Thursday, April 21, 2011

20 Incredibly Useful iPhone/ipad Apps for Homebuyers & Sellers

Whether you’re buying or selling a house, there’s a lot to consider — what’s available, what your price range is, comparable sales, neighborhood information, and more. It’s a lot of work to gather all of this information, but using iPhone apps can make the process a lot easier. Read on to learn about 20 great apps for people engaged in a home sale.
  1. Zillow: Using the Zillow app, homebuyers can actually drive around a neighborhood and view values of all homes, not just those for sale. You can also check prices on sale properties, and check out homes on Google Street View if you’re not in the area.
  2. Walk Score: If walkability is important to you in a home, check out the Walk Score using this app. You’ll find out about nearby amenities and find the most walkable parts of the neighborhood.
  3. Open Home Pro: Open Home Pro is a must-have for real estate agents. You can use it to collect client information, publish real estate listings, and stay in contact with clients.
  4. AroundMe: Use AroundMe to quickly find out about what’s around potential homes. You’ll be able to search for banks, gas stations, hospitals, and other important businesses.
  5. Wikihood: Using Wikihood, you can learn about any neighborhood in the world. You’ll learn about people, culture, buildings, companies, geographical information, and more.
  6. Sketches: Use Sketches to jot down notes and illustrate ideas on your iPhone. You can even annotate pictures, making notes about items within a home.
  7. Evernote: Whether you’re buying or selling a home, keeping track of your notes, photos, and more is valuable. Using Evernote, you can create notes with photo, text, or audio, geo-tag notes, and even autosynchronize to your computer.
  8. CompleteForeclosures: Find great homes at foreclosure prices using this app. You’ll find asking prices and home details, as well as guides for buying a foreclosure home.
  9. Home Buying Power: Show clients their buying power or figure out your own using this app. It allows you to focus on the right price point by entering your desired payment or income percentage, along with a down payment, loan term, and interest rate.
  10. Agent Feedback: Agents can keep home sellers constantly updated on feedback from open home visitors. It’s a great way to stay on top of feedback from real buyers.
  11. Sex Offender Tracker App: Locate sex offenders in any neighborhood using this app. You can see pictures and the distance from your potential home.
  12. TourNarrator: Use TourNarrator to capture client feedback about properties using notes, photos and voice recordings. You can share these notes with clients, and even post them on your website in a formatted PDF.
  13. Photo Measures: Photo measures allows you to save measurements on your photos. You’ll be able to take photos on tours, then plan your space with measurements you can refer to later.
  14. Mortgage Calc Pro!: Use this app to calculate fixed rate mortgages by entering loan information. You can include PMI, and even email calculations as a PDF.
  15. Redfin: Redfin’s real estate app will allow you to see every home for sale on an MLS-powered map, complete with photos. You can save searches, favorites, tours, notes, and more.
  16. Real Estate-Real Easy: Create your own branded real estate app on the iPhone with Real Estate-Real Easy. You will be able to set it up and maintain it easily.
  17. ColorSmart: Using BEHR’s ColorSmart, you’ll be able to visualize colors in your new home. Take a photo, then fill in a BEHR paint color to see what it would look like.
  18. Dictionary of Real Estate Terms: Check out this app to find a dictionary of over 300 terms in real estate. It’s great for new agents, or homebuyers who want to familiarize themselves with the industry.
  19. CrumbTracks: With CrumbTracks, you can store photos and videos that you’ve taken of homes. You’ll even be able to annotate and share them with others, estimate monthly payments, and take notes about each home.
  20. My Realty Tool: My Realty Tool makes it easy for realtors to keep track of listings, keys, leads, and more. This is a great way to replace your spreadsheet of information.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chicago Supply Inventory..Improving:)

Taking Inventory:
Supply Picture Slowly Improving
One closely watched gauge of the local real estate market is Months Supply of Inventory (MSI).

MSI forecasts how long it would take to sell off the remaining supply of active listings given the current pace of sales. As a general rule of thumb, a balanced market, where supply and demand is in equilibrium, has about 6 months worth of inventory. But throughout the real estate downturn, MSI has been well above that benchmark.

Lately, however, MSI has become much more palatable. In fact, in the city of Chicago MSI is at a two-year low as of the end of March. While some areas do indeed have an oversupply of homes for sale, other neighborhoods show a virtual balance between supply and demand.

For example, North Center, Lincoln Square, Forest Glen, Rogers Park and the Near West Side, which includes the West Loop, all had around 6 months worth of inventory in March. Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Edgewater and West Town, which includes Wicker Park, all had less than 8 months worth of supply. The citywide average in March was 7.1 months - 50% below March 2009 levels.

Anecdotally, we are seeing more multiple offer situations. New listings that are priced correctly and in good condition are being snapped up quickly. That has not been the case over the last two years. The perception of an endless supply of flawless, inexpensive homes is far from today's reality.

MSI fluctuates seasonally and, historically, is at its lowest during the spring. In addition, factors such as shadow inventory (homes that are in foreclosure but have not yet been sold) are keeping optimism in check. However, it should be noted that this spring's inventory levels have been achieved without the benefit of last year's housing tax credit. Furthermore, in the city condo market, large chunks of new-construction supply have been taken off the market by investors acquiring units in bulk to rent out as apartments. In the past 12 months, almost 1,000 new condos have been acquired in such a manner - more than the total number of individual new-construction sales for all of 2010.

The upshot is that slowly but surely things are getting better. Buyers are still in a strong position but can't snooze on a great listing. Sellers still may be dealing with some disappointment on the pricing front, but if your home is priced and presented right, the buyers are out there.

