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. 

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.

How Will the Situation in Ukraine Affect the Housing Market?

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All eyes are on Ukraine, as we send heartfelt concern for her citizens and the fear they must be experiencing.  It is sometimes easy to NOT worry about a country you couldn’t find on a map first time around, and often, criminals love that.  It’s easy to be complacent about a place so far away.  Corrupt entities, including government officials use that little fact to their advantage.  As more information comes forth, we’re seeing some surprising things unfold before us, disturbing things that should be labeled as criminal.  Long story short, citizens of Ukraine are suffering and afraid, and we are connected to Ukraine, if not physically, then absolutely financially.  There are some who say money is the only thing that matters; I heartily disagree.

But because real estate is my current job, of course I look at Ukraine and what they face though that lens at least some of the time.  I have to stay on top of our market for the sake of my clients.  What you can expect are some of these things:

  1.  Interest rates will be affected.  They just slowed their roll and in fact backed down a bit. They could rocket back up once a solution is reached, if in fact one is.
  2. All of the stock market and investment dollars you had accumulated will shrink as the stock market responds to uncertainty.
  3. You or your military family member may be deployed.
  4. Prices of oil and gas will most likely increase as that was the plan before, and most certainly will be the case if Russian aggression doesn’t stop.  That means many less dollars for a house payment, or to qualify for a loan.
  5. And more depending on what happens.

My advice is to be in close contact with your lender, stay on top of your process, and watch those interest rates.  And…keep a close eye on your investments if they come into play in your home purchase.

I wish you all the best.  I’m Brenda Briggs with Coldwell Banker in Wake Forest NC.  Look me up; give me a call if I can help you.

The Truth is Out There…

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Here’s one for you: I’m just going to give you the information from science and you can think it over and make up your own mind. 

What a crock.  The atomic number for Nitrogen is 7.  You don’t get to think about that and choose your own number.  If you step outside that third story window, you’re gonna FALL.  DOWN.  You don’t get to make up your own mind about it! Gravity works.  Period.  There are many truths out there that you just have to believe, otherwise there is no foundation upon which to stand or build.  But we live in a ridiculous period of “everybody gets to make up his or her own reality”.  I used to say, “Kill me now.”  Today, nobody thinks that’s a joke and people are so MAD.  But what a ridiculous idea that every single person gets to decide whether or not the atomic number of Nitrogen is 7.  

I used to work in science, every day, all day.  There were certain chemical reactions or material facts that I used, depended upon, from which my analysis stemmed.  Truth.  Science is the pursuit of truth.  Now when I reached my conclusions, ultimately there would be a dollar amount associated with it, either for my company or for the company who bought the optical fiber we manufactured, or for a vendor who maybe supplied bad raw material.  I didn’t have to be involved in the money or politics, thank GOD; but, the answer was the answer and corrective measures went from there.  Nobody had to mull it over and see how they wanted the answer to feel, or how THEY thought it should be, and there were no politicians NEAR my lab.  Again, thank God.  Okay, let’s be honest.  Remember that word?  There were probably ‘politicians’ around in white coats, wanting to scratch and claw to the next level on the hierarchical ladder, but they were usually on the other side of the lab door.

Were my analytical results sometimes unpopular?  You bet your ass they were, but they were the results.  And if I didn’t know the answer by virtue of analysis, I SAID THAT.  Wouldn’t it be nice of some of the talking heads out here today would look us in the eye and say, “Sorry folks, we just don’t know what the side effects will be, but in 5 years we will know and we will pay you if your leg falls off.”  Hey, it wouldn’t be fun, but it would be the truth, right?  

I know, you’re wondering what a leg is worth. hahaha.  Don’t worry, these folks have enough to pay you.  It’s part of the plan.

I think the problem is that politics and money are the most important goals now, replacing Truth.  Now, we don’t know who supplies raw materials, or even the finished product many times.  We don’t know the credentials of the person who gives you that pill to take.  I used to say, “Somebody had to graduate at the bottom of the class.”  And that was when I assumed there was an ACTUAL college degree somewhere.  Today, we don’t know for sure, and we don’t know how much that person actually LEARNED if there WAS a degree, because these days, it doesn’t really matter.  Everybody gets one! Don’t believe me?  Watch how much BAD GRAMMAR is on your NEWS broadcast today.  Ask a random person to read a paragraph.  It’ll make your head explode.  What is the plural of phenomenon?  How do you pronounce corroboration?  Do you know someone who says, “I seen it?” I rest my case.

