News for Prescott AZ - AmericanTowns.com

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What is happening in the AZ market!


Friends,

This email was sent to me a few days ago. Not everyone has a home to sell some are vacant land or commercial. The market is not the same as last year and this is one of many emails that prove this. The first to lower prices and to offer incentives to buy are the investors (Builders) or developers of real estate.

This article is just an example of the desperation that home sellers are going through.
This company last year paid Buyer’s Agents 1% to sell one of their homes, which is the equivalent of $1,750 in commission.
Now the same company is offering a 6% commission, which is equal to $16,139.40 on the same home, which is priced higher this year.
This is happening all over the state. Recently a home in downtown Prescott was offering a 3% commission PLUS a $13,770 bonus to selling agent.

There is a new home sales company that is giving away a $50,000 Harley Davison motorcycle to agents soliciting showings of their homes.

Most of my clients understand gimmicks attributed to selling electronics or used cars, can’t and will not sell real estate. Unfortunately, some Buyers may be pushed into homes that will cost them more and pay the buying agent more money. Most Buyers however are very well educated and will buy the home, land, or commercial property that is the best value for their situation.

So if your property is priced aggressively and in great condition it will sell. Otherwise you can get in line with the Seller’s that are offering everything but price and condition.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pricing your home gets trickier



Thursday, September 28, 2006

By Ruth Simon, The Wall Street Journal

As the housing market cools, one of the hardest decisions facing home sellers is how to price their properties.

Traditionally, brokers have set listing prices by reviewing how much comparable homes sold for in a neighborhood. Now, with prices edging lower in many places and the number of homes on the market climbing, checking comparable sales is becoming less useful. At the same time, many would-be buyers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see how far prices will fall. Bigger inventories of unsold homes also are making it harder for sellers to figure out how to make their house stand out amid the competition.

What it takes to sell a house varies from market to market. Some brokers are telling customers they need to underprice the competition -- even if they think their home is more attractive. Sharon Baum, a senior vice president with the Corcoran Group in New York, recently listed a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for $3.7 million. That was $100,000 less than the asking price for a similar unit five floors below, even though apartments on higher floors typically carry bigger price tags. "As buyers have more choices, you've got to make your apartment stand out," she says.

Sellers are also being told to cut prices aggressively if their house isn't moving -- or risk chasing the market downward. If a home doesn't get any showings in 21 days or gets 10 showings but no offers, Ned Redpath, president and owner of Coldwell Banker Redpath & Co. in Hanover, N.H., often advises the seller to slice the asking price by 10 percent. "We don't like to see $2,000 or $5,000 price adjustments," he says. "We want to see a real whack" that attracts attention.

Builders of new homes also are tinkering with their pricing formulas to generate sales. Mid-Atlantic Builders in Rockville, Md. is offering to adjust the sales price downward up to 45 days before closing if the price on one of its similar homes declines. Waterford Development Corp. will have homes in its Woodland Pond at Manchester development in New Hampshire reappraised two years after closing. If the price drops, the company says it will write the buyer a check for up to 15 percent of the original sales price, not including the value of any optional upgrades.

Even in relatively strong markets, brokers are paying closer attention to price trends. Wallace Perry, president of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, Carolinas region, says he has begun checking multiple-listing service data every week or two instead of once a quarter to see how recent sales compare with deals that closed three and six months ago. "Things can change ... very quickly," he says.

The renewed emphasis on pricing represents a dramatic turnabout from the heady days of the housing boom, which peaked in the middle of last year. Bidding wars were common and, in many markets, homeowners simply looked at the last sale and asked for more.

That's all changed. The National Association of Realtors said this week that the median sales price of existing, or previously owned, homes fell 1.7 percent to $225,000 in August from a year earlier, the first such drop in 11 years. There's now a 7.5-month supply of existing homes on the market, the most since April 1993.

With so many properties vying for attention, sellers are also looking for creative ways to catch the eye of would-be buyers and their brokers. Some sellers are offering to pay closing costs or provide other incentives. When their 3,500-square-foot carriage house in Exton, Pa., failed to sell this spring, the owners dropped the asking price twice, to $449,000 from $479,000, says Beth Koser, an agent with Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors. When that didn't do the trick, the couple agreed to offer $10,000 toward closing costs to any buyer or agent who attended an open house within a two-day period. The home sold a few weeks later for $430,000. "The incentive created a sense of urgency," says Ms. Koser. Buyers "saw that the seller was willing to negotiate."

Other brokers are using incentives to counter competition from new home builders. In Tampa Bay, Fla., Craig Beggins, president of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises, recently put together a list of 16 incentives homeowners can offer, from paying the mortgage for several months, to outfitting a media room with a big-screen TV, to picking up the cost of day care for some period.

Another approach is a personal plea. Traci Smith, president of Century 21 Smith & Associates in San Antonio, encourages clients to court prospective buyers with a letter explaining the intangibles that make their home and neighborhood so appealing, such as the fact that the kids on the block trick-or-treat at Halloween together. During the height of the housing boom, some brokers were encouraging the same type of personal notes -- but from buyers eager to get their bid accepted.

Some brokers are trying to trigger bidding wars by setting an asking price sure to attract attention. Romeo Aurelio Jr., sales manager for Century 21 Hartford Properties, recently listed a small one-bedroom, one-bath fixer-upper in San Francisco's fashionable Noe Valley neighborhood for $650,000, even though he figured the home would sell for $100,000 above that. "If we priced it at $750,000, it was going to sit," Mr. Aurelio explains. "We marketed it aggressively at $650,000 and it generated 20 offers." The house sold this week for $845,000.

