May 22, 2018

5 Tips for Making an Offer in a Hot Real Estate Market

Steady demand. Limited supply. That's what we are seeing in real estate markets across the country right now and this holds true in our area as well. Inventory is particularly tight within the lower price ranges. "The starter house is nearly missing in some markets," according to Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research and communication for the National Association of Realtors.

Of course, conditions can vary from one city to the next. But the overall trend in housing markets across the country is that supply is still falling short of demand.

Given these conditions, it's important for home buyers to make a strong, smart offer when the right house comes along. Here are five tips for doing exactly that.

1. Understand the supply and demand situation in your area.

According to housing experts, a so-called "balanced" real estate market has five to six months of supply. This means, in theory, that it would take five or six months to sell off all homes currently listed for sale, if no new properties came onto the market.

Many real estate markets across the country have less than a three-month supply right now. And some cities have less than a two-month supply.

The first step to making a strong offer is to understand the supply-and-demand situation in your area. We are still seeing sellers' market conditions in many cities, as of spring 2018. And this could persist for some time.

2. Study recent sales prices in your area.

This is something a real estate agent can help you with, but you can do some of it for yourself. The idea here is to get a good understanding of recent sales prices in the area where you want to buy.

This will help you in a couple of ways. It will save you time during the house-hunging process, by eliminating the need for repetitive research and pricing "sanity checks." It will also help you make a strong, realistic offer backed by recent sales trends. And speaking of offers...

3. Make a strong and timely offer, backed by comparable sales.

In a slow housing market, where sellers are ready to jump on the first offer that comes along, home buyers have the luxury of taking their time. A buyer might start off with an initial offer below the asking price, just to open negotiations. The seller would probably come back with a counteroffer, or accept the first offer.

But it doesn't work that way in a more competitive real estate market with limited inventory. In a tight market, buyers are better off making their first offer as competitive as possible. Otherwise, the house could go to a competing buyer.

4. Consider writing a love letter to the seller.

A house love letter, that is! Recent studies have shown that buyers in competitive real estate markets can improve their chance for success by writing a heartfelt letter to the seller. Sure, real estate is a business transaction. But there's a personal side to it as well. Writing a personal letter to tell the sellers what you love about their home might just tip the scales in your favor.

5. Get an agent on your side. 

It's always a good idea to have help from a local real estate agent. It's even more important in a tight market with limited inventory. An agent can help you move quickly, putting together a strong offer that's supported by recent sales data.

Posted in Buying
May 21, 2018

How Do I Know the Market Value of a Home?

 

 


How Do I Know the Market Value of a Home?

Home prices in the U.S. have risen more or less steadily over the last few years. In many cities, home values are now at their highest point in history -- even higher than the last housing boom. 

But what determines the "market value" of a home? How do sellers determine their list prices, and how can buyers evaluate a listing based on current market conditions. Here's a crash course in determining market value, for sellers and buyers alike.

The Definition of 'Market Value'

Let's start off with a quick definition. In a real estate context, the "market value" is the most likely price a home will sell for within a reasonable amount of time. It is based on local housing market conditions and recent sales activity. 

You'll notice this definition does not mention the original price paid by the homeowner. Unless they bought the home a month ago, the
original purchase price is likely irrelevant to the current market. Likewise, the market value of a home has nothing to do with the homeowner's current mortgage balance. Some sellers list their homes for the amount needed to pay off their mortgage loans. But that doesn't always line up with the current market value of the property.

How to Determine Market Value

So, with that introduction out of the way, let's get to the heart of the matter. How do you know the market value of a home you're thinking about buying? Or the value of your own property, when listing it for sale?

The first thing you'd want to do is track home sales in the area. The longer you do this, the better. It gives you a good base of knowledge with regard to asking prices versus selling prices (hint: it's the latter of these two that determines market value).

Next, you'll want to review sales data on homes that are similar to the one you're considering. This is what real estate agents refer to as comparable sales, or comps. The more alike the two properties are, the more accurate the pricing comparison. 

Try to find as many comparable home sales as possible. This will help you support your offer amount, by showing the seller you're using actual market data from recent sales in the area. Remember, home prices can change over time. So recent comps will give you a better idea of what's happening now, in the current real estate market.

When you determine the market value of a home, you also need to take any unique features into account. For example, let's say I've found sales data for two colonial-style homes that are 2,000 square feet. The home I'm considering is also a colonial with 2,000 square feet. But it has a completely renovated kitchen, a pool, and sits on a more spacious corner lot with a great view. The other houses lack these qualities. So the house I'm considering will likely sell for more than the two comps, despite the fact that the homes are similar in size and style.

