Friday, May 27, 2011

This Beats All

As if the return of the bobcat yesterday wasn't enough excitement at Casa de Estavan y Donna, we had a visitor today that left us with our jaws hanging. Around dusk, Steve was moving hoses around, without his sidekick Sunbeam because of yesterday's bobcat appearance, when he came running in the house to get me.

He was excited but happy, so I knew the bobcat wasn't devouring something, but still I was apprehensive. He told me it was okay, and led me to the driveway where a GILA MONSTER was flicking its black forked tongue and booking for the South 40. What a beauty! How the heck did it end up in Central Tucson? Is it someone's escaped pet?

Another reason to be grateful for our life in the Baked Apple.

Buying (and Therefore, Selling) a House May Become More Difficult

Republicans have a draft bill in the House that will raise the minimum down payment on FHA loans from 3.5% to 5%. Under the bill, the maximum FHA loan amount will drop way down to 125% of the median sale price in the county. I don't know what the median sale price in Pima County is, but the median sale price in April in the Tucson Multiple Listing Service, which includes all but the most rural parts of the county, was $132,000. In March it was $125,000. When FHA sets a loan limit based on median sale price, the loan limit sticks for quite a while, and does not adjust to market changes on a regular basis.

A housing expert says there is no evidence that an additional 1.5% down payment requirement will significantly decrease the default rate among FHA buyers. It could, however, decrease the pool of FHA buyers by 40%.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tucson Residential Sales Statistics

The Tucson Association of Realtors has release the Residential Sale Statistics for April.

The average sale price continues its bumpy trend. From December 2010 to January 2011, it went down 10%. Average sale price was up 9% in February, down 10% in March, up 6% in April to $173,981.

With 6,269 listings divided by 1,152 sales in April, we have a 5.44 month supply of listings. A six month supply is considered a balanced market, with no advantage to buyer or seller. So by this measure, this could be a seller's market for the first time in years.

But who are the sellers who are in charge of this market? Banks, mostly. When I search the Multiple Listing Service for sales in April, I find 1,235. I don't know why it's more than is reported by the Tucson Association of Realtors. Of those sales, 502 were Real Estate Owned, or REO, meaning they are owned by a bank that foreclosed on the previous owner. Short sales, where the seller owes more than the house is worth, and needs his lender's approval to sell the house, accounted for 110 sales. So REOs and short sales accounted for 50% of the sales last month.

We used to call a sale where the seller had equity and we didn't have to deal with an uncooperative bank a normal sale. The new normal is REOs and short sales.

Forty-two percent of the sales were under $120,000 and 74% of the sales were under $200,000.

Moving for the Last Time

The Arizona Daily Star doesn't seem to have caught on, but Realty Executives Phoenix filed chapter 11 (reorganization) bankruptcy a few weeks ago, taking the three branch offices in Tucson down with it. A new Realty Executives franchise is forming in Tucson, but I need a company with more stability. I just went through this last year with the previous Realty Executives franchise. As W once said, "Fool me once... shame on... you... fool me twice... uh... Ya can't get fooled again!"

My clients and I need a real estate company that has a local presence strong enough to stay in business. But I do not think the main purpose of a real estate company is to generate corporate profits. So the logical fit for me is Tierra Antigua Realty. Started by real estate agents 10 years ago, it has grown to be the second largest real estate company in Tucson, with over 800 agents. Its sales are 10% of the Tucson market. I have been warmly welcomed, and I am impressed with the focus on agent and client satisfaction.

I was with Long Realty for eight years, Realty Executives for eight years (with an unplanned three-month detour to Keller Williams), and I am planning to stay at Tierra Antigua for at least the next eight years. Maybe after 24 years in real estate, I'll be ready to move on to the next adventure. But today, I am open for business and feeling optimistic about the future.