Housing News: ‘Normal’ is a Good Goal!

This is a market where the transactions are not banks blowing out their supply [of foreclosures], which is very hard to predict. You have a much more normal market.

~ Jerry Nickelsburg, UCLA economics professor

UCLA: Good Housing Forecast for SoCal

Despite all the fear-mongers and housing “experts”, real-life realtors like myself have been reporting for a quite some time, that things are looking up in the housing market. Last week we got written proof from the UCLA Anderson Forecast. It’s really good news, especially for those of you who are still experiencing some trepidation because you’ve been hearing—like most potential home sellers/buyers—that there is impending fear of another housing market bubble. Perhaps this is your moment to exhale. The fear may not only be more than unfounded at least according to this recent paper released by UCLA as part of their quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast (and reported by the Los Angeles Times) but we may be simply, dare I say it, just plain old normal. According to UCLA economics professor Jerry Nickelsburg, sliding home sales volume — the number of homes sold in Southern California dropped 15.1% in May compared to last year’s numbers. The Los Angeles Times points to the data and quotes Nickelsburg, to illustrate the normalization of the market:

…according to San Diego-based DataQuick — [the data] is masking a housing market that is becoming increasingly, as he put it, ‘normal’.

The Housing Crash v. A Normal Market

In case you need more convincing, we are doing better – I am an example of a realtor who is out there daily listing homes and closing rapidly. Buying and selling homes in Southern California is once again a hot trend, I can vouch for that fact. But if you’re still feeling a bit chilly on the topic of a “hot” housing market forecast, then consider this, we are at least headed for normal. Normal in this case, is a very good goal! And, one might argue, if you buy the whole “housing crash” conversation, you have to at least consider the “normalized market” discussion especially when it comes from such notable sources. Nickesburg points out:

We have no expectation of getting back to when we had 1 million people on construction payrolls. But getting back to something like 700,000, we can do. And those are good jobs, reflective of a healthy economy.

The Sun Shines Again on SoCal’s Housing Market

According to the LA Times, while the news from UCLA is not all wonderful for the entire country’s housing crisis, in Southern California, the sun is once again shining. In the final parts of the report, UCLA predicts drops in the unemployment numbers, to a very low 6.8% by next year and even lower to 5.9% by 2016.

Further, they forecast that in West Coast cities like Los Angeles, they are likely to attract large amounts of Chinese investments since the bubble continues to deflate and investors want a sound shell for their money. Long awaited good news – we are normal. Hey we all need a little validation from time to time!

If you have questions about how Lydia Gable can help you buy or sell a home and approach the housing market with a refreshed perspective or if you are looking to buy or sell in Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Conejo Valley, Newbury Park, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, or Calabasas, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. Contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment or to view new listings.

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Equity Check: Is it Time to Sell?

Selling A Home: A Personal Decision

The decision to sell a home is a highly individualized and personal one. But there are signs to watch out for that may signal when it’s a good time to sell your home at least in terms of yielding the best profits. Ask yourself: would you know if your neighborhood property values were suddenly dipping because of a neighborhood decline? Or if your neighborhood is now showing signs of being on the upswing, how do you know when the right time is to list it or stay put?

Although not all of the experts agree on watching the overall neighborhood red flags as indicators of your home value decline or upswing, most do agree that there are signs to watch when making the decision to sell. Here are a few notes compiled by my fellow home experts that you might find useful as a guide post for knowing the right time to list. Ultimately, deciding to sell a home is based on a whole multitude of factors that might include, empty nest syndrome, a job move, loss of income, taking care of an elderly family member, needing a new start or any number of reasons. But if making the right move for investment purposes is your concern, then here are some good tips.

· Is Your Neighborhood on the Upswing

Many neighborhoods took a hit over the past few years causing either mass exodus or mass fear to make a move. As the signs and waves of recovery have slowly moved over the country, people are asking, “Do I sell now or do I wait for my housing value to go up?” Says an article on MSN titled, 8 signs your neighborhood is on the upswing, a good way to spot signs of a real-estate recovery in your community is to begin watching for improvements in the areas near you hardest hit by the downturn. If you start to see improvements in neighboring communities that were hardest hit, your neighborhood is likely on the upswing as well. If this is the case, you may want to start paying special attention. Watch the market and other home sales so you know when to jump in and list your home. Says the article:

Frequent purchases made by investors and first-time homebuyers are good signs. Watch for an increase in the sales of newly built homes versus discounted foreclosed properties; better sales will increase housing construction.

