Existing Home Sales
Sales of existing homes hit an 18-month high, with transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, advancing 6.1 percent to an annual rate of 5.19 million in March, according to last week’s report form the National Association of Realtors. Compared annually, March’s sales were 10.4 percent above a year ago, which marked the largest annual increase since August 2013’s 10.7 percent increase.
“The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun explained.
The median price for existing homes of all types in March hit $212,100, which marked a 7.8 percent above March 2014. Total inventory of existing homes for March — a key figure real estate watchers are monitoring as it impacts prices — grew 5.3 percent to 2 million existing homes available for sale.
“The modest rise in housing supply at the end of the month despite the strong growth in sales is a welcoming sign,” Yun noted. “ … More listings and new home construction are still needed to tame price growth and provide more opportunity for first-time buyers to enter the market.”
New Home Sales
Meanwhile, sales of new homes were a mixed bag. On the face of things, transactions of new single-family houses in March plummeted 11.4 percent to an annual rate of 481,000, according to last week’s report from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, given that February posted the strongest sales month for new homes in seven years, it’s not surprising that March wouldn’t maintain that pace.
Moreover, what is also noteworthy is that, compared on annual basis, March’s sales were a whopping 19.4 percent higher the March 2014’s pace of 403,000. That is room for confidence in the spring selling season’s vitality.
“Our expectation is that the strengthening of demand is sustainable and should drive new-home sales for all of 2015,” Richard Dugas Jr., CEO of homebuilding giant PulteGroup Inc. told the Wall Street Journal.
Looking at price and supply, the median sales price for new homes sold in March was $277,400 and the average sales price was $343,300. The estimated supply new homes for sale at the end of March was 213,000, representing 5.3-month supply.
Initial Jobless Claims
Turning to lay-offs, first-time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the newly unemployed during the week ending April 18, notched up to 295,000, a gain of 1,000 claims from the preceding week’s total of 294,000, the Employment and Training Administration reported last week.
Similarly, the four-week moving average — considered a more reliable, less volatile gauge of lay-off activity — grew to 284,500 claims, an increase of 1,750 claims from the prior week’s average of 282,750.
Despite the slight increase, because claims remained below the 300,000 mark, most analysts maintained a positive outlook on the labor market.
“Overall, the level of claims remains low and is consistent with a healthy labor market,” JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli told Reuters.
This week we can expect:
- Tuesday — April consumer confidence from The Conference Board.
- Wednesday — Advance first quarter GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
- Thursday — Initial jobless claims for last week from the Employment and Training Administration; personal income and spending for March from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
- Friday — April constructions pending from the Census Bureau; April car and truck sales from the auto manufacturers; April consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan and Thompson-Reuters Survey of Consumers.
1. Getting the Price Right
When the National Association of Realtors® surveyed FSBOs (for sale by owner) about what challenges they faced when attempting to sell their homes without the aid of a real estate professional, 13 percent said that setting the right price was a key challenge.
What is the “right” price? A home should be priced at or very near its market value. Therein lies the challenge – how does a layperson determine a home’s current market value? The calculations require access to recent sales in the area, information about those homes, and information about the current real estate market in general.
Without access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), it is nearly impossible for anyone to gather info on all recent home sales in a given area. Although many websites claim to have this information, they are relying on public records, and most of the time they don’t have all of the information required to pinpoint market value.
Would you sell a used car without consulting the Kelley Blue Book, or something similar, to ascertain its worth? Without knowing the true market value of your home, setting a price for it is akin to throwing a dart – where it lands may or may not be the bulls-eye.
2. Getting the Word Out
One of the most important jobs of a listing agent is marketing the property. Once upon a time, all it took was an ad in the Sunday classifieds. Today, however, it requires a lot more work, and multiple marketing platforms – especially for homes with problems.
Homebuyers begin their search online, and that’s where real estate agents shine in their marketing efforts. They employ multiple strategies across multiple platforms – something a homeowner with no real estate or marketing experience may find challenging.
