Remember all that talk about rising rates in 2019 and how it would impact buyers and sellers?  Rising rates absolutely impacted buyers in 2018 in a negative way, but we’ve gotten a reprieve of sorts in 2019 for various reasons.  The US-China trade war benefits home buyers and sellers, and we’ll explain how.

US-China Trade War Benefits Home Buyers and Sellers

Rates slipped back in the 1st quarter of 2019 because economic conditions didn’t warrant rising rates, and because inflation had been tame.  Back in April we wrote about rate drops as everyone speculated how long they might last. Rates are affected by economic news and wildcards, and a wildcard just happened.

As soon as China announced retaliatory tariffs on the US last Monday there was a flight to quality, which means investors put money into the safety of 10-year US treasury notes.  This drove the yield curve down quickly.  As we know, most 30-year mortgages are pegged to the US 10-year Treasury note so this trade war became an instant boom to buyers and sellers.

How long will this window last?  Your guess is as good as anybody’s.  If the trade war becomes protracted, it could lead to inflation as goods and services become more expensive.  Or perhaps companies will find suppliers in other countries and the effects will be minimal.  Because this could cause a global slowdown, it could tame inflation worldwide.

Some have suggested the US could devalue the dollar which would help trade imbalances and really put pressure on China.  To do this we could lower interest rates.  There are a lot of strategies in play right now, and nobody can predict what will happen with certainty.

Our best advice would be taking advantage of the low rates while they last.  They could be here for a little while or they could vanish like a blip on a radar screen.  With rates around 4%, buyers’ purchasing power is about 11% more than it was last year.  This opens more buyers for each home, and let’s buyers stretch higher if they need to.

Lower rates should also help the housing market.  Last year there was downward pressure on prices because of rising rates.  With rates lower again that pressure has abated.  Job growth has been stellar, so if rates stay this low, we could have a pretty good run with increasing home sales.

We’re not sure buyers understand the opportunity they have right now.  Sellers have the same opportunity, because when they sell, they usually buy another property.  Those sellers that sell and buy now will save big money on their next mortgage, if they act soon enough.

We’re not trying to be the expert and tell you how long this will last.  We are telling you there is an opportunity for those in a position to take advantage.  Borrowing costs can make a huge difference in the long-term success of your financial well-being.

There is more inventory for buyers now.  Many sellers couldn’t sell before because there was no place for them to go.  That may not be the case now.  Go to www.LeeCountyOnline.com and look around.  You’ll see more homes on the market than last year, and there are some excellent buys if you know where to look.

This website allows you to see all the homes on MLS in real-time.  No more waiting for days or weeks for new listings to appear on those other sites.  If a seller reduces their price, you’ll be the first to know.  Our website produces listings in real-time so you have a definite advantage.  The best listings go before they even hit those other websites, so you can beat out other buyers to hot new listings.

Our agents are out showing daily, so we know the best homes.  Give our agents a call at 239-489-4042 and we’ll be glad to help you.  If you have a home to sell, ask for Sande or Brett Ellis.

Let’s find you your next home before rates go up again.  We’ve got a window.  All we know is it’s open.  We don’t know for how long.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Which is more valuable, your home or your data?  iBuyer Programs Steal Your Home and Your Data so let’s investigate what an iBuyer program is and what its goals are.

iBuyer Programs Steal Your Home and Your Data

iBuyer programs offer an easy button to sell a home, with a catch.  These are investors looking to scoop up homes at a large discount.  Essentially you sell your home so far below market value it becomes lucrative for an investor to buy and flip your home.  They make all the profit.  In other words, you’re giving your home equity over to them.

iBuyer programs are nothing new.  Investors have been posting those pesky road signs all over the place offering to pay cash for your home or buy ugly houses for decades.  Today’s iBuyer program is different, because they have another motive.  They want your data.

iBuyer programs realize once people see their offer then subtract fees, closing costs, and repairs after their inspections, over 90% of sellers become disgusted and turn them down.  By then, it’s too late.  They’ve captured all your data.  They sell that data and make millions.  Their goal is to make billions.

