February 26th, 2015 by Mike Cooper
February 10th, 2014 by Mike Cooper
Real estate is an ever shifting business. National, state and local events can affect a real estate market overnight and change dramatically. The economic collapse in the real estate and construction industries put many localities in deep turmoil in 2008. There has been a slow grinding climb back to some semblance of normalcy, but we’re not back to the pre-collapse days by any stretch.
There were high hopes for 2013, and on the surface, it looks as though some of those hopes were met, but there was a darker trend bubbling under the surface. In the early part of August, I started to receive an increase in BPO (broker price opinion) requests from multiple companies.
Before the 2008 collapse, I started receiving the same wave of request. In early 2008, the requests started in the 15-25 a month, but by the time the market finally collapsed, the requests were 85-150 a month. That meant that a large number of homeowners were behind on their mortgages and the lenders were looking to foreclose.
BPO requests don’t always signal a wave of coming foreclosures. They can be individuals refinancing, or maybe an insurance company or lender is asking for a condition report or an owner is requesting permission to do a short sale on the property. There are multiple reasons, but a primary reason is a pending foreclosure.
The numbers of BPO requests continued to climb from August 2013 until the end of the year. Again, they went from 15-25 a month to 50-75 a month. That’s better than before the 2008 collapse, but it is an alarming trend.
The January 2014 sales consisted of 93 total sales. There were only 4 short sales, but there were 24 foreclosures. That means that 31% of all sales were distressed property sales, and 26% of all closed properties in January were foreclosures.
The numbers have changed a little since the same period in 2013. Distressed sales in January 2013 were 40% of the total closings. Of that number 29% were foreclosures. There is a 3% decline year to year, but that low rumbling of BPO requests has me keeping a closer eye on the local market.
It may be an anomaly, but it may be something more ominous. It will be worth monitoring more closely than when we were in a confirmed healthy market.
Is the Winchester, VA real estate market healthy?
July 3rd, 2013 by Mike Cooper
The Winchester, VA real estate market is getting stronger every month. At the end of the first six months of 2013, there is solid evidence that the market has made substantial gains in recovery. The number of closed sales for the first six months is up 9% from 654 in 2012 to 720 in 2013.
That’s great news, but there is better news in the numbers. The first six months of 2012 saw 90 short sales and 161 foreclosure sales. The 2013 numbers are where the really good news shines. Of the 720 closed sales in the first six months, only 66 were short sales and 118 were foreclosure sales. Short sales are down 26% from the same period last year, and foreclosures are down 27% in 2013. That’s significant.
The market seemed tenuous in the early days of 2013, but as the year has progressed, it appears to be strengthening. What’s behind the improvement? There are number of things that have sparked buyer involvement. The Federal Reserve’s comments about the end of quantitative easing caused a sudden increase in interest rates. That news, along with the slow but steady climb in real estate prices has caused a lot of fence sitters to get in the game.
The local real estate market started to transition from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market late in 2012. By all appearances, sellers are in charge today. Prices are more stable. Sellers are less likely to give concessions at the level they would have two years ago. Foreclosures and short sales are selling closer to list than just 3 months ago. It is becoming a solid sellers market.
The good news for buyers is that the inventory is coming up. After a low inventory first quarter, inventory is climbing. Sellers are finally realizing that market has turned to their favor. That means more properties on the market which increases competition and potential price savings for buyers. No matter how you look at it, the Winchester, VA real estate market is getting stronger.
June 24th, 2013 by Mike Cooper
You’ve heard the term, “burning the candle on both ends,” I’m sure. I starting to really understand that all of a sudden. Our local real estate market has been a bit tenuous this year, but in the last two to three weeks it has taken off like a rocket for many of us. That’s a good thing for the bottom line, but the reality is buyers are getting run over, and it’s running me ragged.
It is no longer a buyer’s market, and buyers who want to act like it is are getting left behind. A good home coming on the market at a good price will be gone in 48 hours or less. It is more than likely to have two to three offers on it, and bidding wars are getting fierce. I’ve been telling my clients, “If you see something you like, don’t hesitate. It won’t be here tomorrow.” That has played out over and over in the past few weeks.
