Monday, November 26, 2007

All Real Estate is local

All Real Estate is local, right?

Since that’s the case, there are encouraging signs in Real Estate. In my most recent post, we learned that the number of sales in our area is rather consistent, going back through the 12 years I’ve been tracking the data.

In another post, we learned from the statistics tracked by the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors that the number of homes where the sellers have accepted a sales agreement increased from 55 in October, 2006 to 71 in October, 2007. This is a good omen for the future.

Now, we read in the Wall Street Journal that construction of new homes rose 3% from September -- the first monthly gain since June.

Going back to my original premise, that all Real Estate is local, it’s helpful to understand our recent history.

Back in 2003 and 2004, our Real Estate market locally was rolling along just fine. The chart of listings and sales posted earlier shows that in 2004, the number of homes listed for sale began to increase substantially. At the same time, in the rest of the country, the overall real estate market was sluggish, at best. So our local market began its decline in 2004 – three years ago. During 2004 and 2005, the real estate market in major areas (Florida, Arizona, Nevada) began to “boom” (at least, until the hurricanes hit Florida).

Beginning in 2007, the national media began to report concerns over the national real estate market – mostly due to problems in the mortgage market. In some of the major markets (Phoenix, Las Vegas), investors who bought pre-construction homes (as an investment) are now losing their own homes through foreclosures. Meanwhile, our local market continued to languish.

Perhaps our local real estate market is about 3 years out of phase with the national real estate market. If that’s the case, perhaps we have hit the low point of our local market, and things will pick up in 2008. We shall see!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November Market Statistics

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In my previous post, we learned about the market statistics from the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors.

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 overall strength of the market in, and around, Ann Arbor.

The chart above shows 2 lines. The top line shows the number of homes available for sale (listings) in the Ann Arbor area. The lower line shows the number of homes sold each month. I've been collecting this data since 1996, so you can see some trends in the data. There is a definite seasonal trend for both listings and sales, but more pronounced for sales.

The great news is that the number of sales is rather consistent! The overall number of sales is down slightly (as you'll recall from the previous post, sales are down about 11% compared with the same period in 2006). But many homes are selling each month!

In another previous post, we learned about the three "P's" that you control when you sell. The homes that are selling now are those that have consistency between the three "P's". Go back and check that post for a reminder.

So, if you're looking to sell in this market, take heart! Call me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Board of Realtors Market Statistics

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The Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors has released their overall market statistics for October, 2007.

A quick review of the statistics shows that listings are down about ten percent compared with October of last year. Sales are down about eleven percent.

At the same time, the number of homes where the sellers have accepted a sales agreement increased from 55 in October, 2006 to 71 in October, 2007. This is a good omen for the future.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Five Steps of Buying

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When buyers go out looking for a home, they approach any home from the same perspective, which is comprised of five steps.

1. The community.

The very first thing that any buyer will be looking to "buy" is the community in which they will live. As a seller, there's nothing you can really do to affect the community buying decision.

2. The neighborhood.

The second step of the buying decision for most buyers is the choice of neighborhood they will live in. Will it be rural or urban? New or old? Acre lots or city parcels? Sidewalk or not? Streetlights or not? As a seller, you bought your home for a particular reason, and one of those reasons was the neighborhood itself. Any new buyer will make the same choice.

3. The street.

Once a buyer likes the neighborhood, they will begin to pay attention to the street on which their future home will be located. Are the other homes representative of an area in which they would like to live? Are the homes and yards well maintained? When the buyer is driving home after a long day's work, will they smile as they turn onto the street on which their home is located? As a seller, you can begin to have some impact here, as long as you know your neighbors well enough to talk with them!

4. The outside of the home.

If a buyer has made it this far (the community, the neighborhood, and the street), then you have only one chance to make a good first impression. This is where you begin to have total control over the sale of your home. The list of "things to do" to make the outside of your home ready to sell is too numerous to publish here. Suffice it to say, anything and everything you can do to make the outside of your home "shine", you must do.

As an aside, I have to relate an experience from several years ago. While showing homes to buyers, we walked up the sidewalk to the front of the home. Mrs. buyer gasped as she rounded the corner and saw the front porch and front door. The sellers had arranged hanging flower baskets on each side of the sidewalk, in the shape of the sides of a heart. It was such an inviting appearance! Those buyers bought that house, and I've always remembered that sight, as representative of the importance of making a great first impression with the outside of your home.

5. The inside of the home.

Needless to say, if the buyers have really liked what they have seen on the outside of your home, then, chances are, they will like what you've done to prepare the inside, as well. Again, the list of "things to do" to prepare the inside of your home for sale is too numerous to list here (and is also unique to each home!). Remember, you've only got one chance to make a great first impression of your home on the buyer. Do everything you can do to make it the home that's #1 on the buyer's list!

Having made it through these five steps in buying, your home has a great chance of selling. You can improve those chances even further by making sure you have consistency between the three "P's" of selling (from an earlier post).

Be sure to contact me if you have any questions about the five steps of buying.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday photos

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Well, the fall colors have just about faded in our area. On a recent sunny day, I captured a few final views to remember through the coming winter.

I caught this view while driving west on Bethel Church road, about half-way between Dell and M-50. There is a rolling valley to the north of the road there, which has always captured my gaze. There are plenty of pines and cedars on the hills, and right in the center was this golden hickory tree (from a distance, that's what it looked like). It was hard to peel away from this site!

This next photo jumped up at me. I was walking across the lawn and this red leaf caught my eye. The wind made it tumble away, but I chased it, because there was something about it that struck me. When I turned it back over, it was all the veins in the leaf that caught my eye originally. I'm sure, by now, this leaf has turned brown. But, what a blazing way to go out!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Energetically Speaking...

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Recently, I read an interesting blog article about home energy efficiency audits. In today's economy of rising energy costs, both for driving and for heating and cooling your home, this only makes sense.

Looking at it simplistically, having an audit of your home's energy use could have a big payoff at the end (assuming that you follow through on the recommendations for improvement!).

Not only will you save money on your regular energy bills, you'll be making your home more energy efficient for the future. You can then promote this fact when you sell your home, something which will surely attract the attention of eco-conscious buyers. Those buyers will be more interested in your home, which may lead them to pay more for your home than they otherwise would. Voila! A nice return on the audit investment! It only takes a few rising sales in the marketplace, and we could make the list of locations with rising home values.

While on the subject of energy efficiency, we can't help but notice that there are more and more hybrid cars on the road. You could be saving energy costs both at home and on the road!

Here in Michigan, the fall colors have just about faded. Many of the trees are now bare, awaiting our first snowfall. Yikes! Will driving be bad then? It usually takes the first snowfall for drivers to, once again, remember how to drive in the snow. It's the drivers that make the difference, but having the right car for snow driving can make a difference.

What do you think about having a home energy efficiency audit?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday photos

Flowers in November? How can that be?

Contrary to what you might think about the weather here in Michigan, we've had great weather so far this autumn. So much so, that there are still some flowers blooming around my house.

I'm not an expert on flowers, so I don't know what these blue flowers are called. They started blooming in July, and have been blooming ever since. Notice the date stamp in the lower LH corner - to prove this was a recent photo.

This flower sits really low to the ground, so the plant has already had to put up with some frost this fall. Still, the blooms keep coming along.

The way that both of these flower plants look, we'll be having flowers bloom well into November!