What Sells Homes?

Sellers ask me all the time what they can do to get their house noticed and sell faster.  Now I am sharing 5 of my most popular tips that I have for clients when I list their homes.  If you are preparing to list your home, call or email me today so I can save you time and money on what you can do to help sell your home faster and get you the most money from your sale.

1.) Standing and Waiting- When a buyer comes to your home to look at it for the first time, their Real Estate Agent will most likely take a few minutes to get the lockbox open and get the door open.  Meanwhile, buyers are standing by the front door looking around at the exterior of the home.  Make sure you have a fresh coat of paint or stain on your front door and that your front porch area is clean and neat.  The front door is the first impression someone will have of your home.

2.) Kitchens sell homes- A nice, modern kitchen that has very little clutter shows so much better than an outdated kitchen that has countertops that are loaded down with appliances, nicknacks, etc.  The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house and typically is the showpiece of your home.  If there are items in your kitchen that are out and not being used each day, put them away. They detract from the overall appearance of your kitchen and can actually make your kitchen look smaller.  Check out this article from RealtyTimes- Kitchens Sell a House

3.) Staging- If your home is vacant and is on the market, consider Staging.  Staged homes actually sell for a higher sales price so in most cases, sellers recoup most of not all of their staging dollars when they sell their home.  Also, Staged homes sell faster on average than homes that are  not.

4.) Neutralize- If you have a lot of personal items in your home, take them out once your house is listed.  Buyers want to envision their things in your space.  If you have too many family photos and personal items displayed, it makes it more difficult for a buyer to see themselves living in your home.  Also, if you pack them away now, you are getting a head start on packing for the big move.

5.) Hire a housecleaner- Even if you are the neatest and cleanest person out there, a housecleaner will make sure your house is spotless.  When you are selling your home, you want your house to show better than any other home listed.  Also, clean homes sell for a higher price.

For more tips on listing your home in Phoenix, or for a free no obligation Market Analysis, call or email me today.  Tips provided by E.J. McKinney, REALTOR® Keller Williams Realty- Sonoran Living, Phoenix, AZ.  EJ.McKinney@ymail.com

Sellers Market? Buyers need to act fast on purchase and come to the table with full offer…

Bidding Wars Erupt as U.S. Supply of Homes for Sale Falls- Bloomberg


Buyers are being squeezed out of deals all over the country as the supply of homes for sale shrink.  In markets like Phoenix, the supply of homes in February was down approximately 50% from 2011 at the same time.  This phenomenon is bridging the gap between the market bottom and the recovery and is actually forcing sales prices of homes up.  Buyers are coming to the table with full price offers, $1000 more than list price, $10,000 more than list price and in some cases, buyers are even offering to pay for some costs that sellers would traditionally pay for.  Over time, this is great news after years of a faltering real estate market in America.  As sales prices go up, market values of homes also go up.

What buyers should know?

1.) Get pre qualified first- Do not look at any homes till you have met with your mortgage lender and know just how much money you can borrow.  Also, a prequalification added with your offer, indicates to a seller that you as the buyer are serious about buying their home.

2.) Be prepared to come to the table with a full price offer (or higher)- There are many other buyers out there and they are looking at the same reduced inventory that you are.

3.) Act fast- The time to deliberate over homes has gone.  In a matter of 2 or 3 hours, homes are seeing multiple offers on them.  Do not procrastinate about your purchase.  If you like a home, make the offer on it sooner rather than later or else you may end up paying more for the home that you want to out-bid another potential buyer.

4.) My appraisal came in at what?- As the market shifts and buyers are paying more for homes, appraisals are on a lag.  Appraisals are done using comparable sales in a neighborhood for the past 3-6 months typically.  It is going to take time for higher priced comps to be used in an appraisal.  What this means is that the value derived in your appraisal for your purchase could come in lower than the agreed upon sales price.  If this does, you the buyer, may be the one having to pay for the difference rather than the seller as they know that if you walk away from the deal, they could have 5 other buyers waiting to make an offer too.

Home prices on the mend after 6 years of decline

After Falling over 34% in the past 6 years, home prices are on the rise and poised for recovery, especially in key markets.  In Phoenix, home prices have jumped since the fall of 2011 and as inventory decreases, prices continue to rebound here.

U.S. Housing Looks Ready to Rebound – Barrons.com

Phoenix named #2 in Top 10 Turnaround Cities for 2012

CNBC.COM- Top 10 Turnaround Towns

Legislative Update- Arizona Homeowner’s Rebate Affidavit

For those of you that have been following the various articles and warnings on the impending Homeowner’s Rebate Affidavit may have noticed when they received their property valuation notice that no such affidavit was present. As you may recall, the affidavit provision was part of last year’s “Jobs Bill,” which required homeowners to return the affidavit declaring that the property is the homeowner’s primary residence. If the homeowner failed to do so, the property would automatically be reclassified as Class 4 property and their taxes would go up as much as $600/year.

