A Word or Two about Homeowners’ Associations

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I’m a board member.  I hear so much negativity about our HOA that sometimes I have to just shut down and take a break from it.  Thing is, I work SO hard, as do the other members, to keep our lovely community looking good, property values going up, and our homes not falling down around our ears.  The ones who tend to complain the most viciously are the ones who never attend meetings and I suspect do not know the purpose of the association.  ALLOW ME to enlighten.

First and foremost, if you elect, nay CHOOSE to live in a community governed by covenants which are enforced by a board and management company, then you need to comply.  Period.  Once you join the community, you are bound by the covenants.  Oh yeah I said bound.  Yes, you can choose to ignore them, and pay the fines and fines and fines and/or foreclosure.  Cry all you want, but whip out the debit card while you do it.  

Because…the purpose of the HOA is to protect the property values of owners in that community and to maintain/improve the properties in most cases.  This is what the dues pay for.  Yeah, there’s a BUDGET to cover the stuff you benefit from.  In my community, the HOA is responsible for ground maintenance, roof repair and/or replacement, parking lot paving/improvement, enforcing violations (sending info to the management company), pressure washing, mulching, aerating lawns, getting engineering involved in drainage issues, cleaning gutters, repairing/replacing gutters, painting exteriors…you get the idea.  So when someone decides to build a pig pen next door to your patio…yeah, you’ll appreciate the HOA then.

People put trash in the parking lots, blocking resident’s access, they build structures that are either eyesores or dangerous or both, they put air conditioner window units in the front windows, they pile full trash bags in the front lawns, they let their pets poop in YOUR yard or they don’t pick up after them, they bring their friends to park in your spaces…in other words a complete disregard for the condition of the property and for the other residents who live there.

So yeah, I get the calls and emails.  I UNDERSTAND.  I’m an owner and I want my property and space to be respected, and I want my property value to keep going up.  If we turn our communities into apartment complexes, well there goes the value and there goes the need to keep the properties maintained and in a good state of repair.  If you are a renter?  Gotta follow the rules or your landlord gets fined.  And then you…well good luck sticking around is all I’m saying.

Yes, the management companies send out letters to inform owners of upcoming events (like termite inspection for example)…that’s OWNERS not renters.  Then owners don’t inform their tenants.  Then the owner gets charged for the followup visit.  Look, your ‘unit’ has to be termite free for the sake of your neighbors too.  You cannot just relinquish your responsibility as an owner because OTHER PEOPLE are affected.  But…letters go out, nobody reads them.  Covenants are available online.  Nobody reads them.  SO the management company sends out a letter to ‘inform’, at which time the owner or renter says, “I’m going to to what I want to do.”  That’s AFTER they move into a community with covenants.  So the next step is a warning, and then the fines start.  These fines can be issued ‘per day’ and might be 100 bucks each day.  

BY THE WAY, the nay sayers often do not pay their dues either, so when they DON’T all of the OTHER residents are paying for THEIR grass to be mowed their porch to be painted their siding to be pressure washed…you get it.  So if non-payment goes on, the overall budget is affected so MAYBE dues have to go UP for EVERYBODY.  Can you see how this works?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you hate your HOA it’s because you don’t follow the rules.  It’s so easy.  Just do what the covenants say.  If you don’t LIKE it, here’s a good one: ATTEND THE MEETINGS.  None of the complainers ever do, by the way.  If something doesn’t make sense, it can be changed!  But ya gotta show UP.

Now, if there’s a board member out there with a ruler measuring the height of your grass, that’s overstepping, in my opinion.  And if a board member throws a wad of landscaping mulch in your face, well that’s DEFINITELY overstepping.  Having said that, if you want to live in a nice community, join one with not just an HOA but also an HOA management company.  That way, the HOA also has oversight and the little Hitlers can be put back in their cages.

HOA board members work very hard for ZERO PAY.  It’s volunteer!  We’re making sure that tree doesn’t grow into your house, or you back yard doesn’t become a river when it rains!  FREE!  We work for nothing.  AND BY THE WAY…don’t say we don’t DO anything.  We do a LOT.  And some of it involves lining up contractors to give quotes, getting on their schedule, it takes TIME.  So calm down.  If you have a question how about this?  Call a board member and find out what’s in the pipeline.  Since you didn’t go to the meeting, that is.  We are regular folks with jobs and homes to maintain and things going on too.  Just call us!  BEFORE you go online griping about something that’s actually in the works.

Overall, HOA’s serve a good purpose if you’re an owner.  They make your check when you sell your house a lot bigger.  If you don’t like HOA’s, move.  It’s that simple.  And hope you don’t have a pig pen installed next to your bedroom window (it has happened).  Otherwise, pay your freaking dues and follow the rules. If you don’t, you have NO right to complain.

I’ve learned, in my service on the HOA board, that grown bodies do not always contain grown people inside.  Anybody missing a two or three year old?

Let’s Talk about “Science”

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First let me say that the only reason I didn’t put up a photo of a Zeiss Microscope was because there wasn’t a free photo available.  I had to settle for second best and I’m not happy about that.

