Friday, March 17, 2017
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced raising the Federal Funds rate (the rate which banks lend money to other banks for overnight borrowing) by one quarter percentage point. Historically, an interest rate hike sends Realtors into an emotional frenzy. This time, however, I have heard very little push back and I think this is why:
1. We all anticipated the rate hike. Generally, we don’t like surprises, so it just confirmed what we already thought.
2. We are happy the economy is performing better; unemployment is under 5% (4.7% in February); 200,000 jobs are being added per month; and the stock market is at record levels (actually closing higher on Wednesday).
3. Mortgage rates remain historically low. After the announcement, the 30-year rate rose from 4.21% to 4.30%. If you’re like me and purchased your first home with a 12% mortgage, this still seems like a pretty good deal.
4. Real estate sales are gaining steam. In our market area, 65 homes went under contract from Wednesday to Friday. 71 homes are pending, which means they are scheduled to close.
As Realtors, we can’t predict the future. But for now, we are seeing positive economic signs, confidence and optimism. I’ll take that any day!
Principal, Janet McAfee
Monday, March 06, 2017
“In Like a Lion”
The St. Louis Spring selling market is early and robust. Consumer optimism, a record stock market, spring-like weather and favorable interest rates have all aligned to create this early surge. Listings which expired in 2016 have re-activated and have already received offers. We are seeing declining days on market, favorable pricing and competitive bidding. The tail wind going into our Spring market is vigorous.
Here is a snapshot of 2017 versus last year:
· Closed sales up +2.6%
· Average sold price up +3.6%
· Number of sales up +3.6%
· Average days on market down -20.5%
· Number of Active listings DOWN -10.2%
What can we expect going forward?
All indicators suggest we are poised for a strong Spring market, provided we fill the listing pipeline. The number of active listings is on a multi-year decline not only in St. Louis, but around the country. We need to reverse this slide in order to satisfy buyer demand and prevent buyer fatigue. The risk when there are not enough relevant properties to satisfy demand or buyers repeatedly lose out in competitive bidding, is that buyers get discouraged and opt out completely.
Another trend we are watching is Millennial home purchasing (or lack of home purchasing). This generation, now approaching their 20’s through mid-30’s has surpassed their parents as the largest demographic. Unlike their Baby Boomer parents, who purchased their first home in their 20’s, this generation is delaying home ownership. This generation graduated from college with the highest level of student debt in history and the most difficult job market. Today, the “30 something” Millennials are gaining financial security and entering the market. Going forward, I believe Millennial housing preferences and purchase cycle will be the most significant drivers in residential real estate.
Principal, Janet McAfee Inc.
Friday, February 03, 2017
Today is Groundhog Day, a day which reminds us to change our strategies if we want to achieve different results. Unless you are Bill Murray, you cannot keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. This principal could not be more true for listing and selling homes. If your home has been on the market 60 or more days, we need to rethink our strategies and make some changes to appeal to prospective buyers in a more compelling way.
There are things we cannot change and there are things we can change. We cannot change the home’s location, the lot characteristics and the home construction. It is futile to focus on things we cannot change. There are many things we can change … and should change.
1. Price – The price is your invitation to a specific set of buyers to come visit your home. If no one has accepted your invitation, perhaps you are inviting the wrong group of buyers. Perhaps the buyers in this price range expect a larger home, more bathrooms, new kitchen. If other homes are selling in this price range, then perhaps you are being displayed among the wrong group. You should ask your agent to update the Comparative Market Analysis and determine how your home compares to the others which have recently sold. If you had showings, what did those prospects end up buying?
2. Landscaping – The drive by is often the buyer’s first impression. It is imperative that you continually freshen your landscaping. Keep leaves raked, gum balls removed, flower beds trimmed and mulched. The front walk should be swept clean. Nothing says “this listing is stale” more than old, droopy landscaping.
3. Staging – Giving your home a fresh look can bring buyers back to take another look. Have you completely decluttered? Neutralized the colors? Rearranged or removed mismatched and overly large furniture? Stripped wallpaper? These small changes can help prospective buyers see your home in a different light. I recommend consulting with a professional stager to get ideas on how to change the look of your home to appeal to more buyers.
4. Photography – We know that almost all home buyers are searching the internet for homes. Change your photography (especially after you have painted and decluttered). Photograph your rooms from a different perspective and remove photos which captured negative aspects of your home.
Happy Groundhog Day and Happy Selling!
Principal, Janet McAfee Inc.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Sellers often ask me if there is a benefit to staging their home. The answer is a resounding YES! Research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and our “real world” local experience is indisputable: staging adds value, reduces the time on market and produces a positive ROI. Here are the 10 Reasons to Stage Your Home for selling:
1. You will make more money. A 2015 NAR survey found the majority of buyers were more likely to offer higher prices for a staged home compared to a similar home.
2. Your home will sell faster. Professionally staged homes spent 72% less time on the market, according to a survey from the Real Estate Staging Association.
3. Buyers can visualize themselves in the home. 81% of buyers it was easier to visualize the staged property as their future home.
4. Your online photos will look better. Over 95% of home buyers look online. This is where you make your first impression and where potential buyers decide whether to make an appointment. Professional staged homes stand out and generate more buyer interest.