Two bills moving through the legislature, HB 2486 and SB 1217, are the primary reasons the affidavit has not been sent out this year, as required in current law. As stated by Tom Farley, CEO of the Arizona Association of REALTORS®, “Our advice to homeowners right now is to sit tight. We’re hoping this provision from last year’s law will be repealed and a more targeted notice will be put in its place.” Both bills, which are now identical, made significant progress through the legislature this week. On Monday, HB 2486: Homeowners’ Rebate Affidavit, sponsored by Representative Steve Court, was voted on in Third Read in the House of Representatives and received a unanimous vote in favor of the bill from the members present. The bill has been transmitted to the Senate where the process will once again be repeated.

Only a half hour after the successful vote on HB 2486, the House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony on SB 1217: Class Three Property Tax; Affidavit, sponsored by Senator Andy Biggs. Due to the fact that the members present had just voted on an identical version of this bill, SB 1217 sailed through committee. The next stop for this bill will be House Rules Committee, Caucus and then Third Read.

The bills in current form would eliminate the current affidavit requirements and establish that the county assessors are required to mail a notice every four years (beginning in 2013) to each Class 3 property owner if the owner has a mailing address outside the county in which the property is located, has a mailing address that is different than the situs address or property (excludes post office boxes), has the same mailing address listed for more than one parcel of Class 3 property, or appears to be a business entity.

** Reprinted from Arizona Association of Realtors Online

Housing Crisis End In Sight?

While many cities across the country are still in recovery mode, 2012 appears to show multiple signs that the housing crisis is nearing an end.  Recovery could still take years for communities that have lost significant values in their homes, but recovery and the end of the housing crisis that has loomed across the U.S. for the past few years is a welcome sign for many.

Across all sectors of the economy, we are seeing positive signs of recovery as well.  From Wall Street to Main Street, America is back open for business.  Companies like Apple have announced that they will be issuing dividends to it’s shareholders, something not seen in years and love them or hate them, big banks are raking in profits too.  Many of these are the same banks that just a few years ago needed taxpayer money to bail them out.

In a sign that the government has agreed with this positive momentum, banks have now begun to slowly loosen credit standards to allow their lending arms to once again lend to borrowers.

Here is a great article that I saw today talking about this same trend…..

DSNEWS.COM – Housing Crisis End in Sight?

Arizona Home Prices Continue to Rebound

As home prices continue to drop in most cities, a nascent real-estate rebound here holds lessons for the rest of the country.

This sprawling desert metropolis was one of the hardest hit housing markets during the bust. Phoenix home prices declined 55% from 2006 through the end of 2011, and Arizona’s foreclosure rate jumped to No. 3 in the nation in 2009. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners are underwater, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth.

Now real-estate economists across the country are studying an early but surprisingly broad Phoenix turnaround. The sharp drop in home prices has brought new buyers into the market. Unlike other markets where housing recoveries have been snuffed out by big overhangs of homes for sale and foreclosed properties, inventories are lean here.

“Phoenix has hit a bottom,” says Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist who was one of the first to warn six years ago that prices in overbuilt metros were poised to fall.

The nation’s hard-hit housing markets face a tough act: engineering a housing recovery without traditional trade-up buyers, many of whom are either unwilling or unable to sell because of huge price declines.

Phoenix has found a viable formula. Low prices are igniting demand from first-time buyers and investors who are converting the homes to rentals. The local economy is on the upswing with several big employers like Amazon.com Inc. and Intel Corp. hiring again, which is further increasing demand for housing. And the region is benefiting from a surge of buyers from Canada who are using their favorable exchange rate to scoop up bargains in the desert.

Local mom-and-pop investors are also playing key roles in soaking up supply. “I’m running my Realtor ragged looking at properties,” said Robert Gerundo, who last month stood inside a two-bedroom condominium, scribbling his signature on an offer to buy the unit for $50,200, slightly above the listing price set by the bank, which recently foreclosed on the unit.

Bloomberg News
Mike Jones flips real-estate signs for a Realtor, David Rod, as they are printed. Investors are buying many Phoenix properties and renting them out.

Mr. Gerundo has bought 13 properties in Phoenix in the past two years and rents them out for as little as $950 a month. The 49-year-old, who drives around in a Jaguar with a Rutgers sticker on it, says he is making so much money as a landlord that he quit his job last year in New Jersey as a banker.