And with more buyers hunting houses online, selling strategies are adapting to the new technology. Michael Gallagher, a financial-services executive, initially listed his four-bedroom house in Shawnee, Kan., at $274,500. When the listing expired, Mr. Gallagher's new broker suggested that he boost the price to $275,000. Within weeks, the home sold for $271,000, $36,000 more than the best previous offer.

The explanation? Buyers who use the Internet typically search in increments of $5,000 or $25,000, says Kerwin Holloway, a managing broker with Reece & Nichols, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which handled the sale. At the higher price, Mr. Gallagher's home was likely to turn up in more searches. It also looked like a bargain to someone whose search started at $275,000. At the lower price, it was one of the most expensive homes priced between $250,000 and $275,000. Until recently, brokers had taken their cues from retailers, pricing a home at $199,500 because it seemed like a better deal than one priced at $200,000.

A property that's not priced properly can languish on the market and get shopworn, says Dan Elsea, president of brokerage services at Real Estate One in the Detroit area. A four-bedroom house in Troy, Mich., has been sitting on the market for 10 months, even though the price has been cut to $349,900 from $394,900, Mr. Elsea says. By contrast, a similar home in the same market sold this month for $360,000, just 23 days after it came to market priced more appropriately at $369,000, he says.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Is real estate dead?

By Mary Umberger, Chicago Tribune

I'm waiting for the ominous Time magazine cover to get it over with, to ask the question Americans dread: Is real estate dead?

Say it ain't so, Mr. Trump. Tell us the wild ride will roll on, that every American still has the chance to realize his one, true dream: to flip a condo.

Alas, numbers released last week suggest that America's legendary real estate boom, if it's not moribund, certainly has a weakened pulse. The National Association of Realtors reported that, for the first time in 11 years, the median price of an existing single-family home around the country actually declined in August.

For a broad slice of America, the new data may signal the end of a peculiarly golden era, one that created a culture of real estate envy excess. If you couldn't buy or sell, remodel or refinance, you could dream about it or watch others do it on HGTV.

"Mortgage lenders have replaced doctors at cocktail parties," said Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. People "want to talk about interest rates rather than their thyroids."

And lately, they want to talk, quietly, about all the for-sale signs in their neighborhood that are starting to rust.

What happened? Where did the party go?

Duncan, for one, jests that America is suffering from "real estate fatigue"--that we have virtually toured, open-housed and blogged about the bubble until we just have to move on.

He has a point: Real estate has permeated our lives. An official staple of our popular culture, it is the stuff of office chitchat. We surf for property listings or we check home valuation site Zillow.com to see what our neighbor's split-level is really worth. Sometimes, surreally, real estate is our constant TV companion.

Admittedly, as a real estate writer, I'm not a civilian on the property front, but HGTV ("'Designed to Sell' now five nights a week!") has become white noise at my house, droning on at all hours. Friends giggle and admit to similar habits.

Celebrities and branding have crossed over into home building. Martha Stewart is flogging houses now, as are model Kathy Ireland and mass-market artist Thomas Kinkade.

You can get an Eddie Bauer house to match your sport-utility vehicle.

A mere decade ago, would we have anointed a real estate developer as a celebrity? Would Donald Trump have hogged the TV if we weren't quietly nursing fantasies of real estate riches? Last fall, when I covered a frenetically over-hyped Trump appearance in Chicago during which he (and dozens of other carnival barkers) promised to share their secrets to endless wealth through real-estate investing, I was practically trampled by the masses who turned out.

And, oh, those investors. When tech stocks crashed, investors turned to property as a safe haven. Hordes of real estate wannabes--even those who couldn't tell a HUD foreclosure from a developer's closeout--snapped up homes and buildings at a blistering pace. Housing analysts said they were among the strongest forces in the boom.

Even for those who aren't flipping bungalows, real estate moves have become everyday decisions. A house is more than a home; it's an ATM. Quicker than you can say, "cash-out re-fi," we snatch our equity to send the kids to college or to bankroll--yes--another house, this one at the beach.

I know, I know: The market's not really dead. It's just slower, and, of course, it will pick up again, though amateur analysts in chat rooms argue angrily about how long that will take.

I suspect that with the cresting of prices in August, our Real Estate Moment has passed, that in a generation, cultural historians will write dissertations about our societal obsession at the dawn of the 21st Century the way they have chronicled Holland's tulip mania in the 17th.

Fortunately, scholars will have access to plenty of documentation, starting with interviews of those folks who will still be paying off the 50-year mortgages that debuted this year. And HGTV will be rerunning "House Hunters" into perpetuity. Won't it all seem quaint?

