MACK REAL ESTATE BLOG (SAN DIEGO REAL ESTATE NEWS AND UPDATES)
Current real estate news, trends, and random thoughts. Your informative source for everything Real Estate in San Diego! (well, maybe not EVERYTHING...)
MACK REAL ESTATE BLOG (SAN DIEGO REAL ESTATE NEWS AND UPDATES)
Current real estate news, trends, and random thoughts. Your informative source for everything Real Estate in San Diego! (well, maybe not EVERYTHING...)
Check out the latest market update from our syndicated blogger:
Mortgage loan rates are up almost 1% on average 30-year fixed loans, after their major increase on Tuesday. This is a larger upward move than we've seen since 2010, and may serve to temper the extreme activity we've seen in home sales lately.
There's no simple explanation for the rate increase, but experts agree that we can contribute it to investor reaction to the Fed's asset buying activity changes. In addition, the extended period of extremely low rates, that we have experienced cannot be maintained indefinitely, and balances itself out over time. Let's be thankful that the move from 3.25% average to 4% only equates to around $100 per month on most mortgage payments.
Overall, mortgage rates are still on the extremely low side of the spectrum (historically, 4% is an awesome mortgage rate to get!) and it's a great time to buy or sell. If you need a referral to a great loan officer, please let us know.
Please call right away if you or someone you know is interested in buying or selling a property!
Check out the latest from our syndicated blogger:
The housing market is showing strong signs of recovery, experts agree. Home sales continue to rise in all areas, and are not enough to satisfy the demand of buyers, and home prices are steadily climbing.
The national median home price for existing sales is up an astounding 11% from last year, the National Association of REALTORS reports.
Most sellers who don't have to sell are waiting to list their properties as they see home prices rising. The number of short sale listings is down, and traditional sales are receiving multiple offers and selling quickly.
A large portion of buyers at median home prices continue to be investors and cash buyers (32% of closed sales in April), which makes getting an offer accepted difficult unless you are working with experienced Realtors like us.
It's a great time to buy or sell! Rates are still at record lows, and listings are receiving multiple offers. Whether you need to sell to relocate or just to make a move, please call us right away!
Want to clean out your house?
How about that garage?
(Check out the Scripps Ranch Garage Sale, April 20th!)
Well, now is the time! In case you haven’t heard, the Scripps Ranch Annual Garage Sale is right around the corner!
So what’s the big deal?
The Scripps Ranch Annual Garage sale is a sponsored community wide event. What that means is lots of garage sales all across Scripps Ranch.
In fact, every year Coldwell Banker Residential sponsors this event and gets the word out across San Diego County. Because of this, buyers come out from all across the County looking for great deals!
The best part about this event, is that it brings free publicity to your garage sale (if you so participate)! More publicity means more buyers; and more buyers means more sales! It’s a win-win situation all around!
So go ahead and start cleaning out your house, and get ready for the Scripps Ranch Annual Garage Sale!
So what about details?
I am glad you asked!
What: Scripps Ranch Garage Sale
When: Sat. April 20, 7:30-Noon
Where: Scripps Ranch Community – And Your Garage!
- Garage Sale Signs may be picked up at the Coldwell Banker office (12036 Scripps Highlands Drive) – Or you can call me as your neighborhood agent, and I would be happy to drop some off for you!
- If you want your house to be on the official garage sale map, please call me at:
or the Coldwell Banker office at:
(858) 578-5510 ext. 300
- If you are a shopper, you can pick up garage sale maps, starting at 7:15 a.m. the morning of the sale. (pick up at the Coldwell Banker Office - 12036 Scripps Highlands Drive, San Diego, CA 92131)
Another Market Update from our syndicated blogger:
With more great statistics supporting the recovery of the real estate market, the National Association of REALTORS® reported yesterday that home sales have been up for 20 consecutive months, and home prices have been up for 12 consecutive months.
NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributes the continued improvement to job growth in the economy, low inventory, and low mortgage rates (which continue to historically low, even with the large fluctuations in underlying markets). As a side note, rental prices are rising more slowly that home prices, but we can expect to see those rise accordingly as home prices rise.
