Saturday, October 25, 2008

What if Socrates Sold Real Estate in Ann Arbor?

One of the most common buyer questions I get as a real estate agent, especially from folks moving in from out of the area is: "What is this town, neighborhood, subdivision like?" And: "What is this neighborhoods school like?" Both simple, obvious, and good questions. Now, there are certain real estate laws and rules that preclude an agent from discussing certain aspects of these questions, and we are relegated to directing buyers to such places as the U.S. Census website, school websites, crime statistic websites, etc. So as agents, we are faced with the choice of spitting out a robotic mantra, therefore not being much help, or by tempering comments based on our perceived "read" of our client. But, I digress.

Each time I am asked about what a particular area is "like" I am reminded of the classic story of the Philosopher Socrates. This story is about attitude, but is perfectly applicable to real estate. The bottom line is that the market is what it is. The economy is what it is, but people still need a great place to live their lives and raise their families.

Anyway, the story goes that Socrates was often found just on the outskirts of Athens just greeting total strangers. One day, a stranger came up to him and asked: "I would like to live in your city. What kind of people does it have?"

Socrates replied, "What kind of people are in the city you've come from?"

To which, the man replied, "Oh, they're not very nice. They lie, cheat and steal. That is why I'm moving out."

Socrates, in his wisdom, replied: "It's the same way here. If I were you, I'd keep looking."

A short time later another man came up and asked about the people of Athens. Socrates again asked the man about his own city. The second man replied: "They're wonderful. They always help each other. They're truthful and industrious. I just thought I'd like to see other parts of the world."

Socrates, in his wisdom, replied this time, "It's the same way here. Why don't you go into the city? You'll find it just as you imagine it will be."

When we move to a new place, we bring our attitudes, ideas, and images wherever we go. Your neighborhood, city, job, career, and life will be what you choose to make it to be. Choose to make it all great!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ann Arbor Condo Sales Report - September 2008

Ann Arbor Condominium sales in September 2008 were down by 27% compared to September 2007. Year to date, Condo sales, in units are down by 12.6%, and median sales price, Year to Date, is down by 9.7%, or 1.08% per month.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in September 2007: 168
Condo Listings in September 2008: 137
Decrease: 18.5%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 2,252
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,607
Decrease: 28.7%

Condo Sales Sep. 2007: 52
Condo Sales Sep. 2008: 38
Decrease: 27%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 537
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 475
Decrease: 12.6%

Condo Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2007: 107
Condo Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2008: 89

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 86
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 89

Condo Median Sales Price Sep 2007: $155,000
Condo Median Sales Price Sep 2008: $123,750
Decrease: 20.2%

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $159,400
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $144,000
Decrease: 9.7%

Monday, October 13, 2008

From My Friends at The Red Cross

I’d like to remind everyone that October is “Fire Safety Month”. Home fires often don’t make headlines, but they are truly devastating to those who experience them. Here are a few quick and simple things you can do to make your home and to keep your family safe:

Test your smoke alarms once a month and replace the batteries every six months.

Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years; they become less sensitive over time

Consider having at least one fire extinguisher in your home

Plan at least two escape routes and practice them twice a year.

If a fire does occur, once you’re out, stay out!

If you have to exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke.

If you need to open a door, feel the door first and try a different route out if the door is warm.

If your exits are blocked use a bright colored cloth in the window to signal for help. If there’s a phone in the room, use it to call the fire department and tell them where you are.

Friday, October 10, 2008

You're Invited: Ann Arbor Home Buyer Market Update

Please join us for a fast-paced, fact-filled 45 Minute Seminar on the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County Real Estate Market, updated with new financing options, which have just become available within the past few weeks. We will cover what you need to know to buy a home in today's market. We'll discuss the following topics:

1) What is a Buyers Agent and why you need one.
2) How to assemble your home buying 'team'
3) Current Ann Arbor market conditions
4) Regular sales, Short Sales, and purchasing a Foreclosure
5) Financing programs, options, and Q & A
6) Negotiating Tips
7) What Home Inspectors Look for
8) Much more
Presentation will be made by Brian Bundesen of Real Estate One and Amaechi Udoji of Huron Valley Financial.

Please feel free to invite friends, neighbors, and business associates.

This Seminar is FREE of charge, with no obligation. We know it will be a valuable use of your time, and we hope you can join us.

Where: Ann Arbor District Library - Mallets Creek Branch - Conference Room "A"
3090 E. Eisenhower
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

When: Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 6:30PM - 7:30PM

See the full event details at

Thursday, October 9, 2008

September 2008 Ann Arbor Home Sales Report

Usually, when the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors releases their monthly sales report, it is accompanied by a cover letter which attempts to find some kind of silver lining in what has been some consistently poor news. Well, anyway, today the report was released without a cover letter. I'm not quite sure how to interpret this. Needless to say, the same trend is continuing for September, as it has been for quite some time. Listings are down, sales (in units) are flat, and the average sales price continues to drop at just below 1.5% per month.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in September 2007: 762
SFH Listings in September 2008: 633
Decrease: 17%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 9,298
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 7,021
Decrease: 24.5%

SFH Sales September 2007: 258
SFH Sales September 2008: 244
Decrease: 5.5%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 2,388
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 2,398
Increase: 0.006%

SFH Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2007: 74
SFH Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2008: 80

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 77
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 76

SFH Avg. Sales Price Sep. 2007: $234,233
SFH Avg. Sales Price Sep. 2008: $188,744
Decrease: 19.5%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $252,724
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $220,099
Decrease: 13%

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ann Arbor Real Estate: Here and Now

One of the advantages to working at the most successful office at the largest real estate company in Michigan is the opportunity to get a very real representation of the pulse of the market at our weekly agent office meetings. Frankly, sometimes these meetings can be dull, but more often than not, encouraging indicators and valuable information comes out of these meetings. Yesterday's was one of the latter.

Real estate agents, are, by nature, loners, and often keep their own business and techniques close to the vest. Where our office differs is that most of our offices' top producing agents are willing to share information, strategies, and tactics to help others grow their own businesses in both good times and bad.

The subject of yesterday's meeting was: Ann Arbor Real Estate: Here and Now. It was not a 'woe is us' meeting, but was a factual analysis of the current market in the area, and a call for us to go into the marketplace and do what we do best: Bring buyers and sellers together.

The factual analysis is that the number of residential home sales in Washtenaw County (demand), in units, year over year (Year to date) for the past four years has remained pretty constant:

2008: 2,141 Units
2007: 2,130 Units
2006: 2,396 Units
2005: 2,617 Units

By contrast, over the same four year period, the number of listings on the market has dropped fairly dramatically (supply):

2008: 6,389 Listings
2007: 8,536 Listings
2006: 8,815 Listings
2005: 8,052 Listings

This scenario has played out in my own neighborhood of Briar Hill, in Pittsfield Township, which currently has 5 homes on the market, where last year there were 12 homes on the market at this time.

Long story short, the conclusion is that this narrowing of supply and demand, as indicated in the graph above, is a good market indicator, at least for Washtenaw County.

From a Buyers viewpoint, this indicates a very strong stability of the market in the Ann Arbor area. From a Sellers viewpoint, the lowering of supply means less competition when your home is on the market. From the Realtors viewpoint, while the market is challenging due to the overall economic situation, Washtenaw County has been, is, and will continue to be better than other areas of the state.