6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers…. great article – had to share…

When I read this – I just had to share….

 

6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers

 

Trulia Article By Tara-Nicholle Nelson

If you’ve ever taken up running, you might know what it’s like to strap on your new shoes, head over to the track and take those first few strides, then feel a pain in your chest, heaviness in your feet and possibly, actually see stars. Maybe your last steps off the track were accompanied by the thought process: “Either I’m crazy, or runners are.”

Until you have talked to a legitimate, dyed in the wool runner and told them your story, explaining why you detest running with every iota of your being you won’t know the runner’s secret: everyone feels that way at first. It’s the normal physiological adjustment to the increased load you’re putting on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, this pain you felt when you took those first few steps.  It goes away in just a moment, if and only if you keep on running.

Sometimes, knowing that others react to a tough situation by feeling the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts, or doing the same things you do flat out helps you feel less crazy, panicked and out of control of your situation. It’s the concept behind support groups but, last I checked, there really isn’t such a thing as group therapy for home buyers. (Well, some would say that’s what Trulia Voices is for, but I digress.)

Today’s rapidly rising prices and generally volatile market does make things tough for buyers, so we thought we’d systematically explore – and then share – what’s going on inside the minds of the buyers on today’s market.  Hopefully, sellers will find some insights for marketing their properties, too.

Fresh off the presses, here are some of the insights and takeaways from our latest American Dream Survey, pinpointing the things today’s buyers worry about, will and won’t do in their quest to get their own corner of the American Dream: a home.

Worry:  Mortgage rates and prices will rise before I buy.  Trulia’s Economist Jed Kolko reports that “the top worry among all survey respondents who might buy a home someday is that mortgage rates will rise further before they buy (41%), followed by rising prices (37%).”  The worry is valid, given the fact that the market was depressed for so long and has a long recovery road ahead of it.  It’s compounded by the fact that buying a home has gone from something that used to take a month or two and now routinely takes 6 months, 9 months, a year or even longer!

Here’s the deal: you can’t stop prices from rising. And fixating on this particular fear poses the potential pitfall of  rushing to buy or making compromises that will turn out badly in the end.  Don’t dilly dally, if you’re ready and in the market, and don’t mess around making lowball offers with no chance of success.  But otherwise, don’t let this fear drive your buying and timing decisions.

Will:  Be aggressive. B. E. Aggressive. Economist Kolko explained, “among survey respondents who plan to buy a home someday, 2 in 3 (66%)  would use aggressive tactics such as bidding above asking, writing personal letters to the seller, or removing contingencies, to name a few.”  What buyers do and don’t do in the name of aggressively pursuing their dream homes (and, consequently, what sellers expect) is slightly different in every town.

Knowing that other buyers are facing down the same challenges you are and coming up with similar, aggressive solutions can help you feel a little less crazy about your thought processes and emotions and the desperate measures that come to mind when you hear how many others think “your” home is their dream home. And that puts you back in control of what can sometimes feel like an out-of-control situation. Reality check: you are 100% in the driver’s seat when it comes to how aggressive you want to be in your pursuit of any given home, and which specific tactics you leverage in the course of that pursuit.

Worry:  I won’t find a home I like.  Forty-three percent of people who plan to buy a home in the next 12 months expressed the concern that they might not be able to even find a property they like. Perhaps these people were just seriously persnickety, but I suspect there’s a bigger issue at play here.  All of us can find a home we like, but whether there’s anything we like enough to buy in our price range is a completely separate issue.

This worry, then, seems to be closely related to the fear of rising prices – buyers are rightfully fearful that home value increases will put their personal dream homes out of their price range. This is why it’s super important to:

  • be aggressive about seeing suitable properties as soon as they come onto the market
  • work with an agent whose offer pricing advice you trust
  • adjust your house hunt downward in price range if the market dynamics include lots of over-asking sales prices, and
  • not to let months and months go by while you make lowball offers or otherwise be slow to  come to the reality of what homes are actually selling for in your area.

The sooner you put yourself seriously in the game and make reality-based offers, the more likely you’ll be able to score a home you like in your price range.

Worry:  I will have to compete with other buyers for the home I like. Twenty-seven percent of those who plan to buy at some point in the future and 32% of those who plan to buy in the next year said they feared the prospect of facing a bidding war. This worry is well-grounded. In California, the average property receives four offers – but stories of dozens of offers abound. And it’s not just a West Coast phenomenon: buyers from coast to coast trade tales of getting outbid and having to throw in their firstborn child, lastborn puppy and most precious earthly possessions just to get into contract.

