Friday, February 26, 2010

Pricing Mistakes When Selling Your Home, and How to Avoid Them

When selling your home, your pricing strategy can make or break your chances for a successful sale.  Listing your home at a proper price will encourage a buyer to snatch up your home for fear of losing it to another buyer, while listing too high can cause your home to sit on the market for months.  Especially in our current slower market, proper pricing is crucial.

In her article, "Pricing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them,"  Shannon Petrie of lists six mistakes that home sellers most often make.

Mistake #1: Forgoing research
Sellers sometimes base their prices on hearsay or by checking the asking price of the home down the street.  Instead you should base your price on a competitive market analysis, or cma, done by a real estate professional that looks at recent sales in the same area that are similar.  These cma's are usually free because agents are hoping to get to list the home for sale.  Another option is to hire a real estate appraiser to do the job.  Cost:  Several hundred dollars.

Mistake #2: Hiring the agent who offers the highest list price for your home
Beware of agents trying to "buy" your listing by suggesting an unrealistically high asking price.  This is unethical and costs you time and money in the long run, since you'll most likely have to cut the price later after being on the market a long time.  The agent you choose to list your home should be able to back up their list price with comparable sales data.

Mistake #3: Getting emotionally involved
Try to stay objective during the pricing process by focusing on the comparable sales in the cma.  Everyone thinks their home is the best home on the block, and worth more than it really is.  Listen to the agents you interview to see how your home really compares.

Mistake #4:  Pricing too high at the beginning
If the home enters the market over-priced, you've lost many buyers who otherwise could have afforded your home.  By the time you adjust the price, those buyers have already bought something else.  Then when you do put a proper price on the home, buyers want to know why it has sat on the market for so long.  Your best opportunity for a quick offer is in the first two weeks the home is on the market, so don't waste that time by being overpriced.

Mistake #5: Overpricing because you have "time"
Time does not equal dollars.  Being on the market longer actually costs you money.  Especially in a market where home prices are declining or just staying flat, being on the market longer is not a good option.

Mistake #6:  Chasing the Market
If prices are dropping and your home is overpriced, then as you lower the price, you are still falling behind the market that's declining.  List the home as competitively as you can from day one, and then assess market feedback and numbers of showings to see if further cuts need to be made.

Monday, February 22, 2010

San Antonio Park for Disabled Children to Open Soon

San Antonio's new park for disabled children, Morgan's Wonderland, is opening soon.  It is being called the world's first ultra-accessible family fun park for people with special needs.  Named for his daughter, Morgan, philanthropist Gordan Hartman dreamed of having a special place in San Antonio where his daughter could play and enjoy outdoor activities.  He formed the Gordon Hartman Foundation in 2007 and construction began in the Spring of 2009.  Occupying 25 acres on the northeast side of town, the complex is part of a larger 106 acre city venture with 14 lighted soccer fields, and a high school stadium that seats 11,000.  Admission to Morgan's Wonderland will be free for the disabled, and $5 for those who accompany them. 

Park Facts

Morgan’s Wonderland ...

•Located at the former site of the Longhorn Quarry

•25 acres in size, and is the first Ultra Accessible Family Fun Park in the world!

•8 acre lake stocked with a variety of fish

•Controlled entry and exit

•Features RFID locator wristbands and touch screen display monitors so parents and caregivers can keep track of family and friends

•Fencing around lake edge as well as security fencing around the park’s perimeter for added safety

Activities & Amenities include:

•Specially designed air conditioned/heated and oversized ADA accessible restrooms

•3 Playscapes

•Train Rides with wheelchair accessible cars

•Ultra Accessible Carousel


•Catch-and-Release Fishing

•Water Cannons & Remote-Controlled Boats

•Gymnasium (basketball, volleyball & tennis)

•Special Event Center for up to 700 guests

•Walk and Roll Path around lake

•“Around the World” – themed rest areas

•Water Works - Water Play Area

•Off-Road Adventure Ride

•Music Garden

•Swings (several types including wheelchair swings)

•Sand Circle™

•Sensory Village™

•Garden Sanctuary with Memorial Wall

•Several Rest Stops, Picnic Areas & Pavilions

•2 First Aid Stations & Feeding Room

•Braille Signage, 3-D Park Model & Service Animal Rest Area

•2 Gift Shops

•VIA Transit Center

Another first for our great Alamo City!  Way to go San Antonio!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's the San Antonio Housing Market Doing in 2010 So Far?

