real estate


You all know that I’m not exactly a huge football fan, but mix in some real estate and I’m at least intrigued.  Did you know that the Super Bowl winner can be predicted by analyzing the commercial real estate market in the opposing teams’ home towns?

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate, the percentage of vacant commercial real estate in the hometown is a predictor of which team will prevail.  Based on their historical analysis, the city with the higher vacancy rate will win and they’ve been right two-thirds of the time since 2000.

In 2006 office vacancy rates were at 15.95 in Pittsburgh and only 10.5% in Seattle, and the Steelers outscored the Seahawks 21-10.  In 2005 Boston had a vacancy rate of 18.9% and Philadelphia just 16.1%, and New England prevailed.  The theory held true for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 as well.

So who would even think to compare these stats?  It should be no surprise that the executive chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle is two-time Super Bowl champ Roger Staubach.  “As a student of both football and commercial real estate, I can tell you that this vacancy rate hypothesis is absolutely the real deal,” Staubach said. “When it comes to picking a winner, you can throw everything else out the window.”

So what does that mean for this year’s match-up?  As of January 1, Pittsburgh had an office vacancy rate of just 12.2%, one of the lowest in the country.  Green Bay on the other hand, has a vacancy rate of 18.9%.  Clearly, the numbers are pointing to a win by the Packers, their first since 1997.

But I had to check this with my husband who also has a system for predicting the winner of any football game, and he’s right about 80% of the time.  If he watches a game and he has lived in one of the cities, that city’s team where he once lived will lose.  If he watches the game and has lived in both cities, the city’s team where he most recently lived will lose.  Now he’s never lived in either Green Bay or Pittsburgh, but did live in Philly…so based on proximity he is also predicting a Packers win.

If I were a betting kinda gal I think I’d have to agree!  Enjoy the game!

I attended a 90 minute webinar yesterday, designed to get me straightened out about the importance of social media and how to use it effectively in my business.  The presenters are somehow experts (though obviously they’ve only been doing this for a few years).   They spoke about LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogging and how to position yourself on all of this media to gain massive lists of people who will magically consider you the go-to person for your specialty.

My mind is reeling.  First of all, I consider myself very good at what I do, and pride myself on the service I provide to all of my real estate clients.  But I don’t take myself so seriously as to think that there will be 30,000 people just waiting for my next tweet!  And even if I did, do I really want the responsibility of keeping-up this continual stream of content bits and pieces? 

The experts pointed out that the average user spends 55 minutes on Facebook every day, not to mention time spent updating LinkedIn, sending tweets, uploading a new video, or of course, composing a new blog post.  Besides feeling that I am totally failing Social Media 101, I came away from the webinar wondering when I’m supposed to actually do any of the real work I’m trying to promote!   Having thousands of people like me or what I do is useless if I don’t have the time to do it.  So I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but don’t expect a tweet any time soon.

The sarcastic answer in today’s market might be, “Not much.”  My husband thinks that some sort of insanity has a grip on his otherwise logical wife.  He just shakes his head as I watch one more episode of House Hunters or Property Virgins and asks, “Don’t you get sick of looking at houses?”

And I guess for me, that’s where the answer lies:  I love houses!  Big houses, little houses, modern, traditional, tree houses…..I am completely intrigued by the shelters we each call home.  From the time I was a little girl, I enjoyed drawing pictures of different types of houses and designing floor plans.  And today, every time I unlock a door to show a home I’m still excited to see what we’ll find inside.  Okay, sometimes its cockroaches and filthy walls, but looking past the mistreatment, the bones of the home have something to say.

Houses solve the most basic problems of existence.  Our homes provide shelter, protection, and a place to prepare and eat food.  And if that is where their function and purpose ended, being a Realtor would be pretty dull.  But houses speak volumes not only about who we are individually, but who we are as a country and civilization.  Houses reflect how we as people, wherever we live, respond to the challenges of our physical and economic environment.