Truth is, market dynamics vary from town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood, but if you’re buying on today’s market or planning to buy anytime soon, bidding wars, multiple offers and over-asking sales prices are a reality you will probably have to factor into your house hunt.

Won’t:  Bid way more than asking.  Only 9 percent of wanna-be buyers said they would bid between 6 and 10 percent over the asking price for a property. This finding surfaces the uber-importance of checking in with an experienced local agent to get a briefing on precisely how much over asking homes are selling for in your area.  This empowers you to tweak your online house hunting price range low enough that you can make an over-asking offer and be successful without breaking the bank.  And once you’ve gotten a reality-based estimate of the over-asking norm, it will loom less ominously in your mind’s eye as a potential American Dream-killer.

Worry:  I won’t qualify for a mortgage.  Thirty percent of all people who identified themselves as planning to buy a home in the future said they were worried they might not be able to qualify for a home loan. (Interestingly, only 25 percent of buyers in hot markets like Oakland and Las Vegas expressed this concern – rapidly rising prices and knowing lots of other buyers are closing transactions in your town seems to ease this fear.)

Of all the worries on the list, this is the one over which a smart buyer has the most power. So exercise it! Work with a mortgage broker who was referred by friends, family members or an agent you trust.  And ideally, work with them months – even a year or more – before you plan to buy.  They can help you put an action plan in place around boosting your savings and credit score, and minimize your debt and credit dings, that you can work to minimize mortgage qualifying dramas when the time is right. They can also help give you a stronger sense of what you can afford vis-a-vis your income, to help you anticipate any challenges related to what sort of home your dollar will buy in your market.

ALL: What worries do you have about today’s market? Which steps are you willing to take in your quest to achieve the American Dream?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2013/07/6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers?ecampaign=cnews20+and1308A&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Ftaranelson%2F2013%2F07%2F6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

What Will Waiting to Buy a Home Cost You?

What Will Waiting to Buy a Home Cost You?  Great article from Realtor.com

At the end of June, mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 4.5 percent, up from 3.9 percent on June 1 — and a notable jump from the historically low 3.35 percent monthly average rate toward the end of 2012. However, while higher rates do mean an increase in monthly mortgage payments, experts are urging potential home buyers not to resign themselves to renting for the next few years just yet — it’s still a good time to buy a home.

These moderate increases in payments may still be manageable, particularly if buyers look at less expensive properties, or negotiate a lower price.

For example, the difference in monthly payments for a $200,000 home at 3.9 percent and one at 4.5 percent is just $70.03. If budgeted correctly, this could be a manageable expense.

Rick Allen, chief operating officer of Mortgage Marvel, is one expert who says now is still the time to buy a house. His platform records online mortgage loan applications, about a million transactions a year, which serves as a barometer for how well the housing market is doing. He says that refinances are down, as to be expected with a rate increase, but that “shouldn’t scare people off.”

“Relatively speaking, rates are still at or near historic lows,” says Allen. “A 4.5 percent mortgage is still an incredibly attractive rate at which to finance a home. From a real estate perspective, we’re not far off from recent lows, and we’re heading to improve real estate values. The combination of those two factors make this still a good time to buy.”

As the unemployment rate continues to decline, Allen says we’ll see more potential homeowners enter the market as well. Though Allen says “theoretically, rates could go through the roof or back down to the floor” but he personally believes we’ll see rates around 5 percent through the end of the year.

This is the early stage of the recovery of the housing market, and the rising interest rates encourage potential home buyers to be more decisive, and act quickly. As more homes are bought, supply decreases, so prices may rise even further. So if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, don’t lose your confidence, but it may be prudent to act quickly as rates continue to rise.

My 2 Cents

I couldn’t agree more – and I am NOT trying to fear monger.  The truth of the matter is – no one has control of the Real Estate market.  We as a collective influence the market by our actions or lack of – but it the end – the market will move at its own pace.  In our experience, those trying to figure it out or ‘play the game’ generally miss the boat of opportunity. 

Instead The Caton Team has our clients consider what their overall plan is, and generally having a home to live in is pretty high on their list.  So we tackle the market in the moment and do our best to achieve their goal of homeownership. 

I read this article at: http://www.realtor.com/news/what-will-waiting-to-buy-a-home-cost-you/?cid=EML301130

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

 

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

 

Renters May Grow by 6 Million in Next Decade – Interesting Article –

I read this on DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS and thought it was good to share.

