Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

Whether you are buying or selling a home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO.’

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling! | Keeping Current Matters

The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?


Westchester County: Strong Housing Market, Rising Prices, Buyer Frustration Over Lack of Inventory

WHITE PLAINS—The continuing decline in for-sale residential housing inventory in the Hudson Valley has put a crimp in overall sales, but has also placed upward pressure on home values.

Realtors interviewed by Real Estate In-Depth say the current seller’s market is expected to remain static for most of this year, with strong buyer demand and low inventory levels throughout the four-county region of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

HGAR subsidiary the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service Inc. released its “First Quarter Residential Real Estate Sales Report for Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, New York” report earlier this month that showed mostly mixed sales results, but higher sale prices in all four counties.

The inventory of a single-family residence fell sharply in the first quarter, down 7.3% in Westchester, 12% in Rockland, 21.5% in Putnam and 17.1% in Orange County as compared to the first quarter of 2017.

Strong demand and the inventory shortage fueled in some cases sharp increases in the median single-family home price in all four counties—Westchester’s single-family home median rose 2.2% to $613,250; Putnam County posted a 9.4% rise in the single-family median to $323,750; Rockland County’s single-family median inched up 2.4% to $435,000 and Orange County’s single-family home median rose 4.3% to $240,000.

That lack of inventory was at least a contributing cause to Westchester County’s 2.3% decline in overall residential sales. A bright spot for that market was a 1.1% increase in cooperative sales for the quarter. Single-family home sales in Westchester fell 5.6% over the first quarter of 2017, however.

Rockland County experienced the largest decrease in residential sales in the region at 13.7%. Orange County’s overall residential sales fell 1.4% in the first quarter, while Putnam County posted the only sales increase in the region at 7.2%.

HGAR President Barry Kramer, co-owner of Westchester Choice Realty of Scarsdale, said that low inventory is affecting both the single-family home market as well as the more affordable cooperative sector, which actually saw both sales and price increases in the first quarter.

Kramer said that demand is high and noted that cooperatives likely saw a sales increase because co-ops provide a viable option for those looking for more affordable housing in Westchester County.

In terms of the overall market, Kramer said, “If a property is priced right, you are seeing multiple bids, which I think is a reflection of the low inventory.”

He said that demand is strong in all market segments, including multifamily. Kramer noted that there are many investors in the market looking to purchase multifamily. “What is also happening in regard to multifamily is there are a lot of people who cannot necessarily afford a single-family home who are looking to purchase a multifamily because then they can have a source of income with the second apartment.”

Kramer said the market is healthy, despite the inventory issues. He is hopeful that with the warmer weather, more homeowners will decide to take advantage of the seller’s market and put their properties up for sale.

Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, in its quarterly market report for the lower Hudson Valley region specifically pointed to the lack of inventory as a key issue in slower sales growth and higher sale prices.

“The housing market in the New York City northern suburbs of Westchester and the Hudson Valley has become a fully-realized seller’s market, with declining inventory stifling sales growth while driving meaningful price appreciation throughout the region,” the Rand report stated.

Joseph Rand managing partner, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, said in reference to the high demand, coupled with low inventory levels region-wide, “There is no fuel for the fire.”

One market that is thriving, despite depleted inventory levels is Orange County. Rand said that Orange County is now enjoying sustained price appreciation in both the single-family and condominium sectors. He noted that Orange County has seen seven straight quarters of rising home prices, and he expects that streak to continue in what he believes will be a robust spring market in Orange County.

He noted in the report, “Going forward, this is what a seller’s market looks like.” Rand predicted that at least for the short term, Realtors can expect lower sales levels and higher sale prices due to constrained inventory. However, he did offer some hope for conditions to begin to change later this year.

“At some point in 2018, this price appreciation will attract more sellers into the market, which will increase supply, bring sales up, and moderate price increases,” he said. “But that will not happen right away, so we expect a spring market with even lower levels of inventory, which will stifle sales growth, but continue to drive robust price appreciation.”

Rand warned that if inventory levels don’t increase sufficiently later this year, the market could see significant increases in home prices.

J Philip Faranda, Broker/Owner of J. Philip Faranda Real Estate of Briarcliff Manor, echoed the sentiments of his colleagues that low inventory levels have been a drag on sales activity in the region. Faranda also operates real estate brokerage branch offices in Pelham and Mahopac.

