When the time comes to sell your home, you’ll need an experienced agent by your side to help make that happen. But how do you decide which agent is right for you? Actually, one of the best ways is by asking them a few key questions. We’ll cover each of these questions today.
Cited below for your convenience are timestamps that will direct you to various points in the video. Feel free to watch the full message or use these timestamps to browse specific topics at your leisure:
0:11 - Introducing today’s topic and offering a word of thanks to our clients
1:49 - Question No. 1: “How many homes did you sell last year?”
2:45 - Question No. 2: “How many of the homes you sold (if any) were ‘listing sold?’”
3:03 - Question No. 3: “Do you have a team or a full-time assistant?”
4:34 - Question No. 4: “What are you going to do to sell my home?”
5:16 - Question No. 5: “Are you a full-time agent?”
6:17 - Concluding today’s message
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me or my team a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
People ask me all the time to explain what’s happening now in our Western Montana real estate market, so today I’ll do just that.
This July we saw some fascinating changes take place in our market. For one thing, inventory is incredibly low. There are only 241 single-family homes available in Missoula right now.
But, strangely enough, the average number of days homes are spending on the market in our area has actually gone up. This is partially due to the lack of buyers searching for homes in our area right now. Prices have risen by about 6% in the last year, which is still enough to deter some homebuyers, even though this rise still indicates a slowdown in appreciation rates.
Some buyers simply don’t qualify to purchase a home at these higher prices. Their debt-to-income ratio is too great.
Back on the subject of inventory, Missoula County as a whole doesn’t have much available, either. There are just 409 active listings available across the entire county. Currently, the average sales price is $589,000 and the average days on market is 142 days. This means properties are taking about five months to sell.
"For sellers, marketing matters now more than ever."
In fact, just 692 homes have sold in Missoula County year to date, with an average sales price of $366,000.
As for homes currently under contract, there are 285 pending properties in Missoula County. These properties spent an average of 108 days on the market and had an average sales price of $391,000.
So, as these numbers indicate, the low inventory hasn’t made it easy to sell, as you might expect it to. Instead, many sellers are forced to reduce their list prices to attract buyers, while buyers may find it difficult to find a home they like to begin with given the lack of available options.
With all of that said, let’s move on to Ravalli County, where there are currently just 378 active listings on the market. However, given that Ravalli County has a lower population than Missoula County, this means there is a comparatively higher level of supply there. In particular, Ravalli County has a significant amount of high-end inventory available at the moment. This has skewed the average list price in the area (currently $911,000) significantly.
Also, much like in Missoula County, homes are taking a long time to sell in Ravalli County: 267 days on average. The 144 properties that are already pending, meanwhile, have a lower average price ($467,000) and spent about 100 fewer days on the market (154 days on average).
So in light of these conditions, what can sellers do to ensure a swift and successful sale? For one thing, sellers must take extra care to declutter, clean, and generally update their home. If there are any deferred maintenance issues you’ve been neglecting, now is the time to take care of them. Also, sellers must realize that marketing matters now more than ever.
You need an experienced, qualified, and knowledgeable agent by your side if you want to succeed in today’s market. As it happens, our team can offer just such an experience. If you have any other questions, would like more information, or want to know what we can do for you and your real estate needs, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
I hear buyers tell me all the time that they’re just not ready to buy a home. Then when I ask what’s really bugging them, they oftentimes tell me they don’t know if they can get pre-approved.
The problem is, there are a lot of myths surrounding mortgages and other aspects of the home buying process that people actually believe, and this prevents them from buying. Here’s the thing: If interest rates are at 4% today but they’re predicted to be at 5% in the near future, you’re much better off buying now because your mortgage payment will be way lower.
That being said, I’d like to dispel three common home buying myths so that you can be more confident in your own prospects of homeownership.
"There are many options available, and the first step is to reach out to us so we can help you."
Myth No. 1: “I have bad credit, so I can’t get a loan.”
Truth: Perhaps you do have bad credit, but did you know that lenders can pull your credit and give you tips on how to improve it? These can include paying down your credit card balance to below 50% or 25%, or writing to your credit bureau that you have too many inquiries. You can also use Lexington Law, which is a popular credit repair firm that many of my clients have used. Remember: The higher your credit score, the lower your mortgage rate.