Renters May Grow by 6 Million in Next Decade

Since the housing crash in 2008, the number of renting households has soared. Within the next decade,  5 to 6 million new renter households are expected to be formed, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Much of that increase may occur in the next two years.  Within that time, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that renter households will grow from 38 million to 41 million.

“In general, across the country there are more renters now than there were two or three years ago,” says Wally Charnoff, CEO of RentRange.

Property management companies are booming, too. Officials with Real Property Management say the company has doubled in size over the past two years. The company has 230 offices in 47 states and adds an average of eight new franchises per month.

“Profound changes in the housing market have created significant demand for property management companies like ours,” Kirk McGary, CEO of Real Property Management, told HousingWire. “And it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon.”

Charnoff adds that location may be a big driver for renters. With a shortage of for-sale homes nowadays, some families are being driven to rent in order to be able to live in a specific neighborhood with good schools, he notes. “Institutional investors have provided a lot of readily available property,” he says.

However, he adds that rising mortgage rates may prompt more on-the-fence renters to jump into home ownership before housing affordability moves lower.

 

What do you think this means for our real estate market?  Share your thoughts!

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/06/13/renters-may-grow-6-million-in-next-decade?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRufS1B8zTgy7W&om_ntype=RMODaily

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

How Much Would You Pay For…

How Much Would You Pay For…

Being a full time Realtor – I get some great questions.  One of my favorites pertains to upgrades and how they affect resale value.  Please enjoy these two articles I found very interesting.  My comments are in italics.  

Buyers Will Pay Extra for These Features

By DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS

Some home shoppers say they are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home in order to have certain interior features.

The most coveted home features tend to center around the kitchen, such as stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island, says Errol Samuelson, president of realtor.com.

24/7 Wall St. used data from the National Association of REALTORS® to determine some of the most desired home features. Here are eight features that made the list and how much extra, on average, buyers say they’re willing to pay for having that feature in a home:

  • Central air conditioning: $2,520
  • New kitchen appliances: $1,840
  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom: $1,350
  • Granite countertops: $1,620
  • Hardwood floors: $2,080
  • Ensuite master bath: $2,030
  • Kitchen island: $1,370
  • Stainless steel appliances: $1,850

Sometimes paying the premium for a fixed up home works out for a buyer.  This past weekend my client felt it made more sense to pay more for a turn key home since the interest rate is a right off and you’d have a higher write off with a more expenseive home – compared to spending their weekends fixing up a home.  Each client is different with a unique budget and point of view. 

What would you pay for?

Before making the decision to buy, people shopping for homes consider hundreds of factors. They include location of the house, the school district, size of the lot and also interior features. Most buyers insist on a house that grants most of their wishes, but shoppers often settle for a house without getting everything they want.

When it comes to certain interior features, many are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home to have them included. At least 60% of buyers said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom if they did not already have these features.

Many of the features homeowners desire involve the kitchen. They include stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island. The kitchen is a major focal point for home buyers, said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

“People, in general, have shown more interest in having big and beautiful kitchens, and the kitchen is acting as an informal gathering place,” Samuelson said in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “We have gone from the ’70s where it was about Hamburger Helper … and now we’ve got the Food Network where people are more interested in exploring cooking.”

The desirability of some characteristics vary depending on the home buyers’ age. In the survey, more people age 35 to 54 found the internal features of a house to be very important in making a decision than any other age group. When people are younger and buying their first home, they are primarily interested in jumping into the real estate market to build equity, and the features are less important, Samuelson said. “For the younger demographic, home is a place to sleep and a place to store your clothes, but you are out all the time,” he said.

When people get older, settle down with a spouse and start raising a family, they still consider the home and its features as investments. However, they often start to build more of a connection with the house, and the details of the home become important to improving quality of life in the home, and less so for long-term investment. The house becomes a “personalized area that separates [the occupants] from the outside world,” Samuelson said.

While a high percentage of people said they would pay more for some features, how much they were willing to pay was not necessarily that high. Although six in 10 home buyers without a walk-in closet said they would be willing to pay more for a house with one, those people said they would only spend an additional $1,350, much less than what a walk-in closet typically costs.

The features described are not necessarily the most important deciding factor for potential home buyers, Brendon DeSimone, a Realtor and real estate expert with Zillow, told 24/7 Wall St. When looking at house, he said, the first things people consider are factors such as the neighborhood, the school district and the difficulty of the commute to work.

