The real reason why sales are down

I’m seeing a lot of news articles with accurate data.  My issue is that I think most are drawing the wrong conclusions.

Most seem to want to make you think the sky is falling in real estate because sales are down.

You know who needs to care about the number of sales?  Appraisers, realtors, mortgage people.  Those of us who make money on each transaction.

As a buyer and/or seller, the number of sales isn’t really important to you.  What you care about is supply and demand-the ratio of buyers to sellers in the market.  If there are 3 buyers in the market and only 2 listings, then we have a seller’s market.

I am seeing a lot of articles stating that sales were down in November of 2018 versus November of 2017.  Of course they were.  It happens every election year.  The market pauses until we see which set of morons we will be stuck with.

The ones that really bug me are the ones that say the affordability crisis will hold the market back.  I think they have it backwards.

Sure, we have an affordability issue.  Many people can’t afford to buy a house with rising prices and interest rates.  All I know is that every house under $200k in this town seems to go very quickly, which allows that seller to buy up to their next house and that seller to buy up to their next house and so on.

Back when the market was terrible, I said that it was like a baseball game where the bases are loaded.  The seller on first base needed a buyer without a contingency to buy their house so they could buy the 2nd base seller’s house, who could buy the 3rd base seller’s house.  The first time buyer needed to hit a home run and push all those sales through.

Back then a buyer had a ton of choices for their next home.  The issue was selling their old one.

Today, no buyer really has a huge selection of houses.

For that reason, I think our current market is the opposite.  There are a ton of first time buyers eager to hit a home run and push all those deals through, but what is happening is that the person on 3rd base doesn’t like home plate and has decided to just stand there until they feel like running.

The buyers with the most selection are the people buying their pinnacle home.  The one they stay in forever until they begin to downsize.  These are mostly Gen Xers.  They are in their 3rd base home, which is probably a fairly large home in the $250-350k range.  They want to move up to the $400-600k range, where there are plenty of houses for sale.

Their only problem is that most are just tarted up versions of their current house.  These buyers aren’t getting a better house, a bigger house, or a bigger yard.  They are just getting prettier finishes.  They find the houses in this price range, well, boring.  And we have a TON of them for sale.

So what do these Gen X buyers do?  They wait for the right house to hit the market.  Since they already have a nice house, they are in no hurry.  Because they aren’t in a hurry, that means the people looking to buy their house are in the same position….all the way down to that first time buyer eager to bid their heart out on their first home.

And, that is where we are today.  Sellers wanting to sell but not finding anything they want to buy.

What makes a location good?

Ever wonder what all goes into making a good location?

It’s usually a combination of many things.  The more of these you have, the more appealing it is:

  1.  Proximity to amenities like shopping/entertainment/dining.
  2.  Easy access to work (Think New Circle, Interstate, airport, etc.)
  3.   Good school district.  Even for people who don’t have kids in school, this is important because realtors have convinced everybody it is good for “Resale Value.”
  4.  An absence of major negative things like road noise, smoke stacks, crime, or something smelly like a landfill.

Very few neighborhoods have all of these.  The ones that do have always sold quickly and for top dollar.  They appreciate the fastest in a hot market and depreciate the least in a bad market.

Want to know a few like this?

  1.  Chilesburg-It’s got the top rated schools in the area, two of which are within walking distance.  You can get to two interstate exits easily.  If you want to go to Hamburg, its an easy drive down Todds Road.  If you don’t want Hamburg, go out the Richmond Road side.
  2. Willow Bend-This area has really shot up in value this year.  It’s got some of the best schools on the south end of town, is close to Fayette Mall, Brannon Crossing and The Summit.  Shillito Park is close and it is right off of Man O War.
  3. Beaumont Enclave-This neighborhood has always been popular, mainly because it is the cheapest way to get into the Rosa Parks Elementary/Beaumont Middle/Dumbar High district.  It is a $200-300k neighborhood surrounded by $500k and up houses.  That helps too.  Besides one of the most desirable school districts in town, you have everything Beaumont has too offer, plus a city park and a library.  It is right between New Circle and Man O War, making it easy to get in or out.  It is also a short drive to the airport for traveling executives.

I normally encourage my buyers to pick a neighborhood with as many of these location features as possible since we don’t know what the market will be like when they need to sell.  The first rule in real estate is ALWAYS have an exit plan.

Why buy a house when you can rent?

