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Keller Williams Realty Continues to Dominate and Turn Heads

by Jeremy Larkin

Keller Williams Realty is getting some notoriety...again...and again.....and...you understand. 

Last month Brad Inman of Inman news released a piece, "Underestimate Keller Williams at Your Own Risk", touting basically EVERYTHING about the company. Inman "gushed" about the company to be quite frank, and Inman news is widely regarded as an incredibly reputable source of national real estate data. 


Keller Williams Realty

Then this week the video below was released. These guys are pretty zany, but they've built a reputation over the past 5-10 years of speaking TOTAL truth about the Real Estate market, and they are NOT Realtors - so no real benefit of them not speaking truth. 

If you're a Home Buyer or Seller, this might be great grounds for hiring a Realtor from Keller Williams Realty. If you're an Agent looking for a "home" - it's tough to ignore the talk on the street, and it bears that your time would be well spent to at least check into the opportunity to grow your business via Keller Williams Realty. 

Shoot, they even got Charlie Sheen on the video...It must be true! :)

Homes for Heroes Celebrates 12th Anniversary

by Jeremy Larkin

St. George, Utah - Homes for Heroes is celebrating its 12th year of bringing savings to our nation’s heroes. The program was created to honor those that serve our communities every day and ensure a legacy of remembrance for those that lost their lives that tragic day.

Homes for Heroes Ivins, Utah
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Heroes" Russ & Mindy Sumens of Ivins, Utah

Ruth Johnson, President and CEO of Homes for Heroes, is one of the five founding members who started Homes for Heroes, Inc. in 2002. “We all remember where we were. We all recall how we felt. WE decided to do something about it!  We created a forever remembrance, a never ending thank you, to all the Heroes that day. We all share admiration for the people who serve our community, often selflessly and wanted to recognize and show our appreciation in a meaningful way, “said Johnson.
 
The Homes for Heroes program has grown to become the nation’s largest hero savings program with over 1,000 affiliates in 47 states. It is comprised of Realtors, Lenders, and other real estate-related providers who are willing to offer substantial savings and discounts to when buying, selling or even refinancing their home. Nationally, the program has given back well over $3 million to heroes all over the country, a total that continues to grow on a daily basis.
 
Homes for Heroes has served thousands of heroes across the country including Minneapolis Police Sergeant, Tim Hatchner, “This is not a gimmick. There is no extra paper work or special guidelines or income limits. Homes for Heroes is comprised of full service real estate, mortgage and title company professionals, who have long established reputations in the Twin Cities. Both the sale and the purchase of my home went off without a hitch. Homes for Heroes saved us nearly $5000.00 at closing. When raising a young family, every penny counts! I would definitely recommend this program to my fellow officers.”
 
If you would like more information about Homes for Heroes or to see other relative media regarding the national program go to www.homesforheroes.com, or or course just contact us directly: larkingroup@gostgeorge.com OR 435-767-9821.

Sell Your St. George Home 30 days faster than the neighbors?

by Jeremy Larkin

 

No, I'm SERIOUS. This is month's "This Month In Real Estate" shows how the concept of "starting high, then lowering later" with your home listing price may SOUND good...., but ultimately just costs you money. 

Properly pricing a home is equal parts SCIENCE....and ART. Check out the vid now: 

I could write a book on how many times my personal Home Selling clients have made this little "boo-boo"...included my own danged parents!

They'll kill me if they ever see this, but we were selling a home in Washington for them. Trying to avoid a loss, (as any self-respecting person would), my Father started HIGH. We went through 6 months of reductions and along the way turned town an offer that was $30k more than the final sales price!!!! Oops. 

Have you ever had a similar experience? 

 

Hitler Loses McMansion to Foreclosure.....

by Jeremy Larkin

WOW. One morning you wake up and realize that your alleged home equity is gone, you are faced with losing your cars, boat & TV that you bought on a HELOC, and your former realtor or mortgage broker is now serving coffee at Denny's.....ouch.

Every once in a while you see or hear something that absolutely knocks you off your chair. It could be an advertisement, a song, a movie or something in a book. This video clip was that moment for me. Maybe it's because I'm a real estate "geek", but I doubt it.