Most of my clients get their properties, but those who think it’s still a “low-ball offers, ask for the moon and expect the sellers to come begging for an offer market” are getting left out in the cold. With the increase in interest rates, many will be blocked out of the market. Don’t misunderstand, there are bargains out there, but they rarely last a couple days. So, if you’re in the market to buy, be wise and deliberate, have all of your documents ready to make an offer and don’t assume the seller is desperate. He’s not.
Let’s get together and take focused action. You can win at this game, but you’ve got to play with determination. You don’t want to miss out chasing properties, and we can avoid some of that with a solid plan. Trust me, you don’t want to get worn out like Walter below.
May 14th, 2013 by Mike Cooper
I’m starting to see a new trend in short sales in our area. I recently had a client who wanted to buy a property. I met with him and his wife, and I had them get pre-qualified with their lender and they qualified for a nice property. Off we went in our search, and after a couple weeks we found a great house.
The only issue with this house was that it was an REO and required a certain lender do the pre-qual before the seller would consider a contract. So, I sent my buyers off to a friend who worked for that lender with the expectation that they would be back shortly with another pre-qualification letter. It would be easy since they had already been pre-qualified, right? That’s what I thought, anyway.
After the interview, the lender called and asked how much my clients had shared with me about their financial history. They had only discussed what their bank said in their original pre-qual letter. The lender couldn’t share their personal information because of confidentiality, but with their approval, she told me that they had a short sale last year. In the days that followed, I confirmed that my buyers had done a short sale the year before. When asked what led to the short sale they explained that they didn’t like their neighborhood or the trend it was following. So, they decided to move out of it so their children wouldn’t grow up there.
Wow! That was information that needed to be shared up front in the beginning of our interview process. Later, I emailed them to get the name and number of the lender that had pre-qualified them prior to our visit with the second lender. I’m still waiting. That experience has made me a little more cautious about taking someone at his/her word. I know it’s necessary to trust, but I believe I will need to start a “trust, but verify” policy with new clients.
“Short sales for convenience” are going to catch a lot of people off guard when they start their next property search. People who are contemplating a short sale should be advised that short sales are not a “get out of jail free” card. When a seller is trying to balance the options and a short sale is considered we need to be completely honest with them if it’s not a true hardship situation.
Choices have consequences. A short sale may be the only route some sellers can take, but it should never be used to blow off a mortgage commitment that is not a hardship situation. IMHO.
May 9th, 2013 by Mike Cooper
Are short sales declining in the Winchester, VA real estate market?
Are short sales declining in the Winchester, VA real estate market? I guess that depends on how you look at the market. If you look at the current pending sales you would see 325 properties under contract. Within that number are 85 short sales. Short sales make up 26% of the current pending sales. That may seem like a high number, but let’s take a look at a few numbers from a different angle.
If you were to look at the current available listings you would see that there 491 overall properties available on the Winchester / Frederick County real estate market. Within that number are 26 short sales. Short sales only make up 6.5% of the total number of currently available properties.
There has been a steady drift away from distressed properties in the local market. Can I see the end of foreclosures and short sales? Not at all. Until the overall economy improves, the presence of foreclosures and short sales is almost a given. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a steady decline. The limited presence of short sales in the Winchester / Frederick County market still offer bargain shoppers an opportunity to buy a great house at a discount, but don’t wait too much longer. They may be gone. Call your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. agent today.
Are short sales declining in the Winchester, VA real estate market?
April 2nd, 2013 by Mike Cooper
The Winchester, Virginia real estate market is showing signs of good health. The first quarter of 2013 has had a radical decline in foreclosures and short sales compared to the first quarter 2012. In the 2012 first quarter, 276 properties closed. Of those properties, 50 were short sales and 76 were foreclosures. That means 45.7% of that 2012 first quarter was made up of distressed properties.
The 2013 first quarter is painting a different picture. Of the 271 properties that closed in the first quarter, only 82 were distressed properties. That is only 30% of the overall properties were in that distressed category. Short sales were down 52%, and foreclosures were down 24% in the first quarter.
Another positive note is that of the current available listings of 465 only show 9% distressed properties. There are 26 short sales and 22 foreclosures. This could mean two things for the local market. One, the market is truly rebounding, foreclosures are legitimately dropping and fewer homeowners are having to sell at a short sale. That might also signal that the job market is becoming stable again.