Now, let’s talk about science.  I’m hearing the word science used as a hammer to whack anyone with a different opinion or perspective, or even a question.  This is because power hungry, greedy politicians have hijacked the essence of it and gotten rich and more powerful as a result.  This is worse than anyone has been willing to acknowledge.

Science is the pursuit of TRUTH.  And by the way an important aspect of science is debate.   Listen, just because you’re a scientist, or stand near one, does NOT mean everything you say, or ANYTHING you say is correct or true.  Read about development of the polio vaccine, about how many people were killed (mostly in Africa, by the way) in the race to be the FIRST to get it done.  And then the ‘safe’ vaccine was administered first to hospital staff and doctors and some of the wealthy (politicians included, no doubt)…many of whom DIED.  They did NOT get it right at first, and it took years to prove the vaccine both safe and effective.  But it was rushed against WARNINGS of other scientists who said, “This is not ready!”

The Covid vaccines were rushed to the masses, and you can say or not say they worked; I don’t care.  MY POINT is science.  This vaccine was pushed on the population by threat, power, greed, and in the name of SCIENCE.  Fauci was the loudest voice saying, “But science!”, while doing his level best to avoid debating, to listening to questions, to opposing views…to the essential debate.  In other words, the antithesis of science.  In true science, you don’t get to shout down the debate and declare YOUR opinion the law, unless you have more power or more money than the other people in white coats.  God help us if an idiot with lots of wealth and power gets in one of the coats.  Wait.  Too late.

First, do some WORK.  Look at the size of the virus and then LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE OPENINGS IN MASK WEAVE.  The ONLY way masks worked was keeping us from touching our faces with infected hands.  That WAS a good idea.  But the people in POWER get to make the rules.  When the rules involve forcing experimental, synthetic drugs into MY body?  Try it.  I’ve been vaccinated in my life.  But not with experimental ones, or ones rushed through a lab.  I worked in labs for over 20 years.  And I did a lot of debating, too.  In the name of SCIENCE.  And it was a debate, not hate, not politics.  It was the pursuit of the truth, and we worked until we found it.

Listen to me: SOMEBODY had to graduate at the bottom of the class.  Not everyone wearing a white lab coat should be in that lab or ANYWHERE near it.  I’ve worked beside people I wouldn’t leave alone with a heating pad!  As long as the companies making drugs are buying government, you had better stop using the word science.  Just say, “Shut up and take this drug so I can get rich.”  Because that’s what it amounts to.  And if you cannot see this, then please, take that pill.  Open your mouth like a little baby bird waiting for mama bird to vomit in his mouth.  

There is NOTHING wrong with scientific debate.  When someone tells you “people are against science” just because they disagree, then they don’t know what the freaking concept is about.  You should be GLAD people question wealthy, powerful people pushing a drug that makes them wealthy.   Why?  Because the BEST science comes in the wake of healthy debate, where EVERY stone is overturned and examined.  Preferably with a Zeiss microscope, or better yet an electron microscope.  If your “science leader” is afraid to turn over few stones, that’s a liar, a cheater, a bully, or just plain stupid.

And if that’s okay with you, please run to be first in line for that synthetic, unproven drug.  I beg you.

Have You Hugged Your Lender Lately??

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Most lenders don’t bite.  At least none of MY lenders.  Point is, these are people to whom you should definitely have a conversation if you are in the real estate world.   Listen, things are changing in the real estate world (can you say interest rates?), and lenders change their programs to align with current conditions.

I always, ALWAYS, encourage my clients to talk to their lender FIRST.  Why?  Because you don’t really know what you can afford, for one thing.  Second, you don’t really know your credit score, most likely, because the ‘deep dive’ is what the lenders do and they find EVERYTHING.

Point is, there are some new programs out there that might get you enthusiastic again, out of the disappointment status you started feeling when rates went up.  Adjustable rate loans are back and don’t wrinkle your nose:  My first mortgage was adjustable rate, and I could refinance any time after year one.  Which I did.  One hundred percent financing is also back ‘in vogue’, meaning that the pendulum swing is enabling buyers to have a bit of leverage again (Thank goodness).  And USDA limits are different now; the household income is higher, which helps.  There’s a new ‘self employed’ loan out there, which helps those of us who itemize and claim deductions.  The deductions lower your ‘income’ according to the algorithm.   Now, we self employed folks can now get a mortgage based on our actual income, rather than what the tax form says.  It’s not a no-doc loan, but it uses tax returns. That’s all I know; consult your lender.

Thing is, there are OPTIONS, and you should explore them.  And different lenders have different products, so do some homework.  Tell them what you want to do and let them tell you what program they have that will help you achieve that dream.  I tell my clients not to be intimidated by lenders.  They are making money by having you as a client, so act like it.  Be as important to them as you actually are, and find out what THEY can do for YOU. 

Online is NOT the best way, by the way.  There, you are a number.  In person lenders get to know you and how you operate, and they know your NAME.  You can meet and talk about where you ARE, where you are GOING, and what you DREAM.  Look a lender in the eye.  Find one who has some battle scars, too.  They know the lay of the land, and are very good at digging out that perfect product for you.

Establish a relationship with a good lender, because they are important to have in your sphere of influence when things change in your life.  Plus, most of them are really nice folks.  I’ve met some who are not, so be careful, be sure they are telling you the truth, and comparison shop.

