Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yeah! My house is sold! (Not so fast...)

happy dance kid

It's one of the best phone calls I get to make as a REALTOR: the call that we've got a deal. It's especially nice to give that news to Sellers, since they're getting beat up just a bit in the current market.  Be it a full price offer (yeah, they're still around) or a negotiation marathon, it's a huge relief to get that baby under contract.  We all do a happy dance, the Sellers disconnect emotionally from the house, and we all look to move forward.


That's the sound of your home sale careening out of control and crashing.  Home sales do crash, and it's heartbreaking for all involved when they do. I wrote a post back in January on how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Prudential Fox & Roach did a study of the fall-throughs (home sales that never made it to the settlement table) in their Bucks County offices.  I expected inspection issues to dominate the results, and they did account for nearly 40% of the fall-throughs.  What were some of the other reasons home sales fell through?

7.5% Were Short Sales that never got bank approval.

8.7% were Home Sale Contingencies where the Buyers' home never sold.

12.5% were Mortgages that never came through for one reason or another. (Incidentally, none were from our in-house mortgage broker)

16.2% were Buyers or Sellers who simply changed their mind and backed out of the deal.

15% were "Other."  Nebulous reasons lingering out there that can compromise your home sale.

So, what can you do to avoid the frustration and heartbreak of a angry kidbecoming a fall through statistic?

Honestly, some of these things you can't control. 

Can you control a Buyer losing their job, and subsequently their mortgage?  No.

How about them getting cold feet?  No.

How about them losing a spouse, child, mother or father and deciding they just can't deal with buying a home?  Nope.

What you need to do is control the things you can.  Get your U&O early.  Jump on any title issues that crop up.  Make sure you want to move before you list your house. Be emotionally ready to let your home go. Make sure you take care of your own side of the deal, and reduce your chances of a failed settlement by 50%.

Have your Realtor touch base with everyone involved in the transaction...frequently.  A little email nagging never hurt anyone, and often will catch little problems before they careen out of control.  Get involved in solutions.  There is no "not my job" in getting a deal to the settlement table.  The Buyer needs some documentation for their mortgage company?  I'm getting it, if their agent isn't.  I'm making sure it gets done so that it doesn't impact MY Seller's chances of closing the deal.

Sometimes, through sheer force of will (and creative team playing) you can get control of the car and get it back on the road to settlement. 


Friday, July 18, 2008

"It's Tricky, Tricky, Tricky, Tricky" ~ Beastie Boys

clip_image002My dear Sellers in Bucks County, while educating yourself on how to get a quick sale, you're going to find a lot of articles that tout "creative" ideas for getting your home sold. 

Offer the Buyers a Car!  A boat!  A vacation!

Getting tricky isn't the answer.  There are only three things a Buyerclip_image002[6] really cares about:  price, location, and condition.  That's it.  Every other scenario is encompassed by those three concerns.  A car isn't going to address any of those concerns, is it?  So it's not going to impact your home sale. 

Now, there are several things that you can offer that do address some of those concerns (namely price, since money is always going to be the primary concern for a Buyer).  I wrote of some strategies back in February entitled "7 Creative Ways to Appeal to Buyers." Check out the first word in each sentence - it's PAY. The way to a Buyer's heart is through their pocketbook and their emotions. 

Getting tricky with Buyers is inviting a big, fat, tricky mess.  Let's take the vacation example.  The Buyers decide that they don't want the vacation - they want the money deducted from the home sale.  Their opinion of what the trip costs doesn't match your own.  Now what?  Or, they want the trip, but they want you to upgrade their airfare and rooms.  Now what?  You're not only negotiating your home sale, you're negotiating hotel rooms and airfare.  Seriously, who wants to do that? 

I believe in keeping it simple.  Price your home right, do the right marketing, make it clean and easy to show, keep a level head and the end result in sight.

The process is complicated and emotional enough without adding trips and cars into the equation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Free Summer Fun - Kid's Castle in Doylestown


For another of the "Gotta Get Out of the House" days that seem to proliferate my writing, take a trip to Kid's Castle in Doylestown. Located in Central Park on Wells Road, this wonderful park offers all sort of activities: tennis, soccer, picnic pavilions, and walking trails.

The crown jewel of this park, however, is the 8 story wooden castle located in the biggest, baddest, most age-range-pleasing playground I've ever been to. My 7 and 5 year old scrambled through the castle, went down the enormous twirly slide, and completed the scavenger hunt, while my one year old ran around the farm themed toddler playground. There is also a HUGE toddler playground, but,'s got sand as the base and it didn't feel like dealing with sand that day, so we stuck to the farmyard.P1010089

There's also a cute little stream, with big fat toads, where the children can wade and splash. Boys....can't resist....dirt and mud...

Honestly, though, a hot day with sweaty kids, and this looks like nirvana - toads and all. We packed a lunch and there were plenty of picnic tables available (even with two school groups).

Bring the kids' bikes because they have 1.5 miles of walking and bike trails. The one walking trail is a real challenge - it's a huge hill and would make a great once a week "tough test" for someone looking to kick up their walking or running.

Take a look at this gorgeous trail that loops around a pond. There are various stations that tell you about plant species, native birds, invasive plants, etc. You can see in the background that there are townhomes (Doylestown Station - Cornerstone Court)that back to the park. Now, I like my privacy, but how wonderful would it be to have this park, with all these amenities, right out your door? There are a few on the market right now, priced below $400,000. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions or want more information on them.


