Friday, June 27, 2008

Golf Course Economics

Regular readers may know already that I enjoy playing golf. Even on a bad day, it’s still a great walk in the park. And while we see Tiger on TV hitting the ball 300+ yards on his drive, I’ve found that the greatest distance in golf is 6 inches – the brain space between the ears. If nothing else, golf is the supreme battle with yourself over control – control of your emotions and your physical body. If you can control the 6 inches between your ears, you can excel at golf.

While playing golf recently, I commented to my playing partner about the changing economics of a golf course.

Think about it.

A golf course is nothing more than an area of finely-maintained lawn. In order to maintain that lawn, it requires regular (daily) mowing – which uses lots of gas or diesel in the mower engines. In order to keep the grass green, and the bugs away, a golf course requires regular application of chemicals – fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides – which are mostly made up from petrochemicals.

We’ve all seen the changes in the price of gas (and a barrel of oil) lately.

So if you’re a golfer, consider how the changes in the price of gas have hit your local golf course operation. It’s likely that we’ll be paying more for the privilege of playing golf in the future.

Lunch with a Friend

About a month ago (May 19), I wrote about my experience at the BloodhoundBlog Unchained conference in Phoenix. The inspiration from the conference is still with me – I’m still working on my list of 30+ “things to do” which came out of my experience there.

One of the presenters at the conference is a fabulous Realtor® from Dayton, Ohio – Teri Lussier. She describes herself as “Real estate professional, social networking participant, Web 2.0 enthusiast. “ Being that we’re both in practice in the general “Midwest”, we struck a chord together at the conference. Her market in Dayton is not dissimilar from my market in the Ann Arbor and Saline area.

Yesterday (June 26), Teri and I met for lunch in Findlay, Ohio – about halfway between Dayton and Ann Arbor.

Our conversation ranged all over the map – follow-up from the conference, what we’ve implemented in our businesses as a result of the conference, family updates, and blogging in general.

The bulk of our conversation, though, was about Teri’s latest efforts at BloodhoundBlog. Project Bloodhound has been launched. The goal of the project is to collect some of the best and brightest comments and answers to questions. Those who will be asking the questions are six new participants at BloodhoundBlog. Their experience as Realtors® and as Bloggers ranges from newbie to experienced pro. Being a regular reader and commenter at BloodhoundBlog, I look forward to watching Project Bloodhound unfold. And with Teri’s guiding hand (keyboard? Mouse?), the project will be fabulous.

Hat’s off to you, Teri!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Market Statistics for Saline - June 2008

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As you all know, I review our market statistics around the middle of each month.What I'd like to focus on this month is the Saline Michigan real estate market.

The first chart I’d like to review is shown above. I’ve tracked real estate activity for the Saline Michigan real estate market since 1996. There is a definite seasonality to the market – strength in the summer, weakness in the winter. A reading above 25% is a “seller’s” market, while a reading below 20% is a “buyer’s” market.

It’s no surprise to learn that we have been in a “buyer’s” market in Saline since the end of 2004 – more than three years, now.

What’s intriguing about this first chart is the strengthening of the Saline Michigan real estate market since January. What could be the cause of this?

This second chart (above) shows 2 lines. The top line shows the number of homes available for sale (listings) in the Saline area. The lower line shows the number of homes sold each month.
In answer to my question posed above (What could be the cause of this?), the strengthening of the Saline Michigan real estate market since October is a direct result of fewer homes listed for sale. How could this make the market stronger? Well, with fewer homes competing for the available buyers, it’s more likely that any of the homes listed for sale will actually sell during the month. That’s what we mean by a strengthening of the market!

Another interesting observation from the chart is that the number of sales in the Saline area has been rather consistent since 2005! In a previous post, we learned about the three "P's" that you control when you sell. The homes that are selling now, have been selling since 2005, are those that have consistency between the three "P's". Go back and check that post for a reminder.
The final piece of the analysis of the strength of the Saline Michigan real estate market is the months of supply of homes presently on the market.

This table shows the “raw data” that makes up the charts shown above. On the far right hand side of this table shows the “Months Supply” in each price range. Rather than focus on any particular price range, it’s more helpful to understand the overall level of inventory of homes for sale.

