Time is of the essence for Home Buyers and the Time is NOW for all Home Sellers!

Housing SqueezeI think it is too soon to say how the Sequestration will impact our Puget Sound markets. While it is acknowledged that FHA loans will likely be a concern and we may suffer job losses in the government sectors such as military and education it is unclear how soon and how big that impact will be. Instead of predicting gloom and doom I prefer to take an optimistic yet cautious wait and see attitude.

In the meantime, the Snohomish County and north King County markets continue to see a dearth of inventory. It has definitely become a seller’s market which explains why closed unit numbers are down. Virtually every sale is a multiple offer situation, homes are selling rapidly and above list price. The demand is increasing and the inventory continues to decline. We are seeing fewer short sales and foreclosed property listings are nearly nonexistent compared to just 2 years ago. Prices as proven in the statistics, are rising. As opposed to the seller’s market that peaked in 07, sellers are less likely to be interested in offers with price escalators. They are more likely to want offers described as the buyer’s highest and best.

” In my 37 years working in the real estate industry , I have never seen inventory this low”.

We all fear another artificial bubble being created. Many of the sales that are occurring are cash buyers, tenants already living in the homes they are buying, investors and investor groups purchasing in bulk, and we are beginning to see an increase in for sale by owner transactions. Therefore many sales are not going through the NWMLS data base which has a tendency to skew the numbers of actual sales. This phenomenon is occurring across the country in most major market areas. This of course also has an effect on appraisals due to the assessor’s office not having the ability to report the sale statistics as quickly as NWMLS mostly owing to a lack of man power. This is an area that may also be impacted by the sequesters.

I don’t believe that the vast majority of potential sellers realize how high the demand has become, that they may once again have true equity in their homes and that right now they have an excellent window of opportunity to sell. As more and more buyer’s fear that interest rates will begin to rise, and that prices will continue to increase, I don’t see the demand decreasing any time in the near future. Add to the mix of this “perfect storm” scenario the low percentage of new construction inventory and sellers fearing if they sell now they will have nowhere to go makes it even more challenging at best.

Those who work in this industry are encouraged to do their best to help in getting the word out that the market is the exact opposite of just 2 years ago and that sellers owe it to themselves to find out what the current value of their home might be. If they do not investigate the potential they may be missing out on a long awaited opportunity to sell without being “under water”.

Tell Me Something Good: You Must Be Afraid

YOU MUST BE AFRAID!

By: Eyore JackAss

 

But first………. “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933
Man screaming in fear

These words true in 1933 should be true today. But why aren’t they? Because today our culture has become fear based and some of us apparently like it. From the fear of flying , not in the traditional sense mind you, but in the pat down invasive search before you even can fly scenario, to fear of: swine flu, bird flu, pandemic alerts, health risks, risks if you take the medication aimed at reducing the effect of the illness you needed to take the meds for, traffic grid lock, weather and climate changes, hackers, identity theft, nuclear meltdowns, brain cancer from cell phone use, white bread, gluten, the economic crisis, gas prices going even higher, fear of the Republicans, the Democrats, interest rates up or down, inflation, deflation, and new warnings that the real estate market will not recover, or at least not for another 5 years, so definitely do not buy!

When President Roosevelt spoke those words in 1933 he was trying to assure the American People that it was time to reduce the impact of fear.   At that time in our history his positive vision of the future of our country was that fear could and would be eliminated because the people had a belief in themselves. Today those in power, our elected leaders, choose to jump on the fear mongering bandwagon by telling us to fear everything, everyone and to especially fear; fear itself.

So, what will happen with our market, with our economy, to our nation? Will it be 2012, 2014, 2016, or beyond before recovery? Frankly, I don’t know, and moreover, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter because here is what I do know; I have today. You have today. And, we all have a choice, we can either make something happen today, or, we can live in fear hoping and waiting for something to happen tomorrow. I choose the first option, and I refuse to be afraid. When did it become unwise to take a risk? When did living in fear became our way of life? And maybe more than fear, it’s the anxiety caused by fear that has penetrated our culture. Again, I choose to refuse, adamantly refuse, to participate.

We are seeing definite signs of recovery, TODAY. Sales reports tell us there has been an increase in newly written and closed transactions. Defaults and foreclosures in many markets have decreased,  interest rates remain low, financing programs such as FHA 203-K, USDA, and the Homepath loan on Fannie Mae owned properties are very, very consumer friendly. Prices are affordable, buyers have returned to the market choosing to simply get on with their lives, the projection of the number of newcomers to our region is in the tens of thousands, and the jobs outlook for the Puget Sound is better than optimistic. So again, the clear choice is to make something happen; TODAY!

