Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Getting Realistic about Short Sales

Whether you are a first-time/repeat home buyer or an investor, a short sale can be a great option for you and knowing about the short sale process can help make it a successful experience. The major differences between a short sale and a regular home purchase transaction is that short sales will most likely have a lower average sales price and they typically take longer to close.  More parties may also be involved than just the lender...such as additional mortgage investors or 2nd & 3rd lien holders.

A recent study showed that it took on average 62 days for the lender to respond to a Buyer's offer and another 67 days after that to close.  Here's a closer look at what a typical timeline would look like according to this study:

Day 1:  The homeowner misses a mortgage payment...or realizes that the house is worth less than what they may owe the lender.

Day 7:  The owner speaks to a Real Estate Agent and the Agent then prequalifies the property for a short sale.

Day 13:  The owner signs a listing agreement with the Real Estate Agent after receiving all the information about the homeowner's distressed situation.

Day 25:  The Agent submits all the short sale documents to the Lender.

Day 35:  The Lender creates a short sale property file.

Day 50:  The Lender assigns the property to an independent appraiser or agent for an estimate of value.  This is a good sign that the offer is being considered.

Day 65:  The Lender reviews the results of the property valuation.

Day 90:  The Agent receives a letter of sale approval for the property from the Lender.

Day 110:  The short sale transaction is closed and the property is sold.

Obviously, short sale timelines can differ from this one.  The most important thing to remember?  Patience!!  The payoff will be worth it in the end!

If you have any questions about short sales, please contact us or give us a call at 913.787.1870.  We're here to help!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 30th Tax Credit Deadline Nears

As the June 30th deadline nears for the First-Time/Repeat Home Buyers tax credit, many people were hoping for another extension.  But a move by the Senate last week dashed those hopes when the extension, as part of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, failed to get the necessary votes.

What does this mean?  The National Association of Realtors estimates that approximately 180,000 qualified home-buyers will miss out on the credit by not closing tomorrow.  Had the amendment passed, it would have extended the closing deadline until September.

Rumors abound that the extension may not dead yet.  Even if something does pass by the Senate soon (and I mean real soon!), it would still have to be approved by the House.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Roller Coaster of Home Values

Back in 1940, the U.S. conducted its first housing census.  At that time, the median value of a single-family home in the United States was only $30,600.  Sixty years later, that number nearly quadrupled to $119,600 (after adjusting for inflation).  The good news is that every decade saw an increase in the value of single-family homes up to the year 2000.

New home construction tells a different tale.  The average sales price of new home construction in May 1975 was $43,200.  This number grew to $263,000 by May of this year.  However, new home construction hit its peak in 2007, when the average new home price hit $329,000.  Though this number has varied greatly since then, it will be interesting to see how, if, and when history will be able to repeat itself.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Time for the Great Lenexa BBQ Cook-Off!!

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Check out the Great Lenexa BBQ at Sar-KO-Par Trails Park at 87th and Lackman Road.  There will be lots of games, fun, and, of course, great barbecue!  It starts tonight and admission is free for children 12 and under, but the real judging is on Saturday, when 240 judges set out to find the best BBQ in various categories.  You can find out more information here.

Great Lenexa BBQ
Sar-K0-Park, Lenexa, KS
Friday, June 25th: 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 26th: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cost: $5 on Friday, children 12 and under free.  There is no admission fee on Saturday.

Grey Oaks Market Stats for Shawnee, KS

In light of my last post about the release of new floorplans in Grey Oaks, I thought I would take a closer look at what the activity has been like for home sales in the neighborhood recently.  

Currently, there are 17 active listings in the community.  The average list price is $355,291, which is actually down about $20,000 or 5% from when I looked at the neighborhood stats back in March.    So far, the average days on market is showing roughly 198 improvement from the 239 days in March.  However, as for homes sold within the past 90 days...the average sale price is $347,318.

Grey Oaks, a popular Rodrock Development, is located in Western Shawnee, and features award winning schools (grades Pre-K through 12), recreational amenities such as a community pool, sand volleyball court, picnic area and playground, walking trails, and a Mom's Council, which facilitates several community activities throughout the year.

If you are interested in buying or selling a home in Grey Oaks or any other part of Shawnee or the KC Metro area, please give me a call (913.787.1870) or email me!

Stats pulled from Heartland MLS & deemed reliable but not guaranteed; Check the post date for relevancy; Stats cover approximately 12 months of market activity.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Floorplans for Grey Oaks in Western Shawnee!

As a Grey Oaks resident, I can personally tell you how great it is here...schools within walking distance, walking trails, pool, playgrounds, picnic area, sand volleyball, community events, and more.  As the community prepares for the release of its next phase, they are rolling out new floorplans to entice more buyers. 

The updated homes will range from $270,000s to $400,000s and higher and will feature 4-5 bedrooms, 2 1/2-5 1/2 baths, and 2-3 car garages.  Grey Oaks will also offer a first this summer...wooded-view homesites.
One of the newest floorplans is the Aspen III Five.  This two-story features an open first floor with a great room, fireplace, and a generous kitchen with ample storage and large pantry.

