Hello! Here is my take on what’s happening in the Des Moines area world of real estate. Or my home, or YOURS if you have a story you want me to share. Hope you enjoy it...and let me know if I can help YOU or your FRIENDS with any real estate needs.
Tim Schreck, CENTURY 21 Signature Real Estate
Licensed in the State of Iowa
Things are starting to slow down a touch in the Des Moines market...typical for this time of year. Between thinking about the start of school, sneaking in that summer vacation, and anticipating the world’s most amazing State Fair in a couple weeks, folks have stuff on their minds! We tend to see a boomerang effect in September and for a couple months before the winter slowdown, so there is still time in 2017 to make that new home yours!
Whether buying in a crunch, or having the luxury of a bit of time and choices, I always advise my clients to make sure they have inspections completed on the home they are purchasing. Most will automatically insist on having someone come in and look at the house in detail – the electrical, plumbing, roof, siding, insulation, etc. to make sure things are working properly and certain construction code requriements are met. Did you know anyone can do that inspection? If the buyer has an aunt who works as a contractor and knows her stuff, bring her in! If your buddy had the best grade in shop class and you trust his judgment, have hime take a look. Most people don’t know someone like that, so I always have 2-3 reputable companies I refer to my clients. Bottom line, unless you know what you are doing, have someone objective take a look.
Depending on the home, I generally recommend additional inspections. Radon is a very common gas in the midwest, and a possible cause of lung cancer. I always suggest buyers have their home inspected for radon. If the neighborhood has a lot of old growth trees or it looks like there has been patchy street repair, it might be a good sign to have your sewer line inspected. There is a product that was used in the late 40’s to early 60’s known as “Orangeburg” which is “bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together”...ie really strong cardboard. The product is no longer considered a legitimate construction product, but there are entire neighborhoods in Des Moines where houses built in that time period had orangeburg installed for sewer lines. If the house was built in that certain timeframe, I always recommend a sewer line inspection.
Through our purchase agreement document, the buyer and seller establish a period of time (generally 10 business days) to have inspections performed and make any requests for fixes to the seller. Anything can be inspected – trees, roof, soil content, etc. I make my recommendations, and the buyer decides what and how things get inspected. And hopefully when they are all done, the buyer feels secure that they are getting a home they will love, and understand, for years to come.
It’s July, half way through 2017, so let’s talk about where the Des Moines real estate market is today. At the end of June, there were 3.240 homes available for sale across the entire Des Moines MLS area. That is the highest month-end inventory level this year, and pretty much in line with historical trends that see inventory levels peak through the summer months. It’s still an incredibly low number of available homes, as indicated by the Months Inventory of 2.4. (Just a reminder, “Months Inventory” indicates how ling it would take to sell all the homes available if sales contimnued at current pace and no new homes were listed for sale. 5-6 months inventory is considered balanced...or at least it used to be!) All price points below $200K are experiencing less than 2 Months Inventory levels.
The other stunning statistic is the volume of homes sold in the past 12 months at 15,972, which is 1,000 more homes than were sold in the 12-months of calendar year 2016! As inventories remain historically low, sales volume is at historically high levels. And well over half of the homes sold have been priced at under $200K. Although higher priced new construction gets much of the attention, market volume and pace are being driven by first time buyers, downsizers and investors hoping to capitalize on the incredibly low unempoloyment rate and tight rentail markets.
So what’s next? I can’t say for certain, but for now it looks like we’ll be seeing more of the same. While mortgage interest rates ramain comparatively low, most people now agree that the rate climb predicted the past couple of years is beginning to take hold. Also, some folks are getting priced out of the purchase market, and many sellers are afraid to put their houses on the market until they have identified their next home. Will that lead to some relaxation of the market pace? Who knows. There is still a ton of demand, and buyers I’m working with are finding it defficult to get the house they want without surviving a bidding war.
Bottom line – it’s a GREAT time to sell your home in the Des Moines area, and if you have the fortitude, a pretty good time to buy your new home as well. Let’s keep it going!
Wow, it’s been a while! My month of June has been filled with a bunch of business, but mostly with a lot of personal activities with family and friends. My siblings came to my home for a weekend, I went to my home town for a gathering of Dad’s relatives, and college friends popped up for an annual visit. It’s been wonderful, and a bit of a healthy distraction from the business end of things(!) All these reunions and gatherings made me think about how much of our memory is related to home.