“Everything starts with location,” DeSimone said in an interview. “You can have the best house in the world, but if it’s not in the neighborhood and school district where everyone wants to live, you are just not going to look at it.”

Using data from the National Association of Realtors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 11 features that most homeowners were willing to pay more for. We also looked at the median amount that these people would be willing to pay to obtain that feature. In addition, we looked at data from the National Association of Realtors about whether prospective home buyers found certain features to be very important. That information was further broken down by factors such as home buyers’ age, whether they were looking to move into a new or previously owned home, and whether someone was a first-time or repeat buyer.

Based on those factors, here are the 11 most desirable home features:

11. One or more fireplaces
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,400

Some 40% of home buyers without a fireplace said they would spend additional money for at least one and cough up an extra $1,400. The fireplace, while always popular, was less necessary when several TVs were going in the house all at once, Samuelson said. But he speculated that having a home with fireplaces may become more popular in the future as people spend less time watching TV and more time on tablets and e-readers. These people may find the fireplace a good place to cozy up and use their devices, he said.

10. Eat-in kitchen
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,770

The people most interested in an eat-in kitchen tend to be in the 35-to-54 age range, with 30% of those prospective home buyers indicating this is “very important” in a house. Meanwhile, just 21% of those under 35 years of age and 20% over 55 feel the same way. More people, especially those who are raising families, want kitchens that look into family entertainment rooms. Some have even made it a family hangout by placing big-screen TVs and other electronics in the kitchen. “Buyers who are in families want to be in one space and do it all,” DeSimone said.

9. Home less than 5 years old
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $5,020

Some people simply want a newer home. For those willing to pay more for a newer home, the median that people would dole out was more than $5,000. Although this is a lot of money compared to most features, that money could be a wise investment in the long run. Maintenance costs are considerably less in newer homes compared to older homes, Samuelson pointed out. He also noted that newer homes tend to be much more efficient, attracting people who are environmentally conscious.

8. Stainless steel appliances
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 41%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,850

Like most features, stainless steel appliances are most important to people between the ages of 35 to 54, with 23% considering them to be a “very important” investment, compared with just 16% of those under the age of 35 and a mere 11% of those over the age of 55. From a cost perspective, stainless steel appliances are not necessarily the best investment. Samuelson noted that stainless steel wears out far easier than most other common materials. Also, the children in the house can also get their fingerprints on the appliances, requiring more cleaning. However, Samuelson said people are primarily driven to buy stainless steel appliances because they look more attractive.

7. Kitchen island
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 48%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,370

Kitchen islands are most important to people ages 35 to 54, with 24% indicating that it is a “very important” characteristic. Just 19% of people under 35 and 13% over 55 considered this feature important. DeSimone noted that kitchen islands often come in handy for those who are raising a family. It provides additional room to put out food for the family and allows the kitchen to become more organized. Although the desire for a kitchen island is high, those who do not have one but want one are only willing to shell out $1,370, less than most other features.

6. Ensuite master bath
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 49%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,030

Once again, the ensuite master bathroom tends to be more important to people ages 35 and older. “It kind of goes to the ‘home is my sanctuary’ mentality,” Samuelson said. This, along with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, has become more important in the past 10 years or so. Many people are eager to make their bathroom more “homey” by doing things such as installing televisions on the wall. The fact that many master bathrooms have two sinks is also an appealing option for married couples, Samuelson added.

5. Hardwood floors
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 54%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,080

Some 25% of buyers under the age of 35, and 28% of those between 35 and 54, considered hardwood floors “very important” when looking for a home. Only 17% of people ages 55 and up felt the same way. In previous generations, homes with carpets were considered better in order to conserve energy, DeSimone said. Even today, older people are more likely to feel more comfortable with carpeting because the insulation makes the home a little bit warmer. But for younger people looking to have many guests at the house and for people with children, hardwood floors are desirable because they are easier to clean than carpets.

4. Granite countertops
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 55%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,620

Among homeowners between the ages of 35 and 54, 24% viewed granite countertops as “very important,” compared to 18% of people under 35 and 18% of people over 55. Although just one in every five prospective home buyers said granite countertops were very important, 55% of those who bought a home without such a countertop said they would pay extra for it. Both DeSimone and Samuelson agreed that the granite countertop is more of a style issue than anything else. “There has been more emphasis on the beautiful kitchen these days, and granite countertops are a part of that,” Samuelson said.

3. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 60%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,350

A whopping 60% of homeowners were willing to pay extra for a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, with 44% of people between the ages of 35 and 54 viewing this feature as “very important,” compared to just 35% under the age of 35 and 36% of people 55 and older. DeSimone said the walk-in closet is desired for two main reasons: space and status. The space is very desirable for people as they get older and acquire more clothes, allowing people to be more organized. Having a walk-in closet in the master bedroom is also a status symbol. When giving a house tour, DeSimone said, people want to say, “Hey, check out my closet,” in the same way they say, “Hey, have you seen my new kitchen?”

2. New kitchen appliances
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 69%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,840

About 69% of homeowners said they were willing to spend more money for new kitchen appliances. Unsurprisingly, people who are looking to buy a new home find this far more important than people who are eyeing previously owned homes. People who are the first to live in a specific house tend to want everything to be new in the house because they consider the house truly “their own,” DeSimone said. People also do not want to have to deal with the stress of broken appliances. “They don’t want to come home after a horrible stressful day at work and find the dishwasher isn’t working or the fridge is making noises.”

1. Central air conditioning
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 69%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,520

Nearly seven in 10 homeowners said they would be willing to pay more on central air conditioning — the same as new kitchen appliances and more than any other feature. Central air conditioning was considered “very important” by more than 60% of people in all age groups. Samuelson noted that although people were willing to shell out approximately $2,500 for the feature, that is far less than what it would actually cost to install central air conditioning. “There is a difference in people’s preference and what they are willing to pay for,” Samuelson said. “They may want the steak but are on a macaroni budget.”

I would love to hear your two cents!  Comment here or email me anytime at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/04/29/home-buyers-say-they-ll-pay-extra-for-these-features?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRfpyKB8yORuS4&om_ntype=RMODaily

And

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/04/28/24-7-home-features/2106203/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Reality of Real Estate Reality TV – by Sabrina Caton

The Reality of Real Estate Reality TV

Aside from my passion in real estate, I love writing and learning about movie and TV production.  A while back, a high-school friend of mine, Robin, was on one of the popular Real Estate Reality shows that so many of us are addicted too.  As soon as I finished her episode I was online asking her questions about her experience and how it all worked out.

The truth behind “real estate reality” TV was as enlightening as it was awesome.  Why?  Because the truth set me free!  It confirmed it’s an entertainment show and not a true reflection on how buying a home really works.

Robin told me the episode is shot backwards.  They had already purchased their condo, they had spent plenty of weekdays and weekends house-hunting with their agent and doing the real work.  However, after they closed escrow on their new home, the production of the show started.  They walked through their future home and pretended to shop it.  Then the producers found two other properties, ones they may or may not have seen prior to buying and they walked through those too – pretending to pick it apart or discuss their likes and dislikes.

Then at the end of the show, they reveal which unit they bought and it’s all smiles and a shot of signing a one-page contract.  So not a true picture of what it takes to buy a home!

The relief spilled over me.  Of course, I knew these shows were for entertainment.  Going on 10 years as a Realtor myself, I’ve rarely showed a home, drew up a contract, got the contract accepted and closed escrow in 30 minutes, minus the commercial spots.  But the people, the real buyers, are watching the show and not thinking about it as entertainment as much as following a buyer’s journey.

That’s where the hard part starts for us Realtors!  Get a new client in the car, ready to show some homes and they tell you – we only want to do this for about a month. Scrape my jaw off the floor and break the truth to them.  In today’s real estate market, at least here on the SF Peninsula – you’ll be house hunting for months!  Some people can handle it some cannot.  I guess it’s one of those moments where you separate the men from the boys.

So I thought I would write a blog about it and share my ‘Ah-Ha’ moment.  Because we, (myself included before I became a licensed Realtor), would sit down and enjoy these shows and in the back of our minds we believed it was that easy.

In the last year or so, the SF Peninsula has switched from a buyers market, with plenty of inventory in various price ranges and condition, to a sellers market, with limited inventory and even the trashy properties receiving multiple offers and over bidding.

Real estate, as all things are, is cyclical.  What goes up, goes down, then up again.  That’s when I remind my buying clients that life is not like those TV shows, not even close to the ones branded as Reality TV.  If you truly want to own a piece of the Silicon Valley, it is going to take work, patience, and flexibility.  And the view from my drivers seat is fantastic.  There are opportunities out there for each buyer, they just have to open their eyes and their mind – and drop the ‘reality’ from those TV shows.

