Monday, June 15, 2009

W.W.C.D. - What Would Cramer Do?

W.W.C.D. - What Would Cramer Do?
Jim Cramer from Mad Money talks about the "housing bottom"? Encouraging message or just spin? What do you think? Have you seen any upturn in your activity

The Realtor's Toolbox: Monday Morning Match

The Realtor's Toolbox: Monday Morning Match

Regina Brett's 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on
Posted by Regina Brett September 20, 2007 14:03PM
Originally published in The Plain Dealer on Sunday,May 28, 2006

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here's an update:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don't ask, you don't get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

To reach this Plain Dealer columnist:, 216-999-6328

Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Price Your Home in Today’s Market

When we meet with prospective home buyers, one of their first questions is inevitably, “How low below the asking price should I expect to pay?” Our answer is always the same… it depends! Some homes are priced fairly and others are grossly overpriced. Wecannot recommend a generalized strategy as we need to weigh the merits of each home individually against their prices.

When our team members work with a seller to list their home, our strategy is to determine the home’s approximate market value, and then offer it for sale for as close as possible to (or even slightly below) that number. This strategy is especially important in a declining market. If we were to tack on an extra 10% of “wiggle room” onto our asking price, and then the market dropped 5%, we would be 15% above the market. The larger the gap between market value and asking price, the greater the chance that the right buyers will not see your home. Rather, buyers in the market for a more expensive home will see yours, and it will pale in comparison to the competition. The most effective strategy is to price slightly below the market so your home is the “best in its class.”

How We Determine a Home’s Value
When evaluating a home’s market value, we consider the following factors:

1. Availability and pricing of similar properties - Is the home unique or are there many like it for sale? If there are others for sale, how do they compare? What would it cost to get those homes to the same condition as yours, and vice versa?

2. Condition - Unless it is a very unique property, buyers in today’s market will discount the value of a home that requires more than simple cosmetic work. On the other hand, a home that offers popular amenities and is tastefully decorated will stand out among the competition.

3. Utility of Floor Plan - When we value a property, we look at the utility of the floor plan. For example, a three bedroom house with two bedrooms on the second floor and the third in the lower level would appeal to fewer people than a three bedroom house with all three bedrooms upstairs. A deck can be a plus, but less so if it is only accessible by walking through the master bedroom. Also, a kitchen with a large pantry would have more appeal than a kitchen with minimal storage.

4. Location - This used to be the single most critical criteria in evaluating home values, but as our city grew and neighborhood boundaries blurred with new development popping up all over, buyers were more willing to sacrifice location for value. Still, there are certain factors (like being near an El track, a bar, or on a busy street) that will negatively impact market value. Likewise, certain locations still command a premium.

There are some factors that are irrelevant to market value. They include:

1. How much you paid when you bought the property?

2. How much you spent improving the property?

3. How much you owe against the property (mortgages and/or equity lines)?

4. The amount you hope or need to get from the property’s sale

Why Testing the Waters Doesn’t Work
Sometimes sellers ask if we can just “test the market” at a price that we both know is above their home’s market value. There are several reasons why this is a bad idea including the following:

1. Your home gets the most visibility the first time you list - and you only get one first time. There are buyers out in the market who have seen everything else, and they are waiting for “the right” home to come on the market. If your home is overpriced, those buyers are less likely to see it, and they may not be around to take a second look after you reduce your price.

2. Based on our experience, the longer your home is on the market for sale, the less negotiating leverage you have. Buyers will discount your asking price (even if it has been adjusted) if there is a lengthy market time, as it is their “proof” that the home is overpriced.

3. You may ultimately get less when you sell, than if you had priced it correctly in the beginning. We have seen sellers put their homes on the market with ambitious prices, receive offers, and turn them down because they were to low relative to their asking price. Subsequently, the offers stopped coming, the prices have been reduced to below what the sellers previously turned down, and they are still carrying the property. This is a slippery slope to be avoided.

4. Selling it is only half the battle. Once under contract, your home needs to appraise for the price on the contract, or the buyer will have to put more money down toward the purchase. Even if we are lucky enough to get someone to pay an over market price, there is a good chance the sale will fall apart or the buyer will renegotiate price when they receive their appraisal.

Why the Right Agent Can Mean the Right Price
So, how does your real estate agent evaluate competing inventory, condition, utility of floor plan and neighborhood? In smaller communities, agents can be familiar with each home that is available or sold recently because the total scope is manageable. But, in our area, where there are hundres of properties on the market at any given time. It is impossible to have physically inspected every home. So, we rely on our experience and on the information and photos found in our Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Sometimes we also reach out to agents who have sold similar properties and ask them for help so we can make an accurate comparison.

Note that while past and current sales data is available in the MLS, not every agent will interpret it the same way. The “lens” through which we see sales data will be colored by our overall experience, as well as by our level of expertise in the property type, in the price range, in our knowledge of the neighborhood, and our overall outlook. For example, an agent who is an expert at valuing a farm property may not be qualified to value a luxury home. So, in searching for an agent to sell your home, be sure to ask for a list of properties these agents have sold in the last two years, and verify that they have related experience.

Final Notes
It is critical to understand that while we have the tools to help you estimate market value, it is only a momentary assessment. Pricing in this market is highly volatile. We will put a home on the market based on our estimate of value, but the following week the family who lives on the same street may decide to put their home on the market at a price that is $20,000 below yours. Assuming the condition is equal, the value of your home will drop by at least $20,000, perhaps more. You need to work with your agent to continually monitor the market once you have listed your home to make sure your pricing is still competitive. If not, immediately adjust in an increment that will allow you to reach a new audience (at least 5%).

The good news is that in the Southern Kentucky there are still plenty of buyers. If your home is in good condition, priced at or below its current market value, and there are not too many like it for sale, you should get showings and even offers.

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