Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pricing you home

It's not a bad idea to gather information from several sources and determine the real value of your home instead of just thinking that your home is the same value as the one that sold down the street, or rather than relying on just one approach to home valuation.

Call a couple of REALTORS. Even if you're not planning to sell your home right away, many REALTORS will be willing to prepare a comparable market analysis (CMA) for you as a marketing service with the goal of getting your business whenever you decide to move. A CMA shows the prices of recently sold homes that are comparable to yours and the prices of comparable homes on the market. A market-savvy REALTOR® can give you a rough idea of what your home would be worth, given its size and condition and local market conditions.

Purchase a professional appraisal. Unlike a CMA, a professional appraisal is rarely free. However, the several hundred dollars you'll pay for an appraisal, depending on size of your home and the complexity of the work, could be money well spent if you're making a major financial decision that hinges on the value of your home. Appraisers rely on an in-person inspection of your home, recent sales of comparable homes and other data to arrive at an opinion of value. The appraiser's report is a full-blown description of your home and the criteria used to formulate the valuation.

Go to neighborhood open houses. Open houses are a good opportunity to view comparable homes for sale in your neighborhood and chat with real estate professionals about the local real estate market. Two caveats: It's not easy to be objective about your own home and you shouldn't assume that the listing price on a for-sale necessarily reflects the home's true market value. If you keep those points in mind, information gathered at open houses can be worth considering along with data from other sources.

Do research online. A number of Web sites offer home valuation information free or for a fee. The free service at displays sales prices of comparable nearby homes and market activity data within three minutes. charges $30 for a full home valuation estimate, while offers a comparable sales report for $9.95. will send a free home price analysis to your e-mail address within 72 hours or you can pay $14.95 for an immediate reply.

TIP: Price per square foot is a time-honored method of real estate valuation and not a bad rule of thumb but is not at all accurate. However, it doesn't account for a choice location, a move-in-ready home or personal criteria and you should factor in how the property was measured and whether the square footage includes the garage or other detached buildings on the property.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Home Sellers working with Realtors

Here is the information on what you get by working with a realtor compared to the price that you pay. As a seller you are getting a bunch of services that a buyer does not tend to have a contract to get.

REALTORS® and buyers often work together without a written contract, but the opposite is true for REALTORS® and sellers. On the listing side, written contracts are overwhelmingly the rule, not the exception. A listing agreement is a binding legal contract that shouldn't be taken lightly. The necessity of reading the contract carefully and understanding what it means before you sign it can't be overstated. If you need legal advice, consult an attorney.

Listing contracts vary considerably from place to place. However, most REALTORS® use established listing agreement forms that are the de facto industry standard in their area or are dictated by their brokerage company. Everything on these preprinted forms is negotiable.

Here are some basic terms to consider:

1. Term of the Agreement. A longer agreement benefits the agent because it allows him or her more time to find a buyer for your home. In a weak market, that's okay, but if homes are selling quickly, you don't want to be committed to one agent for more than a few months. If the home doesn't sell within the initial period and you're satisfied with the agent's efforts, you can offer to extend the term of the agreement before it expires.
For Your Home

2. Commission. Although commissions are negotiable, most areas have a standard percentage that agents expect to receive. This amount usually is 6 percent of the sales price, but you will find agents who accept 5 percent and agents who ask for 7 percent. Whether you want to pay the percentage that's typical in your area or negotiate a lower rate is up to you. A lower commission will save you money. A higher commission will give the agent more incentive to invest in marketing your home. Other agents can find out how much commission is offered on your home through the MLS. The agent's commission technically shouldn't be renegotiated as part of the purchase agreement between the seller and the buyer, but some agents will give a little to close a price gap between the seller and buyer, consequently making the transaction viable.

3. MLS. A listing agreement typically authorizes your agent to post your home in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Unless you're selling a very exclusive property or have serious personal privacy concerns, the MLS is a no-brainer because it helps the agent market your home to the widest possible group of potential buyers. Today, most MLS databases are accessible by consumers on the Internet. The public does not have access to commission information on the listings.

4. Lockbox. A lockbox is a tiny key-holding safe that can be inconspicuously attached to the front of your property. Any agent who has the means of accessing the lockbox (e.g., the key or combination) can retrieve the keys to your home, unlock your door and show your home to prospective buyers even when neither you nor your agent is present. If you're concerned about strangers entering your home alone, don't authorize a lockbox. If your home is vacant, located in a low-crime area or if you've removed your valuables and are willing to take the risk, a lockbox might be reasonable. The more people who see the property, the better chance you'll have of selling it for a favorable price.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Home ownership rate in america dropping

The home-ownership rate continues to retreat from record highs, as the number of owner-occupied homes declined in a year when the nation added 2 million new housing units.

A new Census Bureau report shows the home-ownership rate slipped to 67.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2007, down a full percentage point from 68.9 percent a year ago.

The home-ownership rate, which had hovered around 64 percent during the 1980s and early 1990s, began a steady upward climb in 1995. The rate broke the 69 percent threshold during three quarters in 2004 and 2005 before beginning a retreat last year.

Erosion of the home-ownership rate appeared to accelerate in the fourth quarter, falling 40 basis points from the 68.2 percent rate recorded in the second and third quarters of 2007.

At the regional level, the Midwest had the highest home-ownership rate (71.7 percent), followed by the South (70 percent), Northeast (64.6 percent) and West (62.7 percent). For the year, home-ownership rates declined in every region but the Northeast.

Home ownership was highest among whites (74.9 percent) and lowest among blacks (47.7 percent) and Hispanics (48.5 percent). At 83 percent, the rate of home ownership among families with incomes greater than the median far exceeded that for families with incomes below the median (50.9 percent).

Although the addition of 2 million new housing units in 2007 brought the nation's housing stock up to 128.6 million units, the number of owner-occupied units actually declined by about 600,000, to 75.2 million. The number of occupied rental units grew by 1.5 million, to 35.7 million.

The 2 million housing units added in 2007 included 1.1 million vacant units, and the number of vacant properties climbed from 16.7 million to 17.8 million.

Of these vacant housing units, 13.3 million were for year-round use and 4.4 million were seasonal. Approximately 3.8 million of the year-round vacant units were for rent, 2.2 million were for sale only, and the remaining 7.3 million units were vacant for other reasons

National vacancy rates of both home-ownership and rental units remained statistically unchanged from a year ago. The homeowner vacancy rate, which until 2006 had not exceeded 2 percent for more than a decade, remained at 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter, statistically unchanged from a year ago.

At the regional level, homeowner vacancy rates were higher in the Midwest (3.2 percent) and South (2.9 percent), and lower in the West (2.7 percent) and Northeast (2.2 percent), although the differences in the South and West were not statistically significant.

The homeowner vacancy rate was higher in major cities (3.7 percent) and lower in the suburbs (2.4 percent).

At 9.6 percent, the national rental vacancy rate was also statistically unchanged from the 9.8 percent rate of a year ago. In the last decade, the rental vacancy rate has been as low as 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 1997, with a peak for the period of 10.4 percent in the first quarter of 2004.

At the regional level, rental vacancy rates were lower in the Northeast (6.6 percent) and West (6.8 percent), and higher in the Midwest (11.1 percent) and South (12.3 percent).