Archive for the 'Enduring Interest' Category
My friend and colleague Al Lorenz, who sells real estate and develops real property in Lake Chelan Washington wrote and posted this Real Estate Declaration of Independence.
Al and I are in complete agreement about these principles, so I’m delighted to share them with you:
Real Estate Declaration of Independence
We, the people who buy and sell real estate, hold these truths to be obvious:
- We the people believe that information on real estate for sale should be readily accessible without surrendering our private information. We reject having to register on a web site in order to view listings in an area. We value our time and will contact a real estate professional when we are good and ready for their services.
- We the people reject all policies of the National Association of Realtors that are not in the best interest of the real estate buying and selling public. Limiting our access to information, restricting our ability to a free and open market through regulation and limiting our market choices are all examples of policies we reject that are designed to line Realtors pockets at the expense of the public.
- We the people reject “Dual Agency,” where a real estate agent has an inherent conflict of interest with his agency and fiduciary duties by attempting to represent both the buyer and seller in order to earn a larger commission on our transaction. If the agent is truly delivering value, both parties of a transaction have an equal right to that value without a conflict of interest and each party deserves their own agent in the transaction.
- We the people reject the practice of real estate agents trying to “Buy the Listing” by telling a potential seller an above market price in an attempt to secure a listing. This practice costs sellers time and money while their home sits on the market as the agent waits for the seller to cut the price to where it should have been to start.
- We the people reject the practice of real estate MLS systems that limit a home seller’s exposure to potential buyers in an attempt to control access to a market. A listing agent’s responsibility is to market a property to the best of their ability and limiting the exposure of our home costs us money.
We the people are independent in a country that still allows us to make market choices. We the people demand better service and will exercise our freedom of choice and only choose Real Estate Professionals who deliver better value.
In Arizona, a real estate licensee has a fiduciary duty to his client. That means that, when we decide to work together, I am obliged to put your interests ahead of all others, including my own. Too often, and much too deservedly, Realtors are perceived as being self-dealing, self-serving and self-absorbed. If you keep this Real Estate Declaration of Independence in mind, you’ll be better prepared to avoid that kind of agent.No comments
It’s tough out there, everybody knows that. Your house may not be worth even half what you paid for it, and you’re having trouble keeping up with the payments. It could be your situation is so dire as to boil down to two choices: Let the bank foreclose on you or try to do a short sale.
What’s a short sale? If you could sell your home for what it’s worth today, you would probably have to come “short” to the closing table: The amount of money you could bring back to your lender from the proceeds of the sale would be less than you owe.
Are banks willing to do this? Yes, in principle. The bank reasons that it can get more money for a home that is still being cared for, as compared to yet another vacant lender-owned home.
What about you? Is a short sale to your advantage? Here’s your bottom line in both cases: Zero dollars and zero cents. That’s how much you’ll receive when your house sells.
So why should you prefer a short sale to a foreclosure?
For one very simple thing, because it’s the more responsible thing to do. You can’t pay your mortgage, and that’s a tragic turn of events. But by helping the bank effect a short sale, you’re doing what you still can to honor your obligations.
Even more important, a successful short sale can be less damaging to your credit than a foreclosure. You’re going to take a hit on your credit rating, either way. But the worst consequences of a short sale could be over in two or three years, where a foreclosure may wreck your credit for five years — or even longer.
On balance, a short sale is probably the better idea. Here’s the next question: Does it make any difference to you which Realtor you hire to list your home for sale as a short sale?
Remember that net figure: Zero dollars and zero cents. Since you won’t be getting any money from the sale of your home what difference does it make to you which Realtor sells it?
As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference. For one thing, no short sale is secure until it is closed. There is always the threat that the bank will go ahead and foreclose on you. You need a Realtor who can put matters in motion quickly, so you can complete the short sale before the bank gets tired of waiting for its money.
There’s more. Many Realtors treat short sales like a red-headed step-child — a slap-dash listing effort focused more on adding to their listing inventory, rather than actively selling your home. But the faster your home sells, the more money it is likely to command — which will make your buyer’s offer that much more attractive to the bank.
So what will make your home sell more quickly?
The answer? Marketing.
