About Your List Price

list price
Where are home buyers finding their homes?
(infographic from nar.realtor)

When you’re selling a home, a consequential decision is your list price and pricing strategy.  Deciding on your price can be confusing because, sometimes, what you hear from the media is not exactly what your real estate agent is telling you.  Additionally, making matters worse is hearing disparate information from different real estate agents.

For example, your home’s market value is not the same as a list or sale price.  It’s a common mistake to assume that your home will sell for “market value.”  However, market value is an appraisal term that describes a probable price that a home buyer would pay in any given market.  Market value can vary depending on the scope and purpose of the appraisal.  Knowing the “market value” for your home can build up expectations for your sale that may not be realized.  However, until you do an analysis of comparables and market conditions, you won’t have a realistic list price. 

Adding to the confusion is hearing that your list price may not necessarily be the sale price.  In a buyer’s market, your sale price could be less than list price.  In a seller’s market, your sale price could be more than list price.

There’s definitely a science when deciding on a list price, where you can work with real numbers.  Unfortunately, the “science” of home pricing is inexact.  Determining a list price is much like baking cookies.  The end result is similar, but expert bakers have their own recipe.  So, although listing agents don’t always agree, there’s some commonality in determining a list price.  And much like baking, some pricing “recipes” are better than others.

Part of the inexact science of home pricing is creating a market analysis.  The market analysis will guide you in deciding a list price by providing a price range.  Although there are basic guidelines for collecting data, agents don’t always agree on the process.  However, once you pinned down a price range, then you can decide your pricing strategy by considering your selling motivation, the economy, and housing market conditions.

Basically, the market analysis is deciding which recent sales are most similar to your home.  The best comparables are homes in your neighborhood that sold in the previous three to six months.  The homes in your neighborhood are likely very similar to yours, and recent sales are an indicator of market conditions.  However, it’s common to go outside your neighborhood when similar neighborhood sales are not available.  These comparables provide a price range.  The more adjustments made to comparable sales, the less exact your analysis.

Besides looking at recent sales, you should also look at neighborhood homes that are actively on the market.  Active home sales are your competition.  These sales can reveal additional market conditions by comparing price and days on market with your sale comparables.  You should also consider recent withdrawn and expired sales because they provide insight about pricing strategies that may not work in the current market. 

Your pricing strategy is how you decide to position your home in the market.  Your goal is to sell for top dollar and least amount of time on market.  In determining your pricing strategy, you need to consider your competition, as well as your motivation, economy, and housing market conditions.  Also remember that the list price may have to be adjusted as days on market accrue, while keeping an eye on your competition.

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/02/14/about-your-list-price/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2020

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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.

Is Upzoning the Solution?

Can zoning be the answer to solving housing shortages and increasing affordability?  Many city planners and politicians think so.  Although many localities are still considering upzoning ordinances, some have already implemented upzoning amendments that allow increased resident density.  The immediate effect is likely to be felt by the addition of housing.  However, it’s unclear how and if the additional units will relieve housing prices.  Opponents voice concern over potential long-term effects of upzoning in single-family neighborhoods. 

What is Upzoning?

upzoning
Local Real Estate (infographic from nar.realtor)

A brief description of zoning is given by the National Association of Realtors (nar.realtor) as “laws that affect land use, lot size, building heights, density, setbacks, and other aspects of property use.”  Zoning ordinances go back to the early twentieth century as a way to efficiently grow a city while protecting residential neighborhoods from industrial and commercial influences. 

Research conducted by G. Donald Jud in 1980 suggests that the absence of zoning (or loose zoning) decreases property value (The Effects of Zoning on Single-Family Residential Property Values: Charlotte, North Carolina; Land Economics; vol.56, no.2, p. 142-154).  His study concludes that residential property owners pay a premium for uniformly in land use.  Jud writes “One of the principal purposes of municipal zoning ordinances is to protect property owners from the deleterious external effects that may arise when incompatible land uses exist within the same neighborhood.”  However, he also states that in the absence of zoning protection, other mechanisms are created, such as neighborhood covenants (e.g. HOA, or civic association).

Herbert S. Swan wrote in 1949 (Economic and Social Aspects of Zoning and City Planning; The American Journal of Economics and Sociology; Vol.9, No.1, p.45-56) that efficient city planning and zoning ordinances can only be measured by their adaption to current conditions.  He stated, “Only as they meet basic requirements of present population, and the emerging needs of prospective population, can they be said to serve a community in full measure.” 

Swan’s words ring true today, as local governments look to zoning to address housing shortages and affordability.  “Upzoning” is the current trend to “meet the emerging needs of the population” to alleviate housing issues.  The city of Minneapolis and state of Oregon have already implemented new zoning that essentially eliminates single-family land use in turn for increased density.  And the trend is spreading throughout the country.  While some localities have gone to the extreme to essential ban single-family development, others are loosening zoning to allow auxiliary dwelling units (ADU).  The Virginia legislature is currently considering statewide upzoning legislation. 

