Jan. 9, 2017

Top 5 Reasons to Sell Your St George, UT Home NOW

Top 5 Reasons to Sell Your St George, UT Area Home NOW!

  1. Prices Are UP!  Greater St George Median Home Prices are up 6.41% over last year.  The Median home sale price YTD as of December 2016 is $249,000, up from $234,000.
  2. Inventory is DOWN!  There is only about 3.23 months of unsold homes on the market, which indicates a sellers market.  6 months of unsold inventory is considered a neutral market and more than 6 months is a buyers market.
  3. Interest Rates Remain LOW!  Even though prices are up, interest rates still remain historically very low.  This is keeping homeownership attractive and affordable when compared to renting.  Each 1% of interest rate increase = a 10% reduction in buyers purchasing power.  This likely means more potential buyers in your price range.
  4. St George Area Parade of Homes in February  This 10 day event draws thousands of out of town buyers to the area that are interested in seeing what St George is about.  
  5. Less Competition!  Because the available homes for sale are low, you will have higher visibility among buyers and increase your chances of a successful sale.  This will allow you to get a better price for your home vs having to compete against multiple competitors.

If you want to find out what your home could sell for in TODAY'S market, give me a call at 435-767-8343.  You can also type in your address at www.stgeorgepropertyvalues.com to get an instant automated valuation that can give you a quick ballpark figure of what your home is worth.

Posted in Why Sell NOW?
April 4, 2016

5 Home Improvement Projects with the Highest Return on Investment

With April upon us and tax season in full swing, many home owners are thinking of ways to use their tax refund to improve their property.  I am asked quite often about what home improvements provide the best bang for the buck.  My answer is usually something like "That depends, are you looking to stay in the property for awhile or are you looking to improve it in order to sell?".  The reason for this, as you will see, is that most projects end up costing more money than what they add in value to the home.  If the owner plans on staying in the home and enjoying the updates, then it can be money well spent.  If the owner plans on doing updates in order to sell, they may actually be better off not doing them and saving that money.  Those updates will help the home sell, but they usually will not recoup the cost of the update itself. 

Every year a company known as Hanley Wood Media, Inc publishes a report that measures the cost of a home improvement vs the value that it adds to a property.  They gather information from contractors all over the U.S. as well as Realtors in order to provide a cost vs value comparison.  This information is broken down nationally, regionally and by major metropolitan areas.  Based upon our proximity and similarity to the Las Vegas climate and home styles, I have used the Las Vegas index as our baseline for comparison.  Some costs may vary, but the cost recouped % should be fairly close. 

So without further delay, here are the 5 highest returns that homeowners will receive when improving their property.

1. Adding fiberglass attic insulation

 Job Cost $1,283  -  Value Added $1,279  -  Cost Recouped  99.7%

2. Minor Kitchen Remodel (reface cabinets, new appliances, repaint, new countertops, flooring)

 Job Cost $21,223  -  Value Added $17,911  -  Cost Recouped  84.4%

3. Garage Door Replacement (High strength steel, foam insulated & pinch resistant panels, ball bearing urethane rollers)

 Job Cost $1,726  -  Value Added $1,433  -  Cost Recouped 83%

4. Two Story Addition (Added Family Room, Bathroom, Bedroom, HVAC system, Gas Fireplace, Mid Level Finishes)

 Job Cost $174,785  -  Value Added $122,121  -  Cost Recouped 69.9%

5. Major Kitchen Remodel (custom cabinets, stone countertops, imported ceramic/glass backsplash, commercial grade appliances, built in dual convection oven, high end undermount sink w/designer faucet, cork style flooring)

 Job Cost $122,463  -  Value Added $83,023  -  Cost Recouped 67.8%

Curious about the 5 worst, as well as all the others?  Download them straight from the source here.


Posted in Home Improvement
April 4, 2016

April 2016 Real Estate Update

The month of March was another strong month for sales, even with the decline in housing availability.  March 2016 saw 397 home sales vs 366 in March 2015 for an increase of 8.5%.  The Median Sale price of March 2016 was $225,000 vs $220,000 in March 215, which is up 2.27%.  Year to date sales this year are at 925 vs 862 at this time last year for an increase of 7.3%.  The Median Sale Price year to date is at $219,000 vs $215,000 at this time last year for an increase of 1.86%.  

The availability of homes, or our inventory, continues to shrink which is causing upward pressure on home prices.  Supply and demand continue to drive our market.  While there were 1687 homes available for sale in March 2016, that only represented 4.85 months of inventory, which is signaling a bit of a sellers market.  This is evident by the increase in list-to-sale price ratio, which is around 96.5%, about as high as it has been in the last 12 months.  The available homes for sale last year at this time were 2045, which is a 17.5% drop in availability.  


