Russell Shaw's All Phoenix Area Homes Blog

March 6, 2018

Is History Repeating Itself?

The other day a REALTOR® friend of ours commented “this market feels just like 2005…well not really, but almost”.  Did she have a point?  Of course, there are similarities – particularly as inventory is rapidly evaporating in the low price points just like in 2005.  But is this really “just like 2005”?  No it really isn’t.  For good or bad we have been through a number of real estate cycles (Russell entered real estate in 1978 and Wendy in 1982) so it is natural to compare the present with the past.  But memory is often faulty and I think she is forgetting the real roller coaster ride of 2005.  A couple of facts pulled from the Cromford Report archives for 2005 numbers vs. today’s number illustrate the point:

Days of Inventory stood at 28 (at this writing, currently 84)

Months of supply was 0.9 (currently 3.4)

Annual appreciation rate was 27.9% (for 2017 - 6.5%)

Dollar volume was up 43.9% annually (currently up 6.8%)

Listing success rate was 84.3% (currently 80.9%)

If we subscribe to the belief that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, then perhaps it is worth looking further at a quick synopsis of the market from 2002- 2017 from the archives of the Cromford Report:

“Changes in the annual appreciation rate (measured using the annual average $/SF) give us a good indication of whether the market has been heating up or cooling down. This is using closed sales prices so it is a trailing indicator rather than a leading indicator. By using the annual average we get a fairly non-volatile reading. The trends tend to stay in place for quite some time. By looking at the weekly chart for annual appreciation we can detect when those trends change direction. Here is what we have seen so far:

1.            Appreciation was below 2% and weakening in early 2002, but the trend turned around in the second quarter and reached 4% by the end of the year.

2.            The appreciation continued to increase slowly during 2003 reaching 5.6% by the end of the year.

3.            Appreciation started to go crazy as the market heated up during 2004 thanks to the widespread availability of easy credit. It exceeded 12% in December 2004.

4.            The bubble was in full expansion mode during 2005 with appreciation exceeding 36% at the end of 2005.

5.            Appreciation peaked at 37.2% in March 2006 and then collapsed down to 11% by the end of the year, as the bubble burst.

6.            The bubble continued to deflate reaching -5% in December 2007.

7.            The foreclosure wave took depreciation to new depths reaching -28% in December 2008.

8.            The appreciation rate hit a historic low in the summer of 2009 at -36.5% but then started rising again.

9.            During 2010, the appreciation rate climbed to slightly positive at 0.6% but this trend ran out of steam during the fourth quarter of 2010.

10.          2011 saw appreciation slide back down to -9% by 3Q but signs of new life emerged at the end of the year.

11.          In 2012 appreciation charged from -9% all the way up to 20%.

12.          Appreciation peaked at 25% during the spring of 2013 and started to drift slowly down again.

13.          2014 saw appreciation drop from over 20% to less than 9%.

14.          In 2015 the downward trend stopped in September at 4.1% and started rising slowly again, reaching 4.4% by the end of the year.

15.          During 2016 the appreciation rate improved to 5.4% by the end of the year, though all of that improvement occurred during the first 3 months of the year.

16.          In 2017 appreciation hit a maximum of 6.5% in September and has drifted slightly lower since then, currently at 6.3%

…We should emphasize that when the rate of appreciation falls, prices are still rising, they are just not rising with quite so much speed. Only when the rate of appreciation goes negative are prices actually falling compared with the previous year. At the current 6.3% (3rd Q 2017) we are a long way above that point.

So no, this market is not like 2005 – thankfully.  It took a market like 2005 to create a market like 2008, and we are all better off without such unhealthy market extremes.

As always we are happy to comment on your particular neighborhood or situation.  We are always here to help. 


