Should I list my house in the fall or winter? Update.

A year ago I addressed the question “Should I list my house in the fall or winter?” In that post, I examined closings in January, February, and March* — most of which would have been on properties that received offers in November, January, and Fenruary — and concluded that “it seems certain that there’s enough activity in the fall and winter months to stay open for business!

The same conclusion gets only stronger when you look at closings for these three months over the past 4 years:

  • 289 in 2014
  • 317 in 2015
  • 427 in 2016
  • 467 in 2017

Activity during these months has increased every year! Again, it seems clear to me that those who stay busy during the winter months will profit!

And so, I invite sellers who really want to sell — and buyers who really want to meet them — to reach out to me soon.

*Mid-Hudson MLS, single family detached homes.

Thanks for reading. If you are thinking about selling your home, please contact me. I can tell you what I bring to the table as a listing agent, and help you decide when is the right time to list.

When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com.

Because I am a member of THREE MLSs — Mid-Hudson MLS (Dutchess County), Hudson Valley Catskill Region MLS (Ulster County), and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS — you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. The site provides a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Exclusive Listings: A Pop Quiz

These two signs refer to local listings. One is on a website; one is on a yard sign:

What does the term “our exclusive” mean in a real estate context?

  • Only the listing agent can show this house or adequately describe its features.
  • These listings contain some special feature that makes them one-of-a-kind, and are therefore “exclusive.”
  • These listings are not for everybody; they’re only for those smart enough or rich enough to get them.
  • These properties have been listed on the MLS; any participating agent can show them to you and function as your buyer’s agent.

If you think you know the answer — or would like to know the answer, send me an email (marty@ask-marty.com) — or navigate over to this article that I posted a while ago.

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Thanks for reading. If you are thinking about selling your home, please contact me. I can tell you what I bring to the table as a listing agent, and help you decide when is the right time to list.

When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com.

Because I am a member of THREE MLSs — Mid-Hudson MLS (Dutchess County), Hudson Valley Catskill Region MLS (Ulster County), and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS — you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. The site provides a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Should I list my house in the fall or winter?

Whether to list in the “off-season” is a common question.

House for-sale sign in winter.

House for-sale sign in winter.

Whether to list (or re-list) a house in fall or winter is an important question faced by would-be home sellers. On the one hand, they’ve heard that sales activity slows in comparison with spring and summer. They question the effort to keep the driveway cleared and the house presentable when “almost no one” will be coming around. On the other hand, they’ve heard from their real estate agent that properties do, in fact, sell during the slow seasons, and may even benefit from having less competition and more motivated buyers. I can’t deny that showing a house in fall or winter may require some special effort, but I am one of those who does think it’s worth it to get or keep a house listed in the fall and winter.

The numbers say …. LIST!

To support this choice, I examined February and July residential sales in Dutchess County from 2016 back to 2002, as far back as reported in the Mid-Hudson MLS. The chart below shows the results.

Unquestionably, the market slows down in the fall and winter. Closings in February have run on average about 56 percent number of closings in July. Moreover, the percentage of inventory sold is usually higher in July (average 11 percent) than in February (average 8 percent), though the gap between both months in a single year is usually not very large.

But it’s clear, as well, that substantial activity takes place during the fall and winter. February 2016 closings represented $37,416,548 worth of business. And while this July’s total was much higher, the average and median prices were pretty close:

Total sales Average Price Median Price
February 16 $37,416,548 $287,820 $256,000
July 16 $60,065,193 $303,360 $255,000

I’ll chart dollar amounts back to 2002 at another time, but to me it seems certain that there’s enough activity in the fall and winter months to stay open for business!

feb-julsales

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Thanks for reading. If you are thinking about selling your home, please contact me. I can tell you what I bring to the table as a listing agent, and help you decide when is the right time to list.

When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com.

Because I am a member of THREE MLSs — Mid-Hudson MLS (Dutchess County), Hudson Valley Catskill Region MLS (Ulster County), and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS — you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. The site provides a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Beware Real Estate Advertising Statistics

Almost exactly a year ago, I posted a note that showed how numbers could be manipulated in ways that were truthful but either unhelpful or misleading (or both) when it came to comparing individual real estate agents. Recently, the following advertisement comparing offices in Rhinebeck caught my eye; and I can’t resist discussing it in the same context.

BH_Ad2

The ranking and statistics as reported in the advertisement are correct. According to this advertisement, it’s “Good to Know” that a certain office in Rhinebeck had a larger dollar volume of sales than any other. But does that help a prospective house seller or buyer?