Totally free, and impressive to even the most hardened playground connoisseur, keep this in your arsenal for a way to burn off all that extra energy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hermit Crabs, Houses, and Happiness - A Parable

Once upon a time, there were two relentless children who nagged their mother and father for a pet. They wanted a dog, but since the mother and father had cleaned up as much poop as they intended to clean up in their lifetime, Mother and Father said "No." During a camping trip, the children, desperate for any pet, convinced their Mother and Father to let them buy hermit crabs, "With our own money." Sure, the children didn't really like the hermit crabs, in fact were a actually a little afraid of them, but a pet's a pet, right? So they settled. But the children weren't really happy.

When they got home from their trip, Mother had the bright idea to read about hermit crabs. Mother quickly realized the folly of an over-educated child. The list of necessary hermit crab paraphernalia was overwhelming, and hermit crabs lived in groups, so more hermit crabs were necessary. A $60 trip to PetSmart ensued. At PetSmart, the children saw some cats for adoption, and quickly started a new campaign for a cat, before the "crabitat" had even been set up. Sure, it was fun setting up the "crabitat," but the children really weren't happy.

So, here they sit, with animals that, while growing on the children, really aren't what they wanted. They're certainly not what Mother wanted - the things are pretty gross. Everyone should have waited until they were old enough to get a dog or cat. Everyone likes dogs and cats. But, no. Here they sit with hermit crabs, and nobody is happy.

Get what you really want. Don't get something sorta/kinda/almost what you want, invest a bunch of time and money into it, only to end up with something that still doesn't really make you happy.

If you've read my blog before, you know I love me a junker house, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about getting frustrated, getting impulsive, getting rushed. Really think about what you want and wait for it. Don't buy something that's almost what you want. Short of cosmetic fixes, the yard/location/size/function of the house isn't going to change. If you buy a house that backs to a busy road, you can invest $35,000 on landscaping, but you'll stick be backing up to a busy road.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Average Days on Market for Bucks County from Jan. through June 2008

"How long will it take my house to sell?"

This is probably the most difficult question for a REALTOR to answer. So many factors play into days on market: pricing, how much competing inventory you have on the market, even seasonal buying trends. However, I've compiled the following data from our MLS system to show you the AVERAGE days on market by township in Bucks County through the first half of the year.

Here were my parameters:

  • Residential listings
  • Priced $1,000 through $9,999,000
  • Sold January through June 2008

We're not looking too bad, Bucks County.

The average for Bucks County is 74 Days on Market.

TownshipAverage Days on Market
Bristol Borough93
Bristol Township67
Chalfont Borough55
Doylestown Borough65
Doylestown Township88
Dublin Borough72
Durham Township132
East Rockhill Township74
Falls Township58
Haycock Township89
Hilltown Township98
Hulmeville Borough60
Ivyland Borough92
Langhorne Borough72
Langhorne Manor Borough111
Lower Makefield Township78
Lower Southampton Township60
Middletown Township67
Milford Township81
Morrisville Borough69
New Britain Borough87
New Britain Township75
New Hope Borough116
Newtown Borough144
Newtown Township53
Nockamixon Township74
Northampton Township60
Penndel Borough32
Perkasie Borough65
Plumstead Township75
Quakertown Borough78
Richland Township93
Richlandtown Borough53

Riegelsville Borough

Sellersville Borough69
Silverdale Borough60
Solebury Township108
Springfield Township110
Telford Borough100

Tinicum Township

Trumbauersville Borough95

Tullytown Borough

Upper Makefield Township111

Upper Southampton Township

Warminster Township63
Warrington Township78
Warwick Township85
West Rockhill Township113
Wrightstown Township124
Yardley Borough69

**Information from TrEND MLS and is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

One caveat, there is a way to "reset" days on market, so if a home has been relisted, the days on market start over. We are working on a way to calculate the total marketing days on our reporting for the MLS.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Free (or Nearly Free) Summer Family Movies

I have the best save for all the Moms out there who need a little break this summer. Many area movie theaters are running free or $1.00 movies, which will come in really handy during those "Gotta get out of the house" days where the neverending pleas for "something to do" turn into neverending bickering to pass the time. Enjoy a cheap two hours of peace and quiet at the following...

AMC Theaters are running $1.00 movies. Go to AMC Summer Movie Camp to find the theater nearest you...

Families, schools and organizations alike are invited to see great kids' movies during AMC Summer MovieCamp. Available at select AMC theatres, this fun-filled program brings you:
  • $1 movies from June 25 - August 6
  • Shows starting at 10:00 a.m. every Wednesday
  • Great field trip opportunities - groups can purchase tickets one week in advance starting June 18 at the box office or online at participating theatres

Regal Entertainment Group is running a FREE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL. There is a G and PG rated movies showing every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m, and admission is free on a first come, first serve basis.

For another "The kids are driving me nuts and I gotta get out of here" idea, the Wrightstown Village Library is running Movies by Moonlight. Held on Fridays at 8:30 p.m., bring your own blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the following movies under the stars:

July 3rd (THURSDAY) Spiderwick Chronicles

August 8th Nim's Island

September 5th Speed Racer

October 3rd Iron Man

These are a great way to break up the boredom, get everyone out of the house, and can come in especially handy on a rainy morning.