ve heard someone at work or at the store proclaim they are moving to Canada if “the other candidate” wins the election.  The theme of moving to Canada after the election has become a mantra so much so that it’s become part of pop culture. The idea has even been satirized by the likes of South Park.  And of course there is the growing number of celebrities who vow to move to Canada if the election outcome isn’t to their liking.

Of course the threat of moving to Canada is tongue in cheek (for most), or is it?  Nevertheless, leave it to astute real estate agents who realized that people considering such a move is now a target market.  Agent ads and blog posts popped up in recent weeks reaching out to those disaffected home owners asking for their business.  Reporting for Buzfeed, Craig Silverman reported on two agents who posted such an ad on their Facebook pages (Leaving Because Of Trump? These Texas Realtors Want To Sell Your House; buzfeed.com; May13, 2016).  Although both agents received a lot of attention for their seemingly whimsical posts, there was a mixed response; some did not get the humor.  It was reported that one of the two agents interviewed was asked to remove her post; and of course neither reported any new business from the posts.

Every four years, people wonder if presidential elections effect the real estate market.  During the 2012 election cycle, the real estate portal Movoto took it upon itself to find an answer (David Cross; Election Years Are Bad for Home Prices; movoto.com; May 12, 2012).  They analyzed historical data from the California Association of Realtors® and found that there is indeed a direct effect of a presidential election on home prices (at least in California).  They determined that the average home sale price during an election year is lower than that of the years preceding and following an election.

Movoto’s hypothesis was: “Presidential election years are stressful for the American people and in times of uncertainty people are less likely to take chances—this includes making large purchases such as a new house.”  While the National Association of Realtors® comment on Movoto’s findings was, “We’ve observed no correlation between levels of home sales and an election year. The market responds to a wide range of economic factors, including jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence.”

Although there maybe anecdotal evidence that presidential election years affect home prices; there is no doubt that the outcome of a presidential election effects policy, which as a result affects the economy and the housing market (see Experts: Housing to Grow Steadily, But Maybe Less So if Trump, Cruz or Sanders is Elected President; Zillow.com; May 17, 2016).  But no one has yet suggested that US elections would have an effect on Canada’s real estate market.

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real estate agent robots

Are real estate agent robots the future of home sales?
Are robot real estate agents the future of home sales? (infographic from techspot.com).

Many erroneously describe Gordon Moore’s prediction as the doubling of computing power every two years.  “Moore’s Law” is more accurately described as the doubling of transistors on a chip every two years.  The point is that computer power is on steep path of improvements; and the prediction has been accurate since Moore’s 1965 paper “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits” (Electronics; April 19, 1965).  What does Moore’s Law have to do with real estate? Everything.  Many industries have benefited as computer processing power increased – including real estate.   Will we see real estate agent robots in the future?

It is often said that a smart phone has thousands more computing power than the Apollo guidance computer.  Consider how far computing power has increased over the last fifty years; common computer processors today exceed 1 billion transistors per chip with average clock speeds over 2.5 GHz (the Mac Plus I had in graduate school had an 8MHz processor with only 68,000 transistors!).  The ever growing processor power has allowed major developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic applications we are witnessing today.  And the promise of quantum computing is expected to make our current computers seem like abacuses. A cutting edge 2013 paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, of the University of Oxford, discussed the effects of advancements computerization and robotics on employment and the labor market (The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Oxford Martin School – University of Oxford; September 2013).  The authors concluded that about 47% of the US workforce is at risk of being “automated soon” (which is in the next ten to twenty years).  Workers expected to be affected include, “…transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labour in production occupations…” The service industry, including real estate, was singled out as being affected by AI and robotics.  Included among the top occupations most at risk included: real estate broker, real estate agent, property manager, and real estate appraiser. The increasing reliance on automated property valuations by lenders, real estate agents, and consumers is a testament to the advancement of AI in the industry.  Back in April, Inman (a leading real estate information publisher) devised an experiment to see if a computer algorithm would best a real estate broker in choosing homes for potential home buyer.  The results announced May 10th revealed that the computer program did a better job than the real estate agent (Broker vs. bot: And the winner is…; inman.com; May 10, 2016).  Of course, there were limitations to Inman’s test; but still a notable result nonetheless demonstrating how AI is affecting the real estate industry. Robotics is making significant advances too.  Recent developments have made self-driving cars real, along with Honda’s Asimo; and even artificial companions.  You can now purchase your own service robot, if you can afford it.  Just like AI, robots may also take over real estate agent tasks in the near future.  Imagine walking into an open house and being greeting by a friendly and helpful robot! We often talk of how quickly the internet has developed and its impact on the real estate industry.  And it’s partly due to rapidly increasing computer processing power and Moore’s Law.  Imagine how AI and robotics will change home buying and selling in ten or twenty years.  And once quantum computing becomes commonplace, you may even experience a real virtual tour via a holodeck. Copyright © Dan Krell If you like this post, do not copy; instead please: reference the article, like it at facebook or re-tweet. Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Home pricing strategy and housing market shift

