Real Estate Buyers: Protect Us From Ourselves, by Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Inman.com


Over the last seven weeks we’ve taken a tour through the psyche of real estate consumers — a group that includes each of us, really, who pays for a place to live.

We have explored how the various investor desires, motivations and values illuminated in Meir Statman’s new business classic-to-be, “What Investors Really Want: Discover What Drives Investor Behavior and Make Smarter Financial Decisions,” play out in our real-life real estate decisions.

We’ve seen that just as stock market investors want to win and not lose, want status, and exercise the highly fallible — though sometimes useful — form of psychological bookkeeping known as mental accounting, so do buyers, sellers, homeowners and sometimes even renters.

For the most part, we’ve explored the substance of what we want, rather than the process of how we want it. But there are real desires we, the human race, have when it comes to the “how” around our financial decisions, real estate and otherwise; Statman calls some of them out when he declares that investors really “want education, advice and protection.”

Statman compiles meaty evidentiary proof of this declaration from facts like:

  • the massive investor interest in culling investment information from the Internet;
  • the fact that financial literacy is a prerequisite for achieving the prosperity most of us crave;
  • the cyclical ebb and flow of cravings for the government’s protection of us — largely from ourselves — via regulation of how deeply we can leverage our own interests and how much advantage can be taken by financial predators; and
  • the vast desire investors have for financial advice, including the paid advice of professional advisers, but especially the free sort they trade with each other on personal finance blogs and Internet forums.

The world of real estate has not only gone through these same trends, but I submit that the pudding in which lives the proof that consumers want information and education, advice and protection is thicker when it comes to real estate than in virtually any other sector.

To wit: the evolution of real estate on the Web. Once upon a time, homebuyers had to consult an agent, who had to consult a paper book that was delivered only to agents, just to find out which homes were for sale, their prices and other details.

In response to an ever-escalating consumer clamor for this information, multiple sites now make every detail about a home — from whether or not it’s for sale; to its price; to its number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square feet; to when it was last sold and for how much; to what it’s supposedly worth — available to anyone, anytime, anywhere, all in a couple of clicks.

Anyone can see a ground-level street view of the vast majority of homes in America, what people think of the neighborhood, even whether a home’s owners are behind on their mortgage or have received a foreclosure notice: click, click, click.

Wanna see pics of Nicolas Cage‘s house? Click here. Heard a “Real Housewife” was in foreclosure and just need to know? Click. Their gilt Rococoed, leopard-printed, McMansioned domestic world is your virtual, visual oyster (for better or for worse).

And virtually all the same sites that have made this information available in response to popular demand also feed consumer cravings for education and advice.

Most offer basic briefings on various real estate issues; virtually all of them offer education/advice hybrids by offering connections to real estate brokers and agents and discussion communities in which anyone can ask a question and get a first, second and 44th opinion from local agents not-so-covertly vying for (a) the asker’s business, and/or (b) the opportunity to exhibit local knowledge and professional expertise — not just to the asker, but to prospective clients searching for them or the subject matter on the Web in perpetuity.

(And, lest I forget, those who ask their urgent real estate questions on these communities will frequently get an answer or so from another consumer — usually a cranky, anonymous one whose advice generally runs along one of three veins: (a) agents and mortgage brokers suck, (b) homeownership sucks, and/or (c) the government sucks. Not so nuanced, and not so helpful, but a clear case in point that some consumers not only want advice — they also want to give it.)

Even offline, it’s not at all bizarre for today’s home sellers to interview three or four prospective listing agents to gather advice and opinions, and every buyer’s broker has heard a client recount the real estate advice they have been given by their hairdresser, veterinarian, barista or ob-gyn.

Education, information, advice — consumer cravings for these are clear — but protection is a little more complicated. In “What Investors Really Want,” Statman writes: “Our desire for paternalistic protection from ourselves and others increases when we experience the sad consequences of our own behavior or the behavior of others.”

It is on this topic that Statman makes one of only a handful of “What Investors Really Want” references to real estate, making the hindsight observation that regulation limiting homeowners’ ability to leverage their own homes might have made sense, given the woeful consequences of overleveraging (i.e., the foreclosure crisis which is currently at four years and running).

