Housing Numbers Galore! But What Do They Mean?

Guest post from Dianne Falaguerra with our partner agency CooperKatz

Monthly housing reports always trigger headlines. And today’s National Association of Realtors Existing-Home Sales Report for November is no exception. Here are three nuggets of information that might get lost in the media coverage:

  1. Median existing home prices are going up: The November national median existing-home price for all housing types is $196,300. This is $15,700 more than this time last year, and $32,100 more than November, 2011.
  2. Homes are selling fast: The median time on the market for all homes was 56 days in November, which is approximately 8 weeks. Last year at this time, the average time on the market was 70 days, approximately 10 weeks.
  3. And faster!: Maybe the most important stat was buried in the seventh paragraph. Get this, 35% of all homes sold within 30 days. Wow!

There is clearly demand for homes, but that demand is not being met by supply, since we also learned that inventory, the amount of homes available for sale, is at a 5.1 month supply. While that might sound like a lot, it is a full month below a traditional balanced market of 6 months. Therefore, in most locations around the U.S., supply is not meeting demand and therefore sellers are in the driver’s seat equating to higher prices.

One other interesting thing I find fascinating in each NAR report is the use of the term “median.” Quick! Are you smarter than a 5th grader? What’s the difference between median and average home price?

Median is the exact middle point of all homes sold while the average is the cumulative sales number, divided by the number of sales recorded.

But what does a median home look like? I thought it would be fun to see and found five Coldwell Banker listings from around the nation that matched the nation’s current median price of $196,000:

What part of today’s report interested you the most?

Image courtesy of Flickr user morebyless

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Architect Builds Tiny House for $11,000

Many of your reading this might pay for in a year for property taxes, mortgage payments and potentially for Starbucks coffee in a year than what architect, Macy Miller, did for what is a stunning, although tiny, home.

Having been through the ordeal of a foreclosure and with mortgage payments consistently being an issue, Miller took her dream of home ownership into her own hands by designing and building her own home for about $11,000.

The 196 sq. ft. home is in Idaho where Miller resides and plays home not just to her but to her Great Dane. Yes, a Great Dane. One of the biggest dogs on the planet lives in this micro home. Incredible. On top of all that Miller is expecting a child in March and has a place carved out to accommodate her child in her home as well.

This is incredible. I’m amazed at people who put their mind to do something like this and not only do it, but have it look amazing in the process. Yahoo has the full story and gallery of Macy Miller’s micro home.

I’m pretty certain my family of 6 people would not fit in a micro home of 196 sq. ft., but even on my own do you think you could live in a micro home? Manhattanites need not respond as we know your apartments are likely that very size, but the rest of you let us know what you think in the comments.

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3 Year Old Shares 3 Last Minute Christmas Tips for Your Home

Right now the Internet is bombarded with tips to make your Christmas more enjoyable. Tips on gifts. Tips on what to cook. Tips on how to survive dinner when you’re stuck next to that crazy uncle who won’t stop talking about his goiter problem.

With all this information being thrown at you it’s easy to overlook the simple things that can make your Christmas all that more enjoyable at home. So instead of a design expert or a food expert or even a psychotherapist, we turned to one of the most knowledgeable person on the planet when it comes to enjoying Christmas…a 3 year-old.

Ok, so he’s my three year-old, but that doesn’t mean his Christmas tips aren’t applicable to your home. Just watch the video above and be sure to take notes. Subtitles are provided for those who aren’t well versed in toddler babble.

We hope your home this Christmas season will be filled with joy and laughter. And if you follow these three tips, you’re pretty much guaranteed it will be.

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The Most Popular Questions Asked in Real Estate

Guest Blog Post by Cara Ameer

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS. Every buyer and seller has them – in fact A LOT of them. Curiosity is at an all time high during the home search as buyers and sellers try to size up each other and their motivations. What are some of the most popular questions buyers and sellers ask during the home buying and selling process and WHY do they ask them? Read on so you can be prepared no matter what side of the “For Sale” sign you may be on.


How long has the property been on the market?

This question is used to assess the seller’s motivation or to try to find out if something is “wrong” as to why the property is still on the market. The longer the marketing time usually means it lags as a result of price in relation to its condition and competition.

Why is the seller selling?

Every buyer wants to know this and is another question used to try to determine motivation. However, as a buyer you can’t assume that the seller’s reason for selling is going to make them any more motivated to sell the home for less than market value.

How long have they owned it? How much did they pay for it? What do they owe?

Buyers always want to figure out how much equity sellers have in the property and how much room there may be on the price or asking for concessions like closing costs or repairs.

