Short sale is still relevant

short sale
Market conditions makes the short sale relevant (infographic from nar.realtor)

Believe it or not it’s been over ten years since the financial crises and Great Recession, and the short sale is still relevant! And this is why…

Coming on the heels of a dismal January, the National Association of Realtors March 22nd data release announced good news declaring a home sales “surge” during February (nar.realtor).  February’s closings increased 11.8 percent, compared to January!  But the bad news is that the number of sales also decreased 1.8 percent from last year. If you follow real estate news, you know that homes sales stats were disappointing during the winter. (Consider that 2018’s total existing home sales were lower than the previous year’s total, according to NAR’s statistics).  February’s adjusted annual home sale rate of 5.51 million is lower than the same time last year, and pales in comparison to the 6.48 million home sales in 2006.    

Although February was indeed a busy month, NAR’s March 28th data release of the Pending Home Sale Index predicts a slow start to the spring market.  Homes that went under contract during February decreased 1 percent from the previous month and decreased 4.9 percent from the previous year.  This “forward looking index” indicates that next month’s home sales may disappoint. 

But there is a silver lining.  Home sale prices continue to rise, meaning that home owner equity is not eroding. February’s median existing home sale price increased 3.6 percent from the same time last year.  And according to NAR’s statistics, home sale prices have risen for 84 consecutive months (which equates to 7 years of continued gains)!

There are many reasons for a short sale

Although home sale prices are rising, there are still many home owners who are underwater. According to Attom Data (attomdata.com), distressed home sales still account for 12.4 percent of all home sales.  Of course, this is far from the 38.6 percent in 2011.  And the percentage of distressed sale continues to decrease.  However, the number is still significant. 

It’s estimated there are millions of underwater home owners.  There are a number of reasons why home owners may be underwater, including (but not limited to) years of deferred maintenance, or a negative equity mortgage.  Many short sales today include investment properties.  Some home owners don’t know they are underwater until they list the home for sale. 

Although not as prevalent as in 2011, the short sale is still relevant!  Many underwater home owners don’t have to sell, as they are not financially distressed, and are happy to stay put for many years. However, some are compelled to sell for a number of reasons (such as divorce, bankruptcy, etc.).  Some underwater home owners may have a desire to move, but can’t because they are underwater (such as empty nesters and retirees). 

If you think your home sale may result in a short sale, get the facts.  Question what you hear from others and what you find on the internet.  There is a lot of information circulating about short sales.  A majority of the information is either misleading, erroneous, and/or outdated.  Consult with an attorney who negotiates sales to help you understand the legal aspects.  Also consult your accountant for the financial implications.

There is much to consider, and a lot at stake!  Be careful when considering your listing agent.  Due your due diligence and hire an experienced short sales agent that knows the process and is savvy about appealing lender values.  Many listing agents will give up on a short sale, mostly because it’s hard work. So most important, make sure your agent has a track record of getting the short sale to settlement.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/04/17/short-sale-is-still-relevant


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.

Negotiating agent commissions

negotiating agent commissions
Brokerage models (infographic from nar.realtor)

It’s no secret that residential real estate agent commissions are decreasing. Market forces has created new broker models that has put downward pressure on commissions. Many agents embrace consumers negotiating agent commissions.

If market forces are working in negotiating agent commissions, and commissions are decreasing, you might wonder about a recent class-action law suite.

If successful, an anti-trust class-action law suit filed March 6th could potentially change the landscape of the residential real estate industry.  The law suit alleges that the National Association of Realtors and a number of major real estate brokerage brands engaged in “anticompetitive practices.” 

According to the law firm Hagens Berman (hbsslaw.com), “the lawsuit alleges NAR and the Big Four have enacted a set of anticompetitive policies intended to prevent competition among real estate brokers, as well as stopping buyers and sellers form negotiating commissions, including: Only allowing listing brokers to list a property on an MLS if the listing broker makes a unilateral, non-negotiable offer of compensation on the MLS to buyer brokers. Prohibiting buyers and sellers from negotiating buyer broker commission. Prohibiting brokers from disclosing commissions offered on MLS. Allowing brokers to take both buyer and seller commissions, if the buyer is not represented by a broker. This anticompetitive activity has been devised at the national level and enforced at the local levels.”