3. Getting a Handle on the Paperwork
Understanding and completing paperwork is the one task of selling a home that stymied the largest number of FSBOs in the NAR survey. From the purchase agreement to how to deal with changes to disclosure requirements, the typical home sale requires a stack of legal contracts that few outside of the industry know anything about.
You will need to familiarize yourself with all contracts, reading and understanding every single line. Otherwise, when a buyer submits an offer to purchase, you may end up sitting there with a glazed look on your face and no idea how to decipher the pages in front of you.
13,000 insurance industry jobs are headed to North Texas. That’s how many combined insurance industry positions are being created in Plano and Richardson by Boston-based Liberty Mutual and Illinois-based State Farm. Both companies are in the process of moving major operations into North Texas. Texas data speaks volumes to the insurance companies. The pot is huge: Texas residents paid $15 billion in auto insurance premiums last year, $7 billion in homeowners premiums and $10.5 billion in life insurance premiums.
The Texas unemployment rate slipped to 4.2% in March 2015, the lowest mark in nearly eight years. Flower Mound’s unemployment rate was 3.7%, while the nationwide jobless rate was 5.5% in March.
Allen is now ready to kick off its $85 million convention center and hotel complex. The city of Allen and the Allen Economic Development Corp. are providing the 6.7-acre construction site for the hotel. The convention center complex will be located at North Central Expressway at Bethany Drive, across the street from the Watters Creek shopping and apartment development. The hotel will have 290 rooms, and the convention center will include 64,000 square feet of meeting space.
Foreclosure activity in the U.S. was at an eight-year low in the first quarter of 2015, despite an increase in activity in March, according to the most recent foreclosure report from real estate data company RealtyTrac. The number of residential properties with a foreclosure filing — default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession — decreased about 8% from the first quarter of 2014. The 313,487 properties in foreclosure are the fewest in the market since the first quarter of 2007. CoreLogic supports that good news agreeing that the current foreclosure rate of 1.4% is the lowest since March of 2007, and the foreclosure inventory has declined every month for the past 40 months. Foreclosures have dropped by 67% from the peak of completed foreclosures in September 2010.
Vacation home sales rose 57% last year over 2013, to 1.3 million properties, well above their most recent peak level in 2006, according to National Association of Realtors. In fact, vacation home sales accounted for 21% of all real estate transactions last year, their highest market share since the survey was first conducted in 2003. The same recently released survey by NAR showed that investment home sales in 2014 decreased 7.4% to an estimated 1.02 million in 2014 from 1.10 million in 2013. Investment sales made up 19% of all transactions in 2014, down from 20% in 2013.
Amazon.com is expanding their DFW presence again! There now will be its newest distribution center in North Texas, this time in southern Dallas. The facility would employ 500 to 900 people, and will join the Coppell and Haslet distribution centers in North Texas. Amazon has also leased a big office block at Dallas’ Galleria complex. Amazon has rented 88,615 square feet of office space in the Two Galleria Tower, planning to occupy about five floors next door to the Galleria shopping mall. And of all of this supports Amazon’s one-hour delivery now available in 35 DFW area zip codes. Amazon expanded its rapid delivery program to parts of Dallas, Irving, Coppell, Plano, Flower Mound, Frisco, Grapevine, The Colony and Lewisville. The website added a friendly “Howdy, Texas!” drop down to explain that it is “now delivering to even more Dallas ZIPs.”
|In a manner of speaking, staging your home is putting its best foot forward: you’re setting up each room to look inviting to prospective buyers of all types. Showcase your home’s best features, and minimizes any flaws.
Clean and clear
Start the staging
Light it up
Make every space count
Keep up daily
It’s hard to show your home while you’re still living in it, but you need to think about what a new homeowner will be looking for: a fresh start and a place for their family and their belongings. You want your home to appeal to the most number of people possible. Keep these tips in mind to help your home sell quickly and for more money!
It pre-dates “textese” and pager codes, but even to individuals familiar with those modern informal languages, real estate lingo may still be incomprehensible.
