We survived! (For now)
While the world did not explode (or implode either) for real estate agents, as far as I can tell, this was one wacky week. (Read my post from a few weeks ago on the ticking of the expiration of the credit, and Benn Rosales’ post on the end of the credit. I agree wholeheartedly with Benn’s opinion, by the way.)
I personally didn’t have any last minute buyers running around in a total panic as April 30 approached. We had buyers who didn’t find the right house, and they’re okay with that. They’ll keep looking, but at their own pace. The tax credit was just icing on the cake, but not their main motivation for buying.
We did have a handful of buyers in the office who indicated they would not continue looking after April 30. I question their seriousness. They were mostly looking for “a steal” and if they found a true bargain, something too good to pass up, they’d buy it. If not, oh well. Are those the kinds of buyers ANY of us enjoy working with? Not me. I want someone who wants to move, and is motivated, for whatever reason. I don’t want permanent lookers trying to buy filet mignon on a hot dog budget.
Now, to get to the week’s strange stuff.
Wacky week in review
The weird stuff seemed to come from other agents, not so much from the buyers (okay, a little from the buyers).
We had several agents try to call in verbal offers. Office policy is to get all offers in writing (isn’t this Real Estate 101?). We tell agents who try this that we will communicate the message to seller, but that a verbal offer isn’t worth the paper it is (not) written on. It’s meaningless. No offer in writing, no deposit check, proof of financing, all terms and contingencies — no “acceptance” from seller.
Agents running out of time seemed to forget this basic rule. They begged, threatened and one screamed at me on Thursday that “Tomorrow is April 30, for God’s sake, can’t you bend your rules?”
No. Sorry. We will tell the seller about your buyer’s “offer” and advise that he doesn’t commit to “accepting” anything verbal. Put it in writing, with all supporting documents, if you’re serious.
“Buying” sight unseen
Another strange one called today at 4 pm with a verbal offer on a property she had never been inside. This “buyer’s agent” (How can you represent someone if you’re willing to put in an offer on a property you’ve never seen, the buyer has never seen, and in an area you are not familiar with? That’s another post.) said her out of town buyer would submit a verbal, and if the seller accepts THEN and only then will the buyer and the agent drive to my area to see the property. Oh, and the offer is contingent on the buyer liking the property.
Is it a full moon? Seriously. What planet are these people on? (1) Verbal offer is not acceptable and (2) How are you representing your buyer by this nonsense?
Half baked hasty contracts
Then there were the half-baked written offers hastily submitted. One had no terms, no proof of funds, no contingency info, and no date of settlement or date for seller’s reply. When asked for this info, agent said “Just fill in 30 days or something like that.”
Huh? Your buyer signed this half blank document and you want me to fill in what I want? Seriously? How about you do it right the first time then I’ll sit down with my seller and go over it.
I didn’t see a huge sales blitz this week. I have heard second-hand tales of agents submitting offers for multiple buyers today, running around and trying to get last minute signatures. But I didn’t see this personally.
The truth is most of my business is from the seller’s side. I represent far more sellers and landlords than buyers. So I wouldn’t necessarily be the agent running around with buyers in the car, trying to find the perfect house before the credit expired. But the agents in my office didn’t get frantic today, even the ones mainly representing buyers.
A soft summer?
A few sales this spring I think were to good buyers who would have bought in summer or fall, but pushed up their buying process faster to take advantage of the tax credit. The downside is those are sales we have simply pulled forward, into spring. That could make summer and maybe fall weaker than they would have been without the credit.
So now we go back to normal, whatever that is.
CC Licensed image courtesy of hitzelberger via Flickr.com.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
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