Counties with biggest home seller gains and losses in October 2015-Realty Trac

home salesRealtyTrac analyzed 127 counties with at least 500 sales in October 2015 and where home price data was available both on the most recent purchase and the previous purchase. In 15 of those counties (12 percent) home sellers on average in October sold for a lower price than what they purchased for.

Counties where sellers on average sold for the biggest percentage loss were Burlington County, New Jersey in the Philadelphia metro area (13 percent loss), Kane County, Illinois in the Chicago metro (9 percent loss), Shelby County, Tennessee in the Memphis metro area (4 percent loss), Guilford County, North Carolina in the Greensboro metro area (4 percent loss), and Cook County, Illinois in the Chicago metro area (4 percent loss).

Counties where sellers on average sold in October for the biggest percentage profit since purchase were Alameda County, California in the San Francisco metro area (75 percent gain), Santa Clara County, California in the San Jose metro area (61 percent gain), San Mateo County, California in the San Francisco metro area (58 percent gain), San Bernardino County, California in the Riverside metro area (52 percent gain), and Multnomah County, Oregon in the Portland metro area (51 percent gain).

Other counties where sellers realized hefty gains in October were Denver County, Colorado (49 percent gain), Travis County, Texas in the Austin metro area (48 percent gain), Contra Costa County, California in the San Francisco metro area (48 percent gain), King County in the Seattle metro area (48 percent gain), and Orange County, California in the Los Angeles metro area (46 percent gain).

Buyers are still fighting over any new listing which is well priced and this has led to rapid price escalation.  As such, we are seeing an average price gain substantially higher than the national average,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market, where median home prices increased 10 percent from a year ago in October, according to the RealtyTrac data.

Home Prices & Consumer Confidence are on the Rise

Home Price IndexWhile home prices continue to post gains throughout the country, potential home buyers weigh affordability against rapidly rising rent. The good news is … consumer confidence is up.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. 20-city Home Price Index recorded a slightly higher year-over-year gain in October 2015 at 5.5 percent, versus the 5.4 percent reported in September.

San Francisco, Denver and Portland reported the highest year-over-year gains with another month of double-digit price increases of 10.9 percent for all three. Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting a gain of 5.7 percent in October 2015, the 11th consecutive increase in annual price gains.

Despite home price increases across the country, rapidly rising rents are making a strong case that it makes more sense to buy. According to RealtyTrac’s 2016 Rental Affordability Analysis report, it is currently more affordable to buy rather than rent in 58 percent of the 504 counties analyzed. Rent increases are equal to, or in some cases more than, monthly home payments. Rents also are outpacing weekly wage growth in 57 percent of markets, RealtyTrac’s report showed.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence improved in December after a dip in November, according to global research firm The Conference Board. Tuesday’s report showed the index hit 96.5 in December, above expectations and up from 92.6 the previous month. This indicates consumers’ assessments of the economy and job market remain positive. Looking to 2016, Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said that consumers’ “expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists.”

At this time, home loan rates continue to hover near historic lows.

CNN: 4 Reasons 2016 is the Year to Buy a Home

house in cartIf you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, 2016 is the year to take the plunge.

Mortgage rates have been bouncing around record lows for a while now. But even though they’re likely to start going up, you haven’t missed your chance to get a deal on a house. A number of factors are coming together, making next year a good time to buy:

1. Home prices will finally calm down

Real estate values have been on the rise for a while, but are likely to slow their pacenext year.  Prices are expected to rise 3.5%,according to Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.  Buyers who’ve been stuck behind the wave of rising prices may finally get the chance to jump in.  And that could lead to a flood of buyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at However, not everyone will be in a position to take advantage.  Despite the slowdown, Zillow still expects home values to outpace wage growth, which can make it tough to afford a home, especially for lower-income buyers.  Plus, prices in the country’s hottest markets — like San Francisco, Boston and New York City — aren’t expected to pull back as much next year.

2. More homes will hit the market

The slowdown in home prices will prompt more owners to list their homes, Smoke said, giving buyers more choice.  “Because of the price appreciation they have experienced, you will have more sellers put homes on the market next year,” he said.  The new home market is also expected to grow in the coming year with builders focusing more on starter and middle-range homes, which will also boost inventory and make it easier for buyers.  With more homes on the market, bidding wars will become less common and prices could ease even more.

