August 2008


I have always viewed Labor Day as the end of a fashion season…Oprah says it is a major fashion don’t to wear white after Labor Day…so I had to google to find out the true point.

Low and behold, it is suppose to be a “day off for working citizens” apparently all that hard labor, pays off at least once a year.  So despite what Labor Day ends…summer; it also starts a few things:

The NFL season and college football (NCAA)

The school season..officially, I say (those 2.5 days are a bit silly prior to Labor Day)

And, the 2nd new year for real estate…there is a lot of kickin’ it into high gear prior to the holiday season slow down.

So, relax!  Pat yourself on the back for all that hard work! (maybe that is why you look so tan?)  Put away the white!  And lets sell some real estate in the next 2.5 months :-)!

Happy Labor Day!  Happy Football Season!

Back to school!  Sweatshirt weather!  Football Season!

The Fall real estate market…it is a second new year!

And I believe it shall be a great 4th quarter.   Why, you ask?  Taxes and first time buyer incentives, of course.  Taxes are always a powerful motivator and the new $7500.00 first time buyer tax incentive is nothing to sneeze at…it has a limited time frame, expiring in July of 2009.

I believe it is safe to assume that the expiration date was put in place to provide a little kick to the motivation.  You can check out all the pertinent facts about this “credit” at www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com .

The basics:

First time buyers only

Maximum credit is $7500

Homes purchased between 4/9/08 and 7/1/09

There are income limits (surprise!)

Credit actually works like an interest free loan over 15 years

Whatever the reason, now is by far one of the best times to buy I have ever seen…and that is not REALTOR speak; that is the theory of supply and demand.

Music to everyone’s ears!

Summer is winding down and here are some town by town facts as to current under deposit numbers:

Canterbury – Total active listings 42

10 under deposit, show for backup or hubbard listings

Price at time of deposit = $145,000 to 575,000

Average price of pendings = $264,900

Average DOM prior to deposit = 113

Lisbon – Total active listings 35

4 Pending listings

Price at time of deposit = $199,900 – 595,000

Average price of pendings = $300,950

Average DOM at time of deposit = 94.25

Griswold – Total active listings 98

18 Pending listings

Price at time of deposit = $135,000 to 385,000

Average price of pendings:  $234,766

Average DOM at time of deposit: 101.72

Voluntown – Total Active listings 23

2 pending listings

Price at time of deposit = $219,000 to $259,900

Average price of deposits:  $239,450

Average DOM at time of deposit:  259.50

These are the facts!  Interesting is the ratios:  Canterbury is doing the best at 23% of its total inventory under deposit, Griswold is 2nd at 18% , Lisbon 3rd with 11% and Voluntown comes in 4th at 8%.  Sometimes numbers do lie, take for example Lisbon with an average price of $300 on pendings..of the 4 pendings 2 are at 199,900, 1 at 209,900 and 1 at 595,000 which dramatically brings up the average price.

Average price for all 4 towns, $260,016.50.

Disclaimer:  Pendings do not reflect final sales price, this information is not available until after closing of the property.  But what we do know, the properties that are drawing the buyers is the $260,000 and under market.

But, alas, it is not…

There is a seller who wants to sell and a ready, willing and “able” buyer for their house.  Easy, breezy, right?

Not so fast my friends…there are lenders, appraisers and attorneys in the mix.  Which means financing, value verification and title searching are in play.  That poor “able” buyer is suddenly thrust under the micorscope of lending scrutiny and that group is being very tough on the borrowing public right now and even if they are not being tough on the borrower, they are being brutal on properties.

Lets talk about RD…

Rural Development financing has been dusted off and is back in play for today’s market.  It follows FHA guidelines (for the most part) but is one of the few 100% financing programs still available.  This program is being widely used in rural areas right now and along with FHA, CHFA and VA they are ruling the day.  What is irksome, aside from their long absence from the playing field which can make for some rusty lenders and REALTORS (not to mention perplexed sellers and buyers) is that for all the talk of more property tolerance and higher price caps…they are just as nit picky as they ever were.

Buyers be ready with your documentation and limber writing hand; they are all government financing after all and paper intensive.  Say what you will about subprime meltdowns and too liberal lending practices and I will likely agree; but nearly gone are the days of 3 weeks until closing, we are back to 80’s style minimum of six weeks and the non-committal lending which keeps you on the edge of your seat until the whirlwind closing scenario.

I attribute it all to too many cooks in the kitchen.  And, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with government financing programs, in fact, I am deliriously happy that they are here to get some fine folks into homeownership…I just long for properly prepared and educated buyers and sellers..folks who understand there shall be hoops to jump through…think of it as a means to the end. 

