Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate re-brands as Carrington Real Estate Services

I’m excited to announce, and be a part of, the re-branding of my company.  The name changes reflects the diversified and growing company Carrington Holding Company has become.  For more check this out.

Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate Re-Brands

 

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The Searchers…a look at real estate search experience and results

syndicationLet me start by saying, “Boy are there a lot of choices when it comes to searching for real estate online!”  I mean just looking at this graphic makes me realize that it can be overwhelming  for consumers.  It also helps to illustrate why most folks looking at real estate online tend to stick with the Big 3, REALTOR.COM, Trulia, and Zillow.  Each of these sites offers basic & advanced search functions, as well as additional data that may be of interest to homeowners or potential buyers.  Think school and crime stats, and even pricing on other homes that recently sold and demographics on who lives there.  Over the past few years more real estate brokerage sites have also developed interesting search tools.  Upstart companies like Redfin have launched platforms consumers rave about.  Heck even  Century 21 and RE/MAX have redesigned their sites in hopes of luring more visitors and inquiries . All fine and dandy, but when it comes to pure property search, who is the best?

As an example.  When searching any of the big 3 portals, it takes several clicks to get what I want.  If I type in a search like I would on Google, “3 bedroom in La Mesa, CA with a pool”, I get nothing, zip, nada.  Of course these sites, like most, have been built to help people who may not know exactly what they are looking for, find it.  I get that.  But I still wonder why more property search sites don’t make it easier for people to find what they want?

In this day and age it all starts and ends with Google in terms of search.  If we want to find something we just go to Google and type in, “Best seafood restaurant in San Diego”.  Then we scan the results, read the reviews, look at menus and decide where we will spend our money to satisfy our hunger.  What we don’t do is go to Google and select “Restaurant” from a drop down menu, choose “Seafood” by checking a box, and then enter a price we would pay for a meal.  We just type and expect to see what we asked for.  Why can’t real estate sites work like this?

Search

Enter Smart Search from Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate, part of the Carrington family of companies.  Smart Search is exactly that…a property search that works just like those Google searches we do everyday.  That same,  “3 bedroom in La Mesa, CA with a pool” search we did above displayed 85 properties using the Smart Search!  That gives me a starting point that is exactly where I want to be, and I still have the option of filtering the results by clicking those boxes and drop downs if I want to.  So while this may be a bit of a shameless plug, as I work for Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate, the fact remains that when it comes to online property search, both results and experience play a big part in how online consumers want to access information.  Give it a try and share your feedback, see poll below, on what you like and don’t like about online real estate search sites.

Is cash really king? A case study…

Cash-Bonus-293x300So maybe you didn’t hear it here first.  And perhaps there is some trepidation as you read about how the market is picking up.  I get it.  Real estate has been hit hard the past several years.  But like a punch-drunk boxer taking a standing 8 count, the market is digging deep and finding its equilibrium. So here’s the thing…It’s back!  Like every cycle before, the housing market is cutting through and leading the economic recovery.

And if you think cash is king…think again.  In some markets nearly half of all transactions involve cash buyers, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story.  With the right agent in place you can find a great property and beat out those cash buyers.

The Right Agent

I read a blog recently that questioned the value of relationships between agents.  I’m here to tell you firsthand that it matters…A LOT!  Working with an agent who is not only well-connected, but also well-respected, can make the offer, negotiation, acceptance, and closing details go much smoother.  It’s like anything else really.  Why do we shop at certain stores?  Why do we take our cars to a certain mechanic?  In many cases it’s because of the relationships we have with the people there. You also must work with an agent who knows what you want…and knows the local market you are interested in better than anyone else.  In addition to knowing what’s available, and that’s not much these days, they need to know what’s under contract and if there are circumstances that may cause it to fall out.  Again, relationships and connections.

Case Study Part 1:  On St. Patrick’s Day we met with a client who expressed an interest in buying a property.  After a short discussion about their needs, I ran an MLS search and found only 4 homes that were active on the market and met their criteria.  Now, because we constantly monitor the market and talk with other agents, I knew there were 2 other homes under contract that also fit their needs.  I called the agents and guess what?  One of them just cancelled escrow and was going back on the market that evening.  I called the buyers, met them an hour later, and wrote the offer.

timing-is-everythingTiming is Everything

We’ve all heard this expression.  But you must understand that timing can be the key to beating out the cash offer.  Here’s the reality of cash offers.  They usually come from investors and what do investors want?  The best deal (lowest price) possible.  So all things being equal when it comes to price, the terms you offer, along with the timing, can make all the difference.  And it’s not just about taking the home in “as-is” condition.  A great strategy should include the best terms and timing important to the seller.