Myth No. 2: “You need a large down payment to buy a home.”
Truth: There are many loan options out there that don’t require you to make a large down payment. For example, if you’re buying in a rural area, you can use a rural development loan that doesn’t require any down payment at all. You can also negotiate for the seller to pay your closing costs. If you’re concerned about saving for a down payment, give us a call and we’d be happy to put you in touch with lenders who can go over all of your options.
Myth No. 3: “You have to come in with closing costs.”
Truth: I already touched on this myth in the point above, but if you’re worried you won’t be able to pay your closing costs, an agent who knows how to properly negotiate a home purchase will find a way to take care of this issue. For example, as I said, you can always have the seller pay the closing costs for you. Your lender can also help you in this regard. There are many options available, and the first step is to reach out to us so we can help you.
If you have any questions about this topic, you’d like to know what’s happening in our market, or you’re thinking of selling a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.
A lot of interesting developments have taken place in our local real estate market lately, and today I’d like to break down a few important trends. If you’re thinking of buying or selling this year, being aware of what’s going on is key.
One of the most alarming trends I’ve observed is the increased number of “sale fails.” In other words, there have been a lot of transactions falling apart during escrow this year. This is perhaps due to the fact that lending standards aren’t quite as strict as they should be.
Price reductions have also become more common. This, in combination with the fact that homes are taking longer to sell in general, is definitely a sign of a shifting market.
"There’s a lot of frustration circulating among people in our Missoula market."
Therefore, even though interest rates are still very low, there’s a lot of frustration circulating among people in our Missoula market—especially buyers.
Because of this, many are choosing to relocate to Ravalli County, where taxes are lower and you can get more bang for your buck when buying a home.
So what should you do if you’re a seller? Well, I’d love to speak to you if you have questions about how to approach this market.
And if you’re a buyer, I’d get out into the market as soon as possible. If you need someone to help you navigate today’s conditions, my team and I would be happy to help.
If you have any other questions, would like more information, or want to know how we can help you buy or sell a home, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
I’ve been doing research on the real estate market, and the experts agree that conditions are shifting down. Prices are flattening and sales are slowing: We were down 6.4% in sales from December 2017 to December 2018 and we’re going from a normal market to an abnormal market.
An abnormal market, like the one we’ve seen for the last few years, has low inventory, low interest rates, very quick home sales, and rapidly rising prices. Because rates were so low, prices kept going up and things were going swell for sellers. A normal market, like the one we have now, has a bit more inventory. This means that homes are taking longer to sell. We’ll also have higher interest rates.
Usually, it takes three to six months for everyone to notice and adjust to a market shift. Until then, we’ll see home sellers trying to overprice their homes, which will lead them to come down in price or end up failing to sell.
When there are more homes on the market, there are more options for buyers. They will be more strict about what they’re looking at and won’t let certain things slide like they used to.
"Smart buyers and smart sellers are getting into the mix now."
However, there should be a sense of urgency if you're thinking of selling. Here in Montana, houses sell during every month of every year. If you have the choice of listing now when there are only 200 other homes on the market or in the spring when there are 600 homes on the market, the choice is clear.
As far as buyers are concerned, you can take advantage of the market, too. Once more homes come on the market, you’ll be able to get a little more aggressive on your offers because there will be so much more for you to choose from. A smart buyer is going to buy now as well before interest rates go up again as the year goes along. Be ready to get out there and start looking at homes today.
If there's anything that we can do to help you buy or sell a home in the next year, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We’d be happy to put our team’s expertise to work for you and help you accomplish your real estate goals. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I’m back with your bi-weekly Western Montana real estate market update for the month of October.
In my last few videos, I’ve discussed information and tips for the sellers in our market; today, it’s all about the buyers. How can a buyer take advantage of this market?
Let’s face it: Buyers have had a rough time finding the homes they want in this market. There’s been very little to choose from, and those that are available have often had some patina on them. They’ve been combatting multiple-offer scenarios right and left, often giving up in the heat of a bidding war.
Now, however, the market is beginning to balance itself, shifting toward a buyer’s market.