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When homeowners are desperate to sell

Sellers are offering perks like car leases and granite countertops to drum up interest. If that fails, they may try to sell for less than they owe on the home.
By Marilyn Lewis
Margot Ray, a radio-ad saleswoman in Stockton, Calif., put her five-bedroom, three-bath house on the market in February for $480,000. There it sat, along with about 3,000 other homes for sale. She dropped the price to $465,000 in April. Nada. "We'd have an open house and maybe one or two people would come by. I had an open house where nobody came," Ray says.
In July, she had a brainstorm: Why not advertise on the radio? The ad put the house on the map. Now agents remember the address. The price is down to $427,000 and, at a recent open house where Ray raffled football tickets and a spa day, 15 groups of potential buyers showed up on a 107-degree day.
But it still hasn't sold.
Ray has two kids in college and a new house with its own mortgage. "Am I to the point of desperation? Not yet," she says, "but I want this house sold."
Was it only last summer that houses sold in a day, buyers were bidding up prices and sellers in some markets haggled down real-estate agents' commissions? Nationally, 39% more "existing" homes -- not new ones -- are on the market than last year this time. Real-estate agents are giving stunned sellers crash courses in marketing. Agents now command the full traditional 6% commissions -- sometimes more -- if only to use most of it as bait so they can offer up to 4% or 5% to a buyer's agent for a successful sale.
What a difference a year makes In the toughest markets -- including the Florida cities, Detroit, Stockton, Sacramento and San Diego -- incentive is the name of the game. One Florida agent offered a Mercedes-Benz with a house sale. Others dangle vacations or gift cards with thousands of dollars in gasoline.
In its report released Aug. 15, the National Association of Realtors reported that 26 of 151 metro areas experienced outright price declines in the March-June quarter. The biggest price drops in percentage terms were in Danville, Ill., where home prices fell by 11.2% in the spring compared with the spring of 2005, and the Detroit area, where home prices were down 8%. For condominiums, 1 in 4 metro areas reported a decline in prices.
Change in existing home sales*

U.S.
Northeast
Midwest
South
West
Inventory
June** 2006 vs. May 2006
-1.30%
-3.50%
0.00%
-2.30%
0.00%
3.80%
June** 2006 vs. June 2005
-8.90%
-9.80%
-6.20%
-5.50%
-17.10%
39.10%
Note: *Does not include new homes. **Seasonally adjusted. Source: National Association of Realtors.
"We have sellers not only competing with an onslaught of resale houses on the market, but we also have home sellers competing with new developments, where they are offering tens of thousands of dollars in incentives, or even making mortgage payments, buying down loans, putting in swimming pools or paying points," says Raylene Miller, Margo Ray's agent.
New home sales -- about 15% of the market -- have declined 12% this year. Pessimism among builders is growing, says Paul Lopez, National Association of Home Builders spokesman. In July, the National Association of Home Builders' monthly survey of builders got 369 responses: 75% said they're offering upgrades like hardwood floors, granite countertops, high-end appliances, pools, garages or other freebies to new-home buyers. That's 25% more than last year. In January, the NAHB survey revealed that 31% of builders were paying buyers' closing fees; 15% were somehow helping with financing.
Detroit: as bad as it gets In the Detroit suburb of Commerce Township, seller Courtney Tursi is offering a two-year lease on a BMW X3 SUV to the agent who finds a buyer for her contemporary, two-level, four-bedroom, 3.5-bath lakeside home at the end of a private street. It has a separate in-law suite, a boat dock and water views. She wants to move her young family to a neighborhood full of kids and bikes "where everybody runs in a pack all summer long."
Michigan, where automakers have laid off large numbers of middle-class workers, is one of the most difficult places to sell a home. The Detroit News reports a 43% increase in homes on the market since last year.
Tursi put the house on the market in May for $749,000, then dropped the price to $699,000. But the wobbly Detroit job market has slowed real estate to a virtual halt. "Among upper level executives and middle level executives and suppliers and engineers, there is really a lot of uncertainty about their jobs," says Tursi, a sales representative with a technology company.
Her real estate agent, Furhad Waquad of Real Estate One in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., got the idea of offering a car as an incentive when he saw a similar promotion by an agent in Florida.
"I said, 'You know what, Courtney, this will get more people to look at the house,'" Waquad says. The BMW lease has indeed provoked more inquiries, but not many more buyer visits. Tursi vows she'll rent out the house rather than lower the price once more. "I don't see a reason to drop it again," she says. "It's a beautiful house. If I could pick it up and take it with me, I would."
Some of Waquad's clients are taking their properties off the market, renting them instead. Some offer a lease with an option to buy, an alternative rarely seen in decades.
Others are trying to sell "short," for less than they owe. One client asked $120,000 for her house, but the best offer she received was $97,000 -- less than she owed. She presented the offer to her lender, but the bankers demanded she make up more of the difference from her own pocket. She could not, so it was foreclosed upon, Waquad says.
"I recently sold a house in Rochester Hills," Waquad says. "It was purchased a year ago by the seller for $615,000 -- a newer house. He changed all the appliances, the carpets and painted. He never lived in it. He must have spent at least $20,000 to $30,000 fixing it. We got it for a buyer for $440,000."People who bought recently and have little equity are in the most difficult situation, says Vince Rizzo, managing partner and broker for HungryAgents.com, a St. Louis-based referral service through which sellers negotiate with local agents for lower commissions. "There are so many people now that borrowed 95% or 100%, and with the market slipping back a little, and you have to pay 6% commission, you are going to have to bring money to the table," Rizzo says.
The world of the short sale Short sales have become increasingly common. Sue Hunt, of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta, says that her nonprofit is currently advising "50 or so" clients to short-sell their homes to try to avoid foreclosure. (Read "Facing Foreclosure? 9 options.")
Margot Murphy, a Portland, Ore., real estate agent, trains brokers in short sales through her company, Real Estate Pro Guides. It's not easy to negotiate a short sale in which the bank must swallow a loss. Mortgage bankers are often slow to recognize how slow their markets have become, Murphy says.
"Some lenders are great with it and others, you just beat your head against the wall and say, 'What's wrong with this guy?'" Agents must make the case that a foreclosure could cost the bank even more. Since foreclosures yield no commissions, agents are motivated to achieve a short sale, in which the mortgage lender pays the commission.
Nationally, perhaps a half million loans yearly are eligible for short sale, Murphy guesses. Terms like "loss mitigation" and "customer retention" are new mortgage banking buzz words. She describes "a kinder, gentler mentality" in loan-servicing nowadays "because mortgage lenders want to have a good reputation with their borrower-consumer, to assist them with other options instead of slamming down the hammer."
Sellers let go dreams of fat profits Another factor in the stalled market is home sellers' difficulty in letting go of last year's prices. "If you tell someone in San Diego that they will only get 12% (profit) for their property, they look at you like it's a disaster," says San Diego agent Steve Faulkner, of Exit Realty. "They are so conditioned to a 25% increase that they just think that's what they should get."
Faulkner says speculators are being blamed for running up San Diego prices. Now, with home sales down by 24%, many investors want out. "If you own 10 properties and your interest rate is going up, it's better to just sell the home and get out of it," Faulkner says.
A recent search of Craigslist.org's San Diego's real-estate listings for "motivated seller" yielded 77 listings. "Must sell" turned up 68. Another 21 listings appeared in a search for "short sale." Some sellers disclose personal details -- "partner died," or "I just want to break even and get out of the loan because of a divorce" -- in ads.
But some of those desperate-sounding sellers are probably agents like him, Faulkner says. An e-mail marketing specialist, he writes ads to capture buyers for his clients and other realtors, too.
He smells opportunity in this market. "The bargain hunters are starting to appear," he says. "They weren't there three weeks ago." Faulkner targets them and lower-income people who think they're ineligible for loans with pitches like this: "Call Toll FREE **Distress Property** Hotline for Special Recorded Message About Where to find Motivated Sellers."
"We used to have to call clients all the time," he says, "now they're calling us." (For more, read "The safest ways to buy foreclosures.")
To some sellers, it can't hurt to enlist a little heavenly intercession. Myth has it that a statue of St. Joseph can be buried upside down in a property to enhance its chances for sale. The Charlotte, N.C.-based CatholicCompany.com sells a St. Joseph home sale kit, including statue, instructions and a prayer. It's a popular seller, says Les Teahl, customer service manager, but no more now than before.
Teahl and his wife recently got the kit to help sell their home in Charlotte. He recommends against burying it. Instead, he advises, put it in a place of honor, a spot like the corner of his home with an American flag, a big crucifix and photos from his son's wedding.
"We've had people do that and next day the house sold," Teahl says. "It's got a high success rate."
Tell your tale about selling or buying a home on Your Money message board.
Marilyn Lewis is a free-lance writer based in western Washington.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Home Sales Stats Just Released