Case Study Part 2:  Back to our St. Patrick’s Day buyers.  Since I had a good relationship with the listing agent I was able to ask some questions about why the home fell out of escrow, and what were the important issues facing the seller.  I was informed the seller had just moved to an assisted living facility and was concerned about her children having time to come in from out-of-town and being able to get her belongings out.  Simple fix.  We offered to give them extra time after closing to handle this…at no cost to them.  Piece of mind goes a long way!  I also discovered the seller wanted to close ASAP.  Again, an easy fix as we offered to close on their time frame.  As you can see it’s really just about communication and a meeting of the minds.  Thing is buyers have to come to grips with the fact that this is a seller’s market and sometimes that takes losing out on a few places to get it.  The right agent and strategy around timing and terms makes a world of difference.

The Right Terms

Every buyer has their own set of circumstances.  So I want to remind you that you should do what you feel is best when it comes to your situation.  But you need to think about what you can, and cannot, live with and how can you make your offer the most appealing to the seller.  Here are some common terms buyers offer up:

  • Closing time frame
  • Inspection time frame
  • Appraisal and loan contingency removal
  • Who pays for title, escrow, repairs, warranty, etc
  • Deposit amount

Agents tend to draft offers based on local custom.  What happens is they often use a “Contract Template” with the same default settings.  Real estate is not cookie cutter and you should discuss with your agent what you can do differently to make your offer stand out.  If that also matches up with terms and timing the seller has mentioned, you could be the winning bidder.  You may want to offer to close faster, or pay for things like warranties and termite reports vs. having the seller pay for them.  Make it as easy as possible for the seller to accept your offer.

Case Study Part 3:  After talking with the agent we knew why the property had fallen out of contract, when the seller wanted to close, how much time they needed after closing to remove personal belongings, what they did not want to pay for, and who the agent liked to use for services such as title and escrow.  We also knew there were competing offers and one was cash.  After considering all this and reviewing the sellers counter offer, and speaking with their lender, the buyer decided to make it easy for the seller to accept their offer.  They came in a little higher than their initial offer, increased their deposit, agreed to take the home in “As-Is” condition, and offered the seller even more time after closing to clean the place out.  The end result?  Cash is not always king!

   

The Hidden Real Estate Market…Plus 3 Things You Need to Know…

San-Diego-21288

So just what is going on in the San Diego real estate market? Well, it is interesting to say the least! The 3 things I see happening are as follows:

  1. Prices are trending up. There is fierce competition out there, especially in the entry level price points. Do your homework, have your loan in place, and hire an ultra-aggressive REALTOR to represent you!
  2. Inventory is still down. But homes are selling! Don’t get caught up in the drama, just keep your eye on the ball and you will find the right home.
  3. Interest rates are still low…but trending up. If you are getting a mortgage, it may be a good idea to lock your interest rate. Your loan officer can help you with that. Don’t get priced out of the market and miss out on the great rates out there.

OK, I have a couple more observations to share based on market data. A recent report courtesy of Altos Research, shows exactly what is going on in certain segments of the market. This report looks at the market in quartiles, which represents the 25% most expensive, upper middle, lower middle, and least expensive homes in the marketplace. In looking at the lower two segments, you’ll see what you get for the money.  In the lower middle segment you will get a home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1500 square feet , about 50 years old for around $455,000. In the least expensive segment, what do you think you get?  Pretty much the same thing with one exception…it will cost you about $175,000 less!

Guys, these are the sort of things you can capitalize on to get the best deal. Even if you qualify for a $450,000 home, that doesn’t mean you can’t find something just as good for $325,000, right? Same thing happens with the upper middle segment compared to the lower middle. A very similar home in the lower middle costs $200,000 less! No matter how you slice it, that’s a great deal! Take time to learn the market. If you’d like to have access to this type of information on a weekly basis, delivered right to your inbox, then just visit our web site and click on the “How’s the Market Today” link. You can select cities and zip codes all across the country. Then, when ready to start looking, give one of our great agents a call to get inside!

Dude! Where’s my house?

shadow14513.  7277.  6248.  These numbers represent the following for the San Diego county real estate market, according to the SANDICOR Multiple Listing Service:  Homes sold since Nov. 30 2012.  Homes currently for sale.  Homes currently under contract.  Can you guess which is which?  More on this later.

Over the past few years our market has been fueled by investors, cash transactions, short sales and foreclosures.  Interest rates are still WAY LOW, prices are on the upswing, and first time buyers are actively engaged in the process of finding and buying a home.  What’s missing?  NEW INVENTORY!  Where have all the sellers gone?