Properties for sale rose from January to February, but is still almost 20% below last year's levels, and finding a home and getting an offer accepted still remains a difficult challenge for inexperienced agents and buyers. Extremely low housing inventory may be one of the largest driving factors in increased home prices.
Overall, this news continues to support our opinion that it is still a great time to buy real estate, so please let me know if you are interested in buying or selling!
Check out the full NAR article here: http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/03/existing-home-sales-and-prices-continue-to-rise-in-february.
Here is another update from our friendly sydicated blogger:
January ended with a 28% decline in foreclosure filings since January 2012, and the number of notice of defaults, auctions, and repossessed homes continues to fall. The housing market shows signs of recovery, and overall, the number of foreclosures is back down to levels similar to 2007.
It's my opinion that the lower foreclosure filings can be attributed to a number of factors, including the "Homeowner Bill of Rights", the recent legislation which requires banks to stop foreclosure proceedings if a borrower files for a loan modification.
Don't doubt that we will still see lots of short sales this year, which accounted for about 28% of total home sales last year, but that seems like good news as well, because it means that homeowners are finding a resolution to their mortgage debt problems and coming to an agreement with their mortgage lenders.
Overall, it still remains a great time to buy a home, with interest rates maintaining record low levels and housing prices low, but showing signs of improvement.
Foreclosure data is courtesy of RealtyTrac, Inc.
Ok folks! I am back to blogging after a small hiatus! In case you haven’t been too involved in the market, I must say that it has been quite crazy as of late. The inventory is down and buyers are plentiful – to put it mildly: it’s a seller’s market.
Anyway, I am back to continue my series on Zillow. And according to my Intro Post, it’s time for me to talk about “Transparency”.
So Theresa, what’s the big deal? Why do you care about ‘Transparency’, and what does that have to do with Zillow?!
Well my dear reader, I care because I value honesty, as I think we all do. To be frank, I hate the fact that the Real Estate industry has such a bad rap when it comes to being trustworthy, honest, and forthright; but at the same time, I really can’t blame people for not trusting the industry (as a whole) when I have witnessed, firsthand, agents and other
un-‘professionals’ behaving badly. So you can only imagine my dismay when I also feel that Zillow isn’t being forthright and transparent with its users.
First off, as I discussed, Zillow does not have the best Data Integrity. And that means that hundreds of thousands of users will waste their time looking at properties that aren’t even for sale! But do they tell their users this? No. Rather they use the bad data to lure in innocent web surfers who are just looking for an easy way to look at property information and listings. Yet despite all the complaining, Zillow has yet to implement better policies to cut down on all the ‘junk’ data.
But Theresa, if providing that real estate data is their business, doesn’t Zillow have a vested interest in ensuring the quality of the data?
Well, I can see where you might think that. But here’s the thing: providing real estate data is not Zillow’s business. In other words, Zillow does not make it’s money from providing real estate data to web surfers. No, rather Zillow makes it money by providing the web surfer data to real estate professionals.
Wait! What?!?! How do they do that? Are they spying on me?
No, no, no. Don’t worry. Zillow isn’t spying on you or stealing your information. Zillow, rather, uses the data that you freely provide them. If you have ever been on Zillow, you have probably noticed something along the lines of ‘find a local pro’ or ‘your local agent’ somewhere on the page. Now don’t be fooled, ‘local’ is used in the loosest sense of the word; your ‘local agent’ may or may not be local. I have seen some agents claiming to be a ‘local expert’, yet their office is in a different city or county altogether! I have also seen agents with more ‘reviews’ than transactions! But all this is to say that Zillow makes its money by selling these so called ‘local pro’ spots to anyone out there with a checkbook and license.
However, to be clear, I have nothing against free enterprise or paid advertising. I really don’t! I can appreciate building a business through hard work and smart advertising. But what I don’t appreciate is when the almighty dollar gets in the way of offering great service in an upfront and honest way. I wholeheartedly believe that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that great service with integrity is what great businesses are made of!
