Realtor or Therapist?

In my profession, I get to see great joy.  But lately, my calling has been to counsel; and sometimes I feel ill-equipped to provide comfort in the stories I hear.  Today,  I met with four different sellers.  Two literally wept at their kitchen tables due to financial strains beyond their control.  Strong, intelligent, well-meaning, sincere people – trapped in extenuating circumstances that seem impossible to turn around.  What can I say to comfort?  My heart just breaks.  Good people, losing their homes. How can I help them? At this point, I probably can’t save their homes, but I can help them get a new start and make the transition less abrupt than the sheriff’s unscheduled knock.  I have no answers for the greater problems, but I can listen, but somehow this doesn’t feel like enough.  Maybe I can provide the slightest bit of hope.  BTW, the third seller was a delight, but we have A LOT of work to do on that (very cool) home.  The 4th seller screamed at me because he didn’t like the offer I received on his home today.   THIS is my glamorous job.

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JUST SOLD! 1304 Reeves Road, Plainfield

Occasionally, Jennifer runs across a really unique house that she puts on the market with a bit of nervous anticipation.  Some are so unique, they’re hard to price and predict how the market will react. 1304 Reeves Rd was a converted barn in the heart of Plainfield with a huge garage & workshop and a unique nautical feel.  It was framed by mature trees and impressive landscaping, but the bedrooms were small, the kitchen counter tops were all butcher-block, and it had a “70s ambiance” with a sunny but somehow enduring edge.  In 48 hours, she figured out there’s a hot market for that, with two showings books almost immediately.  And she hit the nail on the head with the price, because both showings generated nearly identical offers.  One was accepted with a back-up in place, and the sale closed about 45 days later.

5 Signs Real Estate Recovery is Near (PTL!)

These suggestions come from David Stevens, president & CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (and thanks to Inman News for the interview):

1) MARKETS ARE STABILIZING. The real deliquency rate is down to 8.5% this year vs 10% last year.  New foreclosure starts are down. Florida, Nevada & Arizona are stabilizing.   All that means less bank-owned inventory, which would give private sales an opportunity to realize some stabilization and opportunity to sell at fair market value.

2) NEGATIVE EQUITY AND DECLINING HOME VALUES ARE CONCENTRATED IN FIVE KEY STATES.  In fact, 50% of the total national foreclosure problem is concentrated in those 5 states, so Stevens says that those who quote declines in the average price of homes are using “dangerous data.”  In fact, he claims that if the foreclosure sales are removed from total market data, the average sales prices of privately-owned homes would actually be up.  Now, I have to say I’ve been claiming this about Indy for the past 5 years.  We didn’t have a bubble, we didn’t have a burst.  Our foreclosure inventory is moving to a reduced level almost daily.  And good, clean, well-priced homes are selling at fair-market value.

3) THIS IS LITERALLY THE BEST TIME EVER TO BUY A HOME.  30-yr fixed rates are actually at 4%.  No gimmicks, no tricks.  Yes, 4%.  They have NEVER before been this low.  Did you know that a 2% increase in the rate for a 30-yr loan on a $200,000 house could cost you $87,937 in additional interest over the life of the loan?  That is a staggering punishment for not acting NOW if you’re in the market to buy a house with the bank’s money!  Some would-be-buyers worry about property values continuing to decline and are sitting on the fence.  People!  If a $200,000 house declines 5% in the next year, that’s only $10,000.  Buying NOW could still save you $77,937 over the life of the loan, and who knows what type of equity you could build if you look beyond the short-term risk.  You’ve got to live somewhere.   That rental you’re in sure isn’t going to increase in value for you!

4) THE COMING HOME SHORTAGE.  I said, “what?”  But this makes sense!  Gen Y is stabilizing professionally and coming of age.  There are now 80 million Americans, ages 18-34 years old.  They are the largest generation of Americans ever; even larger than the Boomers. And they will need a place to live pretty darn soon.  They won’t be in college or living in their parents’ basements forever.  And if you haven’t noticed, there’s not been a lot of new construction in the past 5 years or so.    Home values are all about supply & demand.  Giddy up, that’s good news when you think about it!

