US Real Estate Market Sees 6-Year Home Sales High

US Home SalesWe’re breaking records on the U.S. housing market!

Evidently, during the month of August, national home sales reached their highest levels in more than six years, according to a recent report from the Commerce Department.

This is incredible! That means that sales activity has returned to the levels it was pre-bubble burst. And this spells great success for anyone interested in listing their home on the market.

A Closer Look at US Home Data

According to Commerce Department figures, new home sales jumped 18 percent to a 504,000 annualized rate, which is the strongest it’s been since May 2008.

Not only that, but this rate is even higher than the highest forecast made by a Bloomberg survey of economists.

This one-month increase shattered a 22-year record. That’s because the last time the US housing market saw a one-month increase this big was 1992.

Here’s what else the Commerce Department revealed in its report:

  • Economists surveyed in the Bloomberg report said the pace would increase between 405,000 and 455,000.
  • The median forecast of 74 economists was that the pace would increase 430,000.
  • The median sales price of a new house increased 8 percent year over year in August, to $275,600
  • Home purchases increased in three of four U.S. regions. The West led the group with a 50 percent jump.
  • The housing inventory (given the current sales rate) dropped to 4.8 months from 5.6 months in July.
  • There were 203,000 new houses on the market at the end of August.
  • Existing home sales decreased 1.8 percent to a 5.05 million annual pace last month. This occurred after existing home sales reached a 10-month high of 5.14 million in July.
  • Housing starts decreased 14.4 percent to a 956,000 annualized rate. This occurred after July’s 1.12 million pace was the strongest it’s been since November 2007.

Canada Home Sales See Encouraging Numbers as Well

  • Canadian national home sales increased 1.8 percent from July to August.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity were 2.1 percent above August 2013 levels.
  • The number of newly listed homes decreased 1.2 percent between July to August.
  • The MLS Home Price Index increased 5.3 percent in August when compared to last year.
  • The national average sale price also increased 5.3 percent in August when compared to last year.

Moving The US Real Estate Market Forward

Experts say that the housing market has been growing in fits and starts but that steady growth is what will be needed in the long-term to effectively stabilize the market.

Still, home sellers can be encouraged by these recent numbers as they do demonstrate that the market is headed in the right direction!

Check back here soon as we continue to watch the housing market, looking for trends that impact you as home buyers and sellers.

The Senseless Loss of Agent Beverly Carter Creates a Focus on Agent Safety

realtor safety in the wake of the loss of agent beverly carter

The recent news regarding the senseless murder of Arkansas agent Beverly Carter has real estate agents and brokers across the country not only stunned and saddened but also taking a serious look at what we can do within our industry to ensure our own personal safety.  While this case has been extremely high profile, it is not an isolated incident.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Dept. of Labor shows that there were 25 homicides of real estate related workers in 2013.  That’s just the homicides.  It doesn’t include robberies, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes. Continue reading “The Senseless Loss of Agent Beverly Carter Creates a Focus on Agent Safety”

Saving Prescott Schools is better than Having Someone Bring Your Coffee to Your Desk

prescott schoolscarissa maxwell boomtree agent prescott*This post is contributed by BloomTree agent Carissa Maxwell.  These opinions are her own and may not necessarily reflect those of the company as a whole or our other agents.   In addition to her work with BloomTree Realty she is passionate about Prescott Schools and is active in our community.

 

I would like to start out by saying that I have no qualms about professionals having a secretary. If anything, I could use one of my own here and there for my clerical work. It would give me more time to talk with clients and get into more meetings instead of using that time to do more tedious tasks.

However, if things get tight in my budget, this would be the first thing to go when evaluating my business finances. I would “cut the fat” in my budget until things picked back up again. I am capable of answering my own emails, writing up my own contracts, inputting my own listings, and organize my own appointment

Utilizing an “assistant” is a luxury in my opinion.

So, why does the Prescott Unified School District not agree with this basic premise?

Currently, the Prescott School Board is facing a 2 million dollar budget cut that will be executed in the 2015-2016 school year. The decision of where these cuts will be made in the school district is happening in October. There have been a number of proposals presented to the board to “cut the fat”, all of which included everything from reducing the school week to 4 days to the closure of 2 elementary schools in our neighborhoods here in Prescott.