Translation: We don’t want the government to limit our ability to mortgage our homes when values are skyrocketing, because we want to be able to max out the house we can buy for the money.

But when those adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) start adjusting, our maxed-out neighbors start walking away and the resulting foreclosures cause property values to plummet, while our craving for government protection from predatory lenders, liar’s loans and confusing boilerplate loan docs takes a steep uptick.

Do real estate consumers crave information, education and advice just as much — maybe even more — than traded-asset investors? Absolutely. And just like stock investors, housing consumers also want government protection from lenders, mortgage brokers, agents and themselves, after their own decisions have spanked them with the consequences of a largely unregulated mortgage market. What remains to be seen is how long the desire for protection will last.

I suspect it will last as long as home values are low and rates of foreclosure and negative equity are high. But I hope that the lessons from this national tragedy — massive losses in wealth, jobs and families’ homes and health — including the need for more intense mortgage market regulation, do not disappear when property values start to make a comeback.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of “The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook” and “Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions.” Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

Oregon economy climbs higher, by Suzanne Stevens, Portland Business Journal


Oregon‘s economy showed continued growth in February, led by employment services payrolls, strong U.S. consumer sentiment and an increase in the interest rate spread.

The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators rose 0.7 percent to 91.3 in February from January. The index has a benchmark of 100 set in 1997.

While unemployment claims edged up, they remain well below 2010 levels and overall labor market trends are strong. Employment services payrolls, largely temporary employment, were up 3.2 percent and non-farm payrolls were also up, adding about 9,800 new jobs last month. Since October, the Oregon economy has added about 5,900 jobs each month.

Other Oregon data reflected in the UO Index include:

Initial unemployment claims rose slightly to 8,551 in February, up from 8,487 in January.
Residential permits inched up to 629 from 627.
U.S. consumer confidence rose to 73.1 from 71.2.
New manufacturing orders for non-defense, non-aircraft capital goods dipped to 39,402 from 39,728.
The interest rate spread between for 10-year treasury bonds and the federal funds rate widened to 3.42 from 3.22, a signal of investor confidence in the U.S. economy.
The index has continued to climb since October 2010, when it was 88.9.

Read more: Oregon economy climbs higher | Portland Business Journal

OregonRealEstateWanted.com A Sucess Story for Buyers, by Fred Stewart, Stewart Group Realty Inc.


I think the success of the OregonRealEstateWanted.com site is due to the massive amount people that are involved in the Oregon Real Estate market right now. The difference between their involvement today compared to 5 years ago is there are more people looking to sell real estate than there are looking to buy. Buyers have so many opportunities to consider that it is sometimes difficult for them to settle on exactly the right property to fit within their dreams and goals. Sellers have a problem making sure their property is exposed to buyers that could be a good fit for their opportunity. There is just so much to look at that often times their buyer has chosen something else before they even had a chance to consider their property.

The issue might be how opportunities are presented to buyers and where they come from. In some cases the best way for an opportunity to be identified is after the seller has had a chance to learn what the buyer is looking for and if they see a fit with the real estate they are selling. Only then does the seller reach out to the buyer to explore any advantage in developing a deal. In this context the buyer is looking at properties from a wide range of areas with in the market. As real estate brokers and private property owners alike may present opportunities. In some cases deals have been developed on properties that were not formally on the market.
The next steps for OregonRealEstateWanted.com are to list people looking to lease or rent commercial and residential real estate. The plan is to start listing people that are looking for lease hold or month to month rental relationships on the site by June 1st., 2011..

If you are looking to buy real estate fin the Oregon market to live in or as an investment. Contact Fred Stewart of Stewart Group Realty for a private one on one consultation and possible listing on the site. All information shared with Mr. Stewart is confidential and there is no charge unless the real estate you are looking for is found.