5) JOB CREATION AND TIGHT CREDIT. Stevens believes those two short-term problems are the biggest weight on the housing market.  Jobs are obvious, and the tight credit situation is just the pendulum swinging too far from where it was before the crash in 06-07.  Give it time, the jobs will return, and the lenders will loosen up a bit.  It’s already starting.

Now, I see a lot of wisdom in these comments.  #2 is a BRILLIANT way to look at the choice of “risking it” to buy now.  I mean, I’ve been bellowing about these crazy low rates since they hit 4% (in fact, for years actually, because they were crazy good at 6% and then 5.5% and then 5% etc), but man, oh man, what would our parents have given to buy with money that cheap 30 years ago?  And to realize that holding out to “see what the market will do” could cost that much money?!  Also, #4 CURLS MY TOES.  He’s so right on that thinking.  Hopefully, all these production builders won’t go vertical fast enough and resale will have a chance on the fun-side of the supply & demand game.

Anyway, nobody can predict what will happen this evening, much less the future of the local housing market, but these comments give me hope.  Hang in there and if you want to save yourself about $88,000 over the next 30 years, CALL ME NOW 🙂  Happy Friday.

JUST SOLD – 1511 Continental Drive, Zionsville

New job opportunities in Texas forced the sign in the yard on this one, and the clock was ticking toward a 60-day deadline for the move.  These anxious homeowners HAD to sell and buy in Texas within a 60-day window or the terms of their generous relocation packaged changed dramatically.  Competition was fierce in the neighborhood.  The dog-days of summer were upon us.  Deadlines loomed.  Jennifer helped them develop a pricing strategy that was designed to protect their equity, but aggressive enough to outsell the competition also on the market.  And it worked.  An acceptable offer was received within 40 days and the moving trucks rolled toTexas exactly on schedule.

JUST SOLD – 11875 E 500 S, Zionsville

High end sales are sluggish right now, right?  Maybe, if you pay attention to the statistics.  But Jennifer dug into the marketing of 11875 E 500S in Zionsville and found the one ready, willing and able buyer that this unique property needed (in just 37 days, by the way).  The whole deal was tough from day 1.  The negotiations were challenging.  The inspection was over-the-top, and the subsequent irrational expectations from the buyer were deal-killing.  On a Tuesday night, the deal was dead.  And on Wednesday morning, Jennifer resuscitated it, got both parties to a “meeting of the minds.”  And by Friday night, it was closed.  The sellers packed up and moved to Florida, the buyers dove into their new pool right away.  Sometimes, when the deals get tough, it helps to have an agent who knows when to be tough and how to get over hurdles. 

A Trip Around the World

Tomorrow I get to show homes from Brownsburg to Noblesville, seriously.  I may even end up in Greenwood this weekend – same clients.  That’s what happens when a client works in the center of Indy and doesn’t mind a commute to the suburbs.  But the thing that pervades my thoughts on this matter is how blessed I’ve been to have been exposed to the entire western half of Indy – from Greenwood to Noblesville – in my adult years.   I used to work on the southside in college and spent my lunch hours driving around, just exploring, getting to know a part of town that I’d probably never been to prior to taking that summer job.  I grew up in Brownsburg, so I burned a lot of gas learning to drive in Hendricks County.  Years later, my real estate career placed me in Pike Township, the heart of the northwest side of Marion County, where I cut my teeth on Indiana real estate.  And, then, in 2007,  I moved my business to Zionsville and quickly soaked up the northside.  All of this makes me a very well-rounded realtor, and I rarely get lost and I have a vast familiarity with those markets!   So, happy househunting to us tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll post about  a sale by week’s end!