Why are there no proposals for any district budget cuts? If the board is proposing to close two Prescott schools in order to balance the budget, why is the district exempt from such cuts? So for instance, do we really need that many secretaries in the district office to run the district? Can we get by without a superintendent’s assistant?

If we let go of two secretaries, how many teaching jobs does that save? Where else can we “cut the fat” in order to save a school?

I am full of questions, and I am sure there are a lot of people in the community who also have questions. Come to the Concerned Community Meeting at 6 PM on Monday, September 22nd located at 820 E. Sheldon St. There will be childcare, including a movie and snack, so that our community can get informed and brainstorm some alternative options for budget cuts that we can present to the Prescott School Board. This decision affects property values, families, and the whole community.

WE NEED TO ACT NOW! The board makes a final decision in OCTOBER!

 

 

Thinking About Moving to Prescott? Here’s 8 Reasons Why We Love It Here.

moving to prescott If you’re thinking about moving to Prescott and need the inside scoop, here you go.  When you’re moving somewhere new, there’s always so much more to a place than you’ll find just by googling.  If you look on the web what you find is that Prescott has been on several best places to retire lists, it’s probably one of the most beautiful areas of Arizona, there’s a ton to do downtown, and there’s the World’s Oldest Rodeo, too.

But there’s so much more to it than that! If you haven’t taken a stroll through the downtown streets and stopped to pet a dog, or had a glass of wine on the rooftop at the Raven, been kayaking on Goldwater Lake, or eaten at Rosa’s, you have things to add to your must-do list. The people here are about as friendly as they get, too.

We spend a lot of time helping people buy homes because it’s what we do for a living, but one of the side benefits is hearing from people who are new to our area just how much they love it here, too. We asked our agents in our Facebook group, and here’s what they had to say.

A.J. Sheridan told us that one of the best things about Prescott is how friendly people are here. “People actually wave and nod as you go by”.  He also loves the sense of history here how dedicate our community is to preserving it, and says it’s a great place if you’re into volunteering.

Annette Palmer says “I love that I can put my dogs in the car and within 5-10 minutes we can be walking at the lake, or on a trail, or in the forest. Away from everything and enjoying the outdoors!”

Ask Rhonda Johnson, and she’ll rant about the views. The mountain views of Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte, and Brandshaws to Mingus Range. “They’re all so beautiful and ever changing. The sun sparkling against the rain soaked boulders, the clouds encircling Granite Mountain so you can see the bottom and top only… Way Cool!” Being tucked away in the mountains here, we have less light pollution.

Lori Hagen says it’s all about the night sky. “No matter the time of year, it’s always breathtaking.”

Kim Shaw loves everything that Prescott has to offer for someone who loves the outdoors. “You can get outside and enjoy hiking and biking all year round. The air is clean and there’s so much to do”

The community matters too. Ana Johnson reminded us of how safe Prescott is, too.

Check with Rosie Carroll and she’d tell you that “the trail systems here in Prescott are phenomenal for riding horses. Groom Creek Horse Camp is strictly horses only. They have several individual sites and two group sites plus they provide water, fire pits and restrooms. You can ride an easy loop or go as challenging as you want. It sits in the pines and just a gorgeous place to ride and relax.”

Leave it to Kristie Kay Cook to wrap it up with the best things about Prescott are Whiskey Row (yes, we all want to hang with Kristie for a night out at Whiskey Row!) and that it’s the birthplace of a company that is near and dear to our hearts, BloomTree Realty. If you’re new to Prescott or thinking about moving here, talk to a BloomTree agent. They not only love it here, but we think they’re the best real estate agents in town.

What did we miss?   Add your favorites in the comments

Report: Big Homes Are a Hot Trend on the National Real Estate Market

US Construction Big homes are a big deal on the national housing market, according to a recent article in USA Today.

Evidently, a growing number of home buyers are looking for larger homes to accommodate their every need and desire.

