Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Buyer Incentives Are Pointless

But perhaps one of the most ridiculous incentives I've seen recently is a $1,000 buyer's agent bonus for this home listed at $800, $1,000 extra bucks. Great idea Ms. Listing Agent.

P.S. You're an idiot.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best Use Of For Sale Sign. Ever.

This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite real estate pictures. According to my friend Sean, who sent me this picture via Facebook, this picture was taken in the Park Cities this week. So, is the house for sale or the car? I'm confused.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Proof That Pictures Can Make All The Difference

I recently listed this property at 1600 Abrams Rd. in Dallas. The "Before" pictures were taken by the Realtor that previously listed the property. The "After" photos were taken by yours truly. As you can see, great photos can turn a property from "blah" to "Wow!". Some agents simply don't take the time to snap good photos. Something I've never really understood.

It's also important to note that this home was vacant so I had the property staged. Staging is an absolute MUST in today's real estate market. However, I'm not so sure about staging a property with pets....but furniture is a definite must have. Props to Kira Sauer of Bliss by Kira for doing a great job staging this wonderful home!

Bad Real Estate Photos: Not Just For "Cheap Homes"

Lately I've been working with a large number of buyers. This translates into hours upon hours of looking through hundreds of homes - and their photos. Now, we all know there are tons of bad real estate photos out there. But what I don't understand is why sellers put up with them? Surely the owners of these homes realize the photos their agent took are terrible. One would also think bad photos simply won't be acceptable for high-end homes, right? (See the two listings below for the answer.)

I spend several hours taking professional photos of every single one of my listings, regardless of the list price. I even have special computer software that I use to process the photos and touch them up as needed. I do this because I understand the power photos have when attracting potential buyers. Yet for some reason there are still agents out there - and their sellers - who don't seem to get this. Here are some examples. Enjoy!

Loving the Casa Magnetica angle.

Kitchen is "light and bright."

More beautiful side yard. Comes complete with water hose.

We're uncertain what this photo is supposed to show us.

BAD REAL ESTATE PHOTOS BONUS: 4223 Bordeaux - $7,450,000

You would think a $7,450,000 home would have a little more, I don't know, pizazz! in the photos. Someone PLEASE help me understand how this is acceptable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sales Statistics For January thru May: A year-over-year comparison

I wanted to see how the YTD (Jan. - May) sales numbers for 2011 compared with last year's sales numbers. And since we all know there was that little "Buyer's Tax Credit" thing that falsely inflated our sales numbers for 2010, I went back to 2009, as well. So take a look and let me know what you think.

The first thing that sticks out to me is the 9% drop in the number of sales for Area 12 from '09 to '11, yet during the same time Area 12 has seen roughly a 25% increase in average sales price. This is intriguingly coincided with an almost 20% increase in DOM. I'm at a loss as to how to explain this. So perhaps some of you stats geeks out there can help out.

Area 12 (East Dallas/Lakewood/White Rock Lake)

Year # Sales Sales $ $/sf DOM
'09 707 $221,465 $118 98
'10 751 $229,455 $124 93
'11 648 $276,756 $134 117


Area 11 sales have increased over 50% during this same time period in 2009, yet from '09 to '10 the sales prices dropped 14%, only to increase slightly in 2011. Maybe this means North Dallas and Preston Hollow hit the bottom? If so, aren't you mad you missed out on some great deals?

Area 11 (North Dallas/Preston Hollow)

Year # Sales Sales $ $/sf DOM
'09 152 $842,824 $217 137
'10 217 $728,165 $187 162
'11 232 $761,022 $192 146


Sales in the Park Cities have increased a stunning 80% since '09, with a modest 8% increase in average sales price. This seems like a solid upward trend. This seems much easier to interpret than the other two areas.

Area 25 (Park Cities)

Year # Sales Sales $ $/sf DOM
'09 161 $1.049M $292 136
'10 275 $1.072M $298 143
'11 291 $1.133M $309 127

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let's Take A Look At The Tribute Lakeside Golf and Resort in The Colony, TX, shall we?

