Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Oct. 3, 2019

Everything You Need to Know About iBuyers and the “Instant Cash Offer”

Everything You Need to Know About iBuyers
and the “Instant Cash Offer”

 

 

Technology is changing the way we do almost everything, and real estate transactions are no exception. In fact, a new crop of tech companies wants to revolutionize the way we buy and sell homes.

 

iBuyer startups like Opendoor, Offerpad, and Properly are rapidly expanding into new territories, and now established players, like Zillow, are starting to get in on the action. Also known as Direct Buyers, these companies use computer algorithms to provide sellers with a quick cash offer to buy their home.

 

While the actual market share of iBuyers remains small, their big advertising budgets have helped create a noticeable buzz in the industry. This has left many of our clients curious about them and how they work.

 

In this article, we explain their business model, weigh the pros and cons of working with an iBuyer, and share strategies you can use to protect yourself if you choose to explore this new option to buy or sell your home.

 

 

FIRST, HOW DOES THE iBUYER PROCESS WORK?

 

While each company operates a little differently, the basic premise is the same. A seller (or seller’s agent) completes a brief online form that asks questions about the size, features, and condition of the property. Some also request digital photos of the home.

 

The iBuyer will use this information to determine whether or not the home fits within their “buy box,” or set of criteria that matches their investment model. They are generally looking for houses they can easily value and “flip.” In most cases, their ideal property is a moderately priced, single-family home located in a neighborhood with many similar houses. The property shouldn’t require any major renovations before listing.1 These qualities make it easier to assess value (lots of comparable sales data) and help to reduce risk and minimize carrying costs.

 

Once the iBuyer has used their algorithm to determine the amount they are willing to pay, they will email an offer to the seller, usually within a few days. The offer should also disclose the company’s service fee, which is typically between 7% and 12% of the purchase price.2

 

If the seller accepts, an in-person visit and inspection are scheduled. The iBuyer will ask for a reduction in price to cover any defects they find during the process. Once the sale closes, they will make the necessary updates and repairs and then resell the home on the open market.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF SELLING TO AN iBUYER?

 

Of course, the biggest benefit of selling your home to an iBuyer is convenience. For some homeowners, the stress and disruption of preparing and listing their home can feel overwhelming. And what busy family with kids and pets wouldn’t want to skip the hassle of keeping their house “show ready” for potential buyers? Additionally, many sellers like the predictability of a cash buyer and the flexibility to choose their closing date.

 

However, this added convenience does come at a cost. An iBuyer is an investor looking to make a profit. So their purchase offer is usually below true market value. When you tack on service fees of up to 12% and deductions for updates and repairs, studies show that sellers who work with iBuyers net a lower amount than those that list the traditional way.3

 

In fact, a MarketWatch investigation found that transactions involving iBuyers net the seller 11% less than if they would have sold their home with an agent on the open market.2

 

 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF BUYING FROM AN iBUYER?

 

Buying a home from an iBuyer is a lot like buying a home from any investor. The pros are that it’s usually clean, neutral, and moderately updated. You’ll often find fresh paint and modern finishes. And because it’s uninhabited (no one is living there), you don’t have to work around a seller’s schedule to see the home.

 

However, there are some pitfalls to avoid when working with iBuyers. Speed is of the essence, so sometimes the renovations are rushed and the quality can suffer. Also, their investment margins don’t leave much room for negotiating a price reduction or additional repairs. That leaves buyers —who have already invested hundreds of dollars in an inspection—little recourse if any issues are uncovered.4

 

That’s one of the reasons we always recommend viewing properties with an agent. During your visit, a real estate professional can point out any “red flags” at the home, provide background information about the neighborhood, and help you assess its true market value. That way, you don’t invest time and money in a high-risk or overpriced property. Safety is also a concern. Some companies allow buyers to access their homes via a smartphone app. While it may seem convenient, it provides an easy way for squatters and others to enter the home illegally.5

 

Luckily, since most iBuyers (and traditional sellers) pay a buyer agent’s commission, you can benefit from the guidance and expertise of a real estate professional … at no cost to you!

 

 

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF IF I CHOOSE TO WORK WITH AN iBUYER?

 

While it may seem like the “quick and easy” way to go, working with an iBuyer can present some unique challenges. For example, they are notorious for presenting a strong initial purchase offer and then whittling it down with a long list of costly updates and repairs once they complete their inspection.2 And unlike a traditional buyer who is incentivized to make a deal work, iBuyers can easily walk away if you don’t meet their demands.