· Time to Sell: Your Neighborhood is in Decline

On the flip side of the equation, in a volatile housing market, a neighborhood can also take a downturn that may affect your home value. In this example, you might want to consider selling sooner than waiting for recovery. Says an article in Business Insider titled, 10 Signs That Your Neighborhood’s Property Value Is Declining, there are tell-tale signs to look for here. Faith Consolo, commercial real estate expert with Prudential Douglas Elliman says in the piece, a closing chain store should be a huge-tip off. She says:

They’re doing musical chairs to capture a whole new demographic. By divesting themselves of the larger location, they’re still keeping a presence but seeking out greener pastures.

· Crunch the Numbers – The Time is Right

Lastly, when in doubt, the numbers don’t lie. Says Michelle Lerner on ealtor.com in an article titled,When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Home? Do your research. Know your payoff amount versus profit and then find out the recent sales price of comparable homes in your community. Says Lerner:

Interview several REALTORS® and consult with them about current market conditions to estimate a listing price and how long it may take for your home to sell. Many sellers opt to put their homes on the market in the spring because that’s when more buyers are looking, but you can choose to sell at any time of year.

‘I’m Ready to Sell My House’

In the end, the decision to sell your home is one that only you can make by weighing all the pros and cons. But if and when you do get close to deciding, isn’t a sale that yields the biggest profit and closes at or close to asking price – shouldn’t that also be part of the decision? So, while it’s always a bit unpredictable and there may never be a perfect time, hopefully armed with the right information and a well-informed, experienced realtor, the decision as to the right time to sell will be as effortless as saying: “I’m ready to sell my house.”

Lydia Gable is a realtor in the Conejo Valley. She specializes in Westlake Village and Agoura Hills real estate. Years of working in both a thriving and a down real estate climate make her experience invaluable to a seller in a volatile market. If you have questions about listing your home or would like more information on anything covered in the article, please contact Lydia Gable today.

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Choosing the Best Realtor

What differentiates an “OK” realtor from one who is worthy of your highest referral? Well, there are questions to ask and a guide to determine the best from the rest. A great realtor has an important set of skills and traits which when combined make all the difference. A great realtor has not only the ability to navigate the marketplace—even in a down market — but the intuitive ability to tailor-fit the experience for each client’s specific needs. First and foremost, besides the obvious credentials, a realtor must be a good listener. If not, the partnership with the client is ultimately doomed. Below are several questions to ask as a well as guideline of must-haves so you choose the right realtor for you.

  1. A REAL-ly Great Communicator
    A realtor must be a great communicator – a people person. Communication skills and an affable personality will go a long way. More importantly in terms of communication, your realtor should have the knack for really listening. A great realtor will meet with you, know the right questions to ask and then really listen! This skill allows the client/broker relationship to flourish. The realtor will drive the entire process from soup to nuts which can include finding the right home to buy, staging a home for sale, or matching the right buyer to the home. There’s a lot to do well, from the start to close and the results can all teeter on one thing: did the realtor listen well?
  2. A Side Gig or Career: Who Is Your Realtor?
    Find a realtor who has lived, bought and sold in your community for enough time that you can assess his or her track record. If this simply happens to be a side gig for someone, your results are going to reflect that minimal effort. You should seek out a realtor who has lengthy experience and who lives and works in the community. Says an article on MSN, 7 ways to avoid a crummy real-estate agent, this step is incumbent on the potential buyer/seller to determine at the first consultation. Pat Vredevoogd Combs of Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt in Grand Rapids, Mich. tells MSN:

You really need to ask them where they work most of the time: Where do you live? Where do you work? What area of town are most of your transactions in? Consumers should look for agents with extensive experience in the area where their transaction is taking place.