Russell & Wendy

(Mostly Wendy)

Posted in Market Conditions
Feb. 8, 2018

Supply – a “Tale of Two Cities”

Supply continues to be the story in the valley (or lack thereof).  But it really is a tale of two cities – if the cities were price points – the 200K range vs. all other price ranges.  Single family homes under 200K seem to be the wooly mammoth quickly headed for extinction.  Understandably entry level buyers and their agents are bemoaning the lack of inventory in that coveted price range.  Perhaps there is a need for a bit of a reality check. Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the US. The rankings currently are:

1.       New York

2.       Los Angeles

3.       Chicago

4.       Houston

5.       Phoenix

Phoenix has enjoyed a reputation of “affordable housing” due to its large land mass.  Whenever more houses were needed, builders had plenty of land to build them.  A steady source of new supply kept pricing low.  This brought about the “drive until you qualify” phenomena as the valley expanded ever outwards. Builders are happy to build but land, labor and material costs make them unable to bring single family housing to the market in the price range most needed. When we look at the valley in the context of cities such as New York or Los Angeles – do most buyers in those cities expect single family housing to be available at 200K?  No.  So it may be that we simply are struggling to come to grips with our big city status.


In any case, let’s take a look at where we stand in the early stages of 2018.  The year began with 14% fewer homes for sale than in 2017.  We are currently seeing a slight improvement over 2017 for the number of homes entering the marketplace (up 1.4%) – but it is early and the improvement is very small.  To quote Michael Orr of the Cromford Report:


“So the good news for buyers is that we do have slightly more homes coming onto the market. The bad news is that this is not enough to ease the supply shortage. In fact it is not even enough to compensate for the higher sales rate in 2018 over 2017. Closings are so far up 3.2% year over year so a 1.4% increase is less than half what is required to replace homes sold.


Looking specifically at Greater Phoenix we have 6,859 listings with a list date of Jan 1 through Jan 21, 2018. Compared with last year we have seen

•         26% fewer new listings under $200,000

•         5% more new listings between $200,000 and $300,000

•         5% more new listings between $300,000 and $400,000

•         12% more new listings between $400,000 and $500,000

•         21% more new listings between $500,000 and $1 million

•         5% more new listings between $1 million and $1.5 million

•         36% more new listings over $1.5 million

So perversely, but not unexpectedly, we are getting the largest percentage increases at the high end of the market where more supply is not really needed. Below $200,000, where supply is already extremely thin, the new listing flow has dropped even further from last year's rate….

However the 2% of the market over $1 million benefits from having 12% of the active listings - six times its fair share. Consequently buyers have a much easier time if they are planning to spend $1 million or more and sellers are rarely in control of the negotiations. This is why you see some spectacular price cuts in the high-end market and a sales pricing trend that is flat to slightly lower. We should emphasize that this applies to the re-sale market and not the new home market…”


If you are a seller – the price point you are in will affect your “home selling experience.  Typically, the lower the seller is on the pricing scale – the higher the odds of multiple buyers competing for your home.  When demand is out of balance with supply, in favor of sellers, multiple offers occur and there is upward pressure on pricing.


This would all appear to be good news for sellers, right?  Well yes, but a strong seller market can hide mistakes that cost sellers thousands of hard earned equity.  For example, sellers can decide to “go it alone” by either selling the home to a friend or neighbor or to a “we buy houses company”.  To many that looks like success – one buyer and the home is sold without placing it on the market.  To us in the business, that looks like a disaster. How can you know for certain what a “competitive” offer is without competition? Any home has a range of value.  What pushes homes to the top end of that range?  Competition.  Capitalism is based on that very concept.  Competition (thru marketing) is how we as agents create bidding wars for the home. 


Sadly it isn’t enough to create the competition, once created one must know how to handle it.  How an agent handles multiple offers separates the men from the boys.  This again is where thousands can be made or lost.  Make sure that whomever you hire knows how to get the highest and best out of each offer and to successfully exploit that competition.


It is important to note that supply and demand imbalances will correct with time. In fact, we are already seeing lowered demand than last year. The cycle basically goes like this: tight supply increases pricing; increasing prices dampen demand; lowered demand creates more supply; more supply lowers prices.  So the pendulum of supply and demand (and thereby pricing) self corrects with time.  When will that correction begin and supply begin building?  We don’t know but we will be watching for it and will keep you alerted to any shifts. Wondering about something we didn’t address here?  Contact us.  As always, we are happy to answer your specific concerns.


Russell & Wendy Shaw

(Mostly Wendy)

Feb. 8, 2018

Kimmie is a tabico!