My sister tossing a shoe the full height of the stairwell and right throught the 2nd story window – she went on to an illustrious high school softball career! College spring break with my friend Mark, and his mother meeting us at her door after a very long drive with coconut cake and beer. Friends graciously sharing their beautiful home in San Francisco, and their other beautiful home in Napa. The coming together of my trusted circle in an Oakland condo at the passing of my father. My tiny 450 sq ft co-op apartment (a Junior 1-bedroom!) which was my beloved home in NYC for 6 years. And of course, years of holidays with Mom and Dad, family and friends.
Sometimes when I am out with my buyer clients and they decide on the home for them, I stand back and wonder “why this one?” It’s not the one I would pick, but it’s not my decision! For them, the decision could be triggerd by past memories, or visions of a future that this home seems to evoke. Sometimes it’s based on value, dollars and cents, but I feel like for the most part there is an emotional connection that comes through that cannot be denied. Here’s hoping you home bring memories, good and forgettable, for years to come!
Wow, do I feel blessed these days! I just took a phone call from a friend who’s family owns three rental houses they are hoping to get sold. And they are giving me the opportunity to list the houses, or to find another C21 agent to assist in the process. Whether I get the business or not, just getting that phone call is so validating of the work I do and the trust that friends and family have placed in me.
In the past week, I have worked with 4 new buyers and 2 new listing clients. One of these people came to me through my community involvement. Every other person came to me by referral! As I have said before, this is exactly how I had hoped my business would evolve over time. Each of these new clients came to me after talking to another realtor, a family member, or a friend that I’ve made in the past couple of years. That puts a bit more pressure on me to go beyond my best to help make their dreams come true, and I love it!
I still need to get out there, meet folks who are venturing into (or out of!) home ownership, and become the person they choose to work with. I’ll be hosting open houses, hanging out with friends, over-hearing conversations and sticking my nose in where the opportunity presents itself. That’s always going to be part of the process of generating business. The magical part comes when those meetings or conversations or “nose stickings” are taken in and shared with other people, who sometimes become new clients. That is good fortune, and blessing.
Last night a friend called me to ask some questions about home inspections and costs and a couple referrals. She was calling in support of someone she knows who has signed a Purchase Agreement to buy a home, but now the buyer finds herself in a bit of a bind seeing the actual costs of purchasing a home. My friend and I talked about how dangerous it is to get into these situations, to think “I don’t want to pay rent anymore, so i’m going to buy a house” without understanding all the costs and risks that go with home ownership. (It’s also a risk to not have a trusting relationship with your realtor and think it’s better to call a friend with these concerns...) During the purchase process or at closing, you might need to come up with money for:
- Inspections ($300-700, depending on how extensive you want to get)
- Loan processing fees, including title search, bank fees, appraisal, etc
- Home owners insurance, generally one year premium paid up front
- Real estate broker fees (ours is $200 for buyers)
And then you need to move, and set up your new home, and hope nothing breaks for a while! So, is home ownership a way to start building equity and “wealth” for a person? Is it a milestone in achieving the dream? You bet! But it is also an unpredictable gamble, and nothing is guaranteed. So if you or someone you know is considering entering into or expanding on home ownership and they are asking you for advice, please suggest that they also talk to a realtor, talk to a lender, and get an understanding of how their financial situation can support jumping into home ownership. And if all the signs and conversations say go for it, I agree. Go for it...fully aware and fully informed!
Recently the assessor’s office in Polk County announced their new property tax valuations for homes across the county and the various cities in the boundary lines. Some homes actually decreased in value, while the great majority of homes and entire neighborhoods saw minor to double digit increases (personally my assessed valuation went up 32%!!). Assessed valuation and specific tax rates applied in the valuation are influenced by a wide range of factors, to name a few:
- school district
- city programs/services offered (separate from county services)
- prices paid for homes
- local ordinances
- residential/commercial mix
So, I could not tell you how individual homes are affected, or why one street has a different formula compared to the street next door, but what I can tell you is that the assessed valuation will not necessarily determine the price someone will pay for the home. One message about the assessment increases was that the goal is to bring valuation more in line with prices being paid for homes, and I think that goal has been met at some level. But when I am helping you decide the best price for a home, I am still going to look at what the neighborhood statistics support for the price of the home, and what we could hope (not expect!) an appraiser will see for a correct price.
