Top 12 Women Real Estate Bloggers 2007 Podcasts

[photopress:top_12_2007.jpg,thumb,alignright]Oliver Muoto from vFlyer Blog wasted no time contacting the women Sellisius recognized as the Top 12 Women Real Estate Bloggers for 2007.   The podcasts are in nice easy to digest “bite size”  pieces with great bits of information to chew on about real estate blogging.   Oliver also includes a summary of advice from the interviews.

Yours truly is included and I am honored beyond words.

To listen to the interviews, click here.

How are condo/home sales being financed?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been chomping at the bit to know how people who are buying, are financing these purchases.  It’s a monumental task to wade through the detail on this. I probably should have waited a week to get all of the September closings into the mix from the last few days.  But I just couldn’t wait another day!  The suspense was killing me. 

I used all sales from one city on the Eastside, closings from 8/1 through end of September, purchase prices of $400,000 or less.  For confidentiality reasons, since I am revealing mortgage data, I will not name which city I used.  Too easy to trace some of these to the actual purchaser.  I think it will be important to track over the next 6 months, how these percentages change, particularly with regard to FHA and financing for purchases with less than 20% down.

Here are the results of approximately 60 closings. Another 25 or so did not have the data recorded yet as to the mortgage amount and type.  I’ll pick those up in the next analysis.

1) 41.5% were 20% down or more.  Most exactly 20% down. 

2) 25% were 100% financed. Interesting note: 75% of the ones with 100% financing were done as ONE loan.  No second mortgage. So PMI may be back in a big way.  (private mortgage insurance instead of a high rate 2nd mortgage, for the amount financed representing over 80% of the purchase price.)  unless these programs waived PMI.  In any event, one loan and not two, as has been customary for quite some time now.  Big shift.

3) 15% were 10% down.  75% of those were also done as one 90% loan and not two, as in 80% and 10%.  Again…big shift.

4) 10% were 5% down.  Half done as one loan, and the other half done as two loans.

5) 5% were cash purchases.

6) 3.5% were FHA.  The amount financed on these were both 98.4% of sale price, and not 97%.  Important to note, as we tend to say that FHA is 3% down, but it really doesn’t work quite that way in reality.  One was sale price $274,000 with a financed amount $269,766.  The other was sale price $213,000 and financed amount $209,709.  More like 1.6% “down”.  I vaguely remember this from “the old days” but time for everyone to get up to speed on FHA and review some actual closing statements regarding how FHA really works at the end of the day.  While only 2 of 60 were financed using FHA, we should be seeing many more of these.  So we all need to get a lender in to explain FHA financing to the agents, in minute detail, with real closing statements as samples, NOT GFEs!

The under $300,000 market looks good with a 3 month supply in escrow…but something tells me a lot of these won’t close, due to financing, unless a lot of agents get up to speed on how to finance these really, really FAST!  Inventory also looks OK, with less than twice that amount on market, but if we can’t close out those in escrow, there’s not much hope for the existing inventory either, especially if 2/3rds of those in escrow come back on market…which they easily could.  I say at least 1/3 of these will not close.  I’m thinking it will actually be half to 2/3rds that will not close.  Mainly because in escrow represents three times the average per mo. that closed in the last two months!  So my guess is that many of these are in closing date extensions, trying to figure out how to finance.

The key to the next six months will be everyone getting totally up to speed on FHA and FAST!  If the low end can’t move in the first quarter, because agents don’t understand FHA or alternative financing, 2008 is in big trouble.  Old saying: “As goes the low end (in the 1st quarter), so goes the year.”

I’m pushing all of our agents in that direction, to help the industry and consumers.  Focus on the low end and totally “get” how to finance it, for people with little money down.  The better we handle this, the better the market will be.  Every broker should be having seiminars on FHA and minimum down financing, and not waiting to see how the market does without our influence.  The best agents need to go down to the low end price-wise, and focus on helping this market move, and not leaving the cheap seats to those least qualified to juggle the financing piece of this low end market.

Fewer sales failing on financing in the under $400,000 market will be THE key to Seattle’s holding on to its preferred market position nationally.  Don’t let Seattle down.  Roll up your sleeves and get down there where it really matters.  The first time buyer market.  DO NOT leave that market to inexperienced newer agents, without a lot of support.

It’s a darned shame escrow can’t intervene and help with this too.  Not a good time for them to be “neutral parties”.  They are the ones with first hand knowledge of which lenders are closing, and which aren’t.  I’ll give you a few clues:

Bank of America closed about 20% of the zero down, one loan, 100% financing.

Wells Fargo closed about 15% of the zero down, two loan 100% financing.

Countrywide, First Horizon, American Mtg Network, Choice Lending, Gn Mtg LLC, Mortgageit Inc., Planet Financial, Mtg. Network Svcs., Liberty Financial, Rainland – all of these closed one or more those 100% financed in the last 60 days.  FHA – Wells Fargo.

I’m not recommending these lenders, and don’t even know many of them.  Just reporting who seems to be getting the job done.  I’ll try to pick up the last week of September, those not yet updated in the County records data, in a week or so.

Another item to add to Daylight Savings Time changes… batteries and power cords

I’ve written a few articles about fire prevention one of them linked here: link with respect to a site that has lots of fire prevention tips. I’ve also written about the dangers of space heaters.

Today I want to write about the dangers of old, or overheating electrical cords, specifically, if you are using extension cords or multi-outlet cords in your home. We all do it. In fact, recently I updated all the outlet cords in our home office because we couldn’t remember how old the ones were that we were using. Plus, we upgraded some power surge protectors for those outlet cords that were being used for our office equipment like computers and printers.

