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I am scandalized!

One of my commenters, who shall go nameless says that the consumer has too much information.  I respectfully disagree.

CONSUMER I AM…

And, it just so happens I love information!  I scour the internet prior to pretty much every purchase, I search music sites (getting in touch with some classics recently and finding them easily), get my news from various sources, have an RSS feed for school cancellations (no longer have to watch the ridiculous ticker tape at the bottom of a TV screen).

Got to Have it and Have it FAST!

What is wrong with that???   

I realize that BAD information can come with this too and stalk the internet defensively.  I  seek out an experts help when I am truly down to the purchase…why waste anyone’s time until then?

Nothing Wrong Here

Today the new Connecticut Real Estate website was launched for the consumer;  www.ctreal.com (it is linked at the bottom right of this blog) and I love it!   Connecticut specific real estate information is now at your finger tips.  You are free to search at your leisure…even open houses in your area of interest.

Go Forth and Search!  Seek the help of a professional when you are ready.

That is the question…

Are you saving yourself for the bottom of the real estate market?  Do you believe that there is further decline of prices in the works? 

Allow me to share a scenario with you:  (this is a true story!)

The Dayville office has a listing in Danielson, an adorably redone ranch with nice lawn and garage, a terrific little starter property, here are some numbers:

2/1/08                                                                       3/1/08

$194,900 (list price)                                                $189,900 (reduced price)

5.25% (CHFA rate)                                                   5.75% (CHFA rate)

$1335.17 principal/interest payment                     $1359.32 principal/interest payment

I read an interesting article this past week about this very scenario and our “brilliant” (and he will indeed get an even bigger head) CTHM Mortgage guy, Matt Biggins took one of our own listings with a recent price reduction to demonstrate how even a slight rate increase impacts monthly payments to the consumer.  Waiting just one month, even with a lower price does not guarantee a monthly savings.

My point is that when contemplating the Wait and See scenario, do not forget that rates rising is an inflationary inevitability (this according to smarter folks than I) and should be factored into any decision making process.   And as shown above, even getting the house for $5,000 less can cost you money.

The Good News…rates are lower today than they were one year ago.

Understanding real estate agency representation is a challenge for most consumers…heck, it has even boggled a few real estate agents in their day.  Now, pay attention there will be a quiz.

Sellers have it made, list your house with an agent and they are yours.  Your agent is now on a mission to get you the highest and best price at the best terms for your property!  Nothing wrong with that, easy, breezy to understand…until Dual agency  (wish I could add sound effects!).  What is Dual Agency you ask?  Dual agency is the position the agent and company take when they have brought a buyer to their own listing.  (assuming buyer and seller agree)

HUH?

Indeed things get slightly more complicated from here!  The agent and company now walk the line of representing both parties in a transaction…the line is treating both parties to the transaction honestly and fairly.  Any information given to one party must be given to both parties.  A perfect example, the CMA (market analysis);  if the dual agency buyer requests a written CMA on the property the agent is required to give the seller a copy of this written CMA as well.  There shall be no relay of personal, private or confidential information of either party without written permission to do so. 

BUYERS AGENCY 

Finally an agent just for you…just like the seller’s agent except (you knew it was coming) the buyers agent’s mission is to get you the lowest price at the best terms and conditions for you.  The buyers agent can advise you on pricing, terms, escrow deposit, testing…anything pertaining to the property of your concern short of anything that may violate federal fair housing laws (all REALTORS are bound by Fair Housings laws so no, no, no to steering, blockbusting, discrimination of any kind [etc]…aside from bad manners it is illegal practice).  This type of representation requires a written agreement between you and your agent/agency of choice with clear terms and conditions.

ARE WE THERE YET?

Nope!  There is also sub-agency, designated agency and non-representation (though I do not know why on the latter).  All of which have very interesting caveats (I am sure you suspected).

RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION

Determine how you want to be represented in a real estate transaction and discuss your wants with the REALTOR of your choosing.  In fact, this should be your very first conversation.  You may need to have this conversation with a few agents until you find the right fit.  I recommend you have this conversation until you are confident you appreciate all the finer points and will be represented to your specifications.