Don’t be intimidated.  They are people too.

And finally, you STILL have to prove you are able to buy before you make an offer.  So just go, get that letter, know your options.  After you talk to a lender, you will know how much house you can afford, thus avoiding looking at homes that are too small (maybe you can go larger), or looking at ones that are more than you can buy.  Once you see them, others may seem disappointing.  

I’m not a lender but I have some great lender contacts.  I’m Brenda, a Coldwell Banker Advantage real estate agent and Realtor.  Let me know if I can help.

TOLD ya

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There are a few of us agents in this area who have been trying to raise the red flag about Opendoor for a long time.  Some agents are actually data minded and we can figure out pretty quickly when the numbers don’t add up to what the hype says they should.  The problem was, nobody wanted to listen to us few data folks, because we’re real estate agents and OF COURSE we’re not going to be happy about Opendoor scooping up our business.  And dare I say it?  Because we are real estate agents, nobody thinks we can do spreadsheets, or do math in our head.  Oh but some of us can.

Listen, I expected, based on the fairy dust that was being air dropped on us, that when I showed an Opendoor property IT  WOULD  BE FANTASTIC.  Holy hell, no.  NO NO NO.  That was my first clue.  I smelled a big rat, and mildew and cigarette smoke and pet odors while walking over rotten wood and black carpet.  Not all in the same house but several were in one house.  Now keep in mind this horrible house was BOUGHT from a seller, who PAID FOR THESE REPAIRS, but they were NOT done.  Following me?

I started out by building a spreadsheet and tracking the performance versus hype of Opendoor.  My spreadsheet confirmed (of course it did) what my quick takes were telling me.  Opendoor was NOT doing what they said they were doing, and they were outright misleading consumers.  Let me give you some examples:

First, they factored in exorbitant rental costs the seller would face if they sold through a real estate agency, for SIX MONTHS, and put that overinflated number on the ‘cost of using a realtor’ list.  Where in the HECK did they come up with that?  People have somewhere to go usually; nobody I have EVER dealt with rented for 6 months.  Then they added in 7% commission, which nobody I KNOW does or ever did unless the seller wanted to (never happens), and they added THAT overinflated number to the ‘cost of using a realtor’ list.  Then they added up an average repair cost for repairing ALL of the things usually found on an inspection report (in NC the seller doesn’t have to do ANY repairs), and they added that overinflated number to the ‘cost of using a realtor’ list.  Then they added in the woe is me stuff about cleaning and oh the horror of allowing people to view your home while it’s listed.  They made it sound like people came in and set up camp, when in FACT, shopping buyers are always accompanied by an agent AND they are vetted up front to be sure they’re not just being nosey.  And…they made it sound like opening a closet door to see the size of a closet was burglary, when in fact buyers just want to see how big the closet it.  They open, they peek in, they close.  THEN, OD gave a price before they sent in their inspectors.  Then they added up all of the so-called ‘necessary repairs’ and lowered their offer by that much.  Charged the sellers for ALL repairs, when if they worked with an agent, that would NOT happen unless the seller wanted it to.  In NC the seller is not even obligated to DISCUSS repairs, let alone do them.

THEN…they often did NONE of those repairs the seller paid for, or jury-rigged them (like filling rotten wood with white caulk and painting over that), pocketing THAT money, then listed the house for thousands higher.  I’ve SEEN this stuff.  But…nobody wanted to listen. I used to say people thought it was worth 30 grand to not have to vacuum and repair a broken door knob, for crying out loud.

Opendoor painted a wholly incorrect picture for sellers, using fear tactics and slight of hand, to get listings.  I tried to encourage people to track this stuff, watch the listing service and then look at tax records when they sell…nobody did.  Check for yourself! Be careful!  Nobody did.  They just kept trusting this corporation.  Does anybody just see that one sentence as a problem?  I do.

Now listen, I haven’t been happy about my business being diminished, but it IS the age of electronic everything and online everything, so I have rolled with the punches and tried to use the e-momentum in my favor.  I call it real estate jujitsu.  It has worked.  But when I see clients losing tens of thousands of dollars on the ‘deals’ with Opendoor, well it makes me angry.  I’m going to have business no matter what Opendoor does; I just go on to the next transaction, Opendoor or no Opendoor.  But I abhor watching anyone be taken advantage of.  In some cases, I tried very hard to prevent it, but Opendoor made it sound like fairy dust and magic. And a LOT of people fell for it.  I admit, at times I thought they got what they deserved.  But then no, they did not. 

What OD DID was lowball on the buy side, hold on to the home for the allotted, mandatory time period, and then list the home 30 or 40K higher than what it ‘was worth’ (sometimes less) 60 days ago, spending minimal to no money on repairs.  Unbelievable.  The problem is, consumers don’t know how to research this stuff, or are too uninterested to do it.  I watched one young couple with a little baby lose 30 thousand on the sales price of their home, by going with OD.  Let me use that acronym because I don’t’ want to type Opendoor any more than I have to.

So now OD is being fined by the FTC to the tune of 62 million or so; and that, my friends, is not enough.  In my opinion, of course.  This company has very likely bilked FAR more than that out of unsuspecting sellers.  And don’t forget, buyers are buying this houses with shoddy ‘repair’ work too!  Again, I have seen the tactic in action.  So I’m glad this is coming to light.  And the other I-buyers should take heavy note.  There are not clean hands in this kitchen as far as I AM concerned.