I am not an attorney, but I have been listing and selling homes for over seventeen years.  These thoughts are my own. I am not speaking for anyone except myself.  I am offering insight from my professional experience.

On the face of it the lawsuit assertions are false. First, the allegations make it sound as if home sellers have no choice in how they sell their home except to use a full-service exclusive real estate broker.  As I wrote just last month, home sellers have many options in selling a home.  Besides selling “By Owner,” there are multiple broker options as well, including (but not limited to) MLS placement services, limited services and à la carte. 

These assertions also make it sound as if a home seller can only get an “exclusive right to sell” listing agreement with a real estate broker.  But again, the home seller has options in the type of listing agreement and broker agency type.  Because my space is limited and the issue of brokerage representation is technical, I won’t expound on the types of listing agreements and home seller representation.  However, each type of listing agreement has specific benefits and disadvantages.

Furthermore, commissions have always been negotiable. And market forces have been in favor of consumers negotiating agent commissions. The lawsuit’s assertions about real estate commissions are misconceived and cliché.  The matter of real estate commissions can be complex and depends on a number of factors, which can include (but is not limited to) market conditions, type of representation, types of services provided, among other things.  Additionally, home sellers are not the only party to a transaction that negotiates commission.  Home buyers who are represented by a broker negotiate the buyer agent commission as well.

The internet has created an empowered savvy consumer.  Like other industries, public access to information (internet) has been a major factor in reducing real estate broker fees and commissions.  Both listing broker and buyer agent commissions have decreased.  The internet has allowed home buyers to find home listings on their own regardless of advertised buyer agent compensation, including non-MLS listings such as home builder and FSBO listings. 

Although the NAR has yet to issue a formal statement, NAR vice president Mantill Williams was quoted as saying on Fox Business’ Bulls and Bears program, “We think this lawsuit is baseless and it has no merit. The state and federal courts have considered challenges to the MLS and they’ve concluded the Multiple Listing Service actually benefits consumers.”

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/04/02/negotiating-agent-commissions/

By Dan Krell. Copyright © 2019.

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Creating home staging vision

home staging vision
Creating home staging vision (infographic from nar.realtor)

Although home staging has become entrenched in the home sale process, it doesn’t have to be a pricey way to prepare your home sale. Not only has it become part of the home seller experience, the home staging vision is now expected by buyers and their agents when they visit homes. 

The spring home sale season is the perfect time for the National Association of Realtors to roll out the results of their 2019 Profile of Home Staging survey (nar.realtor).  In a March 14th press release, NAR President John Smaby summed up this year’s profile by stating, “Realtors understand the importance of making a residential property as welcoming and appealing as possible to potential buyers. While every Realtor doesn’t use staging in every situation, the potential value it brings is clear to both homebuyers and sellers.” 

Staging may affect a home’s time on market, and it’s likely due to visual cues.  Meaning that home staging vision helps the home buyer picture themselves living in the home. More than half of the agents who responded to the survey indicated that home staging reduces time on market.  Forty percent of buyer agents said that home staging effects most buyers’ perceptions of a home.  Eighty-three percent of buyer agents believe that home staging vision makes it easier to visualize living in the home.

It’s not surprising that agents agree that the most staging attention goes to the living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and the dining room.  It’s not that these rooms have special significance, but rather it’s because it’s where people spend most of their time in the home.

The NAR survey also found that real estate TV shows has impacted home buyers’ views and expectations.  Thirty-nine percent of buyers indicated that they experienced a more difficult home buying process than what they expected.  Twenty percent of buyers reported being disappointed that homes they visited didn’t look like the ones portrayed on TV.  While ten percent believe that homes should look staged as they are depicted in TV shows. 

Not all agents stage the homes they list for sale.  Only twenty-eight percent of listing agents said they staged all sellers’ homes prior to listing them for sale.  Compared to the thirteen percent of agents who confessed that they only stage homes that they deem difficult to sell.