3. Dirt cheap mortgages could disappear

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to begin increasing interest rates soon, which means the window for record low mortgage rates is closing.  While rates are expected to go up gradually, higher rates push up borrowing costs and monthly mortgage payments.  “You are likely to get the best rate you will possibly see, perhaps in your lifetimes through the majority of next year, but certainly, the earlier the better,” said Smoke.

4. Rents will still hurt

Rent prices are expected to continue to climb in the new year, which means in most cities, buying will be cheaper than renting.  Even though mortgages could get more expensive, buying might still be the better deal.  Interest rates would need to rise to around 6.5% for the cost of buying to equal that of renting on a national level, according to Ralph McLaughlin, housing economist at Trulia.

CNNMoney (New York) First published December 4, 2015: 9:24 AM ET

Strauss’ Economic Predictions

Business visionWhat are your expectations for the economy heading into 2016?
Everything seems to be balanced. We don’t have too many sectors that are running too hot. There is still probably excess capacity in almost every industry out there, including the more than strongly performing manufacturing sector which had been quite strong up until this past year.
All in all, we are looking at an economy which I refer to as a tortoise economy, slow and steady in terms of the growth. What’s expected in the next year? More of the same perhaps is expected, but with more upside potential. We were expecting that same kind of upside potential this year so we saw the dollar strengthen significantly which has caused our exports to be a bit more challenged to sell abroad. That also caused imports to rise quite dramatically so our trade deficit was a big head wind over the past year. That is in large part what caused the disappointment in the manufacturing sector.
As far as interest rates, what are your projections for 2016?
The summary of projections made in September was to see the federal funds rate rise by about 100 basis points between the end of this year and the end of next year. We will have an updated projection later this month and will present that in January. But, interest rates are expected to go up.
Given the kind of pace of growth we are seeing and the challenges happening all around the world, the Fed has already stated that they are going to be very cautious in the pace of those rate increases. We are going to be sensitive to the state of the economy as we move forward.
How do you see employment levels in the year ahead and their impact on the economy?
The employment levels have been impressive this year. We are seeing percentage gains that are double what the labor force would typically be growing at. The 5% unemployment rate is a bit misleading in as much as I would normally suggest the labor market is at a normal rate of operation. It just doesn’t feel that way especially when you look at other measurements of the labor market such as participation which has come down probably more than what demographics alone would explain.
If you look at the percentage of unemployed who have been unemployed more than 6 months, that figure remains significantly higher than anytime we have seen since World War II. That normally goes up during the downturn, but comes down quickly as things recover.
People working part-time for economic reasons remains high. Finally, it is the fact we have seen little wage pressure. If we were at a full utilization of our labor force, I would expect to see more stories about people having to bid away workers from their competition in order to find the workers they so desperately need. Yet, when you look at what is happening to wages it has been all in all relatively restrained and for the most part quite low.
What is your outlook for the commercial real estate sector for 2016?
The outlook for the commercial sector looks okay. We are continuing to see job growth and so I think that is going to help out in terms of businesses and their need for office space and retail sales. I would suggest the excess amount of capacity in the commercial real estate market will be worked off a bit and will improve and spur some additional production and buildings going up.
I think when you look at the housing sector there is a very strong need for multi-family housing. There is a real move towards urban living from the millennial generation. The greatest uncertainty is whether that is something that is desired or something that is forced upon them because we have seen little wage growth and income gains.
Arguments are being made that this millennial generation is not in a position to be able to go out and get a house and they are delaying a lot of activities, i.e. getting married, buying vehicles and homes. Right now, they seem to be choosing to be in the urban area and hence the need for apartments and condominiums seems to dominate.
About Strauss:
William A. Strauss’s chief responsibilities include analyzing the current performance of both the Midwest economic and the manufacturing sector for use in monetary policy. He has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago and Webster University in Chicago. He currently teaches at DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business and at the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.

Why Winter is the Best Time to Buy


With temperatures dropping and the holiday season in full swing, buying a home might seem an unlikely decision.

However, there are five great reasons why winter is the PERFECT time for potential buyers to buy a house.

  1.  MOTIVATED SELLERS  Homes for sale in the winter are easier to negotiate due to many sellers relocating. Use this to your advantage and get a favorable deal.
  2. BARGAIN PRICES  Buying in the winter increases your purchasing power, because home prices are usually at an annual low.  You’ll get more bang for your buck if you buy now.
  3. THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IS YOURS  Fewer buyers equates to less competition. Bidding wars are also less likely which means you’ll have keys-in-hand in no time.
  4. SEASONAL PERSPECTIVE  You’ll purchase with a peace of mind. Knowing that the home is well-insulated from the cold and its heating system works properly.  That will save you time and money later.
  5. REALTORS ARE AVAILABLE  Home sales are generally low in the winter months. Your real estate agent and lender will be more accessible to ensure a quick and smooth transaction.