Is someone living here now?

Buyers are always curious – especially on furnished homes that may not look lived in. They love trying to figure out if the property is just sitting, potentially costing the seller money every month or if it is actually being used.

An array of maintenance, home improvement and cost questions: – how old is the roof, the air conditioning system , can a pool be added, how much is insurance on the home, how much are utility bills, etc.

Answers to these questions may affect how much a buyer is willing to pay for the property or whether they will make an offer at all. They are trying to figure out if they are going to be taking on the money pit and can they do what they want to as far as possible future expansion to the property, even if they have no intention of doing so in the future.


What type of financing are they doing – want to know so they can anticipate with handling an offer and how that could affect their obligations in the transaction with respect to any required repairs, appraisal, asking for closing costs, etc.

How much of a down payment will they be putting? – Sellers want to assess the buyer’s financial viability i.e., how much skin in the game will they have with this?

What other properties are they considering? …read more

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Five Reasons Why You Should “Real Estate” During the Holidays

Guest Blog Post by Cara Ameer

On the holiday to do list – decorating, shopping, cooking, baking, parties, and oh yeah, buying or selling a home? Really? Conventional real estate wisdom has often advised buyers and sellers that once Thanksgiving arrives, they might as well hunker down and wait until next year before dealing with anything related to real estate.

If you are truly serious about moving, contrary to popular belief, the holidays may actually be an ideal time for buying and selling. The end of year can be a time of change and typically when many people make moves for job related reasons or elective relocations for change in lifestyle, pursuing different career interests, retirement, etc.

1. Less Competition

The amount of properties for sale and actual buyers tends to dwindle this time of year. However, of those that are out there, they tend to be truly serious and motivated, so quality vs. quantity. As a seller, this means it’s a great time to have your home stand out and capture attention, particularly in the low inventory climate that many real estate markets are experiencing. A new listing will most likely gain immediate interest from the most serious of buyers that have been looking and exhausted all available options. In addition, those buyers that have been renting with leases ending towards the end of January or February can be motivated to spring into action. Less properties on the market may mean the ability to command top dollar now. If the buyer waits until next year before making a decision, the house could be gone as there could be more people vying for it.

2. More Motivation

Around this time of year, the holiday mood can elevate everyone’s spirits and may make negotiating a bit easier. Sellers can become a bit more flexible with their pricing as getting the home under contract before the end of the year can often be a goal, particularly if the home has been on the market for awhile. This time of year is often when you start to see some price reductions happening and incentives offered, such as paying closing costs. As a buyer, you may just get a nice surprise thrown in, like that furniture you wanted to ask for, or you can get creative and propose a concession that you would like the seller to consider – keep in mind terms and conditions with your loan may apply.

3. Buyers Never Stop Looking Online

The holidays themselves and cold weather days typically mean very heavy traffic on real estate websites. After everyone has done their celebrating and is just hanging out, they are often on their new laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc., looking up what else – real estate!

4. Networking Opportunities

This time of year is one of networking, renewing friendships and establishing relationships with existing and new people. What better time with all …read more

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Real Estate Headlines from a Winter Wonderland

In the Northeast this weekend we were treated to a bit of snow. Ok, it was quite a bit of snow and I was reminded that it’s not even officially winter yet. So for those ready to gloat about living in milder regions save yourself the trouble and stuff your cap with your weekly dose of real estate headlines:

As I dream of balmier settings, this list from Forbes of the 20 most expensive seasonal rentals for Christmas and New Year’s has brought me back to reality.

In New York City multi-generational housing trend is picking up significant steam.

Don’t be a Scrooge. Check out our picks of holiday gifts for the new homeowners on your list.

Is Wall Street looking to capitalize on the American Dream of homeownership?

What is a “qualified mortgage?” The HUD has released the official definition.

What are the growing trends homeowners are looking for to create a home that’s an oasis?

Solar panels are having an effect on home resale prices in California.

Take a peek inside Drake’s $7.7 million YOLO estate.

Housing Wire Mag says you should buy a house before 2014.

And finally, with winter seemingly here and more snow sure to come here are instructions for building a snowboard half pipe in your backyard.

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6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Warmer and Cozier This Winter

Draft Stopper 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Warmer and Cozier This Winter

After a week spent in blissful 90 degree weather in Chile, I returned to my beloved state of New Jersey to the harsh reality that Thinsulate gloves and windshield ice scraping will be par for the course for me over the next few months. While I’m resigned to my fate of speed walking everywhere to avoid prolonged exposure to wintery weather, I fully expect my home to be cozy and warm at all times during the winter months!