Sales of previously owned homes in America fell less than expected in August, as prices fell from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.

(note Silver Lining: Most economists agree that this gives the Federal Reserve even more reasons to halt any future increases and consider a reversal of the consecutive rate hikes we have all felt).

The median price of a home was $225,000 in August, compared with a revised $230,000 in July. Last month's price was 1.7% below a year earlier, making it the first year-to-year median price decline since April 1995. Some predict as the inventory of homes gets smaller prices may hold stable or even get stronger

Economists claimed that this correction was overdue and that many consumers wishing to sell their homes want to get the most out of their appreciation. Thus they are demanding unrealistic prices for their homes. In many parts of the country home values increased 50% over the last two years.


NAR Chief Economist David Lereah said an anticipated decline in prices compared with a year earlier has begun and is likely to continue until the end of the year, helping to support sales. "With sales stabilizing, we should go back to positive price growth early next year," Mr. Lereah said.

While the NAR price data are not as thorough as the quarterly reports from the Office of Housing Enterprise Oversight, economists say the August price decline may signal pressure ahead on home-equity withdrawals and consumer spending.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Your Personal, Powerful Hedge against the Soft Housing Market


Your Personal, Powerful Hedge against the Soft Housing Market
by Gary Eldred, PhD


Every day seems to bring more doom-and-gloom news about the current real estate market. Just two days ago, I read an article on Reuters in which Robert Toll of Toll Brothers builders said that today's soft housing market reminds him of the awful sag of the 1980's. That slump was so dire, it took housing prices more than three years to recover.

It sounds dismal, but as I explore in my book Trump University Real Estate 101, which I wrote with Donald J. Trump, there are many ways to make money in any kind of market, hard or soft. Of them all, perhaps the simplest is to buy properties for below market value.

How can you do that? Many authors of get-rich-quick books encourage you to find sellers who are so distressed financially, they will practically give their properties away.

That strategy works. But the fact is, panicky sellers are a lot harder to find than you might expect. I would estimate that only about one percent of all property sellers meet the criteria.

There are other sellers who are eager to sell their properties for less than market value too, and they are far easier to find:

Opportunistic sellers don't value their property as much as they value something else. Maybe they want to sell their properties so they can move into a retirement condo or launch a business. To get them to lower their price to below market norms, offer a quick and sure closing.
Don't-wanters are selling to get away from a particular burden. Maybe they no longer want the property because they have moved into a newer home or have been transferred to another part of the country. To buy at a reduced price, stress how happy and free they will feel when you remove their burden.
Unknowledgeable sellers, who are often out-of-towners, don't know the current market price of their property. Sometimes they are so inattentive, they let their realtors intentionally set low prices to make quick commissions. You can check to see if properties are owned by out-of-towners by scanning the billing addresses in your local tax assessor's office. Also look for "for sale" signs with the names of real estate firms that rarely appear in a neighborhood. That might tell you that an out-of-town seller picked a realtor randomly from the Internet or yellow pages.
Windfall gainers prefer the fast buck to the last buck. They are often people who have inherited a property from parents or other loved ones. For emotional reasons, they are eager to sell. You can close a deal by offering a quick close and a no-hassle discount offer.