Home pricing strategy
Home pricing strategy (from California Association of Realtors® www.car.org)

Home sellers should be concerned about the reports of a tumbling luxury home market, and consider changing their home pricing strategy.  The stalwart of the American real estate market since the recession (and possibly skewing home price indices) is showing signs of weakness.  Leigh Kamping-Carder of the The Wall Street Journal reported that 50% more homes priced $5 million or more reduced prices during this past January, compared to January 2015 (More Luxury-Home Sellers Drop Their Asking Prices; wsj.com; April 12, 2016).  Additionally, Kelsey Ramírez reported for HousingWire about a Redfin home price analysis that indicated weakened luxury home prices; the sector realized a 1.1% annual decrease during the first quarter of 2016 (Luxury home prices decrease for first time since 2012; housingwire.com; May3, 2016).

The apparent luxury home market collapse is most likely due to an increased inventory of luxury homes, and a lack of foreign investors (who were active in the market several years ago).  The impact of reduced prices is noticeable in home price indices as well, as there seems to be a consensus that there is a hint of a slowdown of price appreciation.

Corelogic’s May Home Price Insights (corelogic.com) indicated that nationwide home prices during March increased 6.7% year over year; and projects 5.7% appreciation for next March.  Additionally, the report highlights twelve states that have reached new home price highs.  Month over month average home prices nationwide increased 2.1%; however next month’s projection is for a gain of only 0.7%.

April’s S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index (spindices.com) indicted that February home prices increased at an annual rate of 5.3%, which is roughly the same as the previous month’s index.  The hot real estate markets of Portland, Seattle, and Denver realized the highest year over year gains, growing at 11.9%, 11% and 9.7% respectively. However, the national 0.2% month over month gain was not as encouraging.

David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, provided commentary about the April S&P/Case-Shiller report, saying “…Home prices continue to rise twice as fast as inflation, but the pace is easing off in the most recent numbers…While financing is not an issue for home buyers, rising prices are a concern in many parts of the country. The visible supply of homes on the market is low at 4.8 months in the last report. Homeowners looking to sell their house and trade up to a larger house or a more desirable location are concerned with finding that new house. Additionally, the pace of new single family home construction and sales has not completely recovered from the recession.”

Although the recent home price indices have not yet established negative trends, they are telling of a housing market under pressure.  Local home sellers should take note that the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index for the Washington DC metro area indicates a month over month -0.2% (negative two tenths of a percent) change in the average home price.  The Corelogic HPI Market Condition Indicator for the Washington DC-MD-VA-WV metro area is “Overvalued.”

If you are planning a home sale during the latter half of this year, you should be extra aware of the local market trends; paying attention to competition and general inventory.  Home pricing strategies that were common last year may not work to your advantage.  Over pricing your home could result in driving home buyers to your competition, rather than netting a higher sales price.

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

When transfer tax becomes controversial

real estate
from marylandreporter.com

The legislative process encourages discourse for proposed legislation.  The result is a bill that is passed or defeated.  Regardless, proposed housing market and real estate legislation is not typically exciting; and in fact the minutia of the bill can be downright boring and/or confusing.  However, there are occasions when proposed legislation has the potential to affect home owners and buyers such that it can create a brouhaha.

First, let’s review a few bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly: The first has to do with agency.  Currently, “licensees” are required to provide the Maryland Real Estate Commission’s Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent at the time of first face to face meeting and is a notice to the consumer.  The disclosure explains seller’s agents, agents who represent the buyer, and dual agents.  For many home buyers, the first face to face meeting of an agent is at an open house, and are supposed to be given the disclosure by the agent sitting at the open house regardless if the buyer has an agent or not.  The new law is to simplify the disclosure, eliminating redundant notices and allowing agents at open houses to post who they represent instead of the asking every visitor to sign the disclosure.