Nationally, housing demand still remains weak and bank-owned sales are expected to rise this year, putting more pressure on prices. Many economists say they expect home prices nationally could fall by another 3% or so this year before hitting a bottom next year. Most expect that prices will rise little for several years.

U.S. home prices fell another 2% in the fourth quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index tracking 20 cities. But prices rose by 2% in Phoenix, the biggest increase of any metro area in the country. Over the past year, prices in Phoenix are down by 1.2%, the smallest drop since its prices started falling in 2006.

Other markets are showing signs of life, too, as the spring buying season gets under way. Recent job gains for Detroit’s auto sector have helped rev up sales in recent months. Home prices in Washington, D.C., have fared better than in much of the country thanks to better employment prospects from government-related hiring.

Big price drops, like those in Phoenix, are another key. In Detroit, prices are down by 46% over the past six years and have fallen to levels last seen in 1994. Sales have picked up in Miami, where prices are down by 51% over the past five years.

But low prices alone haven’t been enough to so stabilize other epicenters of the housing bust where job growth still lags. In Las Vegas, where prices have tumbled 62% since 2006, including 8.9% over the past year, the local economy is heavily dependent on tourism and gambling, both industries that haven’t recovered. “A lot of markets in the country have hit a bottom, but I just don’t see them coming back the way Phoenix has,” says John Burns, a homebuilding consultant in Irvine, Calif.

The improving housing market in Phoenix isn’t much comfort to anybody who bought a home there a few years ago. More than 52% of mortgage borrowers owe more than their homes are worth, according to CoreLogic, a real-estate data company. And not everyone in Phoenix is convinced that the improvements will last, especially if the economy falters or oil prices soar.

Phoenix saw a small run-up in prices three years ago when federal tax credits spurred a buying frenzy, but prices dropped again once the credits expired. Others worry that banks have delayed foreclosures and will begin to saturate the market with more properties in the coming year. “It feels like a temporary bottom,” says Brett Barry, a real-estate agent who lists properties for Fannie Mae.

Such concerns haven’t discouraged buyers like Lloyd Sheiner from taking advantage of low prices to build an inventory of 143 homes, which he rents out to families that haven’t been able to hold on to their homes.

“The panic is over,” says Mr. Sheiner, an apartment and commercial real-estate investor who lives in Montreal and began buying 18 months ago after he concluded prices were too low.

His average renter, he says, is a family of four with parents who have jobs. “They’ve been sitting around their kitchen table with a $350,000 mortgage on a house worth $140,000,” he says. “And they’re saying to themselves, ‘Geez, what are we going to do? Do we spend the next 20 years of our life paying this down or do we start over?’ ”

His company, Living Well Homes, has built its own property-management infrastructure that allows tenants to submit work orders online and automatically deducts rent from their checking account. “We don’t go running around the valley banging on the door collecting rent,” he says.

Out-of-state buyers accounted for one-quarter of all purchases last month. One in every 25 sales went to a buyer that listed a Canadian address when registering the sale, according to the Cromford Report, a local real-estate publication. Many are flush with cash from a real-estate boom of their own in Canada and an exchange rate that has given Canadians unusual buying power.

Dean Selvey, a real-estate agent and investor who has built his business around marketing to Canadian snowbirds, last month set up a big booth at a two-day trade show in nearby Mesa called “Canadian Snowbird Extravaganza Celebration” that drew 5,000 attendees. “It’s chase the Canadians—that’s our market,” he says.

A few days later, Jon Mirmelli, a local real-estate agent who has bought nearly a dozen foreclosures as rentals, knocked on the door of a homeowner whose home was slated for a bank foreclosure auction. After introducing himself and informing the occupant about the imminent foreclosure sale, he popped the question: “If you’re not able to keep your house, would you be interested in renting it?”

From the porch, Mr. Mirmelli’s business partner sized up the condition of the three-bedroom house, which the current owner bought for $150,000 in a short sale two years ago. At courthouse auctions, homes are sold as is, meaning the buyers may have to evict the former owner.

Nearly 29% of homes sold last month went to buyers who indicated they planned to rent out the properties, according to the Cromford Report. That figure has been on the rise over the past two years. In mid-2010, the share stood near 15%.

Competition from investors is frustrating for aspiring first-time buyers like Adam Brenner. “This does not feel like a buyer’s market at all,” says Mr. Brenner, a pharmacist who estimates that he has looked at 60 houses since last fall. “You hear and read about how there are so many homes for sale, but once you start looking, it’s a pretty big shock.”