Here's a good "formula" to keep in mind when considering the market value of a home in a particular area:

Comparable sale prices + unique features = a good asking price

An Easier Way: Work With a Real Estate Agent

This is just a basic overview of market value within the context of real estate sales. There's more work involved to properly evaluate the value of a particular property, especially when the market is changing constantly. And that's where real estate agents come into the picture.

Real estate agents undergo extensive training in this area. Much of their education has to do with real estate market cycles, home prices and values, and related topics. So whether you're buying or selling a home, you could save yourself a lot of time and energy by having an agent on your side!  

Posted in Selling
Jan. 21, 2018

Market Trends January 2018

We are in a unique market.  Depending on the price point and area, you could be in a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market.   A buyers’ market is where the supply of homes is over 6 months. In a sellers’ market there is 4 months and under and a normal market is 5-6 months. 

As of December 2017, in the Greenville market, homes priced up to $300,000 is a sellers’ market.  $300,000-$450,000 is a normal market and over $450,000 is a buyers’ market.  In the Spartanburg market, under $200,000 is a sellers’ market, $200,000 to $300,000 a normal market and over $300,000 a buyers’ market.  However, there is a normal supply of homes in the $400,000 to $450,000 range. 

Greenville MLS

Spartanburg MLS

 

Looking forward into 2018, sales are expected to be strong due to the pent-up demand.  Builders are putting up homes as fast as they can to meet this demand.  If you are thinking of selling, now has never been a better time.  Sellers under $300,000 in the Greenville MLS and under $200,000 are getting top dollar due to the low inventory.  Depending the amount of new construction coming into the market and the price point of that new construction will be a factor into how long this trend holds true.  Buyers who want to buy a home in this market need to have all their I’s dotted and T’s crossed.  Basically, be a squeaky-clean buyer making a healthy offer to beat out the other buyers they will be competing against.

Jan. 21, 2018

MY LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ZILLOW.

 A few years ago, Zillow came onto the real estate scene and has given the old tried and true Realtor.com a run for its money.  Since that time, I have learned I have a love/hate relationship with Zillow.

The hate:  Buyers and Sellers LOVE “the Zestimate”.  The real first time I experienced “the Zestimate” was when meeting a homeowner, I am told Zillow said his home was worth $500,000!  Pretty good I am thinking.  Until I realize his property is an early 1900’s home that has been added onto several times, hasn’t been updated in 40 years and is a bit moldy.  To its credit, it did have a lot of square footage, a nice lot and a lot of potential.  After talking the seller down from $500,000 and marketing the property, it eventually sold for $80,000. 

The Zestimate runs off algorithms that use the surrounding area to calculate a property’s value but doesn’t account for the condition of the surrounding area or the subject property that is getting valued.  Buyers and Sellers need to be aware that the Zestimate is NOT the fair market value.  The fair market value is what a buyer is willing to pay, and a seller is willing to take. 

The love:  Buyers love Zillow and come there in droves.  They love the easy searchability, they love the pre-foreclosures, and they love “the Zestimate”.  This love buyers have for Zillow leads to lots of clients and customers for our team.

The hate:  Pre-foreclosures.  In my opinion, this is going to get someone killed.  Recently, a lady called the office extremely upset.  Since my name and number shows up as a premier agent on Zillow she thought I had something to do with her home being labeled a “pre-foreclosure”.  A buyer who had seen this “pre-foreclosure” on Zillow rode by her house, knocked on her door and told her she wanted to see this home in foreclosure.  The lady was cussed and threatened by this homeowner to get off her property immediately.  The owner then calls and lets me know how closely this buyer came to getting shot.  Not good. 

The love:  The folks who work at Zillow are very nice and any time we, as real estate agents, need to make a change to a homeowners property listing they are always very accommodating.

The truth:  Zillow is a great tool for buyers and sellers.  However, Zillow is not up to date.  It takes time for information we, as Realtors, put into the local MLS to filter down to Realtor.com (who gets along with the MLS) and then to Zillow (who is a Realtor.com competitor).  This leads to other buyers, who are working closely with a Realtor, getting the jump on properties as they come to the market.  We get calls every day on homes that a buyer has seen on Zillow that are already under contract.   Buyers also need to be educated that “pre-foreclosure” only means a homeowner has missed a mortgage payment or two.  These properties are a LONG WAY from being on the market and some never make it to the MLS as the homeowner has gotten caught up on their payments.

