Deals on Foreclosures

One of the expectations that some Buyers have is that they will be able to offer pennies on the dollar for a foreclosure and the bank may take it.

Of the 469 REOs sold in SLO County this year, 59.49% of these were sold within the first 30 Days on Market. The Average Sale Price was 100.04% of the Asking Price. Some are getting multiple offers and going over the Asking Price.

Most banks won’t seriously look at low-ball offers until the home has been on the market for awhile but even the ones that had been on the market over 120 days sold for 93.61% of the Asking Price. If you’re looking for a good deal, here’s what I suggest:

1) Get your financing lined up and ready to go. Banks like cash offers which may help you in a multiple offer situation.

2) Make sure you are working with an experienced Realtor (like the Keith Byrd Team!) that knows when new REOs hit the market and can quickly determine if they are a good deal.

3) Don’t limit yourself to REOs. Other homes are coming to market that have a good price and may be a better deal than a REO. Your Realtor should help you find these gems too.

Home Sales Report….Prices Down

Another home sales report came out today with the following news “Sunbelt cities suffered the most, but most of the country is watching home values fall. In Phoenix prices have plunged 32.7% since October 2007, Las Vegas home values are down 31.7% year-over-year, while San Francisco prices fell 31%. Miami, Los Angeles and San Diego recorded year-over-year declines of 29%, 27.9% and 26.7%, respectively”. Read the entire article here.

I did some preliminary reports for 2008 yesterday for a newspaper reporter and I’ll be doing all my usual reports after the end of this month to show what has gone on in the SLO County real estate market in 2008. When you look at the numbers down to a city level, I think you’ll be a bit surprised on how our market did. You really can’t just look at the market from a county-wide perspective as we have so many different types of communities which the numbers will show.

Stay tuned….

Barry Stone, Home Inspector

I’ve used Barry Stone Home Inspections and have always been happy with them. Barry has done TONS of home inspections which I feel is the most important part of evaluating a home inspector…experience! I feel his inspections are always done at the same level of detail, no matter who has ordered the home inspection (Buyer or Seller).

I’ve heard some real estate agents say that they don’t like a home inspector as they’ve brought up something that killed a deal. There are actually some agents who want an inspector to leave something out of a report if they think it will mess with their commission. I cringe when I hear something like this as this is just plain WRONG. This isn’t just with home inspectors either, I’ve had one Pest Inspector who asked me what I wanted on the report (they are no longer in business).

I wish I had known about Barry when I purchased my home back in 2002. I had a home inspection performed by a company that my Realtor recommended. Over the years I’ve had maintenance items and a lot of the items should have been noted in the inspection and fixed by the Seller. Now that I’ve been in the business for awhile and have seen how Barry performs Home Inspections, I realize my Realtor did not recommend a good one and it’s costing me now.

Barry writes a syndicated column on home inspection which he shares some of his knowledge and advice. Our local paper doesn’t carry his column but thanks to the Internet, you can read it online here.

Realtor Claims and Due Diligence

This year has been real tough for the majority of Realtors. Thankfully, this year will be my best yet and it’s all because of the way Buyers are looking for homes on the Internet these days. The transition has happened and advertising homes in newspapers and real estate magazines is just throwing away money. (I picked up a Homes and Land while in the Bay Area and the issue was just 16 pages with 2 of these pages being advertisements for Homes and Land. This is way different than the days when a typical issue was over 70 pages).

Because the way the Internet works, it’s tough to get a real estate site found by Buyers. I’ve been working on my Internet strategy for over 6 years to get my site(s) visible in the search engines. In reality, 99% of Realtor websites will never be found by Buyers because most Realtors use what’s called template websites which are similar with any other Realtor across the country that buys one from the same company. Search engines like to see unique content and template websites look alike to the search engines so they don’t get good rankings.

I’m writing all this because of a flyer that was dropped off at my home by another Realtor team with claims that they “can sell my home Faster and Better”. They then quote the California Association of Realtor survey that says 85% of Buyers found their homes on the Internet. They also claimed that over 75% of their listed homes contacted them while Internet surfing.

I thought this was an interesting claim so I thought I’d do some checking as I’ve never heard of their website before (and I’m well aware of the sites that come up in the search engines). According to the MLS, they had 3 listings in 2008 and all of those were sold by other Realtors so I’m at a loss what their 75% claim means. One of the listings was on the market for over a year so not really sure what “Faster and Better” selling claim means either.

What’s great about the Internet is that there are plenty of statistics that are logged on Internet sites that can tell you how many people visited each page, what search engines people found you on, and more. In addition, a Realtor should also have access to how many people are searching for MLS listings on their site.

