North Shore Views
Archive for the 'Real estate' Category
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Seller-
My clients wanted to buy your house. They really did. Or at least they thought they did based on the description and pictures they saw on the MLS. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get in to see the house in person due to your “24 hour notice required – NO EXCEPTIONS” showing instructions. So now they have left town again, having put in an offer on another house that they liked almost as much as yours.
You see, my buyers are relocating to the North Shore from another state for a new job, and they only had this weekend to figure out where they wanted to live and find a house to buy. Once we’d done our area tour and they had identified two or three North Shore communities to focus on, I went about setting up appointments for later that day. When I called about your house, the appointment desk told me we could not see your house because of your showing instructions. When I explained about my out-of-town buyers, he said he was very sorry, but no.
Believe me, I understand how stressful it is to have your life disrupted by people traipsing through your home at the drop of a hat. And I know how difficult it is to keep your house in showing condition at all times, especially when time on market drags on and on. It is certainly your prerogative to decide when and under what conditions to show your home. However, I noticed that your home has been on the market for 97 days and has had one price reduction already, so I respectfully suggest that, if you really want to sell your house, you may want to consider being more flexible with showings.
The more accessible you can make your home to potential buyers, the more quickly you are likely to get an offer. And the faster you get the house under contract (the data shows) the more money you will get for your home.
Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I had a qualified and highly motivated buyer who, in all likelihood, would have made an strong offer on your house this weekend. But once you said no to a showing, you lost them. They won’t come back at a more convenient (for you) time.
Please, for your own sake, try to be more flexible the next time someone wants to see your home. You may just get an offer.
If you are planning to sell your North Shore home, you should read this article in the Wall Street Journal.
The article cites data from discount real estate broker, Redfin, which underscores how crucial it is to price your home correctly right out of the gate, rather than “testing” the market at a higher price for a few weeks. According to Redfin, new listings get 4 times as many online visits in the first week as they do a month later, which is when most people consider taking their first price reduction. Over 90% of home buyers begin their search online, so you don’t want to risk “missing the market” by overpricing your home.
If you are considering selling and would like to know what your house is worth in today’s market, I would be happy to provide you with a complimentary CMA (competitive market analysis). Give me a call at 847-687-5957 or email me. You can also get a quick, over-the-net home value analysis here.
The Illinois Association of Realtors announced today that residential real estate sales in the nine county Chicago area fell for the first time in a year for the month of July (single family homes and condos). This was driven by the end of the tax credit (June 30), the weak job market and the uncertainty around the economic recovery.
While sales declines for the North Shore are comparable to the greater Chicago area (-19.1% vs. July 2009), the picture is not as bleak if you look only at single family detached homes, which decreased only 11% in July. The good news for the North Shore market is that the median price is up 21% for all single family homes and up 8% for detached single family homes.
Here’s how the trends compare:
Home Sales -29.7%
Median Price -4.3%
Home Sales -25.0%
Median Price -9.6%
City of Chicago
Home Sales -19.5%
Median Price -19.8%
Home Sales -19.1%
Median Price +21.0%
*Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Northfield, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Lake Forest
If you are planning to sell your Winnetka home, chances are your real estate agent has shown you a CMA (comparable market analysis) to support her pricing recommendation. Basically, a CMA shows you what similar homes in your neighborhood have sold for in the past few months, so that you know where you should price your home to get it sold.
I have found that a helpful supplement to a CMA is an analysis of how many real buyers there are at each price point. For purposes of this exercise a real buyer is the same as a sold home. Thinking about it this way enables us to get our minds around how many real buyers there are out there in a particular price point, because if someone purchased a home they are certainly a real buyer. Taken together with the number of homes listed at this price, you can calculate the odds of selling your home within the next, say, six months. It’s an easy way to see the level of activity for every price point; it’s also a good tool for determining your pricing strategy. It provides a pretty compelling picture of how moving from one price tier to another could dramatically improve (or hurt) your odds of selling.
Take the following as an example. The chart shows price tiers for Winnetka single family homes in $100,000 increments. Dividing the real buyers (homes sold) by the number of homes currently on the market, you can get a good sense of your probability of selling, depending on which price tier your home falls into.