See, right now, because of the fast market, people need to have an idea of the condition of the home before making an offer, because there’s often a big amount of due diligence on the table.  So if, for example, there’s a leak under the bathroom that has rotted the substructure, you are not going to see that until you inspect.  And you cannot inspect until your offer has been ACCEPTED.  So if you have an untrustworthy seller, one who is not required to disclose any issues…or can claim ‘no representation’, you had better know you’re at big risk.  

I’m willing to bet that it costs WAY, FAR, HUGELY less money to use a real estate agency for your real estate transactions.  I’ve seen some pretty scary stuff out there.  I saw one of news reports where one young person actually went to look at the house she sold to OD, and she found that none of what she ‘paid for’ in reduced offer price, was actually done.  I hope she gets well compensated for being hoodwinked.  My first time buyers don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff with me as their agent.  I protect my buyers and their interests.

One more note: Opendoor bought a home on my street, way lower than market price…I knew that because duh, I’m a real estate agent.  I was livid. Why?  They just nuked MY property value and those of my neighbors.  Then they listed it for 30 grand higher…might have been more, not sure.  They did a few repairs on that one…paint and carpet I think…but it was a flip for sure.  Buy low, sell high.  AND I GUARANTEE the seller didn’t know and STILL doesn’t know how he/she got screwed.  And that, my friends, is how OD gets away with this crap. People do NOT pay attention.

Anyway that’s my rant.  Pay attention folks.  Don’t let anybody take advantage of you.

I’m Brenda and I’m a Coldwell Banker Advantage agent in Raleigh NC. If I can help you, call me.  You can find me on my web page.

 

Shifting Markets

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Real estate markets are shifting beneath our feet right now, as we’ve been prodded from lethargy. Well…lethargy in the PHILOSOPHICAL SENSE (we actually worked our buns off).  Sellers didn’t have to put forth much effort to sell, buyers knew they basically needed big money to play, market time was sometimes one day, realtors often had no time to stage or even photograph, lenders were staffed up and ready to go, appraisers were sitting in their trucks with the engine running.  There was a great deal of complacency, if we call it like it really was, but we moved a LOT of real estate through the system.  Everyone knew the role we were supposed to play and we just got on with it.  Let’s just say it was interesting, if not insane.  And listen, logistics did not in any way diminish stress. Let’s just get THAT on the table.

The bad part of all of it was that first time buyers were incrementally pushed right out of the market in many cases.  It wasn’t a shove, it was a sneaky, stealthy inching and edging.  Eventually (too late) this prompted lenders to provide programs to assist these folks; but now, even those programs often can’t work, because house prices have gone through the stratosphere, ridiculously so in some cases.  Something must give.  And it is giving.  The issue with most folks trying to evaluate the market is that there are MANY moving parts, not just one, and not the least of which are interest rates and home prices.  Then there’s the ‘supply chain’ issue driving infrastructure prices up, and there’s wage issues for contractors in high demand.  Then there are huge numbers of professionals pouring in to find housing to live in for that new job they got moved here for…demand, demand, demand.  And there’s greed; let’s just put that out there too.  

The market is undulating and struggling to find its footing.  Have you ever fallen?  You know that feeling when your feet slip from beneath you and you haven’t hit the ground yet?  That’s where we are.  Right there.  It’s scary and unpredictable, to say the least, but that’s what we’re dealing with.  And all of us, real estate agents, sellers, buyers, lenders, contractors, everybody, are trying to figure out our new footing, which by the way will surely be temporary.  Just when we think we are balanced, standing there with our arms out, sweat beads on our forehead, the ground will shift again.  Picture that.  But you know when you first stand up on a surf board and you are trying to find the sweet spot?  Once you find it, it’s AWESOME; and then you ride the wave.  You’ll find that place.   

We’ve seen this before.  I’ve read that everything occurs in a sine wave configuration, with fairly predictable ups and downs, if the data are tracked.  Problem is, most people don’t look at data.  Not once.  They just repeat the mantra.  That’s dangerous.  Some people call data swings ‘the pendulum’.  I say this: “The pendulum swings.  It always does.”  Whatever it is, we’ve been here before, sometimes in extreme circumstances.  And we’re still here; that’s the important thing.  Listen, you know this.  If things are just perfectly perfect, warm and cozy, rich and sparkly, get ready because a rug’s going to be pulled out. The only thing that never changes, is change.  And you also know, one bolt coming loose causes the whole apparatus to become unsteady eventually.  That’s how real estate works.  It cascades.

What we have to watch out for, to effectively analyze and to separate apart the nuts and bolts, are the actual market and the panic stirred in by news broadcasters, real estate professionals and talking heads (repeaters).  Stay with me on this.  Everywhere on the news is gloom and doom…which is normal coming up to a big election, by the way.  Fear works like a CHARM.  That’s one factor.  Good news doesn’t get viewers, so the message has to be ‘crash, crash, crash’.  But always remember the moving parts.  Remember that the picture is complex.  There are many moving parts and experienced professionals understand this and can avoid panicked, anxiety driven responses.  So do some digging before you allow fear to dictate your next moves.  Adjust your expectations. And for goodness sakes get a real estate agent with enough experience and smarts to help you think this through and understand it.