I'm sure I'll take heat from someone for having Hitler mentioned in my blog, but it may be completely worth it for the joy of sharing this stuff with the majority.

If you are living, breathing US citizen, and especially if you are a homeowner (or formerly a homeowner....) you will have to smirk when you watch this. It even takes jabs at the National Assocication of Realtors as well as Realtors in General. That is what makes it even more hilarious to me.

This is the most incredible sattire of the current housing market experience ever created!

Enjoy as Hitler laments his personal downfall after:

  • taking out a "liar loan" to purchase his home
  • buying a flat-screen TV & luxury car with this home equity line
  • and now faces the reality of losing his "Vintage Camaro SS."
  • And his former Realtor now considers taking a job as a dog groomer.....

WOW.

NAR "Gets Real" about Bogus FSBO Claims

by Jeremy Larkin

In a continuing saga started by a DOJ antitrust lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the folks at ForSaleByOwner.com may have really blundered this time, (sorry private Sellers).

 

These guys have never made it any secret that they aren’t very happy about being “locked out” of the NAR-controlled Realtor.com listing database. Now they’ve come out and claimed that with a new “Silver” listing package a private seller can achieve placement in the Realtor.com website.

 

With over 8 million visitors per year, it’s no surprise that the ForSaleByOwner people (and their clients) want in….who wouldn’t?

 

But membership has is privileges and I’m sure your Mother told you that you get what you pay for, didn’t she?

 

Well evidently these guys don’t have permission to do what they are saying they can do (put FSBO listings into Realtor.com) and the Realtor.com people are making it very clear that is the case. In a press release issued today they made the following key clarifications (amongst many others:

 

• The settlement agreement between NAR and the Department of Justice made no provision to allow unlisted properties, such as “for-sale-by-owner,” to be posted on REALTOR.com.
• ForSaleByOwner.com does not in any way enable home sellers to advertise their home on REALTOR.com without broker representation. Every property on REALTOR.com must be listed by a licensed real estate broker.
• There are no unrepresented homes on REALTOR.com – every property on REALTOR.com must be listed by a licensed real estate broker.

 

The problem really stems from the ever-increasing availability of once private and MLS-controlled information to consumers. The typical Buyer and Seller of the internet age want instant access to real estate listings, statistics, buying/selling tips and more and if they can’t get in from one spot, they will surf on over to another at the snap of a finger.

 

This wild proliferation of quick & free info is creating what I call “information poisoning” and is quickly creating an entire population of attention-deficit consumers.

 

Segue back to the original subject of the FSBO’s wanting MLS access. So much information has been given away for FREE that most consumers no longer have a firm grip on what information has real “value” and what, well, DOESN’T.  

 

Opinions aside, many sellers, both listed and FSBO alike, labor under the delusion that if they “just get in enough websites” like Realtor.com or Craig’s list, then the house will sell. This belief is flawed on many levels, the main being the following reality of the business:

 

The great majority of real estate transactions are handled by LICENSED AGENTS on a LOCAL LEVEL.

 

Why? Because while the average buyer from, say, Los Angeles, CA uses the internet to research our area and pick out homes they may buy, they know darn well that when they physically come to town they can hire a professional realtor who:

·        Knows the area & is unbiased about which home they choose

·        Is familiar with the glut of inventory on the market

·        Understands local market & lending conditions

·        Provides lawsuit & legal protection through “E&O Insurance"

·        And costs them absolutely nothing because most serious, motivated Sellers pay the buyer-agent’s commission

 

Or they could go “deal hunting” at the ultimate expense of the FSBO who:

  • Is inherently biased about the home the buyer chooses (of course)
  • Is fairly un-familiar about the inventory (because they don’t study it to feed their family)
  • Is fairly un-familiar about local market and lending conditions (for the same reason listed above)
  • Has NO protection against lawsuits & very little familiarity with a binding contract
  • And who has, ultimately, no incentive to assist a buyer in making their best purchase because it would of course hurt their position as a Seller.

Private Sellers have their rights and if they can truly save the commission amount by not using a Realtor, more power to them. However, based on what I know about the situation I wouldn’t plan on seeing my home listed in Realtor.com any time soon if I were a FSBO.