So get off the couch and in my car – we’ll take you on a real Real Estate journey – just a bit longer than 30 minutes.

Thanks for reading!  Sabrina
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Bay Area Real Estate Market is Sizzling!

Found this great article by Carolyn Said of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Had to share and add my 2 cents are in italics.

Tight inventory – a dearth of homes for sale – is driving bidding wars throughout the Bay Area, sending prices up and leaving scores of disappointed would-be buyers. Homes that do hit the market sell within days.

So few homes are listed for sale that agents are resurrecting old ways of drumming up business – going door to door, leaving cards and flyers and writing personal letters, asking owners if they’re interested in selling. Social networking and e-mail blasts are being used to increase inventory as well.

This is all too true.  The Caton Team has started targeting areas, condo complexes, neighborhoods and individual homes to find the right home for our buying clients.  It’s that tough!  And with some first time buyers, the window is closing as prices creep up.  Not to mention we are on the edge of our seats worried if interest rates rise.

“People are going old-school, farming their territory,” said Lynda D, an agent in the East Bay, using real estate agent slang for canvassing neighborhoods.

While tight inventory is a national trend, it’s especially pronounced in the Bay Area.

Alameda County, for instance, had 949 homes for sale in February, down 64 percent from the 2,617 on the market at the same time last year, according to data from Realtor.com, the listings website of the National Association of Realtors. Contra Costa County had 899, down 58 percent from 2,152 in February 2012.

“Those are striking reductions in inventory,” said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

While inventory numbers did tick up slightly from January to February, that was a normal seasonal change, not an indication of the logjam loosening.

“After seasonal adjustments, inventory is still falling; the underlying trend is still downward,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with real estate site Trulia.com.

However, he thinks the rate of decline is slowing.

“Inventory tends to fall the most sharply after prices bottom, as no one wants to sell at the bottom, they just want to buy,” he said. Trulia shows that Bay Area prices bottomed more than a year ago.

Price a factor

Sellers remain reluctant and elusive for several reasons. Those who are still underwater – owing more than their house is worth – have the obvious impediment of not wanting to do a short sale.

But many others “feel underwater based on the price they paid,” Samuelson said. That is, someone who paid $700,000 for a home in 2007 won’t feel good about selling it for $625,000 right now, even though the sale would cover their remaining mortgage.

Some potential sellers, seeing prices surge, are hoping to hold out for more. Others who might want to move up to a bigger house fear that the market frenzy means they won’t be able to find or afford anything else.

This is such a dilemma.  If a seller has enough equity, finally, to sell – the next question is – Where do we go?  If a seller wants to stay in the Bay Area, selling now means jumping into the buying pool – and that pool is man eat man!  So this truly creates a problem.

Now that it’s spring, the busiest real estate season, more homes should start hitting the market. But many agents have been taking matters into their own hands, making pitches directly to potential sellers about why it’s time to get off the fence.

Although there are numerous online sites to track homes for sale, “the way the market is set up now is forcing us to go back to the beginning where (agents) walk up to a door and knock and say, ‘Hi, how are you, my name is … ‘ ” said Adelaida M, a Realtor in San Francisco.

Personal touch

She recently worked with a client seeking a home in San Francisco’s Clarendon Heights neighborhood, above Cole Valley. After losing out with bids, she walked the neighborhood with him and identified houses he particularly liked. Mejia looked up the homeowners and wrote personal letters to each, explaining that her client loved the area and was seeking a house there.

“Three weeks later, one person called me back and said ‘We loved your letter, we’d love to talk even though we’re not on the market, come on over,’ ” she said.

Rich and Renee G, the homeowners, said they received two or three agent solicitations a week after unsuccessfully trying to sell the house last year, but ignored them because they were form letters.

I couldn’t agree more.  The Caton Team has taken this stance and only solicits a seller when we have an actual buyer for their home.  We’re not trying to just get listings.  We are trying to unit buyers and sellers.  I personally experienced what it feels like to be a seller for the past three years.  Back and forth with my loan modification paperwork, we placed our home on the market and with no offers, pulled it off the market for a spell.  During that time I got stacks and stacks of form letters.  Truthfully, it was starting to frost my cookies.  It was evident all us Realtors are trying to drum up business, but the form letters were bothering me.  They were heartless and actually hurt me – because we didn’t really want to sell – but had to.  In the end we listed our home in October of 2012 and sold it within weeks!  Now, on the other side of the fence, I consider how a homeowner would feel when they get a form letter.  Therefore The Caton Team takes the time to write a real letter, talk about the buyers we are representing and take it from there.