She is an eighteen month old calico tabby, she is a brown tabby with orange sprinkles.  Kimmie is outgoing and social, doing her best to get everyone to play.  If you don’t play with Kimmie, she will entertain herself while putting on a show for you.  Kimmie also does her best to make friends with the other cats and kittens at the shelter.  Come down to Home Fur Good at 10220 N. 32nd Street in Phoenix.  The Free Roaming Cat Room is open for adoptions Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11am – 4pm.  You can also call at 602-971-1334.


Jan. 3, 2018

Welcome to 2018

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  Now that we are off to a fresh new year it makes sense to note where the market currently stands.


Undoubtedly our serial readers are already well aware that the 500K and under range has been in a “sellers” market for all of 2017.  What most may not know is that inventory usually sees a build up in the fall as demand tapers off.  Fall 2017 saw a very minimal increase in inventory and in the under 200k single family supply is so paltry as to seemingly be headed for extinction. Entering 2018, active Listings are down 12% from this time last year.   There appears to be no relief on the horizon.  As our favorite real estate market watcher the Cromford Report states:

It is easy to get complacent about the low inventory and assume that this is somehow the "new normal". The long term decline in active listings just keeps going and we have now reached the point where days of inventory is the lowest we have seen for week 50 since 2004 (at the height of the bubble). ...To try to get a handle on what life is like in the regular market, let us focus on homes priced at under $500,000 in Greater Phoenix. The inventory for this segment is 52 days. If we use $250,000 as the price limit we have just under 40 days of inventory. These are not normal readings and we start to wonder how low can these numbers go.”

This means buyers are going to have an even tougher time buying than last year in any price range other than luxury.  For most sellers, they should enjoy competition from buyers and stronger pricing.



Demand has remained relatively stable and unremarkable especially compared to its counterpart supply.  Demand was on a weakening trend in the 3rd quarter but that seemed to shift upwards mid-November and certainly provided a busier than normal December.  An interesting side note is that buyers are now primarily in-state buyers (i.e. local house changers) .  The Cromford Report notes :


 “… migration into Arizona is weaker than it was during the 2000-2007 era. In 2004 we saw 30,564 purchases by out of state buyers. 2017 year to date is 16,443 ...The total sales count is lower and the percentage of sales going to out of state buyers has dropped from 20% to 16%...The flip side of this is that in-state demand has increased from 80% to 84%. Areas that appeal most to in-state buyers have seen stronger appreciation.”



Supply and demand ultimately dictate appreciation.  It should come as no surprise that appreciation was greatest in the lower price ranges due to low supply.  Turning back to the Cromford Report we can see exactly how true this is:


”After peaking on July 28 at 8.6% the appreciation rate for all areas & types went into a declining trend until November 9 when it bottomed out at 3.6%. It then changed course and over the last 5 weeks has risen sharply to reach between 7% and 7.5%.... Such a rapid change in direction is quite unusual.

The overall appreciation rate based on annual sale price per square foot in Greater Phoenix is 6.2%.  However, supply and demand are not the same by price range. The greatest appreciation rates are under $200K due to a lack of new construction that would typically balance out the supply shortage.  Sales under $200K are 33% of all sales this year, so their rate has a large effect on the overall average.  New multi-family and single-family homes are being added to the $200K-$500K price range to accommodate increased demand, but it’s still not quite enough.  The market is balanced between $500K-$1M, while supply is still higher than demand over $1M despite a 10% rise in 4th quarter contracts.  As a result, appreciation rates are as follows by price range:

• Under $200K:  7.7%

• $200K-$500K: 3.5%

• $500K-$1M: 1.7%

• Over $1M: 0.1%”



We rarely talk about real estate agents – although they certainly can impact the marketplace in subtle ways.  It may be of interest that there was a 6.6% increase in the number of real estate agents since last year as rookies continue to enter the field. While agents certainly don’t set the marketplace (supply and demand does) they certainly can influence the buying and selling experience. Agent skill impacts the counsel clients receive on market behavior or not; negotiate the highest market value or not.  They should be the client’s biggest advocate and legally in fact have a fiduciary relationship to the client.  As the institutional investment companies are swarming the valley (Offer Pad, Open Door, etc.) sellers can learn the hard way the impact that a missing real estate advocate has in terms of reduced proceeds.  Particularly disturbing is the institutional buyers’ offers of “no commission sale” while charging fees in excess of 9% - far beyond what might be charged as a commission.  Add in the typically lower than market value and imaginary “repair costs” and sellers are paying dearly for that lack of representation.  Lower than true market value sales can impact appraisals and subsequent neighboring sales – a sobering thought for all of us vested in defending neighborhood values.