In the San Antonio Express newspaper, Jennifer Hiller reports on the sluggish San Antonio housing market.  The highlights of her article include:
  • The median price of a San Antonio resale home was $139,700 in January, down 6 percent from the same month last year.
  • The number of January sales in San Antonio was essentially flat: 834 sales this year compared with 836 sales in 2009.
  • Homes  in San Antonio were taking an average of 92 days to sell in January.
  • In January, 127 sales, or about 15 percent of all San Antonio sales, were lender-owned.
Based on some encouraging fourth-quarter 2009 numbers, SABOR in January projected an increase in the number of home sales this year, along with possibly some price appreciation.  But the January 2010 numbers did not show that strength in our local market.  Hopes are still high for a strong recovery this Spring due to the coming warmer weather, the low interest rates and the tax credit deadline.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Showing homes in San Antonio, Texas

Thankfully, business has been good lately.  We've had the opportunity in the last few weeks, to work with four sets of really good buyers.  The fun part is that we have a buyer in the $150's, the $250's, the $350's and the $700's+.  So we're getting to show a wide variety of homes in San Antonio and nearby neighborhoods.

What has made this experience fun and interesting, is the unique floorplans we've seen, the unique furnishings in those homes, and the various styles of decorating and staging home sellers have worked to achieve.  For the most part, an overwhelming percentage of the homes we've shown have been really ready to show, and were in move-in condition.  I suspect that as the numbers of foreclosures increase, I won't be able to say that much longer.  But in the meantime, a big thank you to San Antonio's home sellers.  Job well done! 

It makes the Realtor's job a lot easier and a lot more fun when the buyer can see themselves moving into a home without having to do a lot of clean-up or re-do's to make the home livable.  And that translates into more money in the Seller's pocket.  Keep up the good work Sellers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What do the New FHA Lending Changes Mean to Buyers?

What do the new FHA lending changes mean to buyers?  The sweeping set of policy changes for FHA announced in late January were designed to strengthen the FHA's capital reserves to support the nation's housing market recovery, says David H. Stevens, US Dept. of HUD.  Included in those changes are:

  1. An increase in the up-front MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) and a future increase on the annual MIP.  This will go into effect in the spring.
  2. New borrowers will need a 580 or better credit score in order to only put 3.5% down on their loan.  If lower than 580 they will need a 10% down payment, beginning this summer.   This allows FHA to lower its risk and to be able to continue to provide loans to borrowers who have shown themselves to be good credit risks.
  3. Increased FHA lender enforcement of adhering to FHA guidelines and standards, also going into effect this summer.
  4. Reduction of seller concessions from 6% to 3%.  The current level exposes FHA to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate the appraised value of the home.  This, too, will go into effect this summer.
So what do these changes really mean for future borrowers?  It means a return to the sound business practices lenders used to follow whereby the borrower needed good credit and a substantial down payment before becoming a homeowner. 

The borrowers who benefit from future FHA loans will be more likely to be able to repay those loans and not end up in  foreclosure like many folks today.  Fewer people will be able to purchase homes through the FHA, but those that do, will be able to pay their bills!  And FHA should be financially stable and around many more years to help future home buyers.  It's a good thing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sellers Beware! Top 10 Ways to Turn off A Homebuyer!

We work with both sellers and buyers, and see a lot of San Antonio homes.  Some are ready to be on the market, and others not so much.  Sometimes it is hard to communicate to sellers what it takes for a home to be ready for prime time!  This list from Jay McDonald, 10 Ways to Turn off a Homebuyer, says it very well.

10 Ways to Turn off A Homebuyer....

  • Dirt  Cleanliness IS Godliness!  No one want to buy your dirty home and have to clean it!
  • Odors  Smoke odors or pet odors make buyers walk right back out the door!
  • Old fixtures  You didn't replace them because it cost so much, why should the buyers want to do it?
  • Wallpaper  A big no, at least at the present time.  Buyers don't want it -- take it down!
  • Popcorn acoustic ceilings  Can be removed, but it's a messy job.  Younger buyers hate it!
  • Too many personal items  You're not selling your family or possessions, just your home!
  • Snoopy sellers  When the home is being shown, LEAVE the HOUSE!
  • Misrepresenting your home  If buyers are expecting too much, they'll be disappointed and won't buy your home.
  • Poor curb appeal  Preparing the outside of the home is just as important as preparing the inside, maybe even more crucial!
  • Clutter  Piles of clutter tell the buyer that the home is TOO SMALL.  Ditch the clutter and organize the home's contents to emphasize the existing storage.