Taxes, Zillow, and Me -or- What is my house really worth?

We’re all curious what our homes would be worth on the market, even if we have no intention of selling.  If you recently bought, you’re curious if the value has already gone up.  If you have owned for a while, you may be thinking of selling someday soon and want to know if you can even afford to.  And if you just got your tax statement, you might be shocked at how little value the county says you have…or how much they want from you in taxes!

Here are the three most common ways people obtain an outside opinion of their home’s value:

1.  Zillow.  Go on Zillow or another website that offers instant valuation. I mean, it’s 2am and you’re in front of your computer anyway.  Aren’t you at least a bit curious?  Nothing wrong with surfing online, but don’t trust those numbers.  They are based on algorithms, not on expertise.  Zillow certainly hasn’t seen the insides of any of those homes or your home, and much of the time the statistics they are basing value on aren’t even accurate.  Easy and quick, but not worth the pixels it’s written on.  Also expect a follow up from an agent you don’t know.  They will sell your contact info to a local agent.

2.  Taxes.  Even if you aren’t curious what your home is worth, the county or city sends you a letter telling you anyway. There was a time these tax assessed values were all uniformly way too low.  Then the economy collapsed and suddenly they were all uniformly too high.  Now days, they are most commonly a little low to considerably low.  But again, the city has not seen the insides of any of these homes.  So if your property is in disrepair, the tax value might be high.

3.  Me.  That’s right, me!  I’m just as free as the other options, plus I’m actually a living, breathing, thinking Realtor with Edina Realty.  I will happily provide you with a new market analysis.  Did I just do one for you last year?  Okay, then I’ll update that one.  You’re my past, current, and future clients.  I want you to have the best information from a professional that actually has seen all these houses.  And has certainly seen yours!  I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and it turns out I need clients every year.  So it doesn’t matter to me if you are planning to sell now, later, or maybe never.  Just let me know if you are actually thinking of selling soon so that we can schedule you more urgently.

Tax Credit is Gone…Now What?

The tax credit for first time home buyers has expired.  Is the market going to retract?  Are we in store for another bubble burst?  Or has the economy recovered enough that things can now return to "normal?"

Well…I am not an economist (not that economists seem to know anything the rest of us don't) and I am not about to make predictions for the overall economy.  But if you'd like to hear an unsubstantiated but not totally groundless prediction of the housing market…I am happy to provide one.  Let me gaze into my crystal ball…

Escher-crystal-ball

 

1.  The Spring is not over.  Houses are still listing and houses are still selling.  We saw a couple weeks of frantic last minute shopping that will appear as a spike in activity, but activity has not dropped off completely in the absence of government incentives.  I am still getting showings and even sold a listing two days after the credit expired.

2.  Things will slow down this summer…like they do every summer.  The activity level might be lower than in an alternative universe where there had been no tax credit.  In other words, some people that might have shopped this summer accelerated their plans in order to take advantage of the credit and have already purchased.  But the market won't be dead.  Some people just weren't ready to buy this Spring.  Believe it or not, but there are other factors in people's lives other than a tax credit.

3.  Same thing goes for the Fall.  A seasonal up-tick in activity, but less than if the tax credit hadn't seduced people into buying this Spring.

4.  Next year:  It's the economy, stupid!  If the economy is in full recovery mode, the market is going to be active and healthy.

5.  I reserve the right to be wrong about any or all of the above.

Market is Back Up and Running

First,  sorry Blog.  I moved this summer into a wonderful large home that needs lots of work.  So I've been distracted with all that work.  Plus I was crazy busy until the first weeks of November.

Yes last fall was crazy.  Buyers were motivated to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit, and I was involved in multiple offers on a weekly basis.  This all stopped when the government passed an extension for the credit.  The sense of urgency went away and everyone seemed to take a breather for the holidays.

Second, the holidays are over and the market is back up and running.  New listings are coming on at a fast pace and showings are up too.  My buyer clients had no choice but to take the holidays off as there were no new homes to see.  But now they are eager and ready to see all the new listings as they hit the market.