And so when Zillow provides bad data to the average consumer through:
- poor data integrity ,
- specious Zestimates, and
- referrals to ‘local pros’ (who may or may not be local, or ‘professional’ at all)
-only to sell them to their advertisers, it really gets on my last nerve. Providing bad data does nothing to serve the general public, and therefore there is nothing for the average consumer to gain.
Instead, Zillow only uses the rotten carrot of bad information to lure the web user, only to sell them out to the highest bidder. And does the average consumer even realize this? Unfortunately, they do not. And this, I think is due to the fact that Zillow and the other third party aggregate sites lack the transparency that would educate the lay person to what they actually do.
But why would they want to disclose their real business? Or why would they want to announce that their data is mostly terrible and misleading at best? I have a feeling that if they did, they would lose their main product: you. And in doing so, they would lose their true customers: the paid advertisers, who pay for your information.
Maybe it’s just me: but I, for one, believe that if we should all seek to better the world in business, through our service and commitment to educating and empowering the consumer.
Here is another blog post by a syndicated guest blogger:
A recent interview with GSDAR President Linda Lee inspired me to write a few tips for my clients about beating cash offers in multiple-offer situations.
Many of my buyers find themselves in multiple-offer situations these days, also called "bidding wars". I've had a lot of success getting our clients' offers accepted, so here are some tips:
Choose the Right REALTOR
We go the extra mile to connect with the listing agent. Sometimes all it takes is an extra phone call, email, or compliment to the listing agent. We are experts at putting our (and your) best foot forward, and listing agents always want to choose an offer represented by a REALTOR they know will be easy to work with throughout the transaction. Work with us and expect success!
It benefits you to be presented as a real family or person. Allow some personal details to be conveyed in the offer, like a short description of what you do for a living, or how this house is perfect for your family size. Many of the competing cash offers will be from investors who have very little personal interest in the property. Sellers like to know they are selling to people, not companies.
Show Commitment to the Area
We like to explain on your offer why this area is perfect for you. Maybe it is closer to family, school, or work, close to your church, or near a place of nostalgia. Sellers like to see why you are committed to buying their property and sticking with it until the end of the deal.
Have a Recognized Loan Pre-Approval
Your pre-approval must be bullet-proof! Get it from a nationally recognized lender, or one of our preferred brokers. Make sure your loan officer details the amount you are financed for, including some wiggle room, and what paperwork has already been reviewed. Sellers like knowing you have completed most of the loan process before making an offer.
Don't get Discouraged!
Its a tough market out there, and you might not get the first property you make an offer on. Sometimes your offer is reviewed by bank employees or estate administrators who only have an interest in their bottom line. Don't lose hope! The perfect property is out there for you.
Some updated news from the sydnicated 'guest' blogger:
The Mortgage Interest Deduction and the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act survived last minute budget cuts, and will extend through 2013. Both laws were considered by Congress and the President as they looked for ways to cut spending for 2013. Discontinuing the Mortgage Interest Deduction in particular would have been detrimental to the housing market, and would have cost new and existing homeowners hundreds of dollars per month.
The extensions mean that homeowners can continue to deduct mortgage interest and PMI on their primary home (and one secondary home), and that mortgage debt forgiven by banks during short sales will not be taxed federally. This information is not tax advice, just a summary of legislation. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me.
Real Estate continues to thrive, and with historically low rates it is a great time to buy or invest!
Here is some news regarding mortgage rates from the good old syndicated 'guest blogger':
Mortgage rates increased slightly on Thursday, then ended the week in the low 3% range, with many prominent lenders closing loans as low as 3.125% on 30 year fixed mortgages. These rates represent historic lows, making home ownership extremely affordable right now.
The slight dip in rates seem to be attributed to increasing pressure on lawmakers to agree on tax laws for 2013, aimed at averting the rumored "Fiscal Cliff". The January 1st deadline for tax law approval is approaching fast, and any news about this topic has affected interest rates as the stock market reacts to investor confidence.
This means that there is absolutely no reason to wait if you are thinking of buying, selling, or refinancing property. The risks of waiting for better rates outweigh the benefit of locking in a rate right now. Many of our clients have been literally saving thousands of dollars in mortgage interest.