Assessed value might be part of what we consider when you decide to buy or sell your home, but a change in assessed valuation does not necessarily support a matching increase in price for a purchase or sale. The market gives you that answer!
I was chatting with a realtor friend the other day, talking about realtory things, when we veered down the path of songs about houses and home (or pretending to be about that!) Immediately a few titles popped into my head, so here is my flash memory, heavily influenced by younger days, of some favorite songs about houses/home…
5.) Pee Wee’s Playhouse Theme – come on! Fun, right!? With just a touch of...whoa.
4.) Pink Houses, John Mellencamp – ain’t that America…
3.) The House that Jack Built, Aretha Franklin – Classic Aretha
2.) Our House, Madness – 80’s MTV pop. Lived it, loved it!
1.) Our House, Crosby, Stills and Nash – idyllic tale of home life with the one you love (Have a Listen!)
I KNOW your list is different from mine! And the more I think about the topic, the more pops into my head, but these rose to the top. What’s your list?? What are the songs that make you think “Home”?
Howdy – Here’s the quarterly Des Moines real estate market update in a word...remarkable. At the end of March, in the entire Des Moines MLS area, we had 2,890 active listings in our MLS. That remains at record lows, and inventory has remained below 3,000 homes almost every day this year. So you might think we’ve settled into a low inventory, low transaction state. However, you would be mistaken!
What has increased is the “Pending” count of homes under contract at 2,671, which is 1,000+ more homes under contract compared to just two months ago (1,633 pending at end of January!) That is an exuberant market, especially for sellers. And in particular, almost anyone selling a “resale” home with a value of $250,000 or less. Those sellers are seeing less than 2 months inventory as their competition – some houses are taking a while to sell, the great majority are selling within a few days, or hours. Across the entire MLS, the Month’s inventory calculation (how fast all houses would sell at current pace if no new houses are added) is at 2.3 Months.
All this means that houses are selling as fast or faster than inventory is being added. (and oh by the way, mortgage rates have reduced a touch in the last couple weeks...buyers be sure your info is in order!) I’ll continue to say it – if you are thinking about selling a home in the Des Moines area, especially a lower price point home, get it ready to go, find your favorite realtor (in your mind you should be seeing multiple neon arrows pointing at me!) and list it today. Feel free to give me a call at 515-401-9261, I’d be happy to help!
Today I’m sharing a bit of advice from team C21. Feel free to share...I could have used a few of these in the past!!
Moving from one house to another can be stressful and exciting all at the same time. Whether you elect to move yourselves or use a full service moving company, you can help make the move a smoother experience with a few simple tips:
Pack a first-night box
Make a packing supplies basket
Defrost your refrigerator at least a day before moving
Use masking tape to place a large X on your mirrors and glass frames
Put hanging clothes in garbage bags
Double box your valuables
Use wine cases for glassware
Use rolling luggage for heavy items
Leave lightweight items in drawers
Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go
And don’t forget, the CENTURY 21 Business Benefits program has negotiated special rates and discounts with Budget Truck, PODS and ACE World Wide. From storage space to full-service movers, these companies offer comprehensive moving related services to help your clients save time and money during their move. And here in Urbandale, we have a branded moving truck available for your use...contact me to schedule!
The annual CENTURY 21 Signature Real Estate office party and 2016 celebration extravaganza is tonight! The company has more than doubled since I joined in 2014, so I’m excited to get to know some of the newer agents, and spend some down time with a bunch of really great people. I have not experienced life in any other real estate offices, but from the stories I’ve heard, I think I landed in exactly the best spot for me.
Our office environment is cooperative, collaborative, and gosh-darn friendly. Even though we are independent business owners, there is a sense of community and support here that I believe is rare in the real estate industry. I still have qustions every day, and know that someone here will be happy to help me. The support team is TOP-NOTCH, proactively addressing agent needs and interests, allowing us to make our businesses prosper and grow. The resources provided are amazing, and no one gets angry when I ask the same tech-based question for the 10th time!