Where you and your lender see a short sale, your buyer sees a home. And guess what? Your buyer is seeing a lot of really grungy homes. Dirty. Missing appliances. Crowded floor to ceiling with personal possessions. Even though you have no equity in the property, your marketing problem is no different than in a normal equity sale: How do you get buyers to prefer your home over all the others available on the market?
And this is why it matters which Realtor you choose to list your home as a short sale. Your net might be zero dollars and zero cents, but you still have a lot to lose. The faster your home sells, the more money it will command, and the more money your lender stands to get, the more likely they are to approve your short sale.
It’s that simple. Working with a better Realtor — better not just at the mechanics of short sales but also at the mechanics of marketing — will bring you better, faster, happier results.
This is not a joyous event in you life, that’s understood. But working with the right Realtor on your short sale will help you make the best of a bad situation.
Am I blowing my own horn? Oh, you bet! I have advanced designations in short sale negotiation and management, and I’ve developed an extensive praxis for successfully marketing homes. I’ll bring every bit of this expertise to bear in getting your home sold as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
What’s the cost to you? Zip. Nada. Nothing. We typically charge our sellers an up-front retainer from $1,500 to $2,500. But they’ll be seeing cash at the closing table, and, if you go ahead with a short sale, you will not. We’ll take our compensation from the proceeds of the sale at Close of Escrow, and we’ll pay the buyer’s broker as well. You have nothing to lose by choosing a better listing agent — and a lot to gain.
So let’s talk, shall we? Give me a call at 602-369-9275 or email me and we’ll get together to figure out the best short sale strategy for your home.No comments
A more active kind of real estate investment: Fixing and flipping distressed homes for fun and profit.
Handyman Mark Deermer and I have been planning for this for a while: We’re going to ride the Phoenix real estate market back up by fixing and flipping some of the (many, many) distressed homes we work with. We’ve fixed up quite a few homes for buy-and-hold investors, and this is the logical next step in our praxis.
As with buying rental homes, it’s a matter of property selection before anything else. The right home, in turn-key condition, will sell at a substantial premium over its distress-sale price. By buying the right MLS-listed and court-house-steps properties, we can net out significant returns after all expenses.
Buying right is everything, of course. If we overpay on the way in, we’ll have trouble extricating ourselves on the way out. We’re doing this now because the market in Greater Phoenix has reached a point where the math works fairly consistently. Houses that will flip profitably are still not common, but we’re to the point where they’re one among hundreds, rather than one among thousands.
The second step in the process is handling the refurbishing wisely and well — and quickly. Our goal is to get our properties back on the market within four days of taking possession of them. And we won’t be doing wish-and-a-promise fix-ups. Every house we do will have all new interior paint, all new flooring, all new window treatments and all new kitchen appliances. We want to give our buyers that model-home feeling — because they’ll pay more for homes that are white-glove clean and move-in ready.
And the third step is marketing, a process we get better at with every passing day. The homes we’ll be flipping will be completely refurbished, but they will also be staged for sale, with the kind of tasteful decorator touches that make people feel at home. We’ll build a marketing web site for each home, showing off what we’ve done with before and after pictures, and documenting the remodeling — both to defend the sales price and to assist the appraiser in seeing our justification for the sales price.
We’ll be pricing aggressively to the market, as well, thus to turn the money over more quickly. Our goal is to go from sold to sold in two months or less — with each investor’s money turning over six or more times a year.
Do you have stars in your eyes? The profit per home will not be huge. But because the money is turning over so rapidly, the annualized return-on-investment could be very substantial.
Why am I writing this? Because we need money to make this work. I’m going to be the marketing partner in the partnerships we’re putting together. Mark is going to be the work partner. What we need are finance partners.
The kind of houses we’re going to be working with are going to require around $100,000 in capital each. That will pay the acquisition costs plus the cost of refurbishing the home. Everything else — closing costs and unpaid liens — can be paid out of the resale proceeds at Close of Escrow. But each Limited Liability Corporation we put together is going to want $100,000 in seed capital. This can come from one or more finance partners, and the seed capital will be restored to the LLC after each house is sold, before any profits are disbursed.
Here’s the way to figure this: Even if the investor’s ROI is only 5% per flip, if we can turn that money over six times in a year, that’s a 30% annualized return. That’s good money by anyone’s standards — and the returns only stand to improve when the Phoenix real estate market finally gets back to an upward trajectory.