Another change is how agents recommend service providers.  The current requirement is for agents to check the licensing status of all recommended service providers, ensuring that the provider is currently licensed in Maryland.  The new law will only require agents to annually check home improvement licenses of recommended contractors.

The General Assembly also passed legislation that will require home sellers throughout the state to disclose deferred water and sewer charges. Additionally, legislation was passed that adds requirements to the state brokerage licensing exemption for attorneys.

Still with me?  Good.  Local residents should be aware of the Montgomery County Council’s attempt to fast track a bill to increase the county’s recordation tax on real estate transactions.  On April 14th, Expedited Bill 15-16, Recordation Tax – Rates – Allocations – Amendments was introduced by Council President Nancy Floreen.  Recordation tax is collected when a home is sold, and when a home owner refinances a mortgage.  If passed, it will become effective July 1st 2016 (which is about 2 months from now!).

The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors® issued an April 18th press release opposing the bill, stating that it unfairly targets home buyers and home owners by increasing a tax that is already among the highest in the state.

In an April 12th memorandum to Councilmembers (page 7 of pdf) Councilmember Floreen stated: “While nobody likes the idea of increasing taxes of any kind, our needs are great, and this tax is less likely to affect those Montgomery County residents who are struggling most. On the up side, it will generate millions of dollars to support our desperate need for new schools and educational facility improvements. What’s more, a portion of the recordation tax is earmarked for affordable housing.”

Although aspirations for certain projects may be well intentioned, Councilmember Floreen should consider that further burdening home buyers in an already high cost area for real estate could impact homeownership and make “affordable housing” less affordable.  Furthermore, the average Montgomery County home owner refinancing their mortgage may not be struggling, but they are trying to get by the best they can in a high cost of living area.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Home sale tips on coping with today’s market

how to sell a home
from activerain.com “Sell your home”

It’s that time of year again; the real estate market is getting hot along with the temperature.  And that’s about the only thing most are able to predict about this year’s real estate market.  Since the Great Recession, early forecasts about home buying and selling trends have typically missed the mark; the trends have varied, sometimes significantly, from year to year.  Notwithstanding a very active season, many will be in for a surprise; some will be pleased about their home sale, while others not so much.  And if you are selling a home, I’ve provided some tips to help you cope with this year’s housing market:

The most important point to remember this year: many home buyers are looking to buy a home, but not necessarily yours.  The notion that your home appeals to all home buyers is false.  If your home isn’t selling as fast as you thought it would, consider stepping back for a moment to re-evaluate your home and marketing plan.

Most home buyers are looking for a “turn-key” home and won’t settle for just anything on the market.  Additionally, most are not willing to spend time and money updating a home they just purchased.  Know your home before marketing it and consider making repairs if your home has considerable deferred maintenance.

The next item to remember this year, is that no matter how well your home shows: be prepared for a less than complimentary home inspection.  Because there are a number of systems and many components to your home; chances are that there are items that need attention, repairing, and/or replacement – which the home inspector will cheerfully point out.  Home inspectors will visually inspect your home, probing structural components when necessary; a detailed report indicates their observations.  Most home inspectors are not experts in all aspects of home construction; and commonly recommend other professionals to examine items more closely.

As a home seller, you should understand that buyers in today’s market are under pressure about the investment they are undertaking; and are willing to walk away based on the home inspection findings.  Sometimes, it’s not what – but how it’s said that will rattle buyers.  Regardless, an uncomplimentary report does not have to blow up the deal.  Be prepared for extra rounds of negotiating after the home inspection.  Every transaction is different, and your agent should provide guidance on what’s reasonable and appropriate.

A final thought: don’t get greedy, but don’t leave money on the table either.  Although inventory remains an issue in a number of areas, don’t feel compelled to over price your home based on the lack of homes for sale.  However, don’t be complacent with the “average” home sale price of the neighborhood either.  When comparing recent neighborhood sales, you should make pricing adjustments (plus and minus) depending on differences in your home’s age, amenities, size and other factors.

A word of caution: There is a growing trend in the reliance on automated valuations by real estate agents.  AVM (automated valuation models) are helpful, but not always accurate.  These reports are based on public information about your home and may not include correct information.  If your agent recommends a sale price based an automated valuation, you should review the report attentively.  If the report confidence level is low to medium, be prepared to carefully review the report and comparables, making adjustments as needed.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.