I recently received an email about The Tribute Lakeside Golf and Resort Community (you can read the press release below) and thought I'd look into it. You know, since real estate is kinda my thing. It's located in The Colony, which is considered far far far away from us lazy Dallasites, and is located on 1,150-acres on Lake Lewisville. That's quite the spread. According to the website, there are two premier 18-hole golf courses, parks, pools, gardens and playgrounds. Apparently there are also plans to build an elementary school in the future.

The developer is Matthews Southwest which is responsible for turning the historic 1913 Sears and Roebuck building into the very successful and very hip Southside on Lamar; a thriving residential, arts and entertainment area. Matthews Southwest is also the developer for the highly anticipated and Omni operated Dallas Convention Center Hotel. You certainly can't argue with their resume. Plus, they're based here in Dallas, and we like that.

There looks to be seven home builders building homes in the Tribute from the $240's all the way to over $1M. That's quite ambitious given the location, however, the Lake Lewisville location will certainly attract a lot of interest simply due to the lack of waterfront property in North Texas. Sure, there is Highland Village and Little Elm, but they don't have The Colony's decent toll road and 121 access - and IKEA and Stonebriar Mall are nearby, as well.

I'll be keeping an eye on The Tribute to see how it fairs over the coming years. On the surface, it reminds me a lot of the much larger, 2,500-acre Castle Hills community and the much smaller and Croatian inspired, 45-acre Adriatica in McKinney. Both of these communities were developed with a particular theme in mind; unlike the somewhat generic Stonebridge Ranch community in McKinney. The Tribute is clearly going for the Old World theme. Now the question is, will people buy into it?

Golf Course Real Estate still has a Pulse in the Heart of Texas

For many, it’s the American Dream: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of… Golf Course Living. In 2011, the first Baby Boomers turn 65 and the demand for golf course real estate in Sunbelt states will likely skyrocket as Boomers look for homes in a climate conducive to their hobby.

But those who have long dreamed of living adjacent to fairways and greens could be disappointed. Development of a golf course community is exceedingly rare in this slumping economy. After almost two decades during which new golf course communities spread like wildfire across the Sunbelt, both the real estate and golf industries have suffered major setbacks.

In 2010, builders started on 15,000 homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies, Inc. That’s down nearly 70% from the 51,000 housing starts in 2006.

New golf course construction has also taken a major hit. The overbuilding of courses in the 90’s and early 00’s oversaturated the market. When the recession descended upon the industry, many courses were forced to close, some in the middle of construction.

With every rule, however, there is an exception. In 2010, only one course opened in The Metroplex. What vaults this course from exception to veritable anomaly is it is part of a residential community.

The Old American Golf Club, located in The Colony’s The Tribute Resort Community, opened its doors to public play in September 2010. In addition to fairways, greens, bunkers and water hazards, The Old American features brand new residential lots alongside select sections of the course and dozens more just off it. In the desert that is the current landscape of new golf course development, The Tribute is an oasis, affording golfers the opportunity to live alongside the game they love.

The Old American and The Tribute were brought to life by Matthews Southwest, a DFW-based developer that has transformed The Metroplex’s real estate market through urban redevelopment and suburban lifestyle development. In The Tribute, Matthews Southwest saw the opportunity to deliver a suburban community where people could enjoy their hobbies right outside their front door. The community’s location on the shores of Lewisville Lake, combined with The Old American and The Tribute Golf Club (opened in 2005), has provided residents with access to golf, boating and fishing.

Even in the down economy, builders and homeowners have pounced on the opportunity The Tribute presents. Matthews Southwest reported a more than 100 percent year-over-year increase in residential lot sales at The Tribute in 2010. The community’s 1,150 acres showcase many of North Texas’ most prominent and distinguished builders, offering home designs that emphasize the Old World-themed atmosphere of The Tribute and begin in the 240’s.

As Baby Boomers and golf enthusiasts search for a place to live in harmony with the game they love, they may be hard up as developers and builders continue to tighten purse strings. However, The Tribute serves as proof that golf course real estate still has a pulse in the Heart of Texas.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: What Are Your Options?

Let me give you a very common real estate scenario, one I have encountered more frequently in the past several years.