What got me thinking about this post though was what I read as I was reviewing a condominium resale certificate for a client the other night. In two months of the Home Owner’s Association board meeting minutes were remarks about fires that had started in individual units over the course of about 6 months. This association only has 67 units and 2 units had experienced fires only a few months apart from each other. While that is a small percentage overall it is still scary that if either of these fires had gotten out of control many more units would have been affected. Granted, this is a building from 1992 so it should have a sprinkler system and hardwired smoke detectors and thankfully both fires were stopped within the units walls. But, what about those buildings that are grandfathered against these requirements? You can see where I’m going with this as we’ve all read stories of those kinds of buildings burning and people being hurt or killed.

It’s imperative that anyone using extension cords be careful and to check or replace them regularly.  Perhaps as Daylight Savings Time is a recommended time to change out the batteries in your smoke detectors perhaps it should also be the time to check your power cords around the house.

The Longest Season Ever – Spring Forward


How much is the market influenced by the fact that it stays light longer on weekdays? 

We all know it’s true that people tend to look at property more on weekends, unless it gets dark later on weekdays.  We all know the second and third quarters of each year are stronger than the first and last quarters.  But how much does that have to do with it getting dark earlier and staying light later?

Well, this is a good year to test that, as tonight is the beginning of daylight savings time.  For the first time in, I guess my life, we will turn our clocks forward, one hour, tonight, March 11, 2007.

Compare that to April 6 in 2003, April 4, in 2004, April 3 in 2005 and April 2 in 2006, and we are adding about 36 days to the real estate high season.  Will be interesting to see how the March 2007 stats compare to previous years.  I think they will be stronger due to DST being pushed earlier.

Maybe that will transcend into April.  Maybe sellers who would have listed May 1, will be able to spruce up the home’s exterior earlier this year, with a few hours of daylight after work each night, and get their homes listed a couple of weeks earlier than expected.

I’m just happy that the daffodils are in bloom, I see pink trees everywhere, and starting tomorrow…it will get dark later.  One of Seattle’s main claims to fame, is our long, long spring and summer days.  And this year, we will have even more of it!  Enjoy!

ARDELL on "Where is the 2007 Market heading?"

My prediction has been, that the 2007 Market will be similar to the market of 2006, that being strong and upwardly mobile.  Not necessarily as strong as 2005, when interest rates were lower, but on an even keel with, or better than, last year.

To determine momentum of the market, I look at absorption issues, and reduce the study to a somewhat predictable and mainstream market segment.  To keep apples to apples, I target that portion of the market with the highest number of sales in a year’s time.  The results are almost startling, with regard to upward momentum since the first of the year, and even better than I expected to see. 

Where “in escrow”, which is both STI and Pending, is much higher than “for sale” and/or closed in January 07, the forward momentum of the market is strongest.

Seattle has too many new properties not reflected in the stats (i.e.”1 of 8 townhomes”), as does high end.  I am using the market segment I find is best for prediction purposes using the MLS, that being Redmond (98052 only), Bellevue, Kirkland and Bothell (98011 only).  I am also using “up to $650,000” as that is the segment with the most properties changing hands in a year’s time, based on the stats I did on a running basis last year.

I also use this market segment because I can readily visualise the properties involved, and so my conclusions are more valid than areas like Tacoma or Snohomish or even all of King County.  The segment I use, accounts for both strongest and weaker markets and “residential” vs. condo.

98052 – Redmond – 37 residential for sale, 40 in escrow and 18 closed in Jan. 07; 44 condos for sale, 69 in escrow and 19 closed in Jan. 07.

98011 – Bothell – 40 residential for sale, 37 in escrow and 18 closed in Jan. 07; 15 condos for sale, 28 in escrow and 15 closed in Jan. 07

98034 –  Kirkland – 35 residential for sale, 29 in escrow and 27 closed in Jan. 07; 32 condos for sale, 37 in escrow and 25 closed in Jan. 07

98033 – Kirkland “proper” – 23 residential for sale, 15 in escrow and 19 closed in Jan. 06; 50 condos for sale, 62 in escrow and 21 closed in Jan. 07

98004 – Bellevue – 4 residential for sale, 2 in escrow and 1 closed in Jan. 07; 27 condos for sale, 21 in escrow and 8 closed in Jan. 07

98005 – Bellevue – 5 residential for sale, 4 in escrow and 2 closed in Jan. 07; 14 residential for sale, 40 in escrow and 8 closed in Jan. 07.

98006 – Bellevue – 17 residential for sale, 13 in escrow and 9 closed in Jan. 07; 20 condos for sale, 14 in escrow and 6 closed in Jan. 07

98007 – Bellevue – 5 residential for sale, 9 in escrow and 5 closed in Jan. 07; 6 condos for sale, 12 in escrow and 16 closed in Jan. 07

98008 – Bellevue – 18 residential for sale, 20 in escrow and 11 closed in Jan. 07; 1 condo for sale, 4 in escrow and 4 closed in Jan. 07

98005 is a bit skewed, as Woodbridge and Oasis are long escrows, so 40 in escrow is not reflective of a less than 30 day market activity.  New construction in escrow will always throw off momentum stats.  That is why I don’t do the high end this way when I am looking for “people’s recent decision to purchase” forward momentum.  There is some of that in others, but not as much as in 98005.

I also break it down this way, so people can see where they might most likely find a single family home priced under $650,000, or where they might most likely find a condo at an entry level price.  The highest numbers will equal the highest ongoing availability, or whether you are looking “for a needle in a haystack” in that area.

2007?  If you list it, price it well, it looks good and is priced under $650,000…it WILL sell.