Get up, get out, go back to work, stop waiting for the good old days of 04, 05, 06 to return, make something happen TODAY. If you subscribe to and believe in the message of the song TOMORROW, from the Broadway musical ANNIE, then you have just WASTED TODAY! And if that is the case, perhaps, just perhaps, it is time to take a second look at whether or not this is the right career for you!

And now for Eyore’s column under the headline: YOU MUST BE AFRAID!

Eyore was unable to write the news article to follow the headline at this time. The reporting firm for whom he is a statistical spokesperson, Poor Standards, reports he has fallen silent in the past few weeks due to being paralyzed with fear. This debilitating fear was brought on by the signs that there is optimism in the real estate market place and that many Americans have stopped listening to his negative predictions.  This of course might mean that his reign of terror and his money making days of perpetuating fear by reporting slanted statistics, is coming to an end.

Remember, Tell Me Something Good!

Until next time,

Diedre


 

Tell Me Something Good: THE END IS NEAR!

The End is Near!!!

OMG!  The end of what, the world as we know it, America as we see it, our government and its operation, or, could it be, could it possibly be; the end of everything? CB Bain Diedre Haines Tell me something good

Many years ago I took a couple of classes in journalism. My motivation in doing so was to find out why journalists write as they do by putting a negative slant on every article. I found out quickly when I received the first assignment. We were given a news headline and then told to write the article. Of course the headline already carried a negative connotation much like the one you just read. So of course nearly every student wrote a negative article, except me. I did not receive a very good grade.

Here are some actual quotes from newspaper and magazine articles written in past years regarding the housing market:

“The prices of houses seem to have reached a plateau, and there is reasonable expectancy that prices will decline.” Time Magazine, December 1st 1947

“House prices continue to rise and now cost too much for the mass market. Today’s average price is around $8000 which is out of reach for two-thirds of all buyers.” Science Digest, April 1948 (guess Time Magazine was wrong)

“The days when you couldn’t lose on a home purchase are no longer with us” House Beautiful, November 1948

“The goal of owning a home seems to be getting beyond the reach of more and more Americans. The typical new house today costs $28,000.” Business Week, September 4, 1969

“Be suspicious of the ‘common wisdom’ that tells you to ‘Buy now, because the threat of inflation will force home prices and rents higher and higher’.” NEA Journal, December, 1970

“The era of profits in real estate may be drawing to a close.” Money, January, 1981

“If you are looking to buy, be careful, rising home values are not a sure thing anymore.” Miami Herald, October 25, 1985

“We’re starting to go back to the time when you bought a home not for its potential money making abilities, but rather as a nesting spot.” Los Angeles Times, January 31, 1993 (this is a bad thing?)

“Financial planners agree that houses will continue to be a poor investment.” Kiplinger’s Personal Financial Magazine, November, 1993

And my very favorite: “A home is where a bad investment is.” San Francisco Examiner, November 17, 1996

As we all know, many people throughout the history of our country have amassed great sums of money by investing in real estate, during both good and bad times. I’m not just talking about the Donald Trump’s of the world. I’m also talking about the average Joe who decided that rental properties would be a good investment for retirement. The people that bought land and held onto it for future development, and all of the builders of homes both large and small that have been successful more often than not in selling their product at a profit. And yes, today there are many excellent buys for both the savvy investor and the novice that have the potential of becoming true money makers.

Don’t forget that during the great depression of the 30’s there were many people that were called “Land Poor”, those families that owned small and large pieces of land they couldn’t sell. They struggled mightily just to pay the taxes. Many of those that were able to hold onto their property until the recovery then became known as “Land Barons”. And those that bought the properties that were ultimately foreclosed upon did quite well with their investments.

As we look back at our history it is obvious that our media has always made broad based statements that are aimed at all markets in all locations. As we know, REAL ESTATE IS LOCAL! Case in point: In the news reports of late there has been a lot of reference to the “peak” of mid 2005, but as we know our market peaked in 2007. And right now our market is definitely in recovery mode. Many parts of California, New York, and other locations have been in strong recovery for the past year, while in some parts of our country, Detroit for one, they are still experiencing very tough times.

So what is the point of this post? Simple, keep everything in the proper perspective, don’t slant the situation toward a particular direction, weigh and measure the facts, try to avoid the negative, and find the something good because there really is a lot of good to report. But most importantly: Stop playing the role of being victims!!!