In fact, of the 569,000 homes built last year in the US, about 33 percent (or 188,000 homes) had three or more bathrooms. That’s the largest share since tracking of new construction homes started in 1987.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of last year’s total new homes (or 251,000 homes) featured four or more bedrooms – which is the largest share it’s been since 1973.

These homes also tend to come with a lot more amenities:

  • 53 percent of the homes built last year (301,000) had a patio
  • 63 percent (361,000) had a porch
  • And 22 percent (127,000) had a deck

It’s quite an interesting trend, especially given that at the same time, home ownership rates are remaining stable and the size of families and households is actually decreasing.

Let’s Take a Closer Look At This Recent U.S. Trend

Here are some recent real estate market statistics that will provide additional context on this trend:

  • The average square footage of new single-family homes in the United States jumped almost 57 percent to 2,598 in 2013, compared with 1,660 in 1973.
  • The Northeast boasts the second-highest average square footage, with that number jumping from 1,959 to 2,636 during that same time period. That’s an increase of 65 percent!
  • Meanwhile, the number of people actually living in these homes has continued to decrease. In fact, the average number of people per household in the US decreased from 3.01 in 1973 to 2.54 in 2013.
  • Specifically, families have decreased from 3.48 to 3.12 during that same time period.
  • As one might expect, bigger homes have caused a rise in the average sales price of new construction homes. In fact, that figure skyrocketed from $62,500 in 1978 to $324,000 in 2013.
  • The Northeast has the highest average sales price, which exploded from $63,000 in 1978 to $469,000 in 2013 – an increase of 646 percent.
  • Even within the short time frame of 2012 to 2013, sales prices still showed huge increases. For instance, the average sales price of newly built single-family homes jumped 20 percent – from $292,000 in 2012 to $324,000 in 2013.

Yet the income levels of individuals are not keeping pace with these bigger (and more expensive) homes. For instance, the median income in the US increased by 9 percent from 1978 to 2012 – from $56,975 to $62,241.

And the home ownership rate continued to decrease – from 65.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012 to 65.2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Experts say that those people in the higher income levels that are more active on the housing market. Maybe that’s why all-cash sales accounted for 42.7 percent of all U.S. residential property sales during the first quarter of 2014, up from 20 percent during the first quarter of 2011.

What Do You Make of This Recent Real Estate Trend?

We would love to hear your thoughts!

We certainly think that all of this market activity will have an overall positive impact on the U.S. real estate market.

For now, be sure to check back here soon for more valuable and up-to-date information that may impact you as a buyer or seller.

US Home Sales Outperform Real Estate Experts’ Previous Predictions

US Home Selling 2It’s always a good sign on the national housing market when sales activity is better than even the experts predicted!

And that’s exactly what happened recently when the latest market activity report was released by the National Association of Realtors in July.

Evidently, contracts to purchase previously-owned properties increased more than expected during the month of July, signaling that there truly is renewed momentum on the national housing market.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at The Numbers

According to a report from the National Association of Realtors, the pending home sales index increased 3.3 percent after a 1.3 percent decrease during the month of June.

That increase is much higher than previously expected. In fact, the median projection according to a Bloomberg survey of economists called for the index to increase about 0.5 percent. Specifically, estimates from 37 economists ranged from a decrease of 0.5 percent to an increase of 3 percent.

So why did the number of home sales do significantly better than previously predicted?

Experts credit the increase to a lot of factors, including:

  • Increased hiring
  • Rising property values
  • Historically low interest rates

Not only are these factors increasing home sales but they’re also encouraging builders to break more ground.

Other factors encouraging a more robust housing market include a gross domestic product that grew at a 4.2 percent pace during the second quarter as well as the fact that unemployment claims decreased to 298,000 last week.

Experts add that faster wage growth as well as easier access to credit would also help boost the local economy

More Housing Market Data That Will Help Provide Context

Still, not all of the news from the national housing market has been completely positive.