How can you find these eager sellers? Cultivate a network of realtors and other professionals who will alert you. If you are meeting directly with sellers and you don't know if they fall into these categories, use a subtle approach to uncover the reasons why they are selling. Compliment the property, don't criticize it. Ask cordially about their situation. Don't interrogate, since the way you phrase your questions is more important than the questions themselves. Probe gently, like Peter Falk used to do as Colombo.

Buying properties at below-market prices lets you control your market. It allows you to establish your own appreciation for the properties that you buy. You might not be able to laugh at the housing bubble if it really does burst, but you will profit and survive.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What's Hot in Houses Today


What's Hot in Houses Today
by Roselind Hejl

Are you are preparing your home for sale, planning to remodel, or shopping for a new home? Find out what is important in today's housing market, and make choices that contribute the most value and enjoyment for the money.

Home Styles

Old world styles are popular. French, English, Tuscan and Spanish homes with stone or stucco walls, tile roofs, iron fixtures, heavy beams and rustic floors are in demand. A sense of historic connection resonates with buyers today.

The Craftsman style, built in the early 1900's, is back. Features of this style, such as cobblestones, deep eaves, tapered columns and wide trim, favor the handmade look over mass produced.

Farmhouses and country homes are perfect remodel candidates and prototypes for new homes. Native materials, wood windows, simple floor plans, and warm colors connect with nature and earlier times.

The retro look is fashionable. Ranch styles and split levels built in the 1950's are perfect for sleek remodels, and fit with fashionable furniture styles.
Urban modern is everywhere. Modern open plans make use of color, tile, glass, and experimental materials such as plastic and metal.

Floor Plan

The preferred ceiling height is about 9'-11'. Two story ceilings are out. In small rooms these feel like towers.

Lots of floor level changes are not desirable.

Most buyers today want four bedrooms, and at least two living areas. Formal dining rooms are still in demand.

Formal living rooms are often converted to studies, libraries, or guest rooms.
Media rooms are a sought after feature when price range allows.

The visual and spatial connection between kitchen and family room is firmly established.
Cabinet space is required for large televisions and wall space for the newer flat screens.
Three car garages are needed, especially in areas without basements.

Structured wiring is important today for internet, phone, cable and sound. Desk space for computers is required.

Good access to the outdoors is something buyers look for. French doors combine access with light. Sliding glass doors are not as favored.

Lots of storage is needed for today's lifestyle. People have lots of stuff. Huge master closets, pantries, laundry rooms, and extra storage closets are expected.
On the other hand, very spare lofts are perfect for some lifestyles. Simplified spaces are an antidote to today's complex lifestyle.

Kitchens/Baths
Most buyers are savvy about kitchen design and appreciate good work spaces with easy access to range, refrigerator and sink. Lots of counter space, deep drawers, two sinks, nearby extra refrigerator, and butler's pantries are all desirable features.

Stainless appliances are going strong. In urban modern styles, white or colored appliances are back. High end homes conceal some appliances as cabinetry.

Eat-in kitchens are a basic requirement for most buyers.

Antique tables or cabinets are being refurbished and used as bath cabinets. Kitchen cabinets that look like furniture are a great look.

Granite, marble or stone counters are popular. However, granite tops added to 1980's cabinets do not go over well. Consider your architectural style before adding features.

Concrete countertops are perfect for ultra modern, but most buyers shy away from them.

Wide, cabinet depth refrigerators have a built-in look, and are not as expensive as the true built-in type.

Large rustic tiles, stone, concrete or wood floors have a warm, functional appeal.
Subway tile (3" x 6") is popular in bathrooms and on kitchen backfills.

Patterned cultured marble and laminate are out. Slippery, white floor tile is out.
Trim

Wide, baseboards (6"+) and door and window trim (4"+) are key features in old European and American styles.

Craftsman style doors - simple square frames with flat panels - work well with both old and modern looks.

Iron or heavy wood entry doors make strong statements that buyers love.

Rustic finishes on hardware, such as brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, weathered brass, and other non-shiny finishes are the popular choices.

Rustic wood beams or wood covered ceilings create a hand crafted, primitive look that buyers like.

Wrought iron gates, stair rails and light fixtures compliment the rustic style.
Stair rails in ultra modern homes may be wire, pipe or painted metal.

Front porches and covered patios are always a strong selling point. Outdoor fireplaces are popping up everywhere.

Flooring

Distressed wood floors that look old are valued. Simple wood boards are sometimes laid down with cracks exposed. Re-claimed wood is very desirable.

Bamboo floors are popular, especially in modern style homes where light colored floors are desired.

Concrete floors - often stained and scored are popular. These go well with the modern look, and are used in Craftsman and rustic European styles too.

Colorful laminate floors are a good fit with mid-century modern. Laminate floors that looks like wood are out. Parquet floors are out, unless hand crafted.

Decor

Framed or hung mirrors are preferred, although plate glass works in ultra modern styles. Mirrors used on walls or ceilings are a turn off.

Colors are in, but soft is the word. Soft greens, yellows, earth tones and creams create a serene background that fits many styles. Complex colors, with more colors in the mix, are sought after.

