Posts Tagged ‘ home buying ’

Real Estate Buyer Trends

Brian Buffini recently put together a “Real Estate Report” that lists some great facts, trends and demographics. I found much of this information extremely helpful for buyers and sellers, but today I will focus on the buyer.

Please keep in mind that these numbers are on the national level so it could be very different in your local market.

Median Price Paid: 1st time home buyer – $152,000   

                                                         Repeat Buyers –  $215,000

Average Income of First Time Buyer: $59,000

Percent of  Buyers Who Were First Time Home Buyers:

                                                                                             2010 : 50%                     

                                                                                             2009  : 47%

                                                                                              2008 : 41%

The above statistics show that in 2008 home affordability was down and that investors were heavily in the market. 

The average buyer searched for 12 weeks and viewed 12 homes.

The typical buyer purchased a 3 bedroom/ 2 bathroom home with the average square footage being 1540 and cost $152,000.

The Three Top Factors That Influence Where a Buyer Purchases:

1.- Quality of the neighborhood

2.-Convenience to work

3.-Affordability of the home

Who Bought Homes:

50% married couples

20%  single women

12%  single men

8% unmarried couples

1% other (not sure what “other” could be, hmm…)

What Buyers Need Most From Their Realtor:

Finding the right home

Negotiating the terms of the sale

Negotiating the price

Completing the paperwork

Do  you have the right realtor working for you? If you would like the right realtor working for you or additional information regarding the real estate market in the Boise area please go to my website (no sign up required):

or email me:

Article referenced: Brian Buffini’s Real Estate Report 2011- Buffini and Co.



Why it is Important to Have Buyer Representation?

As a buyer, having a Realtor represent you on a purchase is more important than you might think. You may have heard this before but it is true!

Here is the scenario if you just go out and try to purchase without having representation:

You go on the internet and find the perfect home. Now you drive over to the home and see a realtor sign. You call the number on the sign and you ask to see the house. The realtor will jump at the chance to sell the home and make the full commission. Nothing wrong with wanting to make money, that is why we are in the business! Now you get to see the house and you want to make an offer. You sign the papers with the agreement to have a lender approval letter in hand. Only problem is that when you go talk to the lender you find out you are not qualified to buy the home. This is a big set-back and you are extremely disappointed.

But what if you had qualified? Well that brings up some different issues like who does the realtor represent? The realtor has a signed seller representation agreement but if they sign a buyer representation with you they now become what is called a “dual agent”. This is where they no longer represent either one of you but are basically processing paperwork for both of you.

If you want to avoid that uncomfortable feeling that you are suddenly not getting the best deal here is what I recommend. Find a realtor that you are comfortable with ( this may take a few interviews but always remember they work for you, so treat it like a job interview and you are the boss) Once you find a realtor, a good one is going to tell you to get yourself pre-qualified with a lender before  you even go out looking at houses. This helps to avoid the first scenario’s disappointment.

Once you have found the perfect house your realtor will write-up the paperwork and help you to negotiate the best price. They do this by showing you all the recent solds in the area that are comparable to help ensure that your offer is in the right range. The realtor will also recommend that you get an inspection and can help set that up for you. They will also coordinate with your lender, title company and the listing agent,  items that need to be taken care of in a timely manner so that you will close on time. (Nothing is more frustrating than having the closing moved- out because paperwork is missing or inspection items were not taken care of.)

The very best part about having buyer representation with a realtor: it is free! The seller pays the commission, you pay nothing (ok, so it is included in the price so you pay long-term but it is the seller who pays up-front) Please also keep this in mind: the realtor who has driven you around and has done a lot of hard work and countless hours on your behalf, does not get paid until after the closing. It is very frustrating for a realtor to work hard only to have a buyer go to an open house and get talked into signing an offer by the listing agent. So please show your buyer rep the same fiduciary loyalty that they give to you as your buyer rep! And no matter what, always have buyer representation!

For more information regarding buyers representation please go to my website (no sign in required) :

How to Sell Your Home in Today’s Market

It is a tough time to be a home seller in today’s market! If you are a “normal” seller (remember those?) you are faced with some stiff competition. ( And it is  not even really comparable competition for the most part.) There are the short sales which are usually below market and then there are the REO (Bank Owned) and they are always below market. These distressed properties are also usually in fair to poor condition.

