Will Uber’s Foray into Real Estate Change Your Next Home Sale?

Buying a HomeWhen news of Uber’s foray into the complex world of real estate hit the wires this past week, many industry watchers took note.  The premises for Haus, the new start-up by the Cofounder of Uber, Garrett Camp is to bring transparency into the bidding process between home buyers, sellers and their agents.

How Haus works:

The online platform will allow buyers, sellers and their agents to see (in real time)  when offers and changes to offers are made during the bidding process AND respond accordingly.  The platform promises to deliver an experience which creates side by side comparisons so that home owners and potential buyers can make fully informed decisions about the home they are bidding on.  At the heart of the issue is the concept of ‘real time’.

Super-heated real estate:

Most of the country is experiencing a super heated real estate market.  In West Michigan, it is not uncommon for some homes to receive multiple offers within a 24 hour period.  Anxious buyers wring their hands as they are informed that offers will not be presented UNTIL a particular time or that they should consider re-submitting their ‘highest and best’ offer due to multiple offers coming in on the same property.  Although the majority of real estate agents are honest, there is no way of actually verifying IF additional offers are being presented and so, home buyers are left wondering just how much more they will have to bid to secure the right to purchase the home of their dreams.

Pride and prejudice:

Another largely unspoken aspect of the process is the fact that purchasing a home is not necessarily based on price.  Prejudice and preference can sometimes play critical roles. Many homeowners have their own ideas about whom they would prefer to purchase their homes.  This may be based on personal preferences, or their concerns about the welfare of their neighbors.  Latent within these normal human emotions and desires lies the potential for discrimination, an issue which is a matter of Federal law when applied to the real estate transaction.

Loving a home can infatuate the mind.  It can make a home buyer willing to do just about anything to gain an edge or advantage.  One of the more commonly used vehicles is a ‘Dear Homeowner’ letter where the potential buyer details why they love the home and why the home owner should in essence ‘pick me!’  Buyers have been known to research the owners place or worship, likes and dislikes and fashion their offers to tug at the home owners emotions.  Sometimes, this has included providing pictures of themselves so the homeowner can see who they are.

When secrecy becomes illegal:

The problem with this is a little thing called the law – which prohibits discrimination when it comes the buying, selling or renting of housing based on some very specific criteria.  The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 prohibit discrimination on the basis of: race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, handicap, sex, gender and often local ordinances (State and community) have additional qualifiers.

So, to some extent the secrecy which has shrouded the real estate process has served as a cloak for some of these illegal behaviors.  For the same reason that booking a table reservation by Open Table is a preferred vehicle by many when they consider the convenience and the simplicity of not dealing with host/hostess reservations, the idea of being able to view, counter and negotiate a transaction in an open forum might be appealing to a significant segment of the population.

Will we purchase houses like we book online reservations?

Haus does not claim to be a brokerage, financial adviser or tax expert, but the platform may become a tool which serves to bring the bottom line into a transaction negotiation in a very direct way.  That being said, buying a house is not like purchasing a car.  And, for a homeowner, the process is not just a financial investment, but also a relational and emotional one.  It will be interesting to see how or if this catches on as a preferred method of negotiations during a real estate transaction and more importantly to the bottom line, if this results in higher bids for home owners.

 

Additional Articles about additional industry new comers:

Roofstock’s better way to buy and sell homes

Yopa: Online property agent

 

My Home is Sold! Now What?

33341293_sIt’s finally happened!  You Sold your home!  YES!!!   The moment you’ve been waiting for after all the cleaning, making the home available for impromptu showings and enduring nerve-racking anticipation and hope that a purchasing decision will be made in favor of your home.

But even before the ink starts to dry on the fully executed purchase agreement, you’re wondering what does this mean?  Is the home really sold if Inspections need to be cleared and title issues examined?  What about the financing…is the Lender absolutely 100% behind the guarantee for the loan commitment?  When should you order the moving van?