“As good as the numbers might be, if inventory were higher they would just be so much better,” he said.

The constrained inventory and the multiple bid environment for quality properties has been a source of significant frustration for buyers. Faranda said pent-up demand, particularly for entry-level housing in the lower Hudson Valley is enormous.

“We have lost clients who have gotten frustrated because they lost out in two or three bidding wars,” Faranda shared.

In fact, demand is so keen, Faranda said that sellers of quality properties can expect to secure multiple offers over asking price almost immediately.

“The frustration among the buyer’s agents and buyers who have been out there for a while is palpable,” he added.

Faranda believes that the low inventory levels, combined with the extended period of artificially low borrowing rates, have created “upward pressure on prices for reasons other than organic.”

Some other headwinds for the market include higher interest rates and high property taxes that might prompt homeowners to remain in their homes and delay their next home purchase.

“Think about this, if you refinanced into a 3% or 2.75% interest rate five years ago, and you would organically move about now, but you are looking at rates that are almost 50% higher than what you are currently paying, you could mow the lawn for another year, you could deal with empty bedrooms for another year,” Faranda said.

Faranda, like Rand, believes that eventually homeowners will jump off the fence to take advantage of the seller’s market.

“I think there will be an 18-month lag where the consumer population catches up on the fact that it is a good time to sell, and unfortunately they will have lofty expectations born of the spike that we are in,” he predicted. “That could complicate things.”

For 2018, Faranda believes that more sellers will put their properties on the market toward the tail end of this year. “I think we are going to have a strong finish for the year and hopefully there will be some balance as we enter the next few cycles,” he noted.

Low Inventory Pushes Home Prices Higher

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, prices appreciated by 6.9% year-over-year from December 2016 to December 2017 on a national level. This marks the fifth month in a row with at least a 6.9% increase.

Low Inventory Pushes Home Prices Higher | Keeping Current Matters

Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, gave insight into the reason behind the large appreciation,

“The number of homes for sale has remained very low. Job growth lowered the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent by year’s end, the lowest level in 17 years. Rising income and consumer confidence has increased the number of prospective homebuyers. The net result of rising demand and limited for-sale inventory is a continued appreciation in home prices.”

This is great news for homeowners who have gained nearly $15,000 in equity (on average) in their homes over the last year! Those homeowners who had been on the fence as to whether or not to sell will be pleasantly surprised to find out that they now have an even larger profit to help cover a down payment on their dream homes.

As we near the traditionally busy spring buyers season, there is still hope for buyers as mortgage rates remain low compared to recent decades. The report also predicted that home price appreciation will slow slightly, rising by 4.3% by this time next year.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, meet with a local real estate professional who can explain exactly what’s going on in your neighborhood and discuss your options!

The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart… Calm Down!

Calm Down! The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart | Keeping Current Matters

There has been tremendous volatility in certain markets over the last few weeks (for example, the stock and currency markets). When this happens, some tend to lump all of their investments together and create an almost ‘Armageddon’ scenario where everything loses value quickly and dramatically. Real estate is an investment that can get caught up in this hysteria. Does the concern about the current housing market have merit?

Financial advisors have been warning us for months that the stock market was ripe for a “correction.”

Experts have been questioning the value of alternative currencies for over a year.

In contrast, here are the opinions of three major players in the residential housing market:

Ralph DeFranco, Chief Economist, Arch Capital Services Inc.

“It’s premature to worry about a housing bubble. The typical warning signs – excessive debt levels, poor quality loans, exponentially increasing home prices, rising vacancy rates and/or poor affordability compared to the past, and a high number of internet searches on house flipping – are not present.”

Liu-Down, Genworth Chief Economist

“My thoughts on many recent discussions of ‘housing bubble’ – the bar for a housing bubble is higher than just prices being above some fundamental value. There must be widespread behavior change as well such as higher levels of fraud and speculation.”

Fitch Report

“US home prices are on track for a 5% nominal gain for the 4th consecutive year, returning national prices to their highest level since 2007. The growth has been driven by historically low mortgage rates and unemployment plus solid population and personal income growth rates…a meaningful correction should only be triggered by an unexpected economic shock.”

Bottom Line

Speculation has driven certain markets over the last year. However, it has not been speculation, but instead people’s desire for homeownership, that has driven the real estate market.