 Unfortunately the seller has to deal with the human nature of the buyer, and that is how to get the most for the least. The good news is that as time goes on many buyers have become weary of the distressed properties and are looking for a good “normal” deal.

This is the time for sellers to start taking advantage of an ever-changing market, a market that may be turning back in their favor! So what does a seller have to do to get their home sold in a reasonable amount of time without practically giving the home away? Here are a few tips:

  • Pricing: Study the comparables and go over them with your realtor. Do one set of comps with all properties (distressed included) and one with just the non distressed ones. Depending on the upgrades in your home you probably want to fall somewhere between the two types of comps. Most importantly be realistic!
  • Incentives: To compete with the distressed deals you may have to offer up to 3% of buyers closing costs. If that does not appeal to you, offer a set amount for closing costs and offer a one-year home warranty (they are relatively inexpensive – running around $250) and it offers the buyer a peace of mind.
  • Curb Appeal: First impressions are important! This goes for inside and out. You want curb appeal so that the buyers will at least get out of the car. Clean up the debris around the yard and put away all items that do not need to be out. A daily sweep  of the sidewalk, driveway and front door area will give a well maintained appearance.
  • Clean: Now that the curb appeal brought them in make sure their first impression inside makes them stay awhile. Make sure the house is clean and clutter free. The buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in your home. If you have piles of your stuff on the counters and in odd spots throughout the house it distracts from that vision.  

A few other things that will help get buyers in the door are having the very best pictures for the MLS and internet.  The majority of  buyers view homes on the internet well before they ever go physically to look at it. So make sure the outside front shot and the interior of your home are the very best. If your realtor does not have a decent camera ask them to hire a virtual tour person to take the pics.

Also, be as flexible for showings as possible. Some buyers may only be able to view homes during certain hours and if your home is unavailable during that time they may just skip you all together or find another home before they get a chance to see yours.

Remember, as a “normal” seller you have an advantage over the distressed properties. Your house is clean, maintained and ready to move onto in a reasonable amount of time. For todays buyers that is like a breath of fresh air!

If you would like additional seller tips please visit my website:  (no sign up required!)

More Media Bad News

Today was the Idaho Statesman’s turn to let you know that homes prices are plummeting. They even called the four paragraph article, “A Sinking Feeling”.

Once again they compared home sales of January 2010 to January 2011. They ask “How can prices be down if sales are up?” As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, with the large number of bank owned properties being sold in January 2011 it is only natural that the median price would be lower.

No where in the article do they mention that the inventory is also at a four-year low. Once again the media only tells part of the story. For the full story please refer to my post dated February 11, 2011 – “January Statistics Boise-2010 vs 2011”.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me: or

Why You Should Google an Address

With instant information available at our fingertips via “google” magic, it is extremely easy to find out pretty much anything we want. But have you ever googled your address? or your neighbors? or maybe one of your children’s friends? While this may seem like spying, it is actually a very handy tool to have available for a few reasons.

  • 1.-To keep you and your loved ones safe – Local sex offenders have to register with their local county Sheriff’s department. By typing in an address you can see if a sex offender lives there. If you want to see if there are in your neighborhood or in a neighborhood that you are considering purchasing a home, you can type in the address, the town, or the zip code followed by “Megan’s law” and the registered offenders should appear.
  • 2. To protect against scams – By doing a search on an address you can see if it is being advertised by scammers as being for rent or sale.  If you are doing the search on a property that you plan on buying you will be able to see if someone other than the owner or realtor are advertising the property.
  • 3.To check on Home Sold Prices – This is especially helpful if you think your taxes are too high. By checking on the local sold prices you will be able to see the sold pricing  trend in your area. If the you see a downward trend (which you most likely will right now) you will be able to petition the local tax assessor to adjust the tax assessment. (If you go to you will be able to get this information also)
  • 4. To see street views – This is really a great idea especially if you are getting ready to list your home. Many potential buyers go to the internet first before they physically view a home. Google Maps lets them see a street view, not just of your property but of those around it too.  There may be a shot of your house maybe when you were cleaning out your garage or having a garage sale (you get the idea). Was your former neighbor a pig? Now they have moved and their yard looks great but usually the google street view is a few months (sometimes years) old. If you think that the view is not a good one make sure that it is mentioned by your realtor in the listing so potential buyers are not scared off before they even get to see the inside!