But what about down markets? God help us, it could happen. But this is why we’re working to sell the properties so quickly — and at aggressive prices — to get our money in and out before we can lose too much to declining values.
I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s nose. We’ve been working on this problem for a year-and-a-half, all to make the numbers work. I’ll be documenting out projects here, so you can see what we’re up to.
Meanwhile, if you want to get in on this opportunity, speak up. We’re going to put together up to twenty of these partnerships, flipping as many as ten homes a month. This is a lot more aggressive than buy-and-hold investing — and a lot more risky, of course. But we’re offering the potential for truly astounding annualized returns. If you want to get involved in real estate on the supply side, here’s your chance.No comments
What’s the real estate price trend for bread-and-butter homes in Metropolitan Phoenix? Prices are up and down — but mostly flat…
That chart illustrates sales prices for the past 13 months, as reflected in BloodhoundRealty’s Market Basket of Homes. What we’re looking at are suburban stucco and tile tract homes, the houses that drive the fat middle of the bell curve in the Metropolitan Phoenix real estate market.
That line looks awful spiky doesn’t it? That’s just the drama of charting software. What you’re really seeing is a market that is essentially flat. Prices go up. Price come back down. A home that would have sold for $122,000 in March of 2009 will have sold in March of 2010 for — wait for it — $121,000.
That’s right. For the past year, the Arizona Republic and half the faculty at ASU has been bellowing that the market has turned. It has. Slightly downward. And now that the home buyer tax credit is about to expire, it seem plausible that the near term trend will be still further downward.
Prices will probably decline gradually, mind you, and investors have clearly thrown a floor under our market. I would be surprised to see dramatic drops in values, but the segment of the chart documenting events from August through December of 2009 illustrates the impact of the tax credit. Without it, I expect this chart to grow even flatter in the months ahead.
Means what? Jump. Interest rates are still low, and cash is still king. Inventories will grow — nudging prices downward — and the quality of the available homes is gradually getting better. If you have the means to buy a home in Phoenix now, this may be the perfect storm. If we’re at the bottom, we’re going to be here for a while. But if you can afford to wait out the market, you can buy a whole lot of home for your money.No comments
I have a lot of investor clients, folks who want to buy rental homes in greater Phoenix — to buy and hold them as long-term investments. Early last fall and again late this spring I have advised many of them to sit tight, to wait the market out.
What are we waiting for?
The final lapsing of the first-time home-buyers’ tax credit. We can be quietly delighted for all the nice folks who were able to get into houses because of the tax credit. But it remains that those sweet people were driving up home prices, making it difficult for investors to latch onto better-quality rental homes.
All that changes this week. The tax credit lapses on April 30th, so we should start to see a significant increase in available properties. Still better, it will be easier to negotiate deals with sellers, and prices should be more attractive.
The first round of the tax credit, last summer and fall, had a much more profound impact on the real estate market. For the kind of stucco and tile suburban homes I like to buy for investors, prices last fall looked like this:
September 2009: +3.15%
October 2009: +2.14%
November 2009: +2.22%
December 2009: -8.03%
That’s a $10,371 drop in average sales prices from November to December. Demand from first-timers has been lighter in this second installment of the tax-credit, but inventories of the homes I’m most interested in for investors have declined by 20% from the start of the year. More significantly, it’s the choice homes that are being cherry-picked, the ones that need the least work to make them rent-ready.
All of which means that we are on the cusp of a perfect storm for real estate investors: Good homes at very attractive prices. Money is still every cheap, if you need a mortgage, and rents are holding firm. There is no appreciation in sight, of course, but positive cash flow is easy from the first tenant.
I’ve written a guide about how out-of-state investors can make good money investing in Phoenix-area rental homes. If you want to discuss this in detail, you can phone me – Greg Swann – at 602-740-7531 or shoot me an email.No comments
Got Loonies? Barrack Obama is the best American president Canadian real estate investors have ever seen!
If you’re a Canadian real estate investor interested in buying rental homes in Metropolitan Phoenix, it would be hard to pick a better time to make your move.
Depending on your point of view, the Barrack Obama administration has been either great or lousy for Americans. But there is no doubt that Obamas’s “creative” management of the American economy has been a huge benefit to Canadians and other foreign investors.