Mr. Seller paid $350,000 for his home in 2006. He now wants to sell his home because he [got relocated/got married/wife had their 4th child]. As a real estate agent, I now have the awkward responsibility of telling him his home is currently worth $315,000 in today's real estate market. He then tells me he owes $340,000 on his mortgage and that he doesn't have the cash to bring to closing and asks me what his options are.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, you're not alone. So, here are your options:

1. Bring enough money to closing to cover your remaining mortgage, plus closing costs. For example, you owe $340,000 on your mortgage but you can only sell your home for $310,000. You are responsible for the $30,000 difference, plus closing costs.

2. If #1 isn't an option, then you need to consider staying in your home until you are in a position to sell your home without bringing money to closing. Or, if you have to move you can choose to rent out your home until you're in a better financial position.

3. If neither of the above options sound good to you - you don't have much cash but you HAVE to sell your home and don't want to rent it out - then you need to consider a short sale. Meaning, you need to negotiate with your mortgage company and ask them to cover any shortage in paying off your mortgage after your home sells. Basically, this is like option #1, except you're asking the bank to cover the $30,000 shortage, plus your closing costs. This will negatively affect your credit, and most short sales are huge headaches and can take many months to close, but you will be able to move on to the next chapter in your life without taking a huge financial loss.

4. Just walk away. Many homeowners have chosen to simply walk away from their home and let go into foreclosure. This will negatively affect your credit more so than a short sale, but you won't have to deal with the headache of a short sale, or the ensuing months of paying a mortgage on a home you can no longer afford - or no longer want. This option is very attractive to the rich. e.g. 'Why keep paying on a home that is depleting my bank account and has lost over 50% of it's value since I bought it? Let the bank deal with that headache!' Having enough cash to get them through the next 7 years while their credit score recovers is also helpful.

Our real estate market will continue to force many people to choose between the scenarios I have outlined above. And every one's situation is going to be different. You need to decide what works best given your current financial situation. Talking openly and honestly with your real estate agent is the best advice I can give you. I make decisions based on the information my clients give me. If you tell me you're not in a hurry to sell and you're financially comfortable, then my advice will be much different than if you told me you needed to sell in the next 45 days or you will no longer be able to pay your mortgage, car payment, etc. Unfortunately, people tend to tell me the former, when the truth looks more like the latter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mortgage Interest Rates Will Increase on 1/12/2011

I just received the following email from a lender I work with very closely. This is yet another "Big Bank" move that penalizes many people, even if they have great credit. (And we all know how I feel about banks) While I don't particularly think this will have a huge negative impact on our real estate market, I certainly don't think it is going to help matters as we delve into 2011. So, if you've been shopping for a loan, and don't plan on putting down at least 25%, I highly recommend you call your lender immediately and lock-in your rate!

I wanted to send an urgent email advising that rates are essentially going up for all conventional loan clients tomorrow and this is not the result of daily market action. All lenders, including me, will be subject to the new rate structure on conventional loans.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will institute new “risk based pricing” adjustments to rates essentially for all buyers who don’t put at least 25% down regardless of how high their credit scores are. (You read correctly.) The mortgage giants, which account for 75% of the mortgages in the United States, have leveled these “risk based pricing” adjustments in the guise of charging a premium to those that didn’t take care of their credit and “rewarding” those that did. The issue is they seem largely punitive in nature, even for A+ credit individuals. Additionally, anyone with less than a 740 credit score can expect to see the rate rise exponentially the closer the score is to 620. For example, a buyer with a 699 credit score would see a rate that is around .5% higher EVEN WITH 20% down!

The bottom line is the overwhelming majority of conventional home loan applicants will see their rates go up effective tomorrow, Wednesday, 1/12/11. Since rates are still at historic lows, the true effects of this won’t be as drastic. As the rates start to rise due to market forces, this could become a significant impediment to home purchases whereby otherwise qualified and ready homeowners are forced to rent. While no one will disagree that sensible lending practices from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must be utilized, there may come a time where we make our voices heard about the potential negative effects on our nations recovery as a result of this action.