 

What do you think?  Love Zillow or hate Zillow?

Posted in Buying, Home Tips, Selling
Oct. 20, 2016

Greer Community Ministries

What is Greer Community Ministries? GCM is a faith based organization with the philosophy that, "no elderly, home bound or disadvantaged person in the Greater Greer area will go hungry."

How did it get started? In 1972 a Greer minister, Rev. Johnny Stack, and a committee of local citizens founded GCM with the purpose of beginning a Meals on Wheels program. The following year, 25 senior adults began receiving weekly Meals on Wheels. The Senior Dining, Food Pantry, and Sharon's Closet programs were added between 1973 and 1984.

According to the 2012 US Census, 227,642 South Carolina senior adults are isolated and living alone while 182,244 are threatened by hunger.

26,000 people live in the Greer area and 10.9% of our population is 65 or over while 21.86% percent of our families are below poverty levels. Many times individuals and their families must decide between buying food or paying for other necessities, such as housing, utilities, or medical care. For these reasons, GCM was created!

LeAnne the Broker here at the Expert Real Estate Team visited Greer Community Ministries to see what services they provided in our area. She said "you should go check it out, it was a real eye opener." Each weekday they have a senior dining program, where they provide Meals on Wheels for over 300 homebound, they have a food pantry and a clothing closet for those in need as well.

How can you help?

All of it is paid through grants, fundraising and DONATIONS!!!

There is a real need for coats, shoes, boys clothes and non-perishable foods. Our team is going through our closets and pulling out anything we don't wear and we are asking you to do the same. Our team will make sure that Greer Community Ministries receives any donations or items you drop off at our office (3165 N. Highway 14, Greer 29651). If you have any questions please feel free to call (864) 558-9054 or email assistant@carswellgroup.net.

Check out their website at www.GCMINC.org. Thank you for your generosity ahead of time!

Posted in Upstate Living
Feb. 18, 2016

City Spotlight - Simpsonville

City Spotlight

Simpsonville

History

Originally developed as a stagecoach stop in the 1820's, Simpsonville was once called "Plain". While the town struggled some during the Civil War, by 1885 a new rail line was set and the Woodside Cotton Mill helped solidify Simpsonville's status as one of Greenville counties most successful cities. Farmers Bank, now an insurance office, was actually one of the few Greenville County banks that did not collapse during the Great Depression. The strong history of Simpsonville has even been noticed on a national level, as several of its most prominent locations, including the Burdette Building and Simpsonville Baptist Church, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

What It's Known For

Simpsonville is home to Heritage Park and the Charter Spectrum Amphitheater. While it was once the location of Freedom Weekend Aloft, it is now a prime space for events, concerts, sporting events, etc. Heritage Park even has a working replica miniature steam train! This outdoor epicenter has put Simpsonville on the map as one of Greenville Counties big hitters.

What Can You Do There

Not only are there plenty of outdoor activities among Simpsonville's many parks, but there is also a number of educational activities. The city has the Simpsonville Arts Foundation, which supports and promotes all genres of art in the Simpsonville area, and the historical walking tour, which guides history buffs through the early years of the town, discussing the buildings that helped shape the city to what it is now.

Why It's a Great Place to Live

Over the past few years, Simpsonville has really become a sought after location. In 2010, it was named "One of the Ten Best Towns for Families" by Family Circle Magazine, in 2011 it was named "One of the 25 Best Affordable Cities" by Money Magazine, and just in the last year, Simpsonville has seen an increase in job growth by 1.9% over the rest of the country. What does that mean exactly? It means that no matter what stage you are in, whether you're just starting out, settling into family life, or about to retire, Simpsonville is a great place to live during al of life's stages. 

 

Posted in Upstate Living
Feb. 9, 2016

Questions From the Kid

This week we had a local high school student job shadow in our office. Obviously she's never bought or sold a home before, so she had some questions. As a guest blogger, here is her take on the Real Estate world and some burning questions she needed to answer.

 

 

As a local high school student, I clearly didn't know much about the real estate world or buying and selling houses. I had expected this to be an easy job, searching for homes online to try and sell or getting phone calls and trying to find a buyer. I had some questions I was dying to find the answer to! Here are some of my questions I had and the answers I found.

 

What does it mean when an offer is contingent?