In Winnetka, a home that is appropriately priced within the $900-999,000 tier has a very good chance of selling within a six month period (100% according to this chart). A home between $1,000-1,999,999 also has a very good probability of selling (75%). But get over $2,000,000 and the odds decrease significantly because there are more than three times as many homes for sale as there are buyers.
What that says is that if your home is priced in the low $2,000,000′s, you may want to consider rethinking your pricing strategy. Bringing it down to the next tier may be what it takes to get it sold. I recently advised a client whose house had languished for a year on the low end of that $2,000-2,999,999 tier to consider bringing it down to $1,999,999. Once they did, the house sold within two weeks.
Even if it were legal for me to answer this question, which it’s not, I could not answer it. That’s because, like beauty, “best place to live” is in the eye of the beholder, and what’s best for me, isn’t going to be best for someone else.
What I can do is help my clients discover their best place to live.
The first step is finding out what’s important to them:
If they have children, schools will usually be at the top of the list. If their kids are into sports they may want to be near playing fields or the ice rink.
Do they commute to the city and want to be within walking distance of the train, or is easy access to the highway more important?
Would they rather have a big piece of property with privacy and quiet or do they prefer a more neighborhood-y feel?
Once I understand what’s important to them, I will take them on my signature Tour of the Shore, where I show them the communities and neighborhoods that fit their criteria. We visit the schools, parks, downtown areas and amenities. I will show them 2-3 representative homes in each community that fall in their price range, and we discuss why their budget will buy more in one area than another, or why two very similar houses have such different price tags.
But beyond housing prices and school scores, it’s critical to get a FEEL for the communities and neighborhoods that you are considering. Here are some of the ways I recommend getting a feel for a neighborhood or community, so you can find the one that will be best for you:
- Have your agent show you what you can buy with your budget in each community. Talk about the trade-offs and what you gain or give-up depending on the community or neighborhood.
- Compare the schools by looking at reports and test scores that can be found online. Then go to the school and sit in front at 3:15 when the bell rings at the end of the day. You will see what happens when the kids come streaming out. Are parents waiting for them? Is it a neighborhood school where they can walk or ride their bikes home or do they have to ride the bus? Do they seem happy and relaxed?
- Observe the neighborhood at different times of day. What are people doing? Are they out and about or locked in their houses? Is it noisy or quiet? Is it well lit after dark?
- What’s the traffic like? If you are concerned the house you like may be on a busy street, you should go there during rush hour to get the “worst case” scenario. Do people drive fast through the neighborhood, or are they mindful that there are children around?
- Talk to the neighbors and ask them what they like most and least about the neighborhood.
- Also, go sit at the local Starbucks or the park and watch people come and go. Would you feel comfortable with them as neighbors?
There are lots of great communities and neighborhoods on the North Shore. You may have to make some trade-offs based on what you can afford, so you do need to be clear on your priorities. I remember when we moved back here from Colorado, I found a house I really liked in one community but my husband pointed out that, because the lots were large and the houses so spread out, there didn’t seem to be many kids close by. Knowing how social both our kids were, I had to admit this wasn’t going to work for them, so we picked a neighborhood where the houses were close together and there were always tons of children around. Even though I loved that rambling farmhouse with the big oak trees, I have to admit that the house and neighborhood we chose has worked much better for us as a family.
After a few months of increased home sales, July saw a decrease in sales on Chicago’s North Shore.
This was not surprising because the tax credit expired June 30. The towns which had the biggest decreases were the ones where the tax credit had had the most positive impact: towns where home prices tend to be under $700,000. Although unit sales were down this month, the good news is that prices are up modestly vs. July of last year and time on market is down.
The towns that showed the best performance overall were Wilmette and Lake Forest. Wilmette had a 15% increase in unit sales and a 15% increase in median selling price, as well as a 4% decrease in time on market. Lake Forest doubled in unit sales from July of last year and decreased in market time, while prices stayed flat.
The weakest performer for the month of July was Highland Park. Sales were down 22% vs. 2009, median selling price declined 27% and days on market increased 4%.
Evanston’s average days on market is down to 69 days while several other markets are down to five months. Kenilworth time on market is still just under one year due to its high average price point.
North Shore Market Update – July 2010
Here’s a comparison of home sales activity for each of Wilmette’s four elementary school districts. The data is for the six months February-July 2010 and is for single family detached homes:
Source: MREDLLC- Deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
The chart below shows the two most active price points for each of nine towns on the North Shore.