Our average days on market is increasing. At the moment, it takes about 140 days for a home to leave the market. We’ve seen hundreds of price reductions coming through the MLS.
Back in May and June in Missoula, there were about 200 homes for sale. Now, there are about 400 homes for sale—our inventory has doubled.
A year ago, our interest rates were around 3%, where they’re now up over 5% for the first time in seven or eight years.
"There’s so much more to choose from now than there was before, so don’t wait for prices to drop."
What does all this mean for a buyer?
Well, sellers that have had their home on the market for a long period of time are starting to reduce their prices, and are also anxious to sell their homes before the wintertime. They’re beginning to realize they can no longer get these pie-in-the-sky prices. That means you can get great deals on homes available in the market.
Interest rates are set to up again, so you should think about getting in the market before that happens. If the rates go up just one percentage point on a $300,000 loan, that’s an increase of about $300 on your monthly payment. Keep that in mind if you were thinking of waiting until spring to enter the market.
There’s so much more to choose from now than there was before, so don’t wait for prices to drop. If your credit isn’t where you’d like it to be, we can put you in contact with lenders who can help you formulate a plan to get approved for a home loan as soon as possible.
For sellers, I have only one sentence: Prices are dropping, so you can either sell now or wait for them to drop even lower before you sell. The choice should be clear.
If you have any questions or are looking to buy or sell a home, reach out to us. We’re the best team to work within the area.
As prices start to cool off and the market shifts to a buyers market, which is where it is headed, make sure you don't get left out in the cold and miss the mark. Sellers often ask me, “How do I know if my home is overpriced?”
Actually, there is a simple way to test this. Looking at the number of showings you’re having each week is a good way to gauge whether your listing is reasonably priced. With this in mind, the ideal number of weekly showings your home should see will depend on your price point.
"Reduced listings tend to see a higher level of exposure."
Homes at and below the $450,000 mark, for example, should have between three to four showings each week.
However, the amount of time a home spends on the market will also indicate how fairly it’s been priced. If a home sits on the market for more than three weeks, the number of showings it sees will likely taper off.
If you’ve had between 10 to 15 showings but no offers, you should reduce your price by 3% to 5%. If you’ve had one or two showings each week, but haven’t seen any offers, you may need to reduce your price by about 10%. And, finally, if you’re seeing a complete lack of showings, your home is probably overpriced by between 10% to 20%.
No one likes to lower their price, but not doing so when necessary could be a major mistake. When buyers see a home has sat on the market for a while, they will tend to wonder if something is wrong with it. Reduced listings, on the other hand, tend to see a higher level of exposure.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
I am grateful for not only my team, but also all of you. I was just looking at the numbers and we have 86 sold and pending homes. This wouldn't be possible without the hard work of my administrative, sales, and marketing team as well as all of the referrals I get from past and current clients like you.
To show our appreciation for our clients we had an amazing customer appreciation party at the Highlander Brewing Company in July. Over 100 past clients, friends, families, and vendors came and had fun. I just want to say thank you for joining us and for sending us business so far this year.
As for the market, it was booming until May 1. Then we had low inventory and were getting multiple offers. Now, though, we have seen a severe slowdown in the number of showings and offers received marketwide.
So, what's happening? As I told you back in June, the inventory is increasing. In Missoula, even though we are still below historic averages, we have an average days on market of 132 days. Currently, there are 390 properties listed for sale on the market. This is over 100 more than what we saw from February to May. When the days on market start to increase, sellers start to get nervous and lower their price. A snowball effect then occurs for neighborhood comps, bringing them down as well.
Meanwhile, in Hamilton, there is an average of 280 days on market, which puts us in a buyer’s market. There are currently 135 homes for sale. Here, we are seeing many high-end homes come onto the market which I think is driving the market upward.
"If interest rates increase another point, this could mean buyers could pay an additional $350 to $400 per month for their mortgage versus buying now."
In Florence, there are 65 properties currently listed with an average days on market of 146. Stevensville has 46 homes for sale with an average of 144 days on market.
What you need to remember about these creeping up numbers is that anything over 180 days on market is moving into a buyer's market. Sellers, I can't stress enough that we are seeing a leveling in pricing and an increase in the number of days on market. If you think waiting until next spring is a good idea, you should know that with increasing interest rates and decreasing comps, you could end up with tens of thousands of dollars less on your sale. So, why not just sell now?
