Thursday, January 31, 2008

Salespeople vs. Order Takers

The old saying that "a rising tide floats all boats" is true of all industries and this was certainly true during the real estate bubble. Almost every real estate agent looks good when the market is growing by 20%, but in a flat or declining market, the true sales experts really shine. A true salesperson can can continue to grow their business and close deals even as the market declines.

This year will differentiate real salespeople from the order takers. The real estate agents that know the real market conditions, know how to properly price and market a property, and know how to negotiate will survive the slowdown. Those that jumped in during the past few years for the easy money (the order takers), or those who have become lazy over the past few years of easy sales, are starting to find out if they have the skills to survive or if they were really just taking orders.

One reader (Neal) recently asked if I know of any good real estate agents. In order to remain neutral I don't want to recommend anyone, but here is what we are looking for in our ideal agent to help us find an investment property:

1. Knowledge of the neighborhoods we are interested in, their appreciation potential, as well as rental potential;
2. The ability to identify comparable sales for target properties;
3. Excellent negotiating skills;
4. An insider's network to help find deals that might not be on the MLS; and
5. The ability to see opportunities that we might miss.

Whether you are looking for a buyer's or seller's agent, make sure you interview a few different agents to ensure they have the experience and skills that match your needs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Relisting the same old property

Here's a question for the realtors out there:

Is it legal to pull a house and relist it immediately? Is there a waiting period required?

Here's an example. This triplex in the SE was just re-listed as MLS #8007641. It has been on the market for over a year listed as #6019453, and obviously didn't sell.

I've seen this happen with a number of the properties I have looked at, and besides being dishonest, I just wonder if it's also illegal.

Anyone care to comment?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hey, we're now the ideal buyer!

According to this article in the NYT, "Sorting out the New Housing Market", we are now the ideal buyer! In other words: we're renters with flawless credit and enough cash for a down payment. We don't need to sell our house before buying one, and we don't need risky loans.

However we're really enjoying our freedom, knowing that we could move at a moments notice and not have to sell a house. Or that we could downsize and slash our rent if we wanted to cut costs. Or that we could live off that cash cushion for months. Plus we're living in a rental that would cost us 30% more to own. Let's just say that we're in no hurry to jump into a house.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Portland home price appreciation drops to its lowest level since Jan 2000

According to the latest data from the S&P/Case Schiller Home Price Index, the YoY growth rate for the median price of existing homes in the greater Portland area dropped to 1.9%, it's lowest level since January 2008. This is just the latest data point in a long slide that began in April 2006, and doesn't look like it will stop until it's well into negative territory.

Just looking at the chart should answer any the question "did Portland experience a bubble?" Yes.

Has it popped? Yes

Have we seen the bottom yet? Nope

Is it a good time to buy? If you plan to be here longer than a few years, it might be. I think I'll wait a few more months at least.

The data is located here for anyone else who is curious::,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1,1,0,0,0,0,0.html

I'll be posting updates as the new data becomes available. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Easy zip code comparisons

Zipskinny is a great tool I recently found for comparing all sorts of data by zip code.

ALthough zip codes don't match neighborhoods exactly, it does paint an interesting picture of how U.S. Census demographic data differs by zip code, and also compares to city and state averages.