Many real-estate agents have reported more bidding wars in recent weeks, and some buyers are agreeing to escalation clauses, a bubble-era provision where they agree to pay a certain price above the highest offer.

Arizona makes it easier for banks to take back properties through foreclosure without going to court. The state saw the largest decline in the share of loans that were seriously delinquent or in foreclosure during 2011, according to Lender Processing Services. So-called judicial states such as Florida, where banks must process foreclosures by going through court, have seen growing backlogs, which some fear could eventually drag down Florida markets again in the future.

Now prices are firming up because fewer homes are selling out of foreclosure. Foreclosed properties accounted for 36% of all home resales in January, down from 55% one year ago and a peak of 66% in March 2009, according to DataQuick, a real-estate data firm. Those declines have fallen, in part, because banks are also becoming more efficient at approving short sales, where it allows a sale for less than the mortgage debt owed.

Mike Orr, founder of the Cromford Report, says concerns that banks will begin to dump more foreclosures on the market are overblown, at least in Phoenix. “People think there’s a glut of homes the banks are hiding somewhere, and that may be the case in other markets, but not here,” he says.

Still, a market recovery on paper means little to hundreds of thousands of underwater homeowners. Consider the case of Gil Monti. In just two days, he received five offers for this home—four above his asking price.

But that offers little comfort: He has been forced to sell the home, which he built 34 years ago and where he raised all three of his children, in a short sale for $275,000.

Mr. Monti was one of many people who refinanced his home repeatedly during the boom, pulling out cash along the way to fund home improvements and his kids’ college educations. He paid $100,000 in construction and land costs in 1978, and the home was valued at nearly $600,000 in 2006. He sold the property last month in a short sale because his “interest only” $473,000 mortgage reset last year, requiring full interest and principal payments.

He realized the depth of his troubles last year when a neighbor sold a home for just $199,000, a third of what Mr. Monti’s home was worth at the peak.

Mr. Monti isn’t alone. “The recovery that gives people like Gil the freedom to sell their property is not going to happen, possibly ever, for a lot of people here,” says Greg Markov, his real-estate agent.

Mr. Markov also represents Mr. Gerundo, the investor who bought 13 properties as rentals. “That recovery is already here” for Mr. Gerundo, Mr. Markov says. “His investment is not going down in value.”

** A version of this article written by Nick Timiraos appeared Mar. 13, 2012, on page A1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Rise in Phoenix Housing Shows Path for Other Cities.

Keller Williams Realty March 2012- This Month in Real Estate

Phoenix Real Estate Improving

I have been talking about the recovery for a while now and how when it happens it will happen fast.  Well all indications are pointing to an improving Phoenix Real Estate market.  In fact just in the past 30 days, average sales prices are up around 4% from $169K to over $176K.  For the past 6 month period, average sales prices were hovering around $162K here in the valley as well.  That is a nearly $15K improvement from where we were just this past fall.  In the greater Phoenix metro area there have been over 17,000 sales for all of 2012.  With mortgage rates as low as they are right now, you would think that buyers would be knocking down REALTORS doors like Target the day after Thanksgiving.  In some cases that is true but believe it or not there are still buyers out there sitting on the sidelines hoping for a great low priced deal.  Banks have some of the lowest shadow inventory right here in our own state of Arizona, 6 months or less according to most sources.  What does this mean for buyers?  Less inventory than we have seen in a while and less selection… just over 15,000 active homes for sale in the greater Phoenix area to be exact.  There are also just over 12,000 homes that are pending close of escrow as well.  In a nutshell, with such small inventory numbers, we have moved into a sellers market.  Yes buyers still have some options, but buyers need to act fast if they are wanting the home that they have been looking for.

In another sign of an improving market, builders have started once again construction on new neighborhoods.  When we see builders having confidence to shell out capital to start new neighborhoods, we know the market is improving.  Recently there was a great article posted naming Phoenix the #2 market for a rebounding market in 2012.  We are seeing signs of this already early in 2012.

If you or someone you know are looking to buy or sell real estate here in the amazing Phoenix metro area/Valley of the Sun, let me know today so we can get started.  My team has a proven track record of success for our clients.  My awards include among others the Double Gold medals for production with Keller Williams Realty in 2011 and 2010.  If you are a seller, let me show you how my proven marketing strategy will sell your home in less days on the market and get you the most money on your sale.  If you are a buyer, I will be your #1 advocate during your home purchase, ensuring that the biggest purchase you make will be seamless.

* Market Stats provided by ARMLS and are for informational purposes only.  For a more comprehensive market analysis of your home or neighborhood, contact me directly.