Realtor slain in model home
Last Friday, tragedy struck the real estate community when 27 year old Des Moines Realtor Ashley Okland was fatally shot twice while at a model home open house.
Immediately, the Des Moines police stated they believed it was an isolated incident despite having no suspects. Over the weekend, a neighbor came forward noting they heard a “commotion.”
Suspecting another Realtor
Today, the DesMoinesRegister reports that West Des Moines’ Lt. Jim Barrett said this morning that “police do not need the public’s help in locating a man seen talking with slain real estate agent Ashley Okland in the months leading up to her death.”
Earlier this week, officials asked the community for help in identifying a “scruffy” young man in a black vehicle resembling an Escalade who had been seen at the model with Okland before.
The Register said, “Barrett said the man is believed to be another Realtor. The police sent out a description of the man and his vehicle to area real estate agents Monday. He said today that those individuals are the people most likely to know the man.”
Laying Okland to rest
Results of the Monday autopsy have not yet been released. Channel 5 reports, “A memorial fund has been established by Ashley Okland’s family. You can send donations to 30048 530th Avenue, Kelley, IA 50134, which is where she was from. Money sent will be distributed to Okland’s favorite charities.”
There is a visitation planned for the Fjeldberg Lutheran Church in Huxley Tuesday from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines. Okland will be buried in Huxley.
Editor’s note: Realtors, while we do not yet know what happened or if “safety” was of any issue, we still urge you to trust your instincts and to stay safe. Please pray for the Okley family and the shaken Des Moines real estate community.
April 14, 5:30cst: Des Moines Register reports 1,600 attended Okland’s funeral today. Still no suspects or leads leaving a frustrated real estate community and a mourning family. Rest in peace, Ashley, we believe justice will be served in your honor.
April 15, 2:18cst: Des Moines Register just reported that a search warrant has been issued in the case, but police spokespeople will not provide any details of the warrant.
April 16, 6:44cst: Des Moines Register reports the reward has been increased again to $66,785, they still seek a “scruffy” man, the search warrant has not yielded any reports from police who have received 340 tips and leads.
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.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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