Here is what Eyore (reference my post of 6/01/11 for information on Eyore*) wrote to complete the headline above: “Prices of real estate will continue to decline. Those purchasing homes and land today are headed for financial ruin as there will not be any gain or return on their investment for decades to come. And as a result, the government of the United States will be forced to take more than 70% of all real estate through eminent domain.  Taking that action will be in keeping with the doctrine of ‘for the public good’. And for those unfortunate people who currently own any type of real estate, my advice is to dump it now for whatever price you can get before it’s too late!” *an additional note on Eyore for those that are unaware, his species is commonly known as; Jack Ass.

And finally, here is my completion of the headline: “The housing slump, particularly in the Puget Sound Region, is nearing an end. Prices have stabilized and are beginning to edge upward ever so slightly. But homes still remain more affordable than they have been in many years. Interest rates remain low, the number of distressed homes is beginning to decline and demand is beginning to increase. In many Seattle area neighborhoods we are experiencing an increase in multiple offer situations with price escalator addendums included. In addition we are seeing an increase, which is expected to continue, in new households being added to our area.”

Don’t forget as you go about your day to think of those words: Tell me something Good, and then do it!

Until next time,

Diedre

 

Tell Me Something Good:The Power of the Positive

IT WAS ANNOUNCED IN WASHINGTON D.C. TODAY THAT THE REAL ESTATE MARKET WILL NOT STABILIZE FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS!

Now that I have your attention…keep reading…

Tell Me Something Good CB Bain and CB SealIsn’t it amazing, the power of a negative headline?  In January of 2008 at my first Snohomish County business meeting of the year for my troops I announced that our theme, our mantra, for the coming year would be: Tell Me Something Good. I wanted everyone to remember and to think about those words before they opened their mouth to speak, to anyone, anytime, anywhere, about anything.  I told them to stop watching and listening to the news; on line, on television, on their smart phone on the radio. And I told them to stop reading print media especially the headlines.

Everything we were hearing, reading, or seeing in print, was negative, depressing and sensationalized. I pointed out that the first rule in Journalism 101 is: “If it bleeds it leads”.  I changed the ring tone on my phone to the song; TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD. And if you call me today that is what you will hear. We have maintained that mantra ever since.

Things have not changed much since then. We are still inundated with all the gloom and creative misleading headlines the press can muster. Fortunately, a lot of people have stopped listening to the doomsayers. Yes, there are also some good news reports, they are just harder to find. And often the “good news” content is imbedded so deeply into the article no one reads it, so all they really remember is the headline.

I have been doing some research on our recession of the early 1980s. What I have found is most interesting. At the end of 1982 and throughout 1983 the unemployment rate fluctuated between 13% and 15%. Interest rates went as high as 23% in some markets. Average sale prices for homes were exceedingly low, and new construction was at a standstill nationwide.  The stock market was what we call a Bear Market, only good for those who could invest and that was not the majority of Americans

By  1985 the bulk of our on market homes for sale were, you guessed it, foreclosures.  Things were looking pretty bleak for the future of our country. But somehow we survived and went on to once again thrive as a nation. And we will do so again. We are in fact headed in the direction to do so as this is being written.  Yes we still have a way to go but despite what many media reports are telling us, we aren’t that far from the end zone, particularly in the Puget Sound Region.

So as I add to this blog over the coming weeks, I will always be telling you something good. I will give you the positive side. It isn’t that I am a cockeyed optimist, it’s simply that I refuse to wallow in the gloom and doom and fear that is fed to us, three meals a day, from the majority of our news sources. And yes I acknowledge that some of the negative is reality and we need to pay attention to reality but, I don’t believe we need negative real or not as a steady diet with no other choices on the menu.

So as you go about your daily routine remember those words; Tell Me Something Good! Find the good and share it with everyone you know or meet, take part in spreading the positive!

Oh yeah I almost forgot, the remainder of the article that followed the headline that got your attention:

“….The declaration today was made by renowned real estate investment guru and close friend of Winnie the Pooh;  Eyore. Eyore has amassed his fortune by placing high stake bets that the housing market will continue to falter. He has formulated his predictions based entirely upon contributing to the increase of his own fortune.   Despite what might be called an apparent  conflict of interest, he has become the number one authority on the housing industry in America. In fact the people believe that if the press reports it and Eyore said it, then by golly, it has to be the truth….”

Until next time,

Diedre