Our 2016 Preliminary Market Wrap-Up

As we near the end of 2016, our market has leveled out considerably. However, as you’ll see, there is still good news for buyers and sellers heading into the last part of the fourth quarter.

2016 is almost over, so it’s time to look back on what’s happened in the real estate market over the past year to get a good idea of what you should expect heading into the last months of the fourth quarter. At the start of the year, the market was so strong that we couldn’t list homes fast enough. Current sellers have the perception that the market is still that strong, but it’s actually slowed down since then. There are still a few hot areas in our market, but that’s more due to the attractiveness of specific price points. In general, we’re seeing price reductions across the board. Since perception is what we’re dealing with, it’s worth mentioning that many people assumed that the market must have been crazy year over year during the summer, when in fact the third quarter numbers (July to September) tell a different story. Compared to the third quarter of last year, the difference in the number of homes listed was literally just one house: 4,771 in 2015 vs. 4,772 in 2016. As you can see, after the initial onslaught, things leveled out considerably.

It’s still a great time to buy or sell in our market.

In predicting what will happen for the rest of the fourth quarter, we look at seasonality and year over year numbers. We’ve been talking about an impending downshift for the last 18 months or so, and now with the election over and interest rates beginning to rise, we should see that downshift happening soon. However, there is still good news. Though they’re beginning to increase, we still have great interest rates. If you’re a buyer, you can still save a lot of money by buying a house now. Not only that, but you’ll have less competition from other buyers. If you’re a seller, you should see a lot of buyers entering the market very soon because they thought they couldn’t compete in the previous quarter’s market. These buyers are less likely to suffer from buyer’s remorse, and during the inspection period, they’re less likely to get cold feet and flake out. As with buyers, you should also face less competition. Stay tuned for our full 2016 market recap coming in January. In the meantime, if you have any questions or you’re thinking about buying or selling, please reach out to us so we can help you be on your way!

How to Jumpstart Your Real Estate Career

Our team has had a record year and will likely be growing. Here’s how you can get involved.

I am happy to be joined today by Amy Schafer, our lead buyer’s agent, to talk a little about our team and how we help those who are interested in a career in real estate get started.

This year has been crazy. It’s been a record year for our team. Since we’ve been growing so fast, we have been getting a lot of questions about how to get into the industry. We’ve got a lot of different roles on our team, and some of them don’t even require a real estate license.

We have a school here at Keller Williams to help you get licensed if real estate is a career you’re considering. We have regular career nights here at KW and also teach a live class for the 60-hour pre-license. We also teach listing practices, buying practices, and developing professional ethics, which are the three classes you need to complete to get your license.

We'll help you get your real estate career started!

The total time for the classes is 96 hours, but we make it fun with Amy as your instructor. Another good contact for you to have if you’re thinking about a career in real estate is the Professional Licensing Bureau, which deals with the Iowa Real Estate Commission. Gaby, our agent services coordinator, is also available to help walk you through the process.

If you have any questions for us or would like to talk about getting a career started in real estate, give us a call or send us an email. We can send you some information so you can determine if it’s the right fit for you. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Announcing the Fall Events Lineup

Now that fall is here, we have some really great events coming up that we're excited to see you at. We've also got a new addition to the team that we'd like you to meet.

We have some really fun and exciting things happening right now, and some great events planned for the fall.

First, I'm happy to introduce Michelle Soquet, our new executive assistant and customer care specialist. She's awesome and thrilled to be here.

Additionally, we have lots of great inventory right now that we think you should check out from investment properties at $50,000 to a high-end contemporary home at $650,000.

As for events, we're starting with "Have a Good Night" at Gilroy's on October 12th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. We're hosting this event with food and live music–hopefully we'll get nice some weather to enjoy the patio!
We're really excited to see you at these events!
On October 20th, we'll have a really fun Trunk or Treat event here at the office to get ready for Halloween. Get the kids dressed up and come get some candy with us!

We're also bringing back the popular event "Gather the Girls" on November 3rd with Meghan Blum Interiors. You can start your Christmas shopping here; we'll have local vendors and local artists.

Finally, we want you to save the date for our third annual Reindeer Day. Last year, we had 800 people show up, so we'll have VIP tickets for our clients and contacts so you won't have to wait in line.

We're really excited for these events! If you have any questions in the meantime, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to seeing you soon!

How to Navigate the Des Moines Market

It’s clear that our market has shifted a bit lately, but this is something we predicted. Here’s how to navigate our market on both the buying and selling side.

Today I’m joined by David Bell with Gershman Mortgage to talk a little bit about the market in terms of housing inventory and financing.

In regard to housing, the market has definitely slowed down quite a bit since spring. On David’s end, he’s seeing the market change along with the interest rates. The Federal Reserve has hinted toward an increase in interest rates, and that hint itself could cause rates to go up right from the get-go.

We’re seeing some of these changes on the housing market as well. We’ve been predicting these changes for about the last 12 to 18 months, and July of this year was the first month where we saw these numbers shift. Our inventory levels are up and our sales are coming down, so it’s clear that the market is indeed changing.

As far as financing in the market goes, the biggest change that David has seen so far has been some of the modifications to the USDA program. Though the USDA’s upfront fee has been 2.75% up to this point, they’re planning on reducing it to 1%. In addition, their monthly guarantee fee is set to decrease from .5% to .35%, which will reduce monthly payments for homeowners. These changes will make things much easier for homeowners, especially those looking to buy homes in small, rural communities with populations below 20,000.

Be Johnny-on-the-spot with the loan officers.

What should you do if you’re thinking of selling your home? One warning I’ll give you is that you will have increased competition on the market. For this reason, we’ll want to make sure that the home shows well and that it’s priced right initially. For those that are considering moving within the next one to two years, the forecast that we’re seeing is that home values are going to decrease. This is why if you’re considering selling, it’s important to get your home listed as soon as possible.

On the buyer side, David advises having all documents ready to hand in to your loan provider in order to streamline the process. Loan officers will generally ask for things like W-2s, paystubs, and tax returns up front to process your initial file, but once your loan goes into underwriting, you’ll be asked for additional documentation. Be ready for all of this because the sooner you get all of these things in, the sooner you’ll be cleared, and the sooner you can close on the home.

If you have any other questions about the mortgage process, give David a call at 515-330-2930 and as always, please give me a call or send me an email with any questions about anything real estate-related. I’d be happy to help you!

How Betsy Sarcone helped us sell our home quickly so we could purchase the home we wanted.

"We were happy with what we found. We found something we liked in our price range and area. We were able to get it very quickly and we were able to sell our townhouse very quickly also. And I know we were, well we sold our townhouse pretty quickly so we could get the new house because there were other buyers that were wanting the new house. Then our first buyer ended up cancelling the agreement on the townhouse, so we had to re-list our townhouse for sale in order to get the new house, so we had to sell it pretty quickly. She was able to find buyers for us to keep the new house."

-Amy Pille

Why Should You Hire a Des Moines Buyer’s Agent?

Today our buyer’s agent, Amy Schafer, joins us to discuss the advantages of hiring a buyer’s agent.

As a buyer’s agent, Amy focuses on three main things. First and foremost, she will help you find a home. Buyer’s agents also negotiate on your behalf, protecting your finances and motivation. Finally, a buyer’s agent will get you to the closing table and moved into the home. 

If you want to buy a certain property, don’t just call the agent on the sign in the front yard. Having a buyer’s agent is a free service, so why not take advantage of it? The seller’s agent will not have your best interests at heart. 

You don’t have to pay for a buyer’s agent. When the seller lists a property, they take care of paying their agent and the buyer’s agent because they want the buyer’s agent to bring people to their homes. If you buy a For Sale By Owner property, your agent will negotiate their fee with the seller.

A lot of people start looking at properties online. Where do you go from there? Contact Amy for a 30-minute buyer consultation. She will go over strategies on finding a home and let you know how the whole process will work.