 

I work on a regular basis with a large volume of “expired listings.” As a matter of fact, these clients account for 25% of the Larkin Group’s total sales volume. These are Sellers who spent 3, 6, perhaps even 12 months on the market and their listing term finally “expired” without the home selling.

 

We’ve had tremendous success helping these individuals the next go-around in getting their home sold, which means that I also spend a fair amount of time communicating with potential clients from this group.

 

There are many characteristics that the expired listing sellers share, the main two being that #1 – they still own their home, and #2 – they are NOT HAPPY about still owning their home. They make lots of frustrated accusations about ‘why’ the home didn’t sell….the agent, the market, the brokerage, the weather, the neighbors, even their ex-spouse.

 

However, can I share with you the absolute #1 thing I hear from that group, bar-none? “We are just going to wait for the market to come back...and besides nothing is selling anyway!”

 

Why do they think the market will magically bounce back say, next year? Two reasons:1. Because it would financially benefit them if there were a quick recovery and… 2. because the market has never done this in Washington County before, therefore most people are in denial about the reality of the situation.

 

Homes ARE Selling

First of all, things ARE selling and the world hasn’t come to an end.  225 listings sold last month alone. Add to the fact that there are actually TWO sides to every transaction, (buyer and seller), and you are looking at 450 individuals who bought or sold on a monthly basis!  

 

But I digress…..Many Sellers are frustrated with the disparity between what they thought their home was going to be worth and what is actually is. They are concerned about a “paper” loss, if that makes sense. They want to ‘wait it out’, yet they may be waiting a LONG time. Am I saying that it is a bad time to buy? Well not necessarily at all. I’m just pointing out that statistically, Sellers may be looking for a pot of gold in terms of a short turn-around to real estate values.  Allow me to statistically prove my point.

 

If you look back over the past 10-20 years, US home appreciation has never been above around 6% on a year over year average.

                  US Home Appreciation over past 10 years

Along comes the recent housing boom and we start seeing 30%, 50% or even higher appreciation! As a matter of fact, it was 73% in Washington County over the past 5 years to be exact. The problem is that at the same time, wages were NOT increasing at those rates, and many buyers were getting into loans they could not eventually afford.

 

Fast forward to 2007/2008. Those same buyers now have their loans “resetting” to much higher interest rates, the respective profession they work in is suffering due to the housing market so their personal income is down, and the their home is now worse significantly less than what they paid for it.

 

Add that to the fact that many of the very buyers they need can’t purchase their home because they are waiting to sell their own homes, or can’t qualify for a loan in the current mortgage climate. It’s a vicious cycle, quite frankly, and one that most civilians (a.k.a “Sellers”) haven’t fully considered. Hence their (misguided) optimism.

 

And why should they have considered it? They are, of course, civilians, not real estate professionals. It’s not their job to consider it. It’s mine, and that of other real estate people who take themselves seriously.

 

Segway back to the comments about historical home appreciation. Can anyone really believe that we will EVER see that kind of appreciation again? And if so, is it really going to happen immediately following a real estate crash? No, it’s not.

 

So as Sellers consider their options and look forward to a future market recovery, they should consider the following:

  1. Home values will have to stop falling before they can rise.
  2. When they do stop falling they most likely will remain static for a period of time….could be months, could be years!
  3. Then they will start creeping back up at a conservative pace, say 3-6% annually.

That all summarized, you can clearly see that hoping for your home to be worth more, or even as much as today in the next 12 months is wishful thinking at best.

 

Prognosis:

At the end of the day Sellers may do as they see fit. They are adults and can make their own decisions. For those who don’t need to sell, please leave your home off the market! You're just clogging up the pipes so-to-speak. But my advice to those who want to “wait” for a shorter-term, miraculous turn-around to a currently frigid real estate climate would be this: pack your long-johns, it’s gonna be a cold winter.

