Does It Have to Be Difficult and Stressful?
I was pretty surprised with how last month's sales turned out and I'll be covering that along with the most recent sales graph.
This month, after going over the sales statistics, I want to cover a subject that will likely be important to you - the potential stress that goes along with buying a home or condo, how to reduce it and what that is worth to you. But first, let's look at how February sales did...
In my last newsletter I wrote about the ups and downs in the local real estate market and how during the first part of the month it looked like February was going to be down, possibly breaking a long trend of recovery. I had noticed several signs during the first week or so of February that this was not only possibly, but likely.
Then, about the second week or so of February, there was a noticeable change. I don't have an explanation for why this occurred. It could be that the bad winter storms up north delayed some people's trips or any number of things but whatever it was that caused this is does not appear to be a permanent or long-term reversal of the recovery trend we have been seeing.
In fact, by the end of the month the sales were not only up from January and from last February - they were the highest for any February since 2007! This now makes 27 straight months where our local sales were higher than in the same month of the previous year, and the third straight month with sales higher than the same month in all of the last 4 years.
Will this continue? Well, not to be too much of a pessimist, I'm predicting that at least one (if not all three) of the next three months will have sales lower than the same month last year (but probably higher than than the same month in 2007-2009). The reason for this is that last March-May saw a dramatic spike in sales due to the ending of the tax credit. As I've written before, I feel that caused an artificial jump in sales during those months and that will be hard to beat. However, it does look like the steady increase in sales will continue through the next several months based on what I've been seeing in demand.
In fact, just in the last few weeks I had 2 clients that were interested in properties that had been on the market for 2 months or more see those properties all go under contract within a 1 week period. And these were not just lower-priced properties, some were in the $700,000 to $800,000 range! We'll find out next month if I'm right about what will happen.
But for now, here's the chart showing the local sales from 2007 through last month with the orange lines being 2011:
By the way, if you want to see the chart better and be able to read the numbers, just click on it and it will open in a new window full-sized. Just close the window when you're done looking at it to get back to this newsletter.
Now onto the main topic for this month. What is it worth to you to be able to buy your home or condo or townhouse knowing that you don't have to worry about most of the problems that can come up?
In previous newsletters I've shared some of the stressful situations my clients have had to go through; being a seller who needs to get the short sale deal on their house closed before a lender forecloses when they have an interested cash buyer under contract, or before the buyer won't wait any longer, while watching their bank dragging their feet on approving the short sale; being a buyer who has to change their financing twice due to new rules being passed while waiting for short sale approval; being a buyer who finds out as they are driving to Florida for the closing that an error was made by the loan officer at their lender and their loan may now not get approved.
Fortunately in all these cases the clients were people who didn't give up easily and who acted quickly when they were asked to provide information or documentation. Even so, they went through periods where they didn't know whether the outcome would be positive or negative.
The advantage they did have was a good Realtor who doesn't give up. You might think I'm just tooting my own horn here but the point I'm trying to make is how important it is to have a competent Realtor represent you as a seller and as a buyer.
There are dozens of step that have to be done correctly and in a timely manner for you to have a successful purchase or sale and finding the right house or condo for a buyer, or finding a qualified buyer for a seller, is just the beginning step. Getting from that point to a successful closing involves many actions that have to be done by sellers, buyers, inspectors, title companies, condo or homeowner associations, lenders, etc. More often than not someone along the way makes a mistake or doesn't do what they are supposed to do correctly or in a timely manner. What your Realtor should do for you is make sure to watch that everyone is doing their job and doing it correctly, and getting involved quickly when they find out someone isn't.
It may seem like it is all very simple and should just move along smoothly, and sometimes it does. But more often than not there are at least a few points along the way where things go off the road and have to be gotten back on it again. If you don't know what to do about these things it can get to be very stressful and frustrating and can even mess up the whole deal. You have enough to do without having to become an expert in all these other fields to be able to sort out any of the many problems that can occur.
When you have the right Realtor working with you there is a certainty you will achieve that someone is watching out for you and that nearly every problem that comes up can be solved. This doesn't mean that there won't ever be situations where you will have concern or feel stress - but it does mean that you won't be facing it alone and without the knowledge to fix it.
One thing that is needed in a good Realtor is a willingness to go beyond the normal expectations to find solutions. For my seller mentioned above, when the buyer was getting anxious and I couldn't get anywhere with the people at the bank handling the short sale, I went online and found a forum where someone posted the email addresses of the top executives of the bank and then emailed them about the situation. I got a call back that same day from the bank's executive offices and someone there helped me get the short sale department to actually start doing what needed to be done. It was this action (and several others that I won't go into detail about again here) that lead to a successful closing with 1 day to spare before the date of the foreclosure.
The other thing that is needed in a good Realtor is a good level of communication. In all the situations above I made sure to keep my clients informed about what was going on so they weren't getting overly worried because of not knowing what was happening. Even if I couldn't get an answer I'd let them know that I had called or emailed to get an answer and that I'd let them know when I heard back. The only times I didn't keep them in the loop was when there was a serious problem that would have worried them that they couldn't do anything about and which I felt I could handle quickly. Then, I did what needed to be done and when I had the problem resolved I let them know about it.
I bring all this up because I have interactions with people from time to time that don't understand why they need a Realtor to represent them or choose someone randomly or based on a recommendation of someone they know (but who hasn't had personal experience with the Realtor themselves) and don't feel there's any problem with that. In some cases they get lucky. But is it worth it to take a risk on something as important as this?
There are many good Realtors out there and I have worked with a lot that I feel do put the same kind of effort into helping their clients as I do. When you're ready to buy or sell make sure that you have a Realtor that will do a professional job and help take a lot of the burden off of you. And when you do have a good Realtor that is helping make things easier on you, you need to help make their job easier by doing what you are asked to do and in a timely manner. Sports teams that win championships are not the ones with the 'stars' that think it's up to them to win - they are the ones where everyone on the team works together, doing their own jobs in the best way and in the way that helps their teammates do theirs. A real estate deal is a team effort and you need someone who can 'coach' all the team members to make sure they do their jobs in a way that the end result is success.
On a completely different note - I highly recommend the movie "Secretariat" if you haven't seen it.
Hope to see you here soon.