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2014: Year of Steady Growth

*This post was originally published in January 2014. 

Everywhere I go, I am always asked about the current state of the market. To be honest, there is no simple answer. The answer always depends whether you will be buying or selling. However, 2012 was considered a “recovery” year for the St. George market, 2013 was considered a “stabilization” year and now we are banking on 2014 being a really strong “growth” year. What I mean by a “growth” year is that home values are still very strong, interest rates are still very low and buyers in the marketplace. 2014 has the potential to be a good year to both buy and sell!

Check out our video below to find out what Jeremy predicts for the St. George real estate market in 2014!

Have specific questions about your buying or selling situation? We'd love to answer them! Contact us at larkingroup@gostgeorge.com or 435-767-9821. Your confidentiality will ALWAYS be protected!

This Month in Real Estate: The Spring Home Shopping Season

by Jeremy Larkin

A lot of homeowners are wondering if right now is the time to sell St. George area home. According to a national survey of real estate transactions, over 90% of buyers start their home search using the internet, and then spend almost two months looking before settling on the right one for them. That two month lag time means that houses that are on the market right now are in the best position to close in the early spring.

So if you’re looking to sell in the spring, you’ll want to sell your house now, and get a head start on the competition! Enjoy this short 1:10 real estate market update and video on the Spring Selling season below! And as always, if you have questions about selling your personal home, just contact us at 435-767-9821.

 

Getting The Best Offer on Your Home

by Jeremy Larkin

So what’s the difference between a GOOD Real Estate offer and a GREAT Real Estate offer? According to recent research nearly 1 in 3 Buyers entered into a “competing offer” situation last year…wow! That’s great news for Sellers, but is price always King? Not necessarily:

Sellers who are considering an offer on their home or property need to consider the following:

  1. The highest offer isn’t always the best
  2. Buyer needs to be FINANCIALLY ABLE to close
  3. A buyer with significant earnest money or larger down payment is going to typically be more “ready” to close the deal.

Enjoy this short 1:47 video on this topic for a more interactive view on the topic, and as always – just contact us via email at larkingroup@gostgeorge.com or 435-767-9821 for professional advice regarding your personal St.George Real Estate situation! 

 

No doubt, you've already heard about home mortgage interest rates rising - sharply. The question for Buyers and Sellers will be: How does this affect St. George Real Estate? And WHY are interest rates rising? 

Here's a quick answer:

1. It affects the St. George Real Estate market...any any OTHER market for that matter, in one NEGATIVE WAY, and still another POSITIVE way. How?

Negatively, it will impact some St. George Real Estate transactions immediately as the Buyers will no longer be able to afford the home. The Sellers then suck wind because they have to start process of finding a home Buyer all over again.

So Jeremy, what’s the upside? Here you go:

Positively, the St. George Real Estate market gets a boost because of the MOTIVATION this change causes. We’ve been warning home Buyers and Sellers for at least 6 months on the GoStGeorge Radio Show that rates would eventually be rising. And they did. Many people who were sitting on the fence will not just get off, but will LEAP from that fence to quickly take action – buy a home, sell a home, refinance a home. This puts more money into St. George Real Estate market immediately, causes still MORE Buyers and Sellers to take action, and on it goes.

2. Why is this happening? Simply, the Government has spent BILLIONS to keep mortgage interest rates artificially low - like keeping the economy on life support, and that included St. George Real Estate market. It can't last forever, and as the economy improves (good sign), they're slowly tearing the band-aid off rather than ripping it off and allowing rates to go from 3.5% to say 6% overnight. 

So rising Home Mortgage interest rates a GOOD or BAD thing? Both. And most importantly, a REAL thing. Real Estate markets never stay static, and the St. George Real Estate market is no different.

Wondering if your home can be sold in this market? Reach out to us directly for a (free) personalized “Pin-Point Valuation”, or just click on the link below for a “quick and dirty” St. George home value estimate: 

What does Shifted Real Estate Market Mean for Buyers?

by Jeremy Larkin

If you haven't heard yet, the St. George Real Estate Market is shifting....AGAIN. What was a Seller's market, became a DRAMATIC Buyer's market, which is now becoming, yet again, a SELLER's real estate market not only in St. George, Utah, but all over the West. If you're BUYING St. George Real Estate, here's what that means for you. 

Blood, Sweat & St. George Short Sales

by Jeremy Larkin

Some of you may remember my post “Your Agent was trying to help you when they said Short Sales Suck!” from May 2008.

Nearly 2 years have passed from that day and in many ways, Short Sales still DO suck, but their time of “sucky-ness” (don’t look that up, NOT a word) may be soon coming to an end.

As we are all so very aware, the Federal Government has decided to stick their fingers in just about everything we do with the exception of which sugar cereal we feed to our children. (that’s probably coming…)

In a rare flash of brilliance, some of their new legislation could actually be the best thing to hit Buyers, Sellers and Real Estate in General in a long time.