Number of Sold Units More Important than Dollar Value

If I were going to sell my house, I’d be less concerned with which office had the most business in dollars. I get that many dollars indicates a high level of activity. And many sales dollars generates many commission dollars. But does that activity benefit the individual seller? In terms of dollars, I might be more interested in how close sale prices were to listing prices.

More than that, however, I’d want to know which office sold the highest percent of its listings, because actually getting my house sold is my highest priority. And so I divided total number of sales by total number of new listings to derive a percentage. Based on that criteria, the Rhinebeck office ranking for 2015 changes quite a bit*:

Rank Office New
Listings
Sales Percent
1 Paul Hallenbeck RE 132 50 39
2 C21 A. Ferri 33 12 36
2 Berkshire 183 65 36
3 J. Ettenson RE 53 18 34
4 Northern Dutchess 72 24 33
5 H.H. Hill 60 13 22
6 Paula Redmond 59 12 20
6 Staley RE 60 12 20

Based on percent of listings sold, Rhinebeck has a different leader. Tied for second and alone in third, are two offices that didn’t even make the dollars list. A third office is added to this group because it is statistically even for the number 6 ranking.

Success Rate of Individual Agents More Important than Office as a Whole

The office that supports your prospective agent is a valid consideration. But does the sheer number of office sales mean that much? I wonder which office contains the most productive individual agents because those agents — or one of them — will be primarily responsible for my listing. In the following table, I divide total new listings and total sales by the number of agents listed for each office in the MLS roster. Then I divide the resulting number of sales per agent by the number of new listings per agent to obtain a rank by percentage:

Rank Office Agents New Listings
Per Agent
Sales Per Agent Percent
1 Fraleigh & Rakow 3 4 2 50
1 G. DiMauro RE 5 4 2 50
2 Northern Dutchess 14 5 2 40
3 Berkshire 22 8 3 38
3 J. Ettenson 7 8 3 38
4 C21 A. Ferri RE 10 3 1 33
5 Paul Hallenbeck RE 9 26 6 23
6 H.H. Hill 4 15 3 20
6 Paula Redmond 4 15 3 20
6 Staley RE 3 20 4 20

Based on this ranking, we now have two new leaders among the Rhinebeck offices, neither of which appeared in the original advertisement or in my first table. Third and fourth spots still belong to two offices that did not make it into the original advertisement.

Focus Numerical Analyses on Individual Agents

Not only do I believe the numbers that reflect actual sales are more important and useful to prospective property sellers and buyers than sheer dollar amounts, I also believe that numbers pertaining to individual agents are more important than numbers pertaining to offices or brands. But even those numbers should be scrutinized, as I showed in last year’s post on Dutchess County sales numbers. To begin, each office is organized in unique ways and contains unique agents.

Imperative to Go Beyond the Numbers

Knowing that statistics can be massaged and manipulated, how does one choose a real estate agent? There are so many considerations — for now, I suggest that you Google “How to choose a real estate agent?’ As you read through the many pages that will come up, jot down the your concerns and the agent characteristics that matter to you most. Then have a conversation with more than one agent before you decide who to use. When presented with statistics always ask, what do these numbers really mean for me as I am considering this individual to help me buy or sell a property?

*Data sourced from Mid-Hudson MLS, the same source used in the advertisement. All fractions and percentages rounded to nearest whole number. Number of agents on roster comes from MLS at the time of writing.

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Thanks for reading. When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com. Because I am a member of THREE MLSs (Mid-Hudson MLS [Dutchess County], Ulster County MLS, and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS), you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. This a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Red Hook, NY, Real Estate Sales, 2000-2015

 

The following are sales charts and analysis for the real estate market of the town of Red Hook and for the villages of Red Hook and Tivoli. They cover total number of transactions and dollar amount of those transactions, as well as median and average prices. Figures pertain to single-family detached houses as reported in the Mid-Hudson MLS

Town of Red Hook

Though actual sales activity seems to be returning, analysis of a decade’s worth of sales of single-family detached houses in the Town of Red Hook indicates that the depression of 2007/2008 has left its mark in the form of reduced valuation. The big slide in prices lasted through 2009. Although prices did not return to these low levels, they did drop again slightly from 2014 to 2015. Taking the long view — the dramatic rise and fall of real estate prices between 2000 and 2008 notwithstanding, if you purchased your property in 2000 it is probably worth about 30 percent more now.