For the record, I believe “confuzzled” should be a word.  I lied, no quiz…just having a little fun here!

A Week to Remember

Mary Monday

After a busy weekend of walking some 6 parcels of land, enjoying a bagged lunch by a tree with her clients, an open house and many re-sale showings; Mary came in Monday on a mission of research for her clients.  In the middle of making calls, rapid fire emails, etc.. cubicle walls were shaking!  In the cubicle next to hers, immersed in my own issues…I was repeatedly startled by mini earthquakes, colorful metaphors and giggles.  Frankly, I just giggled along for quite some time (almost an hour)  until she said something about my bony wrists and helping her out (I’m not sure why we had to bring my wrists into this??)  As it turns out, Mary had file cabinet issues.  She couldn’t get her upper drawer open.  I cautiously entered her cubicle, tapped the bottom drawer closed with my toe and casually opened the top drawer with one (apparently) bony finger.  I have laughed all week about this!  Thanks to Mary for being a busy Realtor on a mission that a naughty file cabinet was messing up.

Touring Tuesday

A cold Tuesday had the Dayville Prudential Agents checking out some new listings.  One gigantic cape on 5 acres in Ballouville and a gambrel in Putnam.  We go on caravan to aid our fellow agents and give our sellers feedback…it is uncanny how often we all come up with the same dead on price.  The Gambrel received an offer later that day…

Washed Out Wednesday

Windham County had some 4 inches of snow overnight, then torrential rains during the day.  Wishing for Spring…  Time not wasted, it is paperwork, negotiating and advertising day. 

Super Woman Thursday

Dayville has an agent who can change attire faster than superman in a telephone booth, we shall call her Rachel (on account that’s her name).  Heading out to walk some land, she ditched her heels and ever present professional attire to brave the rough and saturated raw land.  Prior to her departure we enjoyed some lunch together and discussed….ah, real estate!  I think we came to the conclusion that the spring market is already heating up.  January was an excellent month and February has seen a notable increase in showings, drivebys and ad response…and super woman should know!

Frenzied Friday

The Dayville agents were out and about busy doing CMA’s, showings and research at town halls before the long holiday weekend.  Long weekends bring little rest for the busy Realtor, this is the time when their clients are usually most available to check out the inventory.  It is just the start of the professional Realtors work week.

My point, I work with some of the hardest working, most diligent real estate agents.  I didn’t even tell you about Denise showing every house in Killingly and Maria’s intense research on behalf of her client. 

Dedicated, educated, thorough!  The BEST service providers on behalf of their clients.

And, Funny!

Have a busy weekend-

Killingly, Brooklyn, Plainfield and Pomfret 

I thought in might be interesting to supply a snapshot of the market in Windham County.  Since the area is so sprawling (10 towns and the entire Northeast corner of the state), I chose Killingly, Brooklyn, Plainfield and Pomfret as my sample towns.  By way of explanation, Killingly covers multiple towns including Dayville, Ballouville, Danielson so it is by Windham county standards a hub of activity.  Plainfield, Brooklyn and Pomfret are more your rural settings.  Using a broad approach I would say that Plainfield and Brooklyn have far more commercial activity than Pomfret.

All information used in this synopsis was obtained from the Connecticut Multiple Listing Service (so private activity is not recorded here).  All types of properties (residential, multi-family, land etc) were considered for this review of the week from February 1, 2008 through February 8, 2008:

Killingly

16 new listings this week

257 total active properties in town

1 pending transaction this week

22 total pending transactions

0 closed sales this week

Brooklyn

2 new listings this week

127 total active properties

1 pending (continue to show) transaction this week

18 total pending transactions

0 closed sales this week

Plainfield

5 new listings this week

172 total active properties

0 pending transactions this week

18 total pending transactions

0 closed sales this week 

Pomfret

3 new listings this week

40 total active properties

0 pending transactions this week

2 total pending transactions

0 closed sales this week

Clearly, there is a great deal of supply out there!  Personally, I viewed 7 houses this past week on caravan and via open houses in the Windham area and saw some terrific homeownership opportunities…great values.  I was fortunate to receive a thorough tour of Thompson via an area expert and the cooperation of area agents…simply a gorgeous country town just inches from the Massachusetts line.  The word that comes to mind, peaceful.