If you are considering selling in the near future, you might want to make that near future nearer.  Buyers are motivated to find a place before April 30th to claim their tax credit.  And if you've owned for more than 5 years, you can get your own tax credit if you sell and buy and new place.  $6500!  Not too shabby!  If you are asking, "Should I sell now or later?" The answer is:  NOW!

New Homebuyer Tax Credit Bill To Be Signed Today!

What are the specifics?  Well you'll be able to use the $8000 on contracts through April with some expanded income qualifications.  And you'll be able to qualify for up to $6500 even if you're NOT a first-time buyer.  You will have to have owned your current home for 5 years.  This leaves some people out who could really use the $6500, but hopefully it will lead to better inventory for all the first-time buyers.

Check out this news brief from the National Association of Realtors for a break down of changes from the old bill:  http://www.mnrealtor.com/AM/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm?ContentFileID=2950&MicrositeID=0&FusePreview=Yes

$8000 Tax Credit Helps Sellers Too!

Hurry!  Your time is almost up.  The $8000 tax credit is only for first-time home buyers who close before December 1st.  Do the math…  If it takes 45 days to close after finalizing negotiations on a purchase agreement, that means you need to be in a contract by October 16th.  That's just fine if you are actively looking, but if you are still procrastinating meeting with a lender…uh…hurry? 

Should everyone run out and do this?  Well, probably not.  Don't make long term decisions like buying a home just to get your $8000.  Don't buy a home that you will out grow in two years.  Don't buy a home that you can't afford.  Don't buy a home if you might be moving to Washington D.C.

However, if it makes sense for you to buy a home in the next year, then I'm talking to you.  HURRY UP!  You might not find a home.  You might decide not to buy after meeting with a lender or real estate agent (I know a good one by the way).  But if you want to have the option, ACT NOW, or the decision will be made for you.

And if you're a seller, the time-line is even tighter.  Do you want the buyers rushing to find a home before the deadline to have your home to choose from?  Or do you want to miss the boat? 

Not sure what your home is worth (who is anymore?)?  Not sure if your home is in the price range first time buyers are looking in?  Not sure if you should replace that shag carpet and flocked wallpaper?  It's time to figure it out.  Call your agent this week.  Did I mention I know a good one?

Too Busy to Blog

Dear Blog,

I'm soooo sorry.  This Spring has been crazy busy, and you've paid the price.  Good homes in popular neighborhoods are being snapped up like it's 1999.  But really Blog, it's not my fault.  If more people with good starter homes would put their homes on the market at appropriate prices, then I could get my buyers into those homes and have more free time to spend with you.  We could blog about which businesses haves closed (Firefly, Isabel's, Re Gifts) and which have opened (Nokomis Yoga, Nokomis Pet Clinic, Pizza Joe's).  We could post pictures of the first blossoms of Spring.  But alas, more of my Nokomis and Longfellow neighbors will need to take advantage of this market first.

Housing Shortage?

What?  That's crazy!  Haven't you heard the news?  It's a buyers market, the market is flooded with foreclosures, and banks aren't lending money.

Well maybe not.  First, banks are lending money.  I've yet to have one qualified buyer turned down for a loan.  Underwriting is taking a little longer, and sometimes they are raising issues the day before closing, causing a delay, but they are still making loans.

Second, listings are down.  Plus a big portion of the listings that are out there are in foreclosure and in poor condition.  Because of changes in the lending industry, first time buyers are almost exclusively buying with FHA loans.  FHA has certain requirements for the condition of the homes it will back a mortgage on.  Most of the foreclosures don't qualify.  So the fanciable inventory is down even further.

Third, who wants $8000?  Any guesses?  Give up?  The answer:  everyone.  This means more buyers.

This is creating a situation where the number of qualified buyers is out growing the number of attractive fanciable well priced homes.  We are seeing homes sell in a week, in a day, in a few hours.  They are all well priced homes, so don't confuse this to mean that your home is actually going up in value.  Buyers still have high expectations for what they can get for the money.  But your chances of selling may be better than you thought.