I believe buyers are starting to be satisfied that the worst is over as far as declining values are concerned and are hunting for properties that are priced well below what they might have fetched in 2005/2006. This mindset accounts in part for increased activity in 2014 and 2015. Another reason for increased volume is probably pent-up demand. First-time and vacation buyers alike felt priced out of the market when it was high and became afraid of the market when it was sliding downward. As we enter period of relative stability, their confidence is returning, as is their dream of home ownership in our beautiful town and villages.

Another reason for increased volume is probably pent-up demand. First-time and vacation buyers alike felt priced out of the market when it was high and became afraid of the market when it was sliding downward. As we enter period of relative stability, their confidence is returning, as is their dream of home ownership in our beautiful town and villages.

Town of Red Hook, NY Single-Family Sales, year 2000, and then annually 2005-2015.

Town of Red Hook, NY Single-Family Sales, year 2000, and then annually 2005-2015.

Red Hook Village

The real estate market in Red Hook Village paralleled that of the Town, including the increased volume and the price dip of 2015. Average real estate prices run much lower in both villages than in the town generally — not suprising given the relative vintage of most properties inside the villages and the relatively smaller lots. But the villages have their own charms and may well provide an affordable entree into the region.

Village of Red Hook, NY Single-Family Housing Sales, year 2000, then annually from 2005 through 2015

Village of Red Hook, NY Single-Family Housing Sales, year 2000, then annually from 2005 through 2015

Village of Tivoli, NY

In 2011, a Hudson Bluffs property in Tivoli Village sold for over $4-million. Of course, that sort of sale will skew the average for most municipalities in this part of the Hudson Valley. To capture the normal experience of a location, one could argue that such statistical outliers should be deleted, and yet, the fact is that we do have some marvelous luxury properties in our town and their changing ownership is part of our real estate landscape.

Single-Family Home Sales, Tivoli, NY, year 2000, then annually 2005 through 2015

Single-Family Home Sales, Tivoli, NY, year 2000, then annually 2005 through 2015

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Thanks for reading. When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com. Because I am a member of THREE MLSs (Mid-Hudson MLS [Dutchess County], Ulster County MLS, and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS), you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. This a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Who pays the buyer’s agent?

In my posting of July 14 about buyer’s agency, I wrote, “As a potential buyer …, you should understand that the cost of a broker/agent … is already built in to the commission that the seller is paying. Using your own agent to get information about a listing should not increase your purchase price.” That’s absolutely true — the amounts have been set and using a buyer’s agent will not increase your purchase cost. But who actually bears agency costs? The fact is that agency fees are shared by the buyer and the seller; and the determination of who actually bears that cost is at least in part simply a matter of perspective.

Seller pays

It is true that most agency commissions have been arranged as part of the listing contract so that a buyer’s agent is paid by the seller’s agent a specific percentage of the sale proceeds. The seller’s agent pays that fee out of the commission that he or she receives from the seller. So, it’s fair to say that the seller is paying the buyer’s agent fee, which is part of the seller’s total commission payment. A seller considering whether to accept an offer must subtract the commission payment (and other expenses) to know how much money will end up in his or her hands when the transaction is closed.

Buyer pays

Where did the seller get the money to pay the commission? Out of the sale proceeds, obviously; and we know where that came from — only the buyer brings money to the table — so it’s also fair to say that the buyer is paying the buyer’s agent fee. If the fee were lower, more dollars might have gone to the seller who might therefore have accepted a lower price.

What to do

Whether to use a buyer’s or seller’s agent are separate questions. Sellers should know that agency fees can be negotiated when entering into a listing contract. However, once buyers and sellers are in the system and using agents, and fees have already been negotiated; my suggestion is to set concerns about who is paying the commissions aside and focus instead on the actual return and payment. That is, sellers should look at the net proceeds after the commissions are paid. If the offer isn’t high enough to cover those, then don’t accept it. Generally, buyers should not fret about paying a commission amount that was arranged previously; instead, offer a fair price that you can afford and let the seller worry about the commission fees. (I will write about the possibility of negotiating buyer agent costs soon.)

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Thanks for reading. When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com. Because I am a member of THREE MLSs (Mid-Hudson MLS [Dutchess County], Ulster County MLS, and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS), you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. This a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Red Hook, NY — Housing Market Summer 2015 Outlook

Single Family Detached Residences around Red Hook, NY* Summer 2014 vs. Summer 2015

Compared to last summer, the Red Hook, NY, housing market shows some improvement. Market life is more active this year, but the activity is still quite moderate. Total inventory is a bit smaller, but there is still a 10-month supply of listed properties. In other words, the market is a bit better, but it’s still quite slow.

