Posts

Choose A Home Inspector

I believe the choice of home inspector is one of the most important decisions in the home buying process. The most important choice is choosing the right Realtor. But hopefully after reading up on me and TEN Realty, the choice of the best Realtor is Southern Oregon is obvious and you have already decided to choose me.

The second most important decision is the choice of lender. I will leave that to another blog. But believe me, the 7 of 10 of the most difficult deals I have done have been due to an poor choice in lender. Now I can’t 100% tell someone which service providers to choose, but things always go smoother if my client allows me to refer them to the best service providers.

But what we are going to talk about it the Home Inspector.

I have a definite preference in my GO TO inspector.  And it is for a combination of reasons. First and foremost is that he is good at his job. I don’t want an inspector that overlooks things or misses things. It is the best insurance

A magnifying glass hovering over the words Inspection, centering on a house with the word Home inside it

policy you get when buying a house that on the date the inspection was done that the home was in a “known” condition. That is not to say it is in perfect condition, but that the issues are known and their risks and costs associated with them have been assessed.  My GO TO inspector quotes something I said to him years ago still. It was “if you don’t occasionally kill a deal for me, you aren’t doing your job”.  And I believe this, because some houses are just more work and need more money to fix that the buyer may have or be willing to live with.

But the next most important thing an inspector can have is being able to see the big issues from the minor issues. And to be able to communicate this to their clients. There are certainly some large issues that can go wrong on houses, but it is also the inspector’s job to find smaller items that are issues. Some inspectors make every little think look like it is a big deal  A house that was built 10 or 20 or 90 years ago will not have things as perfect as it should have as a brand new house (although brand new homes have issues all the time too). And if an inspector makes big deals over little items, it is counter productive.

There is one inspector that is in the area that has a reputation as a deal killer. I call this the WORRIER inspector Not because of major issues, but because he makes minor issues seem like big deals.  And to the inexperienced home buyer, they get scared and worried. I’ll tell you one thing as a home owner. Things break, things go wrong, and you too will defer some maintenance. We don’t all crawl under our houses and inspect that the insulation is still in good order. Or we don’t all consistently keep that beautiful climbing vine off of the side of our houses.  But if the attitude of the inspector is that all of this MUST be fixed, and that the seller REALLY should do it, that can turn a perfectly good house into one that isn’t purchased because of minor issues.

House_1Some inspectors also OVER inspect. When buying, it isn’t necessary to know every scuff of paint or snag in the carpet. Generally you want to know if the foundation is good. The roof is good. The plumbing isn’t leaking. There is no significant dry rot. ETC….  Unless you do want to have the perfect house with zero imperfections. And you are going to take the OVER inspection as a to-do list. Because generally the seller will not agree to a 100 point fix it list. But if you want that guy…I know who it is.

Then some inspectors have no people skills at all. They come in, check the boxes, do the job, fill out a report, print it and move on to the next one. I actually prefer this inspector to the OVER inspector or the WORRIER inspector. Because they do a good job. The reports point out the flaws of the house. This isn’t my GO TO inspector, but it certainly is my OKAY inspector. I’ve got a few of these.

I have also run across a report or two. An inspector or two who just seems incompetent. They may find the issues but their reports are so basic or poorly written it is hard to tell. They don’t take pictures or don’t take enough pictures to demonstrate the issues that they have found. If I am representing a seller in a deal…there are a couple of names of inspectors that I love to hear are doing the inspections. Because they are the INCOMPETENT ones. And if there is something that the seller doesn’t know about, the inspector doesn’t find…then all is good. You will not find the INCOMPETENT ones on the preferred providers section on my website.

 

So in order of my preferred personality inspectors when representing a buyer.

1. GO TO inspector (obviously)

2. OKAY inspector

3. OVER inspector

4. WORRIER inspector

5. INCOMPETENT inspector.

 

My order of preferred personality inspectors when representing a seller:

1. INCOMPETENT inspector

2. OKAY inspector

3. GO TO inspector

4. OVER inspector

5. WORRIER inspector

 

 

Cash Is King — Unless it is literally Cash

I really hope this blog post is AWESOME. Because I am re-writing it due to an accidental deletion. It is amazing what accidentally hitting “Command V” instead of “Command C” will do. And believe me, the last post I wrote was pretty darn good. (Good news though is it got me to invest in a new clipboard program that saves multiple clipboards…probably going to end up being a net positive gain in time spent)Cash Is King Pic

The old saying that Cash Is King is generally very true when it comes to real estate. In the case of multiple offers on a property, a seller will frequently take a cash offer over one that requires financing. Even if the one with financing is a higher offer and will net the seller more money in the end. 

