Seeing it on Zillow doesn’t make it true

House
House – sold a couple of years ago.

Last weekend I got a couple of inquires on homes that are shown as being for sale on Zillow. When I looked into our MLS in both cases the homes had offers on them. The data that is in Zillow is fed from the MLS but until May 1, 2017 agents can by pass the data feed and manually input the listing. There are a few reasons for doing this and to many of us, Zillow is just for fun.

There are homes that are for sale by owners in Zillow that are not really for sale. I talk to the sellers and they tell me they are just kind of trying it out. Rather than putting the listing in the “make me move” category which is for “trying it out”, they go ahead and put it in as for sale by owner.

Most of the homes that are for sale in the area are accurately represented on Zillow. Real estate agents who do not like Zillow avoid looking at the site. I like to take a peak once a week or so. The agents with their faces by the homes for sale are paying for a zip code. In most cases they are not listing the home for sale and sometimes they know almost nothing about it.

Real estate companies and agent teams are getting bigger and bigger and it is all about “lead capture”.

Your agent doesn’t have a clue

Everyone has to start somewhere to get experience. The way real estate agents get experience is by directly working with home buyers and sellers. An agent gets a license and then lets everyone know that he or she is ready to help everyone with the biggest and most expensive purchase or sale that most of us ever make.

It takes 90 hours of training and a passing mark on a test to get a real estate license. New licensees generally don’t know how to write a purchase agreement, or how to be a real estate agent. That is learned on the job. Every licensee is required to work under a broker and the broker is required to provide supervision. Most real estate companies spend a lot of time and money recruiting new agents because the failure rate among new agents is high.

Yet I read questions in Facebook groups and other places written by agents looking for advice and guidance. I am concerned by the questions and by the fact that they are not asking their brokers. Often agents are not aware of what they don’t know and end up learning the hard way.

Real estate agents learn on the job. A new agent will charge just as much as an experienced agent charges, and maybe even more because he or she has start up expenses and a less favorable commission split with the broker. (Agents split their commissions with their broker)

It doesn’t hurt to interview an agent and ask how long he or she has been a full time real estate agent. Agents should have references. A huge part of working with clients is problem solving. That takes some experience.

stairs
Stairs

April is fair housing month

Fair housing is the law of the land yet I have witnessed unfair housing. I have had sellers tell me that they don’t want to sell to “those people”.  . . but they did.

Minnesota has one of the biggest home ownership gaps in the country. Statewide, 77 percent of white households owned their home compared with 39 percent of all households of color owning a home. Housing is part of a bigger picture of financial disparity.

For more information about the fair housing act and other laws visit the HUD portal

Mortgage ready Millennials

Future home buyers

The youngest in the millennial generation will turn 20 thus year and I doubt that many are ready to buy a home. I have had several clients in the last few years who are in their thirties. High student loan debt continues to be an issue because there are limits to how much debt a borrower can have and still get a home loan.

In the long run people who are able to buy their own home are able to accumulate more wealth than those who rent. The first step in getting ready for homeownership is to pay down debt. The second step it to save a little money for a downpayment. There are numerous downpayment assistance programs for credit worthy home buyers.

I like to send people who want to buy a home but who are not quite ready because of student debt or a low credit score to The Minnesota Homeownership Center. The Homeownership center is a non-profit and free.

From the dash board

The screen shot is from the “dash board” in our MLS. I have posted these before. It is a real estate snap shot of the last 7 days. It is pretty easy to see why the inventory of homes on the market is staying so low. The number of homes that have “pended” or have offers on them and are probably going to close is higher than the number of homes that were listed.

MLS dashboard – Saint Paul MN

There are actually fewer than 300 homes on the market in St. Paul that do not have offers on them. This is good news for sellers but maybe not good news for buyers. There are people who are waiting to sell but they won’t until they find a home to buy.

We seem to be in a kind of holding pattern. Most of my clients who are sellers during the last six months have been people who were selling a home or condo that they had been renting out. Often these sellers live out of state, are over 55 and I never actually meet them in person. In every case the home was sold to someone who is living in it rather than renting it out. Usually the desire to sell is triggered by a tenant moving out and owners who do not wish to find a new tenant.

Aging population impacts home sales

This chart shows the increase in the percent of the population 60 and older from 6 percent in 1900 to 16 percent in 2000 and projected to be 25 percent in 2030 and 26 percent in 2050. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Total population by age

An aging population has an impact on housing. There is all sorts of speculation about baby boomers. Will people move? Will they age in place? Will there be a great sell off in 2020? Right now there are more home buyers than sellers. Will that turn around in the next couple of years? Will the great sell off create a buyers market?

How will lack of affordable health care affect the housing market going forward? The aging trend isn’t just about aging baby boomers. We all live longer and have fewer children which is causing permanent changes.

Is there the right type of housing for all generations or will we all need to adapt to what is available and how will those adaptations affect our life styles?

Pretty heavy stuff I know but I spend a lot of time at a nursing home and that gives me time to ponder aging and it’s impact on the housing market.

Currently we have set yet another record low for the number of homes for sale in St. Paul. I think one of the reasons for the shortage of homes for sale is baby boomers who are staying put.