As 2018 continues to progress we will endeavor to keep you apprised of the emerging trends.  Of course every home sale has its own concerns, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for a customized analysis of your neighborhood.  Here’s to a wonderful 2018!


Russell & Wendy Shaw

(Mostly Wendy)

Dec. 4, 2017

Kettle is a very people-oriented doggie.

He thrives when taken out for social interactions and activities.  The calendar says that Kettle is seven years old, but no one has told him that.  He is energetic and loves to be active and on the move.  Fetch is his game and his feet start to dance when he sees the leash.  He is a 35 pound Staffordshire terrier mix, perfect to fit on a lap for snuggle time or to take out on an adventure. 

Home Fur Good is located at 10220 N. 32nd Street in Phoenix.  The shelter is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11-4. 

You can call Home Fur Good at 602-971-1334.

Posted in Community News
Dec. 4, 2017

2017 Draws to a Close

Is it just us, or has 2017 seemed to fly by?  As 2017 heads to a close, inevitably we reflect and compare this year to the previous year.  Although the final tallies are not in, we still can draw some solid comparisons. 


Most homeowners and would-be homeowners (buyers) find pricing statistics the most interesting of all statistics, understandably.  Yet it is wise to remember that pricing is a trailing indicator – not a leading one.  Pricing trends take time to show up and become meaningful. Further there is a seasonal factor that can obfuscate the market trends.  For instance, in a “typical” year pricing rises during the spring buying season and tends to peak in June.  Then the second half of the year goes flat on pricing (and can even have a small retreat).  Pundits who don’t know or care to factor in the seasonal component of the market can write alarming headlines about the market when fall arrives – only to see it miraculously “recover” again in the spring.  Annual prices tell the actual story of what occurred.

At the moment the overall market appreciation stands at 5.8% – but understand that this includes all price points and areas and is simply a market average.  Separating pricing into categories tells a far more accurate story.  Appreciation under 200K remains strong as demand is outpacing supply.  Luxury sellers are having a very different experience – even with supply currently lower than 2016.  Some luxury price points have seen a small erosion in pricing.  To quote our favorite real estate source, the Cromford Report:

Price trends remain weakest for the high end of the market and despite much stronger sales numbers than last year, the top end remains over-supplied. This is not unique to Central Arizona as we see similar weakness in luxury pricing across most of the USA. The low-end and mid-range still have price momentum and given the deterioration in supply, especially in the Southeast Valley, we expect that to continue for some time.

Interestingly, condos & townhomes are enjoying a faster appreciation rate than single family homes at the moment. This is largely due to the price point and the demand they are able to answer that single family homes simply cannot fill. 

Because supply/demand ratios ultimately tell the story of the market and are a leading indicator, let’s turn our focus there.


Given that appreciation has been strongest in the under 500K range – especially under 200K – it should come as no surprise that supply is most constricted under 200K.  What started as a promising year of a crop of new listings, fizzled in to only a small advantage over 2016.  As prices have risen, the low end of single family homes is evaporating as homes previously valued at less than 200K now rise above that mark.  New supply, which usually is typically supplied by builders, is simply not coming.  Builders cannot provide single family product at that price point due to land costs, labor costs, and the cost of the commodities needed to build a home (concrete, wood, roofing materials, etc.).  Not surprisingly multi-family building has risen to provide needed apartment rentals for those who cannot afford to buy entry level housing.  Again the Cromford Report summarizes the situation:

So far in 2017 we are up only 1.15% for new listings over this time in 2016. Overall, the supply remains chronically weak and there is little sign of any improvement... Here we can see the huge reduction in supply that has occurred over the past 4 years. The seasonal pattern clearly shows up, but each year is much lower than the year before. It is starting to look as though there will not be much of a market below $200,000 before too long.


