Do Open Houses Work?

After over thirty years of doing business in the local Real Estate market, my answer is No. Why is that? There are a number of reasons. First, homebuyers buying habits have changed. The internet basically allows potential buyers to shop from the connivence of their home. After searching online they can not only visually see both the entire interior and exterior, they can also search through sites like google earth and even examine the immediate area of the homes. If they prefer, they could actually do a drive- by since the addresses are also visible. Next, smart homebuyers have already hired their own agents, so if they are interested they can see any house on their own schedule. What I have found is that most often it’s curious neighbors who want to see how the open house compares to their home. Unfortunately, I have found that frustrated sellers will pressure their agents to hold open houses to try to increase the exposure to their homes, when in reality revisiting their position in the market place is most often far more effective in getting the house sold.

AirBnB: Good or Bad For A Community?

Today more then ever before, people are concerned about the impact that AirBnB is having on the community and the housing market. As in all matters, there are two sides to this controversy. For folks who own homes that they don’t always use, or who may have additional living space, being able to rent it for them is income they may not have an opportunity to earn elsewhere. The challenge for the community at large is, as this happens with more frequency, there becomes a shortage of long term rentals for folks who are not in a position to buy their first home. At this point, the laws of supply & demand come into play, by driving up the cost of yearly rentals as they become more scarce. On the other side and on a positive note, AirBnB bringing new people to a community generally results in being an advantage to the rest of the community as these folks need to spend money while visiting and discovering the area, thus helping local business owners. They may also consider moving in permanently. Perhaps the solution resides in a compromise on both sides. By allowing homeowners the opportunity to rent with some restrictions in place, perhaps we can come together to enjoy the over all benefits.

Choosing The Wrong Realtor Can Be Costly

For most of us, deciding to buy or sell Real Estate is generally one of the most important financial decisions we will make in our lives. Even knowing the stakes, often times people will pick a friend or an acquaintance to take on this huge responsibility. To begin, you should interview at least three local agents who have been successful in your local market. I would recommend someone who is in the business full time and has a track record of representing buyers and sellers in the community where you live or where you want to live. They should also provide a list of recent clients that you can call for a reference. If your selling, you should get to see a written Comparable Market Analyses (CMA), as well last their marketing plan for your home. If your a buyer, you should ask to speak to the last three clients they represented as a buyers agent. You need a Real Estate Expert, not just a Real Estate agent.

Home Ownership

One of the many dreams and aspirations for most Americans is to one day own their own home. Unfortunately, this dream may never become a reality for some. The basic reason is what we call the affordability factor. Most college grads today are immediately saddled with the huge financial burden of tuition loans. Next, the automobile industry has made it easy for young people to lease a car rather than buying one which adds just another financial obligation. Even after securing a good job, the ability to take on more debt with a mortgage leaves them very frustrated. To compound this, the local rental market for housing is very scarce and expensive. Like anything else in life, the better prepared you are the more likely you will achieve your goals. Start with a forced savings plan. No matter how much you earn, a small portion of it should automatically be going for savings. Next, talk to an experienced financial advisor or mortgage broker who will be able to predetermine what you will need to do to get prequalified. You now have the foundation for creating a plan on how and when you can take that next step. If you know an experienced local Real Estate agent, tell them your plans and share your dreams. That’s what they do everyday. Not only will a home likely be the largest purchase of your life, it will be where you will spend most of your time. It will be your place of refuge from a world of work and stress. It may be a place where you will start and raise a family.

After Your Search

Today, more then ever before, smart home buyers start their search on the internet. Most search engines provide complete listing data, including the address, taxes, assessments, lots of photos and in some cases even videos and aerial drone images. Once you have identified some potential properties you would like to see, the next step is very important. Often even savvy consumers don’t realize that some agents are paying for leads on sites like Trulia and Zillow and may not actually be the listing agent of the property you are interested in.  At this point in your search you need to find your own Real Estate Buyer’s agent. This agent should be experienced in the area you are interested in. It’s a good idea to, at a minimum, have a telephone interview making certain you are comfortable with that agent. Questions like, how many years in the business? How knowledgable are they of the neighborhoods and local market conditions? Are they familiar with the type properties you have interest in? What comparable properties have sold in the area? Once you have selected an agent to work on your behalf, they will be able to preview new properties as they come on the market, saving you lots of wasted time. There is no better way to buy a home than having an experienced buyers agent working for you.