The reason is that there are fewer uncertainties when it comes to cash. You don’t have to worry about what an appraiser says, nor do you have to worry about the lender’s underwriter coming up with some final requirement of extra bank statements or pay stubs….etc….that can slow things down. 

This doesn’t mean that a seller will just accept an unreasonable offer because it is cash. Sometimes cash buyers feel that their cash is worth more than it actually is. A seller who has their house listed for $300,000 will not entertain a $200,000 offer just because it is “cash”. 

But that isn’t even the point of this post. Because in most cases Cash Is King. 

The particulars I am referring to is Literal Cash. If someone wants to buy a house and use actual cash or use cash even for the earnest money. That’s when there are going to be issues. Something about wanting to make sure the money has been legally obtained. Banks report transactions over $10,000 to the government. That seems to be a threshold they have set to keep people from money laundering or avoiding paying taxes. 

It gets a little strange now in Oregon where marijuana has been legalized, but banking with the money is hard to do. So while legal, it ends up being a cash business for a lot of people. 

Now I have never had anyone wanting to come in with a briefcase of 100’s wanting to buy a house…but I’ve heard about it. 

Where I have run into complications in the past year is clients who do not believe in the need for the banking system and pay all of their bills with cash. It seems strange and unusual to me, but it happens and seems to be a completely fair way to conduct one’s personal affairs. 

However, the lenders are required to source all of the money a buyer brings in to purchase a house. And with cash or even cashier’s checks they can’t trace the source of the money. Earlier this year I had a transaction that was held up for 2 weeks because of this sourcing issue. So when it came up again, I was prepared and had the knowledge to see the warning sign and make sure that the client used money to make their earnest money deposit that could be sourced. 

This is just one of the many tidbits of knowledge that one only gets from being in the business for a long time as a full time agent. 

Short Sales in Southern Oregon

Short Sales:The brief definition of a “short sale” is when the owner of a house owes more to the bank(s) than the house can be sold for, and therefor a sale requires the bank to release the lien for less than full value.My House is Worth Less Than I own on it. What can I do?The comforting thing to know if you are a homeowner that owes more on your loan then your house is currently worth is that you are not alone. An estimated 22% of homeowners across the country are underwater. If you can make your payment and want to stay in the house you live in, then it really is something that you might just not think about.But what do you do if you can’t make the payment…or if you need to move for some reason (job change, divorce, etc…?)Well, maybe a short sale is right for you.I have been working with people both buying and selling short sales for a number of years now. And what I can tell you is the process is much easier to get through now than it was 3-4 years ago.

If you, or someone you know could benefit from getting out from under an underwater mortgage…let me know and I will see what I can do to help.

EMAIL ME HERE

Your contact with me will be kept strictly confidential. The professional consultation is free.

No matter how fun or depressing you may find your real estate situation at this time, it is my goal to not only provide the best advice possible, but to also make you laugh in the process.
Because a key to happiness is to be able to laugh in the bad times as well as the good times.

www.AgentInAKilt.com is the home for information on the Ashland Real Estate Market.

 

What everyone seems afraid to ask or….

What everyone’s afraid to ask….OR….. The “How’s the Market” Blog

Another year has passed in the great recession that we all are going through. It has been a tough time financially for many of us.
Being a real estate professional, I still get asked how the real estate market is, although admittedly not as often as it used to be. I believe many people don’t want to hear the answer.
So I will do my best without rambling to let you know what I feel is the state of the local real estate market.