There are two types of real estate slang: the acronyms used in ads (of which there are over 6,000) and the daily jargon used by real estate industry professionals in their work. If this is your first real estate rodeo, let’s bring you up to speed on what you may hear coming from the mouth of your real estate agent.
Contingency: It’s surprising how many real estate professionals throw this word around as if everyone knows what it means. “Don’t forget, we have to remove that contingency,” might just as well mean “I need to see a podiatrist for something growing on my foot.”
A contingency is simply a clause in the contract that puts off the terms of the contract until another event occurs. Think of it as saying: “This contract isn’t enforceable unless X occurs by such-and-such a date.” Common contingencies include the sale of your current home, obtaining a firm offer of financing, the home appraising for at least the loan amount, and acceptable inspection results.
CC&Rs: Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions are the governing documents of a homeowners association. They set forth what are known as deed restrictions – which include how the association operates and the rules and regulations that all homeowners must follow. Although that sounds pretty straightforward, these are important documents that may be challenging to read through.
CID: A Common Interest Development is a combination of individual ownership of property and property held and managed in common among all the individual owners. CID might describe a condominium, planned community or cooperative – any development where the individual owns the unit and shares ownership in the common areas.
Closing Costs: The fees paid at the closing of a real estate transaction are known as closing costs. These costs vary, and some are negotiable and may be paid by the buyer, the seller or both.
CMA: Comparative Market Analysis. A research report compiled by a real estate agent that analyzes a segment of the housing market to determine the market value of a particular property.
Escrow Impound Account: You will be asked to prepay taxes and insurance when you close on a home. This money goes into an escrow impound account and is used to ensure that these bills are paid on time. Not all mortgages require an escrow impound account, and if your loan-to-value ratio is 80 percent or less, you may be able to have this requirement waived and sometimes the lender will charge you for this.
FHA and HUD: The Federal Housing Administration is an office overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Many Americans assume that “FHA loans” are loans actually granted by this agency. They’re not. The FHA guarantees the repayment of the loan granted by a conventional lender.
GFE: Good Faith Estimate. A form supplied by the lender that itemizes the terms and costs of the loan for which you have applied.
HOA: Homeowners Association. This is the governing body of a common interest development. It is made up of a board of directors, elected by the homeowners.
HOI: Homeowner’s Insurance. This is required by the lender and it protects the property from hazards such as theft and fire. It also covers your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries on your property, including those caused by pets that live in the home.
HUD-1 Settlement Statement: An itemized list of services and fees charged to the borrower by the lender. By law, the borrower is given at least 24 hours before closing to inspect the HUD-1.
MLS: Multiple Listing Service. A database on which listing brokers share information about properties for sale with other agents. The information contained in the MLS is proprietary and typically not available to the general public.
PITI.: Pronounced “pee-tee,” this acronym stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance, which, combined, make up your monthly mortgage payment.
PMI: Short for private mortgage insurance, a policy paid for by the borrower but benefitting the lender. Lenders typically require PMI when the loan-to-value ratio exceeds 80 percent.
PUD: Planned Unit Development. These developments are designed to offer amenities and conveniences not found in conventional subdivisions. They are typically governed by a homeowners association. Some PUDs are a mix of residences and retail operations.
REALTOR®: Many consumers assume that all real estate agents are Realtors®. This isn’t true. A real estate agent must be a dues-paying member of the National Association of Realtors® to legally use the term REALTOR®. (The association requires the registered trademark symbol be used with the term.)
Title Insurance: There are two types of title insurance policies. One covers a buyer’s interest in real property. The second type protects the lender. Title insurance is necessary to protect your interest from other claims of ownership.
TDS: Transfer Disclosure Statement. This describes a form that is filled out by the seller and given to the buyer as part of the disclosure process. The TDS contains a list of questions that must only be answered by the seller (not by his or her agent). Some of these questions are about the condition of the property and whether or not the seller has knowledge of any major repairs made to the house and items on the property, such as burglar alarms, sump pumps and even rain gutters.