 

Just like you wouldn’t go to court without a lawyer, you shouldn’t enter into a real estate transaction without an advocate to represent you. Having a professional agent on your side can be especially important when negotiating with an iBuyer. Remember, they employ sophisticated representatives and a team of lawyers who are focused on maximizing their profits, not yours. You need someone in your corner who has the skills and knowledge to ensure you get a fair deal and who understands the terms of their contracts, so you don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises along the way.

 

Overall, we think the emergence of new technology that helps to streamline the real estate process is exciting. And if we believe a client can benefit from working with an iBuyer, we present it as an option. But there is—inevitably—a cost to the convenience. After all, most iBuyers eventually list the properties they acquire on the open market, which is still the best place to find a buyer if you want to maximize the sales price of your home.

 

EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS

 

Do you want to learn more about iBuyers and other options currently available in our area to buy or sell your home? We can help you determine the best path, given your unique circumstances. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation! 

 

 

Sources:

1.      The Dallas Morning News -
https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2019/07/11/so-called-ibuyer-real-estate-firms-pitch-programs-to-buy-your-house-help-you-hunt-for-another/

2.      MarketWatch -
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11

3.      Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/08/16/study-shows-ibuyers-cost-home-sellers-thousands-is-convenience-worth-the-price/#697ac0c42269

4.      US News & World Report -
https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/what-to-expect-when-buying-a-home-from-an-ibuyer

Inman -
https://www.inman.com/2019/09/11/police-arrest-couple-found-squatting-in-opendoor-home-with-their-kids/

 

Sept. 25, 2019

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | MyKCM

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.comthe week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year...nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall. We can set up a custom search as well as provide you with custom market research for the communities and neighborhoods you are interested in. Not sure of the value of your current home or how quickly you will be able to sell? We can provide you with a CMA, marketing plan and a path to have you in a new home for the holidays!

Sept. 18, 2019

What Buyers Need To Know About HOAs

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs | MyKCM

When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you'll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”

It's important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.

The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.

The same article continues to say,

“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community's CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can't live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”

Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.

There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, let’s get together so you have a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home.

Happy House Hunting!

 

Aug. 13, 2019

55 Honeyman Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ

55 honeyman front

GREAT OPPORTUNITY IN BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ!!!

Spacious 4 bedroom 3 bath Bi-Level home in Berkeley Heights. Hardwood floors upstairs (even under carpets in living room) and tiled floors downstairs. Master bedroom has a bathroom with shower. Main hall has a full bath and a half bath is downstairs. Large eat-in country kitchen with slider to screened in deck. Family Room with built in bar perfect for entertaining. Two car garage as well as laundry/mudroom. This home has plenty of closets and storage space. Set back off the street on and over-sized level wooded lot approximately .8 acres!

Just waiting for you to come in and update!

Call or text Jim Kennedy at 732-620-0940 for you private showing.

 

July 9, 2019

40 Arbor Drive Howell, NJ

 

Looking for a 4 bedroom home to entertain in with a peaceful yard and close to NJ Transit? Then this Banyon Model in desirable Point O Woods on a private premium lot is for you!

 

Listing Info

 

Many extras and upgrades! This open concept split level with cathedral ceilings has been updated with new HVAC, new roof, new windows, new bathrooms. You will enjoy the covered front porch and walking into the living room with a cathedral ceiling which is open to the dining room and kitchen. The kitchen opens to dining room and second story back deck. Upstairs master suite has cathedral ceiling with en suite plus walk in closet and second closet. There is an additional downstairs bedroom suite. The downstairs family room has a fireplace and sliding glass doors to the backyard and covered patio. Over sized driveway extends to side of home. The private backyard has a shed, underground sprinklers, patio area and a sitting porch in front. A true must see!

 

Local amenities include option to join (for an additional fee) the Point O Woods Pool. It is operated by the Point O Woods Condo Homeowners Association. Howell Township has many recreation and event opportunities. Check https://www.twp.howell.nj.us/114/Recreational-Activities for current info. Local Parks include Manasquan Reservoir, Allaire State ParkTurkey Swamp Park, and Michael J. Tighe Park. Not to mention the close proximity to the Jersey Shore!

 

This home is also located close to many stores and restaurants. Local grocery stores include Acme, ShopRite, Stop N Shop, Walmart and Sam’s Club. Great restaurants like Woolley’s, Chapter House, and The Cabin are just a few to name.

 

Don’t wait to book your private showing with James Kennedy, Shore To Sea Properties Group from RE/MAX Integrity Advantage. You can call or text him at 732-620-0940. This home is not going to last!

 

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

 

Posted in Market Updates