Red Hook, NY Housing Market in the Summer of 2014

Readers here may recall successive postings from last summer. Each week, I reported 140 listings (give or take a few) and the occasional closing, anywhere from zero to three per week (usually one or two). Following the market was so mind-numbingly dull, that I stopped reporting before the summer ended.

Red Hook, NY Housing Market in the Summer of 2015

The market today shows 128 Active listings. Compared to last year’s summer average of =/- 140 weekly listings, that’s approximately 10 percent fewer listings. The past month saw 13 closings, solidly in the upper range of last summer’s weekly number. The number of Active listings divided by the number of the last month’s closings is 10 (rounded up), which indicates a 10-month supply of houses is currently on the market.

Historic Red Hook home, barn, and garage currently listed at $475,000

Historic Red Hook home, barn, and garage currently listed at $475,000

Why Market Trends Are Important

In fact, I am not now, nor was I ever, a proponent of deciding to buy or sell properties based on what the market is doing. Most of the people I know buy and sell properties because of life events and goals. Still, the market is the current, if you will, that must be navigated when buying or selling. So, while I don’t advise following the market from week to week, when the time comes to buy or sell, it’s also time to know which way the current is flowing, and how strong. Constructive action on the individual level can help you amplify or counteract market trends.

How to Use the Slow Market to Your Advantage

Buyers, the signs are in your favor, as they were last summer — now is a great time for any sort of buyer: first timers, downsizers, investors, upgraders, weekenders can all find properties they like at prices they can afford. I’ve heard brokers complain that there’s “no inventory out there.” That’s not true, obviously, but if you find the house you like at a price you think is fair, you may want to jump on it sooner rather than later. Sellers, there is no denying that properties are moving slowly, even with a slightly smaller inventory, but if you are willing and able to do it, proper, realistic pricing can put your property at the head of the list! You can also improve your chances by truly acting like a seller who expects to sell: 1) make a small investment in cleaning and repairing; 2) start packing! and reduce household clutter.

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Thanks for reading. When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websitewww.Ask-Marty.com. Because I am a member of THREE MLSs (Mid-Hudson MLS [Dutchess County], Ulster County MLS, and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS), you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. This a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,

Marty

Maarten Reilingh (Marty)
Licensed Real Estate Broker
Serving Dutchess, Ulster & Columbia Counties
48 E. Market St; Red Hook, NY 12571
www.ask-marty.com
marty@ask-marty.com
845-532-1204 (voice)
720-625-6543 (fax)

*Data based on Mid-Hudson MLS listings within the Red Hook School District, which extends into the adjacent towns or postal zones of Rhinebeck, Tivoli, Barrytown, Annandale-on-Hudson, Milan, and Clermont, in Dutchess and Columbia Counties.

Consider “buying local” when choosing a real estate agent

“Buying local” is a valid strategy to improve any local economy. Unfortunately, although virtually every local real estate agent and broker lives close at hand and spends some of his or her earnings locally, a significant portion of all commission dollars are promptly sent out of town. Franchise fees based wholly or in part on sales volume are paid to the corporate parents of locally-owned franchises; company stores take everything before sending salaries and commissions back to local staff and agents.

Which local companies have out-of-town corporate masters?

Virtually all of them! In the Mid-Hudson MLS, well over 90 percent of all sales dollars are generated by offices with out-of-town corporate headquarters. The Berkshire Hathaway Home Services connection to “the sage of Nebraska” is well known, of course, as it is widely touted. But the real giant in American real estate is Realogy Holdings Corporation, which owns Better Homes and Gardens, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Corcoran Group, Sotheby’s International, and ERA Real Estate franchises. Realogy’s headquarters are in New Jersey; at least those dollars are staying on the East Coast! RE/MAX, Realty Executives, Weichert REALTORS, and Houlihan Lawrence are all substantial standalone brands (with company stores and/or franchises), but only Houlihan Lawrence is headquartered in New York State.

Consider “buying local” when you choose your agent

There are many fine agents affiliated with the big real estate brands. Knowing many of them personally as I do, I for one would not exclude them from consideration when choosing an agent. But if “buying local” is a primary concern for you, you may want to consider an agent not affiliated with a national or regional brand. As I showed in the previous post, having the most listings is no guarantee of sales success. A smaller, local agency or a solo operator like myself may be able to provide more attention to you and to tailor services more to your needs or liking.