Buyers, you should get out and buy now because the increased inventory gives you more to choose from and you can take advantage of price reductions from sellers sitting on the market. Also, if interest rates increase by another point, this could cost you an additional $350 to $400 per month for your mortgage.
If you are a buyer and want to see a property, all you have to do is contact us and someone on my team can go with you any time. If you are thinking about selling your home, let us know if you want us to do an evaluation of your home. We look forward to speaking with you.
If you’re considering selling your home on your own, aka listing it as For Sale By Owner (FSBO), I want to provide you with some tips and tricks to help you succeed, as well as highlight some potential pitfalls to avoid in the process.
1. No lowball investor offers. Around 90% of the calls FSBO sellers are likely to receive about their listing will be from people who aren’t qualified to buy the home. In your ad, be sure to put the stipulation of “no lowball investor offers.”
2. No contract for deed. Additionally, specify “no contract for deed” as well. The rate of default on contracts for deeds is very high, and many people are looking for something to rent-to-own. If that’s something you’d like to do, then that’s up to you. However a lot of times, it can be a recipe for disaster.
3. Your buyers must be pre-approved. There are approximately 2,700 homes on our MLS as we speak, so consider this as you sell: How are buyers going to find your home, and why would they buy yours over a competing seller’s? As a FSBO seller, what kind of exposure do you expect to get for your listing? When we as agents put a home on the market, we can put your listing on around 1,000 websites.
4. What will your costs be to sell on your own? In your ad, if you do not offer to cooperate with a real estate agent, then you likely won’t get any real estate agent’s clients, because those buyers are under contract with their agents, and they certainly won’t allow them to buy your home if you’re not offering some sort of compensation. Hiring a listing agent will get you more than selling on your own.
"How are buyers going to find your home, and why would they buy yours over a competing seller’s?"
5. Consider your experience with negotiating. Capable agents negotiate several transaction per year. If you’re not trained to negotiate or do home inspections, you might be headed for a bad transaction.
6. How are you ensuring that you’ve properly valued your home? Again, without experience or expertise in the field, you could be leaving money on the table or overpricing your home, both of which will lead you to problems later on.
7. Can you handle the activity? Does your lifestyle allow for answering multiple calls a day from inquiring buyers? Many will simply move on from your home if you don’t contact them in short order. We’re master salespeople, and we can handle phone calls, appointments, liability, appraisals, inspections, negotiations, and all the rest. We have many staff members that divide up the work to help make a transaction smooth.
If you have any questions about selling your home on your own or would like to learn the merits of hiring an agent, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We can help make sure that you sell your home for top dollar.
What is the latest news for homebuyers in Western Montana?
The latest statistics from our market just came out a week ago, and one important figure I want to mention is the average days on market. The average days on market has risen to 120. This means sellers are sitting on the market longer, and I’ve seen many price reductions happen throughout the MLS during this time. This has also caused inventory to increase.
Another thing to keep in mind is interest rates are also rising. The Federal Reserve just raised them, and they are scheduled to raise them twice more before the year is over. Although mortgage rates and interest rates do not necessarily run congruent to each other, the last time interest rates went up, so did mortgage rates.
"Get out there and buy a home before rates go up again."
Last year, it was predicted that interest rates would rise from 4.01% to 4.8%, and that is exactly what has happened. That means if you would have bought a $250,000 home last year at 4.01%, your mortgage payment would’ve been $1,194 per month. If you buy that same $250,000 home this year at a rate of 4.8%, your mortgage payment will be $1,381. That is a $186 difference each month.
If you wait until next year to buy after interest rates have gone up even further, you will likely have to pay an even higher mortgage payment. Do not wait around for rates to go down because where they are at now is the lowest they will be for a while.
The increase in inventory, the rash of price reductions, and the specter of rising interest rates make now the time to buy.
We would love to help you find the home of your dreams and structure the best deal possible for you and your family. If you are ready to get off the fence, give me a call or send me an email. If you have any other questions or real estate needs, please feel free to reach out to me as well. I look forward to hearing from you.