Shadow inventory has been hanging over our heads for a couple of years now.  At some point we will see some of that hit the market in some form or fashion.  But what I’m wondering why, when past cycles showed different patterns, are more homeowners not looking to take advantage of current market conditions to move up, out, or pick up an investment property?  After all we are talking about homeowners who seemed to have done things the right way.  Take  a look at this San Diego market report:  Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate Exec Summary [SF]_CA_SAN DIEGO

Check out the gray box at the top right of the report.  This is the Market Action Index and it indicates who the market favors, buyers or sellers.  You’ll notice it currently favors sellers.    Now, suppose you are thinking about moving up into a larger home.  Based on the data, you have a very favorable opportunity to win at both sides of the deal.  You bring inventory to the market which is desperately needed, especially at the entry to mid level price points, and that creates a frenzy whereby buyers will compete hard for your property and there is a great chance a bidding war ensues.  On the buy side, since you might be moving up and into a price point where there is more inventory and less competition, you will have some fantastic choices to consider and know you will get a great deal.  If you are downsizing, maybe you are in a position to pay cash or have a larger down payment that makes your offer more attractive if competing with other buyers.

shadow2

With all the competition out there looking to buy, how do you set yourself up to be a winning bidder?  One way is to work with an agent that has access to all the inventory…like Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate agents do.  Hey Jason, “What do you mean all the inventory?”  Well like all agents we have the multiple listing service or MLS.  But because we represent several banks and loan servicers (like our parent company Carrington) our agents also have access to pre-listed homes that are not yet on the active market.  Options are always good, right?  If you’d like more information on this just contact me and I will put you in touch with a Realtor that can help you.

Now to answer the question.  There are 4513 homes currently for sale.  7277 homes currently under contract.  6248 homes sold since Nov. 30, 2012.  And most importantly, don’t limit your options to what most agents think is the only option!  Dig deeper and see the big picture.

New Year…New Opportunity…

hand_houseWelcome to 2013!  I always wonder why people say the year the way they do.  Do you say 20-13 or two thousand and thirteen?  I look at it like this, we didn’t say one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine, right?  It was 19-99 and it should be 20-13!  OK off the soap box.

So this year we are expecting big things in the real estate and housing market.  We saw some marked improvements in sales and price increases, and a flurry of home-buying activity, especially in the 4th quarter.  The government made some strides in avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff”…kind of…I guess, and with the low interest rates, cost of money, and lack of inventory 2013 is shaping up to be an interesting year for real estate.

2012 was also a big year for me personally.  After launching SmartRealty Solutions and spending the past few years specializing in listing and selling foreclosures and working with investors buying at auctions, I made the decision in August to join Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate (APRE), as the San Diego Regional Broker.  APRE is an awesome brokerage that is on the cutting edge of real estate.  In fact we were created to work with the most sophisticated and serious real estate clients…institutional sellers and investors.  I think consumers are ready for a serious real estate firm and APRE fills the bill.  We are also proud to be part of the Carrington family of companies who are all dedicated to serving anyone interested in the residential market.  If interested you can learn more about Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate here.  The leadership and vision at APRE is world-class and in my 20 years of practicing real estate I have never been part of a more dedicated, professional, and consumer driven company.  I am so excited for 2013 and the opportunities we have in front us in this great business.  I look forward to connecting with you and feel free to reach out with any real estate questions you have.  Here’s to a great year!

APRE_Classic_4C_MD

Why the heck would you buy or sell during the Holidays?

Let’s face it…the Holiday Season is busy! Thanksgiving really sneaks up on us, then the shopping rush begins, presents to buy, family coming into town or maybe you are planning to leave town.  So why add the stress of buying or selling a home to the “To-Do” list at this time of year?  Well for many people in the market during the holidays it can be as simple as they HAVE to buy or sell now.  It could be for tax reasons, a job transfer, maybe they have been renting and the rental has sold or there is a planned raise in the rent.  Could be many things.  If none of the above applies to you then perhaps you should think about the other big issue…competition.

We all know real estate is about location, location, location.  But competition does factor in.  The less competition you have, the better chance you have of selling or buying at the price you want, in the time frame you want.  And during the holidays your competition is less.  Look, inventory levels are low anyway.  But once the holidays roll around many sellers take their property off the market to wait until after the first of the year or the Spring selling season.  This means you can capitalize on the real buyers who need to buy now.  Plus, your home may look it’s best during the holidays, what with all the decorating we do.  Waiting until after the first of the year can actually hurt you because that’s when everyone else puts their home on the market and now buyers have more choices to consider…in other words…more competition!

If you are in the market to buy during the Holidays, then keep in mind you will want to look beyond the Christmas cheer!  Always get a professional home inspection, especially if you find yourself considering that Christmas Vacation home with a million lights overloading the electrical system!  In all seriousness, it can be a fun and rewarding experience to shop for you new home during the holidays and imagine your family enjoying their new home surrounded by friends and family.  So Happy Holidays and good luck no matter what you decide to do.