Real Estate Or Second Home?

Is this the best time to invest in a second home? Many people think so, why is that? Many stock market investors have enjoyed a surge in the value of their portfolios over the last few years. Should these trends continue? No one knows for sure. The Stock Market is definitely more volatile and is bringing in higher returns than investing in real estate, but buying a second home might stand as one of the smartest moves you can make in your life. Taking some of your profits off the table and investing in a vacation home not only can be smart, it can also bring a whole new quality of life to you and your family. Over time, the likelihood that it will also increase in value is historically accurate. Between 1991 and 2016, stock prices have definitely outperformed housing prices, growing at a far higher rate than real estate price and sales, which is the reason that many believe that the stock market is more likely to suffer a possible set back in the not so distance future. Now may be the time to hedge your bet.

Spring 2019

What will our local market look like this spring?  The spring housing market will typically see a sharp increase in our housing inventories. However, due to an increase in our median price point, less buyers are going to being able to enter the market. I believe it will be slower than many expect. The continued threat of rising interest rates will also adversely impact our market. New construction or housing starts in our area continue to be slow, due to the higher cost of materials and high costs associated with site preparation and infrastructure. Looking forward, I see a modest real estate market in the days ahead with increased inventories on the higher end of our market, where the reality of the new tax laws limitations have become an issue. These high end home owners are seeing their tax deductions reduced to just 10,000. If your starting your search for a home this spring, get an early start in order to not be competing with other buyers, often being forced into a bidding war which results in paying more then necessary.

What Real Estate Buyers Need To Know

What Real Estate Buyers Need To Know


The internet has done so much to help consumers shop for a home. Gone are the days when buyers had to read ads in the paper and then call an agent to get the facts on a particular property. Today’s savvy buyers simply go online and often search websites like Trulia, Realtor.com, or Zillow to begin their search. There they can find just about all the information they will need to narrow their search. However, they might not realize that often the realtors that show up on these searches are paying to appear on these sites and may not be familiar with these properties. Sometimes buyers want to only deal with the agent who listed the property, this could prove costly since it is the duty of the listing agent to represent the seller, and therefore try to get the best price for their clients. My best advice, hire your own buyers agent to represent you. They know the market and can prove to be invaluable in helping you secure you home.

Smart Move

There is quite a bit of evidence that some housing markets are cooling off. This may be true as we enter 2019. One segment of the market that continues to grow however is the investment real estate market. There was nearly a 35% increase in Columbia County of the number of multi-family properties that sold in 2018 as compared to the previous year. Why is that? First, there was a dramatic drop in available rental inventory, thus driving up the prices of existing rentals. Savvy buyers recognize that owning investment real estate properties helps increase wealth and helps to prepare individuals for financial security in later years. Owning Investment properties is not for everyone. A good start is to speak to folks who are currently landlords. Then connect with an experienced agent or broker who knows the market your interested in exploring. It can be both lucrative and rewarding. Certainly well worth exploring.

Shifting Market

Recently there have been signs indicating that the Real Estate Market is beginning to shift in the direction of buyers. There are a number of factors that may be contributing to this. First, mortgage interest rates have begun to rise and this is always a cause for concern as it keeps some potential buyers on the sidelines. Median prices here in Columbia County have begun to drop from $275,000 a year ago, to $245,000 currently. Residential inventory has also seen an increase, partly because the new tax laws now limit the deduction for state and local taxes to just $10,000 which encourages more sellers to put their houses on the market. For buyers who may be waiting until spring to start shopping, maybe you should take advantage of this time of year when there is less competition and sellers tend to be more motivated.