Signing a purchase agreement to sell your home to a prospective buyer starts a detailed and often complex process in which many aspects of the sale need to be coordinated to conclude in a successfully closed real estate transaction.  At Audu Real Estate, our goal is to assist our clients with these details and to relieve the strain and stress of the negotiation process.  Here’s what you can expect from our company.

Coordination:

There are many details to coordinate.  By some estimates, up to 10 different companies with their various employees will be involved in closing your transaction.  These include: the mortgage company, the title company, the other real estate company, the inspection company, the survey company, the home warranty company, the insurance company, the well & septic inspection company, the appraisal company & etc.  As you can see, the list can be extensive and this does NOT include additional companies which are involved in REO or Distress sales.  Coordination with ALL of these different entities and their representatives is a large part of what keeps us busy AFTER you sign the deal to sell your home!

Inspections:

Inspections are a vital part of the real estate process and often one of the most challenging areas to navigate.  So much emotion tends to be involved.  As a homeowner, you want the buyer to love your home and although you know it’s not perfect, there is a vested connection which might make you a little sensitive.  On the other hand, a prospective buyer may have some anxiety about the true value of their purchase.  No one wants to make a poor buying decision.  Navigating this ‘sticky’ territory is what we do best.  It’s our job to help all parties come to a resolution about the results of the inspection and how to move forward.

Follow-up:

Follow-up and Follow-through is where many transactions fall apart.  The details matter when it comes to real estate.  A missed signature can make a transaction which was a ‘sure thing’ become murky in a hurry.  Many aspects of a real estate transaction which is in the ‘Pending’ category are under strict time constraints.  For instance, certain inspections have to be conducted within a particular time frame.  When follow-through is poorly executed, even a solid transaction can go awry.  Our job as REALTORS is to ensure that your transaction stays on schedule.

Communication:

Staying on schedule requires excellent communication skills.  Today, communication flows through multiple channels.  We ask our clients how they prefer to communicate.  We’ll do whatever it takes to stay in touch.  This includes:  calls, e-mails, texts and even social media.  Not only are we keeping you informed about what is going on with your transaction, communication also involves keeping those other 10 companies we referenced earlier in the loop as well.  Good communication is the lubricant that helps to keep the friction down to a minimum.

Negotiation:

Negotiations are an ongoing part of the transaction.  They can involve all sorts of things.  Perhaps, there are some items or belongings which you would like to get rid of, or some repair issues crop up which need to be addressed.  Even the closing place and location sometimes become a part of a negotiated solution.  At Audu Real Estate, our goal is to create successful outcomes for our clients in the real estate negotiation.

Closing Facilitation:

An average transaction can take between 30-45 days to come to a conclusion.  The days leading up the closing are often filled with a flurry of activity as various parts of the transaction are completed.  Because there are so many moving parts, it’s important to have someone who is the Captain of the Ship.  Our job is to navigate your boat into a safe harbor.  We review the closing documents for accuracy in terms of reflecting the terms of the purchase agreement.  There is coordination with all parties regarding move in/move out dates as well as the transfer of utilities.  Well executed closings are like the passing of a baton in a relay race.  They are seemless and enable the next party to successfully execute the next stage of the race.

We hope that this has been a helpful article.  If you’d like to learn more about what we can do to help you sell your West Michigan home, please give us a call at:  616-791-0511.

 

Year End Report ~ How Did the Grand Rapids Real Estate Market Fare in 2011?

As the last embers of 2011 burn slowly into recent history, it’s always instructive to take a look back at where we’ve been with regards to the real estate market in the greater Grand Rapids metropolis.  The numbers released by the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS® show improvements in a number of areas.  Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Inventory Levels reduce 25%

With over 20,000+ listings for 2010, the numbers are significantly lower at 15,000+ listings Year to Date for 2011.  There was a reduction in the number of foreclosure listings driven in part by some of the legal challenges that banks faced about foreclosure proceedings and the MERS ruling.