OK. So if you aren't already convinced that you shouldn't trust the Zestimate, how about one more reason?
In case you haven’t been following my blog, I am in the middle of my Miseducation Via Zillow series. And today, I am continuing my take on the shortcomings of the Zestimate. For background, feel free to check out my other posts on the Zestimate (Part 3A and Part 3B)
The Zestimate is Backward
Yep, that’s right, I said it: The Zestimate is backward…completely backward! And those guys at Zillow would like you to believe they are so forward thinking! Sheesh!
OKAY Theresa, time to get off your soap box. What do you mean by backward?
Well, this one is actually pretty simple. We already know that the Zestimate is Big, trying to work everywhere and in doing so, essentially working nowhere. We also know that the Zestimate is Ignorant, missing the finer points of what truly drives value.
And now I am telling you that the Zestimate is Backward. What I mean by this is that the Zestimate only looks at what has already happened in the market. In the words of Zillow:
“Zestimates track the market, they don’t drive it.”
What this means is that Zestimates don’t take into account what is currently happening within the real estate market; rather they only look at the past. And how could they know what current market conditions are for a given neighborhood or price point? The Zestimate is calculated by a cold, heartless computer, using limited data from the past.
Now, on the other hand, a knowledgeable agent who is out in the field from day to day (such as Yours Truly) will know the pulse of the market. She will know what buyers want, and how much they will spend. That’s why 10 times out of 10 I would bet on a competent REALTOR’s opinion of the value of a house over the Zestimate.
And hopefully, by now, you are as convinced as I am that we should all toss out the Zestimate with Zgarbage.
Wait! So all this talk about the Zestimate...are you telling me that I shouldn't trust it?
Darn tootin that's what I am saying! Let's continue below.
In case you haven’t been following my blog, I am in the middle of my Miseducation Via Zillow series. And today, I am continuing from my last post (Part 3A - The Zestimate), with Part 3B. To get some background, I highly suggest reading my previous post.
So let's continue to talk about why the Zestimate ain't so great.
The Zestimate is Ignorant
Now what do I mean by ignorant? Do I mean that the Zestimate is a cold, heartless algorithm that only takes into account the data that its programmers (and statisticians) choose?
It is true that the Zestimate only takes certain data into account. Sure. But that’s not my main point in calling it ignorant. The truth is that the Zestimate is largely ignorant about so many of the aspects of the house that real people care about.
Like what Theresa?
Well, the Zestimate doesn’t take into account things like:
- The floorplan
- Quality of construction and finishes
- The exact location of the house and the immediate neighborhood
- Cross-roads and busy streets
- The view
- The noise
- The smell
- Size of usable lot
- School district
…just to name a few.
Now, to be fair, Zillow "tries" to account for some of these through secondary data, but ultimately fails. There's just no accurate way to mathematically quantify all these examples. And let’s be honest: these are all things that buyers care about and can play a big factor in determining how much a buyer is willing to pay for a property.
But hey...maybe I shouldn't expect the math gurus at Zillow to understand that real estate is both an art and a science.
Theresa Mack, REALTOR
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
12036 Scripps Highlands Drive
Wait! What? Why in the world is this house listed for $639k when Zillow says all the homes in the area are only worth around $550k?
Ahhh! I’m glad you asked! Let me show you the way…
In case you haven’t been following my blog, I am in the middle of a series called “Misinformation Via Zillow”. So far we have gone through:
1. The Intro
Today we tackle the mighty Zestimate (note that it is pronounced ZEST-ti-met, not ZEE-est-ti-met like we all
think know it should be).
I can’t tell you how many times I have been lovingly referred to the Zestimate regarding the valuation of a house. And to be honest, I can’t really blame the people who bring it up. After all, it pops up all over the internet, masquerading as a legitimate valuation tool, or at the very least as a “good starting point”.
Sheesh Theresa…with words like ‘masquerading’ it sure doesn’t seem like you have much love for the Zestimate. Why don’t you think it’s a legitimate valuation tool?
