Tag Archives: homes for sale

Top Subdivisions in Sales for 2011

I was curious about the top selling mid-range communities in Forsyth County, so I ran a search in FMLS for subdivisions in Cumming, Georgia with home sales during the 2011 calendar year, having 4+ bedrooms and selling between $200,000 and $400,000.  Here’s the top 5 (with ties):

1) Windermere – 15 Sales

2) Fieldstone (all sections) – 13 Sales

3) Polo Golf & Country Club (all sections) – 11 Sales

3) Thorngate – 11 Sales

4) Evans Farm – 10 Sales

5) Green Summers – 9 Sales

5) Jamestown – 9 Sales

Each of these communities had foreclosures and short sales as part of the volume.

Changes to FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be increasing their Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) by 0.25% on all 15 and 30-year loans.  The up-front MIP will remain at 1%.  The increase will take place on all loans insured by FHA on or after April 18, 2011.

What happens when my appraisal comes in low?

In an uncertain market, there are several reasons why this can happen.  First, banks are now required to choose appraisers somewhat blind, so they can’t necessarily use someone local who knows the market.  For instance, I had an appraiser come from Spartanburg, SC to value a property in Forsyth County, Georgia.  A 4,000 sq.ft. home in Spartanburg doesn’t cost as much as one in Cumming.  There was a natural bias for this appraiser to not understand local values.

Second, some properties are just hard to match up with sold comparables.  The comparable sold properties ideally should be in the same subdivision and have closed within the last 90 days.  Appraisers also need a minimum of three sales to compare.

This made me do a quick analysis of sales within Forsyth County from January 1, 2011 until now.  Of all the hundreds of communities within the County, there were only thirteen with three or more sales so far this year.  The highest two had seven sales and were Chattahoochee River Club and Windermere.  Olde Atlanta Club and St. Marlo had five.  Champions Run, Green Summers and Riverstone Plantation had four.  Brandon Hall, Fieldstone, High Gables, Longlake, Polo Golf & Country Club and Villas at Habersham all had three sales this year.

So, back to the question of “What happens when my appraisal comes in low?”.  The first thought is to see if the buyer can add a higher down payment to make up the difference and complete the transaction.  This may sound far-fetched, but I had exactly this situation on a $425,000 home that appraised at $400,000.  The buyer came up with an additional $20,000 and we closed the sale.  In everybody’s opinion, the appraisal was just flat wrong.

Another option is to have the seller lower the price to the appraised value so the sale can be completed.  In a lot of cases, this is exactly what happens.  The listing agent should gather some comparable properties and work through the loan officer to try and get the appraisal amended, if possible.

In another case where we had a log home with very few comparable properties, we simply had to change lenders to get things done.  Even in this case, the mortgage officer had to really fight for the buyer who incidentally had about $125,000 equity in a $375,000 property. 

The last option is to simply have everyone part ways.  It’s not the best option, because at this point everyone has time and money into making the transaction happen.  However, in some cases this is the only way to resolve the situation.

Keller Williams Mobile launched!

Are you standing in front of a home with a Keller Williams sign out front? Do you have a smartphone? Go to mobile.kw.com and you can very quickly get information on the home. Here’s what you can do:
Search by MLS number.
Search by address and minimum / maximum list price.
Scroll through listings sorted by price ascending / price descending / open houses.
At a particular proprerty, you can get more email, send the info to a friend and conctact the agent by email or phone.
You can also get directions, see a map of the property area and view more photos.

Where do most buyers search for homes online?

I just saw some numbers on monthly visits to home search sites that came from comScore Media Metrix. The far and away winner was Realtor.com with about 32M monthly visits. After that, it was Zillow with about 17M, Trulia with 12M, Yahoo with 10M, AOL and Homes.com with about 5M and then a few smaller sites such as Homefinder.com, Homegain.com, Hotpads.com and Listingbook.com.

Of course, most people use these sites to start looking at areas, get the lay of the land, find out about schools, what you can get for your money, etc.  Once they have settled on an area, they begin using the searches provided by the agent’s local MLS system.  In my case, I use a combination of both FMLS searches and Listingbook, depending on what my client needs and their technical ability.

It will be interesting to see what mobile search applications become dominant over the next year or so.  Keller Williams, Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow and SmarterAgent all have applications in use now.

Are banks causing further home value degradation?

I want to state right up front that what I do not believe that what I’m about to write is the case in ALL circumstances, but I believe it to be the circumstance in some. 

Let’s say your neighbor’s home is foreclosed upon.  The bank will hire a real estate agent to perform a BPO (Broker Price Opinion) and pay them a small fee to complete the price analysis.  Once that analysis is complete, that agent, or another put the home on the market.  The listing agent is oftentimes asked to take a reduced commission by the bank.  Because of that, some of the normal services rendered in marketing a property are not completed.  For instance, let’s say the listing agent prices the home correctly, but omits that the home has a terrace level or makes a mistake on the lot size.  To buyers, the home appears overpriced or unappealing.  So, it sits on the market, unseen and unsold.  For months.  As it continues to languish, the listing agent doesn’t take new photographs to show that the season has changed from summer to fall.  The agent keeps updating the bank, and the bank, needing for the property to be removed from their books, takes the agent’s advice and reduces the price repeatedly.  Finally, the home is priced competitively for one with no terrace level and a small homesite.  Buyers show up, realize it’s a steal, and buy the home.  Meanwhile, you decide to refinance your home because interest rates are low.  Unfortunately, you can’t, because your neighbor’s home sold for $50,000 less than it’s true market value and your home won’t appraise for what you owe.

On the other side of things, when I’m working with buyers, I try and find these little hidden gems before the price becomes competitive.  I can make a case, providing comparable properties to what is listed (a home on a small lot with no terrace level), for purchasing this home at $50,000 under list price.  If the bank accepts our offer, my clients win – BIG.  That’s my job, to take care of my clients and try my best to put them in the best financial position possible after their transaction.

Foreclosures in Forsyth County, Georgia

I’ve been watching the real estate market in Cumming, Forsyth County, Georgia every month for quite a few years now.  One statistic that still shocks me each month is the percentage of properties sold as “distressed” which means either through a bank-approved short sale or foreclosure.  Once again, roughly half of all sales in January 2011 met that criteria.

A deeper look into the numbers show that about 19% of homes sold were by equity sellers (private owners who sold properties with equity), 17% were new homes.