We are erasing truth from our existence.  How is that happening?  Well, if there are over 7 billion people on the planet and each one gets to design ‘reality’, we’re talking about complete, annihilatory chaos.  How do you like that word?  I had to look it up, but I DID look it up because I trust the dictionary.  Apparently this computer does not because it underlines the word in red.  See how this works? hahaha.  AND YET there is no alternative spelling.  Too funny.  My computer must FEEL like that word does not exist but it shrugged off the correct spelling.  But again, I digress.  

We live in a time where, if I do not agree with your perspective, you get to beat me up, or set out to ruin my reputation, get me fired, kill me. And it gets right back to truth.  What happened to TRUTH?  And why is YOUR opinion any better than mine?  Oh, this is why we used to talk or even debate.  Debate is not a bad thing, people.  Usually at the end of a debate, everybody is still ALIVE and there are no burning buildings.  By the way a debate is not one person badgering and bludgeoning another person into thinking exactly as they think.  Debate usually leads to other things to consider on the path to truth, which is often entirely or in part different from any of the prior opinions.  THIS is how we grow, how we progress.  No dead bodies, no burning buildings.

Truth is based on the word ‘trust’.  If you look at those words long enough they will start to look strange.  Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; dependence on something future or contingent : HOPE (From Merriam-Webster dictionary).  Oh great, now we get HOPE into the compost heap.  That’s waning as well and now we know why.

Because of the incessant blitzkrieg of internet information (not usually true), we have NO idea what to believe or whom to believe anymore.  Most of what is posted is opinion…including this blog, by the way…and everybody has one.  Each and every person has an opinion about everything.  So it is your job, if you care, to …wait for it… seek the truth.  Oh hell, that sounds like work.  Yep.  It is.  And if your only source is the internet?  You have no credibility.  When I got my chemistry degree, my professor said, “You don’t have to know all of the answers, you just have to know where or how to find them.”  So, I never memorized the periodic table of elements. hahaha.  But I did know where to find it.  

Listen, there are people, entities out there who have figured out how gullible we are, how easily we fall for lies, how to manipulate us into badgering and bludgeoning others into THEIR way of thinking, which is this:  I want your money, all of it, and I want to control your life.  It feels like an effort to destroy our country but if you’ve ever LEFT this country, you’d want to come back, trust me.  Oops, trust.  But most of the people who want to annihilate the country don’t know what it’s like in other countries that are rubble and dust.  Something to think about.

Here’s another something to think about:  Are the ones badgering you invested financially in the thing they are trying to force you to buy, adopt, fund, drink, swallow?  These days, the politicians have huge amounts of stock in the companies they are trying to force you to TRUST.  Think.  How is this talking head going to benefit financially by controlling my mind?  GREAT question.

Look around you and maybe ask yourself why you’re so angry all of the time and ask yourself if you really like that persona.  Scientists are saying that such behavior can make you more susceptible to disease by the way.  There’s a lot of TRUTH that says rioting, screaming, burning things, fighting, being angry all the time…can make you more susceptible to cancer.  Read the book by Dr. Gabor Mate.  It’s eye opening.  Just saying.  And think about this:  If there are those who want to CONTROL society, whom do you believe will be the first ones in cages?  Oh yeah, the rabble-rousers who can’t be controlled. hahaha.  Better think about that.  I’m actually laughing.  We are such a mess.  Can’t even call us a society.  I am actually laughing because I still have hope.  It hasn’t been killed off yet.  That’s my science brain at work.  I know the truth is out there.  How to get 7 billion people to be open to other ideas?  That’s the kicker.