The problem with short sales has always been summed up in a few major points:

  • Short Sales take too long (as in 3 to as many as 10 months!)
  • The eventual outcome of the Buyer’s original offer is always unknown (The chances of actually getting the home you offered on was a literal craps shoot)
  • They were a miserable ton of work for every single person involved in the transaction

See, the bank that the Seller is no longer making a mortgage payment to (in most cases) typically hasn’t APPROVED the sale of the home at the list price. So Buyers come along looking at a home listed for $150k that the bank may only let go for $170k. That’s just not right, totally confusing and emotionally painful.

New legislation proposed by the US Treasury would make the following changes to the Short Sale process:

1)      Banks would be FORCED to respond in 10 days or less! (Vs. 30-90 in a typical case)

2)      Sellers – yes, the SELLERS who couldn’t pay their mortgages could possibly get up to $1500 for relocation costs

3)      1st Mortgage Holders could get $1000 per closed short sale

4)      2nd Mortgage Holders (the stickiest short-sale killers in the business) could get $3000 per closed sale

Will this come to pass? I don’t know. You can bet they will be taking money from mine and your pockets to fund the plan though, which is one of the negative side-effects of the plan. Does the “disease merit the treatment?”

Shoot me some feedback.

BUYERS – have you been involved in trying to secure a short sale? What kind of experience was it?

SELLERS – are you in that same position? Honestly, is it a HUGE pain in the neck or what?

Bidding Wars?! A Tale of 2 Real Estate Markets

by Jeremy Larkin

"But Jeremy, I offered above full list price and STILL got beat out! What gives?

If I had $5 for every Buyer who has been shocked (and dismayed) about having to "compete" for homes in this so-called "Buyer's" market, I'd have a nice little vacation fund built up.

Today we talk about

  • the "Tale of 2 Markets", those listings that are "in" the market, and those that are "out" of the market;
  • why Buyers are getting into bidding wars in St. George, Utah as well as other Western markets,
  • and also why Sellers have to get in the "critical 20%" if they are going to sell.

Below this video is a copy of the chart I discuss in the video. Enjoy!

 

St. George/Washington County Real Estate Update

by Jeremy Larkin

The tides are a turnin' in many parts of the St. George area real estate market this month! Friends and clients on my mailing list have been hearing about this for the past few months and the positive news keeps coming.

In an article from today's "Spectrum" newspaper titled "Local Economy Stabilizing", local & regional economist Lecia Langston said Washington County's economy is beginning to stabilize. Well it's about time!

For so long our area was "insulated" from the major ebbs and flows of the economy, feeling only a percentage of the cyclical changes that may have been felt in other major metropolitan areas. Why? Well if you live here you know the answer, and if you are moving here you also understand. Great location, weather, scenery, national parks, low crime, the works!

Outside of all the economists' hard-to-understand charts and graphs, what we are seeing "on the ground" is this: Properties hitting the market and selling in a few days or less for list or even above list price, with the final price and terms being determined through a "bidding war." (see this WSJ article on just that: BIDDING WARS)

Here are some hard figures to consider:

February 
Total Pending 264
Total Active Listings 2650 %
Total Sold (30 days) 106 Sold
    % of Total
Active REO 178 7%
Active Short Sale 440 17%
Active Retail 2020 76%
Sold REO 39 37% 22%
Sold Short Sale 9 8% 2%
Sold Retail 58 55% 3%

May 5 #'s
Total Active Listings 2337
Total Pending 430 %
Total Sold (30 days) 202 Sold
    % of Total
Active REO 133 6%
Active Short Sale 472 20%
Active Retail 1733 74%
Sold REO 67 33% 50%
Sold Short Sale 37 18% 8%
Sold Retail 98 49% 6%

1. "Pending" sales up nearly 40% since February. All of the major financial and housing experts use pending sales as a major indicator of housing market health.

2. "Active" listings down 12% in that same time frame. Real estate, just like handguns and hammers, is about supply and demand. Lower supply is what we want.

There is still a TON of foreclosure inventory coming, but I think this is a good thing. Why? Because every well-priced home that hits the market right now, especially under $300k, is selling in just a few days. This tells us the public is finally ready to pull the proverbial trigger and get into the housing market.

Housing has always driven the rest of the financial markets. When people are buying, sellers are getting paid and spending that $$ on other homes, goods and services. In that process, real estate agents, title and mortgage people also get paid. They in turn spend money, and the eternal sales cycle continues.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions on this page about the figures above, as well as your personal opinions about the market. Onward!

 

Ok...What if I gave you $24k to buy a home..would that help?

by Jeremy Larkin

Some time back I posted an entry titled "If I Gave you $10,000  to Buy a House, would you do it?"  I was of course referring to the St. George / Washington County Home Buyer "grant" of $10,000. It was exciting news for sure.....at the time.