Demand can be far more volatile than supply and more difficult to gage.  Improving economic factors (jobs, interest rates, income, stock market, etc) or a decline in those factors can influence the housing market along with supply.  The stock market showing sharp improvements can impact the luxury market to the positive, where it has little impact on the entry level market.  Rising prices are supposed to have a dampening effect on demand – so that supply and demand in counter-reacting to each other create a balance. This is not always a tidy process, however, as we’ve seen through the last 10 years.  So what do the tea leaves say currently about demand?  We again turn to the Cromford Report:

 …and demand has been slightly weakening for several months now and at first sight it looks slightly weaker again at the start of October, although when supply is poor, it can be very hard to detect weakening demand out there in the market because there is enough demand to soak up all the supply and then some.


Supply and demand intersecting ultimately results in sales.  The Cromford Report supplies a lovely snapshot of the sales:

 The first half of 2017 was more exciting than the second half is turning out to be so far for MLS sales. 1st Quarter 2017 MLS sales outperformed 2016 by 14% and 2nd Quarter sales were up 7%, so a 2% growth rate for the 3rd Quarter puts a damper on our excitement. Low supply in the lower price ranges is mostly to blame as it’s difficult to have record sales growth if there are fewer people willing to sell their home. There are more people willing to put their home on the market in the higher price ranges however. New listings over $600K were up nearly 10% in the 3rd Quarter and sales were up an impressive 27%.

We hope this gives you an accurate picture of the market so you can ignore any headlines to the contrary. 

As the holidays approach, we want to take a moment to thank all our clients and friends whom we are so fortunate to work with.  We are truly humbled by the trust you place in us and we are committed to always doing our best to protect your interests.  Thank you and Happy Holidays!


Russell & Wendy

(Mostly Wendy)

Posted in Market Conditions
Oct. 31, 2017

Ginger is the queen with a perfect amount of Cattitude.

If you would like the privilege of living with a cat that knows they are the superior being, then Ginger is your girl.  Ginger was born on January 21, 2014 and she will allow you to feed her, play with her and scratch her under the chin until she decides otherwise.  Ginger can be very loving and playful and then she will decide she needs alone time. 

Ginger does ask that she be the only cat in her forever home, since there can only be one ruler. 

You can meet Ginger at Home Fur Good, 10220 N 32nd Street, Phoenix, Thursday through Saturday from 11am-4pm.  If you have any questions please call 602-971-1334.

Oct. 3, 2017

Struggling to Recognize a Normal Market?

For those who prefer an article in a Twitter-like format – supply is still constrained, demand appears to be slowing (is this seasonal or an actual decrease?) and we are in the midst of a very “normal” market.  For those who prefer details, continue on. 

The problem with a “normal” market is that the Valley went through such an extended period that was NOT normal (2004-2011).  Long periods of abnormality can start to feel like the new normal – so when normal actually shows up it is apparently unrecognizable as such. Homeowners are understandably confused when reading inflammatory housing headlines meant to snag readers. Headlines such as “The Valley is in a Normal Real Estate Market” is a snooze fest so don’t be startled when various news sources claim otherwise.  To site a few recent examples, Ed Delgado, President and CEO of Five Star announced at a conference for “foreclosure specialists” that foreclosures are going to go up in a number of cities, one of which was Phoenix.  Much to the contrary, delinquencies in the valley are lower than any time since 2002, to have foreclosures you must first have delinquencies.  Forbes also recently published a headline “58% of Homeowners think the housing market is set for a correction –are Bubble Fears Founded?”  To answer the question – no - bubble fears in the valley are not founded. Housing Wire similarly states that Phoenix is one of the states “overheated” and “overpriced by double digits”.  Hmmm – interesting theory but again not factual.

So to state the facts again (our apologies to those who believed us the first time we spoke to this issue) we are in a normal market.  Supply, when constrained comparative to demand, causes prices to rise.  Rising prices cause supply to rise and demand to dampen, resulting in a leveling off of appreciation as supply and demand begin to balance or even correct to the buyer’s advantage.  Real estate typically goes in cycles of this pattern over and over – the question is only how long each cycle will last.  To summarize the current state of the market, we turn to the Cromford Report:

Supply remains lower than last year, but the gap closed slightly compared with last month in terms of active listings with no contract. We are starting to see more new listings than last year. The third quarter is up 2.5% from last year and up 5.5% from 2015. So far the extra supply is not having much effect, but if it continues for several months finding a property could start to get a little easier for buyers.