Our broker team is also one of they best. They support, educate, challenge and push us to achieve beyond what we thought was capable. While providing best practice guidance and trainings, they allow each individual agent to establish our own goals, business practices, and processes. C21 SRE mission is to be the most admired real estate agency in the Greater Des Moines market area, and from what I hear in the community, we are on that path.
Why would I want to work anywhere else? Time to Party!!
The Federal Reserve followed through as expected last week and raised their interest rate 1/4%. This has been expected for some time, and all indications are that we should expect 2-3 more increases before the end of 2017. A lot of people think this should have happened a while ago, and really very few of the smart folks out there think it’s not good policy. These increases indicate confidence in the nation’s economy, and overall improvements in the stability of our financial systems. (Y’all can debate among yourselves on who and how that confidence was formed...)
All great news for the United States on a macro level. But what does that mean to you as a potential home buyer? It’s fascinating to watch mortgage interest rates these days. An increase in the Fed rate does not necessarily translate to mortgage rate increases, but it’s a pretty good idea to assume it will happen. However, it turns out that the financial markets almost always try to predict Fed rate changes, and in fact we have seen mortgage rates increase slightly before the Fed increase both times this year. It appears this time the prediction was right and rates have stayed pretty firm in the past week.
For your calculations...if you or someone you know has been pre-qualified for a morgage loan, that pre-qualification is calculated using the mortgage rate in affect at the time. As rates increase, buying power decreases. It’s always best to consult with a lender or other financial professional about these numbers, but I use a couple very simple estimates.
1.) For every 1% increase in mortgage rate, expect a reduction in purchasing power @ $10,000 (ie if you could afford a $200,000 house before, now you can afford a $190,000 house), or 2.) To estimate your monthly impact, multiply the inerest rate increase times the amount you intend to borrow, and then divide that number by 12 (ie for a $200,000 loan, and 1% rate increase, you would pay $2,000 more interest per year, or $167/month) Again, these are simple estimates and there are many factors that affect a monthly payment.
The rate changes we are currently seeing will not impact most home buyers at this time, but it’s good to know that future increase could impact buying power. If you’re on the fence, it might be time to make some choices.
I had another unique experience last week that demonstrates the cooperative spirit of CENTURY 21. The person who trusted me to sell her home (my first listing 2 years ago!) had been talking to me about her friend’s amazing house that they planned to sell. Literally for almost 2 years she’s been telling me about this house. Then eary last week she sent me a text that they have decided to list their house (woohoo!!) with another agent (ugh!). I learned later that the seller has played bridge with the other agent for 20+years...okay, allowed.
Well, the house is in my neighborhood and I know many C21 agents have clients constantly on the hunt there. If I’d had a buyer client hoping for this area at the time, I would have gotten my client in first. But I had no one, so I mentioned the house and situation to a few other C21 agents, and sure enough, one of them brought a buyer to the house before it even was officially listed, and that buyer put down an offer! Assuming inspections and loan process go well, her client who has been searching this area for a long time will have a new home!
It’s what we do here that makes us so different from other real estate offices. We share, we communicate, we trust that while each of us is an independent contractor, a cooperative environment benefits everyone. Sure I would have loved to have been involved in this transaction, but I truly get some level of satisfaction knowing that I helped another person find the house they have hoped for. Let me know if I can help your family, friends...or you!
Last weekend I hosted an open house. We generally ask prospective buyers to take off their shoes in the house, so I took off mine as well and left them at the front door. Lots of nice people came through, some good conversations, no real prospects for me and only a couple willing to provide contact information, but overall a decent day.
After turning off all the lights and heading to the front door, there was one pair of shoes remaining, and they weren’t mine. Someone else had walked off in my shoes! The remaining pair was similar, black loafer a few years old, but much wider and a size smaller...how did this other guy even get his feet into my shoes and walk?? There was only one person all day who could have had feet (almost) as big as mine, and he gave no contact info. Ugh. I forced my feet into the only option I had, and have not heard anything since. I have to believe it was an honest mistake on his part, and hopefully I will see him, and my shoes(!) this coming weekend when I host another open house there.