Even if you’re buying with dollars, don’t let that stop you. Bargains abound, and the prospects for the greater Phoenix real estate market are sunny — not to pun. I shop every day for premium value in potential rental homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area. If you would like to explore your opportunities, shoot me an email or give me a call at 602-740-7531.No comments
BloodhoundRealty.com’s Greg Swann and Canadian real estate investor Bill Chipman featured today on an NPR Radio story on Phoenix rental-home investing for buyers from Canada.
Click on the embedded audio player below or read the story on-line. Reporter Peter O’Dowd — a genuine born-here Phoenician and a Brophy Prep alum — spent about four hours, total, with Bill Chipman and me, an amazing commitment of effort. And that photo above? That’s what paradise looks like. We have plenty to go around…
The economic policies of the U.S. government could not be better — for Canadians buying real estate in Phoenix, that is…
Are you a Canadian thinking about buying residential real estate in metropolitan Phoenix? You and everybody else. Prices are low, the weather is incomparable — and the Canadian dollar — the Loonie — is trading at very favorable rates against the U.S. dollar. Canadian home buyers can take a 60% discount off our peak prices, plus an additional 15% discount on the exchange rate. There’s just something about buying a rental or getaway home for 75% off that’s hard to beat.
I tend to write a lot about rental home investing, but opportunities for all sorts of Canadian buyers abound in Phoenix right now. For example, here is a search of single-family homes in tony Paradise Valley. And here is every golf course home currently available in Scottsdale. If anything, prices on higher-end homes are even lower than they are for cheaper properties. And mortgages for Canadian home buyers are easier to obtain than they have been for years.
The truth is, it’s a perfect storm for all buyers in the greater Phoenix market right now. There are plenty of great homes available at bargain-basement prices. Interest rates are hovering at historic lows. And the house-hunting weather could not be more perfect. But Canadian buyers have all those advantages plus a very favorable currency exchange rate. If you’d like to explore your options, you can start by searching for your ideal home in Phoenix or Scottsdale. When you’re ready to find out more, send me an email or phone me at 602-740-7531.
You may never see a convergence of events like this again. We’re ready to jump when you are.No comments
Are the uninformed chatterboxes in your area insisting that the real estate market has recovered? You may want to defer the celebration. Even so, this could be the golden moment for investors in Phoenix.
I’ve known for six months or more that there was a sweet spot on the horizon for investors and other highly-solvent buyers in the Phoenix real estate market. That event was delayed by the first-time home-buyer’s tax credit. Today’s news about declines in the number of pending purchase contracts is a symptom of the market returning to an unstimulated level of demand. I watched the dropoff reflected in today’s news as it happened last fall. Lenders cut off new applications for first-timers and, just like that, price pressure eased, available inventories started to rise and it came to be a lot easier to get a house under contract.
We’re all waiting for the other shoe — the shadow inventory — to drop, but the supply of the homes I want most for my investors has almost doubled since mid-October, from around 350 units then to just over 600 today.
Here’s even better news for buyers (not for banks): Prices are going down.
This is the Cliff’s Notes for the last four months, as reflected in the BloodhoundRealty.com Market Basket of Homes:
That’s a huge drop for December — giving back almost everything we’ve gained since April, 2009. But, interestingly enough, the ratio of sales price to list price was positive. In other words, there is still competition for listed homes, but list prices are dropping.
I don’t know how it is where you live, but this is the perfect storm for investors in Metropolitan Phoenix. The homes are in much better condition than they were this time last year, and the prices are at hovering just above the 2009 low.
Are we at the bottom? Feels like it — but we’re going to be here for a while. Positive cash flow is easy, but cash flow is all there is right now. If you’re not a buy-and-hold investor, Phoenix is not for you. I’m sure that’s true in most rental markets.
But if you’re thinking of buying a rental home anywhere in Greater Phoenix, reflect on this: This could be the coldest winter in 25 years. Whether they can afford to or not, people in the snowy states are going to move. When they do, they’re going to need a place to live.
Give me a call at 602-740-7531 and let’s talk about how you can ride the Phoenix real estate thunderbird as it rises anew from the ashes and soars its way back into the cloudless skies.No comments
An extended answer to a question from a buyer client, the short film linked below goes into the in-house procedures that result in the observed effect: Lender-owned homes are much easier to get under contract and to get through the closing process than are short sales.