So, if you are looking at a Realtor to represent you in the sale of your home and the Internet is important to you, make sure to ask for the following:

– web site statistics that show the following (either total number over a time period or a daily average)
– the number of visitors
– the number of “unique” visitors
– the number of MLS searches
– the number of search engine click-throughs (Google, Yahoo, MSN)
– the keywords that people used to find the site (from Google, Yahoo, MSN)

Also, if the Realtor is claiming a better listing service make sure to get:
– their sold listings over the past year which include the Days on Market and the property history which will show how many price changes they did.

As I’ve blogged about before, there is no “secret home selling marketing system”. A Listing Realtor doesn’t even need to have a website themselves but they MUST understand how to market a home through the Internet so when a Buyer sees a home on or other websites, it gets the Buyer interested. A good listing agent also knows that another Realtor will be the one that brings the Buyer so you also need to provide information about the listing to other Realtors so they are knowledgeable about your home. And of course, you need to price it right!

Ask a Realtor what they do to market a listing to other Realtors. You’re probably going to get a deer in the headlights look or the “we put it on the MLS” response that has been used for years. A good follow-up question to that response is “then what do you do differently then the companies that charge $595 to put a home on the MLS”. Chances are you’ll get the deer in the headlights look again!

If you get the statistics mentioned above and ask the questions, you’ll be able to see if the Realtor REALLY understands how to sell real estate in today’s market.

Outdoor Smoking Bans

I recently returned from the Bay Area and I’m catching up on the local news. I see that SLO is considering extending their smoking ban to include city-owned benches, sidewalks, and parks.

I’m a believer that people should be able to smoke if they want, even after knowing the health consequences. But I have a stronger opinion that other people should not have to breathe and smell other people’s smoke, especially since it’s a fact now that second hand smoke is damaging. I don’t know why some smokers are either so rude or just so stupid that they don’t understand this.

My recent experience was when I was filming the video at the Butterfly grove. What a great experience to enjoy nature by watching the butterflies with the smell of the eucalyptus trees. Unfortunately, that lasted just a few minutes as first a couple came with their toddler to look at the butterflies to only have the mom light a cigarette which filled the area with a foul odor. Then a group of teenagers (boys and girls) came and hung out on one of the fences while lighting up. I couldn’t find any area in the grove that I could escape the foul odor.

So if we need to make laws so we can put up No Smoking signs in areas to try to protect non-smokers then lets do it. They should also print a label on cigarette packs that says as a courtesy, you should not smoke within 30 feet of non-smokers.

The reason I’m blogging about this topic today is also because of the incident at the movie theater where a family was asked to be quiet and obviously decided it was their right to make noise during the movie causing someone to go out and get a gun and shoot the dad.

It’s really sad for our society when people go out in public and don’t think (or care) about the people around them….

Cal Poly Rose Parade Float

The float being built by both Cal Poly schools (SLO and Pomona) sounds pretty fun this year. The following is from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:

Cal Poly float features Santa Cruz Boardwalk
By Daniel Tedford, Staff Writer

PASADENA – Cal Poly Pomona teamed up again with its sister institution Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to create “Seaside Amusement” for the 120th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

The float is going through some finishing touches in Pasadena prior to the main event. Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students, and volunteers are placing additional flowers on the float to ready it for the parade.

The float mimics Santa Cruz Boardwalk with a rollercoaster, a Ferris wheel, a parachute drop, game, food and ticket booths, carousel horses and bumper cars.

Following this year’s Rose Parade theme of “Hats Off to Entertainment,” the float will have some action on it. The roller coaster, Ferris wheel and parachute drop will all be animated features.

The bumper cars will be satellite vehicles, circling the float with student drivers representing both school campuses.

Year-end Mutual Fund Distributions

If you’re invested in Mutual Funds, you might want to check to see if any of your funds are going to have any year-end distributions that will cause you to have a capital gain which you’ll need to pay taxes on. I know if sounds silly in a year where most funds have dropped 40+% but it can happen. I for one was shocked when my investment analyst called me to tell me that I was going to have to pay taxes on a gain.

If you do, you want to make sure to take some losses to offset the gains before the end of this year.

Light, Bright and Airy Home Staging Tips

Happy Holidays! I only have 2 home staging tips today for those of you who have your homes listed during the holiday period…

  • Clean up the aftermath of the celebration as soon as possible, in case potential real estate buyers are in town for the holidays.
  • Take down your lights and tree either before or soon after New Years.

Hopefully I don’t sound like scrooge! Really DO take the time to enjoy the spirit of the season, then take the time to make sure your house is ready for the New Year and a quick sale!

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