This Is The New Normal

I don’t believe we are going to be seeing any big shifts in the real estate market in the coming year(s). What you see out there right now is pretty much how I think things will stay.
My statistics show that:
  • Roughly the same number of houses sold last year as the prior year.
  • Number of houses on the market for sale (inventory) is down 24% from last year.
  • Median prices are staying somewhat level…slightly up in some areas, and slightly down in others
  • Average days on market for listings is stable at about 90 days
  • Distress sales (Foreclosures and Short Sales) make up close to 50% of the solds…and 25% of the active listings
What this boils down to is there are a lot of great deals out there…especially in the distressed sale market. This can be good for those who are looking to buy.
However, those looking to sell are going to continue needing to compete with the distressed properties.
For more information on the Ashland Real Estate Market, visit my website. www.AgentInAKilt.com
Search for houses currently for sale at www.RealEstate-SouthernOregon.com

Ashland Summer Not So Hot

This has really been another mild Summer in the Rogue Valley. For an area that has normally seen a handful of 100+ degree days by now, they are nowhere to be seen.

Image by Cle0patra via Creative Commons

This is good news to many who do not like that hot weather…plus good news to keep the forest fires down, and the rivers and lakes full.

Unfortunately, Ashland Real Estate is not as hot as it could be either. Since Summer Solstice, there have been 36 sales in Ashland. There are currently 30 pending sales to go along with that.

But there is a supply of another 195 houses still on the market. With an average of about 19 houses per month selling, that has Ashland at a 10 month supply.

So to relate that back to the weather analogy.

If the normal real estate temperature at this time of the year is pushing 100 degrees, then this year we probably are looking at temps around 85 degrees. Still fairly pleasant, but definitely not hot.

Okay, enough silly weather analogies. I’m going to go out and enjoy the pleasant 85 while we’ve got it…cause you all know that fall is right around that next corner.

Cheers.

P.S. Remember…if you want to look at what houses are currently on the market you have find Ashland Real Estate Listings Here.

Foreclosures Rising

This last week there was an interesting article in the Medford Mail Tribune about a Jacksonville man who won a court case on his foreclosure proceeding, and also a weekend  article in the Oregonian about Foreclosure filings in Oregon being up 236%

Together they make an interesting article, but I wished that it was a more NY Times in depth analysis, rather than just the few facts and slight research that was there. They brought up some questions as a combined article…and I haven’t been able to figure out what the behind the scenes real story is.

So what I want to know is did the banks file the foreclosure notices to try to race what they think might be the backlash of negative rulings by  Oregon Judges, or is this a feeling that there won’t be a many negative effects, and they are just clearing out some backlog of foreclosures that could have been filed in February, March and April?

However it goes…it does look like we still have some time left before the foreclosures clear off the market.
Interestingly, foreclosure (REO) listings in our area at the end of May only accounted for less than 5% of the active listings on the market….however they accounted for almost 44% of all sales in the previous 3 months.

So as the new foreclosures hit the market…there will be some opportunities out there for  home buyers to maybe get into a home that only 4 years ago was out of reach. But one has to be quick if one comes on the market you like, cause they don’t last long.

You can search for properties on my website www.realestate-southernoregon.com. However, the feature to search REO properties does not work at this time due to some reporting issues with Southern Oregon MLS, but I will be working on fixing that problem to give people better access to doing their own property research.

In the meantime, if you want REO listings sent to you…contact me directly and I will set something up that will alert you when new REO’s hit the market.

End of Tax Credit

Pending sales are up nationally as the rebound from the “end of the tax credit” has worked its way through. I listen to a podcast from NPR called Planet Money.  They do a great job of making the financial news that we all keep hearing about, whether from the government, banks,  or Wall Street, etc…make sense. I strongly encourage you to  check it out.

But one thing they have had shows on recently is the inherent benefits and flaws from incentives. That incentives seem to be the best way to encourage behavior, but they almost always produce unexpected consequences.

You can see from the below graph the consequence of the tax credit, and you can make your own determination if it was worth the cost.

On a local note, our pending sales in Jackson County are just about where they were at this time last year.

An analysis of the effect of the home buyer tax credit

My last newsletter asked the question of what effect did the home buyer government stimulus money have?

My answer was I thought that the short term impact was huge. But I was really curious about what the long term impact was going to be.

And I concluded last time we’re really just in a wait and see mode to fully assess the impact.