YOUR GOALS – do they inspire you? by Steve Goodier & Life Support System

HoleIf you have ever been discouraged because of failure, please read on. For often, achieving what you set out to do is NOT the important thing. Let me explain.

Two brothers decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of older boys stopped by to watch. “What are you doing?” asked one of the visitors. “We plan to dig a hole all the way through the earth!” one of the brothers volunteered excitedly. The older boys began to laugh, telling the younger ones that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible. After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up a jar full of spiders, worms and a wide assortment of insects. He removed the lid and showed the wonderful contents to the scoffing visitors. Then he said quietly and confidently, “Even if we don’t dig all the way through the earth, look what we found along the way!”

Their goal was far too ambitious, but it did cause them to dig. And that is what a goal is for — to cause us to move in the direction we have chosen; in other words, to get us to digging! But not every goal will be fully achieved. Not every job will end successfully. Not every relationship will endure. Not every hope will come to pass. Not every love will last. Not every endeavor will be completed. Not every dream will be realized. And when that happens, when you fall short of your aim, can you say, “Yeah, but look at what I found along the way! Look at the wonderful things which have come into my life because I tried to do something! For it’s in the digging that life is lived. And it is joy in the journey, in the end, that truly matters.

Eat an Apple a Day during the Holidays!

appleBig, bright red apples: They’re delicious and nutritious and there’s nothing quite like them.

Here are a few fast facts:

• Apples are fat, sodium and cholesterol-free
• An apple peel contains antioxidants, which help reduce damaged cells and fight disease
• Some 7,500 varieties of apples are grown worldwide
• Apples come in a variety of shapes, flavors, and colors including all shades of red, green, and yellow.

Eat healthy during the holidays!

The College Student Home Purchase Strategy

College StudentThe cost of going to college is skyrocketing, and tuition is only one component.

Housing is also a critical piece of the puzzle, as good dormitory rooms have become expensive and scarce.

Have you considered purchasing a property in a college town and having your son or daughter act as a landlord?

It’s true! Many kids simply aren’t ready to handle the chores and responsibility. But others are ready for the task, including friends who have students heading to college.

As your local RE/MAX agent, I’ll help you run the numbers for an investment home or condominium near a college or university.

What would the home be worth four or five years from now? How do local rents compare with dorm costs?

Let’s take some time to discuss and see what’s possible.

Using the Internet to Sell Your Home

internet home searchIn today’s real estate market, a good selling plan can truly excel when properly combined with current Internet technology. Modern home buyers expect on-demand home shopping, and meeting that expectation is a crucial element of marketing a home. My website allows homebuyers to search and sort through thousands of listings to find the home that is right for them. As your seller’s agent, I can ensure that your home is listed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Every day countless home buyers use the resources of the Internet to help narrow their home search. Listing your home with me allows interested buyers to find your property based on the features that are most important to them. My website serves as a great filter, showing buyers the homes that best fit their needs and bringing you those buyers that are most interested in what your home has to offer.

If you still need convincing, take a look at my website to see the kinds of resources I’ve made available. Try a property search of your own to see what potential home buyers experience. I think you’ll be impressed with the efficiency and detail I’ve committed to my site. I’d love the chance to speak with you in person or on the phone about how I can use the web to sell your home. I’m here to help with any of your real estate needs.

It all comes down to one thing

communicationCommunication. It’s the single most important thing in any real estate transaction. That means communication between you and me, communication with your lender, and communication with the seller and the seller’s agent.

Here’s my promise: You’ll be able to reach me when you need me, and so will everyone else. It’s the hallmark of my success. Communication builds trust, and trust results in a successful transaction.

I’ll know I’ve succeeded when you tell your friends and family that I did a spectacular job.

As your local RE/MAX agent, I’ll be there for you – and you can count on me to help you make an informed decision. Please feel free to send me an email or give me a call.

Easy Ways to Reorganize Your Kitchen

Kitchen-organization-ideas-with-organizing-yourThe kitchen, for most of us, is a home’s gathering place. It can bring to mind the smell of coffee brewing on a cold winter morning, the sensation of spice laden-steam rising from a boiling pot, or the sounds of the daily family hustle and bustle. For many homeowners, the kitchen can also be characterized by the horrors of clutter, crowded cabinets, and general disarray. If you’ve been trying to find ways to reorganize your kitchen without a costly remodel, here are a few quick ideas:

Tip #1: Repack dry goods

Most packaged food products can be more space efficient when removed from their original packaging and placed in “stackable” plastic containers.