That news now pales in comparison of the combined incentives available for buyers in this current market, particlularly FIRST TIME home buyers (defined as anyone who has not owned a home in the past 3 years.)

Let's take a brief look at those options:

$8000.00 First-time home buyer tax credit - Detailed summary HERE.

You literally get either an $8000.00 check from the US Govt, or a credit in the same amount against your tax liability if you buy a home between Jan 1, 2009 and Dec 31, 2009. (Assume you owe nothing in taxes, you're getting $8k. Assume you owe say $4000.00, you're getting $4000.00)

Who gets it? First-time home buyers only. Does it have to be paid back? NO. The "old" tax credit (from way back in the pre-historic age of 2008 and President Bush) was $7500.00 and had to be paid back. Not this one, it is yours to fix your home up, go to Disneyland, stuff in a mattress, whatever.....forever. Income qualifications are broad and very few will make too much for this.

$10,000 Home buying grant in Washington County / St. George -Email us for Details

This is an income qualified "grant" and also depends on how many people in your household. If you are couple with no children, $32,000 is the cutoff. I believe it goes up $5000.00 per child thereafter. The key stipulation with this program is that is has to be paid back in full if you sell or refinance the home in the first 15 years after.

$6000.00 Utah "Home Run" New Homes Grant - Just signed into law LAST NIGHT by Governor Jon Hunstman. Detailed summary HERE.

There are only 1600 of these babies available and then the pot of gold is gone. The funding comes from President Obama's stimulus package and the $$ that was allotted to Utah. The premis is this: Offer a $6000.00 incentive to those who buy a vacant, never-been-lived-in home, so we can get some of this vacant inventory "mopped up.'

Unlike the Washington County incentive, this does NOT have to be paid back and income limits are HIGH: $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples.

Total Incentives to buy: $24,000

Kind of makes me wish I were buying....

Not only that, it has also upset alot of people who feel like their hard-earned tax dollars are being used to pay their neighbors an incentive to go buy a home. There is some truth to that I'm sure, but as a member of the industry who looks at vacant homes all day long I have to support these measures.

Additionally, we have actually arrived at a place where owning IS cheaper than renting for many people, and if not literally so, it is effectively the case based on all of the tax benefits of owning a home. (not to mention getting an $8000.00 check after closing!)

Sorry to sound like just another home-peddling realtor, but we are truly heading into the "Perfect Home-Buying Storm." I read a report this week that showed the following: Since they began tracking interest rates in 1971, obtaining a (legitimate) loan has never been more affordable....ever. Add to that (now) low pricing and these incentives and I can't see why a qualified individual would wait.....for what?!

In closing, let me illustrate how these incentives "hit home." I put a contract together on a foreclosed property with a young first-time buying family just yesterday. The home had been on the market JUST 1 day and will need several thousand in maintenance items to be really "livable" by most people's standards, (carpet, paint, some appliances, yard cleanup, etc).

Now the average family buying their first home will do everything they can to come up wtih their downpayment, but as for making alot of repairs, which almost all foreclosures require, most people don't have it!

As a young family with 1 baby and consistent, but "limited" income, that $8000.00 will come in very handy for them.

What say you?

 

Lipstick Needed for Pig - September Sales Figures are in!

by Jeremy Larkin

Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat this: Sales were down in September, the Economy is a mess and the Media isn't helping in any way shape or form. This is what Washington County Real Estate Sales have looked like for the past 3 months:

  New Listings Active Listings Sold Listings Months Inventory
Sep/2008 768 6,292 183 34.38
Aug/2008 818 6,403 227 28.21
Jul/2008 935 6,501 232 28.02

That last column is what we call the "absorption rate." 28 months of inventory was not good. 34 months of inventory is LESS good.

The flip side?

  • Credit actually IS available and we continue to see people buy and sell homes.
  • There are so many good stories out there, but nobody is telling them.

We just sold a home for 3 sisters from Idaho. They had held this condo in their family for many years and made a nifty profit. They were REALLY happy and it was closed and recorded just 38 days after it hit the market.

We assisted another young couple get into their first home last month and they are tickled pink. It was a bank-owned property, priced extremely well, and it got them out of a small apartment.

Then there is another family living in my immediate neighborhood whose' house is under contract to close sometime next week. They have owned it for 3-4 years, will take a nice little profit, use it to pay off some debt, then rent a larger home for a while preparing to buy again down the road.

I understand it is tough right now...BOY do I understand it. However, there really are good things happening for some people, housing values are getting back in line for the "everyman" and tremendous opportunities are surfacing for investors.

When all else fails I count my blessings every day to have a wonderful wife, 4 hilarious little kids and for every chance I get to enjoy the simple pleasure of pedaling and suffering on my mountain bike or road bike.

If you have any good, OR bad stories to tell about this market is affecting you, send them on over.

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11

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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!