Deeply saturated colors, such as plums and reds, are used in moderation.

Flat paint on walls hides flaws and creates a designer look. Shiny is out. Soft whites are safe for trim.

Faux finishes are out. Often these do not turn out as well as expected, and are difficult to maintain.

The same (or similar) wall color through adjoining spaces creates a more spacious feeling.
Historic paint colors such as sage greens, beiges, muted yellows, and grays work well on the exterior. Bold or harsh colors are a turn-off to most buyers.
Wallpaper is problematic and harder to change than paint. Very often it does not fit the buyer's taste.

Heavily textured walls and popcorn ceilings are totally out.

Lighting & Plumbing Fixtures

Buyers want more windows, natural light, and a greater connection with the outdoors.
People today are more discriminating about the quality of light. Windows on two sides of the room balance the lighting and reduce glare.

One light in the middle of the room will not do. Under cabinet task lighting is appreciated. Security lighting is important. Wall sconces offer soft ambient lighting. Recessed cans provide area light. Dimmers help to control the lighting.

Light fixtures are a decorative element in all styles. Clean, modern fixtures, such as pendant lights, recessed cans, and wire string lights compliment the urban look.

Retro fixtures are interesting decorative features in 1930's craftsman and 1950's ranch styles.
Industrial metal fixtures are in. The un-decorated, industrial look of metal or stainless steel is in.
Heavy drapes are out. They are too pretentious, and, well, heavy. Light cotton, linen or silk drapes are in. Or, wood blinds. Or nothing.

Retro woven wood blinds have made a comeback. Mini blinds are very yesterday.
Bath fixtures are finished in rustic bronze, nickel, or chrome. Old style two-handled faucets and farmhouse sinks are in style. Bath sinks may be glass bowls, granite, stone, stainless or traditional china. Cultured marble is out.

All free standing tubs are in. Pedestal and wall hung lavatories are in.
Energy Efficiency

With fuel costs going up, energy efficiency is definitely in. Buyers want high efficiency AC, good insulation, low-e glass, programmable thermostats, double pane windows, and ceiling fans.
Effective passive solar orientation is a great advantage. It shows a smart planning and use of natural solar energy.

Instant hot water is a perk that buyers like, as are drinking water filters.
No one wants foil on windows or stick-on window film.

Light is in demand. Don't close blinds. Do remove solar screens when they are not needed, such as under patio roofs, porches or shade trees.

Screened porches are back. They create a multi purpose space that is both indoors and outdoors, and keep mosquitoes away.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Buying in a Cooling Market

By Amy Hoak From Marketwatch (realestatejournal.com) 7/31/2006

Residential real estate, a shining star of the national economy that seemed unflappable over the past couple of years, has hit a speed bump.

Nationally, home price appreciation is slowing down from the rapid pace experienced by many markets over the past few years. Mortgage interest rates are on their way up. Is this any time to be thinking about investing in a home? Of course it is –– if you’re buying it for a place to live, not as a speculative investment, and can afford to take the leap.

…People now are "buying for the right reasons," said Diana Bull, a Realtor in Santa Barbara, Calif., and a regional vice president for the National Association of Realtors. Sellers no longer hold all the cards, she said, which is creating a more balanced market.
Below are several benefits of home shopping in a cooling real estate market –– the silver lining to news predicting the residential real estate party is over.

More selection

In a growing number of local markets, buyers have more time to think about a home before they make a decision on whether to purchase it. Last year, that often wasn’t a likely luxury.
"Once you as a potential buyer found a house that met your needs, you had to jump on it right away," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac. "One thing that we’re seeing nowadays –– compared to six or 12 months ago –– is many markets where homes are staying on the market longer."…

More room to negotiate

Current conditions in many markets also afford consumers a better opportunity to negotiate.
"This market is forcing everybody to slow down and take their time," Bull said. In that time, buyers have more of a say at the bargaining table.
In fact, getting a fair deal is even more of a priority for homeowners who can no longer bank on high appreciation rates to save them if they pay too much, Drinkwater said. If you slightly overpaid in a bidding war at the height of the real estate boom, high appreciation rates helped correct the error, he said. In many markets there is now no such safety net.
Interest rates are still relatively low
It’s easy to get caught up in the upward scooting of mortgage interest rates. But take the northward movement with a grain of salt.
Some people act like "Chicken Little" and feel as if the sky is falling when interest rates go up a quarter of a point, said Gaines of the Real Estate Center in Texas. Instead, keep it in perspective.
Interest rates are still way below what they were five or six years ago, Gaines said. Even if the 30–year hits 7% by the end of the year, investors should keep in mind the double–digit rates of yesteryear.

A home is still a good investment

If you’re in it for the long haul –– that is, buying a home with the intention to live in it for years –– a home is still a decent investment.
Consider this piece of information from the National Association of Realtors: Since record keeping began in 1968, the national median home price has risen every year. In a balanced market, home values typically rise at the general rate of inflation plus 1.5 percentage points. That’s to say nothing of the tax benefits that come with owning your own home.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sell Your Property Fast in a Glutted Market

Sell Your Property Fast in a Glutted Market

by Michael Sexton



An article in today's Mortgage News Daily reports that sales of existing and new homes in the U.S. increased 13.8 percent between February and March 2006. That's good news, but if you dig deeper into the article's data, things don't seem quite so rosy. In some regions, the market was worse than flat. In the Northeast, for example, sales were 15.2 percent lower than in March 2005 and in the West, sales fell 13.1 percent.

