Monday, February 21, 2011

Get that Spring To Do List Ready!

Really, can it be that spring is almost here? Yes indeed, won't be long and the birds will be chirping, the Canadian geese will be making their way back and the trees and bushes will end their season of hibernation and begin to bud. I don't know about you but I am done with Winter bring on the warmer weather already !

Recently I spoke about what the spring market means to buyers and sellers but today I'm going to share tips on what to do with your home to prepare for Spring. These tips are just a handful of some popular to do's that I've compiled that are sure to help you start the season off right.

There are both indoor and outdoor checklists but we'll start with OUTDOOR:

  • Take a walk around the home and look for any damage specifically to the roof. Are there any missing shingles or damage done from snow or ice that may have built up on the gutters?

  • Clean the gutters from all debris

  • Now is the perfect time to trim back trees or bushes as they are easiest to manage without leaves. Be sure to trim anything that is directly in contact with the home or roof to provide for a gap to protect your home and siding.

  • Pressure wash your deck if you've got one. Once the weather improves you'll want to put a sealer on it to protect against water and sun damage.

  • Wash Windows

  • Caulk Windows and seal any areas that could use it

  • Be sure to check your garden hoses for cracks and turn on the exterior water valves that you may have shut off prior to winter

  • Clean the grill

  • Rake the yard and clean up any leaves from the fall/winter season in the yard

That is a great start to your Spring Cleaning List! Once you've managed that part of the list, its time to focus on the INTERIOR:

  • Wash interior windows in addition to the exterior

  • Replace and check furnace filter

  • Caulk the windows inside your home as well to repair any damage that may have been done by ice and snow during a brutal winter. This will help maintain your heat/cool of the home and also prevent mold or other damage

  • Deep Clean the carpets

  • Clean and store your humidifiers that you would have made use of for fall/winter

  • Dust your home and be sure to pay special attention to the fans in your home. Clean them well so they are good to use once warmer weather arrives and you'll need the circulation they offer for the home.

  • Test your A/C. When its 105 this summer and you turn it on for the 1st time, that is not the time to find out it needs service. However, it is best to wait until the temperature is 65 to do this.

  • Test all your smoke and fire alarms in the house to ensure they are working

  • Did you use the fireplace quite often this winter? Now may be a great time to get this cleaned

I hope the tips I've provided can start you off on the right path to great home maintenance for the year and a wonderful spring!

As always, if you know anyone that may benefit from my blog please forward my articles on to them and be sure to follow future blogs :-) Thank you, Ben.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Real Estate Sales Rise in 49 States in 4th Quarter 2010

Real estate sales rise in 49 states in Q4NAR: home prices roughly flat year-over-year in Q4

By Inman NewsInman News™
February 10, 2011

Sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums in the fourth quarter of 2010 rose from the third quarter in all but one state, though only one state saw an annual rise compared to fourth-quarter 2009, according to a National Association of REALTORS® report released today.
Existing-home sales in the U.S. rose 15.4 percent in the fourth quarter from the third quarter, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.8 million. That's a 19.5 percent drop from fourth-quarter 2009, when the rate was 5.97 million -- a homebuyer tax credit-fueled rate NAR called "unsustainable." In 2010 overall, sales fell 4.8 percent, to an estimated 4.91 million, from 5.16 million in 2009.

The national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter of 2010 was essentially flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2009: $170,600.

Median prices in the fourth quarter of 2010 rose in 78 of 152 metropolitan areas across the country compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.

10 metro areas to see highest quarter-over-quarter median price jumps:
Metropolitan Area Q4 2009 median price Q4 2010 median price % change
Elmira, N.Y. $86,800 $101,100 16.5%
Pittsfield, Mass. $173,100 $200,500 15.8%
Binghamton, N.Y. $117,900 $136,300 15.6%
Burlington-South Burlington, Vt. $236,600 $270,600 14.4%
Bloomington-Normal, Ill. $146,700 $167,700 14.3%
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. $110,700 $126,500 14.3%
Erie, Pa. $97,700 $110,300 12.9%
Peoria, Ill. $111,900 $126,100 12.7%
Indianapolis, Ind. $111,500 $124,300 11.5%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. $188,400 $210,100 11.5%
Source: NAR

Median price rose the most quarter-over-quarter in the Northeast, up 2.3 percent to $240,400. Prices in the Midwest and South remained essentially flat at $139,200 and $152,400, respectively. The West was the only region to see a median price drop, -2.9 percent to $214,400.