Can Increased FHA Loan Limits Help Washington County Sellers?

by Jeremy Larkin

I've been away a few days and apologize for not getting this info up quicker.  This is fantastic news for residents of any county in the Nation, and specifically for Washington County buyers.  For a complete list of limits for all Utah counties, click here: https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicostlook.cfm

The FHA was established in 1934 to help borrowers, particularly those with low incomes, purchase homes by guaranteeing banks that those loans would be repaid should the borrower default. But the agency's loan limits have generally lagged behind those of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and as home prices climbed dramatically and lenders with looser underwriting standards proliferated the agency became less and less of a player in the mortgage market.

As a matter of fact, FHA insured loans have been mentioned as a possible escape hatch for borrowers who may be unable to make payments on their current adjustable rate mortgages when their interest rates reset over the next year, but that plan has its' challenges.

FHA financing is NOT the same as subprime financing.  It provides financing to borrowers with some credit issues and lower down payments, but it requires documentation of income and strives to prevent “payment shock” where a buyer jumps from a low rental payment to a high mortgage payment

This is good stuff, and in addition to the benefit of current mortgage rates (which I commented on HERE), this will allow many more buyers to realize the dream of home ownership in 2008. 

As a specialist in working with expired listings, I have been asked multiple times in recent weeks, "can this increase help sellers in Washington County?" The jury is still out. The real challenge lies in the fact that according to Lawrence Yun, chief Economist for NAR, as many of 80% of today's Buyers are also SELLERS trying to sell their current home before being able to buy. Ouch.

I better start out with the following disclaimer: I KNOW you are all thinking, "but Jeremy, of course you want us to buy now....you're a dirty Realtor!".....

And yes, you'd THINK that was the case, but I'd like to hope that I'm above car salesman-like sales tactics, and if you are thinking about buying Washington County Real Estate for investment or to live in long term, you'd better pay attention to this post, and in more detail, the Time Magazine Article titled "Ignore the Headlines...."

On one hand I can't see this market not declining further, yet John D. Rockefeller made the following logic famous when he said: "The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets."  And running it is!

Allow me to share the following excerpt from the article:

Consider a typical home that sells for $218,900. You put down 20% and get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at today's rate of 5.5%. Monthly principal and interest come to $994.31. Let's say that 12 months from now the same house goes for 10% less, or $197,010. But by then the recession is history and the Fed is jacking up rates to stem inflation. If mortgage costs rise a point, to 6.5%, your monthly payment would be $994.94 and you'd have saved nothing. Meanwhile, home prices might steady and sellers might become less willing to negotiate. And you have spent a year living someplace you'd rather not be.

To make matters worse, you'll have just spent 1 more year in a place you don't like! 

Here it is - read it and give me your thoughts!

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1713483,00.html 

 

 

You may remember that phenomenon as a child....the ball begins rolling down the hill, driveway, whatever....away from you. You make repeated attempts to "lunge" with your foot and catch it, but to no avail. Finally, you realize that the only way to catch that thing is to get in FRONT OF IT.

So goes the process of pricing property in today's real estate market. I am just seeing the same ugly scenario over and over again right now in the St. George / Utah's Dixie area, and it goes like this. "Help my home won't sell" is the cry of most Sellers in our area these days. Let's look at a scenario that is all too typical with this group:

You decide to list your Washington County property as you will soon be taking a job transfer to another town, (or whatever reason happens to be yours.) You sit down with your Agent who doesn't get started on the right foot by telling you that the home you thought was worth $325,000, is REALLY worth $295,000 max. Can you believe the nerve of that agent? Just trying to steal your hard-earned equity, right?

So you relent and determine that $295,000 is just too low, and besides, your house is WAY nice than those other homes your agent showed you in the comparable. You can get at least another $15k, right? You list at $310,000 against your agent's judgment.  And since your home is better, it probably won't matter that the competing homes are priced from $285 - $300k.

A month into the listing showing activity slows and your agent encourages you to just DO THE RIGHT THING and get that price amended to a competitive level, say $294,900. Sadly, a few competing home sell bringing the new "market" value to around $285k. Still reeling from the news that your home isn't worth $330k, you choose a conservative $300k even price so you don't loose any more money on the sale of your home, money that YOU EARNED, right?

Long story short, 4-5 months pass and the market continues to run away from you down the hill.  In the meantime you, or your spouse, have made the job transfer and the other 1/2 and the kids have been living without you for 3 months already! You finally relent, determine to get IN FRONT OF THE BALL, and price your home at an aggressive $269k where it closes escrow at $259,000 to a really nice family. 

