Light, Bright and Airy Home Staging Blog #5

Staging for living! Today I have some quick insight about home staging. So often after staging a home people tell me that they didn’t know that their house could look that good, or “If my house looked this good before, I wouldn’t be selling it.” So here is some real world advice if you want your house to look great for a future sell, but you want to enjoy it now.

Did you know that you can hire a home stager to give you ideas – even if you are not moving right now? If you think that you may want to sell your home sometime in the future, and want to make a few changes, but don’t want to over remodel for your neighborhood. Home stagers can share the best places to spend money that will give you the best return on your investment in the future. A stager can give you focus and material ideas that will have broad appeal just like they would for sale, but allow you to enjoy the update before the time to sell arrives. Usually a home stager will keep to a tighter budget than a decorator, thus protecting your investment dollar. For more information or to contact me directly, check out my website:

Tribune Claims 78% Read Their Real Estate Sections

I admit I don’t look at the Tribune’s weekend real estate sections much anymore but decided to look at it this week. A major advertiser pulled out recently and was curious to see who was still hanging on.

0ne thing I noticed was that the Trib was advertising themselves more. There was a half page ad in both the Saturday and Sunday editions with the title “Who is reading the Tribune Real Estate sections?”. Under the title was a big photo of a Realtor showing that she was taking the issues on a visit to Long Beach. I thought that was pretty funny to think that the only people reading the sections were Realtors who spent to advertise in it. Then below the photo, this claim appeared… “78% of people in the market for real estate in the last 30 days looked in the Tribune, or both.

WHOA! That’s a pretty bold statement to make, IMO. I looked for any reference to the study which they got this claim from but there was none noted. I reread the claim and got hung up on the “looked in…” statement. Were they trying to use the ole newspaper trick of number of subscribers of the newspaper to make this claim rather than ones that actually read the real estate sections? But after reading the headline again which specifically said “Who is reading the real estate sections?”, they must be trying to claim specifics rather than some subscriber-generated or number of visitors to their website assumptions.

Maybe that their online site was bringing them in? I went to and found the real estate link. It took me to a real estate search form search. I entered in Pismo Beach as a test and it gave me small percentage of the listings that displayed when I tried the same search on I looked up listings the Tribune site displayed in the MLS and found FIVE of them were not on the market anymore. Some were off the market almost TWO weeks!

Sorry folks, I have a hard time believing that a high percentage of people looking for real estate will go on the Internet to search for real estate on a site that has a fraction of the available listings and isn’t even current!

So, I’m back scratching my head wondering where the 78% claim is coming from. I know that the California Association of Realtors recently released the 2008 Buyer’s survey which showed that 78% of Buyers used the Internet in their home search. Could this be the 78% claim the Tribune is using??? Hmmm….

Street View in Google Maps

Google Maps now has a feature called “Street View”. They hired people to drive around and take photos on streets. I looked up a few addresses and by the looks of the photos, they took them in our area a few months ago.

You can check out Street View here. When this page loads just click on the “Go to StreetView” so you don’t have to sit through the video.

August Sold Data

(click graph to enlarge)

The August Sold data was released from First American Title. I put all the graphs up on the home page (towards the bottom of the page).

What you’ll see is that sales have had a slight increase over the past few months but nothing significant (at least it wasn’t a decrease in the # of sales!). If you look at all the graphs on the SloWatch site you’ll see that the North County had a good month. Also, Santa Maria is ACTIVE! Their August sales surpassed what they did in August 2007, 2006, and 2004 thanks to foreclosures.

Also notice the green line on the chart above. This is last year’s sales which started to really go down starting in August (similar to other years). It will be interesting to see what the chart shows next month. I think we may not see a big dip thanks again due to….foreclosures!

I can’t wait to see the article headlines when September numbers are released by Data Quick. “Median Home Prices Plummet But Home Sales Post Record Gains”. (sigh)

I’ll be doing my usual statistic reporting at the first of the month. It’s also the end of the third quarter so I will also be doing some quarterly reports which should tell the story a bit more than the individual monthly reports.