When comparing 2009's median price to 2010's median price, metro areas in California stand out for their rate of appreciation:
Metro Area 2009 median price 2010 median price % change
Akron, Ohio $93,200 $108,900 16.8%
Elmira, N.Y. $87,300 $101,000 15.7%
San Fran Nor. Cali $493,310 $567,900 15.1%
San Jose-Sunnyvale $530,000 $602,000 13.6%
Riverside-San Bernardino $169,680 $187,000 10.2%
Erie, Pa. $97,900 $107,700 10.0%
Burlington-Vt. $241,800 $261,200 8.0%
Bridgeport-Conn. $379,200 $408,600 7.8%
Boston-Cambridge-N.H. $332,600 $357,300 7.4%
San Diego-Carlsbad-Calif. $359,500 $385,700 7.3%
Source: NAR

Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said in a statement that he was encouraged by the quarterly rise in sales. "Home sales ... are helping to absorb the inventory, including many distressed properties. Even with foreclosures continuing to enter the inventory pipeline, they've been selling well and housing supplies have trended down," Yun stated. "A recovery to normalcy requires steady trimming of the inventories."

Yun projected about 150,000 to 200,000 jobs will be added to the economy this year from an expected 300,000 additional home sales in 2011, the report said.
"An improving housing market and job growth will go hand in hand. The housing recovery will mean faster job growth," Yun added.

Virginia was the only state to see a quarterly drop in sales, down 5.4 percent, and sales in Washington, D.C., remained unchanged from the third quarter.

Compared to fourth-quarter 2009, however, only Idaho saw a yearly rise in sales: up 7.3 percent. Some foreclosure-ridden states -- Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California -- saw the smallest drops in sales during that time.

Distressed sales made up 34 percent of all sales in the fourth quarter, up only slightly from 32 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

10 states to see largest gains or smallest drops in sales from fourth quarter 2009 to fourth quarter 2010 (sales rates are seasonally adjusted, in thousands):
State Q4 2009 sales rate Q4 2010 sales rate % change
Idaho 49.2 52.8 7.3%
Florida 435.2 416.8 -4.2%
Arizona 158.4 150.4 -5.1%
Wyoming 9.6 8.8 -8.3%
Nevada 120 108 -10%
Mississippi 47.6 42.8 -10.1%
California 526.4 464.8 -11.7%
Hawaii 25.2 22 -12.7%
Colorado 108.4 90.8 -16.2%
Vermont 14.8 12.4 -16.2%
Source: NAR

Idaho also saw the biggest jump in sales from the third quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2010:
State Q3 2010 sales rate Q4 2010 sales rate % change
Idaho 26 52.8 103.1%
Vermont 8 12.4 55%
Minnesota 60.8 81.2 33.6%
Iowa 41.2 52.8 28.2%
North Dakota 9.2 11.6 26.1%
Oregon 44.4 56 26.1%
Utah 22 27.6 25.5%
Nevada 87.2 108 23.9%
Alaska 16.8 20.8 23.8%
Missouri 74.4 92 23.7%
Source: NAR

Idaho was at the top of a list of only seven states, and Washington, D.C., to see sales rise from 2009 to 2010:
State 2009 sales rate 2010 sales rate % change
Idaho 33.8 38.9 15.1%
Hawaii 18.4 21 14.1%
Florida 357.8 396.5 10.8%
Washington, D.C. 8.4 8.8 4.8%
Maryland 72.5 74.4 2.6%
Washington 82.3 83.7 1.7%
Mississippi 41.9 42.1 0.5%
Oregon 55 55.1 0.2%
Alaska 22.4 22.4 0%
Vermont 11.3 11.3 0%
Source: NAR

Several Midwestern states saw the biggest drops in sales from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010.

10 states to see biggest drops in quarter-over-quarter sales:
State Q4 2009 sales rate Q4 2010 sales rate % change
South Dakota 20.8 12.8 -38.5%
Minnesota 126 81.2 -35.6%
Pennsylvania 41 50.8 -33.4%
Kentucky 87.6 60 -31.5%
Nebraska 41.6 28.8 -30.8%
Indiana 124 88.4 -28.7%
Delaware 14 10 -28.6%
Oklahoma 89.66 4.4 -28.1%
North Dakota 16 11.6 -27.5%
Rhode Island 17.6 12.8 -27.3%
Source: NAR

The Midwest experienced the biggest estimated overall drop in sales in 2010 compared to 2009: 7.5 percent, to a rate of 1.08 million. The Northeast saw a drop of 4.8 percent, to 817,000. The West saw a decline of 4.7 percent, to 1.15 million. The South saw the smallest decrease, down 2.8 percent, to 1.86 million.

10 states to see biggest decreases in sales from 2009 to 2010:
State 2009 sales rate 2010 sales rate % change
South Dakota 17.4 14.2 -18.4%
Minnesota 107.4 89.7 -16.5%
Delaware 12.6 10.9 -13.5%
Oklahoma 83.5 72.3 -13.4%
Rhode Island 15.4 13.6 -11.7%
Missouri 105.9 94.6 -10.7%
Michigan 167.1 149.6 -10.5%
Pennsylvania 176.5 160.3 -9.2%
Utah 31.1 28.5 -8.4%
Kansas 56.5 51.8 -8.3%
Source: NAR

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Springtime is Around the Corner....Buying? Selling?