As of mid-June, at the present pace of sales of homes in Saline, there are enough homes on the market to supply only 8 ½ months of demand. This is down significantly since February, when there was nearly a 20 months’ supply of homes for sale. In the past few years, it’s been typical to have about 6 months’ supply of homes for sale, so our market is improving toward our average.

If you’re considering selling your Saline home or condo, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of my experience and market understanding. I’d be happy to meet with you! Just give me a call at (734) 476-2063, or send an e-mail, “Vance (at) SalineMichiganRealEstate (dot) com”.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flipping for Video of your Saline real estate

It is said that you never get a second chance for a good first impression. When you’re looking to sell your Saline home or condo, you want to be sure that your home gives a great first impression.

Recently, I added a new tool to my real estate arsenal – the Flip video. If you haven’t seen one already, you likely will very soon. They’re becoming ubiquitous. Here’s why:

1. The Flip is incredibly easy to use for recording.
2. It has a USB plug-in already built in – just plug it into your computer.
3. The software for manipulating the videos is built into the Flip.
4. Once you’ve downloaded your video to your computer, you can immediately upload it to YouTube.

So why is the Flip so important when you’re looking to sell your Saline home or condo?

Most Realtors® pay close attention to the new listings of homes and condos for sale, every day. Most Realtors® also have set up “automatic” searches for homes and condos, to alert their active buyers of new listings which meet the client’s needs. We use the term “flash” to signify an e-mail update of the new listing information sent to the buyer client.

When that e-mail goes out to buyers, you want to have every tool for marketing your home in place – especially a video of your home. And that is where the Flip is so useful.

In the “olden” days of real estate sales (2007 and before), if you wanted a video of your home, you’d have to wait for a professional videographer to do the shoot. Then you’d have to wait several days, up to a week, to have the video available for viewing on the internet. Those videographers still exist, and they still serve a useful purpose.

But when that “flash” e-mail is sent, these days, we can include a video of your home available on YouTube. That way, when a buyer first sees your Saline home or condo for sale, they’ll be able to take a quick video tour of your home at the same time, when their excited about seeing your home. That could be just the edge we need in selling your home these days.

If you’re considering selling your Saline home or condo, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of my experience with the Flip video. I’d be happy to meet with you! Just give me a call at (734) 476-2063, or send an e-mail, “Vance (at) SalineMichiganRealEstate (dot) com”.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Foreclosures in Saline

It’s a sad fact of life that, even in the Saline real estate market, many people have lost their homes through bank foreclosure.

According to RealtyTrac; a website that logs foreclosure filings, foreclosure rates continue to rise in most of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas of the country.

The effects of foreclosure have spread beyond the delinquent borrower. The losses had a chain reaction from the defaulting borrower, to the lender and the investors. The foreclosure process costs the lenders thousands in losses through legal fees and taxes due until the property is sold. Not to mention the lost equity when the house is priced to sell in a weak market. We’ve seen the news that many of the major financial institutions (such as Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch) have reported billions in losses on investments backed by mortgages. You can read one of these reports here.

On a wider scale, even those who have not, or will not, default in their payment were affected. Foreclosure raises the risk of fire, vandalism, theft and other crimes not only in the vacant foreclosed homes but in the surrounding houses, streets and neighborhoods. Here is an article that discussed how the mortgage meltdown sparked a crime wave in one of the areas hardest hit by foreclosure.

When you combine an increase in inventories of foreclosed houses for sale with the typically lower-than-market value sale price of foreclosures, the result is that it weakens the local housing markets. It pulls down the value of other nearby homes and sometimes the whole neighborhood. Buying a foreclosed property in an area known for a lot of foreclosures doesn't leave much room for capital growth, if an investor is planning to flip it.

Remember, although there are many opportunities available in foreclosed properties, not all foreclosures present an opportunity for successful investment. Do your own research. Check the foreclosure statistics in the area. How did the foreclosures in the area affect the neighborhood? Did it increase the crime rate in the area? Are there any developments or job growth that can affect the area's future capital growth potential? Be aware of any indicators that can further dampen the house prices and look out for genuine bargains that can be a potential gold mine.