2.  Dollar Volume and Number of Homes Sold/Closed Increases!

There was a 3% increase in the number of homes sold in 2011 vs 2010 and a 6.1% increase in the dollar volume.  This trend seems to indicate a stabilization of the marketplace over the past twelve months.  If the overall economic situation with regards to jobs continues to improve even marginally, we can expect to see continued modest improvements in this area.

3.  Overall Average Home Sale Price increases 3% this Year.

With so much dire economic news, it’s sometimes difficult to hear the good news hidden within the chaos.  Home sale prices have increased in spite of the foreclosure and short sale transactions which are still very much a part of the real estate landscape.  This was accomplished within a context which included over 1400 homes that sold for less than $40,000.  The increase was fueled at least in part by 88 homes which have Sold/Closed so far above $500,000.

Click this link to view the raw data release courtesy of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®

3 Reasons Why Selling Your West Michigan Home in 2011 Could be A Smart Move!

For many of you reading this blog, your first instinct to this bold title might be…Really?  C’mon, Lola…are you serious?

Yes, I am.  Absolutely.  I’m going to share with you 3 Solid Reason for why Selling Your West Michigan in the 4th Quarter of 2011 could be a smart move.  You may actually look back and say…Why didn’t I do this earlier.

Now, this post is for those of you who have been considering putting your homes on the market, but have hesitated because there has been so much negative press about the housing market.  You may have outgrown your current residence or had a life-change such as a marriage or new baby.  Perhaps, you NEED to move because you’ve been transferred or you have lost a job and can no longer afford your current payments.  Whatever, the reason…read on.

1.  The Real Estate Market in Grand Rapids, MI is steadily improving…

Statistics available from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS, the industry trade association that monitors housing sales and prices indicate that over the last year, home sales and prices have stabilized and are now beginning to show modest gains.   Area REALTORS are posting increased Sales numbers and it is anticipated that Sales will rise above the levels in 2010, the  year in which the  Home Buyers’ Tax Credit boosted an artificial increase.  What’s noteworthy is that this activity has occurred despite double digit unemployment in Michigan and continued challenges in the financing sector.  If you have owned your home for at least 10 years,  consider obtaining a Market Analysis of your area to determine your current equity position.

2.  Mostly Serious Buyers Remain…

Getting a mortgage to purchase a home today is an event worthy of celebration!  Although interest rates have fallen dramatically, guidelines for lending and regulation associated with loans have increased dramatically.  This has resulted in much higher qualifying standards for home buyers today.  Approved Buyers have been vetted through stringent standards.  They are also better educated with access to the Internet and the ability to compare the value of their real estate investments.

Buyers today understand the economics of a Housing Sale; they know that many homes are priced 30% BELOW the market value.  Subsequently, many area REALTORS report the rise of multiple offers as competition for homes which are priced to Sell increases.

If you own your home without any obligation/mortgage OR have lived in your home for 10+ years, you may be well positioned to enter the market place right now.  As Inventory levels have declined in recent months, the available supply has diminished at just the time when Buyers are focused on getting into their new homes before serious snow begins to fly in West Michigan.

3.  Almost 14,000 Homes Sold  Just Yesterday!

Yep!  You read that right.  Even with all the dire statistics, home sales continue to average just over 5 Million per year nationwide.  If you average that to a daily rate, that means that on the average,  14,000 homes sold within the past 24 HOURS around the nation.  One of those homes could have been yours!

Here in West Michigan, we are selling approximately 1,000 homes per month.  That means that EVERY DAY, 30-35 homes are Selling right here in your community.  While some of those homes are being bought by investors or are homes Sold due to distress situations such as Foreclosure and Short Sales, many are not.  In fact…the majority of homes Sold are not.  Over the past year on average approximately 43% of homes Sold each month have been due to a hardship situation.  But, that means that 57% of home Sold – the majority – have NOT been distress sales.