March 8, 2016

Inexpensive Home Staging Ideas

You've most likely heard that staged homes sell faster and for more money than those that aren't.  I've definitely seen the truth in that statement in my own business while working with buyers and sellers.  Sometimes buyers have a tough time envisioning what a vacant space could look like and end up passing or wanting to make a lower offer because of this.  A vacant home can also look smaller in photos and in real life compared to a staged home.  Look at the pictures below of the same room and tell me which one you would get more excited about looking at and potentially buying.  

Now granted, the picture on the left is from a different angle and was taken with a cameraphone compared to a professional photographer.  That being said, the difference is still night and day.  The vacant photo makes the room look much smaller than it is since you don't get the feel that the ceiling is really 12' tall.  Once the furniture was added to show the scale of the room, it now looks much larger and becomes an asset of the home.  

Now don't think that you have to run out and hire a professional stager or lease expensive furniture to realize the benefits of staging.  Many times simply cleaning, decluttering and rearranging a few pieces is all it takes to take a space to another level.

These staging ideas are cheap, easy and pretty much anyone can do them.  If you feel like you want to work with a professional stager it would still most likely be money well spent.  Here are a few ways you can easily get the most out of each room in your home.

1. Declutter & De-Personalize - Start packing away all of the little things hanging out on shelves or packed away in corners. Make the space look as large as possible and keep the eye focused on the room.  Pair down on the family photos and temporarily replace with pictures or artwork.  Buyers tend to feel like they are invading in a home that is overly personalized and feel uncomfortable about being there.  Their natural tendency will tell them they need to leave.

2. Let the Light In - Open the window shades and curtains to let as much light in as possible.  This helps make a room feel larger and creates an inviting space to be in.  Light any dark corners with lamps and turn all of the lights in the house on for showings.

3. White Out the Bathroom - Nothing screams clean in a bathroom like fresh white towels, shower curtain, soap dish and bathmat!  Set yours apart by sending the message that this is a clean space that is fresh and new.

4. Update Kitchen Fixtures - Take an honest look at your kitchen and see if the knobs and pulls, lighting and faucet look like they could use an updated look.  Swapping them out for an updated style and finish will create value in the eyes of a buyer.  The less they feel like they will have to replace, the better!

5. Set the Table - Elaborate table settings can have an overly staged look, but if your dining room table has seen better days or the room could use some livening up, set the table with simple modern place settings.  Go for modern white plates, sleek stainless steel cutlery and clear glassware paired with neutral hued place mats or a tablecloth.  If the room could use a touch of color, add vibrant napkins.

As you can see, light and bright rooms still appeal to the masses and will help your home stand out from the competition. If you would like to have a professional's opinion on how you can stage your home to maximize its potential just let me know and I can recommend a few sources to help you out.

Happy Selling!

Posted in Staging Ideas
March 8, 2016

March 2016 Real Estate Update

The month of February was a very busy month, as evidenced by the amount of pending listings compared to last year.  Overall there were 99 more homes put under contract vs the same time last year, which represents an uptick of 28.6%!  The sold listings came in at 267, which was the same number as last year.  There was an uptick in new listings due to the Parade of Homes which have since been absorbed by the market.  The absorption rate also had a slight uptick due to the increased listings, although based upon what I am seeing, will probably drop back down next month due to the amount of pending listings.  We continue to be in a bit of a sellers market and well priced homes in good condition are still selling within the first few weeks of being listed.  

One interesting piece of data to look at are the price ranges in pending listings that saw the biggest increase.  The $200k - $250k range had a 60% increase over last year in homes put under contract for Feb as did $350k-$450k, although the volume wasn't the same.  The $250k-$350k price range also had a significant increase of 36.8%.  

2016 has started off extremely strong even with the tightened inventory.  New construction continues to be an attractive option to buyers who have specific requirements for their homes as well as for those who have decided against waiting for the "ideal home" to show up on the market.  Continued low mortgage rates and greater flexibility in lending continue to provide buyers a great opportunity to afford a home and lock their housing cost in over the next 30 years as opposed to paying rent that has the potential to fluctuate.

The window of opportunity still remains open, although we never know when it will close.  Nobody knows when the rates will go up or when the market will shift and most people do not become aware of those changes until well after they have happened.  Continue to pay attention to the trends if you are planning on buying, selling or investing in real estate so you can make the most informed decision and provide security for you and your family in the future.  

Wishing you continued success and prosperity!