On the way home I was thinking “I’m driving in another man’s shoes and not learning a darn thing about life”, but over the week it did get me to thinking about the level of exposure in an open house. If it’s a resale and the owner is still living there, all of their possessions are available to the world. I’ve found evidence of kids jumping on beds, unflushed toilets, and coffee cups or food items left behind. I’ve been asked to deal with other people’s garbage. Any of us who choose to host an open house are vulnerable to who or whatever comes through that door, and there have been some recent disturbing stories.
So, if you or people you know are out home shopping, please be respectful of the space and of the agents. HGTV shows folks laying on beds or stepping into tubs with shoes on...PLEASE do not do that! Don’t ask if you can leave garbage...it’s not your house, and it’s not MY house either! Wear your own shoes home! Yes, we are all hoping to pick up new clients through the process, and hoping one of you will buy the house that day, but when we ask for your contact information, we are also protecting our client’s possessions and ourselves. We are creating a trail just in case that one person nobody wants to see comes in, or moves on to the next open house down the street and takes, or harms. Enjoy the process of home shopping, and help us to help you!
We closed the deal on my latest listing on Tuesday...woohoo! A 4-bedroom 92-year old house filled with original character from top to bottom; with a great backyard, and in a very popular part of Des Moines. Buyers are a young couple excited about making this their first home. We had some challenges, and the new owners definitely have some work ahead of them...I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!
I loved this listing, for a number of reasons... I first learned about the house through an acquaintance Bill almost 18 months ago. He had a dear friend intending to move from his house and needed a realtor. Well, a year later I had decided to stop asking, which is when I heard from Bill again that things were moving along, the friend had started moving to an apartment, and it was going to happen. Then the friend unexpectedly passed away from post-illnes complications. Bill was involved in the apartment and home cleanup, and informed me a few months later that he had seen a pile of contact information, and cunningly moved my card to the top of the pile. Two weeks later I got a call from the executor, a nephew of the owner, and we agreed that I would list the house. The nephew’s hope was that we would present the house as a fantastic future home for someone to love. We listed on a Friday, and by end of the day Saturday we had 16 people take a look and 3 offers in hand, with the final winning bid $6,000 over list price!
Why did I love the listing? Well…
- I never met the owner, but feel like I know him a little bit through some of his possessions, the people I met while getting the house ready to go, our mutual friend Bill, and the executor/nephew who was challenged by being in Colorado through the entire process This guy had good people in his life!! And I feel we all showed respect and love in treating his home like our own.
- This house needed a lot of work inside, and their were two types of people interested – “flippers” hoping to make the repairs and resell, and families hoping to find a great home in a great location. I love all buyers (for real!!) but was quite happy to see that this house went to somone who intends to build their own special memories and make it their family home.
- This was by far the most difficult listing for me, in terms of managing details, handling home-owner tasks, negotiating needs of many people. I spent an entire weekend dealing with gas leaks (thank goodness I never smoked!!!) But also brought in 2-3 non-profit organizations who took items for their causes, and interacted with a lot of really lovely people.
- It reaffirmed that I will always support the concept of rehab, renovation, and salvation of these older character homes. The style, secret stoage areas, pocket doors, old wavy glass, thick wood trim and old creaky wooden floors. Love it!
- I experienced the result of developing an initial friendship, which led to the long-term referral process, and a successful transaction. Connections matter…
Wishing the new homeowners easy fixes, cool contractors, exciting discoveries and a lifetime of memories in their new home!!
A lot of people have been asking me how I’m doing these days. For those who do not know, a year ago I found out I had prostate cancer, and in July had the prostatectomy surgery. It went very well, I was cared for by family, friends, and many members of the amazing CENTURY 21 Signature Real Estate community. The physical healing was quick and truly painless, the after affects are still lingering but I’m working on it! The biggest challenge has been the mental and psychological aspects of hearing the word “cancer”. If you’ve been there, you probably know what I mean, whether for yourself or through others in your life. So, from about April-December, I have to say that my personal life and needs took front stage over my business focus.
Well, it’s 2017, and I know it’s just a flip of a calendar page, but I needed that to happen to say...get busy! My goal remains to have a referral-based business (which is why I keep asking you if you know anyone hoping to buy or sell….) while also hosting open houses, reaching out to my entire neighborhood, and talking to complete strangers about real estate.