The bottom line is that there is an effort to erase truth, by people who want to confuse you, take your money, or want to take your power away from you, or okay, all of the above.  Sometimes a very small group with really loud voices can force you to adopt THEIR truth, which could be destructive and dangerous.  It is important, in other words, to understand the implications of trust, truth and hope.  These things matter to stability, safety, survival.  How am I going to tie this in with real estate, you might ask?  Watch this:

Look your lender in the eye, don’t ‘go online’.  You could be talking to a big hairy scammer in somebody’s basement who is not telling you the truth, who wants your info so they can take your money.  Look your real estate agent in the eye.  Ask questions, seek the answers you need, see if she knows the answers, see if she ever says, “I’m not sure but I can find out.”  Now that’s an honest person, a TRUTHFUL one.  You’ll know whether or not you can TRUST that person.  Have a conversation, an AUDIBLE conversation, because you can tell a lot about a person by listening to their voice.  And you can draw a plethora of wrong conclusions from text messages.  Look, I love texting and emailing and DMs and IMs and l-m-n-o-p’s, but how can I tell if I want to work with you?  By talking with you and by looking you right in the eye.  Until I see you and hear your voice, I don’t know if you’re a 10 year old kid having a bit of fun at my expense, in somebody’s basement. hahaha. Why are scammers always assumed to be in somebody’s basement?

Stay with me, still linking this to real estate.  Watch this:

I can help you find a great home where you can feel safe and secure while you find the truth.

Is that good, or what?  Call me.

I am Brenda Briggs, broker/realtor, Coldwell Banker Advantage, 919-210-6113. 

Should I Wait for the Market to Settle Down?

Photo by Quu1ed1c Bu1ea3o on Pexels.com

It’s a great question right now.  Listen, I’m an experienced agent and this market scares ME sometimes.  The speed is unfathomable and the effect is like that of being on a tricycle on one wheel speeding downhill.  There’s no time to think.  When my clients ask me whether it is a good idea to wait, I’m torn.  Part of me thinks waiting would make sense, because rushing toward anything but ice cream doesn’t thrill me.  But then reality sets in and I think rushing isn’t so bad.  Here’s why.

First, as we have already seen…are already SEEING, because the trend forming now…interest rates are going up.  In this competitive bid market, every dollar counts when you are trying to win the day, and every uptick in interest rate lowers your home search price.  Every drop in home price means you have MANY more competitors.  Homes below 400K are getting hard to find, at least the ones without ‘issues’, in many cases.  And if YOUR price point dropped, so did that of your competitors, so the race will be more fierce.

For my clients, I advise them to make the financial adjustments that will allow them to stay in the hunt, to take advantage of low interest rates.  I’m not a financial person, not an accountant, not (thank goodness) a wall street employee, but I think we are heading for an economic correction like we have never seen in our lifetime.  

I don’t think we’re heading for a “real estate crash”.  Not even close.  Demand is too high and supply is too low for that situation to occur.  No, I think inflation is going to bite us big, I just don’t know when.  Common sense tells me we’re heading that way, and filling my car with gas confirms my assumption.  I’m not an accountant either, but I do know you can’t buy a dollar’s worth of anything with a dollar that is now worth 40 cents.

Then we have rising prices for everything from food to gas, and we have supply shortage of everything from PET FOOD to cars.  When this shoe drops, it’s gonna hurt.  So waiting is actually a bad idea.

Most of my clients are not moving for the fun of it; they are moving because of a need to position themselves for the future, whether it be for the next leg of the journey or for settling into the end of their journey.  So the need is there; that’s not going to change. So what I am saying is this:  

Go ahead.  Don’t wait.

And I know I beat this one into the ground, but hire an experienced real estate agent.  This is a brand new market/economic condition which CAN be navigated effectively, but your agent must know what all of the moving parts ARE and how they bump into one another and change things.  Your agent MUST know how to protect you in this unprecedented, fluctuating, expensive market.

Speaking of pet food shortage:  Mess with my pets and we’re going to have problems.  But it seems that’s also happening.

Call me and let’s talk about it.  

I’m Brenda Briggs, Broker/Realtor  919-210-6113

Coldwell Banker Advantage, Wake Forest NC

Real Estate in Uncertain Financial Times

There’s always something to make us go “hmmmm”.  These days, watching the news makes me hide in my closet.  This is going up, this is going down, debt ceiling is being raised beyond sight, no it’s not, yes it is.  OMG America is running out of food, building supplies, clothes are getting so thin you can see through them because fabric is so expensive (that’s funny, isn’t it?).  Stock market is going up, it’s going down, buy, sell.  Interest rates are going up….are they?  Yesterday this house was active, now it’s pending.  Why did the price go up?  Are they really stabilizing?? I thought I saw some go DOWN in price.  I can’t keep up.