Feb. 2, 2016

February 2016 Real Estate Update

The last month was a very busy month for me, as well as for the overall real estate market in Washington County.  The number of homes for sale continues to decrease and the prices are continuing to increase due to the lack of inventory.  Supply and demand is still hard at work in our market.  The steady increase in rent costs continue to make home ownership an attractive option for first time home buyers as well as for those who had to wait on the sidelines until their financial status improved.  While many first time home buyers have been pretty well educated on the buying and lending process, I still talk with quite a few people who continue to think that they have to put 20% down on their first home.  They end up being surprised when I let them know that FHA loans only require 3.5% down and some Conventional loans offer only 3% down.  There are also other grant programs available that, when combined with seller paid closing costs, enable a buyer to close with $0 down.  

New construction continues to be a popular option with homebuyers as well, especially with the low inventory.  They are finding it easier to just build their home instead of waiting for the right home to come on the market.  Many builders offer incentives to build with them, especially if you use one of their preferred lenders.  There is a wide variety of builders to choose from ranging from entry level production builders to the most exclusive custom builders, and everything in between.  I've noticed many builders focusing on town homes as a way to offer affordable housing to those looking to keep their housing expenses low.  

Jan. 6, 2016

2015 Housing Market Recap and Current Market Trends

I mentioned in my newsletter that home prices continue to improve, up 4.81% over 2014, due to our tightening housing inventory.  The number of homes for sale has slowly been declining since February of 2015.  In February 2015 there were around 1950 homes for sale compared to 1645 in December 2015.  The amount of homes sold in 2015 was 4071 vs 3559 the prior year, accounting for a 14.4% increase.  This has pushed our absorption rate from 6.7 months of unsold inventory down to 4.8 months of unsold inventory.  Absorption rate is simply the length of time that it would take to sell thru the current inventory at our monthly sales pace, i.e. number of homes sold.  This is a key number because it helps signal what kind of market we are in, i.e. buyers, sellers or neutral.  The point at which the market is considered a neutral market is around 6 months of unsold inventory.  When inventory increases, it causes downward pressure on pricing, and the opposite it true.  Supply and demand.  A buyers market starts poking its head up around 7+ months of inventory and a sellers market starts showing up around 5 months or less of inventory.  We have also been watching a steady decline in the average days on market going from around 107 days on average down to 81.  All of this information signals a great opportunity to be a seller.

While it is a good time to be a seller, it is also still a good time to be a buyer.  The top 5 reasons that buyers purchased homes in 2015, according to the latest National Association of Realtors survey, were as follows: 

1. Their desire to own a home of their own - 30% (64% of those were first time buyers)

2. Their desire for a larger home - 10%

3. Job related relocation or move - 7%

4. Change in family situation (marriage, birth of child, divorce, etc.) - 7%

5. Desire to be closer to family/friends/relatives - 7%

Each of these, as well as the remaining reasons, have 1 common thread that I observe.  That thread is that they wanted to improve their lives and buying the right home was a part of that plan.  Now, it may not have been the main focus to improve their lives, but it did play a role.  The historically low interest rates allowed many first time home buyers to enter the market since the cost of homeownership became more economical than renting, in many markets.  I also found that many buyers liked the idea of a steady housing cost that a mortgage provides, as opposed to potential rent increases over the years.  Let's face it, if you are renting you are already paying a mortgage.  It just happens to be someone else's.  Don't get me wrong, renting is not a bad thing and it can be necessary and advantageous for many people with varying circumstances.  What I am getting at, is that many renters became homeowners in 2015 due to the economic benefits that it provided them.  

With the likelihood of mortgage interest rates continuing to rise, it is in a buyers best interest to take advantage of them now, if they can, as opposed to waiting longer to see what will happen.  For every 1% of mortgage interest rate increase, there is a 10% decrease in a buyers purchasing power.  So, if a buyer qualifies now for a $200,000 mortgage and the rates increase 1% (from 4% to 5% for instance), they would only be able to qualify for a $180,000 mortgage.  This is because the monthly cost stays about the same in these two examples.  So what is more likely to happen in the next year or so, rates to go up 1% or housing prices to go up 10%?  We've become a little spoiled with the mortgage rates in recent years and I think many of us realize how good they really are.  I remember back in 2001 when we bought our first house that our interest rate was 8.5%, and that was a pretty good rate back then.  Today I see buyers getting better than 1/2 of that rate!  It truly is a great time to lock in housing costs by purchasing an affordable property at an amazing rate!

Until next time, I wish you peace, happiness and continued prosperity!

Posted in 2015 Market Recap