If you’re considering an investment in a foreclosed home in the Saline real estate market, you owe it to yourself to explore the risks and rewards first. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned through my experience. Just give me a call at (734) 476-2063, or send an e-mail, “Vance (at)”.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Understanding Buyer Agency for Saline Michigan real estate

If you’re in the market to buy Saline real estate, it’s vitally important that you understand buyer agency. In this article I’d like to briefly cover the subject.

When looking to sell their Saline home or condo, sellers will generally interview a number of agents, with the goal of hiring the best real estate agent to list and sell their home. As a buyer, you may just want to see some Saline homes or condos, and therefore you may think that you need an agent only to open the lockbox and let you view the property. In general, many buyers really don't care who opens the door to the house for them.

But they should.

When someone calls me to see one of the many homes I have listed for sale, there are a number of questions I’ll typically ask:

Are you working with another real estate agent to help you buy a home? No, why?

Well, we have to ask. Why?

Because if you are already working with another real estate agent, and if I'm not the listing agent for the home you want to see, then I can't show it to you. Aren't you the listing agent?

No, unfortunately, all of the available homes for sale in the Saline real estate market that you can view on my website are not my listings. Who's the listing agent?

You see, if you want to buy a home and you don't understand buyer agency, you really shouldn't be buying a home. If you do understand buyer agency and choose not to use a buyer agent to represent your interests in the transaction, then by all means, buy a home.

A real estate agent does more than open the lockbox and the door to the home and point out the obvious, such as “This is the kitchen” or “That's a nice walk in closet in the master bedroom.” A real estate agent offers a buyer negotiating expertise, knowledge of the Saline real estate market, and experience in helping buyers avoid potential pitfalls when buying a home. I’ve always looked at Buyer Agency as making sure that a buyer doesn’t make a mistake.

A buyer who chooses to become a client by entering into a written Buyer Agency agreement can expect me, and my Company, to provide the following client level services:

Reasonable care and skill

Client level services also include advice, counsel and assistance in negotiations (emphasis added).

The best part of buyer agency in the Saline real estate market is that it doesn't cost you any money to be represented. The seller pays the commission to the listing broker, who splits it with the broker representing the buyer.

If you are ready to look at Saline homes or condos, call me at (734) 476-2063, and I’ll guide you to find the perfect home in Saline to meet your needs.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Stage your Saline home for selling now

If you’re looking to sell your Saline home or Condo, ask yourself how serious you really are to sell. If you’re really serious, it pays to have your home professionally staged.

Home Staging is the very best proven way to get top dollar for your home as you prepare it for sale. Homes that are Staged by a Professional Home Stager sell faster and for more money! This is because Staging sets the scene throughout the house to create immediate buyer interest in your property. This will then lead to your home selling for the highest possible price in today's market. Remember, "The way you live in your home, and the way you market and sell your house are two different things."

“Home staging” is not a new term, but for many homeowners and real estate agents the concept of “professional home staging” is shedding new light on how to promote a home in the real estate marketplace. In past years, homeowners were left to their own discretion as far as preparing for home showings. Though they could occasionally rely on an agent for instructions, more often than not real estate agents were just as perplexed at working out the details as the homeowner.

While agents are experts in the field of selling and closing, many are not design savvy. Agents usually know exactly what factors can help sell a home. It’s just not always easy to get a home into selling condition in a timely manner without some sort of experienced assistance.

Professional home stagers are practiced in the art of preparing a home for resale. They work with the “flow” of a home, eliminate clutter, edit and arrange furniture, and even assist in enhancing curb-appeal. With the aid of a professional home stager, your house can make a notable first impression on potential homebuyers. As the real estate industry often stresses, the first impression is the key factor in selling your home.

You find and select a professional home stager much like you would find any other professional service. Ask around and get referrals. Check with your real estate agent.

When you contact a home stager, ask for an estimate. Most home staging businesses will be happy to give you a free estimate and it is usually a quick process. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and estimates can be a bit off. However, unless something unforeseen takes place between the estimate and the actual job itself, an estimate should be fairly accurate.

