Monday, March 5, 2018

Be Prepared to Jump

One of the toughest things for us to combat over the past few years has been the sense that buyers have had, that they can take all the time they want to, while making decisions.  It seemed to many that, not only would the same property be available, but that others that might be as good or better would come along all the time.  That made it difficult to put transactions together.

Now we seem to be joining the rest of the country in having low inventory.  In many price ranges, there simply isn't enough available to satisfy the demand.  This is particularly true at the first-time homebuyer price points.  In some places around the country, time on the market is measured in hours, or perhaps in days.  We're not used to that here, to say the least.

Buyers need to get ready to make decisions on homes that they see, before others make offers, or at the same time.  It helps to have a list of things that must be true about a new home you would buy, in order of how important each item is.  It's also really useful to rank each home as you see it, and, while remembering that nothing is perfect, to eliminate any that do not bump off any of your current top three choices.

Sometimes, it can be crucial to have someone on hand to evaluate changes or additions that you would require, and get a price right away.  Arranging inspections quickly can also give you an advantage, as well of course as a prequalification.  The most important factor, however, is your own willingness to pull the trigger.  More people regret not making an offer in time, than they do those that they make.

This is the point at which I come back to one of my favorite pieces of advice:  Bid the amount that you would be unhappy to hear that it sold for, to someone else.  That's your true estimate of the property's value to you.  And be prepared to come to that number in relatively short order.  That's becoming more important every day in our current market.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Should I Wait Until Next Year To Buy? Or Buy Now?



Some Highlights:

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Current Absorption Rates

Explanation of absorption rate: The rate at which available homes are sold in a specific real estate market during a given time period. If you look at the number for North Branford you can say “If market conditions do not change and if no new listings come on the market it will take 6.2 months for the current inventory to sell at the current pace of the market. A balanced market’s absorption rate is typically between 5 - 7 months.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Forget the Calendar

After a bitterly cold and snowy first half to our winter in Greater New Haven, we can look at our sales for the past few months and know one thing for sure:  The old rule that bad weather ruins real estate sales isn't true any longer.  In fact, both December and January were blockbuster months for us at Pearce.

Some of that could relate to tax changes, and some of that should relate to rising interest rates (sadly, we know that no one believes that rates will rise until they start to do so); however, the rest seems to have come from a spike in activity that began in late October.  That's far later than prior "fall markets" started, but is in line with what is closing now.  It seems to be about more than tax and mortgage changes, and has to do with a sense of urgency that didn't exist for a long time.

In almost every part of the country, lack of inventory is driving what is clearly a sellers' market in most places.  That is pushing up prices, lowering days on market, and creating a feeding frenzy.  Connecticut has been very late to this party, but we are finally showing up.  There isn't much to show in many price ranges, millennials are coming to the fore, and market fluctuations are pushing buyers off the fence.  We've seen this in commercial markets as well; in fact,  in our region, it's stronger there, at the moment.

So what do we do with the traditional model, where homes get listed early in May, sold in June, and closed in July and August?  Throw it out?  Probably so.  For at least the foreseeable future, our Greater New Haven academic market heats up early in the year, stops dead around graduation, and picks up again in late fall, when the semester has settled in.  That's great news for sellers who are ready to list now.  Don't let us stop you--it's the time to move!

Monday, February 12, 2018

State grades every school district and three-quarters see a drop

The large majority of public schools and school districts in the state earned worse grades this year than last on the state’s annual assessment of school performance, according to data released Friday by the State Department of Education.
The state’s zero-to-100 grading system takes into account more than a dozen measures, including standardized test scores and how many students are chronically absent, enroll in arts and Advanced Placement courses, graduate from high school and enroll in college within a year of graduation.
Test scores, once the lone measure for grading schools and districts, still account for about 80 percent of the ratings for elementary and middle schools. About half of that measure is based on whether individual student test scores show enough improvement to indicate they will reach grade level within five years. That is designed to help the parents and educators judge whether a school is headed in the right direction.
Far fewer students this year saw their scores improve enough in math and English to put them on track to reach grade level. That decline was the driving force behind the huge increase in schools and districts that saw their grades drop.
“We have a long way to go there,” Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the leader of the State Department of Education’s performance office, told reporters when releasing the results.
He said he hopes the results are a wake-up call that prompts educators to question why so many schools and districts are seeing declines. In English, 8.5 percent fewer students are on-track to reach grade level, and in math, 3.3 percent fewer were on track. Just over half of students are on track to reach grade level.
“Growth is where [the department] is putting a lot of its emphasis… It is about saying, ‘Why are some students growing and others are not?” Gopalakrishnan said.
Looking at the overall zero-to-100 score, 146 school districts of the 201 receiving a grade for both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years saw declines. That’s 73 percent.
Fifty districts – one out of every four – saw their scores drop by more than four points. Fifteen districts saw their scores increase by more than four points.
In the 10 districts that have been among the lowest performing in the state for years – known as Opportunity or Reform districts where the state has increased involvement – seven saw their grades drop. These districts enroll one-quarter of the state’s public school students but 45 percent of students from low-income families and 54 percent of students who understand limited English.
Individual schools didn’t fare any better.
Scores dropped by more than four points at 351 schools, or one in three schools. A total of 131 schools saw their scores increase by more than four points.
The state has not done an analysis of how individual schools in which they intervened in through the so-called Commissioners’ Network program fared.
Other indicators that contribute to a school’s grade – but play a much smaller role – did see some increases. For example, students participating in and passing the exams in high-level courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate increased by about 4 percent. It’s unclear where the increases took place and whether white, black, Hispanic and students from low-income families all saw increases. In its release, the department did not break out high-need groups that have historically struggled in school, as it did the previous two years.
Also seeing improvement were the rate of students with access to arts courses and those on-track to graduate high school.
Gopalakrishnan said the department hopes the results will help schools and districts better understand where to focus their energy and that next year’s results will improve.
“It’s not a gotcha for a gotcha sake,” he said. “It’s about improving… We’ve really move from sanctions to support."

Grading Connecticut schools