So let’s just assume we are going into uncharted territory yet AGAIN, and put on our thinking caps.  Why?Because there’s not a doggone thing we can do about the financial ‘climate’, but we can absolutely navigate it.  Listen, I have stocks, and I’m not selling.  I’m buying, in fact.  But I do look at analysts’ reports as a guide.  These reports are educated guesses, right?  But there are a couple I trust and they are my true north on the rare occasions my charts don’t guide me exclusively.  Yep, I’m a chart person.  Don’t really need to know what the  stock is; I just look at the chart and go from there.  It works, too.

But REAL ESTATE, I sigh.  Okay there are some charts you can use, a lot of them in fact.  But listen, these days you also HAVE TO HAVE A STRATEGY, a strong one.  It becomes more and  more complicated as the weeks go by, and you MUST have an agent who understands ALL of the moving parts and how they fit together or bump against each other; and your agent HAS TO KNOW how to maximize your financial asset goals in light of these influences.  In other words, better grab some experience, folks; this is serious business.  And you’d better put on the big person (can’t say girl anymore) panties and learn how to handle some risk.  That’s just plain fact.  If you don’t have the stomach for it, then wait it out.  But waiting it out?  The real estate train is going to leave you in dust and diesel fumes, ladies and gentlemen.  You get the point.

So your agent should ask you: “What is your financial strategy?”  Now listen, we are not accountants, but if your goal is to buy a cheap house and flip it, that’s WAY different than finding the most house you can buy so you can stay there until you die.  There was probably a better way to say that, but you get the idea.  Still, and regardless, your agent SHOULD KNOW what you really aim for financially, with respect to this real estate transaction.  And by the way, a good agent can give you some good recommendations for lenders BASED on these goals.  It’s a good hand-off between strategists and guess what?  You need that.  It’s called experience and depth of bench in the career.  Ya gotta have connections.

The thing about uncertainty financially is that we are, I believe, at a critical point in real estate (oh yes, AGAIN).  If you are trying to buy and can’t find your price point house, then I strongly recommend adjusting your ‘requirements’ or your ‘dreams’.  Why?  Because there isn’t time for a stroll through the homes for sale. Remember the dust and diesel fumes?   I think we may soon see some inflationary effects, and that will effect your interest rate, your price point, whether or not you have a screened porch AND a patio and fire pit…you get the idea.  Don’t ever forget that real estate, now more than ever, is in flux.  Don’t nail down ANYTHING.  Keep your options and your mind open.  Every day is the time to review your strategy to make sure it still make sense.  Your agent should be driving that effort, by the way.  And if this makes you feel better about ‘flux’, almost ALL buyers end up with a house that was NOTHING like what they first tell us to search for.  NOTHING.  The best clients actually realize and laugh about that once they find their home.

I have always worked 24/7, and that’s really a good thing for you.  I wake up at 3 am, thinking about your house.  Really, I do.  And IF you have been straight with me about your strategy and your financial goals, then I had BETTER be thinking about your transaction 24/7.  It’s that complicated.  If we viewed real estate transactions BEFORE as a train running on the rails, rumbling along, now, it’s a bullet train and the cars are bumping together as they fly down the tracks.  People are using your due diligence money as THEIR due diligence on the home they want to buy while you buy THEIRS.  So if one falls through…I can’t bear to think about it.  The housing shortage rages on; therefore, so does desperation among would-be buyers.  This doesn’t have to spell disaster; it just means your agent has more and more COMPLICATED work to do.  Remember when I wrote about creative problem solving?  Well it’s not just a good idea anymore.  It is MANDATORY.

And ‘thinking outside the box’ is not the same thing as creative problem solving, folks.  Creative problem solving involves integration of your STRATEGY into the process, and you must have one.  If you talk to an agent who never says ‘strategy’, RUN.  Or, take 10 grand out of your bank and throw it in the fire.  Same result either way.  Agents have to UNDERSTAND the world of transactions well enough to navigate you through the rapids, because that’s how it feels.  And it feels like that because that’s how it IS.