As I am on a mission of discovery, I would appreciate your thoughts, historical anecdotes and expert knowledge on Windham County…please share.

I promised a little tenderness to the sellers of real estate in Eastern Connecticut, and frankly I just can’t think of any folks more deserving of some TLC!

First, what happened to your market?

Well, it was a good long run (9 to 13 years depending on who you ask) of steadily increasing values (appreciation) but real estate is, was and always shall be cyclic in nature and this was an abnormally long peak…we all got use to it!  I own real estate too!  We are now in a valley…pickin’ daisies.

But, Florida, California or the mid-West, we are not

Hats off to them!  Where Connecticut has experienced modest decline worthy of acknowledgement…there are pocket locations in true pain.  Below are the Windham county stats for 2007:

market-stats-windham.pdf

What’s a Seller to do in this climate?

Simply, decide if it is the right one for you.  Sounds so easy…here’s how you do it:

FEAR NOTHING

Get a THOROUGH market value!  Do not fear your properties current market value.  Your agents job is to get you the highest price in the shortest time at the best terms.  Make sure your agent does an estimated net sheet.  If your wallet can stomach the conditions price your house for this market, no other year or perceived value.  Or, don’t try to sell now!

Fear No Offer

It is a market of negotiation…take nothing personal and let your agent help to negotiate your way to a deal that works for your needs.

Fear No Home Inspection

Be willing to make repairs.  Every home inspection comes up with something.  So make yourself scarce and wait for the written response.  Or better yet, get your property pre-inspected and make your house its most saleable prior to listing.  The no fear / no surprises approach! (love it, recommend it)

Markets operate on greed and fear….Fear nothing!  Get the facts, get them straight, position your price aggressively, ensure your property positively glows for every showing, open house, appraisal, possible drive-by (its in a beauty contest after all).  And, this is key…remember any dollars you fear you may lose by selling now will be saved in buying now.  Funny how that works.

Remember, your house only has a dollar value when you go to sell it, home is priceless!

I am new to Windham County, well kind of!

My real estate career started in Gales Ferry, crossed a bridge to Uncasville moved North a few exits to Norwich, a few more exits North to Lisbon..and then 23 miles up to Dayville.  I guess I was secretly expecting a stop in Plainfield which would have been a continuation of my ten mile trek north, but I guess I was ready for a big move so the Quiet Corner is where I landed…deep in the heart of Windham County.

LOVIN’ IT…

Yes, I am.  I was always vaguely familiar…dabbled in Canterbury and Plainfield, serviced a listing in Brooklyn…always managed to get lost.  (really appreciating my navigation system these days!)  Lots of wide open spaces in this Northeast Corner of Connecticut!  Gorgeous land and the folks out here LOVE their land, it is very “Gone With The Wind” esque.

Been in the Dayville Prudential Connecticut office for nearly a year now and enjoy the 10 town area.  My single complaint, no quick jaunts to shopping.  No sneaking out at lunch time for the mental health necessary shoes!

DEVELOPMENT IS A’COMIN

No worries though, in a few short months within walking distance of our office there will be SHOPPING!  I hear tale of a Famous Footwear (buy one, get one half off; a shoe gals dream store), Target, Staples, Panera Bread (yum!), Lowes…a full blown shopping mecca is on its way!

STILL QUIET?

Are you ready Windham County?  Many stop lights have been added, roads widened and steel frames are visible, the franchise shopping experience is on its way.  Now, I am thrilled as Wal-Mart is exactly 7 minutes from my home, but I am wondering if you who hail from this area are equally excited?

BIG QUESTION

WHY is this area called the Quiet Corner and who dubbed it as such?

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