When will move-up homebuyers return to the housing market

by Dan Krell
© 2013

Move-up home buyers missing from housing recovery; when will move-up home buyers return to the housing market?

home for saleI recently came across an interesting article about “move-up” home buyers online titled, “Move-up Buyer Provides The Base For A Recovering Housing Market.” The piece, published by the Chicago Tribune, is not unlike the many articles you might find today about the missing move-up buyer in the housing recovery. However, this article is different – it was published August 17, 1985 (article can be found here: articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-08-17/news/8502240441_1_interest-rates-trade-up-market-home-resale-market).

The striking similarities between the current housing recovery and a real estate market that was recovering from one of the deepest modern recessions up to that time (during the early 1980’s), includes home buyer behavior and economic concerns. And of course, the affected move-up buyer sector and the dearth of inventory appear to be familiar.

Home buyer behavior doesn’t have seemed to have changed much as many would-be home buyers are trying to time their purchase with the market bottom. At that time, like today, interest rate pressures are helped home buyers decide to jump into the market; additionally, then like today a significant number of buyers were first time home buyers. Downward pressure on mortgage interest rates, combined with the fear of rising rates affected home buyers to get off of the fence. However, peek mortgage interest rates averaged about 15% in the early 1980’s.

Another similarity between both periods is the missing move-up market. The typical move-up home buyer is sometimes described as a home owner who decides they need more space, which results in the sale of their smaller home and the purchase of a larger home. Then like today, the move- up home buyer was the missing piece to the housing recovery; the move-up home buyer provides much of the housing inventory that first time home buyers seek. However, it seems as if a “psychological barrier” (as described by the Chicago Tribune piece) holds back many move-up buyers today as it did in 1985. During the current housing recovery, many potential move-up buyers have remained in their homes.

Like other housing recoveries, one of the main issues holding back the move-up buyer is housing appreciation. During an early recovery, home owners may have a difficult time rationalizing buying a larger more expensive home when the new home could depreciate the first year of ownership, let alone the thought of a perceived loss of equity in their current home.

As home prices stabilize it would be reasonable to think that there will be an increased presence of the move-up home buyer. A good example of this was in the housing recovery that took place during 2003-2004. At that time, low mortgage interest rates helped first time home buyers back to the marketplace, and the move-up buyer sector took off relatively quickly when rapid home appreciation was realized. Of course rapid home appreciation was a function of “easy money” that generated real estate speculation that produced the “go-go market” of 2005-2006, the housing bubble, and the subsequent financial/housing crises.

The similarities of a post recession housing recovery might indicate there is currently progress. However, the move-up home buyer sector may be one of the final pieces to the recovery puzzle; and until the move-up home buyer presence is felt in the marketplace, we may yet to endure a few more years of “recovery.”

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of April 1, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Pricing your home to sell 2013

by Dan Krell
© 2013

home for saleIt has been a while since home sellers have felt optimism about the housing market. Although many would be home sellers continue to wait before jumping into the market; a combination of inventory shortages and reports of appreciating home prices are making some home sellers push the limits of home pricing.

Consideration for an appropriate list price is vital in any market. However, regardless of current market conditions, setting the right list price today could prove challenging. If your home sells quickly, you might feel as if you priced the home too low; while setting the price to high could make your home languish in an otherwise active real estate market.

Since the home seller decides on the list price, you might be tempted to use the most recent neighborhood sale or list price as a guide for your home sale. However, without deeply examining these comparables, this methodology may result in over or under pricing your home.

As public information is widely available on the internet, you might find yourself searching the ‘net for recent neighborhood sales to assist you in making a decision on a list/sale price. However, public records usually post dates of deed transfers as recorded in the courthouse, which are usually after the actual closing (sometimes several months or more).  Additionally, public record home descriptions can sometimes contain incorrect or outdated data on home interiors and living area. Relying solely on data found on the internet could make you miss out on more recent and significant sale comps –again possibly leading you to under/over price your home.

For relevant comparables, ask your real estate agent to prepare a market analysis based on comps found in the local MLS (which contains real-time data). Although the market analysis is not an appraisal, its purpose is to assist home buyers and sellers in deciding on a list/sale price. An experienced agent preparing a market analysis will search for comparables that are most similar to your home by considering home factors such as: location, type, style, size, age, condition, interior amenities, exterior amenities, room count, basement, updates, etc.

Additionally, since the comparables used in the market analysis are as analogous to your home as possible, finding recent comps within your neighborhood are ideal not only because of the proximity to your home, but also because homes within the same subdivisions usually have many similarities (including age, style, lot size, upgrades, additions, as well as functional obsolescence).

Even though many home sellers are optimistic about home prices, you could still encounter appraisal issues. Appraisals are opinions of value by an independent party typically requested by lenders to verify the home’s market value in underwriting a home buyer’s mortgage application. And although appraisers use a standard methodology to derive a market value, some appraisers may exercise caution and seek the conservative value in ensuring the appraisal meets the loan guidelines. Issues can also arise when the assigned appraiser is unfamiliar with your neighborhood and surrounding area.

Pricing a home to sell has been described as a skill by some and an art form by others. Deciding on an appropriate list price not only establishes buyers’ expectations for an offer, it can also set the tone for a smooth sale or a bumpy protracted ride in the marketplace.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of March 11, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Is recent housing bubble news cause for alarm

by Dan Krell

© 2013

real estate bubbleIf I said that we could experience another housing bubble, you might be concerned for my mental health.  But a couple of years ago I wrote about an impending housing shortage, which could spark another bubble similar to what occurred during 2004-2005.  The market-conditions similarities between 2004 and today are foreboding, if not intriguing. (Dan Krell © 2013)

There hasn’t been talk of a housing shortage since 2004; but looking at Montgomery County MD as an example, you might begin to see similarities between the housing bubble of 2005-2006 and today’s real estate market.