More Comments on the Foreclosure Article

A blog reader sent me the following comments on the foreclosure article in the Trib…

“The little disclaimer at the bottom of the graph states “The firm’s data does NOT include trustee’s deeds that transfer property to third-party buying it at public auction.” So any foreclosed property that went to an outside bidder or to a junior lien-holder is NOT reflected in the data. This skews the data a little.

A Notice of Default (NOD) is not a “Foreclosure”. It is not a foreclosed property until it is sold at auction to the highest bidder, be that the foreclosing lender or third-party bidder.

A NOD is the first of three steps in the foreclosure process. A NOD might be filed an a single house three different times or two times by the senior and junior lien-holder. This doesn’t mean three or four homes are in foreclosure, but the data provider and reporter make no distinction between NODs filed and the actual number properties in the foreclosure process.

An other bit of the puzzle they leave out that is that is the “Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure.” When a borrower gives up and the lender is willing to accept it, the borrower simply signs over the property to the foreclosing lender, bypassing the whole process. The end result for the lender is a REO, but there is no Trustees Deed filed.

I personally have seen properties with six NODs, five Trustees Sales Notice, five Cancellations of NOD, and finally one Trustee’s Deed.”

Ryan Baker’s Mortgage Blog

Hello everyone, sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve had some issue’s with my wisdom teeth…not fun. So as you all know a lot has happened over the past 2 weeks in the financial world. I don’t need to waste time talking about the “bailout” plan since all you have to do is turn on any news channel. This should help some of the foreclosure problems, which in turn should help slow down falling home prices by putting more confidence in buyers, but how soon or for how long? I have no idea. Having been home sick for the last week I have heard every argument under the sun and it is one big can of worms that needs to be opened and dealt with.

The outlook is the same in terms of mortgages…you need good credit and to put some money down, it is that simple There are still programs out there for first time homebuyers and people who need assistance, but they aren’t as easy to come by. Is now a good time to buy? I would say so. I have been getting busy doing more purchase loans and to be honest, some of my clients are getting a killer deal on their homes. I am actually pretty jealous.

Another concern people have is what if my bank fails? Here is an article that touches on that: Click here

If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at

California Association of Realtors Buyers Survey

The 2008 Buyers survey was just released from the California Association of Realtors (CAR). The survey reports that 78 percent of Buyers used the Internet to search for a home. Back in 2002, only around 20 percent of Buyers were using the Internet to look for their next home. In the 2007 survey, 72 percent used the Internet.

Because the data they use is from earlier this year, the current percentage is probably now over 80 percent!! No wonder real estate ads in newspapers and magazines no longer are effective.

Foreclosure Article in Tribune

When I read my email inbox this morning, I had multiple “Did you see the front page foreclosure article in the Trib?”. Here it is if you haven’t seen it.

Following are my comments on the article. There are numerous statements in the article that the Tribune has presented as facts, IMO. Knowing how interviews with a newspaper go, I don’t know if the Realtors in the article said what they did or what was printed was taken out of context but I would assume that the Tribune would research any facts it presents.

First, I need to say that I don’t have access to all the info about foreclosures. The Tribune quotes statistics from RealtyTrac which reports to get their data from the SLO County Recorder. While I’ve tried, I don’t have access to the SLO County Recorder info. I, like other Realtors, have access to the Central Coast Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

While most homes sold on the Central Coast go through a Realtor that lists homes on the MLS, there are some that don’t. For Sale By Owners, private sales, Realtor office exclusives, and public auctions are some that aren’t entered into the MLS.

With foreclosures, Realtors have the opportunity to sell both Short Sales and REOs (bank owned) when they are entered into the MLS. For REOs, this is the end of a sometimes lengthy foreclosure process that beings with a Notice of Default.