If you would like a detailed analysis of the housing market in your West Michigan neighborhood or if you’d simply like to talk about your options, please contact us.  616-791-0511

Myth Busting Series…3 Ways to Avoid Delaying the Sale of Your Grand Rapids, MI Home

Over the years, I’ve had the dubious experience of becoming a myth collector.  Specifically, regarding the myths around why a home has not Sold.  As I talk with agents around the country, it has become clear that these myths are actually very widespread and have developed a life of their own…sometimes with variations which are location specific.

As a public service, I am going to do a mini-series regarding these myths and give some insights regarding why they ought to be dismissed and rejected.

1.  Myth #1…My home is Special.  It is much nicer than the home down the street.

FACT: Every home is special to the owner.  It is where we live and experience the personal moments of our lives.  However, special has nothing to do with market value.  Market value is set by the forces which dictate the reaction of the market to any product including a home.

Market value is affected by things like:  the perceived value of a product in comparison to other similar offerings, the cost of acquiring the product as in available finance options and the competition for the purchase of the item.

TRANSLATION: If there are many homes of similar type and within nearby locations, buyers will make a choice based on their valuation not on the basis of the experience of the current home owner.

2.  Myth #2… When Buyers get inside my home they will LOVE it!

FACT: It used to be that buyers would drive by a home and curb appeal would make or break the deal. Today, curb appeal starts with a ‘click’…the click of a mouse that is.  If your home does not show well online, OR worse yet does not have any pictures online, the likelihood that potential buyers will actually get into the house to see it and fall in love with it diminishes by quantums.

FACT: Today’s buyer is utilizing the tools of technology to save time and money.  Do you know how your home looks online?  Have you checked on how your listing is being marketed across various portals?

3.  Myth #3…I’ll negotiate that issue IF they make an offer!

FACT: Most buyers today PREFER a home in move-in condition.  With busy schedules and limited resources, most buyers would prefer to not have to fork over additional money to deal with home repair issues.  If your home is in competition with other homes…and if you’re living in the Grand Rapids, Mi area, it certainly is…then it is a logical conclusion that you will be impacted negatively if a buyer has a choice of a home in which the repairs have already been attended too.  In fact, some buyers will even rationalize paying MOREfor a home that they don’t have to make major adjustments to.  Why take this chance?

I hope that this post has shed some light about WHY a misunderstanding about the nature of the market can adversely impact the sale of your home.  I will be sharing more Myths in upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned! Wishing you a Happy New Year in advance and the joy of a successful home sale.  If we can be of help to you in this endeavor, please do not hesitate to contact Audu Real Estate

A Few Simple Tips to Improve Your Odds in Selling Your West Michigan Home!

Probably the biggest source of angst that home owners in Grand Rapids, Michigan have about selling their home is knowing IF their home has a chance for a Sale.  Quiet turmoil mounts with the following irksome thoughts. 

 Potential Sellers silently question, “Will this Home Sell?”  or “Will anyone even want to look at my home?” 

I’ve been hearing many reports of homes now sporting 12 month listing contracts instead of the traditional 6. The fact is that many homes in West Michigan are not having ANY showings at all!

To improve your odds of selling, it is important to understand that having a good Pricing Strategy is crucial to your success.  Last month, approximately 680 homes Closed successfully in Grand Rapids.  This was 25% below the number of successful property closing during the same 30 day period in 2009. However, there is good news; the good news is that there were homes that Sold and to be successful, it’s important to focus on what successful home sellers did correctly.

Researching you area…

The days of simply guessing about the price at which to list your home, or asking your neighbor what they Sold their home for are over.  The former is a dangerous strategy and the latter often provides inaccurate data.  It’s best to get the facts.

This can be done by requesting a Market Analysis from a good local Realtor® or obtaining an appraisal. One of the most valuable tools available through our Grand Rapids Association of Realtors® MLS system is the ability to obtain a quick analysis of your immediate area by utilizing a proprietary mapping function which details accurate records of homes Sold within a variety of radius options and also gives us access to trends data.

Utilizing mapping and trends data can provide insights which can be easily missed when using the broad ranges which generally divide areas on on popular sites like Zillow or Trulia for property search purposes.  In addition to mapping tools and trends data, pricing strategy is enhanced by understanding how property has traditionally appreciated or depreciated in a local area.  This is where the experience of a good real estate agent can be invaluable.