Now, the real estate market may crash.  I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it.  But what I do know is that there are things in place to prevent a ‘crash’ unless it is politically beneficial.  In other words, I still have hope that the economic process will work.  Will it be lovely?  No.  Corrections are necessary and they are never pretty.  I’ve been through a few.  I remember when the ‘tech sector’ crashed, remember that?  Stock prices plummeted?  Yeah, ugly.  And the crash of 08 was, in my humble opinion, driven by greed and ignorance.  Greed on the part of financial and political institutions and ignorance on the part of the people out there buying houses.  I don’t mean STUPID; I mean ignorant.  If you’re spending the biggest amount of money you’ve ever spent, you OUGHT to have an idea what’s going on.  Really.  So educate yourself out of ignorance of the market.  And while you’re at it, ask some questions about how agency works.  

Here it comes.  Alert number 1001: Real estate is local.  That means what happens in your subdivision could be very different than what happens in one 10 miles away, and definitely what happens in your state will not be the same as one across the country.  So you need to see the actual data.  DATA folks, data.  And you need to know which train car your market is in.  Were you the first to fall in 08?  Or were you the last?  THERE’S A REASON FOR THAT.  Find out what that reason is and you have one big data point.  And then think about how you should respond.  Remember when I said sellers didn’t have to do much of anything to sell their house?  Well that was the anomaly and this is now.  Time to clean the carpet or declutter, time to expect to have to make your home attractive to buyers.  Move-in-ready, folks.  Move-in-ready.  You heard it here first.

So for now, we see houses sitting on the market longer, maybe as much as weeks longer, and we also see agents rushing in making ridiculously low offers.  We are not in a crash, and our demand here is still overwhelming: This is NOT a panic market.  In other words, sales prices are often at list price rather than above, and some sellers are selling below list price, too, but not fire sale price.  Not THAT low.  It’s not time for that.  

Builders can’t build fast enough, neither for renters nor for buyers.  AND some are still trying to charge elevated prices like they did when interest rates were around 3%.  Those days are over.  But it takes builders time to turn that ship around. They will though.  They surely will.  Although I worked for one once who said, and this is a is a quote, “We are just going to ignore the economy and keep on selling houses.”  Ask me how that worked out.  Listen, humans are adaptable.  We’ll get through this and yes, we will buy and sell homes.

Once the providers of supply adjust…and they are adjusting…supply will flow again, and demand will flood in. It will happen.  Right now we’re in deer-in-the-headlights mode.  People are standing with great big eyes, feet planted, looking around for the boogey man.  Wait.  Picture that; it’ll make you laugh.  But it’s all about the money, ladies and gentlemen.  I’m already seeing builders lowering prices, changing the stupid high ‘deposits’ and providing ‘broker events’ to lure us in, where we were public enemy number one for a LONG time (not with DR Horton though; they still paid real estate commissions as usual).  Builders slashed our income because in their minds, buyers didn’t need representation.  They did, but many buyers didn’t realize that.  Anyway, we’re not so bad now; we’re being asked to come around, see what we offer, have a sandwich, we love ya, bring your clients.  I’m chuckling. I know where THIS is going.  But that’s a HUGE sign that builders have lost a LOT of traffic.  See? Data point.  Another data point:  Real estate agents have good memories.  Now I’m being facetious.  BUT, you can’t expect to keep ignoring the economy and expect business not to change.  Interest rates have gone up!  Time to adjust.  

What I tell my sellers is that buyers are still out there, but the buyer DEMOGRAPHIC has changed.  In my market, the ones who are now shopping can afford the rate hike, but they also know the market is in flux and they’re taking advantage (once they break out of the deer-in-the-headlights stance).  Why wouldn’t they?  They’ve been beaten up pretty bad for several years.   The market is ‘normalizing’.  Listen, a 30 year rate under 3 was a HUGE anomaly.  THAT was what was strange.  We are now moving back to top dead center.  For my first time buyers, my heart breaks.  But we adjust, we are industrious, we figure things out.  And in the not too distant future, the market will favor buyers about as much as it favors sellers….except in the areas where demand outstrips supply.  Sellers will keep the upper hand there until demand falls.

Bottom line is this: Real estate is not dead, it hasn’t crashed, this is not the time to panic.  It’s going to be okay.  But it will go back to more ‘normal’ interest rates.  I call that around 6% even though my first interest rate was 14% with a perfect credit score and good income.  AND I SURVIVED THAT!  (I know) So hang in there.

I have a foundational theme, which is that most problems go away if expectations are correct.  So I encourage you to look at the data right around you (local, remember?), and adjust your expectations.  It might take a little longer, cost a bit more, but you can still get there.  I’ve been here before…in a changing market, that is…and I made it through.  You will too.  A second foundation theme is that stress kills.  