When an offer on a home is contingent, this means that an offer has been made and the owner has accepted it, but it's not necessarily a done deal. Contingencies are usually put into place for a buyer to be able to back out of a sale if anything goes wrong. Some of the most common contingencies fall under 3 major categories: appraisal, home inspection, and mortgage approval. A home inspection is when the buyer has the right to have the home professionally inspected. An appraisal contingency means that a third party is hired by the lender to evaluate the fair-market value of the home. If the appraisal value is lower than the sale price, then the appraisal contingency lets the buyer back out of the deal. A mortgage contingency protects the buyer and seller from getting into a sale without a proper loan. The buyer would then have a specified amount of time to get a loan that will cover the mortgage, If the buyer cannot get a lender to commit to a loan, then the buyer has the right to walk away from the sale without a down payment.

 

What is a foreclosure?

A foreclosure is the process of a homeowner's rights to a property that are being postponed due to failure of paying their mortgage. If the homeowner cannot pay the debt, fees, or sell the house then the house will then be put into a foreclosure auction.

 

If you or someone you know have any real estate questions, don't hesitate to call our office! 864-895-9791 We'd LOVE to help you!

Posted in Office Life
Feb. 4, 2016

To Stage or Not to Stage: The Million Dollar Question

 

To Stage or Not To Stage: The Million Dollar Question

If you've ever done anything with real estate, chances are you've heard the term "staging". If you haven't, here are the bullet points: staging means you are positioning/decorating/creating things to make a home look more appealing. The home doesn't necessarily need to look "lived in", but buyers like the idea of just having to bring a suitcase for their move-in-ready home. Let's go over the pros and cons of staging.

Pros

Staging really helps buyers understand the uses for the entire floor plan. That spare bedroom that has slowly become your catch-all room may be realistic, but buyers don't want realistic, they want perfection, they want fantasy! They want to think that they too will live in a neat as a pin home where everything is organized and in perfect order. Another, somewhat backwards, advantage is a properly staged home will make it seem as large and spacious as possible. This may seem strange, but in vacant homes, it's hard to envision how much space you'll actually have. A staged bedroom or living room can help buyers to see the possibilities they might have. As the saying goes, "you only have one shot at a first impression". A vacant home may not be as memorable as the staged home with the gorgeous mahogany table or amazing curb appeal.

Cons

Some buyers prefer to see vacant homes because it helps them better visualize putting their personality in it. Living in a staged home can also be hard on families with pets or small children. Having that extra pressure to have your home be perfect at a minutes' notice is quite stressful. One of the biggest cons of staging is the cost. Depending on if you hire a professional stager or do a few small renovations (or touch ups) then stage it yourself, it can quickly add up to a significant amount of money. In some instances, it may be worth the cost, but a lot of time it is not. 

Example

Here we have an example of a home vacant and staged..

 

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Living Room

 

Dining Room

 

Bedroom

Particularly in the bedroom, the vacant space just doesn't look as large, but it was a blank slate, so it was easy to imagine my own touch on things. The staged areas also make it appear well-cared for, comfortable, and homey.

What do you think? Would you prefer to see a staged home or a vacant home?? Tell us what you think!

Posted in Buying
Jan. 18, 2016

City Spotlight - Travelers Rest

City Spotlight

Travelers Rest

History

Travelers Rest (or TR) has a unique beginning in that the city became populated by pure convenience. In the 1800's, travelers would stop and stay in the TR area for a few days or even a few months during the winter since mountain weather can be so unpredictable. Some of the travelers were "drovers", which were livestock hoarders. Drovers would herd different types of livestock from the north towards the lower part of the state. Inn owners who provided livestock pens became quite popular as drovers used TR as their resting place. With so many travelers, the need arose for basic businesses to call TR home. Between 1808 and 1883, TR had its own post office, churches and schools, including what is now known as Travelers Rest High School. Railway construction began in 1888 on the "Swamp Rabbit", which is the nickname of the train that traveled from North Greenville to River Falls. After not one, but two city incorporations, TR quickly began to grow. The early 1900's brought major industries and the reputation as one of the Upstate's heavy hitters.

What It's Known For

Travelers Rest has always been known as the go-between of Greenville and Spartanburg, but it is growing so rapidly, it has become a hot spot all its own! It even made it on the "15 of America's Coolest Small Towns" list in 2014 from the Huffington Post.

What Can You Do There?

It may appear to be a sleepy little town, but looks can be deceiving. Travelers Rest is a short drive from numerous state parks, including Jones Gap and Caesars Head, and other historical attractions, like Poinsett Bridge and Swamp Rabbit Trail. Downtown TR boasts numerous restaurants and shops (even a distillery!) With three large universities just minutes away, you'll likely find a sporting event or cultural attraction to attend.

