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Resolved to Living More Sustainably?

While we are on the subject of resolutions, if you are resolved (see what I did there?) to make your home a more green and sustainable one, there’s no better time to incorporate energy-saving measures than during the cold months. Here are five simple things you can do to make your house more efficient…

#1 Install a Programmable Thermostat
The advice is usually to turn down the temperature during the winter, but wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to a warm house?

Programmable thermostats let you pre-set temperatures and schedule when the furnace goes on and off. If you use them correctly you could see up to $180 in savings each year.  More sophisticated devices like the Nest learn your daily routine an automatically adjust temperatures based on your habits. We got a NEST at our house a couple of years ago. I like it, even though it turns the heat on about 30 minutes too early in the morning for me. It wants the house to be of a comfortable temperature for when I get out of bed, but makes the room too warm to sleep in.  Maybe some day I’ll figure out how to fix that.

#2 Install Ceiling Fans
Fans move cool and hot air around your living space, allowing you to turn the temperature down in winter and raise it during summer. During the wintertime, you can reverse the fan’s direction to clockwise to keep the warm air moving down. Plus you can hang your clothes on them for a winter air dry. (Okay…that was a joke)

#3 Eliminate Air Leaks
Use a door draft stopper and caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows to cut down on the cold air coming in.  I actually have the worst door ever for this. I’ve got to get someone out to fix it. We took the weatherstripping off when we had our house painted. However, the weatherstrip was installed wrong because the door jam need to be completely re-done. I just talked to a contractor today get him on the schedule to come fix that.

#4 Use Power Strips
Did you know that many of your appliances use electricity whether they are on or not?Standby power is electricity that’s being used by things like TVs, computers, appliances, and phone chargers, even when the devices are in stand-by mode or even off.

Plug electronics, chargers, and appliances into power strips and switch them off when you’re not using the devices. You could save up to $200 per year! Or you can buy outlets with a remote control that allows you to turn the whole outlet off.

#5 Change Your HVAC Filter
If you change your filters monthly, you may lower your energy bills by 5 to 15 percent. Plus stop that annoying wheezing sound they make when they get dirty.

Simply put, dirty, clogged filters make the HVAC system work harder.
The savings can be substantial if you keep your filters clean as the average household spends approximately $2,200 on heating and cooling costs every year. Getting the HVAC system regular yearly maintenance is also beneficial.

Sales to List Price in Southern Oregon

Different areas in the country have different ways of negotiating sales prices.

For example, in the Bay Area recently, the listing prices have been artificially low to encourage bidding wars. So List to Sales price can be way over 100%

I have heard of other areas that list the houses high, knowing it isn’t uncommon to take 75% of the list price.

So it is important to know the area and the norms when working on negotiating.  So your expectations are set appropriately.

Our market typically sees all home sales occurring between 95-100% of asking price.

The breakdown for 2017 for houses in Jackson County between $200-400,000 is this:

0-30 days         99.36%        1450 houses sold
31-60 days       98.06%         337  houses sold
61-90 days       97.78%         180  houses sold
91-120 days     97.74%         122  houses sold
120+ days        97.39%          169  houses sold

Note that in that price range, almost 65% of the houses sold in the first 30 days.  So in a competitive price point, one needs to be ready to make an offer quickly. Which might get you thinking about what it looks like on the upper end of the market.  Interestingly enough there is statistically more negotiation rooms in the upper price ranges.  This is how it breaks down for houses priced over $800,000

0-30 days         98.16%         31 houses sold
31-60 days       97.97%          5  houses sold
61-90 days       98.58%          5  houses sold
91-120 days     92.09%          7  houses sold
120+ days
        94.00%         24  houses sold

So think about that.

A house priced at $300,000 that has been on the market for 100 days statistically will sell at $293,000 or $7,000 less than asking price.

A house prices at $1,000,000 that has been on the market for 100 days statistically will sell at $921,000 or $79,000 less than asking price.

And just because I recently ran the numbers, one more set of stats.

Ashland between $300-500,000 sales price.  Or the “affordable” Ashland homes.

0-30 days          99.02%       62 houses sold
31-60 days        98.39%       25 houses sold
61-90 days        98.49%      16 houses sold
91-120 days      99.43%      12 houses sold
120+ days         99.34%       20 houses sold

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.