Here are some other highlights of the National Association of Realtors’ latest report:

  • Purchase contracts decreased 2.7 percent in the 12 months ending in July, which followed a 4.7 percent year-over-year decline in June.
  • July marked the 10th month of year-over-year declines
  • The pending sales index was 105.9 on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
  • Pending sales increased in three of four regions. Specifically, sales were up 6.2 percent in the Northeast, 4.2 percent in the South and 4 percent in the West. Purchase contracts decreased 0.4 percent in the Midwest.
  • Resales increased to a 5.15 million pace, which is the best they’ve been since September.
  • Construction also rebounded, with starts climbing 15.7 percent to a 1.09 million annualized rate
  • Meanwhile, contracts on new homes dropped unexpectedly during the month of July to a 412,000 annualized pace, which is the weakest it’s been since March.
  • The average rate for a 30-year, fixed mortgage was 4.10 percent in late August, down from 4.53 percent at the start of the year

Let’s Start Discussing Your Personal Real Estate Dream!s

Are you interested in listing your property soon and getting a great price for it? Or perhaps you want to find the home of your dreams but just don’t know where to start.

Regardless of what your real estate needs are, we’re here to help!

And please make sure to check back here next month as we continue to provide you with valuable information that will help you navigate the local housing market!

 

Are you being served or sold? (BloomTree is about great service)

great real estate agent

There’s a big difference between working with an agent who serves you versus one who is selling. We think it’s safe to assume that you don’t necessarily want to work with an agent who is out to get your listing, but would love one whose goal is to help you sell your home.  Ditto when it comes to one who is wants to add you to their lead database versus one who wants to help you find the right house.

There’s more to giving great service as a real estate agent than being able to unlock a door or sending you a drip email of new listings.  We know that you can find just about any home that’s for sale on the internet. Just about any agent can meet you at the house and let you see it in person, too.  But it takes a higher level of commitment from the agent to be there when you’re overwhelmed, to explain what all those contract fields actually mean, to be honest enough to tell you when your house won’t likely sell because it’s overpriced or your pink kitchen is turning away potential buyers.  It takes an agent with dedication to more education than just the bare minimum required to stay legal.

Everything we do at BloomTree Realty is designed around you; the agents that we hire, the training we give them, the system that we built for them to use, and the way that we pay them.  Even this website is built for you.  It’s why we don’t force you to register to see listings, and why every listing in the MLS is here, and not just our own.   It’s also why we only hire the agents that we believe will give you the level of service you deserve, and why we invest so much in training them to the extent that we do.

Selling real estate is the task that we do.  But our business is serving, communicating what you need to know, solving problems for you, educating you, guiding you, and caring about your needs more than our own. We believe in do-unto-others.

We know that in every business, whether it’s a coffee shop or a real estate brokerage, when you put revenue first it means that customers come second (or third, or worse) but when you put customers first revenue often takes care of itself.   BloomTree Realty and our agents are here to serve.

Report: Bigger is Better for National Home Buyers

US New Home ConstructionThe sluggish housing market over the last several years did not have an impact on Americans’ desire for bigger and fancier homes, according to a recent report from USA Today.

Evidently, demand continues to grow for these large estates, especially as the housing market across the nation improves.

This is a fascinating trend on the national housing market and one that is sure to impact both home buyers and sellers.

Americans Love to Own Large, Luxury Homes

The American Dream of owning a bigger and better home is still very much alive across the country.

In fact, as the recent USA Today article noted, many of today’s buyers still want a house that includes as many luxury amenities and features as they can think of – or at least afford.

This may include gourmet kitchens, deluxe bathrooms, spacious decks or screened-in porches.

While this is occurring, experts also note that homeownership rates have remained mostly stagnant. And income growth appears to be lagging behind the rising price of homes.

Meanwhile, the size of families and households continues to shrink, even though the houses themselves are getting bigger.

Experts say that this is because Americans still love the idea of owning a home that makes a statement about them, that demonstrates their status in society.