Upstairs you'll find 5 bedrooms, all with private baths.  This floorplan also includes a roof-covered outdoor room off the kitchen with a floor to ceiling stone fireplace and ceiling fan.

For a list of available homes, floorplans, and available homesites in Grey Oaks or other nearby communities, please contact us or give us a call at 913.787.1870.  We've helped several neighbors buy and sell in this community and we'd love to help you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is your home energy efficient?

Did you know that the average home in Kansas City...
  1. Spends about $2000/yr in electric and gas costs AND wastes $940 of that?
  2. Is only half insulated?
  3. Lose over 60% of their heated and air-conditioned air to the outside?
  4. Leaks 33% of air around ductwork?
  5. Uses a tank water heater that is only 55% efficient?
  6. Wastes 11-17% electricity/gas with inefficient appliances?
  7. Have low efficiency lighting, heating, and cooling systems?
About 96% of the homes in our area have these energy problems due to poor or inadequate insulation and the use of minimum builder grade materials and systems.  Before you spend any money to improve your home's energy effiency, consider having a Home Energy Audit.

Home Energy Audits can save you thousands in lower energy costs.  By using state-of-the-art technologies including the blower door leakage testing, infrared camera imaging and more, their findings will help you make the best decisions about which energy improvements you want to make to achieve the maximum payback or result you are looking for.

A Home Energy Audit can save you 22-47% or more in energy costs.  Every $1 saved in utilities can increase your home's resale value by $10. That can add about $8400 to the value of your home!

If you live in the Kansas City area and would like more information (including a coupon for $50 off your energy audit from GreenTech Efficiency Solutions), give me a call at 913-787-1870 or send me an email.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Save 10% at Lowe's!

Are you planning a move any time soon?  Closing on your new home or relocating?  Or maybe you're thinking of putting your house on the market.  Let Lowe's help you!  You can sign up HERE and save 10% off your next purchase at Lowes.  Your coupon will be emailed to you within 3-7 days.  Only one per household, but your coupon can be used at any Lowe's location. 

Now who doesn't like to save a buck, or two, or three, or....

Market Stats for Shawnee, KS

With all the hype on Wall Street today about the declines in the housing market, I thought I'd take a glance at what is happening in my neighborhood of Shawnee, KS.

The average listing price for homes in the Shawnee area was $265,294 for week ending June 16th.  This is a decrease of 0.5% or $1437 from the week before.

The average sales price for homes in Shawnee from March-May of this year was up 2.3% from the same period last year to $152,394. 

From what I have been experiencing with my clients, homes in the $100,000-200,000 price range are still selling fairly quickly; whereas anything over $275,000 is taking a bit longer.  Now is still a great time to list your house, especially before school starts this Fall.  If you are thinking about listing your home or buying a new one, contact us or give us a call at 913-787-1870.  We'd love to help you!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things to Do: Kansas City Farmers Markets


Looking for something fun to do this weekend while supporting local businesses?  Kansas City has SEVERAL Farmers Markets in the metro area...Brookside, Shawnee, City Market, and more...over 30 total!  You can find some great fruits and vegetables as well as other little goodies, including handmade crafts and live animals.  Check out the full list of area Farmers Markets here.

Get Preapproved Before You Start Shopping for a Home


Whether you are a first-time home buyer or not, getting approved for a loan before shopping for a home is an essential first step.  Yet, did you know it is far better to be preapproved for a loan than to be prequalified?  When you are prequalified, the lender is giving you an idea of the mortgage amount for which you qualify based only on the information that you provide.  It does not  include an analysis of your credit or an in-depth look at your ability to purchase a home.  For this reason, your prequalified amount is not a sure thing.

However, when a lender hands you a preapproval letter, it means something totally different:

  1. You save time by looking at the right homes.  As a client of Pickett Property Group, we will set you up in our system so that you can receive listings or updates of available homes in the area based on criteria that you want in a home...number of bedrooms, baths, garage space, and of course, price range.  You'll be able to save time by looking at the homes that you can afford instead of looking at the ones that are beyond your means.
  2. Gain confidence.  Now when you find that perfect home, you can feel confident in the process and minimize any anxiety because you have been preapproved.  You don't have to worry about losing the home because you weren't qualified to buy it.
  3. You have increased negotiating power.  When you make an offer on a home, the sellers are more likely to accept your offer because your preapproval is giving them peace of mind that the sale will go through.  It won't be contingent on being able to obtain financing, which will let the sellers know that your offer is serious and could prevent you from losing out to another buyer who already has financing arranged.
Because mortgage approval can be a lengthy process, it is to your advantage to get a preapproval letter before you are ready to begin your search for a new home.  If you need a lender referral, we work with several that are friendly, thorough, and will make the entire process as smooth as possible from beginning to end.  Simply contact us or give me a call at 913.787.1870.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keep Cool This Summer!

With the temperatures starting to rise in KC, so will the costs to keep your house cooler.  While most homeowners depend on air conditioners to keep the temperatures down, there are several other options available to help keep your energy bill low during the warm summer months.