Earlier this year, the Montgomery County Council loosened zoning requirements for ADUs.  Zoning Text Amendment 19-01 becomes effective December 31st 2019.  The passed amendment has additional background information, including a brief description of opposition views from residents.  Some of the concerns of increased density in single-family neighborhoods included overcrowding in schools and decreased availability of parking. Additionally, there is concern that car-choked streets could impede emergency vehicles.  Environmental concerns included uncontrolled water runoff from increased number and size of ADUs.  Opponents to the amendment also voiced concern with “the inability of the County to enforce any regulations.”

Montgomery County’s “loosened” zoning amendment is meant to increased density in single-family zoned neighborhoods.  In light of resident concerns, the Council allowed direct input from the Montgomery County Planning Board to increase the supply of accessory dwelling units in the county, “while also working to minimize any negative impacts on residential neighborhoods.” 

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/02/03/is-upzoning-the-solution/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2020

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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.

New Years Resolution

new years resolutions
Remodeling this year? (Infographic from nar.realtor)

It’s a new year, and there are numerous media pieces giving you the same old and trite New Years resolution.  Here are three New Years resolutions that may have meaning for you this year.

Selling a home this year?  Your New Years resolution is to not overpay on real estate commissions.  Although I have written a lot about real estate commissions this year, it’s a topic I have addressed through the many years of this column.  2019 is was the year when consumers finally became aware that they have control in how much they pay when selling a home.  Although home sellers have always been able to negotiate with real estate agents, agents are increasingly transparent about costs giving sellers more clout in deciding what’s fair compensation.  There are a number of ways of selling a home today.  Besides negotiating real estate commissions with a traditional real estate agent, consider all your options and do your due diligence.

Have you been putting off repairs?  Make home maintenance your New Years resolution.  If you’re thinking of deferring maintenance projects another year, ask yourself “What’s the cost of doing nothing?”  Putting off those small projects can be costly.  Deferring home maintenance is cumulative over time.  What may seem to be localized areas or systems that need attention, could spread to other areas and systems over time.   

Although average home prices have steadily increased since the end of the Great Recession, many home sellers have found that years of deferred maintenance, and lack of have been an impediment to selling their homes.  Homes for sale that are in need of repair typically take longer to sell and will sell for less than their updated and well-maintained counterparts.

Because many home buyers want turn-key home, many home owners and real estate agents believe that years of deferred maintenance can be overcome with addressing some of the home’s issues.  Making a few updates and minor repairs can improve the appeal of a home.  But unless the all deferred maintenance issues (and updates) are addressed, the home sale price may still be less than what is expected. 

Thinking of making updating your home?  Make a resolution for a healthy home.  A 2017 exposé revealed that green designed and energy efficient homes can be bad for your health.  To explain the potential hazard, Marisa Mendez uses the analogy of opening up the air-tight sealed bag of clothes from last summer and getting a whiff of the stale, plastic air (Breathing Easy: An Introduction to Healthy Homes; remodeling.hw.com; June 22, 2017).  But the green and efficient building trend has moved to make homes healthy environments with an emphasis on good indoor air quality.  Mendez stated that the good indoor air quality can be achieved by continuously exchanging the indoor air with conditioned outdoor air.  There are physical and environmental benefits of a healthy home, which include increased emotional wellbeing and reduced respiratory distress.

Bill Hayward of Hayward Healthy Home has been a leading voice of the healthy home movement.  In a 2016 Builder Magazine interview, he discussed how his own experience transformed his life (Advocating for Fresh Air in Homes; builderonline.com; September 29, 2016).  He started Hayward Healthy Homes after he realized his home made his family ill.  Hayward stated “After my family got sick inside our home, I started researching. Thirty percent of the population has allergies and is physically affected by the indoor air quality. The worst air that Americans breath right now is the air within their house.” For more info on a creating a healthy home, visit Hayward Healthy Home (haywardhealthyhome.com).

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/01/31/new-years-resolution/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2020

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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 Buying Strategies 2020

home buying strategies
Home Buyers (infograpic from nar.realtor)

Experts’ home sale inventory forecasts for the spring echo expectations from recent years. And in some regions, it could be a very competitive home buyer market.  Affordability is likely to be a major issue according to CoreLogic’s chief economist Frank Nothaft (Peering into the Housing and Mortgage Outlook with 20/20 Vision; corelogic.com; December 5,2019).  The CoreLogic Home Price Index predicts that 2020 home prices will increase more than they did during 2019.  Lower priced homes will likely appreciate at a much higher rate than upper bracket and luxury homes.  Buyers should have their home buying strategies in mind when looking for homes.

Many first-time home buyers may become discouraged and decide to continue renting.  However, renting is expected to be less affordable in 2020.  CoreLogic’s Single-Family Rent Index indicates that rents are increasing at double the rate of inflation.  So, although renting may seem like the default fallback, it may be the more expensive option.  A combination of increasing rent, a continuing good economy, and historically low mortgage rates are expected to be the catalyst for home buyers to get into the market.