A Closer Look at This Housing Market Trend

Here is some relevant data on this housing market trend, based on US Census data:

  • The average square footage of newly built single-family homes in the U.S. jumped by nearly 57 percent, from 1,660 in 1973 to 2,598 square feet in 2013.
  • The Northeastern region of the country had the second-highest average square footage, which rose by 65 percent. Specifically, the square footage jumped from 1,959 to 2,636.
  • Meanwhile, the average number of people per household in the U.S. dropped from 3.01 in 1973 to 2.54 in 2013.
  • Specifically, families fell to 3.12 members from 3.48 during the same period of time.
  • As a result of the construction of larger homes, the average sales price of newly built single-family homes in the U.S. skyrocketed by 419 percent from $62,500 in 1978 to $324,500 in 2013.
  • Even if you consider inflation, that still quite a jump, experts say.
  • The Northeast is home to the highest average sales price, which increased by 646 percent from $63,000 in 1978 to $469,000 in 2013.
  • Between 2012 and 2013 alone, the average sales price of newly built single-family homes in the U.S. jumped by 20 percent: from $292,000 to $324,500.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. homeownership rate continued to drop during the fourth quarter of 2013: from 65.4 during the fourth quarter of 2012 to 65.2 percent.

So What Do Home Owners Get With These Newly Built Homes?

A better question is: What don’t they get?

Here’s a breakdown of these new construction homes and what they offer to buyers:

  • Of the 569,000 homes built last year throughout the U.S., 188,000 (33 percent) contained three or more bathrooms.
  • Meanwhile, 251,000 (44 percent) of last year’s houses featured four or more bedrooms, which is the largest share since 1973..
  • Also, of the homes built last year, 301,000 (53 percent) came with a patio.
  • And 361,000 (63 percent) featured a porch.
  • Meanwhile 127,000 (22 percent) included a deck.
  • Another trend that experts are seeing is more finished basements for added space, according to the report.
  • These homes have mostly hovered around one and two stories, however, despite the increase in size. In fact, 233,000 (41 percent) of newly built homes last year were one story and 305,000 (54 percent) were two stories. Meanwhile, only 31,000 (5 percent) were three stories or more.

Follow Our Blog for More Valuable National Real Estate Data

Check back here soon for more pertinent information on the housing market and how it may impact you as a buyer or seller.

We’ve made it our goal to help you stay informed as you navigate the market. After all, the better informed you are, the better prepared you are for securing a successful outcome on the housing market.

Home Improvements That Pay Off When Selling Your Home

Home RemodelingNot all home remodeling projects are created equal – especially when you’re trying to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes time to sell your property.

So before you spend thousands of dollars on that home remodeling project you’ve been dreaming about, make sure that you’re armed with the facts first.

Today, we’re going to tell you which of the most common home renovation projects are worth the investment, and which ones you’re better off doing without. The answers may surprise you.

Roofs and New Siding: Not Very Glamorous but Quite Impactful

Remodeling Magazine reports that you’re more likely to recoup your investment on such features as your roof or your siding than you are on bathroom or kitchen remodels.

In fact, siding replacement recouped 92.8 percent of its investment while roof replacements recouped 90 percent or more at resale.

Roof replacement appears to be most important to buyers in the east, with home owners recouping an average 96.3 percent of the cost. In the Midwest, that average return was around 71.1 percent.

That’s because home buyers care more about the overall structure of the home than they do about an aesthetically pleasing kitchen.

What’s more, a recently replaced roof or new siding tells buyers that their maintenance costs are going to be low to non-existent for the first few years. And it’s impossible to understate how important that is to buyers.

Kitchens: A Sound Investment or Not?

The consensus is unanimous: Kitchen remodels are an excellent way to spend your home renovation dollars – but only if you don’t spend too much out the gate.

In fact, minor kitchen remodels (in the ballpark of $15,000 or less) returned 92.9 percent of the investment. That number dropped off on bigger remodeling projects in the kitchen.

Some features to focus on in the kitchen include all wood cabinets, commercial-looking appliances, stone floors and stone counter tops.

How About Bathrooms?

Bathrooms are also a fantastic place to invest your home remodeling dollars. Often, home owners are pleasantly surprised to discover that they get a 100 percent plus return on their investment.

For instance, a $9,400 bathroom remodel in Baltimore recently recouped 182 percent of its cost at resale.

Some features that you may want to focus on during a bathroom remodel include floor-to-ceiling steam showers and walk-in showers.

And if you only have one bathroom in your home, spend your money on adding a second bathroom instead of remodeling the only bathroom you have.