We also talk a bit about strategy, particularly for mortgage-financed transactions.
Click on the link below to watch the video.
A look back at the last decade in real estate, what I got right, what I got wrong — and where things go from here
My friend Andrew Breese asked me to go through my own history, in light of both the real estate boom and the bust, detailing where I was wrong and where I was right.
Very big job, and it would be a long essay to write, so I’ve elected to go through it in video instead.
Click on the graphic below to watch the video.
I represented tenants for my first two years as a real estate licensee. I walked into — and walked right out of — hundreds of homes that were amazingly inappropriate candidates for tenancy.
Horrible locations, with no access to jobs, schools, shopping, entertainment, transportation.
Still worse, horrible homes, dingy, run-down testaments to the perils of deferred maintenance.
And still worse, many of these homes would be filthy — stained carpets, smudged walls, debris everywhere. In many cases, the carpets had not even been vacuumed, and often the back yards were shoulder-high jungles of weeds.
Would you want to live in a place like that?
Why would you expect that a tenant would?
Here’s a better question: What kind of tenant, do you suppose, would settle for a rental home like that?
Landlords can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. They will buy a dump of a property because it’s cheap, convinced that their salvation will be low rents. But bad properties attract bad tenants — by repelling all of the good tenants.
The wrong rental property is the worst kind of real estate investment: It will rent slowly, with long vacancies between tenants. And the tenants the landlord will be forced by circumstance into accepting may be slow-pay, no-pay eviction candidates who may do damage or steal the appliances on the way out. And, of course, because the house is repellant, it will attract nothing but low-ball offers on resale.
But take heart. There is a better way of doing things.
First, what you want is the right location — a built-out suburb with its own job base, with schools and shopping and entertainment already in place. And don’t buy a dump. Nobody wants to live in a dump. The house you’re looking for should be appealing to tenants, but also to owner-occupants. Why? Because owner-occupants will pay more than investors when it’s time to sell.
But even then we’re not done. We’ve got the right house in the right location, but we also need to refurbish the home to turn-key condition. Why is that? Because tenants — especially premium tenants — have choices. We want for our home to be first on their list of candidates, when they go out shopping. That way, you will have your choice of top-quality applicants: Good jobs, good income, good credit, good payment histories, good real estate references.
A home like this will rent quickly, will stay rented, and — if you continue to maintain it in turn-key condition — will suffer little vacancy between tenants. Moreover, your tenants will treat your home as if it were their own, so your costs between tenants will be lower. And because we chose the property with resale value in mind, it should sell quickly and at a premium price, ideally to owner-occupants.
This is a sound business strategy. Your objective is to make money. This is the way to make money in the suburban-Phoenix rental housing market.
I’ve written a guide on how to make money by investing in rental homes in Metropolitan Phoenix. It covers these issues in more detail, with a video explaining my thoughts on home selection. There are also before and after photos of a real rental home, to illustrate what I think is necessary to make a property appealing to premium tenants.
If you want to discuss Phoenix-area rental home investment in more detail, you can phone me at 602-740-7531 or just shoot me an email.
Being a landlord is not easy, and very often it is decidedly not fun. But it is potentially very lucrative — if you go at it the right way.4 comments
This from my Arizona Republic real estate column (permanent link):
If you live in New York or Boston or Chicago, there will come a day in the Spring when the cold will seem to be in full retreat. The sun will be shining. The icicles on the trees will be melting, and the tickle of the cold drops of water on your hair and neck will make you want to throw your arms out wide and rejoice in your release from the awful prison of Winter.
That happens in Phoenix, too, but it happens six months earlier, on September 15th. Mid-March has its own charms, when the citrus trees open their blossoms and the air is thick with the nectar of heaven perfected. But it’s when the Summer breaks in Phoenix that people come outdoors, knowing that the next ten months will be simply perfect.
Consider: On August 15th, the late-afternoon temperature could be 115 blistering degrees. The sun will be relentless, seeming to hang for hours above the horizon, seeming never to set. The relative humidity will be 40% or more — which doesn’t sound too bad until you remember the temperature. Late in the day, huge storms could come thundering into the Valley of the Sun, flooding the low-lands and even tearing the roofs off of older houses.