  1. Install a ceiling fan.  This one appliance can make a room feel 6-7 degrees cooler, costing as little as $10/month if you keep it on for 12 hours a day.  Make sure the fan is turned for should feel the air blow downward.
  2. Take advantage of your window treatments.  White window shades, drapes, or blinds will reflect the heat away from the house.  Close them if your windows face the sun to keep the heat out and help your A/C and fans cool more efficiently.
  3. Do your chores later in the day.  Run the washer/dryer and dishwasher in the evenings.  This will help reduce the amount of heat in your home and you will use less energy to cool it.
  4. Take a look at your landscaping.  Plant trees or shrubs around A/C units as units that operate in the shade will use less electricity...just don't block the airflow.  Also, plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home to keep your house cool in the summer.  They will also allow the sunlight to warm your house during the winter.
  5. Swap out your old lightbulbs.  Compact Flourescent Light bulbs (CFLs) and LED bulbs use less energy and produce less heat than incandescent bulbs, saving you even more money in your pocket.  
  6. Avoid the oven.  If you don't want to grill during the day, cook with a microwave, toaster oven or counter top grill instead to minimize any unwanted heat that will cause your A/C unit to work harder to cool.
  7. Check for leaks.  Check any windows or door frames for any hot air leaking in and seal them with caulk or weather stripping.
  8. Check out your attic.  If it isn't already, insulate it as this will lead to big savings year-round.  Also, consider upgrading from 3 to 12 can cut your cooling costs by 10%.
I know there are several other things you can do to keep yourself cool this summer.  These are just a few suggestions to get you started, but take the time to do a little research on your own and see what a difference you can make...on your wallet and the environment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Renting vs. Buying

According to an article posted on Trulia recently, Kansas City, MO was ranked 7th in the Top 10 Cities to Rent vs. Buy.  "We're not suggesting that it's unwise to buy in these areas, though - just that it's significantly more expensive than renting.  In many of these cities, even though home buying is much more costly than renting, prices are still much lower than they have been in a long, long time," said Pete Flint, founder and CEO of Trulia.  They based their findings on the comparisons between the average list price and the average rent of 2 bedroom apartments, condos, and townhomes in the area.

However, there are other factors that need to be considered in this situation that Trulia failed to mention.  Location plays a huge factor as neighborhoods will vary from one another as well as average prices.  Length of time is another consideration.  If you plan to stay in your home for any serious length of time (let's say 5 years or so), than buying would certainly be an advantage.  There are also tax benefits for home owners that as a renter, one will not be able to take advantage of.

Obviously, if finances or credit is an issue, then most likely, renting is a great option until you are ready to take that step.

As part of Pickett Property Group, we have helped many clients take the leap from renting to owning their first home.  If you are considering buying a home, give us a call at 913.787.1870...we can guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Market Stats for Shawnee, KS

Looking at the market stats per Trulia, it looks like we may be seeing some interesting effects of the tax credit over the next few months.  The average listing price of homes in the Shawnee, KS area dropped .7% to $266,731 for week ending June 9th, though we did see an increase of 2.3% in the median sales price for the same area of $152,394 from March through May 2010.

With summertime now at hand, there are still some good deals to be had on homes for sale in the Kansas City area.  Olathe and Prairie Village are the most popular zip codes at this time, but Mission, Lenexa, and Leawood are seeing an increase in activity as well.

Be sure to give us a call or contact us when you are ready to list your home or start the buying process.  We'd love to help and show you what sets us apart from everyone else!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mills Farm Now Accepting Reservations for New Neighborhood!


Joining The Estates and The Manor in Mills Farm, the third and newest neighborhood in this Overland Park community, The Meadows, is sure to please.  This master planned community includes first class amenities such as:

  • Club House with full kitchen & entertaining area
  • State-of-the-art Fitness Center with lockers
  • Infinity edge non-splash pool
  • Competition sized pool with slide
  • Kiddie pool
  • Yoga Room
  • and more coming soon, including tennis courts, basketball court, sand volleyball, nature trail, and children's play area!
  • Part of the Award Winning Blue Valley School District
  • Easy access to I-435 and I-35.
  • Close to Town Center, great restaurants, and entertainment opportunities
Homes in the Meadows start around the $400,000s and construction is scheduled to start in August.  This is an open neighborhood, meaning buyers are welcome to bring their own builder and plan, subject to approval of the Design Review Community.  Reservations are being accepted now!

Mills Farm is located at 159th and King, between Switzer & Quivira.  To take a look at this great community or others in the Kansas City area, please contact us or give us a call at 913.787.1870.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deck Addition: Return on Investment

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Friday, June 11, 2010

New Listing in Woodland Park only $195,000!!!

Most popular plan & best house in Woodland Park!!  At only $195,000, it won't be on the market long!
TONS OF UPGRADES!  New Roof, A/C, frieze carpet, and decorator paint colors.
GRANITE countertops & STAINLESS appliances in Kitchen.
Well cared for INSIDE & OUT.Huge Great Room plan, with finished basement for media & family rooms plus 1/2 bath & WET BAR.  Private Master level w/double vanity and dual walk-in closets.

Check out our website or give us a call at 913.787.1870 to see this property TODAY!