So the bottom line is, it is harder to sell a house today than it was a year ago, and the problem is especially acute in bread-and-butter regions like the Northeast and the West.

Now, what is the first thing that most real estate investors do when they want to sell a property in a glutted market? Most often, they do cosmetic fix-ups. If a property looks better than others that are available, or if it has better features, it will move to the top of the pack and sell faster.
That's good thinking. But to make it work, you have to provide the fix-ups that matter to your target customers. Here's some great advice from our professor Gary Eldred, who teaches our
Real Estate Investor Program.

Stick with improvements that provide the maximum return on investment (ROI). Walk through your property and imagine that you are one of your target consumers who is seeing it for the first time. Try to see what they will see as they go from room to room and imagine what they would like to see.

Don't ignore cosmetics. Are appliances visibly worn or outdated, for example? What about kitchen counters or bathroom tiles? Spend your fix-dollars in those "must have" items first.
Get advice from contractors. Walk through your property with them and discuss ways to eliminate shortcomings or add desirable features. They have a wealth of experience that other professionals can't match and they can make suggestions to make your dollars go farther.
Push contractors to offer you gold, silver and bronze alternatives.

There are expensive sliding patio doors, for example, but also mid-level and very basic models. Installing a top-of-the-line patio door only makes sense if it is in keeping with your property and your target clientele.

Remember that the cost of lighting fixtures, counters, tile, carpet and other cosmetics can add up fast - especially if you are improving an apartment house or a multi-family dwelling. So set a budget for fix-ups and stick to it like glue. Getting "nickled and dimed to death" is more than an expression. It's happened to countless property investors, so be sure it doesn't happen to you.

Michael Sexton is President of Trump University. For more information on getting the biggest return on your renovation investment, be sure to enroll in The Real Estate Investor Training Program.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Housing Market Reaches Equilibrium Between Buyer Demand, Seller Supply

RISMEDIA, July 10, 2006—Three months ago, HouseHunt’s “Current Market Conditions” survey showed that the overall U.S. housing market was close to a rare balance between buyer demand and seller supply for the first time in eight years. HouseHunt’s latest quarterly survey shows that equilibrium has been achieved: 41 percent of member agents said more buyers than sellers; 40 percent said more sellers than buyers; and 19 percent reported a 50/50 balance.

Most notable exceptions are in the Northeast, the Chicago metro area, and in the Western states. Home buyers outnumber sellers by considerable margins in Chicago and the West, while sellers outnumber buyers in the Northeast. Additional proof of a balanced national market between buyers and sellers are reported by the National Association of Realtors, which estimated a 6.5 month supply of unsold homes in its May report. An inventory supply of 5.5 to 6.0 months is considered to be balanced.

HouseHunt’s second quarter national survey also found:
Fifty-six percent of member agents said it is now taking, on average, more than 60 days from listing to contract to sell a house. This is up from 55 percent in the first quarter and 35 percent a year ago. Twenty-eight percent said it is taking more than 90 days to contract. Only 15 percent of existing homes are selling in 30 days or less.
Housing inventories are continuing to increase: 86 percent now report a good supply in virtually all price ranges; this is up from 81 percent in the first quarter and 38 percent a year ago. Sixty-six percent of member agents reported that annual home price appreciation is now five percent or less; this is down from 8-10 percent a year ago. Home price appreciation of more than 10 percent is now 16 percent, on average. The percentage of home sellers getting 95 percent or more of asking prices is currently 68 percent, compared to 90 percent a year ago. Three months ago it was 75 percent. Multiple offers from home buyers are also down substantially; the current estimate is 32 percent. It was 39 percent in the first quarter and 70 percent a year ago. First-time buyers still account for one of three home sales nationally. Repeat and move-up buyers are the most active in higher priced markets. Recent home price appreciation and rising mortgage interest rates has, on average, only a minimal negative effect on first-time buyers. Exceptions are marginal qualifiers.

Ben Garrett of West USA Realty, exclusive HouseHunt agent for Chandler, AZ, noted in his Real Trends report: “All of Chandler is growing because of increased job opportunities. The significant increase in hoe properties has died down. Investors have moved out, helping supply and demand. We continue to see growth in Greater Phoenix.” Median home price is $400,000. Sharon Combs of Long & Foster, exclusive HouseHunt agent for Winchester, VA, reported more sellers than buyers, with 60-90 days average time on the market: “National builders are giving as much as $100,000 in extras and closing costs on existing inventory homes.” Quentin Green, exclusive HouseHunt agent for Lincoln Park Homes in the Chicago metro area, said that average home prices are down 5-10 percent in the past year: “Our market has quieted down tremendously over the past 60 days. What sold last year in 15 to 30 days is taking 69 to 90 days to sell, at minimum. Higher end properties are taking 180 to 360 days.”

Lee Seaton of Prudential R.E. Professionals, exclusive HouseHunt agent for Eugene, OR, reported a 50/50 market for buyers and sellers: “There are many more listings for buyers to choose from and sales are taking a little longer, but prices are stable or gradually rising.” Move-up buyers are most active. Also reporting a 50/50 market is Allen Gabrielski of Richard A. Weidel Realtors, exclusive HouseHunt agent for Bridgewater, NJ, Township: “Our late spring market is just beginning to move. Entry market homes in the $250,000 to $400,000 price range are selling faster.” Median home price is $600,000. “We welcome a balanced, more orderly marketplace for both the consumer and real estate professionals,” said Michael Bearden, president and CEO of HouseHunt, Inc. “Double-digit price appreciation is simply not sustainable for a multi-year period and will eventually drive away entry level buyers.”