If you’re a home buyer, the 2020 housing market outlook may sound daunting. Although you may be anticipating something akin to the Game of Thrones this spring, take heart because planning and having home buying strategies can help your home buying success.

Talk to a mortgage lender.  One of the worst feelings is finding out a seller took another offer because your offer didn’t have a financing letter.  Not identifying a lender and securing an approval letter before looking at homes is a strategic error, especially if you need to move fast on making an offer. Having awesome credit scores, a good income, and savings in the bank, means nothing to a home seller unless a mortgage professional confirms this with a mortgage approval letter. 

Work out a home buying budget.  Consult financial professionals, such as your financial planner or CPA to review income, assets, and debts to determine a realistic housing budget.  In deciding on your housing budget, consider monthly mortgage payments, HOA or condo fees, property tax, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc.  Your loan officer can help determine a home price range based on your monthly housing budget.  Although, your home buying budget may be less than the maximum mortgage amount for which you qualify, don’t be tempted to go beyond your budget.  Sticking to your budget can help you avoid “buyer’s remorse.”  

Although the national housing market is portrayed as very competitive for home buyers, CoreLogic’s Nothaft suggests that local neighborhood markets can differ widely.  As a home buyer, keep an open mind and consider a wider home search area.  Consider all your home buying options, including new construction, and the possibility of doing an FHA 203k renovation

One of the most important home buying strategies is to choose your Realtor carefully, as not all agents are the same.  Hookup with an experienced full-time real estate agent.  Empirical research studies indicate that a seasoned, veteran agent can make a positive impact on your home purchase.  Experienced agents understand the nuances of negotiating and can make your home buying experience more efficient.  Full-time agents know the market, which is an asset during your home search.  Don’t just rely on the first agent you meet at an open house, or finding an agent on the internet.  Talk to several (or more) Realtors to determine if they’re a good fit for your goals.  Make sure the agent you hire has your best interests in mind when searching homes and negotiating. 

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/01/10/home-buying-strategies-2020/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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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.

Holiday Home Safety

holiday home safety
Holiday home safety (ifographic from cpsc.gov)

For some, the holiday season is a time of enjoying family and friends.  For others it’s a time of giving.  Regardless, many agree that it’s a time we wish each other joy and happiness.  Here’s some thoughts on holiday home safety keeping your holiday safe and enjoyable. 

Holiday home safety includes protecting your home from fire.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc.gov), from 2014 to 2016 there were “about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires that resulted in 10 deaths, 150 injuries, and nearly $50 million in property damage each of those years.”  If you have a live tree, make sure it has plenty of water so it doesn’t become potential tinder.  If you have an artificial tree, make sure it’s “fire resistant” (check the label).  Keep your tree away from the fire place and candles.  If you’re using candles, keep an eye on them as they burn.  Make sure they are away from curtains or other flammable items.  Remember to blow out candles when leaving the room.  To lower the fire risk, consider using “flameless” candles.  When using holiday lights, check to make sure they are safety rated by a “nationally-recognized testing laboratory.”  Throw out your old lights if they have: cracked sockets, frayed insulation, bare wires, and/or loose connections.  Make sure your holiday decorations are flame retardant. 

Holiday home safety is also about avoiding accidents. More stats from the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate that the potential for accidents increase during the holiday season.  Consider that there were five holiday decorating deaths during the 2018 holiday season.  There were about 18,100 holiday “decorating-related injuries” during the 2017 holiday season.  Since many holiday injuries are the result of falls, make sure you use a proper ladder or step-stool when decorating.  Also consider having a helper to help stabilize the ladder or step-stool. 

Children are typically at high risk for injuries, especially during the holiday season.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) recommends to keep an eye on children during the festive season.  During the holidays, be mindful of age appropriate toys, some toys can be choking hazards to young children. 

Holiday season is prime time for thieves, so don’t make it easy for them.  Secure your home just as you would any other time of the year.  Security experts concur that it typically takes sixty seconds for a burglar to break into the average home. Because their risk of being caught in the act increases with every second, they will likely move to the next house if they can’t get in within a minute or two.

Don’t forget to deploy your deterrents and other preventative measures to discourage burglars from breaking-in, especially if you’re traveling.  Besides the usual measures, there are other precautions to consider during the holidays.  Don’t allow would-be thieves see your presents, place them out of site.  Be aware that trash and recycling can also reveal your new and expensive items.

If you’re expecting deliveries when you are not at home, plan ahead to thwart porch pirates.  Consider having your packages delivered at work or to a neighbor who is home during the day.  Use parcel lockbox that keeps the package out of site and locked away.  Install a camera to see front door activity.

More information about holiday home safety can be obtained from the CPSC, CDC, and your local government agencies (such as the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, and the Montgomery County Police Department).

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/01/02/holiday-home-safety/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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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.