Here’s how it works.  First, you get an offer.  It’ll be low, perhaps 10% or more below market value.  It gets even better.  They tack on fees, typically in the 5-7.5% range.  Then they add closing costs in the 2-3% range.  Then they do inspections, because up until this point they haven’t even seen your home.  It’s all been done using data points and algorithms.  The report comes back, and they decide you need $15,000 in repairs plus your kitchen needs updating, so tack on another $20,000.  At this point, the seller is furious.

The seller says no, and the deal is off.  The iBuyer program knows how much you owe on the home, how old your roof, appliances and air conditioner are, what improvements are needed to the home, where you’ll be moving once you sell, and much more.  How? Because you answered their questions to continue through the process.  You didn’t like the ending, but you were curious through the process to see what number they would give you.  They had you at hello.

So, you say, “I’ll sell my home with a broker and keep the profit yourself.”  That’s ok, because they refer you to “top brokers” in the area.  You guessed it; they collect a referral fee from agents they recommend.  They may not be the best agents, but surely, they are agents paying them a fee.

Have you seen ads on TV promising to find the best agents in your neighborhood?  HomeLight is one that comes to mind, and they are also an iBuyer.  Contractors, remodelers, home improvement stores would all be interested in the age of your appliances, or what your kitchen and baths look like.  Same with flooring.  Now they have pictures, because you guessed it, the inspector took pictures during the inspection period.

Outside mortgage companies have your info too because they bought your data.  They know your phone number, email address, how much you owe, where you’re going, and more.  The simple offer you were curious to get has become a treasure trove of data.

If you sell your home to the iBuyer, they win big.  If you refuse to sell, they still win big.  The only loser is the poor seller who was just curious to use the easy button and sell their home if the price was right.

Keller Williams is coming out with an iBuyer program to prevent this.  We have no intention of selling the data.  We’re not going to refer it out to other agents.  If the seller doesn’t like the cash offer, they’ll use one of our agents to get full market value.  We have our own mortgage company that offers a zero-lending fee loan.  So, we’re not selling to other mortgage companies.  We’re not selling to contractors or home improvement stores.  We simply want to provide the iBuyer option so people don’t go to other places that will sell your data.

Our program is rolling out to 8 markets this year and more after that.  If you’re thinking of selling your home and want full market value, Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty Fort Myers & the Islands 239-489-4042 Ext 4 or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com

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The number one question real estate agents get asked is “How is the market?”  Often, people wish to know what it means, and how we’re doing against other parts of the state, especially nearby counties.  Today we’ll look at Fort Myers-Cape Coral home sales versus Naples and Florida real estate sales to get an idea.

Fort Myers-Cape Coral Home Sales Versus Naples and Florida Real Estate Sales

In March, Florida home sales were unchanged and median prices were up 2% over last year.  Year to date numbers tell a similar story.  In Fort Myers-Cape Coral, home sales were down 4.4% in March while median prices were down 3.7%.  These are continued signs of a shift occurring in our market.  Year to date numbers show home sales down 8.5% while median prices rising 1.4%, but we think median prices will reflect lower numbers going forward.

Naples homes sales were down .4% in March while median home prices were down 7.9%.  Year to date numbers show closed sales up 1.1% and median prices down 7.7%

Because these numbers reflect year over year numbers, many customers, and agents alike don’t understand what’s been going on in the market.  When a market begins to shift, it takes up to a year for people to see it in the numbers, even though the trend has shifted.

Market Shift

For instance, the Fort Myers-Cape Coral market began shifting last Fall, but because we compare year over year numbers people didn’t see the negative numbers until now.  Agents felt it as sales slowed and listings began to expire.  Seasoned agents knew and adjusted.  The sellers that listened to their seasoned agents got out and the ones that didn’t listen, or weren’t working with a seasoned agent who’d been through a shift before could still be on the market or expired.

Perhaps we’ll do another story about invisible inventory.  Invisible inventory refers to the old saying that if your home is priced over the market then it’s not really on the market.  It’s overpriced and won’t sell.  It’s invisible to buyers because it’s attracting the wrong buyers.

So, what are sellers to do in a shifting market?  They could wait it out.  Some sellers decide to wait a few years until the market recovers to a price they like.  The thing about that is they miss out on low interest rates today if they’re financing their next home.  And, while they wait for their home to go up in value, their next home is probably going up too, so they don’t gain anything, only lose.