In many cases, it is the only gig in town so I also recommend that sellers not be too quick to disregard…it may be the best way to get your house sold.  And the process just is what it is…hang in there!

Best purchase I ever made!  I am never out of touch either by email, text or that old standby verbal communication…who knew it would become a standby form of communication?  2 years ago a fellow REALTOR stopped our conversation briefly to fire off a quick text message looked me dead in the eye and said, “this is they way things are headed.”

Dead right, she was!  (and I bet she is faster on a thumb than I!)

But what pleases me most of all..is that I can attend my children’s various sports practices and still do some searches and supply listings to my very busy clients.  MLXchange has a mobile multiple listing service so I can check out those “hot” new listings on the fly.  It took me a bit to adjust to this new to me animal and I still prefer my laptop version (I can get much more detail, history reports, better pending information, and it is much, much faster on the PC)–but for those at property questions and the ability to contact my fellow agents directly from the site…it is priceless!

And there is the fact that my Brilliant Blackberry kept me connected these last couple of days when my modem blew in the last thunderstorm.  This little bugger filled my modem needs and kept me up and running while AT&T took its sweet time delivering my new modem.

Ah, my little Blackberry, I can not believe I got a rebate on you!  A world of information in my hands, available for my clients even while my 3rd littlest on the football team son makes me cringe getting tackled.  Thank goodness I was composing an email at the time and not verbal communicating; no one heard my gasp.

FYI – Yep, it was surge protected!

Fear not the Home Inspection, a wealth of information is on its way!

2 to 3 hours of micro inspection simply can not be a bad thing.  You, the property, a nuetral 3rd party being compensated to inspect every nook and cranny, you need this kind of property review.   As a Realtor, I can not think of anything I recommend more and I learn something new at every one I attend.

Every house comes with ongoing maintenance, it is simply part of homeownership.  But the home inspection (structural report) tells the tale of the bones and mechanicals of the real estate of your longing.

What is checked:

Structure –  Was the house built to code for time of construction?  Have any pertinent current code conditions been addressed to keep the property current.  Is the house solid and sound?  How is the insulation?  Are the mechanicals up to snuff with a reasonable life expectancy?

Wood Destroying – Any nasty insects gnawing on the wood of the property and compromising the structural integrity or left unchecked, will they?

Water – Flow..how does the well recover from use, gallons per minute–will you have good supply?  Potability…can you drink it safely and is the quality such that it will not cause unnecessary wear and tear on plumbing.

Radon – Is the property within safe ranges for radioactive gases?  Amazingly there are ranges of acceptability for this.  From what I have been told, radon gas emmissions can be cyclic in nature and there are various forms of this test and the remedy is fairly cost effective and reliable.  Test lowest liveable area of property.

Lead – Water and structure.  Is the property safe from this environmental issue?  No chipping or peeling paint?  It is reasonable to assume that anything constructed prior to 1981 is likely to have lead somewhere and my recommendation is to tread cautiously…don’t sand walls without proper protection, don’t allow chipping and peeling of the paint…prevention and maintenance are the way to go.

Septic – A treat for everyone!  This test usually requires the pumping of the system and a visual inspection of the interior of the tank itself.  I recently witnessed a new fangled video test.  A video camera was snaked through the outgoing septic pipe to the tank itself with a video feed the whole way through…tell me that is not a test you just gotta see!  I neglected to ask if the buyer gets a recorded copy, fun for years to come :-).

There are many other tests too, but these are the most common, range of expense I would say is from $500 to $1,000 depending on personal choices; money very well spent.

Test Away!

So the 2008 2nd quarter data has been tabulated…again by resident Prudential Connecticut expert Barry Rosa.  What I always find so fascinating is that the numbers just are not as bad as the media reports.

Here are some local town facts:  (real numbers, year over year ’07 to ’08, residential single family facts)

Town   Dom ’07   Dom’08  %change  Median Sale $ 07  Median Sale $ ’08  # sales ’07   # sale ’08

Franklin   88           192       118.2%      $231,000             $315,000                6                   3

Griswold   121        113       -6.6%        $233,000             $217,500                 65                 56

Lisbon      117         164       40.2%        $253,500            $246,000                 20                 21

Voluntown 148        136       -9.6%       $298,000             $250,000                 11                 18

Canterbury 158        150       -5.1%       $340,000             $235,000                 21                 15

The upshot…what I believe is the most important aspect; is there are less total units being sold.  Only 3 towns in New London County are experiencing increased unit traffic; they are Voluntown, Lisbon and the impressive Sprague at 125% increase in unit traffic.  4 towns in Windham County experienced increase unit traffic year over year.

You can view the entire State of Connecticut report, plus condo information at www.prudentialct.com to the right of the home page, rightfully titled “The Market Report”.  Good Stuff!

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