Tip #2: Free the spices

Don’t waste cabinet or drawer space on your spice collection! Spices should be handy near the stove, so install a wall rack in a convenient location. Be careful to avoid spots that will get too much heat, as this can affect the flavor of some spices.

Tip #3: Hang ‘em up

Hanging pot racks can both free up your cabinet space and add a chef’s touch to your kitchen! If you decide against a full pot rack, consider ways to hang utensils out in the open. Pre-assembled racks can be attached to the cabinet undersides to accommodate your stemware as well.

Tip #4: Tailor your cabinet shelves

Measure your stacked dishes to find the exact height needs of your shelving, and use adjustable shelves to avoid wasting space.

Tip #5: Add simple storage

Most kitchens have room for small shelves between the counter space and cupboards that can store dry goods or cookbooks. Pull-out hanging rods for dishtowels can be installed in spaces between appliances and cabinetry, and wire racks can be fitted around sink pipes to hold cleaning supplies.

I hope you find these ideas useful for your own kitchen. More homeowner tips like these can be found on my website. If you have any questions about your home, or any real estate needs whatsoever, please give me a call. I’d be glad to help in any way possible.

Sidewalk De-Icer

imagesFor icy steps and sidewalks in freezing temperatures, mix the following ingredients;

  • 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish washing liquid
  • 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 gallon hot/warm water

Pour over walkways.

They won’t refreeze.

No more salt eating at the concrete in your sidewalks!

Determining the Market Value of a Home

house, money, calculatorYou’ve decided to sell your home, so what is next? Pricing your home is obviously a key part of the home selling process. A home that is under-priced needlessly costs the client potential return. An over-priced home can remain on the market for an extended amount of time, forcing the seller to either wait out a long listing period or have to adjust down the asking price. Getting the pricing right from the start avoids these potential pitfalls.

To get us started I will prepare for you what is called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of your house. This compares your home to others in the area that are either currently listed, under contract, or have recently sold. Other things that can factor into the CMA are supply and demand, craftsmanship, and the amenities of your home.

The CMA will help us to determine the fair market value. What is “fair market value”, you may ask? In short, fair market value is the highest price that an informed buyer will pay for your home. Establishing fair market value will enable us to sit down and discuss in detail the pricing of your home. I want to help you settle on a price that you feel is competitive and consistent with the current market.

I understand that all of this can be a bit overwhelming, so feel free to call or e-mail me at any time. Please also explore my website, it has a lot of information to cover your real estate needs. I’m here not only to sell your home, but also to serve as a resource for you during this exciting time. I would love to be of assistance to you.

Do you know what the biggest surprise is for buyers who move up?

Home InteriorTaking the leap to move up is exciting, but do you know what surprises move up buyers more than anything else?

More costs more.

Although this may seem obvious, when someone’s heart is set on buying a new home, this fact is often overlooked.

With additional space comes extra costs: higher heating and cooling expenses, more space to maintain, a bigger annual property tax bill and higher homeowners insurance rates.

Want to avoid any surprises? Let’s get together and go through the numbers.

As your local RE/MAX agent, I’m here to help. Please send me an email or give me a call.

The Rules for Being Human

AnswersHanded down from Ancient Sanskrit…

  1. You will receive a body.  You may like it or not, but it will be yours for the entire period round.
  2. You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to lean lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
  3. There are no mistakes, Only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial and error. experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately works.
  4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it, then you can go on to the next lesson.
  5. Learning lessons does not end.  There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
  6. “There” is no better than “here”. When your “there” has become “here” you will simply obtain another “there” that will, again look better than “here”.
  7. Others are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  8. What you make of your life is up to you.  You have all the tools and resources you need, what you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  9. The answers lie inside you.  The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

How Much is too Much?


You need to consider two numbers when shopping for a home.

The first one is the monthly payment you’re most comfortable with, given your financial situation. The second is the maximum monthly payment you could afford if your dream home was available. Anything over that second number is off the board.

Your lender can help you determine these numbers, based on your income and other expenses. And once you have them in hand, you’ll know what price range will work for you.

As we begin your home search together, we’ll have a great idea of what to look at. We’ll know what the sweet spot is, and how far you’d be able to reach if we come across your dream home.