Sellers could try to sell themselves and save the commission.  This rarely works out as only 4% of lookers can actually buy now.  We have a free report on how to sell your home without an agent should you like to try.  It’s packed with helpful tips, so just email me and let me know Brett@topagent.com

Sellers could try a discount broker.  Problem is, you can’t save your way out of a shift.  I can’t tell you how many homes we’ve listed and sold after a seller has tried the discount route.  You might as well try it yourself than pay an agent for little to no service.

Marketing Matters

Marketing matters now more than ever.  Like we’ve said, just listing a home on 100 websites isn’t marketing.  We have a database of thousands of buyers because we market so much.  Call us and we can see if we have a buyer right now looking in your neighborhood.  Chances are we do, and we can do an instant search to see who they are.  If not, our marketing creates buyers specifically for our listings.  Let us show you how we use cutting edge technology and marketing muscle to market your home.

Call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 You’ll be glad you did.  Or go online www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get an instant estimate of your home’s value.

Good luck and Happy Selling!

You might wonder how a successful real estate team who just had breakout sales this 2019 season could call this year’s season a bust.  The market wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t live up to many sellers’ expectations.  This is the exact reason why the market had so many expired listings and fewer closings this season.

2019 SW Florida Real Estate Market Officially a Bust

In fact, of the 12 market measures we track each month, all 12 went negative in March.  This is the first time in as long as we can remember that every single measure went negative.  Earlier this year we pondered whether season was going to mask the shifting market we were experiencing going into season, and the answer is in.

Sellers generally want to list their home with a Realtor that is confident and positive.  There is a difference between being positive and knowing the market.  The Ellis Team is positive in any market.  We know marketing sells homes, and when the market shifts that becomes even more important.  Sellers can’t discount the commission away enough to make up for what’s going on in the market.

Sellers often think if the market is slow, I’ll just list with a discount broker and that’ll enable me to sell.  The reality is they’re giving up marketing, which is the precise thing you need when the market shifts. Saving a few commission dollars can cost you thousands on your sale price due to lack of marketing and limited buyers.  Some Realtors hold a few open houses, place the home in MLS and a few hundred websites and call that marketing.  That’s not marketing.  Every home is on a few hundred websites. That part is automated by the MLS.

If you go back and read our Blog http://blog.topagent.com you’ll see we’ve been discussing the market for months and what’s really going on.  There is a fine line between hiring a Realtor that is positive and one that is real.

For instance, our team has been though several market shifts.  The average Realtor hasn’t.  We know what it takes to sell a home when the market shifts.  The first thing you must do is identify the 12 market measures, then identify where we are today.  You can’t counsel a seller on how to market their home and where to price it unless you understand where the market is and all the factors influencing it.

This is the silly season for Realtors.  Many Realtors didn’t accomplish their goals this season.  Total dollar volume of sales was down 13.6% in March alone.  This means Realtors are hurting too, and they’re going to be making moves now that season is over.

Some agents will move to less costly brokerages in hopes of a higher commission split.  They’ll receive fewer benefits for themselves and their clients. It will be a last-ditch effort to cost-cut and save their career.  If you’re interviewing agents to list your home, ask them if they plan on making a move.  If they do, can you get out of your listing contract?

Other agents will seek to join a team, or move to a company where the technology is better, or pays for more things like marketing, photography, brochures, assistants, etc.  Sellers need to know who they’re listing with and exactly what services will be provided.  Remember, the broker owns your listing, not the agent you sign with.  Be sure to get clarity and in writing whatever you agree to.

Study the market measures.  Ask your agent to show you how the market is performing.  You’ll want monthly updates on new pending sales, time on market, median and average prices, inventory supply and market absorption to name a few.  If the agent you’re interviewing can’t provide this, interview another agent.  This market is changing, and you want a Realtor that will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.  This market has enough sellers that listened to what they wanted to hear. They still own their home, which is not what they really wanted.  Ask for our Free Report on which agents had the most expired listings in the past year.

You can call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 to talk about selling your home or go to SWFLhomevalues.com to get a free online report of your home’s value.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!