“Adelaida’s note was different; more personalized,” Rich said. “We were planning to put the house on the market again, but the note just pre-empted that.”

Her client ended up visiting the house, making an all-cash offer and buying it. “It was a really stress-free experience for both” the buyer and seller, she said.

If you do ask The Caton Team of your Realtor to solicit homes for you – be prepared to pay fair market value or more because if you aren’t willing too – the seller will simply put the home on the market, get multiple offers and sell for top dollar.  So in other words, you need to ‘make them an offer they cannot refuse.’

Beating the bushes for sellers is an about-face from just 18 months ago, when the challenge was to find people who wanted to buy.

A corresponding trend is that homes are selling very quickly.

‘Unbelievable’

“The median days on market in Contra Costa is 13 days – that’s unbelievable,” Samuelson said. A year ago it was 33 days.

Redfin has identified another trend it calls “flash sales” – homes that sell within 24 hours of being listed, usually because a buyer swoops in with an offer too good to refuse. Often, those are buyers who have lost other bidding wars and are determined to land a property.

In the past six months, almost 1,000 Bay Area properties went under contract within one day, Redfin said.

That’s the truth.  The Caton Team has started showing homes the day they come on the market and are prepared, right then and there, to write an offer if our client likes the home.  Gone are the days, for now at least, that you could see a home, think about it, maybe sleep on it, then write the offer.  Lately it’s felt like – ‘you like it – let’s write’!   And with each offer we write for each buyer, we’re doing everything we can to make the offer more likable to the seller.  We are using every tool in our toolbox and the toolbox of our clients. 

“I just had that experience at a house in the Oakland hills,” DiVito said. “I held the brokers’ tour just before putting it on the market. A buyer and agent walked in and offered us our list price in cash on the spot.”

Underscoring how much the market has changed, she said her sellers had tried to sell the house a year ago “and could not move this property, even though they lowered the price three times.”

Been there done that.  It is amazing how much our real estate market has changed in one year alone.  In 2010 and 2011 I had my own condo to sell, and nobody was interested.  October 2012 – put it on the market and within days I had several offers.  In the end, 20 offers on the same condo.  Amazing what a year can do.

Same-day offer

The sellers, who were buying a new home and needed to sell quickly, were happy to take the same-day offer since a cash deal meant it couldn’t be derailed by problems with financing or appraisals.

“Flash-sale terms tend to be really good because (buyers) really want to lock down that property quickly,” DiVito said. “They’re more willing to meet the sellers’ needs to scoop it up before anyone else gets it.”

What happens next with inventory is a big question hanging over the real estate recovery.

“My best guess is that you’ll see an orderly return of inventory to the market,” Samuelson said. “I don’t expect that you’ll see the floodgates open and torrents of properties hit the market. But for each percentage point increase in price, there will be some people who for life reasons have wanted to sell for the past five years – their kids moved out, they got divorced – and now feel that the time is right and they have enough equity.”

Don’t be discouraged if you are a buyer out there.  Don’t sit back either.  The best education a buyer can have is living the market.  So if you are thinking of buying a home, get pre-approved, call The Caton Team or your Realtor and come up with a plan.  The more active you are today – the better prepared you will be tomorrow.

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Homes-sell-faster-than-ever-in-Bay-Area-4375058.php

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Home Buyers Face Dilemma with Housing Shortage – SF GATE sheds some light…

After a great open house yesterday with candid discussions with the buyers out there.  It was great to find this article this morning in the Sunday paper regarding what Realtors in the Bay Area were already thinking.  If you want to call our glorious SF Peninsula home – now is the time.  We hit bottom, whether it was 2009 or 2012.  With limited inventory and low rates driving renters from out under their rock – homes are selling with multiple offers and for over their listed price.  And with demand this strong – we don’t feel prices are going to fall anytime soon.  Take a read and let me know your thoughts.  Comment or email us at info@thecatonteam.com!  Enjoy!

Home Buyers Face Dilemma with Housing Shortage

The sharp drop in homes for sale poses a tough choice for buyers: Jump in now and compete with hordes of others or wait until inventory improves.  If you buy now, you might have to pay above asking. But if you wait, you could end up paying an even higher price and a higher interest rate if you need a loan. That’s because inventory won’t improve until prices rise enough to get more homeowners to sell and more builders to break ground.