Of course, every neighborhood, price point and housing type is subject to a unique set of circumstances. For an in-depth analysis of inventory relative to your property sale or search, contact me anytime. And remember I always appreciate your referrals.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The New Home in 2015..

The current housing market has affected not only the number of new homes that are built each year, but also the characteristics, features, and size of the ones that do get built. Many in the industry are wondering about how the new home will evolve over the next few years and whether those changes will stick once the economy bounces back to a more solid footing. The National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey that sheds light on the likely characteristics of the average, new single-family detached home in 2015.

Some of the most relevant findings include:
•The average, new single-family home will be smaller and have more green features
•The living room will either vanish or merge with other spaces in the home
•The “Great Room” is the likeliest room to be included in the average new home
•Low-e windows and engineered wood products are the likeliest green features
•A double sink, recessed lighting, and table space for eating are very likely in kitchens

Broad Trends
In order to measure which of five broad trends would be more prevalent in the next five years, building professionals were asked to rank the following trends from least to most probable to occur by 2015: the average single-family home will get smaller, it will have more green features, it will have more technology features, it will have more universal features, and it will have more outdoor living features.
As Figure 1 shows, the majority of respondents agree that the single-family home will get smaller and that it will have more green features over the next five years. The former was rated as the first or second most probable trend by 74 percent of survey respondents, while the latter received similar ratings from 68 percent of them. Meanwhile, only 29 percent of respondents rated the trend for more technology features in the home as the first or second most probable trend, 20 percent rated the trend for more universal features likewise, and only 10 percent indicated more outdoor living features would be the dominant trend over the next five years. Regarding universal features, many respondents indicated that the average home of 2015 would be “adaptable,” and not necessarily “accessible,” implying that many accessibility features would be planned for, but not actually included in the average home.
Average Home Size
Respondents expect the average, new single-family detached home in 2015 to be about 2,152 square feet, 10 percent smaller than the average size of single-family homes started in the first three quarters of 2010. Overall, 63 percent of respondents expect the average size of new homes in 2015 to be somewhere between 2,000 square feet and 2,399 square feet, 22 percent expect it to be between 2,400 square feet and 2,999 square feet, while 13 percent expect it to only be 1,600 square feet to 1,999 square feet (Figure 2).

Data from the Census Bureau indicates that the average size of single-family homes completed peaked in 2007, at 2,521 square feet, was virtually unchanged in 2008, and then declined in 2009 to 2,438 square feet. Preliminary data for 2010 shows a further decline, down to 2,377 square feet. Although part of the recent drop in average home size may indeed be temporary due to hard economic times, a number of factors lead building professionals to expect home size declines in the long-run: consumers are focused on lowering the cost of heating and cooling their homes; they no longer have sizeable equity in their current homes to finance a much larger one; diminished expectations for house price appreciation has reduced demand for extra square footage in order to achieve appreciation on a larger base; demographics, 29 percent of the US population will be 55+ in the year 2020, demanding smaller homes; and strict mortgage underwriting for the foreseeable future. Combined, these factors will weigh on the consumer to purchase homes based on need more than want.

How Living Room Will Change

An overwhelming majority of respondents do not expect the living room to stay in its current form. Instead, more than half (52 percent) expect the living room to merge with other spaces in the home, while 30 percent expect it to vanish to save on square footage. Another 13 percent expect it will become a parlor/retreat/library or music room (Figure 3).
The great room (kitchen-family room-living room) is the most likely room to be included in the average, new single-family detached home of 2015. Using the scale from 1 to 5 (where 1=not at all likely and 5=very likely), the great room topped the list of “very likely” rooms/features, with an average rating of 4.6, followed by walk-in closet in master bedroom (4.5), laundry room (4.2), ceiling fan (4.1), master bedroom on 1st floor of 2-story home (4.1), and a 2-car garage (4.0) (Figure 4).

A home office, 9’+ ceilings in the first floor (both with average ratings of 3.9), an indoor fireplace (3.4) and bolder colors on interior walls (3.2) were designated only as “somewhat likely” to be included in the average new single-family home of 2015. Some of the “least likely” features to be present: two master bedroom suites, a sunroom, and a hobbies room (all with average ratings of 2.2), a media room (2.4) and the living room (2.5).

Green Features

Low-e windows are “very likely” to be present in the average new single-family home of 2015 (4.5 average rating), as well as engineered wood beams, joists, or trusses (4.4), water efficient features (dual flush toilets or low flow faucets) and Energy-Star rating for the whole home (both with an average rating of 4.1) (Figure 5).
Some of the green features respondents rated only as “somewhat likely” to be present in the average new single-family detached home of 2015 include insulation higher than required by code (3.8), tankless water heater (3.8), and argon gas windows (3.7). Two green features were considered to be “unlikely” candidates for the average new home in 2015: green certification from LEED program (2.7) and other renewable energy sources i.e. geothermal, wind (2.8).

Kitchen Features
As previously stated, the kitchen, along with the family room and the living room, will increasingly be combined to form the Great Room. But what exactly is the kitchen of the average new home of 2015 likely to have? According to survey respondents, a double sink (4.3 average rating), recessed lighting (4.2), table space for eating (4.1), a breakfast bar (4.0), and pull-out drawers (4.0) are “very likely” features in kitchens five years from now (Figure 6).
A central island (3.8) is “somewhat likely” to be included in kitchens of average new homes in 2015, along with a walk-in pantry (3.6), a recycling center (3.6), desk/computer area (3.4 ), granite countertop (3.4), and to a lesser degree laminate countertops (3.0).
What the average new kitchen of 2015 is “unlikely” to have is a trash compactor, fireplace, wine cooler, and butler’s pantry (all with an average rating of 2.3), hot water dispenser (2.6), and a small appliance storage area (2.8).