Is it possible that after the worst snow storm in over a decade that we can really be talking or even thinking about Spring? Is is possible that in only a matter of a few short weeks that Mother Nature will shine down on us and bless us with warmer weather and melting snow?

I for one am ready for Spring and can only hope that we've seen our last of "major" snow falls for the year and I'm hopeful that warm weather and all the optimism of spring is around the corner. The realist in me however realizes that its very likely we may have a couple months before this happens.

So When is Spring?

We all have our own opinion on this but is it March, is is April or May? From a real estate broker's prospective the spring market is March. Its the month that we have glimpses of warm weather, then the next day may revert to cold and snow. The days lengthen however and there just seems to be a better all around mood amongst people as we are seeing that we are truly in the fourth quarter of a long winter.

What does this mean for Sellers?

Springtime historically is a time that many home sellers that are currently on the market may see a bump in activity and its a time when home sellers that had prepared over the winter time are set to put their home up for sale.

Putting a home up for sale in the dead of winter often has many obstacles to it compared with waiting until Spring.

  1. Your competing with Holidays - Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years....Buyers have too much on their plate to find time often to go home shopping.

  2. Snow & Bath Weather - Lets face it, when its Minus 5 degrees there aren't many places most people would rather be when they aren't at work than wrapped up in a blanket at home.

  3. Spring is Nearing - many buyers expect a larger number of homes to be available come spring so many decide to make plans for a more thorough and expansive home search once winter nears an end.

What Does Spring Mean for Buyers?

Spring is such a great time of year for so many reasons but for those looking to buy a home its now the time that you generally are seeing many options hit the market. Didn't find what you were looking for the previous few months? Now may be the time that the perfect home hits the market!

The downside for buyers if any with a spring market is that sellers do often have optimism at the highest and may put their home on the market a tad high. I've seen this more often than not but on the flip side, for those that may have missed the buyers they were hoping for during winter they may be getting more aggressive and will lower their prices as competition heats up.

No matter how you slice it, the upcoming Spring Season is always an exciting one for the Real Estate Market.

If your considering selling your home, now is the time to get it prepared. Meet with a professional realtor like myself and get advice on final "to do's" and set a goal for the completion of your projects.

If your hoping to buy a home, now is the time to meet with your banker or a mortgage broker. If you need someone, I have a few that I highly recommend that can be of assistance. Getting pre-approved to purchase a home is easy and painless. If your not quite ready to buy, it still may be a good idea to meet with a lender and discuss options and determine if your credit is where it needs to be in order to purchase a home in the future. If its not, they can often help advise you on what steps to take in order to clean up your credit.

I hope you found today's blog helpful! If you or anyone you know may benefit from my blog please feel free to forward this to them. Additionally, I'm available for any advice specific to your needs so please don't hesitate to contact me direct if you'd like.

Thanks for reading my blog and happy house-hunting/selling! Ben

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lots to Love about Investing in Storage Units

I've been a huge fan of and hopefully one day investor into storage facilities for many years now. I've always felt the allure of the business as one of the most recession proof and sounds investments that could be made.

Think about it....The population continues to increase, land does not, and people love to buy things! Many now more than ever are also down-sizing or may have lost their homes and are in need of storage space for their belongings. When the market is booming, the need is also very real as each city finds a storage facility a necessity for its growing population.

Maybe your a fan of the new hit series TV Show Storage Wars... As the rave about storage units grows for the avid buyer of units that are repossessed or for the investor looking for a sound place to put their money, the business is hot.

Here are some big companies that have put their money in a big way into this business as of recent. Recent news reports show that a number of companies have been buying up self storage facilities as fast as they can. An Austin firm has pledged to spend close to a $150 million in the next year.

Another spent $53.9 million in the last quarter for a total of just under $90 million on the year. Another announced that it spent $126 million in self storage facility acquisitions for 2010. However, those numbers pale in comparison to what another company has recently announced they plan to do.

Axxcess Capital Ventures LLC and former Universal Self Storage Acquisitions president Troy Downing have teamed up with plans to spend $1 billion to acquire as many self storage units as they can in 2011. That’s right-- $1 billion.

“We believe this is an excellent time in the real estate cycle to acquire self-storage properties...a return to positive growth fueled by a slowly improving economy and Americans shifting to smaller, more affordable housing and needing more rentable storage space for their possessions...Entrepreneurs launching small businesses and online marketers needing to warehouse inventory are added demand factors,” Downey says.

I'm sold....I think that for years to come the rental price per square foot and combination of market trends and growth opportunities makes this one of the best investment opportunties there is.