In today’s market where less than 10% of homes listed for Sale are Closing in any given month, it’s important to improve your odds by understanding the issues and specific dynamics in your neighborhood. If you’d like to know more about creating a pricing strategy for today’s challenging marketplace and you live in the Grand Rapids, MI area, please contact us. 616-791-0511 or info@auduhomes.com

A little goes a long way…5 Cheap Ways to Prepare Your Grand Rapids MI Home for a Quick Sale!

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SEARCH WEST MICHIGAN HOMES FOR SALE – Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate Statistics

One thing that showing hundreds of homes through the years teaches you is this…Home Sellers can do a lot to show their home in a manner that gets it SOLD!

I have always found it mildly astonishing that homeowners who spend thousands of dollars in upgrades and improvements to their homes fail to invest time and effort in a few critical areas to ensure that their homes are perceived well in the eyes of potential buyers.

Some homeowners might be surprised to find out how far a little money will go.  Particularly when you put $500 against a backdrop of tens of thousands of dollars which are left on the table because a home does not sell or sells far below the listing price.

Here are just a few Simple Things to Keep in Mind when you are showing your home to ensure it shows Sold!

Show It!…

In a competitive market, there are hundreds of homes vying for a buyer’s attention.  There are some homes which don’t receive even ONE showing request in a 6 month period.  When you place your home on the market, be prepared to SHOW IT.  If you’re not…WAIT, until you are.  Yes, it may cost you a little in sleep and inconvenience, but in this market, if a real estate agent calls to show your home when there are 50 others like it…don’t count on being given a second chance.  COST:  Time & Effort ~ Dollars – ZERO

Clean It!

If you can’t clean your home…hire someone else to do it for you.  Why deduct Thousands of dollars from you life through a possible sale just because you can’t or don’t know how to clean a home.  Buyers love the smell of ‘clean’ about as much as they like the smell of ‘new.’  A good new home cleaning crew will cost about $250…loss of a sale or a discount on a home on the market for over 6 months…15-20 percent of your initial asking price.  COST:  approx $150 – $250

Clear It!

De-Cluttering is probably the single biggest thing that most homeowners can do fairly inexpensively to Show their Home Sold! Hire a storage unit…beg your friends to store stuff in their basement; whatever you have to do…get your stuff out!

But, to clear your home most effectively will require going beyond the basics of clearing out excess furniture and belongings and neutralizing.  Sometimes you need to do just a little more to be most effective…

COST:   approximately $50/month for storage if required

Stage It!

Hiring the Services of a professional stager to primp your home may be the best investment you can make in the home selling process.  Staging does not need to be an exorbitant cost.  In fact a good staging experience will probably save money  by attracting more potential buyers or creating a better response to your home when it is shown.

COST:  Initial Staging Consultation:  $75 – $150

Price it for the Market!

Today’s Grand Rapids Mi real estate market is changing so rapidly that even real estate agents find they must regularly check to verify that listing prices for homes are in line with the reality of the marketplace.  A decade ago, an appraisal was valid for at least six months.  Today, it  may only be valid for 30 days.

As a home owner, it’s important to invest time in getting professional counsel about how to price your home.  You can contact a real estate broker to get a FREE Certified Market analysis, or hire an appraiser for several hundred dollars.  What’s most important is that you ensure that whoever you hire does have the experience and proven results.  Hiring the right person is even more important in challenging times.  The wrong one can be a draining tax on time and resources.

COST:  FREE ~ CMA (Certified Market Analysis)  Appraisal:  $ 275 – $350

GAINS:

Quicker Sale

Less Time & Hassle on the Market

Better Offers

Moving on with your Life!

Think about this…What bank or investment fund would give this sort of potential return on your investment of $500?  Where else could you put in $500 and enjoy living in a nice, clean well arranged environment with the potential of making it back fairly quickly by a Sale?

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