That season — we call it “the Monsoon” — lasts from July 15th to September 15th. But when September 15th rolls around… paradise ensues. Daytime high temperatures drop to below 100 and the relative humidity tops off at below 10% — so dry you can smell the dry leaves and pine needles baking in the sunlight.
That might still sound too hot to you, but it’s not. It’s just perfect, an ideal time to be outdoors — all day and all night. There is simply no place like Phoenix, no place on Earth. We suffer, slightly, during the Monsoon, but we are repaid with ten months of the kind of weather that other cities are lucky to see for ten days in any given year.
And Winter — which you are just now beginning to dread — is our most perfect season of them all…1 comment
Why does BloodhoundRealty.com not require registration to use our MLS search? It’s a matter of morality — but the moral is the practical
The issue of whether or not to require registration to gain access to MLS search came up at BloodhoundBlog.com, our national real estate industry weblog. This is a topic about which reasonable people can differ, but we have very strong moral reasons for making MLS search freely available. But, as always, the moral is the practical: Behaving the way we do tends to attract precisely the kinds of clients we want to do business with — and for whom we can achieve the best results. The world runs by itself.
This is my take on the issue, quoted from the comments at BloodhoundBlog:
We don’t ask visitors to register for IDX search. We are having our second best year ever, and we should finish the year — having started with five months of near-drought — in the top 1% of income-earners — “the rich.” I have zero data to support my position, because I haven’t collected any, but I believe that much of our recent success owes to the FlexMLS IDX system and our deployment of it. But, even so, we have never insisted upon registration and we never will, for the simple reason that I am not going to treat guests in my home as prey, not now, not ever. Your mileage may vary, and I don’t care, but everything in our lives is philosophy first, and we do not change the way we behave until we have become convinced that our past position was morally wrong. That will not happen in this circumstance.
I would have to go and do the math on self-selected Flex registrants (we register a lot of people who come to us by other means on the site — emails, form responses or phone calls, etc.), but my guess is that we’re skinning cats with one out of three, perhaps more than that. The people we work with tend to repeat, to refer or to become full-blown sneezers, so we know that our overall approach to the people we work with is effective. In any case, I have zero desire to have 24 phone conversations to unearth the one motivated buyer or seller in a double-dozen “leads.” I expect I could do better making random phone calls or handing out business cards at the Circle-K.
I spoke about this at the first BloodhoundBlog Unchained. Everything we do for marketing is devised to get our ideal clients to firmly self-select for us before they ever do anything to make contact. I had a relo form like that today. The form came in at 6:18 am — the prospect is in the midwest. I had a walk-through with an investor, so I didn’t call him until noon. He had found us and stopped shopping. He hadn’t talked to anyone else in the six hours I left available to him. And he thanked me several times, first, for not insisting upon registration, and, second, for not dumbing the IDX system down. In fact, we configured our installation of MLS search to be much more robust than ordinary real estate sites, but we love it — and our clients love it — because we can make it so much more rigorous than ordinary IDX sites.
We target-market for high-Ds and high-Cs — thoughtful, prosperous people who don’t intend to be jerked around. Not jerking them around seems to be a very effective marketing strategy. When we finally add a high-C of our own to our team, we can start to make a stats-based argument. But it won’t make any difference to me. We do business the way we do because we believe it is the right way to do business — in every detail. We have never betrayed our principles for money, and we never will.
When you search the Phoenix-area MLS system on our site, you are using exactly the same tools we are using, from exactly the same database. We give you the most robust search we can, because if a central vacuum system or a heated pool matter to you, then they matter.
But if you want to search the MLS here and then work with another Realtor, feel free. We know we deliver better value to our clients, but we also know that that value proposition only appeals to people who are actively seeking better value. If any old Realtor will do, in your view, then we’re probably not the Realtors for you. The world runs by itself.
But if you have not yet played with our MLS search, dig in. In forthcoming posts, I’ll talk about how to use the logic of the system to pull out some amazing results. But the FlexMLS software is amazing right out of the box. If you take the time to play with it, you’ll never search anywhere else — no matter who your Realtor is.
And if you should start to wonder why other Realtors provide a clunky, dumbed-down MLS search — and have the nerve to ask you to register for the privilege of slogging through it — give us a call. We do everything better, not just MLS search.No comments