HouseHunt, Inc., is a consumer-oriented Internet firm that provides valuable free information and services to homeowners, home buyers and home sellers through member agents serving exclusive territories and its primary websites, HouseHunt.com and moveUp.com. RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: realestatemagazinefeedback@rismedia.com.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Development Firm Buys Ranches


By CINDY BARKS
The Daily Courier

Thursday, May 04, 2006


PRESCOTT ­ An immense tract of ranchland that adjoins three tri-city area communities officially changed hands this week.

The Granite Dells and Point of Rocks, two historic ranches northeast of Prescott, became the property of the Granite Dells Ranch Holdings LLC on Tuesday.

Scottsdale-based Cavan Real Estate Investments leads the holding company.

At 16,390 acres, the purchase comprises 25.6 square miles of land, nearly two-thirds the size of the City of Prescott's current landmass. By comparison, the city's largest recent development, Prescott Lakes, included about 1,100 acres.

In a press release from Cavan Real Estate Investments, company founder David V. Cavan said, "We are at the beginning of a very long process for careful master planning and development."

As for whether the planning and development will take place within either the City of Prescott or the Town of Prescott Valley's boundaries, company spokesman Al Bradshaw said the group is "looking at different options for development of the property."

He added: "(The company) can't decide (to seek) annexation anywhere until they know how they're going to develop the property. There are so many possible options."

The time frame for the master planning and the development also is uncertain at this time, he said. "There is no reason to make a timetable," Bradshaw said.

For years, the two ranches have been the topic of heated community debate, as Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley have all eyed the area for possible future development.

Currently, the bulk of the acreage lies in unincorporated Yavapai County, except for about 5,200 acres, which the Town of Chino Valley previously annexed.

In the early 2000s, the City of Prescott entered a development agreement with the ranch owners, which set out the terms for annexation into Prescott city limits of about 7,000 acres of the two ranches.

That agreement came under fire during the city's 2005 City Council election, however, when a number of candidates maintained that the agreement was harmful to the city ­ especially the portion spelling out Prescott's obligations for providing water to the development.

Ultimately, city officials backed off from the agreement, and council members agreed that a new, reworked agreement was in order.

On Wednesday, City Attorney Gary Kidd said he agrees with the view of former City Attorney John Moffitt, who had maintained that the agreement was only a preliminary document and would not become operative unless the city were to annex the ranchland. Before that could happen, he said, the city would require more planning and a more detailed agreement.

This week, Kidd said, "The annexation agreement is not effective. That hasn't changed."

He added that he has had no recent contact with the landowners. "They could present a plan for a new pre-annexation agreement at some time, but it's not on my desk right now," Kidd said.

City Manager Steve Norwood said he also had not heard from the ranch owners recently. Even though he said he believes the next move is up to the owners, Norwood added, "We still have a high priority of getting this annexed into the city. If they're going to develop, we want it within city limits."

In January, the Prescott City Council included the annexation of the ranches on its list of top priorities for the coming year.

Both Kidd and Norwood stressed that any future annexation would have to follow the guidelines of the Reasonable Growth Initiative, a proposition that voters approved in November, which increased the time requirements for public involvement, as well as the level of council support necessary for large annexations.

The Granite Dells and Point of Rocks ranches have been under the ownership of the Wilkinson family for more than eight decades, according to the company's press release. Incorporation of Granite Dells Ranch occurred in 1924, and Point of Rocks later formed as a separate corporation.

Speaking for the ranches, Nicola Johnston said, "While it is with some emotion that we sell the ranches after all of these years, the members of our family corporations agree that it is time to pass on the reins of stewardship."

Cavan Real Estate Investments formed in 1976 and has since completed residential and commercial projects throughout the Southwest, including the Seven Canyons project in Sedona.

The company has declined to release the price and other details of the purchase.

By CINDY BARKS
The Daily Courier

Thursday, May 04, 2006
for more information got to
http://prescottdailycourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=39627&TM=69649.73

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Compare Your Home: Placentia vs Prescott, Arizona



Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Compare Your Home: Placentia vs Prescott, Arizona



Placentia 92870


This week we compare a 2,000-plus-square-foot house in Placentia, home to the county's first commercial orange grove in 1880, with one of a similar square-footage in the mountains of north-central Arizona. The median price for a home in Orange County was $616,000 for the four weeks ending Dec. 19.

Placentia 92870

Listed for: $990,000

Address: 1030 Underhill Drive

Home size: 2,698 square feet

Bedrooms: four Baths: three

Lot size: 5,404 square feet

Built in: 2003

Amenities: Backyard view of golf course; cathedral ceilings; large family room with media niche; large fireplace; gourmet kitchen with island; breakfast nook; open loft could be fifth bedroom
Last time sold: February 2003 for $529,000

Sale status: Available

Source: Gary & Cheryl Hansen, First Team Real Estate



Prescott, Ariz. 86305

Listed for: $550,000

Address: 450 Downer Trail

Home size: 2,129 square feet

Bedrooms: three Baths: three

Lot size: 1.21 acres

Built in: 1984

Amenities: Privately situated with views of pine trees and boulders; great room with floor-to-ceiling windows; three stories; wood floors; high ceilings; deck; corral and stall for two horses

Last time sold: November 2001 for $213,665

Sale status: Available

Contact
Click here for complete artical ... The Orange County Register

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