The monthly sales rate is up only 1.8% compared with a year ago. Both August 2016 and August 2017 had the same number of working days (23) so we have a fair comparison to draw. Since the year over year growth was 5.7% in June and 3.0% in July we again see a continuing slow downward trend in the advantage that 2017 has over 2016 in sales volume. Growth in the annual sales rate has almost stopped with 95,000 proving to be a difficult line of resistance. All these point to a gradual fading of demand. The serious shortage of supply obscures that fade…

We still have a seller's market in most locations and price ranges, but the current trends means the seller's advantage has very little momentum. Before buyer`s get too excited, the trends are very mild in nature. As such we do not currently see major increases in buyer's bargaining power coming anytime soon.

A further interesting Cromford Report discussion point is does a normal market mean the valley has “recovered”?  The Report brilliantly speaks to this point:

…Many people assume when prices have returned to 2006 peak levels then the market has recovered.  However understandable, especially for those who purchased during that time frame, that’s not necessarily the case.  Average sale prices per square foot are still 27% away from the peak of 2006.  However, the market could arguably be considered recovered once prices reach the range that corresponds to the long term average rate of inflation, which from 2000-2016 in the United States is 2%.  In 2000, the average sales price per square foot for MLS resales was $96. Had the bubble and crash never happened, and annual appreciation stayed between 2-3% per year as normal, then prices would land between $134-$158 per square foot today.  Currently they’re running at $149, which equates to averaging nearly 2.6% annually and a 55% total gain since the year 2000.

So normal and recovered seem to be hand in hand in the valley.  That should be good news for jittery homeowners reading way too many headlines.  As always, we are here to help you understand your home in today’s marketplace.  We appreciate and welcome your questions and comments.

Russell & Wendy Shaw

(mostly Wendy)

Sept. 11, 2017

Supply remains low. Will demand follow?

Low supply has stubbornly remained the major theme of the housing market for the last three years.  In fact active counts of homes for sale were lower in only 4 years (2004, 2005, 2012, & 2013).  In 2004 & 2005 “the bubble” was underway with heady demand voraciously consuming inventory.  In 2012 & 2013, buyer demand was stimulated by 2011’s “bottom of the market pricing”.  Thankfully 2017 is neither a bubble market nor a bargain basement sale – but rather a normal seller’s market. 

Despite the overall low supply of homes for sale, there are certain segments that have been showing an increase recently – such as homes under 175K (unexpected) as well as price ranges over 1 million (yawn -predictable). To quote Michael Orr of the Cromford Report: “While some areas & price ranges are doing better than others, the overall supply is very low representing only 84 days of inventory. We consider 120 to 150 days normal.”

Supply is the easier of the two factors (supply & demand) to quantify.  So how do we track demand relative to supply? The Cromford Report answers this dilemma by using an interesting tool to gauge the state of the market (i.e. supply vs. demand) called the “Contract ratio”.  The contract ratio specifically measures the number of completed sales contracts relative to the supply of active listings. For those who enjoyed their grade school math class, it is specifically “100 x homes under contract divided by active listings”; the higher the number the greater the buying activity relative to supply.

In August the Cromford Report posted this insightful analysis:

Although it is subject to seasonal effects, the contract ratio is a useful tool for examining the state of a segment of the market. If the contract ratio is rising then the market is heating up and if it is falling the market is cooling. It is quite normal for the market to cool during the third quarter since the second quarter is when the peak buying takes place. So anywhere where the contract ratio is higher in August than it was at the beginning of June is bucking the trend and doing well. Here are how the price ranges compare (August 10 versus July 1, all property types):

We mentioned (on August 7) signs of cooling in the $150K to $200K price range for single family homes. However this is swamped by the heating up in several of the higher markets, particularly $225K-$250K and $350K-$1M.

Overall this table is unusually positive with the exception of the market over $1 million and between $125K and $175K.”

Considering annual price appreciation has been running around 7.6% (with inflation only around 2%) it would be expected for rising pricing to reduce demand.  This appears to be happening – but it is an early trend and only time will confirm if demand is going to abate enough to offset the low supply.  As interest rates, income and pricing all affect affordability; dampened demand would be the reaction of a normal market.  Despite alarmists saying otherwise, this is a normal market.  As Michael Orr states:

“Appreciation is fine for the home owner, but translates into loss of affordability for the potential home buyer. Prices are being driven higher by a natural and persistent lack of supply, not irresponsible speculation. In this situation it is normal for prices to rise until they suppress demand enough to match the weak supply and we reach equilibrium. That is fundamental to economic theory. So we should not be surprised if sales volumes lose some of the momentum they have seen during the first half of 2017.