Whether you’ve just moved into your new place like I have, or need some new easy tips on keeping all corners of your home snug and pleasant; here are 6 really easy ways to make sure your home is warm and cozy this holiday/winter season.

1. Get a door draft stopper – Doors are good at keeping people out of our homes, but are often pretty poor in the keeping pesky cold drafts out department. Whether you have one door in your home or four like I do, something as simple as laying an inexpensive door draft stopper down can go a long way to making your place feel warmer while reducing heating expenses. Etsy has some really well designed, sharp looking and affordable draft stoppers. I like this one a lot.

2. The only stripping allowed during winter…weatherstripping! – This being my first winter in my new home, I’m learning those quirks and small issues that need to be addressed to ensure energy efficiency and warmth. When draft stoppers and storm windows aren’t helping cut back on cold drafts, sometimes installing a brand new healthy weatherstrip will do the trick. I’m about as unhandy as they come and I installed weatherstripping on my backyard door in about ten minutes. Any local hardware store should carry window and door weatherstripping of all types.

Weather Stripping 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Warmer and Cozier This Winter

3. Give your feet some love, buy a rug – Who needs coffee to wake up when you have hardwood or tile floors during the winter? Investing in an area rug or two for your bare floors not only adds a nice wrinkle to your home’s aesthetic, but they’ll make walking around more bearable.

Houzz 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Warmer and Cozier This Winter

4.) Smarten Your Thermostat Up – Without fail I always forget to lower my thermostat before I leave for work in the morning, but when I do lower it I come home to an icebox! There’s a fantastic new smart thermostat called “Nest” that learns your schedule, programs itself and can even be controlled from your phone. Nest converts have indicated it has lowered their heating and cooling bills by up to 20%.

<img alt="NEST 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Warmer and Cozier This Winter" src="http://blog.coldwellbanker.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/NEST.jpg" width="235" height="241" title="6 …read more

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Create a miniature garden as a gift

Miniature fairy garden class: 10-11:30 a.m. at Maas Nursery, 5511 Todville, Seabrook; 281-474-2488; maasnursery.com. $45, includes materials.
Saturday through Dec. 21
Native Plant Sale: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; plant list at houstonarboretum.org.
Dec. 21
Winter Solstice: 7-9 p.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; register at houstonarboretum.org. $25 members, $30 nonmembers, $15 ages 9-16 (9 minimum age allowed). …read more

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What To Expect During a Real Estate Walk Through (For Sellers and Buyers)

Guest Blog Post by Cara Ameer


One of the last pieces that a buyer does before going to closing is to “walk though” the house. What exactly is a walk through and what should happen?

A walk through is the last milestone prior to closing where a buyer visually inspects the property to ensure what they are buying is in substantially the same condition as when they first saw it, and to check on the completion of any negotiated repairs or replacements that were agreed upon to be made.

Everyone has come a long way from contract offer to acceptance, financing, inspections, getting through the appraisal and now one last check before documents are signed and keys are handed over.

Because it is one of the last things prior to closing, it can often be a rushed process as sellers are often hurriedly trying to vacate, etc. This part of the transaction is often the least prepared for and least coached about the proper way to leave a property upon move out:

So, let’s talk about seller and buyer do’s and don’ts:


TIME – Plan ahead and give yourself more time than you think. Plan to be moved out two to three days BEFORE the closing. This will give you some extra time for any last minute things that need to be taken care of. The process often takes longer than what you think.

EMPTY – The house should be completely empty when the buyers walk through. Buyers are expecting to see a totally VACANT house. Empty means empty –nothing lingering behind or in “a don’t know what to do with” pile.

CLEAN – Leave the home THOROUGHLY CLEAN and not just surface level clean. Make arrangements to have the home professionally cleaned once you move out. The buyers will appreciate it and it is one less thing you will have to take care of. This also means having carpets professionally taken care of as well. Don’t forget inside the cabinets and the oven – yes – buyers look inside of that during the walkthrough –even if you last used it a year ago! Things will be that more exposed in a vacant home setting.

UNWANTED ITEMS – Don’t leave unwanted items behind in the garage or attic – those areas seem to be a repository for things like old paint, doors, broken hoses, tires….. if you don’t want them, the buyer likely does not either. Make plans to dispose of these things well in advance of your moving day – especially anything deemed hazardous.

MANUALS – Put all manuals for appliances, controls, etc. in one drawer and gather all keys and remotes and have those in one package for the buyer. Label any keys and where they go – the buyer will appreciate knowing what goes to what doors –especially if all are different. It …read more

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