And now we have waited…and now we can see. From the graphs, I would say that the tax credit worked, sort of. There is a definite bubble of activity that happened in April, but it was followed by a depression in July. And now, most indicators are pointing to being roughly the same as last year.

Therefore, what I thought might happen did appear to come true. People who were thinking of buying rushed their decisions, and bought early. Which did reduce inventory temporarily, but the after effect lull caused that figure to return.

I think the benefit of the credit, and a reason to do something similar again was to give 1st time buyers some cash to make repairs that are needed on many of the foreclosed homes that are dominating the market at the moment. But I could just as easily argue that the effect of that is probably not worth the cost of the entire program.

A different program that targeted foreclosed homes, and provided extra money to make them livable would be more likely to help. There are loan programs that are designed to do this, such as the FHA 203k loan, but the regulation and requirements for this particular loan can be a challenge to qualify for. I guess what I would like to see is a more streamlined method to borrow home improvement/repair money and incentives to do so. Especially for houses that will be primary residences.

When Discrimination is Okay

I guess it takes something as horrific as this to get me to start writing again.

Aryan Nation Wants To Locate Headquarters in John Day, Oregon

First, I would like to commend Gene Officer, the Realtor quoted in the story, for his comments. I would also like to commend all other Realtors in the area who will not help these people buy property, and I condemn any who will.

I believe strongly in the fair housing act that was passed into law in the 60’s and its subsequent revisions. The law as I understand it is to  not discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, familial status, gender or disability. I think sexual orientation needs to be added to this list ASAP.

BUT….Political point of view is not a protected class. If I wanted to choose to not work with anyone who is a Republican, or a Democrat, or a Tea Partyist, or a Libertarian, or a Green Party….that would be my right…and I don’t believe that it would violate any laws.

The idea that this Mullet dude would sue the city of John Day for not allowing him to buy in the town is crazy. I’m not a lawyer…but there is nothing that says you have to sell to anyone….it just says you can’t discriminate based on the above criteria. But Mullet believes in discriminating based on race, religion, disability, etc….  And for him to even threaten to sue is somewhere between pathetic and ironic.

Memo to the Aryan Nation. You cannot stand behind discrimination laws to justify your unjustifiable actions.

Realtors of John Day…(and the rest of the country)…you do not have to help people who promote hate.

Owners of Property….you don’t have to sell to people who promote hate..you don’t have to sell to child molesters (they are not a protected class), you need to follow fair housing guidelines…but if it is not a listed protected class…it is not protected.

Again, I am a Realtor, not a fair housing attorney. And I suppose I could be wrong.

But Aryan Nation…get out of my state, and get out of my Country.

Seller’s Market under $200k—but not over

I’ve been looking at the added sales volume we have had in the Rogue Valley lately, and hearing stories (and experiencing) multiple offer situations. It has been feeling like a seller’s market in many ways. However, it all seems to be in the lower price range. So I just ran a few numbers.

For the record…the numbers are generate from sales reported to Southern Oregon MLS, and are in town properties for sale in Medford, Talent, Phoenix, Ashland and Jacksonville, with reported sales in the last 3 months.

A quick refresher…I am going to be talking about absorbsion rate. That is the rate of current sales divided into current inventory…or how many months it would take to sell all of the available homes if no other homes were listed.

So the numbers go something like this:

  • Under $200k, there are currently 332 properties available, and an average of 59 sales a month. So there are 5.5 months of supply.
  • Between $200k and $300k there are currently 326 properties available and an average of 32 sales a month. So there are 10 months of supply.
  • Between $300k and $500k there are currently 294 properties available and an average of 20 sales a month. So there are 15 months of supply.
  • Between $500k and $800k there are currently 124 properties available and an average of 3 sales a month. So there are 41 months of supply.
  • Over $800k there are currently 52 properties available and an average of 1 sale a month. So there are 52 months of supply.

A six month supply is considered a balance market….so there is a balanced market at under $200k….but in all other price ranges, it is still a buyer’s market.

How does one account for this? I think the first time home buyers and investors are thinking now is the time to buy. The $8000 tax credit appears to be working. What we are missing is the buyers that are moving up…or the buyers that are moving in from other locations.