Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Itch to Pitch

With the warm spring temperatures and rain showers greening up the outdoors, I get the itch to pitch.  I can't wait to get my hands on the piles of papers and boxes of "stuff" that are cluttering up my space.

The problem is the "stuff" is overwhelming sometimes.  Where to start?  Which pile to tackle?  What room or closet should be my starting point?  Enter Jill Annis, owner of Simply Organized, LLC.  Billed as the nonjudgmental, compassionate organizing expert, Jill can help you organize your kitchen, your closets or your home office.  You name it, and she can help.  And she offers a free 30-minute phone consultation.

Jill offers quick tips like set a timer for 5 minutes and then find five things to toss or donate.  Spend a few minutes clearing off your table and then treat yourself to a bouquet of fresh flowers.  Or, perhaps the best recommendation, stop procrastinating.  Excuses are the number one roadblock to getting organized, according to Jill.

So if you are like me and you have the itch to pitch, but are feeling stressed because you don't know where to start, take Jill's advice and just start somewhere.  If you are still having trouble, calling Jill might be the best place to begin!

Monday, April 7, 2014

April Showers Bring May Closings

This posts headline is a time honored saying forecasting the growth of plants in the springtime. And while this winter's brutal weather has given us all reason to look for hope in the spring thaw, the majority of questions  for me of late revolve around seasonal growth in real estate sales and how the market is faring right now.

With the first quarter of 2014 now in the books, overall Dane County residential sales volume, as reported to the MLS, is down around 5.5% year to date. My best estimation at this point is the dampened closing rate was fueled in large part by the extremely cold weather which kept people from venturing out to begin their search for a new home. With warmer weather now inching its way in our direction, I see the market picking up quickly at this point as buyers try to make up for lost time. As evidence, we can point to last Sunday's weather and the attendance reports submitted to our marketing team by agents in the field. With temperatures in the 60's for the first time this year, we saw open house traffic increase as much as 50% over the previous week. More lookers means more offers which means more sales and ultimately more closings. For those who spent the extra time inside or in their yards getting their homes ready for market, listing with soon will position you for the maximum number of showings to potential purchasers. I guess our time honored saying should be, "April Showings Bring May Closings!"

On the bright side of all this, despite the Federal Reserve stated intent to withdraw stimulus from the economy by reducing the amount of mortgage backed securities they purchase each month, interest rates have actually dropped approximately ¼% in the last 30 days. While it would be difficult for anyone to argue that the 4.5% – 4.75% rates we saw in February were usurious, a drop to 4.25% improves the overall housing affordability index and allows more buyers to qualify for better loans. It's a win/win situation for everyone provided they move quickly.

As always, let me know if I can be of any help!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional

They help with all disclosures and paperwork necessary in today's heavily regulated environment.

They are well educated in and experienced with the entire sales process.

They act as a "buffer" in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction.

They help understand today's real estate values when setting the price on a listing or on an offer to purchase.

They simply and effectively explain today's real estate headlines and decipher what they mean to you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Trip to the Drug Store

It was an ordinary day.  I was climbing into my car after a brief stop at the drug store when I heard someone call my name.  I looked around but I didn’t see anyone I knew.  A minute later, my neighbor Becky was standing next to my car door.

“You’re a Realtor, aren’t you?”  She asked.  When I answered yes, she explained that she and her husband David were looking for a small house for their son.  He had been living with them for some time and it was time for him to be on his own.  Becky and David did have some criteria; it needed to be close to their own home, small and within a certain price range.  This would also be a place that David could tinker and Becky could garden – she has a beautiful garden of her own, but as everyone knows, gardeners never have enough space! 

While this was an investment for them, they were also in need of someone to talk with about how best to finance the new purchase.  They are both retired and retirement funds were available, but perhaps there was a better way to finance the transaction.  I put Becky and David in touch with a lender who is confidential, provides great service and is just an all-around great person. 

We exchanged e-mails and I promised to be in touch with some possibilities.

Over the course of the next few weeks, the e-mails and phone calls were flying with potential houses for their son.  We passed on some, looked at several and settled on one that they thought would be the perfect place for him.  After taking their son through the house and discussing it as a family, they decided to make an offer.  As is typical, there was some negotiation and in the end all came together.

We got through the inspection.  We got through the financing.  We got to the closing table.  All is good!

A few weeks later, I saw David and Becky in the neighborhood.  I inquired about their son and the new house.  They were all delighted!  In fact, Becky thanked me for putting them in touch with a lender who understood their needs.  She said if she ever needed a Realtor again, she would be calling me.  That statement made my day!  Heck, it made my week!