The second thing that the new market could mean is that people who have sat on the fence expecting the short sale and foreclosure market to continue are likely to miss a great opportunity to get a good deal. Sellers are starting to take control of the local market again, and buyers are starting to get involved in bidding wars. Sale prices are closing with smaller percentages +- of list, discounts are fading and the local inventory is shrinking.
The market may be truly recovering, but let’s give it another quarter or two to make sure of that optimistic hope. The current signs all point that way. This might be the year that sanity returns to the real estate market in Winchester, VA.
The Winchester, Virginia real estate market is showing signs of good health.
March 30th, 2013 by Mike Cooper
“Why do I need a pre-approval to submit a contract?” I hear that question in about 1 out of 3 contracts that I write. It’s simple. The seller wants to know if you can buy the house. A pre-qualification letter may suffice for some sellers, but I’m running into more and more banks that won’t accept a pre-qualification letter in place of a pre-approval letter.
A pre-qualification letter is a letter based upon information given to a lender, but isn’t necessarily verified. For instance, I may have a client call a lender who will take his information over the phone and then formulate a dollar amount the buyer would qualify for if the information is verified. It’s a simple process.
A pre-approval letter is going to include verification of income, debt, credit, available funds, etc. It’s much more valuable in a bidding war because it gives a seller up front information that will not have to be verified after the offer is accepted. It speeds up the process and gives a seller confidence to accept an offer.
When you are ready to buy a home, start at your lender’s office. Find out what price property you are qualified to buy, and then contact your Cornerstone agent to find that home. In today’s competitive real estate market, you want every possible advantage when it’s time to buy.
March 20th, 2013 by Mike Cooper
What are the benefits of buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale? Short sales do have their challenges, but with the right agent, a short sale can provide a great opportunity for any buyer. Some of the benefits and challenges of buying a short sale are:
- Short sales tend to be in better condition. Typically, the owners are still in the home. Just because they find themselves in a distressed situation doesn’t mean they will start ignoring the needs of their property.
- Short sales tend to be priced at or below foreclosures. I recently closed a short sale that sold at 47% of the homeowners mortgage. That is a substantial discount for a new buyer.
- Short sales tend to take longer to be approved and closed than fair market or foreclosure properties. If time is of the essence, a short sale may not be for you. I’ve seen short sales take 9 months to get all through the process, but the trend is moving to shorter turnarounds. I’ve had them close within 2 weeks of contract, but I’ve averaged an approval to closing in the 60-90 day range.
- Short sale lenders must approve the purchase even if the homeowner has accepted the contract. So, the contract is not final without that third party approval.
- Short sale lenders rarely make any repairs or offer any assistance in a short sale. If you need closing cost help, this may not be the purchase for you.
- Short sales can be a great option if you have an experienced shor sale agent working with you. Contact Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., to discuss your short sale options. This is a time where experience counts.
If you would like to buy, or if you need to sell your home through the short sale process, give us a call. There are benefits in buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale.
March 15th, 2013 by Mike Cooper
Do I really need a Realtor to buy a house? The simple answer is, “No.” The smart answer is, “Yes.” Anyone can buy a house without a real estate agent, but there are advantages to having an agent represent you in a home purchase.
Last year, I sold a property for a wonderful family. They had bought their home directly from the seller without representation. When I did the preliminary CMA to determine value, I was surprised at what they paid for the home considering they bought it on the down side of the market collapse of 2008. In my estimation, they paid $60,000 higher than the market was demanding at the time.
When we listed their home, they received an offer that was quite a bit lower than the list price, and they ultimately gave concessions that dropped their return approximately $60,000. With their original purchase price coupled with their concession dollars they actually lost $120,000 on their home. Buying with an agent could have prevented them from spending more than they should have.
Why should you use an agent when buying a house?
- An agent can help a buyer purchase in the price range a home should sell in.
- An agent can help educate a buyer to the process of buying real estate.
- An agent is a second set of eyes on a property that might be causing blindness in a buyer.
- An agent can help a buyer find a good home inspector, lender, appraiser, contractor, closing attorney or title company who will look after the buyer’s best interest.
- An agent knows the real estate laws.
- An agent can help advise a buyer through the negotiations.
- An agent can look out for a buyer’s best interest when the buyer isn’t aware of the perils.
- An agent can be a buyer’s first line of defense in a bad deal or a deal that has gone bad.
Why should you use a Realtor to buy a house? For a lot of reasons, but most of all, for peace of mind.