Does home staging affect sale price?  It was noted that all agents surveyed indicated that home staging affected their home sale positively.  Twenty-two percent of the agents reported an increase of up to five percent in buyers’ offers, while seventeen percent reported offer increases up to ten percent. Only two percent of the agents responded that it increased offers up to twenty percent.

But the idea of staging your home to get top dollar may just be traditional wisdom, as evidenced by NAR’s survey.  One of the few studies on staging revealed that indeed, staging does not have a significant impact on sale price.  Lane, Seiler & Seiler’s 2015 study (The Impact of Staging Conditions on Residential Real Estate Demand. Journal of Housing Research, 24,1. 21-35) concluded that although staging affects the home buying process and the buyer’s opinion and perception of livability, it’s not enough to result in a higher sales price.  The authors stated, “These results stand in stark contrast to the conscious (stated) opinion of both buyers and real estate agents that staging conditions significantly impact willingness to pay for a home. As such, the findings are new and useful to a large group of stakeholders (sellers and agents).”

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/03/21/creating-home-staging-vision/


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.

Housing market mini-cycles

housing market mini-cycles
Housing market mini-cycles

In a statement last year, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun discussed the housing market’s recovery since the Great Recession (Realtors Chief Economist Reflects on Past Recession, What’s Ahead for Housing; nar.realtor; August 28, 2018).  Citing increasing homeownership rates and addressing the recent home sale slowdown, Dr. Yun believes that concerns about a significant housing slump are unsubstantiated.  Instead, we may be going through housing market mini-cycles.

Dr. Yun is not the only one pointing to affordability (home prices and mortgage rates) and lack of home sale inventory as causes of market disruptions.  But his statement is almost trite: “…even as mortgage rates begin to increase and home sales decline in some markets, the most significant challenges facing the housing market stem from insufficient inventory and accompanying unsustainable home price increases…”

Housing market mini-cycles and the economy

The housing market, like the overall economy, goes through cycles of boom and bust.  It’s been about eleven years since the last recession, and many are saying we’re overdue for another one.  But if the economic cycles, as described in 1876 by economist Henry George and modernized by Glenn R. Mueller, accurately include recovery, expansion, hypersupply, and recession, there is no clear phase to describe recent housing activity.  Instead, what we are experiencing is housing market mini-cycles.

Most understand the concept of the broad economic boom and bust cycle. But most are unaware of the mini-cycle that manifests as repeat periods of short-term growth and slowdown.  Recessions typically have broad effects on the economy, where as mini-cycles are are fast cycling and specific to economic sector. So, a complete housing market mini-cycle can last several months or longer and may not spill over to other sectors.

Since 2013, the housing market has undergone at least three mini-cycles of growth.  These cycles peaked with record sales volumes, only to be set back by months of sluggish home sales.  The causes of the housing market mini-cycles are debatable and, like a recession, clear in hindsight.  Of course, Dr. Yun and other industry experts are likely to be correct saying that home prices (affordability) and inventory are to blame.  However, there may be other reasons worth exploring as well.

Micro-economic factors are playing a large role in the housing market mini-cycle.  Take for example the increase in employee telecommuting.  There is an abundant research pointing to how telecommuting has affected the commercial real estate market.  These studies point to increased office space vacancies due telecommuting.  Companies are downsizing offices because of the reduced need for space as employees are working from home.  This trend is recognizable in real estate brokerages.  Real estate office spaces are shrinking as the industry becomes increasingly “virtual.”

Telecommuting is also impacting home sales. According to Global Workplace Analytics (globalworkplaceanalytics.com) “Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 140% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed.”  Currently, there are about 4.3 million employees that work from home at least half the time.  As businesses are increasingly hiring a telecommuting workforce, workers opt to stay in their current residence rather than relocate near their new employer. 

Does housing market mini-cycles lead to recession?  Maybe the the mini-cycle is a brief market correction that helps avoid the broader effects of recession. Take for instance the three housing market mini-cycles that recently boomed in 2013, 2016, and 2017-2018. During these mini-cycles, home prices soared and home sales broke recent records (since Great Recession).