I know.  Some folks can NOT handle stress.  It’s sad to see them end up very ill or worse, after worrying and hollering their way through a transaction.  Not worth it folks, not worth it.  No amount of screaming and caterwauling is going to change interest rates or change lender requirements.  Deep breath, expectation adjustment…and call an experienced, level headed real estate agent.  Then, we we freak out, you freak out, and not one second before.😉  Keep it between the ditches, fly straight and level, keep it between the channel markers, wear your life jacket, remember your parachute….whatever floats your boat. How’s THAT for cliche writing?  In other words, lean more towards logical action rather than caterwauling.  Just saying. hahaha.

If you want to talk, call me.  I’m Brenda Briggs at Coldwell Banker Advantage.  Find me online. Meanwhile, have a great day!

 

What to do with this SQUIRREL-LY Market…

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I talked with a lender today who called the market “squirrel-ly” and I thought that was a perfect analogy.  You’ve seen these little guys trying to decide whether or not to cross the road, darting around looking terrified.  Well, that’s kind of us these days, and justifiably so.  HOWEVER.  You know there’s always an ‘HOWEVER’  if you talk to me.  Here it is:  Real estate is local.  That’s 1001 times I’ve written that.  But it’s true and it’s important.   So the however leads to: It’s not time to run and hide in a cave.

Yes the rates have gone up, but you can be sure that lenders are working on ways to make it so that you can get into that home you want.  Are some folks going to fall out of the running temporarily?  Yes, but they should not give up.  There will be ways.  

Meanwhile, remember that here in our market in the Raleigh NC area (the Triangle), we were the last ones to fall when the market crashed back in 08.  And we were the first ones to start lifting off of the bottom as well. Why?  Because of demand.  Supply and demand is a huge factor in real estate and here, demand is crushing.  So…why is the market feeling slow right now?  I call it the holiday doldrums.  If you’ve ever been sailing and struck by the doldrums on a hot summer day, you know it’s excruciating.  You sit there, bobbing in the middle of the river or waterway or ocean, praying for just a little breeze.  But you get crickets.  Well we’re having the ‘between Memorial Day and July Fourth’ doldrums.  Think about it.  This happens every year.  People are thinking about vacation, graduation, vacation, vacation, vacation.

So what do we do when it happens while rates are climbing the ladder in ADDITION to vacation?  Well, we pay attention!  We most DEFINITELY have some of that hitting out market right now, because a little bit of rate hike can equate to enough increase in house payment that some buyers have to tap out for a little while.  Buyers are scared right now, because of the unpredictability they face.  So caution is the order of the day.  What do you do?  TALK TO YOUR LENDER.  Your lender is going to be your financial guide all the way.  And if you’re close to the edge, maybe waiting is the way to go.  Or ask about some other loan program that might work better for you.

But for sellers?  Don’t panic.  Bob around in the river or ocean and ride out the doldrums.  I promise after the 4th things will pick up.  Look, we’ve had vacation, graduations, more vacations coming…people are distracted from home buying.  Yeah, if it makes you feel better, lower your price and test the results.  Chances are, you won’t see a difference.  I am telling you, it’s this way every year.

What is GOOD that’s happening now is that buyers have a bit of breathing room from the race to multiple offers, and they have a break from excessively high due diligence fees, in some cases.  No way that’s a bad thing.  And IF the market continues to stand still or slide, then we’re going to see the needle swing away from a strong seller market to something favoring buyers more.  And remember ideally, the needle stands straight up between buyer advantage and seller advantage, to something more reasonable for everyone.  I guess whether or not you agree with that statement depends on whether you’re a buyer or seller, or neither.  But a fair market is better; trust me on that one.

For now, there’s a change in the weather with regard to real estate and it’s way too soon to jump ship (unless you need to cool off).  We will surely see some buyers fall out of the race for now and we will see some homes sitting on the market longer…for now.  We still have the huge corporations either here, or coming here, and people need housing.  And we have the aircraft manufacturer coming to Wake Forest too.  So demand is still crushing our supply.  The market may ‘fall’, but remember we’ve been in an abnormal market for a long time.  What we might be seeing is a normal market coming into view.

Just remember that this is a time for creative problem solving and a time to reestablish patience in the real estate process.  Homes will still sell; buyers will still find a house, people will still be able to live. 

PUMPING PANIC

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Well, the news just gets worse and worse.  We find out that interest rates have risen again, that gas prices have risen again, inflation is the worst in 40 years, food prices are through the roof, and now, if we can get the things we need, they will have experienced ‘shrink-flation’.  Have you heard that term?

It means that bread slices will be so small they’ll be like crackers…or so it will seem.  They’ve already shrunk way below what they once were, so we’ll see.  Packages of dried beans will look like a bag of M&Ms, a can of tuna will be teensy…you get the idea.  But you’ll PAY the same…or more.  

Lenders are laying off personnel because loan applications are down and real estate agents will see progress for buyers slow or even stop. Many new agents will not be able to make it in the biz at all.  And buyers will drop out of the purchases.  Sharp rises in rates make a huge difference in payment and ability to qualify for the loan in the FIRST place.  You know I’m already riled up about my first time buyers and first time move-up buyers, most of whom are pushed out of the market altogether.