Oregon Real Estate Wanted.com
http://oregonrealestatewanted.com

Fred Stewart
Stewart Group Realty Inc.
info@sgrealty.us
503-289-4970

OregonRealEstateWanted.com: New Buyer Posting


New buyer (SG14) has been posted on the OregonRealEstateWanted.com web site. This buyer is an investor and they are looking for residential multifamily opprotunities under $200,000 in the Portland Metro area. Buyer is looking for seller financing opportunities only. To learn more about this buyer and others that may be looking for real estate you have for sale. Please visit OregonRealEstateWanted.com

Oregon Real Estate Wanted
http://oregonrealestatewanted.com

Fred Stewart
Stewart Group Realty Inc.
http://www.sgrealty.us

OregonLandSalesContract.com: New Real Estate and Home Buyer Listings


New Listings on OregonLandSalesContract in both the Real Estate listings and buyer listings sections. OregonLandSalesContract is a web site dedicated to marketing real estate in which the seller is offering terms and buyers that are looking for seller financing opportunities.

OregonLandSalesContract.com
http://oregonlandsalescontract.com

Five Questions to Ask a Home Inspector, by V.C. Higuera


Before finalizing a real estate deal and moving into a new home, some mortgage lenders suggest home buyers have the property inspected. Home inspection prices vary. Therefore, many  buyers skip the inspection and move into the property with “blind faith.”  buyers skip the inspection and move into the property with “blind faith.”

However, a home inspection is extremely valuable. Simply looking at a home from outside does not reveal its deepest and darkest secrets such as mold, termites, or rotten wood. Home maintenance is expensive. If a home needs several thousands of dollars in repairs, wouldn’t you want to know? In many cases, you can negotiate that the seller pay for repairs, or reduce the sale price.

Here are five important questions to ask a home inspector.

1. How Long Have You Been an Inspector?

Since home buyers are able to choose their own home inspector, it helps to find a qualified inspector. A good inspector knows where to look, and how to identify potential problems. Some inspectors do not provide a thorough analysis of the property, or sugar coat problems.

2. Do You Offer Repairs?

Some home inspection companies can complete the home repairs. Once the inspection concludes, ask the inspector for a rough estimate. Next, your real estate agent will show the estimate to the seller’s agent. Since many home contracts are contingent on a satisfactory home inspection, sellers are usually willing to pay for all repairs, especially if they need to move quickly. If the seller cannot or refuses to pay the repair costs, don’t feel obligated to purchase the home.

3. How Long is the Home Inspection?

The home inspection time varies depending on the size of the property. An average sized single family home may take two or three hours. A townhouse or condominium might take 1 ½ hours, whereas a large home could take up to five hours.

4. How Much Does an Inspection Costs?

Before making an offer on a property, buyers should take into account the cost of a home inspection. Factors that affect home inspection price include property size, location, depth of inspection, etc. The average home inspection cost between $300 and $500.

5. Can I Be Present at the Home Inspection?

Actually, the home inspector and real estate agent prefer that home buyers are present at the inspection. This way, you can ask questions. If you like, follow the home   inspector throughout the property. Some inspectors are extremely personable and eagerly explain every aspect of the inspection.

MIT Economist Sees Housing Market Roaring Back, by Dakota, curbed.com


Picking up on the news that housing starts–ie, the start of construction of new buildings and homes–picked up in August, rising to the biggest levels seen November, Fortune says the housing market “is still far from recovery” but also points out its on “bullish take on the housing market,” a piece centered largely around a 2009 paper by economist Bill Wheaton at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s Center for Real Estate. Yes, stop all those stories about how the days of seeing our homes as money-generating nest eggs are over. In short, Wheaton thinks the market will come roaring back, partly because so little construction is going on. Via Fortune: “The crux of Wheaton’s argument lies in the rate of residential construction today. It’s been historically low – so low that he believes demand is actually exceeding the level of building going on. This helps set the grooves for a relatively large comeback in residential investment. Here’s how Wheaton backs the imbalance of demand for housing units and residential construction. He estimates that housing demand in 2009 was at about 1.1 million units – more than twice construction at the time. At this rate, the excess inventory will eventually be absorbed. “It’s going to be a long time before construction picks up with demand,” Wheaton says, adding that this should help housing prices.”
· Housing market shows glimmer of hope [Fortune]
· A housing rebound? Yes, it’s possible [Fortune]

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2010/09/mit_economist_sees_housing_market.php