Despite the crummy economy, the $1,000,000-1,900,000 price point is the most active for all but three towns. Interesting is the wide disparity between the first and second highest selling price points, especially in Northfield and Glenview.
And confirmation that Kenilworth continues to be the poshest and priciest suburb on the North Shore, with 63% of sales over $1,000,000.
Most Active Price Points – 1st Half 2010 (thousands)
Source: MRED LLC- Deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Data is for single family detached homes.
Trouble is, when we live in a house, we get used to its particular “aroma” and we may not even realize that others find it noticeably unpleasant. And I know of what I speak. With 3 large dogs, 5 chinchillas and a guinea pig, my house is somewhere between farm and zoo on the olfactory scale. If I ever sell my house, I will have to do some serious odor remediation.
There are several smells that you want to avoid when your house is on the market: cooking aromas, cigarette and cigar smoke, pet odors, garbage and, last but not least, that stale smell typical of a vacant house that’s been closed up for an extended period.
The best way to know if your house does give off an unpleasant odor is to ask a trusted friend to come over and take an objective whiff. Remember that old air freshener ad where the neighbor comes over, sniffs the air and and says, “Fish for dinner last night?” Of course, no one would actually say that to you, but in this case you really do want her to. Promise her you won’t be offended.
Here are some ways to minimize bad smells in your house:
- Take the garbage out every day and especially right before a showing or an open house.
- Quit smoking. You’ve been wanting to since forever. Well, now you have another good reason to do it. But there will still be smoke smell lingering on all the curtains and upholstery (which you probably won’t notice, but others will), so it might also be a good time to call the Stanley Steemer man.
- Watch what you cook while your house is on the market, and always use the exhaust fan in your kitchen. Certain foods have smells that linger: fish, lamb, broccoli, garlic, onions, curry and fried foods. If you want to eat those things while your house is for sale, go to a restaurant.
- Wash the dog and his bed often.
- Stash the litter box in the garage when people are coming through the house.
- Use a de-humidifier in the basement, especially in summer.
Before you run out and buy all those plug-in air freshener thingies you see advertised on TV, be warned that using them can backfire. First, because the scent may be overpowering, and some people are actually allergic or hyper-sensitive to the fragrances used in those products. And second, because if the scent is really noticeable, people will think you’re trying to cover up something (which you are).
Instead, try these ideas to freshen up your home:
- Open the windows for an hour every day and let fresh air circulate.
- Cut up some lemon wedges and run them through the garbage disposal before showings and open houses.
- Use an odor eliminator like PureAyre which eliminates rather than masks odors. It is completely safe to use around food, babies and people with allergies. It doesn’t cover up odors. Instead it breaks down odor causing compounds. It’s not cheap, but it works. You can buy it at Petco, Whole Foods or online.
- Put a small reed diffuser in the bathroom with a vanilla scent. Vanilla is one of the most universally appealing scents.
- You can bake cookies or you can just heat up some water and throw fresh cinnamon into it. Just turn it off before buyers come though, so it’s not overwhelming.
The Harper School neighborhood is certainly one of the bright spots right now in terms of homes sales. While home sales trends in Wilmette in the first half of 2010 were quite positive (+85% over 1st half 2009), Harper’s trends are even better, with 150% more houses sold this year than last. Even more surprising is the improvement of median selling price. While the median selling price for Wilmette actually decreased by 1%, the median price in the Harper area actually increased 7.4%, from $745,000 to $800,000. We haven’t seen this kind of trend in quite a while!
Before we get too excited, we need to keep in mind that there is still a lot of inventory on the market: 52 active listings in the Harper area alone, and some of them have been sitting for a while. On the other hand, there have been a few cases where the home was in great condition and well-priced and it sold in a matter of days. Yes, it can still happen, even in today’s market.
Harper Neighborhood Home Sales (1st Half 2010 vs. 2009)
Source: MRED, LLC. Single family homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
If you’d like to find out what your home is worth in today’s market, you can get a free, quick, over-the-net evaluation here or you can call me at 847-687-5957. If you would like more specific data about home sales on your street or in the immediate vicinity of your home, you can email me and I will be happy to send it to you.