First off: You got me. I have to admit, I am not a fan of the Zestimate. In fact, for the most part, I consider it pretty Zterrible.
Secondly: I will tell you why I think the Zestimate is not a ‘legitimate’ valuation tool. It basically boils down to three points.
1. The Zestimate is Big
2. The Zestimate is Ignorant
3. The Zestimate is Backward
Since this blog post is getting a little long, I will tackle the first one today, and the following two in the next several weeks.
The Zestimate is Big
This point is probably the most technical of the three, but here goes. The Zestimate is essentially geared towards being “right” based on large scale statistics and data. In other words, the
Ouija board models used to value the property use lots of data from across the country and thus are aiming to ‘close to right’ across the nation.
Now the problem with this is twofold:
1. Real estate is highly variable from community to community, from city to city and from state to state. What drives prices in one community might not drive prices in another. In other words, to properly value a property, one should be intimate with the market; the Zestimate is anything but intimate: it’s a “one-size-fits-all” calculation. And we all know what “one-size-fits-all” means: it fits nothing or nobody well.
2. When you are aiming to be close to right ‘statistically’, you shoot for such metrics as ‘having a good percentage of homes share a Zesimtate within 20% of the Sale Price’. Of course, the problem with this should be clear: 20% is large margin of error! And when you consider that when Zillow considers getting 80% of the Zestimates within this 20% range among the “best”, it only shows the folly that is the Zestimate.
I mean, just think about this for a second (insert pause here): 20%! 20% of a $600k home is $120k! 15% is 90k! I don’t know about you, but to us ‘normies’ out there, $120k is a lot of money. What may not be "statistically significant", may actually be quite significant when talking about real people and real money.
Now, if an agent were off by that much, that agent would be laughed out of the room…perhaps we should do the same with Zestimate.
So you liked that beautiful house on Zillow for that killer price?
Well…you might be out of luck. Chances are: It’s not even for sale!
In case you missed my 'Intro' post, I am in the middle of my ‘Misinformation Via Zillow’ series. Today we are talking about Data Integrity.
But I digress…back to that gorgeous house you found on Zillow and the bubble I just burst with the little known truth about Zillow and the other third-party aggregation sites (we will just call them TPAS’s): they have bad information, and lots of it!
While Zillow, and other TPAS’s might be known for the wealth of information, they definitely are not known for the accuracy of their information. In other words, they are high on quantity, and low on the quality.
So tell me Theresa, is it really THAT bad? How about an example?
I’m glad you asked!
Example: At the time of this writing, a quick search for “Homes for Sale” in Scripps Ranch (zip code: 92131) generated a whopping 209 results through Zillow! Now to give you some perspective: at the time of the search, our very own Sandicor Multiple Listing Service (MLS) showed only 74 active listings! That’s right! Only 74! If my math is right, that means Zillow was only off by slightly less than 200%! I mean sheesh! That’s only slightly better than a 1 in 3 shot! I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds.
So what gives? Well let’s see. From my quick…and I do mean QUICK…investigative analysis, a good deal of these properties were either:
- already under contract
- already sold
- only in preforeclosure (and thus never for sale in the first place)
So what does this all mean? It means that there is a good shot that the house you liked so much on Zillow isn’t for sale.
If you are a little shocked, I can’t blame you. It’s a little mind boggling that a site as recognizable as Zillow has so little Data Integrity. The fact that Zillow and its fellow TPAS's are in the business of providing information only makes it worse! The issue essentially boils down to a lack of effective measures to ensure their data is actually good data. Unfortunately, it’s this lack of control that enables those with fewer scruples to work the system; doing such things such as posting listings that have already sold, in hopes of getting their next client. I don’t know about you, but that just makes me mad!
If a little ol’ agent like me can set up systems to better serve and educate my clients, why can’t a big company like Zillow do the same? Well, I have a theory, but it will have to wait until one of the installments to follow:
3. The End Result
Zillow…Isn’t it wonderful?
How could you not love it? It brings loads of accessible data right to the everyday internet user. So who could dislike this magnificent tool? I’ll tell you who…
ME! (and probably every other good intentioned, honest real estate agent).