Get several free estimates and make some calculations. Just like any service, pricing in the home staging industry can vary over a wide range. Some charge an hourly rate and some will charge you a set fee for the entire job. Be sure to ask how they determine their fee so that you can make an educated decision. Also, factor in the condition of your home, the average amount of time homes have been on the market in your area, and the asking price of your home.

Asking price can play a huge factor in what you should be willing to pay for staging services. Some professional home stagers bring in rented furnishings, driving the price up considerably. Some simply charge too much to make it pay off. A lot of home stagers seem to forget that their clients are planning on moving out of the house very soon. Most home sellers are not willing to invest a huge amount of cash in a house they are planning on leaving behind.

Find out up front what the stager is planning to bring in and at what cost. Though expert services do come at a price, the cost should balance with the expected benefit of a higher selling price. As a rule, the higher the asking price of the home, the more one can spend to have it professionally staged.

So when it’s time to sell your Saline home or Condo, consider having it professionally staged. If you’d like the names of some excellent home stagers in the Saline area, give me a call at (734) 476-2063.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Open House - Sunday, June 8, 2008

1469 Middlewood, Saline, MI 48176
You're invited to visit this beautiful 3 bedroom home in the Maplewood Farms subdivision of Saline.

I'll be hosting an open house on Sunday, June 8, 2008 between 2-4pm. You're welcome to visit during that time.
I look forward to meeting you on Sunday!
See also:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Too good to be true!

Just another quick article to let you know how I recently helped a client with their Saline real estate investment plans.

Bart and Lisa are experienced real estate investors in the Saline area. They watched with great interest as home prices have declined about 30% over the past 3 years, focusing mainly on bank foreclosures. Recently, a bank listed a home for sale which was “too good to be true,” only this time, it really was true!

Bart and Lisa had already done their “home”work, by getting their pre-approval with their bank. When the opportunity came up, we jumped, making the first and best offer, on the house.

After we had the home inspected and found nothing objectionable, we knew that Bart and Lisa would be making money right away with this property.

A wise Real Estate investor once told me “I never made money when selling a property – I made money when I bought it.” Given the level of home prices right now – mostly in bank foreclosures - lots of people will be making money when they buy. Will you?

Are you ready to start your Saline real estate investment search? Contact me, and I’ll guide you on finding the perfect investment property in Saline to meet your needs. (734) 476-2063.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Saint Joseph's Statue?

Why do people bury a statue of a Saint in their garden? How could it be nice to a real Saint to bury a statue of him in the ground? These questions inevitably come up when considering the old tradition to bury a statue of Saint Joseph when you want to sell your Saline real estate.

The history behind the tradition to bury a statue of Saint Joseph is hundreds of years old (A.D. 1515 - 1582). It began in Europe when the nuns at a Cloister needed to expand their land, and as a prayer to Saint Joseph, they buried medals of him in the ground. After a short time they found out that their prayers had been heard and they got more land. This old story has lived on until today, but on the tradition has changed from burying medals to burying statues.

When you first heard that a friend sold their house thanks to a statue of Saint Joseph, you may have been confused. Like any other normal person, your first response was likely “No surprise there!” when your friends told you that they had wanted to sell their Saline home for a few months, but no one showed any interest.

That was when they were recommended to try to bury a statue of Saint Joseph by their “For Sale” sign. They felt a little strange burying it, but they also said that they had known many people that had put their faith in God and succeeded, and that history is full of those stories, so why not give it a try? They bought a statue of Saint Joseph, read the instructions, read the prayers, and said that after the ritual was done, they felt relief, and really knew that soon they were about to sell their house. One week later, they were pleased to accept an offer on their house.

Your friends were religious before, but their faith in the Saints and Saint Joseph has surely increased. That little Saint Joseph statue they buried followed them to their new home, and can be seen over the fireplace in the living room. Do they credit the sale to Saint Joseph? For sure, that little statue helped them to get the faith they needed to make the sale. And they did.

So when it comes to buying or selling your Saline real estate, I look forward to the opportunity to serve you. (734) 476-2063.