  1. A GREAT Realtor Knows the Market
    A great realtor knows how to navigate the market – any market. How do you find this? Simple: choose experience every time. Author and CNN financial editor and author of Home Rich, Gerri Willis sat down with Robyn Moreno of Howdini.com. She says choose a realtor with at least 8 years of experience to offer. In this way you are guaranteed that they have learned to navigate in a down market. Who would you rather represent you, one that just became a realtor during a housing market boom or one who has weathered all kinds of markets and is still successful? Willis tells Moreno in the informative video interview:

I think right now you should be looking for someone who has been in the marketplace for at least 8 years. That means they have experience in a down market so they know what to expect right now.

  1. Web Savvy
    Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of technology. A top real estate agent must be on the cutting edge of web marketing technology. Newspaper ads are good but they won’t do the entire job in today’s technology-driven market. A realtor who’s not technologically-savvy, simply can’t compete today. Ask about this. S/he should be very good with photo listings – presenting the “best” online photos is crucial for a sale. S/he must be good “on the go” which requires web-savvy skills, answering emails, using the Ipad for meetings on the fly, Skyping if necessary – whatever it takes!

There are a lot of good real estate agents out there and a few really great ones. It’s all about asking the right questions to find the perfect one for you! Whether you are selling or buying, educate yourself, ask for references and ultimately, make the right decision for your needs.

Lydia Gable was ranked 2nd in Keller Williams in 2013 as a Top Performing Individual Agent, with high customer satisfaction. She lives, works and plays in the Conejo Valley. If you want to keep up with what’s happening in real estate and around Conejo, contact Lydia Gable today!

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Must Move in a Hurry: Tips to Ease the Process

I Have to Sell a Home in a Hurry!

You’ve only recently settled into a new home, you’re acclimating to the new neighborhood and suddenly your spouse comes home and says the dreaded, “I’ve been transferred. We have to move in two weeks!”

Before you panic, take it in stride – others have successfully navigated this scenario, so it can be done. With a little help from an experienced realtor and a good plan, you can move with ease through a difficult transition. As a realtor, I’ve worked with many professional athletes, film industry professionals, and corporate executives – hurried moves come with the territory.

Tips to Move in a Hurry

First and foremost, choose a realtor who has navigated this tricky terrain before. First decide if you will be renting the home out for a bit when you move or if you plan on selling your current home right away and buying in the new neighborhood. If you can rent or have one spouse stay behind while your home is on the market, this is the easiest choice. However, if that’s just not possible, you will need a very trusted agent that you trust to communicate long distance. Here are some tried and true tips that will help guide you through the process.

  • A Realtor You Trust

An article on Realty Times recommends that you stay in touch with your realtor and get constant updates. How is the sale price faring? How many people viewed?

Also the right realtor will assist you in hastening the paperwork process, completing all the necessary documents such as disclosure forms, and listing your home the minute you give him or her permission. For my clients I will go one step further. I have been known to check in on the home regularly, remove mail, let the house cleaners in so the home stays dusted and pristine, make sure the gardeners take care of the grass and flowers, and even open the windows or turn on the air conditioning when necessary. These are steps that, while not standard, are not out of the realm when you partner with a good realtor. It’s the best way to ensure that buyers will view the home comfortably.

  • Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is still important and may be even more so if you are vacating while the home is listed. You may have to hire landscapers and workers to up keep the house while you are trying to sell. Ideally it sells and closes quickly—back to step one: choose your realtor well—but in case there are hiccups, you need to maintain the curb appeal. Says the Realty Times feature:

Make sure the curb appeal lasts. That means you’ll need to hire someone to mow your lawn, rake the leaves, or shovel the snow.

  • Price Your Home Correctly

Price your home correctly. Your experienced realtor should guide you here. It’s not the best idea to attempt to sell the home on your own when you’re under the gun for time. Says an article in TheWall Street Journal:

Consider paying for an independent real-estate appraisal or do a survey of the actual prices comparable homes.

Buying a home is a big moment in every homeowner’s life. Whether you are a potential home seller, a seasoned seller, or up against a deadline. If you’re ready to sell your home, you know that the realtor you choose could be a deciding factor in how quickly and successfully your property moves through the market. If you need to sell your home in a hurry, call Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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