Of course the nature of demand is always in flux.”

Whatever the market brings we will endeavor to keep you apprised.  Of course, we always welcome your comments or questions.

July 11, 2017

How To Get Less Money When You Sell Your House

Every day we field calls from sellers checking on what they can do to their home to increase the home’s value prior to sale.  These questions center around improvements such as solar (we don’t recommend) painting (yes!) flooring and so on.  Yet one of the biggest forfeitures of value is “to whom” and “how” we sell. 

To whom we sell.  End users always pay the most for any product – whether a home or a car.  It has the highest value to them as they are the ones with the need.  Selling to an investor typically brings a lower value because they are not the end user and there is no emotional connection to the home.  Owner occupants pay more – but even amongst those buyers the value can vary widely depending on how motivated they are and how limited their other options are (i.e. if the home serves a particular need such as dual master bedrooms, handicap accessible, a certain school district, etc.)  In negotiation, the concept “he who needs the deal the most, gives the most” proves true.

How we sell.  When we sell with no competition value typically drops.  The very premise behind capitalism is that an open market sets pricing.  The smaller the pool of buyers exposed to your home, typically the smaller the value.  In other words, you can artificially hold down demand by limiting exposure to your home.  By owner sales and direct to owner investor offers fall in this category.

Even homes that must only sell to an investor (severe property condition issues or tenants on long term leases) will obtain higher values if they pay attention to “how they sell”.  In short, the way to get top dollar is to expose the property to the most available buyers.  If an investor is the only option as a buyer, creating competition amongst those investors will typically better protect value.  What most sellers don’t know is that those investors flooding your mailbox with “we will buy your home” offers – will also make offers to listed homes that meet their criteria.  That is good news for sellers wanting an investor offer as a good listing agent can attract multiple investors and make them compete on price and terms for the home.  Also a listing agent can help the seller understand the real costs behind the “you pay nothing” investor offers.  Anytime venture capitalists are spending millions funding “We buy homes” companies, you can be assured you are NOT receiving a “no cost” offer for your benefit.  Venture capitalists only spend money when they believe there is plenty of money to be made for them.  Who is paying them?  The often unsuspecting home owner is paying them in lost equity.

Don’t believe us?  Let us give you a real life example of an offer we received on one of our seller’s homes:

Opendoor used a team of local real estate professionals and a proprietary valuation model to determine their offer on your listing at 16947 Durango St:

•           Valuation: $230,000

•           Service charge, to cover holding costs and liability while finding a buyer: $17,250

•           Net offer price: $212,750

•          Opendoor cannot purchase this listing if it has the following features:  unpermitted additions, leased solar panels, in a gated or age-restricted community


.... The net offer does not include the buyer's agent commission.

Opendoor will have inspections performed by a licensed, independent home inspector and will submit a Repair Addendum like a traditional buyer

The service charge is 7.5% for the listing side, which does not include the buyer commission that must be paid (in this case 3%).  Those percentages are well above anything we charge in commissions.  This makes the claim “save on commissions” dubious at best. But you decide if this example looks like a “savings” as we listed and sold this very house for our seller.  Here is what happened when we placed it on the market:

Russell Shaw Sale

Sales price:  $234,900

Commission: 6% (3% + 3%)

Time on market: 20 days; 33 day close

Sales price vs. list price : full price

Repairs required to close:  4 minor repairs


Open Door

Sales price: $230,000

Commissions and/or holding costs – 7.5% + 3 % = 10.5%

Time to close: 14-60 days

Repair required to close:  unknown; “Open door will itemize the request repairs with their cost to have the repair completed and will provide the Seller a credit in-lieu of repairs option”

That resulted in 15K more in the seller’s pocket before Open Door’s “repair negotiation” which often results in additional reductions.  This is not to pick on Open Door (or any of their ilk such as Offer Pad, Iknock, etc.) but rather to point out that sellers will always net more on the open market - if their home is marketed to the most buyers possible.  If the goal is the most money, shouldn’t this be a last resort and not a first?


Russell & Wendy

(Mostly Wendy)