Since WWII the U.S. has witnessed a huge housing boom where we’ve seen our houses change along with our economy and lifestyle.   The small bedrooms, closets and bathrooms of the 1950s have given way to master suites that often occupy as much as a third of the total square footage.  Kitchens are no longer cloistered behind a swinging door, but are open to the living area. And who would have thought that you’d ever hang a TV above the fireplace?

As we all continue to feel the economic squeeze of recent years, we see new trends developing in our homes as well.  The mega mansions so popular at the early part of this century are just too expensive to maintain, and we see many people downsizing to more manageable homes.  Little used rooms, such as a formal living room are becoming obsolete as the great room becomes the center of the home.  And as interior space shrinks we develop our exterior spaces as outdoor rooms.  Less is the new more, and I predict that the need to reduce our footprint will drive significant changes in our homes over the next twenty years.

So do I love being a Realtor?  Absolutely!  Can’t wait to see what I’ll discover tomorrow behind the next front door.

For the first time since June, pending home sales (number of contracts signed), dropped in September by 1.8% according to the National Association of Realtors. The report was unveiled on Friday as the Association began its annual convention in New Orleans.  This came as a surprise to many as a group of Reuter’s polled economists had recently anticipated an increase of 3%.  So why the drop?

Paul Dales, U.S. economist for Capital Economics surmised that the lower number was a result of the recent foreclosure mess; deals signed in September, might have fallen apart in October as banks pulled some foreclosures from the market and buyers got cold feet.  But that doesn’t really make sense as the September drop occurred before any of the problems with foreclosure affidavits came to light.

I think that one of the most obvious factors is the continued unemployment rate that has now been at 9.5% or higher for the past 15 months.  People who aren’t working, or fear that their employment is tenuous don’t buy houses.  Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist also pointed out that “tight credit and appraisals coming in below the negotiated price continue to constrain the market.”

So as noted in my post on November 3, Capital Economics continues to predict a bit more of a gloomy future for the housing market.  Dales says that “existing sales may well fall back,” and described housing activity as “bouncing along the bottom.”  NAR on the other hand continues to be a bit more optimistic, forecasting an increase in existing home sales in 2011 to 5.1 million, up from 4.8 million this year.  I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have the San Diego numbers for September, but I’m siding with NAR and remain cautiously optimistic about sales in America’s Finest City, especially if lenders loosen their stranglehold on the market by approving more home loans.

If anyone had told me four years ago that today over 90% of my business would be short sales and REOs, I would have said they were crazy.  The reality of course is that the boom of those days is the bust of today, and it doesn’t look much brighter on the immediate horizon.

According to California Association of Realtors Vice President and Chief Economist, Leslie Appleton-Young, “The wild cards for 2011 include federal housing policies, actions of underwater homeowners, and the strength of the economic recovery.  What is certain is that favorable home prices and historically low interest rates will continue to make owning a home in California attractive for those who are in a position to buy.”

 OK.  Sounds like a glimmer of hope….unless you’re one of the homeowners that is underwater with no life boat in sight.  Knowing that you can no longer afford your home is incredibly stressful, and for most home owners, their lenders offer little help, despite federal programs.

This blog is dedicated to every homeowner who can’t sleep at night and is asking themselves, “What do I do now?”  My goal is to provide information that will help homeowners understand their options for buying, keeping, or selling their homes in this troubled market. With the banks and the government changing the rules every day, I’ll help make sense of the news, share my experience and insider perspective,  and have some fun along the way.  Most fear is based on lack of knowledge.  By sharing what I know and being here for your questions, I hope to take the “stress” out of distressed property sales, whether considering a short sale, or an REO purchase. 

So let me know how I can help.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find a reliable source that does.  It’s that simple.  Over the next two weeks I’ll be adding some good resource information about short sales, so check back soon!  Looking forward to sharing and hearing from you!