Why It's a Great Place to Live

Travelers Rest has all the convenience of a large city while still having the feel of a peaceful little town. Not only is it continuing to grow in the Upstate, but it's starting to get national attention. There are a number of committees dedicated to the preservation of the city's history, so you know it's a city full of people who love where they live and are committed to keeping it an amazing place for generations to come.

Posted in Upstate Living
Jan. 8, 2016

Real Estate Myths and Misconceptions

Real Estate can be a tricky business. It's sort of like parenting: everyone has an opinion on the "right" way of doing things and if you don't follow all of the "rules", you're wrong. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions in real estate and a few about the agents themselves.

 

For Sellers

Bold colors can affect a sale

If you've ever sold a home, I'm sure you've been given the advice that you should paint the home in neutral colors before listing. It's true that bold colors can sometimes scare a buyer, but with the current DIY-craze, most buyers are able to look past the color and appreciate the bones of a home.

That renovation will Always pay off

You've just spent beaucoup bucks on that amazing master suite or kitchen remodel so you'll definitely get your money back, right? WRONG! Certain renovations, like a new roof or HVAC system, will probably help sell your home faster and large remodels, like kitchens and bathrooms, will give you some bang for your buck, but don't expect to get a 100% return. Don't do the large stuff just because you want to sell. In some cases, adding a bathroom or fixing a kitchen will increase your homes value, but that's not always the case. While it's smart to keep the idea of resell in the back of your mind, if you plan on living there for awhile, any remodels should be done for your benefit, not someone else's.

Spring is the best time to list

It's true that in spring the amount of buyers increases, but whether that's because of inventory increasing or the idea of spring puts change and "new-ness" into everyone's mind, who knows? Years ago, spring was a great time to buy because that allowed families to get settled before the new school year. Now, with so many buyers not worried about a school calendar, it's all up for grabs. An active and interested buyer will buy a home whether it's May or December.

For Buyers

You MUST have 20% for a down payment

Before the housing crisis and market crash, it was the norm to require a 20% down payment for a home. In a time where student loans didn't exceed a house payment and mortgage companies were more selective with their approvals, 20% was a minimum. Fast forward to the post bail-out economy, 20% is a maximum. For millennials in particular, it's almost impossible to save that much of anything considering how enormous student loan debt has gotten. Depending on the type of loan, the average down payment is around 10%.

An agent has to show you a home 

An agent's time is their money. When you call on a home you saw online or driving down the road, the agent who gets your call is likely juggling ten other people who are calling them as well, not to mention showings, closings, continuing education classes, and much much more. There is just not enough time for them to work with their serious buyers as well as every nosy neighbor who just wants to see their competition. If you're a serious buyer, many agents require a signed contract stating that the agent has your best interest in mind and you will remain committed to working with that agent (at least for a specified amount of time). If you are already committed to an agent, chances are another agent won't be able to show you anything.

For Buyers & Sellers

Not using a Realtor with save/make me more $$$

Yes, by using a Realtor there are more built-in commissions, fees, etc., so it may seem like a no brainer to go it alone since there is so much information online, but that couldn't be further from the truth. By NOT using a Realtor, you forfeit the benefit of having access to agent-only websites, using someone else's knowledge to get the best deal, knowing that someone has your best interest in mind and will work with you and not against you. The few dollars difference in not using a Realtor doesn't even come close to the expertise you will see by using one.

Agents

All agents are money hungry and only want to benefit themselves

Every profession has a small population of people working only for themselves and Real Estate is no different. However, the majority of agents are doing this job because they genuinely want to help others. They're not going to try and push the price up because they get more commission. The agent that represents you will work hard to negotiate the price you deserve. A good agent won't try and hide the ugly details. Disclosure is one of the biggest things about our job and it helps everyone involved to have the most information possible. That being said...

Agents must disclose everything!

Yes, all agents must disclose all material facts, however, it is considered discrimination for an agent to disclose any information that could at all be related to a specific class/race/ethnicity. It may seem crazy, but disclosing the crime rate or ethnic mix of an area goes against the Fair Housing laws.

Anyone can be an agent

While it is true that real estate is one of the easier fields to get in to, not everyone is successful. Just like any other profession, it takes dedication and education to be a great Realtor. Continued education, up-to-date information, and a love of the job are just a few of the things necessary for a successful Realtor. Word of mouth is our biggest ally, but one mistake can do a lot of harm. More than anything, our client's happiness can make or break our career.

Posted in Buying, Selling