Listen, I TRY to find positive in everything I can, and in this situation I realize that this will pass.  It has to.  Meanwhile the agenda to save the planet seems to be hurting everyone except the wealthy.   You know, the enemy of the state who don’t pay taxes, we’re told?   Who can afford an electric car?  Oh THOSE people.  And we pay for the electric charging stations they use for free.  Think about this stuff.  Solar panels, windmill farms, electric cars won’t matter if people are starving or done in by astronomical crime increases.  If I wanted to take over a population with my military might, this is how I would do it.  Just like what is happening.  But I digress.

I realize that the ‘news’ is sensational, that things are never as bad as the ‘news’ would have us believe, and at least for now, I’m okay.  Still there are some things hitting me in the face every time I open my refrigerator or go to the dreaded grocery store…or God forbid, fill up my car with gas.  Having said all of that, let me encourage you to consider these things:

  1. Amazon is here, with all of the employees having bought or trying to buy homes.
  2. Google is here, with all of the employees having bought or trying to buy homes.
  3. Facebook, excuse me, META, is coming, with all of the employees trying to buy homes.
  4. The aircraft manufacturing plant is coming, with some portion of 1800 planned employees, needing homes.
  5. Interest rates be damned, people have to have homes.  
  6. We could all stand to stop eating so much we are an obese society.  So maybe we cut back.
  7. I wish I could get solar power, but I’m in a townhouse.  But I’m thinking about that little issue.  Right now, no dice.
  8. Last year we had 70 people every DAY coming here to find a place to live….It’s gotta be more now.  
  9. We are in holiday doldrums…that’s between Memorial Day and July 4.
  10. My cats don’t seem to notice any of this stuff.
  11. My interest rate was I THINK 17% when I bought my first home, and I had perfect credit.  BUT home prices were reasonable, too.

What I am saying is that homes will still be bought.  The problem for my first time buyers is that there is NO PRODUCT they can begin to afford.  What a travesty that a first-time home has a 4 in the first number on average and a THREE on the low end.  That’s just crazy.  

Try to think of a way to get into a home even WITH rising rates, and don’t lose hope.  That’s the worst thing to do.  I talked about creative problem solving once before; we’re going to have to do that.  And don’t swallow all of the panic that’s being pumped onto us right now.  That’s on purpose, and we don’t need that on top of everything else.

How Do You Like Me NOW?

I got up early.  Thanks cats.  I have the most comfy throw I use to cover up with at night and my cats confiscate it during the night.  I wake up chilly and cramped into a small corner of the bed and my cats? Well they look INCREDIBLY comfy and snoozy on my little velvet throw.  Warms my heart.  You cat people know exactly what I mean.

But I’m up.  Up before 5 today, and cleaning out ONE THOUSAND emails from my iCloud account. Unsubscribe to one, ten more rush in.  It’s open borders even in the email world.  But you know, you can’t help but read the titles, no matter how hard you try not to, and that gets you thinking.  Oh, it gets about 15% of us thinking.  The rest are just mules on the cart path it seems.

OH HOW CAN I SAY THAT???  Wellllll, here’s how. (here I go again).  I heard a talking head (one of the 80 percent) on the ‘news’ hack hack hack cough cough, saying that “Americans are taking the economy in stride.”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  If that’s true, the smooth brains have actually taken over completely.

I’m not taking any of this crap in stride.  I don’t use OTHER PEOPLES’ MONEY to make ends meet; I use my own.  It’s just me, what I EARN by working.  So no, there’s no taking anything in stride.  PARTICULARLY because this is senseless, deliberately inflicted pain on the middle class by a bunch of greedy entitled assholes.  They’re millionaires many times over, and nah, they don’t really know how we feel.  How could they?  Most of them have never hit a lick at real work in their entire 110 years in politics.  Don’t get me started on that. You know how it is when you see your bank account bump up…remember those days?  It’s a good feeling.  Imagine how you would feel when it bumps up by several hundred thousand a day because you have stock in the company (pharma, renewable energy) that you are forcing people to use.

Is there anybody else in the room here?  Does anybody out there look beyond the end of the nose and actually think about things?  At all?  Oh yeah, all of the smooth brains rushing to get into politics.  THOSE folks get it.  That’s the reason to get into “government” now.  Get elected, take your money.

The middle class are the backbone of America.  We are the workers, we are the consumers. And we’re as gullible as two year olds.  And the puppet masters love that about us.  Once we fall, America falls. That’s elementary.  Better start using that gray stuff inside your skull for something besides ballast.

I have had zero internet for a month now (way to go Centurylink), so I’m not watching TV, or at least contemporary TV.  You can get the oldies on antenna TV which is mostly what I can watch if I bother to turn on the thing.  And I was thinking…there I go again…that I don’t really need it.  Even for weather.  If I go out and my hair frizzes, the humidity is high.  If it gets wet, rain.  If not either of those, I go buy something to plant in my garden.  And I don’t have to hear the freaking idiots trying to either parrot what someone ELSE said, or talk the same worn out tired ‘party line’ crap…or try to get me worked up about something I can do nothing about.  When I fill up my car with gas, I know whom to vote for in the next election and whom to kick out.  When I buy food, same thing.  For those of you who are ‘taking it in stride’, those free food lines are going to dry up folks, and soon you won’t be able to buy gas to drive anywhere.  PAY AFREAKINGTENTION.  

I’m hearing it will take 5 years minimum for this crap to flush down the toilet.