I have a mentor who has told me, “You never know where you will run into your next client”.  She is right.    Who knew that a visit to the drug store would end with a new, happy client who happened to live just down the street from me!

I haven’t taken to hanging out at the drug store in hopes of locating another home buyer, but you really do never know.  Maybe you know someone looking to purchase a new home for their son or daughter or parent.   If I’m not at the drug store, you can always shoot me an e-mail or give me a call at (608) 333-4406.  I’d be happy to help!

Friday, March 7, 2014

March comes in like a lion and out like a....REALLY REALLY BIG LION

As the 2014 selling season, pining for a break from the frigid temperatures, attempts to get up to full speed, we are seeing the market shape up exactly as predicted some months back: Extreme inventory shortages. The good news: Many homeowners who were previously underwater on their homes (owing more on their home than it was worth) are now finding an exit strategy as prices continue to rise. We are also seeing builders recover and are finding not only signed building contracts for completion, but reduced risks in the speculation building market which will get them going again too. For this we are all eternally grateful.

On the buyer's side, the current market can be a bit frustrating. Many homes are selling quickly, some with multiple offers resulting in sales at or even above asking price. We are seeing open house traffic in excess of 20 groups of visitors at some locations, so we know people are ready to buy. The big question right now is: At what point does the market become balanced?

The current Board of the Federal Reserve has stated they will continue to reduce stimulus as the economy improves. To date they have, after each meeting since last year, reduced the amount of mortgage backed securities they will purchase. Interest rates, while not spiking per se, have increased enough to cause the home affordability index to decline modestly. One need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that with prices and interest rates both on the incline, it is best for buyers to jump into the market now before it gets too hot, both literally and figuratively, which leads us to the lion/weather analogy in our title line:

The extremely cold weather has kept some buyers inside and away from open houses. We believe, but certainly cannot guarantee, that the temperatures will rise towards the end of March. When they do, it will be a wide open throttle and very hot market into the summer...even faster paced than what we are seeing now. Sellers wishing to avoid a possible slowdown in the market as interest rates continue to rise should contact me right now to work on staging, pricing and pre-marketing. We will then be fully prepared for the spring market.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to visit this blog.  If I can ever help you or your family with Real Estate questions or needs, I'm here to help!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Kindness Connection

A few days ago I received a message from a colleague of mine with a link to a YouTube video that made my day.  In fact, I've watched the video five times and I've shown it to several friends!

I was so moved by the video that I decided to embark on something new I'm calling the Kindness Connection.  During the month of March, I plan to provide random acts of kindness to people around me.  They won't be huge, elaborate acts, just everyday niceties.  Perhaps I'll pay for someone's coffee, or drop a book off to a friend, or look in on an elderly neighbor.

We all participate in acts of kindness, but they are usually the result of a previous event; a death in the family or a scheduled surgery.  What I'm talking about are acts of kindness that aren't tied to an event.  They are truly random.

I'll keep you updated on my progress.  Join me if you like and let me know how you are doing.  It might be just what we need to get to spring!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

January Home Sales

Wondering what the house down the road sold for last month?  Or perhaps the one around the corner?  Here's a list of home sales on the near west side of Madison in January.  It's not a complete list, but does give a snap shot of what's happening in the Real Estate market in our neighborhoods.

January 2014 Home Sales

6321 Alison Ln
4920 Hammersley Rd
730 Oneida Pl
5323 Brody Dr Unit 204
4918 Holiday Dr
5006 Lake Mendota Dr
5029 Tomahawk Trl
3534 Topping Rd
421 S Mills St
209 S Segoe Rd
817 Sauk Ridge Trl
555 S Midvale Blvd Unit 318
2810 Gregory St
3417 Stevens St
1008 Ridgewood Way
5114 Flambeau Rd
1202 Edgehill Dr
3538 Heather Crst
1137 Erin St Unit 102
2320 West Lawn Ave
917 Haywood Dr
489 Woodside Ter
608 N Midvale Blvd Unit 201
228 Westmorland Blvd
503 Sheldon St
5144 Spring Ct
45 Cherokee Cir Unit 104
454 S Owen Dr
5302 Hammersley Rd
6325 Stonefield Rd
542 Piper Dr
1110 Pauline Ave
517 Bordner Dr
2506 Kendall Ave
1022 Mound St
$10,032,190 *
107 S Mills St
$10,032,190 *
314 Cheyenne Trl
$442,770 *
475 Agnes Dr
$241,528 *
517 Charles Ln
$332,500 *
3902 Priscilla Ln
6416 Offshore Dr
$200,830 *
4325 Travis Ter

* Prices are estimated. Actual sales price una