I describe it as being like riding a tricycle up on one wheel.  Now, it’s like riding a tricycle up on one wheel REALLY FAST.  But the moment all three wheels are on the ground at once?  It feels great.

So, in this uncertain economy, choose a wise and nimble agent who understands how to move quickly when things change and will TALK you through the initial pathway (it’ll change many times), be sure that agent knows what she’s talking about, and for goodness sake do these four things: 1) Choose your agent with care and intellect (not emotion); 2) Have a deep conversation about strategy and get that understanding well into your heart and mind; and 3) Put on those big person panties I talked about because you must expect some stress and be able to handle it; and 4) Do NOT ask your agent to reduce her fee for you, because you have NO IDEA of the value you are getting.  None.

Thinking of Selling?

Let me share a secret with you about cabinet doors.  Are you excited yet?  You should be.  I found this company when I was frustrated with my kitchen cabinets and lamenting about the cost of getting new cabinets installed.  Well you gotta love Google.  I found https://www.cabinetdoorworld.com.  Instead of the WHOLE cabinet replacement, I replaced the doors, for WAAAAY less than you would think.  I got solid wood, painted the color I wanted (a perfect match).  And I got soft close hinges that upgraded what I had before…AND…they fit perfectly, right into the slots for the other hinges.  WOW what a difference.

Now this company does a big variety of door styles and colors/stains, so I am willing to bet you can find what you need.  SO…if you want to spiff up your kitchen for low bucks to garner high bucks on your sale?  Go online and check out Cabinet Door World.  In fact, I have two new doors for my bathroom vanity right now, waiting for me to install them.  WITH soft close hinges.  The cost was minimal and the return on investment will be great.

Check them out.

What About Your Loan Payoff?

Let’s talk about your closing attorney. The job of that organization is to search the title to a property to make sure you get a clean title, and to handle funds transfers at settlement. They can do other things, but buyers, you are hiring an escrow agent. That’s their main job. Nobody and I mean nobody should have access to your social security number, your banking account numbers, your investment account numbers, how much you have in savings and checking, how much you have in your WALLET, except your lender and your attorney. And don’t tell THEM how much you have in your wallet. That’s not even THEIR business. Let’s talk about that a minute.

I probably talk about wire fraud ten times or more during a real estate event, because it is a very real threat and I want my clients to understand that. I NEVER have possession of a paper, a text or an email, that has my clients’ social security number or any account numbers. Why? Because that means I have information in my office or on my phone or in the ‘cloud’ that could be snooped or stolen or hacked, yes even if locked, that I do not not not want and do not want getting out. I tell my clients to go TO the attorney’s office to give them their information, and if they can’t do it in person, call the attorney directly.

What about the account number for loan payoff? Well, the attorney will handle that. That’s part of settling funds. They will find out who holds the mortgage and off they go. If they need something, go there and give it to them. Or call them. If they call you and you don’t recognize the voice, excuse yourself from the call and then call them back. That way, you know you’re talking to the right person. Even they have to be extremely careful because hackers do, and will, hijack the information and the money. Attorneys work in conjunction with title companies to be sure that everything adds up, and that wiring numbers and amounts are the same and that your money is not stolen. Together, these two agencies make sure your money goes to the lender, or wherever it is supposed to go, and not to some hacker across the globe.

All along the way, the people who are ENTITLED to your personal information in order to get you to closing, have secure systems with extra security, to thwart hackers. But hackers never and I mean NEVER give up. So, just don’t email your information. Don’t text it either. Think like a hacker: If you want to know what the attorney knows, whose email would YOU hack? And if hackers think your real estate agent gets that info, whose email would they also go after? RIGHT. So just be careful.

And by the way, appreciate the behind the scenes efforts that the closing attorneys’ staff and title companies’ staff put forth to protect your interests. These are hardworking people and the title folks never even see your face.

Have a great day today. Give me a call or email if you want to talk real estate.

Brenda Briggs

Coldwell Banker Advantage, Wake Forest NC

919-210-6113