Current economic indicators (at the time of this writing in March 2019) point to a positive home sale season.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) most recent unemployment statement was 4.0 percent (which included government shutdown stats).  The Consumer Price Index remains stable (the CPI-U was last reported unchanged). Real average hourly earnings was reported to increase 0.2 percent from December to January.  And after a three-month decline, the Conference Board (conference-board.org) reported a rebound in the Consumer Confidence Index.  Given the winter housing slump, real estate may be on everyone’s mind again in this spring.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/03/09/housing-market-mini-cycles

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.

Home sale choices

home sale choices
Home seller snapshot (infographic from nar.realtor)

Having a choice is good.  For many, have having a choice represents freedom.  For others, choice creates angst out of fear of making the wrong selection. Dr. Barry Schwartz wrote about this phenomenon in his book The Paradox of Choice.  Dr. Schwartz describes that having too much choice can create negative well-being.  This phenomenon also exists in real estate.  There are many home sale choices!

Consumers have more home sale choices today than ever before.  However, choosing the best option for you can be confusing. Making the wrong selection can result in remorse. How do you choose between a full-service agent, a limited service broker, à la carte broker, private placement broker, or sell by owner?  How do you know decide among your home sale choices?

Recently published research further supports the value of hiring a full-service real estate agent.  A study conducted by Rutherford, Rutherford, Springer, and Mohr (Limited Service Brokerage: Positive Broker Intermediation?; Journal of Real Estate Research: 2018, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 551-595) compared the outcome of using a limited service brokerage to a full service real estate agent.  The results indicate that although the limited service brokerage time on market is similar to the full-service agent, your home sale price is likely to be less with a limited service broker.

Although there have been conflicting studies in the past, Rutherford’s recent study confirms that using a limited service brokerage is likely to sell your home for less.  The authors concede and discuss other factors that may influence results, such as housing market conditions.  Studies that reported positive outcomes of limited service brokerages may have occurred during the go-go market prior to 2007. 

How much commission should you pay? 

Conventional wisdom says that full service agents are “full-price” (whatever that is) and expensive.  However, that’s no longer true.  Many full service, high quality agents charge as much (or as little) as discount brokers.  A 2015 study by Barwick & Pathak (The costs of free entry: an empirical study of real estate agents in Greater Boston; The RAND Journal of Economics; Vol 46, No. 1, Spring 2015, p.103–145) indicated that increased Realtor competition has forced average commissions to decrease over the last few decades.  Of course, they found that the decreased commission structure of the full-service agent good for consumers and the housing market.  They also concluded that decreased commissions would increase quality by decreasing entry into the industry for the wrong reasons.

To make better home sale choices, educate yourself. 

Understand what services are available and what it costs.  You should ask yourself if the services can meet your expectations of helping you through the process of selling your home?  And, how will it impact your sale, time on market, and price? 

Unfortunately, the National Association of Realtors doesn’t do enough to educate consumers about their choices when buying and selling a home. Including negotiating reduced commissions and buyer rebates.  And I wouldn’t expect they will any time soon because of their mission statement (posted on their website nar.realtor): “The core purpose of the National Association of REALTORS® is to help its members become more profitable and successful.” 

So how do you choose among your home sale choices?  Be a savvy home seller.  Don’t stick to “conventional wisdom.”  Explore your needs and expectations.  Investigate your choices and ask questions.  Don’t fall for sales tactics. And don’t be afraid to negotiate commission

Be a savvy home seller

  1. Don’t stick to conventional wisdom

    Explore your options. There is no “one size fits all” home sale plan.

  2. Search for an agent that meets your needs and expectations

    What are your plans? How fast of a sale do you expect? In what condition is your home? Interview several agents with different approaches to your home sale.

  3. Ask Questions

    Every agent has their own process. Some are hands on and responsive, while others hand off your sale to their “team” and you never see them again. Can you call anytime, or are their limited times? How will the agent meet your expectations?

  4. Don’t fall for sales tactics

    Many real estate agents spend lots of time and money learning sales tactics to get the listing. Many have developed polished presentations that are very convincing. Call the agent’s past clients to find out if they over promise and under deliver.

  5. Negotiate listing commission

    It’s a very competitive market. Although some agents won’t negotiate their commission, many will. Some will limit their services when they reduce their commission, while others offer full service.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/02/17/home-sale-choices

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.