Does agent having the most listings matter to prospective sellers?

In this post, I want to share some numbers that contradict the assumption that the agents with the most listings are the best choice for prospective home sellers because these agents sell the most listings. There are many fine high-volume agents out there and there are good reasons to choose many of them, but the mere fact that an agent has the most listings is not one such reason.

The numbers

I looked at the five agents, excluding those agents who worked primarily with distressed properties or new construction, who last year in the Mid-Hudson MLS had the most new listings of single-family detached homes. I then looked at how many sales in the same category were recorded for each of these agents in the same year.*

  • Agent 1: 94 new listings, 45 sales
  • Agent 2: 74 new listings, 45 sales
  • Agent 3: 52 new listings, 34 sales
  • Agent 4: 52 new listings, 20 sales
  • Agent 5: 52 new listings, 18 sales

These five agents come from four different offices; Agents 4 and 5 are from the same office. All five agents were among the top ten agents (out of 765) in the Mid-Hudson MLS in terms of the value of their sales transactions in the single-family detached homes category.

Analysis

The numbers don’t look so great for our region’s big listers. Yes, they are our top producers, but the percentage of the properties that they are able to sell is not so impressive. In fact, because they are working with such a large portion of the available inventory, their sales are consistent with the overall market, which is slow.

There are differences within these numbers that prospective sellers may find useful. Agents 1 and 2 both sold 45 properties, but it’s clear that Agent 2 sold the better percentage of inventory. Likewise, Agents 3, 4, and 5 each had 52 new listings last year, but Agent 3 sold the better percentage of inventory.

Conclusions

Numbers can certainly be manipulated to mean different things. A big lister may hope that you infer his or her ability to sell your property is superior. Not only is that untrue, from my perspective, big listing numbers and top producer status are often besides the point. These people are the top listers and producers, but from the perspective of the actual percentage of their listings that are selling, they are doing a better job for themselves and their brokerages than they are doing for their clients.

If you are going to be swayed by sales pitches of most inventory and top-producer, be sure to ask, compared to what? and, how does that compare to the total number of your listings? And while a high percentage of listings sold is a positive sign, it is only one sign — there is much more to consider.

* Each of these persons came into the year with inventory on hand. And while listings expire or are withdrawn throughout the year, some are renewed and are still being actively marketed. I am excluding all this extra inventory for this exercise.

Real-estate power word “exclusive” ambiguous, often misleading

In real-estate advertising, the word “exclusive” often appears, especially on yard signs but also in print and online advertising. It’s a loaded word in two senses, in my opinion: it may evoke powerful emotions and it may be misleading many consumers to think that only the listing broker may show the property to prospective buyers.

Feel-good advertising

In advertising, the word exclusive seems to carry two important connotations: 1) the quality and/or availability of an offering are such that only a very limited amount is available, or 2) only persons with a certain discriminative edge (money, invitation, first-in-line, etc.) are invited to consider the offering. Either way it’s taken, the consumer gets to feel good about beating or being better than other consumers. There’s nothing wrong about helping people to feel good about themselves or their purchases, prospective buyers just need to remember that the term generally applies more to their feelings than it does to the actual property. Now, a property may well have some exclusive features, in the sense that such features are hard to find in a particular location or price, but, in my opinion, buyers should always regard this term with suspicion.

Misleading advertising

In real-estate law in New York State, the word exclusive has one important application. It applies to the types of listing contract that are permitted between property sellers and listing brokers. This application is carried over in the rules of the Multiple Listing Systems (MLSs) where each listing is posted and the language is included in every listing contract. All listings are either “exclusive right to sell” or “exclusive agency.” Furthermore, all listings in any MLS are available for showing to prospective buyers by any other member broker. For these reasons, “Exclusive” as an advertising term is meaningless for a buyer (because all listings are “exclusive”) and may be misleading (because any broker/agent can show each and every listing).

Legality and ethics

Use of the word “Exclusive” in advertising is legal, but it is an issue among real estate agents and brokers. The following rule of the Mid-Hudson MLS attempts to curb its use: “No Participant shall advertise any listing disseminated through MHMLS using the verbiage “Ours Exclusively” or “Exclusively Ours” in such advertising.”

However, other local MLSs do not have this rule, and some brokers will argue that the public is savvy enough to know that “Exclusive” on a yard sign does not mean that you have to call the listing broker to get inside.