Monthly peek single family inventory in Montgomery County did not exceed 2,000 total active units in 2004; while the absorption rate was reported by the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors® (GCAAR.com) to be about 80% during the winter of 2004.  During the following year, the winter active inventory greatly increased and the absorption rates dropped to about 40%.  The result was a housing market that reached critical mass, and a one year appreciation rate of about 18% for Montgomery County single family homes; which played a key role in the rampant real estate speculation in 2005-2006.

Active housing inventory has been declining since 2010; the greatest decrease occurring during 2012.  According to the monthly home sale statistics posted on the GCAAR website (GCAAR.com), there were 1813 active single family inventory units for sale in Montgomery County during January 2012.  And although active single family units peaked for the year during the spring of 2012, active inventory dwindled to a low of 1198 active units for sale during January 2013 – a year over year decrease of about 40%. Additionally, the absorption rate of listed homes for sale is rapidly approaching 60%

Add the home price facet – on March 5th, CoreLogic (corelogic.com) reported that national home prices increased 9.7% during January 2013, as compared to January 2012.  This was reported to be the greatest year of year home price increase since 2006.

An additional and telling similarity between the pre-bubble years and present is the number of real estate investors jumping in to cash in on distressed properties.  Of course at the height of the real estate bubble of 2004-2006, real estate investing was transformed from the traditional “rehab and flip” to no rehab and flipping properties as quickly as possible.   A great number of homes sold today are to investors, either to rehab or to rent.

In 2004, like today, we were about three years post recession; albeit the recession of 2001 was not as protracted as the “Great Recession.”  At that time, like today, the Federal Reserve funds rate was historically low.

Although an “easy money” monetary policy is another similarity between the periods, a major difference is the availability of mortgage money.  Getting a mortgage is much more difficult today than it was in 2004-2005.  Buying a home without a down payment as well as qualifying for a mortgage without documenting income could have been a factor of the wide spread real estate speculation of 2005-2006.  Today, as a result of the bursting of the 2005-2006 housing bubble, underwriting qualifications are more demanding as are down payment requirements.

The housing bubble phenomenon is not a new or a recent experience; housing bubbles have occurred in the past and most likely will occur in the future.  When they occur, housing bubbles seem to coincide with a recessionary cycle.  And just like recessions, housing bubbles vary in duration and severity.  Sure, another housing bubble may be looming; but the next bubble may be confined to specific regions of the country, and possibly some local neighborhoods.

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Difficult neighbors

difficult neighborsThere’s not a whole lot that will test your patience more than difficult neighbors. Neighbors, for the most part, tolerate each other regardless of their idiosyncrasies. However, it seems that the closer in proximity you live to your neighbor, the potential for friction increases; sometimes a worst case scenario develops and tempers flare. Common neighbor complaints typically concern pets, parking, excessive noise, and the maintenance of the home exterior and the lawn. When neighbor complaints arise, the offending neighbor is often characterized as being inconsiderate.

From a distance, the issues may seem inconsequential, but we find the situation and behavior of those who are involved in the neighborly dispute to be entertaining. The idea is so entertaining that Hollywood has capitalized on the theme and has created a number of hit movies. Sure, the “difficult neighbors” portrayed in the cinema is an exaggeration of traits that we would consider as meddling and zany (such as Dan Akroyd’s character in “Neighbors [1981],” or secretive and suspicious (such as Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack in “Arlington Road [1999]).” Some films depict a new resident to find out the entire neighborhood acts bizarrely, such as portrayed in “The ‘Burbs (1989)” or the “Stepford Wives (1975 and 2004).

As much as we enjoy the over the top behavior depicted in “difficult neighbors” films, we like to think everyone tries being considerate of their neighbors in real life. However, if this were true, then “good neighbor laws” would not be enacted.

Montgomery County enacted its own “good neighbor laws” last year. These laws affect: home based businesses (limiting the amount of visits into the home as well as possibly limiting parking depending on the type of home based business); parking of commercial vehicles (except for temporary parking, parking for heavy commercial and recreational vehicles are prohibited from parking on residential streets); and off street parking (must be on surfaced areas, unregistered vehicles are not allowed on the property, and there may be limitations on the amount of front yard that can be surfaced for parking). Of course, these “good neighbor laws” are enforced by [neighbor] complaints.

neighborhoodCoping with annoying and meddling neighbors on a daily basis can be challenging, but how about when you’re selling your home? Since most neighbor issues are caused by a lack of communication, experts recommend trying to speak to your neighbor first. Once talking with your neighbor, you may find you share a few commonalities. You may even be surprised to find out that your neighbor is in need of your assistance in cleaning their yard, or towing the unused cars away.

Living in a disorderly neighborhood breed mistrust. If you find that your neighbor is not responding with your attempts to communicate, then gaining support from other neighbors may assist you in getting your neighbor to be more considerate.

Of course, if your difficult neighbors are totally unresponsive, you may find yourself seeking assistance through official channels; such as making complaining to your HOA, local officials, or even the police. Although not all HOAs are good at enforcing their rules, complaints made to local authorities are often investigated and handled through official channels.

Don’t wait for a home sale to mend your relationship with your neighbor. Besides smiling regularly, experts suggest that long term neighbor problems may be avoided by solving issues when they arise.

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2012/06/07/coping-with-neighbors/

By Dan Krell

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.