When a bank takes ownership of a property, most will contact a Realtor who will provide the bank with the price they should list at and enter it into the MLS so all other Realtors can sell the home, similar to any non-REO property. Realtors use the MLS system to look up comparables to determine the price.

I wanted to state this before I start commenting about the Tribune article since the things that are stated in the article come from different data sources.

> The Tribune states that there have been 1,468 filings in 2008 (through August I assume). According to the MLS, we’ve had 269 REOs sold in the county through August and 86 short sales which is a small percentage of the filings. Even if you add in the 70 Active REOs on the market, it only counts for 29% of the total filings reported. In 2007, the Tribune reports that there were 749 filings but only 93 REOs and 36 Short Sales were sold and reported in the MLS. What I don’t know is what happened to all the other filings? Also, I’m wondering how SLO County compares to other Counties with percentage of filings that make it to the MLS.

> The Tribune states that Paso Robles has had 430 foreclosure filings, including 63 REOs. I’m assuming that the filings data is from RealtyTrac but not sure where the REO data is from. The MLS reports that there have been 64 REOs sold in 2008 in Paso Robles (doesn’t count how many REOs are currently on the market).

> The Tribune states “In many cases, foreclosures have sold quickly and for more than the bank’s asking price…” The average Days on Market (DOM) for REOs in 2008 (through August) is 42 days compared to 114 Days for non-foreclosure homes. Short Sales had an average DOM of 137 days. I went through the 269 REOs sold in 2008 (through August) and I’d estimate that less than 10% went above the list price. Most of these were a few thousand dollars over list. But, for every one I saw with an overbid, there was a REO that went for 10-20% below the list price. What the averages say is that REOs go pretty close to the list price (less than 1% less from list price). Since Realtors are the ones recommeding the list price to banks, you’re going to see this happen. Some Realtors will convince the bank to price it low so they don’t have the listing sitting on the market. Most banks don’t pay the typical commission to the Realtor that lists the REO so they aren’t going to put much into marketing the home so they want a low price to bring the buyer and sell it quick. Unforunately, this doesn’t help the neighborhood’s value when a Realtor isn’t trying to get the best price for a home.

I see no evidence that banks are purposely pricing REOs low to get overbids as stated in the article. If they are doing this and not getting the overbids then the rest of the neighborhood’s value gets hit hard!

> The Tribune states that Nipomo prices have fallen 49% over the last 2 years. When I first saw this I went WHAT??! On my median home price page, Nipomo median home prices fell 9.69% between the first half of 2007 and 2008. We’re almost done with the third quarter when I’ll be doing median home price calculations after the end of this month but I thought I’d do Nipomo’s through today to see what the 3rd quarter is shaping into. What it shows is that the median home price for Nipomo is now at $373,000 which is way below the $565,000 median home price in the first quarter of 2007. But, as I posted a few days ago, the median home prices are being skewed by fewer higher-end homes being sold. For Nipomo, the amount of homes selling above $600K in this quarter-to-date is 5 out of 37 (or 13.5%). For the same period last year, it was 17 out of 40 (or 42.5%). I wish newspapers would quit stating price drop comparisons if they aren’t going to explain the numbers!!! This is really misleading.

To end this with my opinions about foreclosures is that they DO cause neighborhood values to decline. Banks don’t want their properties to sit 100+ days on the market and with the amount of inventory the way to move properties is by price. Realtors also want their REO listings to sell and since banks are looking to Realtors to determine the price, not many Realtors are going to price a REO to sit. When REOs sell, they are now the new comparable in the MLS that a Realtor is going to use to price a new listing or to recommend a Buyer offer on a non-REO listing on the market. I have heard no one say “well that one was an REO so you can add 10-20% to the price and that’s what this comparable home is worth”. To recover from the impact of REOs, a neighborhood is going to need future comparables that show a “rebound”. And I’m not seeing Realtors pricing REOs higher than the comparables.

If you want to track REOs and Short Sales, you can use my listing reports: – REO Listings on the market – Short Sale Listings on the market – New Listings with foreclosures noted