Don’t Forget To Consider Your Home’s Curb Appeal!

People often focus their remodeling dollars on the inside of the home but the exterior is just as important – if not more so.

After all, a potential home buyer will form an opinion about your home before they ever step foot inside.

Perhaps that’s why adding siding is such a sound investment when you look at the return you could get at resale.

Another way to make sure your home has adequate curb appeal is by adding a front porch or other architectural features to make your home more inviting.

Give Buyers Extra Room to Grow

Finally, consider adding another room to your home during a remodeling project.

We’ve already talked about the benefits of adding a bathroom. But the same principles hold true for other room additions as well.

In fact, for every 1,000 square feet added to a home, your sales price will increase by more than 30 percent, according a 2005 National Association of Realtors study.

One caveat to this rule: Don’t add so much extra space that your home becomes the most expensive home in the neighborhood. That’s a sure way to turn off home buyers.

Just a Few More General Notes About Home Remodels

RS1551_shutterstock_983846-lprRegardless of what type of project you select, remember that the following factors will also help determine your return on investment:

  • The Value of Your Home
  • The Value of the Homes in Your Neighborhood
  • The Housing Market You’re Located In
  • How Soon You Sell Your Home After the Home Improvement Project
  • The Quality of the Home Improvement Project

Your #1 Resource for Real Estate Trends and News

Hopefully you learned something today about home remodeling projects and how much they really benefit you as a prospective home seller.

Make sure to follow our blog to receive the latest updates on real estate trends like these and how they may impact you.

Have a great day!

Report: US Home Sales Increased Sharply in May

US Home Sales InformationIt’s certainly a headline we like to see around here: “US Home Purchase Contracts Have Seen a Significant Increase.”

And in fact, that’s exactly what The Associated Press recently reported.

This is great news, especially given that – so far this year – the pace of buying is slower than in 2013. A lot of this can be attributed to the harsh winter that kept many home buyers inside.

But as the recent report indicates, spring and summer sales activity may ultimately compensate for those sluggish winter months.

It’s Not Just Sales Contracts Enjoying Favorable Conditions

Here’s a full report of what the National Association of Realtors recently revealed:

  • Its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index increased 6.1 percent to 103.9 in May.
  • That marks the sharpest month-over-month gain since April 2010.
  • The index is still, however, 5.2 percent below the level it was at a year ago.
  • Experts believe that lower mortgage rates and an increased home inventory drove much of May’s gains.
  • All four U.S. regions (the Northeast, Midwest, South and West) saw increases in signed purchase contracts

Meanwhile, in a different report released by the Association, completed sales of existing homes increased 4.9 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes.

Still, it’s worth noting that sales are down 5 percent year over year.

The association predicts that sales of existing homes will decrease 2.8 percent this year to 4.95 million. That’s compared to 5.1 million in 2013.

In terms of new homes, sales increased 18.6 percent in May to an annual rate of 504,000. That’s the highest level since May 2008.

Why Are Things Showing Improvement Now?

Of course, it helps that we’re still in the spring and summer home buying market.

But another key factor is the removal of two previous obstacles: Rising mortgage rates and a low supply of available homes for sale.

Average rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.17 percent recently. Before, it had been at 4.20 percent and higher. Still, rates are roughly 0.25 percent higher than they were at this time last year.

Meanwhile, the supply of homes has increased. By 2.2 percent in May to 2.28 million. That’s 6 percent higher than a year ago, helping to fuel increased activity on the market!

How Can You Expect This to Affect You?

If you’re a home seller, the recent flurry of activity should give you confidence that you too will be able to sell your property and in a reasonable amount of time as well.  But one things that will decide that is working with an experienced real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the market.

And if you’re a home buyer purchasing a property on the local housing market, the recent activity suggests that you’re in good company – with more and more people entering the market to invest in property!

Always Here To Give You The National Real Estate 411!

What other valuable information would you like to learn about the real estate market in order to make your transaction easier? We will be happy to supply you with all of the insight you need!

Contact us today for valuable real estate advice today!

And make sure to check back to our website soon for more pertinent information that affects you!