Ready to start? As your local RE/MAX agent, I’m here to help you every step of the way. Please feel free to call, email or text your questions, comments and concerns.

Can You Rent Back a Short Sale?

Money and HouseYou may think you can fool the bank, but the law says different!

Short Sales are still prevalent in the Real Estate market today. Many sellers who find themselves owing more on their loan than the property is worth may find themselves in a Short Sale scenario. Working with an experienced Short Sale Agent and or Attorney is the first thing that will need to be considered.

After the negotiations have been completed and the parties to the transaction move to the closing of the sale, a very important document will be presented for buyers and sellers to sign. The name of that document is called;

Affidavit of “Arms Length Transaction”

All parties to this contract hereby affirm that this is an “Arms length transaction.”

No party to this contract is a family member, business associate, or shares a business interest  with the mortgagee (you, seller, homeowner, anyone whose name is on the loan). Further, there are no hidden terms or special understandings between the buyer or seller or their agents or Mortgagee.(Like money, kickbacks, gifts and/or arrangements to move back in or stay in the property in any capacity including putting your kids names on the lease.)

The buyers and sellers nor their Agents have any agreements written or implied (spoken or hinted, a wink or a promise) that will allow the Seller to remain in the property as renters (you must move, your whole family must move, you must move everything and not move back, EVER) or regain ownership of said property (you cannot buy it back later from whomever purchases it, go on title and/or live there ever), at any time after execution of this short sale transaction.  None of the parties shall receive any proceeds from this transaction except the sales commission. (Buyers cannot receive credits, kickbacks or any funds from any party to the transaction unless written in as part of the contract, and approved by the short sale lender in their condition letter. Sellers cannot receive credits, kickbacks or any funds, gifts, gift cards, or any funds from any party to the transaction unless approved by the lender in writing as part of the contract and short sale lender condition letter, no matter what).

You will then be asked to sign and affirm this “Arms Length Transaction” Affidavit.  Putting your name on it says that you understand and agree that you are acting in good faith and do not intend to do any of the things that it states you will not do.  So, don’t.

Anything outside of this agreement is considered lender fraud.  It is not worth it.  If you have a legitimate short sale and your lender has approved a kinder, gentler solution to minimize impact to your family and your credit, it’s time to move on.  There is life after a short sale (or foreclosure) and a clean break and moving forward is in order for your well being, your family and for those of us whose tax dollars are going to bail out the lending institutions and make up some of these losses…”

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. I am more than happy to privately review your personal situation and discuss all of your options.

Make Your First Impression Your Best Impression

Couple painting wall

You wouldn’t head to a job interview without making sure you looked great, so why would you put your home on the market looking anything but its absolute best?

One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is failing to make sure their property makes a great first impression.

Three ways to spruce up for a sale:

• Invest in fresh paint. It can turn your place from “that house with the orange bathroom” to a closed sale.

• Clear the clutter. Let’s make sure your listing photos make your home look beautiful.

• Fix it up. Little things count: replace broken screens, repair gutters, install new toilet seats.

Want to know how to sell your home quickly? Send me an email or give me a call. Nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX.

Common Defects Found During a Home Inspection

InspectionAvoid regrets – Get a home inspection before you sign!

The home buying process is a lengthy one, and many buyers rush through or even forgo the home inspection. It’s important that you don’t make the same mistake! Professional home inspections can save you time and money, or even prevent you from making a disastrous deal. In case you’re not convinced, I’ve compiled a quick list of some serious home defects that can be found during a home inspection:

  • Defect #1: Bad Foundation
    Unless you can negotiate a price reduction to cover cost, walk away.
  • Defect #2: Worn Roof
    Most likely it will need to be replaced. If the seller will not do so, negotiate a lower price.
  • Defect #3: Termite Infestation
    The house is probably in need of expensive structural repairs. Unless the seller is willing to help pay, it’s probably not a good investment.
  • Defect #4: Outdated Wiring
    This can be expensive to correct, and is a dangerous problem. Negotiate with the seller after getting an estimate from an electrician.
  • Defect #5: Damaged Shower Pan
    Get an estimate from a contractor if you find water under the shower, and negotiate with the seller to cover costs.

Protecting your investment, especially one as special as a new home, is crucial. An expert home inspection is often the most important step in securing that protection. My personal experiences with clients and Home Inspections are extensive. I highly recommend At Home Inspections. Visit At Home Inspections web site. Their thorough inspection services exceed the standards. If you’d like to talk more about home inspections or any of your real estate questions, please call. I’d love to hear from you.