And to be honest, it’s not just Zillow. In reality, we could be talking about any one of the countless third-party aggregation sites. So what is it then about these sites that drives me so crazy?
It must be the fact that these third-party sites bring all the data, once only accessible to agents, to the everyday user…right?... No.
First, let me be clear. I have no problem with information in the hands of consumers. Educated clients, in my opinion, are a great thing. In fact, that’s one of my top priorities in every real estate transaction: educating my clients. So if it’s not the information, then what is it?
Do you want the long story or the short story? Well, how about both:
Short Story: Misinformation, and lots of it.
Long Story: You didn't think you were going to get the whole story here, did ya? Well, I hope not, because you will have to wait until my next several posts. To give you a hint of what’s to come, here are the topics I will be discussing:
4. The End Result
(Now this is what I call 'Curb Appeal'!)
Now if you are like most of my clients, you either got a warm feeling inside or were about to throw the closest large object at the screen. In my experience the idea of buying a house with an HOA evokes radically different responses in people. Some people love them…some people hate them. (Shocker...I know).
But here’s the catch: virtually all “newer” communities have HOA’s, and this trend is likely to continue. The truth is that with greater regulation on development comes the need for ongoing maintenance of certain facilities and agreements. Examples include such things as brush management, fire code setbacks, maintenance of storm water quality facilities and devices, maintaining site visibility easements, as well as general community property maintenance (just to name a few). And here’s the thing…somebody has to provide both maintenance and funding.
So what’s the developers’ answer? HOA’s! The HOA will provide the maintenance and
funding monthly bills. The homeowners provide the funding. Now to be clear, HOA’s sometimes do much more than the maintenance above. For example, they will provide covenants, conditions, and regulations (lovingly referred to as CC&R’s). That means they regulate such things as parking, architectural appearance, yard maintenance, etc. Of course, HOA’s range from one development to another, so I would be careful to guarantee anything regarding an HOA…well, except maybe the monthly bill.
So with all of this information what is one to do? The truth is that even though most “newer” communities have HOA’s, there are still plenty of places that do not. So when you are buying a house, you will have to decide for yourself whether or not you will want a house with an HOA. Or you might just decide that you really don’t care.
Can’t decide? I can’t blame you after reading this long winded post! To help you out, I have included my
official unofficial (and short!) list:
“HOA’s: The Pro’s and Con’s”
Common Area Maintenance
Helps maintain community appearance through CC&Rs (and thus helps in maintaining property values)
May provide community amenities such as pool, tennis court, etc.
Less freedom (you must adhere to the CC&R's)
Possible poor management or oversight (can be excessively strict, or somewhat negligent in regulating standards)
I am so excited to welcome you to my newly redesigned website! Personally, I love it, and I hope you do too! After all, it was designed with you in mind! We wanted something clean, simple, and easy to use. I’ll let you in on a little secret (well maybe not). I have yet to have a client who likes to walk through houses that are messy and have too much clutter -- and I am sure that the same applies to websites.
But I digress…
One of the features I am most excited about is the free property search tool. Using this tool, you can search San Diego Real Estate for free! All you have to do is click on ‘Property Search’ on the menu bar above, select your criteria, click search, and VOILA! It’s like having your own little property search tool, right on your home computer, tablet, or smart phone. If you want to save your favorites or get email alerts, all you have to do is sign up in the top, right hand corner, just above the map. (see below)
Of course, that’s not the only feature on my website (but, let’s be honest, it’s the only one we all care about). There is also information regarding the home buying and selling process, as well as a free mortgage calculator. Now granted, it won’t be enough to make you the next ‘expert’…but then again, that’s what I am here for!
Anyways, I think I am beginning to ramble just a bit….so go ahead! Try it out! And let me know what you think. After all, the website is for you!
- Mortgage Rates Take a Major Hike - What Happened?
- Signs of a Strong Recovery
- The 2013 Scripps Ranch Garage Sale!
- Home Prices Up for 12 Months
- Foreclosure Numbers Continue to Drop