5. Staging helps defuse other property flaws. 2015 NAR survey revealed 28% of buyers viewing a staged home overlook other property faults. The eye is naturally drawn to clean, well-appointed furnishings and away from minor imperfections.
6. Personal photos and memorability distract your buyer from viewing the home. Remember, you are trying to help a buyer see themselves living in this property, not as a guest amidst your family’s personal life story.
7. The cost of staging is less than your first price reduction. Some sellers will say “I’ll give it a try without staging and then if it doesn’t sell, I’ll stage it.” This is a huge mistake. Days on market tick on. By the time you have determined you need to stage, your best prospects have already seen your home and formed their opinion. You are looking at a price reduction just to attract new interest.
8. Sellers are not objective about their own homes. The chinoiserie fabric you selected to match the floral chintz may be your pride and joy, but the buyer may not share your design style. A professional stager will select a neutral pallet which appeals to a broad range of prospective buyers.
9. You will save time and reduce your anxiety. Selling your home can be stressful and time consuming. A professional stager will manage the process for you so that you can devote your energy into your new home.
10. Your Realtor will support you 100%. Real estate professionals know that staged homes attract higher offers and faster sales. We are delighted to help facilitate the process, make appointments for you, meet painters or handyman at your home and help you arrange an estate sale.
Janet McAfee Inc.
(Property in photograph is 9044 Clayton Road, professionally staged by Property Enhancements LLC)
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Have you ever heard a graduation speaker declare "follow your passion and you will be successful?" What if you don't know your passion? What if you are just starting out, trying to figure out your career path and you don't know your "passion?" I think some things in life are not always "love at first sight." And, I think selling real estate is not necessarily "love at first sight."
If you speak with successful Realtors, many will tell you that it took time and perseverance to excel. Moreover, they did not become passionate about selling real estate until they had stuck with it, worked really hard and begun to see the fruits of their labor. The passion came after the hard work. I believe the real estate profession is about perseverance. Successful Realtors are committed every day; they keep abreast of market activity; they touch base with their clients regularly and they are passionate about helping their clients. These are the Realtors who succeed and love their job. They become passionate about their job when they see the benefits of their hard work and the lives they have touched.
I believe real estate is one of the most rewarding careers you can choose. It requires a great deal of perseverance. Perseverance is the key ingredient to success and self fulfillment.
Principal, Janet McAfee Real Estate
Friday, November 11, 2016
In the aftermath of this divisive election, I am heartened to hear politician’s new rhetoric of “coming together” and “finding common ground.” I say, “Isn’t this what Realtors do every day?” Look no further than how we Realtors find common ground every time we negotiate a sales contract; how we cooperate with our fellow Realtors for every showing, every feedback request and every agent open house. Our Duty to Cooperate is spelled out in the Realtor Code of Ethics. We don’t make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals and we do not attempt to gain unfair advantage over competitors. Along with honesty, competency and high integrity, cooperation lay at the heart of our industry. The Code states: “cooperation promotes the best interests of those who utilize our services.”
If any person is having trouble coming together in this season of change, look no further than the 1.2 million Realtors in the United States, where cooperation is our middle name.
Janet McAfee Real Estate
Monday, October 31, 2016
A recent study published by the Journal of Housing Research concluded the best technique for pricing a home is setting the asking price just below a round number. The study went on to say that this strategy of “just below” pricing yielded a selling price 2.5 to 3 percent higher compared with a “rounded price.” The example given is a home listed at $199,000 yielded a sale price $5,000 to $6,000 higher than one listed for $200,000. The study was conducted among 1,000 buyers in Virginia considering a pool of 370,000 listings.
Do you agree or disagree? Some believe this is old school thinking. “We don’t price homes like cans of soup on the grocery shelf, commented a Realtor. Others believe this is a good strategy because home buyers are influenced by a lower first digit. What is your experience?
Janet McAfee Real Estate
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I attended a training class on the topic of negotiation. I heard a wonderful story which demonstrates why we as agents should look for common interests (not just our client’s position) when negotiating contracts and building inspections. Here’s the story:
“A mother walked into her kitchen to find her 2 children screaming and fighting over the last orange. Exasperated, she grabbed the orange, sliced it in half and gave each child half the orange. Immediately upon doing so, the children began crying and screaming even louder. Bewildered by this, she asked her children what’s the matter now? The first child said she needed the pulp of one orange to complete her science project. The second child explained he needed the juice of one orange for his brownie recipe.”
The mother had only understood each child’s position – “I want the orange.” Had the mother understood each child’s interest in obtaining the orange, each child would get what each child needed. If we look deeper than just our client’s position and figure out their interest in wanting something, we may find a “win-win” solution.
Janet McAfee Real Estate
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The first page of the Seller’s Disclosure Statement asks for Subdivision or Condominium association information and contacts. Please take the time to review and remind the sellers to answer all of the questions.
-Mary Beth Gold
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
As a listing agent, pre-empt last minute issues by recommending that the seller request detailed invoices and lien waivers from contractors reflecting repairs performed. Collect the paid invoices and lien waivers a week before closing whenever possible. Often, by collecting detailed receipts early, the parties will be alerted to any repair items accidentally overlooked or misunderstood, and contractors may be scheduled for another visit prior to closing. It is rare for a lender to approve last minute credits from sellers to buyers, due to tightened lender guidelines and policies, so have your contractors available and avoid some walk-through woes.