And one more thing.  Stop having babies if you can’t afford the babies.  That’s Michael Jackson folks.  And that, my friends, is the reason for all of this crap.  Too many people. Think about that for a second.  Oh no!  I said it. hahaha.  Well that’s actually being talked about these days: Overpopulation.

You can’t make this crap up.  How many times do you think humanity has destroyed itself?  That’s your question for the day, and yeah, that’s two.

Okay three.  I’m using my personal hotspot for internet.  And wow, it’s great.  AND cheaper.  Imagine my surprise that I can live without the greedy big dogs.

 

Censorship, Algorithms and Bans

I watch YouTube all the time; almost never watch cable TV or antenna TV.  So clearly I like to listen to the debates and opinions of all kinds of people.

I hear things like “he violated our rules”, “we viewed that as a threat”, “we viewed that as incitement”, “we could tell they were fake”, or “the algorithm may have caught it”, “I and my team” took it as incitement…and on it goes. “Our platform promotes speech unless people violate our rules.”

The problem with all of these statements is the we, I, our, the algorithm, words, because one person or two or ten, are deciding what is a violation, a threat, incitement, fake.  The folks are so comfortable with being the gods of communication, that they don’t see how they are violating free speech.  And listen, I think their hearts are in the right place!  But once the butts in the chairs around the figurative (or literal) conference room table are removed and replaced by another set of opinions, then the wailing and gnashing of teeth begins.  “Our rules” are just that, yours.  And they will change when YOU are changed out.  And therein lies the rub with regard to censorship.  It’s all fun and games until the power structure falls and is replaced by people who disagree with I, we, our.

Well what ABOUT the ‘algorithms’?  Well, they are derived by someONE, who has a set of someONES around that table, building a system to ‘throw out’, ‘cancel’, ‘suspend’ a particular line of thinking with which they disagree, or which they view as a threat, an incitement, dangerous.  That’s key: If “I” don’t agree (conform, bow down, serve), I’m ‘canceled’ by the butts around the table today.  And that’s dangerous.  And it will change “tomorrow”.

Listen, I HATE some of the things I see in print and hear online, but I value the rights of the ones saying them.  There needs to be a kind of filter to remove child predators, murderers, stalkers.  How do we do this?  I suggest that we just stop the name calling first…how about that?  Opinions don’t have to be put out there as bombs or missiles.  A well thought out position doesn’t need explosives; it can hold strength on its own merit.

One of the censors says people leave the ‘platform’ because of “how the speech is being used”:they don’t want to be harassed anymore, so the rules protect these people.  So the one who disagreed said, “People harass and abuse me all the time and you don’t do anything about that.”  The censor was left speechless at that statement.

I have always said that certain lines of thought (with which I might disagree…or not) come from a good place, a place where protecting people is in the heart, where taking ‘care’ of people is in their heart.  But not everyone agrees with what is protective, what is caring, what is good or a good solution.

This is complicated.  College professors and others have said that the winners write history.  To an extent this is true.  For example nobody can deny the atomic bomb hitting Japan.  But citing numbers of soldiers the winners versus losers lost in battle are ridiculous.  Unbelievable, and the winners always ‘kill’ less of their men.  But today, censorship has gotten way out of hand.  In order to make good choices and decisions, people need the data, good and bad.  The problem is: WHAT IS GOOD?  WHAT IS BAD?

Everyone needs to understand (that indicates actual thought) that different cultures have different ideas of what is good or bad.  In the age of globalism, getting the ‘truth’ out there is evermore complicated.  You canNOT make 8 billion people happy, all at once.  And shutting down completely one gender or political party, for example, is just wrong.

Interest Rates and Real Estate

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Real Estate is LOCAL.  That’s the first and foremost thing to remember.  Your particular market may be different from all others…like if you live in proximity to a waste treatment plant.  But in general, as we see interest rates rising, here’s what I see happening.  SEE as in visualizing the future.

First time buyers, or those who can’t put away tens of thousands of dollars in savings, are in even worse position to try to get in the market.  We’ve already seen that demographic pushed out by exorbitant due diligence fees and high ‘above list price’ offers.  Some of them could still compete with help from family, but if you pile on high food and gas prices, which push everything else higher on top of rising interest rates, money for a house payment has disappeared like smoke. 

Having said that, my theory is that the government will push rates up until they stall the market entirely, then they will back down.  I’ve seen this SO many times.  It’s all relative, however.  Pushing up to 10 percent and backing down to 9 isn’t going to help my young buyers at ALL.  And yes, I said government, because lenders and government are one. We all know, or should know, that.

So what I see is that people with high paying jobs and wealthy families will be the ones to backfill the entry level buyers.  In other ones, the ‘privileged’ ones will be the buyers, unless some kind of program is introduced.  I’m not a fan of giving everything to people who are not willing to work.  I’m talking about the ones who work their fingers to the bone every day and still cannot afford to buy a home. That’s the group who need a hand.  It happens to be my favorite group to serve in real estate, because helping someone get their first house is an honor.

In my market as of today, I don’t see the market suffering much.  Except that I am very upset about entry level buyers being shut out, I see my real estate business carrying for now.  Until the economy crashes.  But the buying demographic is changing by the minute.