The inventory shortage is especially acute in California. Of the 30 largest housing markets, the four with the biggest drops in homes listed for sale on Zillow in February compared with February of last year were Sacramento (48 percent), Los Angeles, San Francisco (41 percent) and San Diego.  Although listings are increasing on a month-to-month basis as the busy spring season gets under way, Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko predicts they won’t start rising on a year-over-year basis for a year or more.

An example of that: “In all of Millbrae, there was one listing two months ago. There are about a dozen now,” says Roger Dewes, a Coldwell Banker agent on the Peninsula. In a normal market, there might be 20. “We are not there yet, but going from one to 12 is quite a leap,” he says.

Experts cite five factors contributing to the inventory shortage:

Fewer foreclosures are hitting the market. “California did a good job of disposing of its backlog” of distressed properties, says Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

In California, where most foreclosures are handled out of court, the process is taking about 11 months on average, according to RealtyTrac. In New York and New Jersey, where foreclosures go through a court proceeding, the process is taking 36 and 32 months, respectively.

Many people still owe more than their homes are worth. If they sold now, they would have to come up with extra cash to pay off their loan. Although prices have rebounded from their lows, 23.3 percent of homes with a mortgage in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties were still underwater in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Zillow.

Even if they are not underwater, many owners won’t sell for less than they paid. If they bought near the peak, it may take a while before they are ready to budge.

The median price paid for a new or resale home or condo in the nine-county Bay Area was $415,000 in January. That’s less than halfway between its low of $290,000 in March 2009 and its high of $665,000 set in June/July 2007, according to DataQuick.

Many people, even if their homes are worth more than they paid, won’t sell because they are afraid they won’t be able to buy another house. “It becomes a game of musical chairs; they are afraid to get out because they can’t get back in,” Humphries says. This becomes “a self-reinforcing cycle” that keeps homes off the market.

The housing bust put new construction on hold.

The shortage comes at a time when demand is rising in the Bay Area, not just from regular buyers but from investors, second-home buyers and foreign buyers, especially from Asia.

‘Heck of a wreck’

The result is stories like this: A 1,500-square-foot home on Clipper Street on San Mateo’s east side, advertised as a “heck of a wreck,” attracted 97 offers in the first eight days, says listing agent Claire Haggarty of NBT Realty Services.

The home was listed in mid-January at $375,000, which Haggarty considered “a little under market.” It sold for $510,000 in an all-cash deal with no inspections, no contingencies and a 10-day close.

At some point, prices will rise enough to shake lose more inventory, but it won’t happen immediately.  Based on what’s happening around the country, Kolko says inventory tightens fastest in the first 12 months after prices hit a bottom. “Everybody wants to buy at the bottom and nobody wants to sell at the bottom,” he says.

About 12 months after hitting bottom, inventory continues to decline, albeit at a slower pace. But it won’t increase on a year-over-year basis until at least two years after hitting bottom, he predicts.  If you adjust for the mix of homes sold, Kolko says prices bottomed in February 2012 nationwide and in most parts of California and the Bay Area. (The San Jose metro area bottomed earlier, in June 2011.)

Although DataQuick shows Bay Area home prices bottoming in 2009, that’s when most homes being sold were low-priced. The middle and upper end of the market bottomed in early 2012, says DataQuick’s Andrew LePage.

If you believe Kolko’s two-year rule, inventory won’t begin increasing on a year-over-year basis until at least early 2014 in most areas.  Humphries says it might improve earlier, by the end of the year, but “this spring will still be challenging from an inventory perspective.” If you wait until next year to buy, the market may be cooler but prices are likely to be higher. There’s also a risk that interest rates will be higher, he says.

Sweet spot 

The sweet spot for buyers might be this summer. Even though inventory is falling year-over-year, “the seasonal pattern means there will be more homes on the market in the summer,” Kolko says. “Search traffic peaks in the spring, but inventory peaks in July.”  Many buyers also go on vacation in July and August, Dewes says.

The decision to buy or wait “really comes down to a fundamental decision about how long you will be in a home,” Humphries says. “If you want to be in a home long enough to make buying better than renting, make that decision as soon as you can.”

In the city of San Francisco, the breakeven point where it makes more sense to own is 3.7 years, Humphries says. “If you will be there more than 3.7 years, I’d say buy now.”

By Kathleen Pender SF GATE

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/business/networth/article/Home-buyers-face-dilemma-with-shortage-4342162.php#page-2

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

 

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina