Come channel your dark side of staging. Here’s your chance to create your spookiest home décor – the one that haunts you in your nightmares. Move Inc., the operators of realtor.com®, recently launched a new Halloween-themed interactive feature, “Build Your Own Haunted House,” that allows you to create your own spooky home to share with prospects or peers.
You can build a spooky home, complete with animation and sounds, and then “share the scare” via e-mail or through your social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. The new feature will be available until midnight on Oct. 31.
Build your haunted house from a menu of options – carefully selecting your architecture, lighting, and lawn features, including a customizable for-sale sign, jack-o-lanterns, tombstones, or skeletons. You also can add flying witches, ghosts, crows, or bats and several sound options to complete the fright, from wailing ghosts and shrieking witches to thunder and wind. To add even more scare, click on “zombify me” to turn your headshot into a zombie.
“At realtor.com, we want to make the home experience enjoyable, and what’s more fun than having the opportunity to build your own haunted house and share it with friends and family,” says Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com®.
There’s no shortage of ways to measure housing market performance. If home prices are your favorite barometer of market vitality, we encourage you to check out absorption rates, percent of list price received and days on market as well. But there’s also no shortage of ways just to measure home prices. Here at MAAR, we produce monthly price metrics such the median sales price, average sales price, median price per square foot, average price per square foot and we even have our very own Housing Value Index. A slightly less well-known metric is the price to income ratio. The same way price per square foot normalizes prices by dividing out by the square footage of the home, price to income ratios normalize prices by dividing out by the median family (or household/per capita) income. For this particular study, we’re using the median sales price compared to the median family income.
While the median sales price was within 3.5 percent of its all-time high in June of this year, the price to income ratio still has 20.0 percent to go before reaching its previous peak (from 2.5 to 3.0). So what does that tell us? First, this might diminsh some concerns over whether another bubble is forming. Second, and despite consistent price increases, it tells us that consumers are not overstretched. Third, it tells us that the current for-sale inventory could be more affordable than some might have thought, perhaps based on other indicators. Fourth, as incomes rise (even in tandem with prices), this ratio should remain fairly stable, since both sides of the fraction are scaling up together. The ratio of 3:1 is 3. The ratio of 6:2 is also 3. If the numerator and denominator scale together, the relationship can remain the same. It’s also worth noting that several major cities in the U.S. as well as other countries have price to income ratios upwards of 10.0.
At a time when the median and average sales price measures both near their previous highs from 2005/6, it’s important to use other measures to either confirm or challenge this trend. Even as some metrics return to levels not seen for years, it’s important to remember that we currently have extremely low supply levels, traditional market share still isn’t back to where it once was, new construction and condos make up a smaller slice of the sales pie than in the past and multi-decade low interest rates have joined forces with a recovering labor market and tightening rental market to bolster purchase demand. In other words, there are a number of factors that make today’s market different than the last time prices were this high. For that reason, now more than ever, it’s critical to examine market data through a variety of lenses so that we can get a more holistic perspective on what’s really happening given the shifts that have taken place over the last 10-15 years.
WASHINGTON (October 9, 2015) – U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet today joined National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun at an event highlighting small business issues and commercial real estate.
“Commercial real estate plays a big role in supporting the national economy, contributing to job growth and the revitalization of communities,” said Yun. “For that work to continue, access to credit is critical. The SBA is important to facilitating liquidity in the marketplace, connecting small businesses with lenders and… Read More
INTERVIEW: Nicole Knuckles of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
1. Give us the background story on Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (WFHM)?
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is the nation’s leading originator and servicer of residential mortgages. With 164 years of home lending experience, we get how emotional the connection to a home is for our customers. For two-thirds of Americans it is also their most important asset. We take a longer-term view of this business, growing it one customer at a time by making home loans achievable and sustainable. And if a customer encounters financial challenges along the way, we are there to help him or her explore the options available to keep the home.
Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative that helps us meet the changing needs of our customers, team members and communities we serve—around the world. Wells Fargo has a mission of turning houses into homes for customers in all communities. The Home Lending Diverse Segments team plays an important role focusing on four areas to help these groups achieve homeownership:
• Increases diversity of Wells Fargo team members, including Home Mortgage Consultants • Increases the company’s presence in diverse communities • Provides products, processes and programs that support diverse homeownership • Works with referral sources like real estate agents and nonprofit credit counseling agencies
2. Nicole, what is your role at WFHM?
I am the Regional Diverse Segments Manager and Charitable Giving Manager. I am responsible for developing strategic plans to help the home lending organization provide financing opportunities for ethnic minority, low-to-moderate income households, and first-time homebuyer customers. I primarily work with a sales team made up of three hundred home mortgage consultants in my region. Connecting my team to the amazing network of nonprofit providers is critical because providing homebuyers with education opportunities helps people prepare for homeownership. As Charitable Giving Manager, I manage the Homeownership Grant Program for nonprofit organizations, which provides financial resources to local nonprofit housing organizations to create sustainable homeownership opportunities for low-to moderate-income people.
3. What new programs is WFHM offering?
My FirstHomeTM, a free, interactive online tool to help first time and ready-again, homebuyers learn and prepare for the process.
My Home Roadmap, a service that offers participants up to two hours of free, phone-based financial coaching from an accredited credit-counseling agency, paid for by Wells Fargo.
Hands on Banking, an interactive tool that helps individuals learn about the basics of finances and money management.
Community Development Mortgage Program, the prospective homebuyer is in a low-to-moderate income bracket and is not required to be a first-time homebuyer. The minimum down payment is 2%. Mortgage insurance is not required. The income is restricted to 80% or below area median income limits.
Home Opportunities Loan Program, may help first-time homebuyers and low-or moderate-income homebuyers who don’t have a large down payment to purchase a home.
4. How has MAAR and WFHM partnered in the past?
WFHM has been a longtime supporter of MAAR. We have been a premier sponsor and I have collaborated with Donnie Brown MAAR Community Affairs Director on a number of community efforts. We are both passionate about the racial disparity gap. I’ve also worked with David Arbit, MAAR Research Director, who is a great resource in terms of housing affordability. A few times a year, we review the market reports so I can share them with my team.
5. Can you tell us about the TPT Documentary, “Make Money Work” that WFHM is sponsoring?
The project is designed to build bridges between various cultural communities and the banking/finance world. We hope this website will help with complex processes like purchasing a home, securing mortgages and making sound decisions and transactions. | WATCH VIDEOS
If you find yourself strolling down a cobblestone street surrounded by beautiful, historic mansions near the bluffs overlooking downtown St. Paul, there’s a good chance you’re in Crocus Hill. Even though it’s not a valid pre-defined area in Matrix, it spans from Lexington to 35E and from St. Clair to Summit. The following visuals are derived from a custom user-drawn area within Infosparks. It’s also worth knowing that Crocus Hill is wholly contained within the official Summit Hill Neighborhood of St. Paul, one of several neighborhoods hosting the Twin Cities Marathon this past weekend.
Home sales in the area have been on their own marathon of sorts, reaching levels during the summer months not seen in over 10 years. Note that this is only single family home sales activity.
Crocus Hill buyers pay a slight premium to acquire properties compared to Summit Hill, at least on a per square footage basis. The most recent numbers show Crocus Hill homes selling for $184 per square foot while Summit Hill homes sell for $177 per foot. For the second half of 2014, however, Summit Hill prices were more in-line with those in Crocus Hill.
Median sales price, unlike price per square foot, does not factor for square footage. In other words, even if the price per square foot figure was constant between the two areas (at, say, $200), the median sales price in Crocus Hill will still be higher because those homes tend to be larger and thus have more of those square feet. The Crocus Hill median sales price over the last 12 months is $594,500 while the Summit Hill median sales price is $430,000.
Looking at sales activity by price range for single family homes, the $500,000 – $1,000,000 price range is once again dominating in terms of unit volume. This segment has surpassed the $250,000 – $500,000 range, which is now the second most popular price tier.
1. What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
I’m excited about working with an organization with an excellent reputation nationally. I’m a member-driven person who wants to make sure our benefits match what the members need. Homes are a consumers’ single, most expensive investment decision of their lives. Our members help them make that decision. We as an association need to make sure we are meeting the needs of REALTORS® so they can best serve the public. In my role, I’m looking to expand what we offer, while keeping in mind that we should be proactive and show members where the trends are going.
The best part of working for an association is the relationships you build. Some of my best friends are members who I’ve worked closely with over the years. I’m also interested in the generational philosophy and how to balance the technology and communication differences between millennials and baby boomers.
2. What’s something we would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t drink coffee, so you see me with a soda. I love doing laundry; the washer and dryer are the two most important appliances I own. I am also meticulous about my lawn. I don’t love shopping in stores but I do like shopping online. In fact, I’m a marketers dream; I buy what’s new and techy. I have multiple laptops, phones and gadgets. My favorite apps are Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat and the OnStar App.
3. What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to golf, read and garden. I also love being near the water. I used to coach a USS swim team and a park district team. I played rugby and want to learn how to play lacrosse and to fence.
4. Do you have a favorite football team?
I love the Patriots. Years ago, I was visiting some friends in Massachusetts and they took me to a Patriots game. It was how the Boston – Cambridge people supported the team that really turned me into a fan.
5. When you have a day off how do you like to spend it?
I’m new to Minnesota but I went to Lake Minnetonka and loved it. I’m a huge water person and plan to buy a boat in the future. I also went to the state fair and had some cotton candy, taffy and funnel cakes.
6. What’s one thing you’ve purchased to get ready for the MN winters?
I bought an expedition Norway jacket and it’s currently on its way from Germany. I have one because it gets pretty cold in Chicago too but the new one will be even warmer!
7. We understand you love to read. How many boxes of books did you bring to Minnesota?
How did you know? I had seven boxes of books delivered. They were not small boxes either. The movers gave me a hard time about it. One of my favorite books is “Elizabeth I, CEO: Strategic Lessons from the Leader Who Built an Empire” by Alan Axelrod. I am a historian and I’ve really enjoyed reading about Alexander the Great and George Patton and I think they are the two best generals in the world.
Not all home staging is created equally. Staging Darwinism is real and only the smart survive. Below we countdown the top 10 “stoopidest” home staging ideas.
#10. “Bake cookies right before your open house.”
Our sense of smell is very closely related to our sense of memory. True enough, for some people, the smell of freshly baked cookies may bring back fantastic memories of days past when their loving mother baked cookies every Saturday afternoon. However, I use to work at Mrs. Fields, and my boss was a real jerk. Whenever I smell freshly baked cookies … I get slightly nauseous and a bit angry. Your house should smell like nothing when it is being shown. Scented homes lead to one of two reactions:
Buyers who are chemically sensitive get headaches, irritated eyes, or nausea and want to leave immediately.
Buyers wonder what you are trying to cover up and immediately become suspicious that you are a shyster.
#9. “My house won’t sell unless it has plants in it.”
Live plants or flowers in a vacant house tend to become dead plants very fast. Unless you are dedicated to checking on these plants regularly, you need to skip them, because nothing stops a house from going pending like dead plants. Fake plants are just that, fake. When it comes down to it, staging is creepy. You are in a house that appears to be occupied and yet, it is not. Every time you add something fake, it is one more reminder that this is not real and thus adds to the creepy factor.
#8. “If they can’t see past that ‘__________’ then they don’t deserve to buy my house.”
The truth is, if they can see past “____________” then you did a poor job preparing your house for the market. If you find yourself saying this, think again.
#7. “I can just lightly stage this room and it will work.”
Light staging or, as I call it, “the placing of random objects in a room,” like a chair and a rug in a bedroom, does not help sell houses. It will actually slow the process down. Staging is only meant to do three things:
Show the room’s purpose
Show the room’s scale
Add light to the room
Random objects in a room serve only to draw attention away from the house. Light staging is like hiring a clown to dance in front of a rack of dresses to help sell the dresses. Your buyers end up paying more attention to the clown than they do the dresses. Either stage the room completely, or don’t stage it at all.
#6. “I am paying for the staging, you should only stage with things I like.”
You are correct in that you are paying for the staging, but you are incorrect in that you think you are the customer. Really when it comes down to it you are now a retailer, trying to sell a product. You have hired a stager just as a department store would hire a visual merchandizer to display their items to sell to a customer. Your stager is concerned about what the potential buyer will like. You should be too.
#5. “The style of the staging should match the style of the house.”
Nobody has an entire household full of mid-century modern furniture. When staging a home we want the house to look obtainable. We want our clients to say, “Hey, I could do that!” By staging with an eclectic mix of furniture that does not necessarily “go” with the house, we prove to people that their mis-matched, rag-tag lot of furniture could look good in the house as well.
#4. “We should make everybody take off their shoes before they enter.”
Why in the world would you ask people to be uncomfortable in their new home, the first time they see it in order to protect floors that will no longer belong to you in a matter of weeks? Regardless of how or if you ask, thoughtful people with dirty shoes will remove then before coming through; thoughtless people will leave them on.
#3. “We should pull out the staging as soon as the house goes pending.”
Uh-oh! You pulled out your staging before the inspection period ended in order to save a few bucks on rental furniture. Now your sale has failed because the buyer didn’t like the condition of the water heater. I see that frowny face. Next time leave it in through the inspection period, better yet, through the financing contingency.
#2. “Staging can fix anything.”
I so wish this was true, but often, it is not. Sometimes things are so bad. They need to be fixed prior to, or in lieu of, staging. If your entire house is painted in rainbow tie-dye, no amount of staging can help you.
And the #1 “stoopidest” idea … “Staging is easy.”
It is amazing how many sellers I meet on a daily basis. Nearly every single day somebody calls me to explain to me why they don’t need staging services. They say they know exactly what their house needs in order to sell, and how they have a lot of experience doing what I do and they could just do it themselves. I always wonder to myself, “Then why are you calling me?” The truth of the matter is, home staging is not as easy as it looks.
I often compare it to women’s gymnastics. You know you are doing it right when it looks effortless. If you get a chance Google “Nadia Comaneci, perfect score” and watch the video. I don’t think she even broke a sweat. Good home staging looks like that.
What it all comes down to is that “staging is easy” is the No. 1 biggest myth we would love to perpetuate.
In the end, “stoopid” staging does nothing to help you and could actually hurt your sale. You need a competent staging professional if you want top dollar for your house.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin Riordan, LEED AP, is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency based in Portland, Ore. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Prior to opening Spade and Archer in 2009, Riordan practiced interior architecture and interior construction for 12 years, bringing an esteemed skillset and diverse background to home staging. Since founding Spade and Archer, he has personally prepared more than 2,100 homes for market.
WASHINGTON (October 2, 2015) — The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron in advance of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Know Before You Owe TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, or TRID, going into effect tomorrow, October 3:
“Realtors® across the country have worked hard to prepare for the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure,… Read More
WASHINGTON (September 30, 2015) — Over the last 16 years, the Good Neighbor Awards have recognized Realtors® from across the nation who dedicate countless volunteer hours to improve the lives and wellbeing of their neighbors. The five individuals named as this year’s REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Award winners embody this incredible commitment to helping those around them and serve as an example of how Realtors® build and strengthen communities.
Occupying approximately eight square miles of land off the southwest shore of Lake Minnetonka, Victoria is home to about 8,400 souls. Twins fans have a relatively pleasant (most days) 25.5 mile drive from Victoria to Target Field. Throw in some rain, snow or construction, and all bets are off. On warmer days, residents can enjoy the immense natural beauty of the Carver Park Preserve.
At a median of $397,700 versus $394,000, Victoria home prices are very comparable to the rest of the Lake Minnetonka Area. When comparing a larger geography with a smaller one, expect some volatility in the smaller area compared to the larger. That’s simply a function of small sample size.
When it comes to absorption rates (also known as months supply of inventory), Victoria is more balanced than the entire Lake Minnetonka Area, with 5.0 months of supply versus 7.4 in the broader area. Typically, 5 to 6 months of supply is considered “balanced.” This should translate into homes spending fewer days on the market, since the balance between supply and demand is tighter in Victoria.
Sure enough, homes in Victoria tend to sell after a median of 54 days on the market, while homes in the entire Lake Minnetonka Area tend to go under contract after 72 days on the market. This tells us that the Victoria market is a bit more competitive than its surrounding community. That’s a positive sign.
For homes priced at $500,000 and higher, absorption rates are much closer. Victoria has 11.1 months of supply for $500,000+ while the Lake Minnetonka Area has 11.6 months.