VA Loan: A mortgage offered to U.S. service members, veterans and sometimes spouses that is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Zero-lot line: When a home sits right on the lot’s boundary, with little or no space between homes, it is said to have a zero-lot line.
“Bottle and Bottega is a BYOB art party studio,” explained longtime Flower Mound resident Glenn Olson of his business that is expected to open in Building 1 of the Shops at Lakeside in February.
A bottega [boh-TEY-guh], by the way, is defined as the studio of a master artist, in which students learn by participating in the work.
“For the most part,” noted Olson, “we are more about having a good time and socializing than creating fine art.”
The studio provides the art supplies, aprons and glasses while “our guests will bring in the wine and the people to party with.”
With the space to accommodate 60 painters, Bottle and Bottega offers the perfect setting for adult birthday parties, baby/bridal showers, bachelorette parties, or nights out with friends.
A professional instructor— at least one per every 15 painters — helps guide guests with their canvas creations (or other art media, including glass painting and mosaics).
“Our artists teach to all levels,” said Olson. “The hardest part for first-time painters is that first stroke. Once you get over your initial inhibitions, you can start having fun!”
“The completed piece may or may not be your finest work of art,” he chuckled, “but we think you’ll treasure the time you spend with friends at Bottle and Bottega.”
“The space will be decorated in vibrant colors,” explained Olson, “including purple awnings outside. Of course we’ll have music which will enhance the creative atmosphere.”
“Bottle and Bottega will be a great place to meet and gather with people,” said Samantha Olson who, in addition to being a successful Zumba® instructor, is helping her husband with the new business.
“We think that makes it a great fit for Lakeside where we expect the residents to be active and engaged in the community.”
While affluent professional women, ages 25-45, comprise the largest demographic, the studio’s regularly scheduled public events will have all the ingredients for a great date night.
“We will stock chilled beer mugs to cater to the guys” Olson said.
Corporations also have found that the informal atmosphere combined with the creative activities (not to mention, a little wine) fosters socializing and team building.
Companies can also collaborate to create beautiful murals to display in their buildings.
“We expect to bring in corporations from around the area including Las Colinas, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
“Because we are a BYOB business, we will not be hosting children’s parties at our studio,” Olson pointed out, “we are also a mobile operation, so we can take the ‘pop-up’ party to your home or other location.”
Bottle and Bottega was started in Chicago in March 2009 and has grown quickly to 16 locations (including both brick-and-mortar and pop-up studios) in states from Oregon and California to Florida and New Jersey.
Another Bottle & Bottega franchise recently began operating in Plano and is expected to move into a studio soon.
“Our vision,” explains Stephanie King-Myers, the company’s president, chief operating officer, and co-owner, on the company web site, “is for guests to walk into our studios and feel like they’re having a party in their living room.
“The best part is — you don’t have to clean up!”
“I found Bottle and Bottega after a long search,” said Olson, who began investigating franchise opportunities after leaving a career in telecommunications at the end of 2012.
Years before, Samantha had retired from her corporate job (after almost 16 years at Mary Kay Inc.) to be a stay-at-home mom to their daughters Shelby and Bryanna.
Samantha started her Zumba® business when their daughter Bryanna started school several years ago (she currently attends McKamy Middle School in Flower Mound and Shelby attends Texas State).
“Samantha encouraged me to look for something that I would enjoy doing,” Olson emphasized, “rather than just taking another J-O-B.”
“I felt strongly that I wanted to be involved with a business where people walked out with smiles on their faces. I enjoy making people happy.”
It took months for Olson to find the opportunity with Bottle and Bottega. But once he did, he knew it felt right.
Finding a prime location for the business took even longer.
“The franchise is extremely selective when it comes to studio locations,” he noted of the company’s executives in Chicago. “We began looking for a location in November of 2013 and we searched everywhere — Southlake, Las Colinas, Highland Village, Grapevine — before we found it right here in our very own backyard at Lakeside.”
“The demographics are superb and Lakeside’s lifestyle is the ideal setting.
“Now, it’s just a matter of opening the doors to give people here and in the surrounding areas a chance to fall in love with this form of entertainment.”