Inventory is incredibly low right now and many buyers are having a hard time finding good properties. A good buyer’s agent will get creative to find you the right home. For example, Amy knows about many homes before they even come on the market. She can match you with the right property before it even hits the MLS. 

If you have any questions, just give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Why Are Home Inspections so Crucial in Des Moines?

 Today, J.D. Nelson, a new team member with an extensive background in home inspections, joins us to discuss that very topic. He has some incredible insight. They are so important for buyers and sellers alike in the surrounding Des Moines area.

Sellers should consider a pre-sale inspection. This is a proactive approach before listing. You will know about any issues and have the opportunity to fix them before potential buyers view your property. The pre-sale inspection helps with the closing process and avoids surprises.

The pre-sale inspection also gives the seller peace of mind. Plus, if you resolve a few repairs before listing the property, you will most likely save money. When a buyer gets the inspection back and wants to negotiate repairs, they tend to overestimate the costs. If you fix something for $200, odds are that the buyer will request a $500 allowance to make the exact same repair.

Doing the pre-sale inspection saves you money in the long run. If you have to make substantial repairs that increase the value of your home, we can also build that into the listing price.

Betsy Sarcone_PQ.4.8.16.jpg

On the buyer side, 80% of buyers invest in a home inspection. This goes over the same things as the pre-sale inspection and lets you know everything about the house before you close on the property. The general inspection will cover things like your HVAC system, roof, electrical system, and more. If the home inspector notices any major issues, they may recommend having a specialist come out to inspect the property.

You can also add a radon and termite inspection to the property. Depending on the square footage of the home, a general home inspection typically runs from $310 to $400. This is a great investment so that you’re aware of any issues with the property before purchasing it.  

One of the benefits of working with J.D. is when he walks into a house, he goes into inspector mode. J.D. saves clients time by pointing out big ticket items that might need to be addressed. He helps them make educated decisions when looking at homes.

If you have any questions, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

The Real Estate Market is Booming in Des Moines

Today we are excited to be giving you a market update and talk about some fun things going on in Des Moines right now.

Not only are presidential candidates flooding the city, people who want to live here are flocking to the area as well. We have had some amazing referrals over the last month, from all over the country. People have come to us not only through our large referral network, but through our friends and family that live all over. Those referrals mean a lot to us, and we thank you for trusting us and thinking of us when it comes to Des Moines real estate.

If you're not in Des Moines and reading this, we just want you to know we can help you move no matter where your destination is. We have fantastic agent relationships all over the country with Keller Williams, and we can get you in touch with a great agent no matter where you are.

In Des Moines, we had a huge surge in business in 2016. January is the busiest month I've ever had in real estate. We have a ton of buyers coming in, a lot of businesses coming in, and we are still short on listings. If you are ready to sell, now is the time to make your move. Even if you're just thinking about selling in the future, but don't want to formally list your home, we might just have the perfect buyer for your home. It can never hurt to have the option on the table.

If you have any questions for us, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We would love to hear from you!

What Remodels Are the Best?

Today I'm excited to answer some questions about remodeling. We are always getting questions from clients about where they should put their money. Today we are going to answer some of those questions. 

There are a few key concepts that I advise people to go by. The first is square footage. Whenever you are adding square footage to your home, you're adding value. 

Another thing that adds a lot of value is an extra bedroom. If you go from being a 3-bedroom home to a 4-bedroom home, your home will be in a higher price bracket. 

Adding another full or half-bathroom is another great idea. Even if you can't add anything, remodeling your bathroom will bring you a pretty good return on investment.

When you do decide to add value to your home through home renovation or remodeling projects, understand that you won't always get a full return on your investment. I found a cool graph in Realtor Mag, that shows how much value certain home repairs bring. If you update your heating and cooling system, you can expect to get around 71% of that cost back. However, with hardwood floor refinishing, you can expect to get 100% of that value back when you decide to sell.

My best advice is this. If you are considering adding value to your home through renovations or remodels, give us a call first. We can help you get started, and put you in touch with some of the best contractors in the area who will be able to take it from there. We are happy to help out, and would love to hear from you. Give us a call or send us an email today!