What have I been doing since the market slowed down?

I was expecting to not be at all busy this fall and winter with the slowdown, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have been referred to me lately.

Being a realtor is always interesting.You never know if you’ll be working two months from now. You just hope that the work keeps coming. Fortunately, it has been steady for me for nearly 18 years.

One recent day, I didn’t really have much going on and out of the blue, a past client calls to say a co-worker of his is moving and wants to talk to me about selling his house. So we do a group call and later that afternoon, I’m meeting the seller and we are making plans to list his house. I have really enjoyed working with this seller and his family. They have never sold a house before. They took all of my suggestions on what to do to prepare the house for the market. They seemed like a fun family so I asked if I could put on my Santa Suit and do some pictures with me in the house for the listing. They thought that was awesome. The husband said he was told by his co-worker that I would be fun to work with. We priced it right and it was in a very popular neighborhood, so it sold quickly.

I had the chance to work with a past client whom I have always enjoyed. He was ready to sell a duplex I had sold him several years ago. It didn’t take long to sell and he was happy with the process and results. It was great getting to see him and his wife in person again. We used to randomly cross each others paths when I would see them bicycling in Hamburg or at Good Foods Co-op.

I am getting ready to list another duplex. This one is owned by the mother of an old friend. I’ve mostly been dealing with my friend’s sister since the sister has a POA for the mom. The sister is a lot of fun. Really nice too. And it’s been great to see and chat with my friend.

I’ve got an old family friend whose house I have listed. She renovated the entire place. This has been in the works for most of the year but we just recently put it on the market. It’s been a blast to see her this much.

A couple of weeks ago I get a call from somebody who said they were given my name by somebody they knew. Turns out it was a client that has used me 3 times that lives on the same street. This seller had talked to a few other realtors and picked me. Truth be told, I don’t give that strong of a first impression so I usually don’t “Win” in these types of situations. Usually there is some flashy agent with a bunch of graphs and brochures that gets the listing. The seller is a super cool lady that has been so pleasant to work with. It is always nice to start off with a bit of trust having gotten the endorsement of the person referring them to me.

And just this weekend, I get a text to show one of my listings. It is a young man and his wife who were referred to me from a friend that lives across the street from my old house. He had told me he was referring this couple to me quite a while ago. I assumed they had found another realtor and had already bought a house but they just decided it was time to get serious. It’s pretty cool working with them. The husband was a couple of years ahead of my oldest son in school. The last time I had seen this young man was probably when he was in high school. I love working with first time buyers!

And just now, while I am writing this blog post, a friend who has used me several times texted saying an employee of her’s is wanting to see a listing. I’m not sure yet where that will go, but wow, what an honor to have all these people promoting me among their friends and family.

So to answer the question in the title, I guess I’ve been a little busy with work!

Thankful that these embarrassing moments don’t happen more often!

I normally do a lighthearted post around Thanksgiving since I know few are thinking about real estate during the holidays.

This time I thought I might share some of my most embarrassing moments.

There have been the countless times I have been out with clients and not realized until I got home that my zipper was down. It has happened so many times that I can’t recall any one specifically.

Probably the funniest time was when I was having an incredibly busy day showing multiple houses to multiple clients. I had arrived about 5 minutes early to a house. Just as I got there, my client texted saying they were running a little late. I was so excited because I had drank many many many cups of coffee that day. I let myself into the house maybe 2 minutes before the scheduled showing time officially began. While I am in one of the upstairs bathrooms, I hear a voice asking if anybody is in the house. I state that I am the realtor here to show the house. The voice was the seller, who hadn’t left yet, in the bathroom on the other side of the wall from the one I was in. The seller and I never talked face to face. He must not have drank as much coffee as I did that day because when I exited, he was gone.

Then there was the time I had another crazy day of showing houses. This one began really early one morning. It was still dark outside. I kept my sandals in the foyer closet. I stuck my left foot in the closet and pulled it out with a left sandal on. Then I stuck my right foot in the closet and pulled it out with a right sandal on. What I had forgotten is that I had two identical pairs of sandals. The only difference was one was leather and the other was suede. I did not realize until I got out of the car that I was wearing one of each of those sandals.

Speaking of shoes, for a while there I had a really nice pair of sandals that would occasionally, if I stepped a certain way, make a noise like somebody was passing gas. Every time that happened, I would subtly try to get the shoe to do it again so people wouldn’t think I had just passed gas, but of course the shoe never cooperated. I then looked like somebody who had just passed gas and was walking funny. After a few times of this embarrassment, they became my lawn mowing sandals.

More than a few occasions I have been worried about running late and passed my client at a rapid pace on the way to a house. I usually say something like “See how motivated I am to find you the perfect place?”

And I won’t even go into all the times my phone’s autocorrect totally changed what I had typed.

One time, I was showing a vacant rural property that had a giant outbuilding. I was there with a husband and wife. I opened the door to this building and the wife walked in right behind me. All of the sudden, we both felt all these insects literally all over us. I am highly allergic to bees, which is what I assumed they were. I turned around to run out of the building and she was in the doorway so I grabbed her like I was saving her life and then both of us jumped off the top step into the yard with our arms wrapped around each other. Turns out they were just flies. When we went back inside, there were probably a thousand flies swarming around.

I guess if these things are the most embarrassing moments of my nearly 18 year career, it hasn’t been too bad.

I hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving!!

