A Real Estate User’s Guide To the Government Shutdown

As Democrats and Republicans fall all over each other trying to blame the other side of the aisle for the government shutdown, should you be concerned if you’re involved with a real estate transaction right now or in the near future?  Umm – it depends.

Since the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a government agency, any borrower who applies for or, has applied to get an FHA or VA mortgage will be impacted.  Those temporary electronic highway signs on the side of the road that read, ‘Incident Ahead – Expect Major Delays’ applies here.

Since the vast majority of HUD workers were sent home early Saturday morning and they’re operating on skeleton crews, virtually no one is there to answer calls/emails, process paperwork or grant loan approvals.  UGH!!! Continue reading

Lancaster County’s December 2017 Real Estate Market – By the Numbers

Ahh – –  December!  As the year wound down, the cold, frigid winds of winter blew through Lancaster County.  This is the best time of year to reflect back on the year that was and to think and plan for the new one.  Now grab a pen and paper and sit down by the warm fireplace and get busy.

(Click each infographic for a larger version)

2017 12 December Market Stats - Average Sales Price

Not much change from last December’s average sales price.  As we will see at the end of this blog post, the final numbers for the year were solid and steady which indicates the real estate market was healthy. Continue reading

A REALTORS® Guide To Engagement on Social Media

Since social media websites began, the conversation among REALTORS® has raged on as to its importance in the business of real estate.  Five years ago, engaging on social media was considered by many in our industry to be a colossal waste of time and resources.

The detractors claimed that viewing pictures of what someone had for dinner last night or playing Candy Crush was never going to help an agent grow their business.  Well, I think we can all agree that if an agent uses social media for those purposes, the naysayers are absolutely right.

However, research groups are now using metrics to assess the importance of social media because we now have a history of how its significance has evolved over time – and the data supporting its impact is indisputable.

In its latest survey of home buyers and sellers¹, the National Association of REALTORS® asked the question of thousands of consumers who recently bought and sold real estate, “How important is agent communications?”  Here is the chart outlining the findings:

Social Media Importance
(Click image for larger view)

Thirteen percent of consumers now say it is important for their agent to be active on social media.  This may not seem like a big number but consider that when the same question was asked of consumers four years ago, the number was 3%.  For those that don’t want to crunch the numbers that’s a 433% jump in a relatively short period of time.

So now that we’ve determined that there might be something to this social media ‘stuff’, how does an agent use it to their advantage? Continue reading

Impact of the New Tax Bill on Homeowners – Does It Make Cents?

If you’re like most people, you’ve been hearing a lot about the new tax bill from both sides of the aisle.  Predictions are all over the board as far as what it means to the average American.  Viewpoints range from an Armageddon-like implosion of the entire financial system to the invention of the wheel which will transform society.  As with most predictions, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Here’s my take on what the new tax bill means to homeowners and the real estate they own.  It’s important to understand that this bill doesn’t affect your 2017 tax return.  It will go into effect starting next year and expire on December 31, 2025.

Tax Rates

Here are the new tax tables to compare what is in place now versus what we will be coming up next year:

(Click charts for larger view)

Single Taxpayer Comparison

Married Taxpayer Comparison

The new law provides generally lower tax rates for all individual tax filers.  While this does not mean that every American will pay lower taxes, under these changes, many will.

My take:

Virtually all homeowners will benefit by having lower tax rates contrary to what many political pundits would have you believe.  All you have to do is look at the charts.  Continue reading

Lancaster County’s November 2017 Real Estate Market – By the Numbers

The familiar sight of the sun rising over the horizon on a frigid morning and its beams reflecting off of the frosty blades of grass tells us that winter is just around the corner, and with it, another year will be in the books for Lancaster County real estate.  As we start preparing for the holidays, let’s take a look at the numbers.

(Click on each Infographic for larger size)

2017 11 November Market Stats - Average Sales Price

The average sales price shot up over ten percent from last year’s number.  This is a function of supply and demand as inventory levels are at some of the lowest levels in a long time which is causing the price of homes to increase.  Homeowners’ equity, which plummeted during the Great Recession, has risen and surpassed the 2006 peak which is a welcome development.  Continue reading

Lancaster County’s September Real Estate Market – By the Numbers

As we wave goodbye to the 3/4 mark in 2017, the beautiful fall foliage is rapidly appearing all around us.  There have been lots of interesting developments on the real estate front this past year.  The market that has shown a steady recovery from the Great Recession which has been good for Central Pennsylvania.  Let’s take a look at the numbers to see what they reveal.

(Click on any of the images for a larger view or to download)

2017 09 September Market Stats - Avg Sales Price

The average sales price year over year shows prices are up 4% to just over $206K.  This relatively modest appreciation rate is good news for sellers who are slowly recovering the lost equity from the economic downturn.  This number should also send a message to potential buyers who are on the fence about purchasing.  Waiting to buy equals higher prices and interest rates that are potentially on the rise (more on this later). Continue reading