And what do most people want to know? How’s the market, and how are you doing? I gave an update last week about the overall market –here’s how I’ve been doing since the start of my career –
Total Transactions – 30
Total Listings Taken (my name on the sign!) – 10
Average List Price – $162,000
Average Sale Price – $159,000 (98.4% sale to original list price)
Average Days on Market (from list date to under contract) – 15
60% of listings sold at or above list price!
When I look at where I was at the start of my real estate career to where I am today, I am thrilled! The 6-8 months I needed to reset have helped me with perspective, while looking at these numbers has helped me to know I got this! Thanks for your support...back to work!!
Hi All –
Thanks for coming to my blog site! We are giving this a shot (and yes, I gave it an initial shot a few months ago...see first posting date!) I’d like to share on a regular basis my response to that age old question, “How’s the Market?” As of the end of January 2017, across the entire Des Moines metro mulitple listing service (MLS) area, There were 2,936 homes for sale, and 1,633 homes under contract to sell. Our Months Inventory (amount of time to sell all those homes if no more were added to the market) was 2.4 months. “Normal” is 5-6 months, and we have been running under 3 for more than a year. So, it is and continues to be a very active market, with the numbers leaning toward a benefit to sellers.
And still not a bad market for buyers. Mortgage rates remain very low, there are a number of first-time buyer programs out there, and lenders are on call to help folks figure out their situation and purchasing power. (Let me know if you need a lender name or two!) We are anticipating another hectic spring and this warm weather is bringing buyers out early, with many multiple offer situations already being reported. (I had a listing a month ago that needed a lot of repair work, yet we had 16 showings and 3 offers on the first day on the market!! Fingers crossed that the closing remains on track for end of February.)
A couple other statistics about the market volume...at the end of January 2016 there were 3,162 houses for sale, over 200 (@ 7%) more than the same time this year. And this year, over 40% of the houses for sale are new or proposed construction.
Bottom line...if you know anyone who is considering selling their home in the Des Moines area, now is the time to do it. Lower priced homes are in greatest demand as we have both first time buyers and investor/rental owners actively searching, while higher priced homes will be competing with the new builds and might expect a longer turnover period. The demand is there, and I am here to help with questions, neighborhood information, or a conversation about the value of your home, or the home of anyone you know!
I think it’s time for me to try this blog thing...I’ll get up to speed with videos and other content soon, for now I want to get this started because..
- I hit my 2-year anniversary in my real estate career and feel there are stories to share and knowledge to pass on
- I spent the summer focused on medical challenges and put my career on hold...more on that in a later post
- Facebook and texts don’t give me enough space to write what I want to write! Yes, I am verbose!!
So, where to start? Let’s talk about the big picture... If you follow DSM area real estate, you know that the market has leaned toward sellers for some time now. At higher price points, inventories have been stable, or even buyer positive. But, as of August 2016, there were only 3,378 homes listed for sale in the Des Moines area Multiple Listing Service (MLS). That translates to 2.8 months of inventory (ie, the time it would take to sell all the homes currently on the market at the current rate, if no more were added.) We consider inventories of 5-6 months “stable” betwen buyer needs and seller goals, anything below 5 we consider biased toward the seller. Breaking out the numbers by price point, sellers with a home valued at $250K or less, assuming it’s priced correctly, are getting a LOT of attention. (Buyers please take note...mortgage rates are still historically low and there are a range of programs out there to meet most beyer needs, so it is also a great time to buy!)
What does that mean for you? If you or someone you know has been considering selling their home in the Des Moines area, right now is a great time to get that home listed. Even heading into the winter months, we always have buyers looking to buy. Although many sellers think it’s not the right time to sell...your home could be exactly the one those winter buyers are looking for. I’d be happy to have a talk with you or anyone you know who is considering listing their home! We will discuss general market conditions, as well as specifics for the neighborhood, and for the home.
After a summer focused on personal stuff, I feel great jumping back into the market with both feet! I’ve received a bucketful of help the past few months from friends, family and the amazing team here at CENTURY 21 Signature Real Estate. Now, I am ready to help you with your real estate needs. Let’s talk!