What happens when first time buyers can’t afford to buy?

I had lunch with a good friend who is also a realtor earlier this week. He started a discussion about statistics for our local area. That got me doing some digging on my own.

I saw something interesting. Sort of scary really.

Now, I am comparing October of 2021 to October of 2022 here. October of 2021 was a crazy time when about every house was selling immediately and often for well over the list price.

Want to guess which price range is seeing the biggest decline in both closed and pending sales since rates rapidly went up? The sub $200k price point. Want to know which price range saw the least decline? Over $500k.

Pretty much all the stats show the first time homebuyer price range hit the hardest. You would think during a period of high interest rates, the more expensive houses would struggle to sell, wouldn’t you? From what I have read about the last time we dealt with inflation in the early 1980s, it was very hard to sell an expensive house back then. That’s why you don’t see many big, nice houses that were built during that time but you see tons of smaller starter homes.

We need these first time buyers. They are the ones that push the rest of the market since they have nothing to sell before they can buy. Think of it like a baseball game where the bases are loaded. The person on 1st base can’t move to 2nd base until the batter swings and hits the ball. The person on 3rd and 4th base are also stuck there until that batter hits the ball. The first time homebuyer is who we rely on to hit a home run since every other buyer is also a seller who has to breakup with their old house in order to move to their next one.

Historically, it has always been easier to sell a more affordable home than to sell a more expensive one. Statistically, it is easier to sell a more expensive house today than a more affordable one.

The #1 thing to do when picking a house

Don’t settle. There, I said it.

As the market becomes somewhat more balanced, buyers now have choices. A year ago, the choice was to buy any house available or not buy a house at all. Buyers said things like “I don’t really love it but I don’t want to loose it. How much over asking price should we go to get it?” Today’s buyer has the choice between several houses in their price range.

There was a lot of settling going on during the past year or two. I get it. You wanted to move and on Friday there were 15 new listings to be greeted by 75 buyers who were just like you.

During this time, I would always tell my clients what I thought of each house. Most of the time I would say something like “In a softer market, this house will be hard to sell. I would wait for a better one if I were you.” Most of them did.

Here are some big things to not settle on when picking a house:

  1. The location. As more houses come on the market, the houses in the preferred neighborhoods will not only sell faster, they will always hold their value better. It’s worth waiting for a preferred neighborhood, part of town, school district, etc because one day YOU will be the seller and you want to make that as profitable and easy on yourself as you can.
  2. The lot. It is easier to sell a terrible house on an amazing lot than it is to sell an amazing house on a terrible lot…..in a balanced market. In a true Buyer’s Market this is even a bigger deal. That amazing house on a terrible lot will one day be outdated and be a subpar house on a subpar lot. A good lot never goes out of style and never needs updating.
  3. Floor plan. If there is something odd about a house, chances are any buyer is going to notice it too. Don’t buy the “If Only” house. That is what I call a house where you really like it but there are one or more major flaws and you walk out the door saying “If only that 3rd bedroom was larger” or “If only that kitchen wasn’t so tiny.”

Why 6-7% interest rates won’t crash our market

If you’re like me, all you are reading in the news is how the skyrocketing interest rates are affecting the real estate market. Headlines say stuff like how the rate has nearly doubled, how sales have decreased, some even are saying the market is going to crash.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Youtubers and journalists need something exciting to get your attention. If you saw a headline or video that pretty much said everything is going to be okay, would you be interested?

I think part of this drama is also that you have people whose data is correct but how they use it is wrong, or their data doesn’t give much of a historic comparison.

Affordability seems to be the main topic today. These people are talking about how much more a mortgage payment would be today compared to the all time low we saw last year……DUH! Short term thinking I say.

Here is why I don’t think a 6 or even 7% interest rate is going to do much more than curb unsustainable appreciation and slow down people moving just because they feel like moving. To begin with, people will always have changing needs for housing. Families will grow, there will be divorces, marriages, job transfers, job losses and all the other lifestlye/life cycle changes.

But here are the main reasons I am not worried: The Debt-to-Income ratio and longer term history.

Let me take you back to the early 2000s. The real estate market was crazy. Houses were selling fast in multiple offers. Prices were going up like crazy. Know what the interest rate was back then? Barely under 6%. And back in the late 90s when the market was also booming, it was about 7.5%.

A house in the Bluegrass that was worth about $250k back in 2004ish would be worth about $425k today. The principal and interest portion of your loan at 6% on a conventional loan with 5% down would have been $1423 back then and $2420 today. Yeah, that sounds like a lot more. It is, but let’s keep going here.

So the real difference between then and now with property taxes and insurance included would be about $1200 a month. To qualify for the mortgage on that $250k house back then would require an annual income of about $73k. Today that house would be worth about $425k and would need about $126k in income. The median household income has gone up 80% over that time according to the census. The value of that same house has not gone up quite as much.

So there you have it. I think if the market has historically been very good in the past during times when rates were higher than they are today, and since household income has pretty much grown congruent to home values in the Bluegrass, we will weather this period very well.

Then why is the market so slow right now? Simple. People are in shock and upset that rates went up so fast. Once they realize they can’t go back in time, they will move forward with their plans. I predict that (short of a major economic crisis that pulls down EVERYTHING) buyers will be out in force next spring. Prices will remain stable. It will be a good market. It won’t be a market that you’ll read headlines about because remember, you only see real estate in the headlines when things are exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.