Whether you are buying, selling or just trying to stay safe, it is an excellent idea to google an address!

If you have any questions regarding the real estate market in the Boise area please feel free to contact me: or

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10 tips for First Time Buyers

First time buyers are in a great position right now! You will probably hear it repeatedly that “it has never been a better time to be a first time buyer”.  Surprise, surprise, it is actually true. Interest rates are still at historic lows,  prices are lower than they have been in almost a decade, and inventory is still pretty good (although that is starting to change but that will be for another post!).

So, what should a first time home buyer do to get the ball rolling? Well on there was an article by Michele Lerner of Investopedia with some excellent tips that I will now share with you.

  • 1. Meet with a lender – Before you even go out and look at homes this is probably the most important thing you can do to get started. There is no sense in getting your hopes up about a particular home and then finding out that you can not afford or qualify for it. Visit with several lenders to find the one that you are most comfortable with and that offers you the best rates. Not all lenders are the same. Some work directly for a bank and others are brokers. Each one has different borrowing options available, so shop around! 
  • 2. Check your credit score– Lenders base a few different variables when qualifying you for a mortgage and the most important piece is (right now anyway) your credit score. Scores of between 720-740 and higher will get the best rates. If the score is 620 or lower it may be more difficult to qualify. Always talk with your lender, they may have suggestions on how to improve your score in a short period of time.
  • 3. Set your housing budget-While you may qualify for a particular amount to borrow this may not necessarily be the amount that you want to borrow. Get a budget together that goes over all your expenses to see what you can really afford each month. The recommended amount to borrow for your mortgage is around 30% of your gross monthly income.
  • 4. Start saving and stop spending – Once you know what you can afford in mortgage payments each month, start saving the difference between what your current rent is and what your mortgage payment will be. In today’s market you may actually have a lower mortgage payment than what your rent is.  Save the difference anyway!!!
  • 5. Find a reputable realtor– That would be me so look no more!!! Ok, so if you are buying outside of Idaho, interview several realtors to see which one will work best for you. Even though you do not pay them a commission fee, they still work for you. So treat this as if you were hiring them for a job and you are the employer. In today’s market many realtors have a second job to make ends meet. This is understandable but you need a full-time realtor. Make sure that real estate is all they do and that they answer their phone when you need them, not when they are on lunch break or home for the evening!
  • 6. Narrow it down- What you want and what you need are two different things, sometimes you can get both but be realistic. If you plan on living in the home for more than seven years than you will want to get as close to you wants and needs list as possible. If the home is just a stepping stone to the next one (less than 6 years) than your needs list is what you should focus on.
  • 7. Choose a neighborhood– This is more important than you think! The value of your home in the future is determined quite a bit by the values of other homes in your neighborhood. Look for neighborhoods that do not have a large percentage of Short Sales and Bank Owned properties. These may become a flip in the future, continuing to keep the values flat.
  • 8. Make a reasonable offer–  I can not stress this enough! Most properties are so undervalued that to make an offer that is even lower is just silly. While you will always want to feel like you are getting the best deal, I can assure you that with prices the way they are, you are getting a good deal. Also, if you do not want your offer rejected by either the lender (since most properties on the market are lender owned or subject to a lenders approval through a short sale) you are better off offering full price and asking for closing costs to be covered.
  • 9. Get a home inspection- Many of the homes on the market have not been maintained properly either because the owner could not afford to or the home has been vacant for a long period of time. An inspection does not cost much (usually between $200-400 depending on square footage) and can save you major headaches after the sale. Better to know up front what you are dealing with and a bad inspection gives you the opportunity to ask the owner to fix the issues or if they will not fix items, then you can void the contract. Please note that most short sales and bank owned properties are sold “as is”. Get the inspection anyway for peace of mind.
  • 10. Finalize the details- Now that the contract is signed around and the inspection is done, stay in touch with your lender and realtor to make sure everything is on track. Your realtor should be doing this anyway to ensure that the closing takes place on time and that any items that needed to be addressed before closing are dealt with. Your lender will probably get with you several days before closing to update you on any additional papers that need to be signed or are needed.

Buying a home for the first time can be very exciting. If you do your homework before you even go out the door then the buying process should be relatively smooth. Remember, buying a home is one of the largest financial purchases you will ever make so do so as an informed buyer!

And if you have any questions always feel free to contact me! or

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