Now that the market is becoming balanced, I am seeing a lot of articles predicting doom and gloom for real estate.  I get it, nobody wants to read an article that says “The real estate market is about to become boring because it will neither be a seller’s market nor a buyer’s market”.  They’ve got to go to an extreme to get and keep your attention.  I am seeing lots of articles telling people that their home is not an investment.  I’ve even seen some articles suggesting people continue to rent and get into the stock market instead of buying a home.

Which might be good advice if you were going to live in your car, or with your parents the rest of your life.  Sure, you might come out ahead over the long haul, but the reality is you will have to pay to live somewhere, may as well pay to live in your own house.

Why did I want to buy my first house as soon as I could save the down payment?

I used to mow lawns for a lot of elderly people.  I would always enjoy them telling me what they paid for their houses 30-40 years ago and what their mortgage payment was.  I had one little old lady who told me her mortgage was $163 a month and some months it was hard to pay it.

When it was new, her house might have rented for about the same amount.  Do you think rent prices have gone up since the mid 1960s?  Meanwhile, that little old lady paid $163 a month until the house was paid off. (Okay, I am sure her property taxes and insurance went up, but not by that much.)  And when she made her last $163 payment, do you know what she did the next month?  Nothing.  There were no more payments to make (Okay again, she would still have taxes and insurance to pay but both of those expenses would be FAR less than what the house would rent for at that time.)

Let’s take a look at what happens when this little old lady moves out of her house.  She pays a real estate commission and gets to keep the rest because there is no mortgage.

What if she had rented a house that whole time and moved?  She would have paid off the house for the landlord and had nothing to show for it.

I think owning your home is the best decision you can make.

Best time to sell is not when you think

I get asked all the time “When is the best time to sell a house?”

I usually tell people as soon as they are ready.  In Lexington, it slows down a little after school begins, then slows down a little more until we get past New Year’s Day, then slowly picks up steam until we hit spring….and we all know how it is in the spring and summer.

A graph of Lexington sales is more like the gentle rolling hills of the Bluegrass than the shape of Mount Everest.

The bottom line and main thing to remember is that even in a bad market or bad time of year, a good house will always sell quickly.  If there was only one buyer in the market ready to pull the trigger and there were two houses, the nicest one is always going to sell first and for top dollar.

What about the average, below average or house that needs a specific buyer?

Now is the best time to sell those.

This is the time of year when a lot of people whose houses have not sold take them off the market until the spring.

THAT IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST MISTAKE YOU CAN MAKE!!

If your house sat on the market all year and did not sell, taking it off the market and putting it back on in the spring will get you the same results.  The reason is the house is always a buyer’s second or third choice.  As long as there are better listings, you will always be the bridesmaid and never the bride.  What you need to do is wait for a time when there are fewer competing listings, even if it also means there are fewer buyers.  You only need one buyer to want your house.  Why do you care if there are fewer buyers out shopping?  Having fewer listings is much more important.

 

 

How you made 2018 my best year ever

100%.

That’s the amount of my 2018 clients who have used me before, were referred to me from a past client, or are people I already knew.

Ever since I started this back in 2005, it has been my goal to get to where I am right now.

Was 2018 the year I made the most money?  No, it is looking like it might be my second best year.  Definitely the third best if not.  Was 2018 the year I sold the most houses?  Nope.  That would have been 2014.

How much money you make and how many houses you sell is usually the criteria used by real estate agents to gauge their own success.

Back to the 100%.

That is a huge deal in real estate.  It makes me really proud to know that many people came back to me when it was time to buy and/or sell, or trusted their friends and family to me.  See, doing what I do is a lifestyle and not really a job.   I want to wake up everyday and just feel like I am helping people I care about.  Life is better that way.

What I don’t want to do is spend my day trying to find work-meaning chasing random leads, or trying to market myself.  When I started this in 2005, I was told there was no way I could ever get to where I am now.  I was told real estate is a numbers game.  You just keep going through people until you find one that wants to buy or sell.   You send out postcards to random people and other tasks that promote yourself.  I responded by saying two things:  1)  I didn’t get into this to lick stamps.  2)  If I have to remind people that have used me that I am a realtor, I don’t deserve to be remembered when they need me again.

So, I want to thank everybody who has used me more than once, who have referred their friends and family to me, and those of my friends who used me despite knowing how silly I am outside of real estate.

And thank you all for allowing me to fulfill my dream and prove that it can be done my way.

100%.  That is how sure I am that 2018 has been my favorite year (so far!)