That was most likely a $30k loss, and a TON of time, pain and suffering in the process. Whoops.

The summary points here are very simple, and extremely obvious. We have a TON of buyers just sitting on the fence right now, and 4x that many Sellers getting upset at the "cheeky" buyers and agents who want to "steal" their equity.  

If you don't need to sell, stay put. If you do need to however, then you've got to get in front of the ball to grab it before it runs far, far away. What these buyers need is something that EXCITES them, and that "something" is almost always a well-priced, well-prepared property.

One of the techniques that is working really well for us right now is the process of setting up a series of continual, small price reductions at the time of listing. Say $2500 per week for a $250,000 listing, and maybe 2x that for a higher-end property. It works brilliantly for many reasons.

#1 - This process puts you in constant, proactive 'motion" to stay in front of the market, rather than waiting for the neighbors to out price you months down the road. #2 - Your home is continually hitting the Washington County Board of Realtors "hot sheet", the daily list of new listings, or price reductions. This same list ends up in hundreds of inboxes of actual Buyers who have logged in to the MLS through public portals and signed up for daily email updates of the hottest listings.

Don't chase that proverbial market "ball." Get in front of it.....now.

 

BOY!....has this market taken a turn from the "good old days....."  I say that a bit tongue and cheek since those days were actually just 2 1/2 years ago.  "That long ago?" you ask....yes, it's been that long.

The real estate world is certainly not ending. It is more accurately "adjusting" for better long-term health. Yet I find that I am facing an increasing challenge with helping our Sellers see the truth on the pricing of their properties. I know how easy it can be for an agent to tell a Seller what they want to hear, but can you tell me how that actually helps them?

 OF COURSE you can trust me.......

CASE STUDY - Joe (name changed to protect the overly optimistic seller) Joe IS a real person whom I just spoke with today. He recently finished a spec home in the Hurricane Valley worth I'd guess $250k. He is trying to sell it on his own because there is just no equity there. So I can tell him 1 of 2 things.

WHAT HE MIGHT WANT TO HEAR: "Joe, we might be able to get you that $270k you want so let's put it on the market and give it a go." I tell him this because I don't want to hurt his feelings.

THE RESULT: I spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to market the home for 6 mos,after which it doesn't sell. He spends $1200/month in interest only payments and utilities (which he doesn't really have to give anyway). 4 months into the listing he is faced with converting the construction loan to long-term with costs him a few grand, PLUS the payment now goes to $2400/month. In the meantime the home loses another 5% in value.

TOTAL LOSS TO JOE: $12,500 value drop plus $12-$15k in actual hard costs for a total of let's say $25k, not to mention that the home STILL isn't sold and now he will have to market the home at the correct price for another 3-4 mos, spend another $5k in interest, and who knows what else in utilities, etc.

BETTER ROUTE: "Joe, I can tell the truth, or I can tell you what you want to hear but I can't tell you both. "(Tell me the truth  Jeremy so I can make an informed decision). "Ok, your home is worth $250k and for all of the above reasons probably needs to be priced at  $245k to attract buyers.

Ahhhh.......that's better.

In this scenario Joe now has the opportunity to rent it, deed it back to the bank, "short sale" it, OR just lower the price, list it with an aggressive agent, take it "in the shorts" and get done with it, saving in the process his marriage, his sanity, his credit, and 6 months of pain. (not to mentioned $20k or more in real losses).

If you were my client, which would you choose?

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Photo of Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group Real Estate
Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group
Keller Williams Realty
50 E 100 S, Suite 300
St. George UT 84770
435.767.9886
Fax: 435-359-5085

St. George Real Estate - Your premier destination for St. George,Utah Real Estate Listings, Home Values, MLS Search, REO/Foreclosure Info &  St. George Real Estate Statistics.  Serving St. George, Santa Clara, Ivins, Washington, Hurricane, LaVerkin, Toquerville & more! Specializing in REO/foreclosure properties, frustrated Sellers, First-Time home buyers, and Investors. Looking for the most LOCAL St. George, Utah real estate information available? Your search is over!