My Debut on Radio…What I Did NOT Get to Say!

by arlene on January 22, 2011

What a week! Thursday was my installation as President of Women’s Council, East Bay Chapter at a fabulous fundraiser at the Bellevue Club. Bright and oh so early this morning I appeared on KNBR radio with David Hollander on his show Protect Your Assets. It was great fun to put on the headphones and be in the studio! As David had warned me, the time flew by, and the things I was sure we would talk about somehow didn’t get covered; and there we were talking about appraisals!

Now I can’t stop thinking about the market update items that I wanted to share with everyone, so here are the things I did NOT get to say!

First, a correction to something I DID say. In talking about expectations for market performance this year, I mentioned that it will be a rocky year, with single digit increases at most, and declines in other areas, all true. For the Bay Area most areas are expected to drop in value around 6%, some up to 12% still, and I mispoke about Marin: what I meant to say was that it was one of the regions of strength, but instead of increasing 6%, it is expected to see no decrease.

In addition to telling people that the low interest rates were not enough to motivate buyers into the housing market, I would like to have talked about the behavior of those buyers who are in the market. Buyer=bargain hunter these days! Everyone wants a discount, everyone wants a deal, and of course buyers and sellers are at odds about what constitutes a good deal.

With David Hollander at KNBR

In addition to making the point that Real Estate is hyper-local, with values being defined by neighborhood and sometimes even by block, I would like to have stressed  even more the importance to sellers of listening to their Realtor about what is the correct list price. Being realistic about the changes in value over the past several years is crucial if sellers are to debut their home at a price that will get an immediate positive response. As I did mention, homes get one chance to come on the market with maximum impact to attract buyer interest. Just like with a dramatic production, the critics only come once—to opening night—and if you get a bad review then you are doomed. In the case of real estate, a seller who prices too high may be doomed to the long, slow path of price reductions and many months chasing the market downward. But even now, even when at the State and National level the market is considered sluggish or possibly declining , there are local pockets of strength. Price it right, prepare it well and market it actively with a great local agent.  Homes in strong neighborhoods are still getting offers quickly, and some even multiple offers when presented strategically. Having local expertise to price according to the very local conditions is crucial.

If I’d had more time, I would have gone into some detail about current conditions in my market areas. I had hoped to at least mention the fact that we are starting to see more distressed properties in areas previously immune, such as North Berkeley and the hills. I would have suggested that these short sales and foreclosures are not like the major wave we’ve been hearing about nation-wide during the past couple of years, that were part of the sub-prime loan disaster. These newer cases appear to be the longer-term result of the slowing of the economy and resultant job losses. I know that some of these homes were owned by professionals who previously held positions that would have completely justified the loans they were issued — but life has intervened.  In my area the news of cutbacks at the University campus have become all too frequent and painful.

Here’s a quick update from my post at the beginning of the month:

Berkeley active inventory of single family homes: 73, of which 22, (30%),  are distressed (short sales or foreclosures)  Median list price is $625K, average days on market is 36. Berkeley homes on average appreciated 5% in 2010 from the previous year.

Albany active inventory of single family homes: only six, of which three are distressed. Median list price is $489.5K, median days on market is 11 (with such a small sample size the average was meaningless). Albany homes on average depreciated almost 6% in 2010 from the previous year.

Oakland active inventory of single family homes: 738, of which 418 (57%!) are distressed. Median list price is $229K, average days on market is 59. Oakland homes on average appreciated 15% in 2010 from the previous year. Piedmont average price saw a 1% drop from the previous year, and Alameda remained flat.

So much could be said! The show was the shortest 45 minutes I’ve ever experienced!

I was pleased to be able to offer a few quick tips for conserving energy, especially in older homes. The easiest way this winter is to turn down the thermostat by 5%. Then check for air leaks in furnace ducts, and around doors and windows. I very briefly mentioned calling upon an Energy Auditor, the folks who come in with a blower door test and infra-red cameras to test for heat loss. They can patch up the leaks, which will make a HUGE difference in your heating bill, and improve your comfort. But I should, of course, have told people to insulate, one of the very cost-effective measures for improving efficiency, especially in older homes.

I offered to any listeners, and am happy to offer to any readers as well, a copy of Green Living Tips, a nicely-produced pamphlet I wrote for the California Association of REALTORS (on recycled paper with soy-based ink). Having it in hard copy is more satisfying than a PDF. Send me an address and a copy will be yours with my compliments!

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