My last blog post of 2016

Almost eight years ago I started this blog, and I never imagined it would still be going after all this time. Sometimes people say, “An appraisal blog? Yeah, that sounds so uninteresting.” But I love the conversations we have each week, and in some way I hope they help us all grow in our skills and understanding. Anyway, I’m sincerely honored you take time out of your day to be here. Thank you for your insight, comments, emails, phone calls, constructive criticism, and the referrals you send my way. On behalf of the entire Lundquist family, I want to wish you Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

The next two weeks: At the end of this week I’ll be taking some time to enjoy family, relax, drink ungodly amounts of coffee, lose the weight I said I was going to lose in 2016, hang out with my new nephew, and let my kids whoop me on their Xbox. I might be crazy, but this year when we visit family I’m bringing my tools so I can build my mother-in-law a bookcase. That’s either the best thing ever or maybe I’m setting myself up for a yearly tradition. Uh oh. Ultimately I hope to get refreshed in coming time and ready for 2017. This has been an amazing year, but I need a break. Can you relate? I hope you enjoy this season and I can’t wait to reconnect in early January. Thank you again for making this a tremendous year. Blessings to you and your loved ones.

pallet-trees-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

These are some of my festive pallet trees in the front yard.

Questions: What are you going to be doing over the next week or so? Any special traditions? I’d love to hear.

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Starbucks cups and price per sq ft

I was in line at Starbucks and then it hit me. The perfect analogy for price per sq ft in real estate. While ordering my Grande drip with no room, I began to wonder how much I was paying for each ounce. Maybe that means I’m a geek, but was I really getting the most bang for my buck to buy a Grande (medium)? Or should I go with a Venti (large)? Take a look at the image below to see how price per ounce works at Starbucks, and then let’s consider a real example of this principle in real estate.

Starbucks cups and real estate - by sacramento appraisal blog

Big Point: The larger the cup, the less you pay for each ounce of coffee. Or we could say it a different way. Smaller cups of coffee tend to cost more per ounce. This is interesting, but it’s not really surprising because it’s merely an example of economies of scale, right? We see this principle all the time when buying bigger or smaller items, yet it’s easy to ignore when it comes to housing. So let’s take a look at all residential home sales from last month in Sacramento County. Do you see a similarity with the coffee?

image purchased from 123rf by sacramento appraisal blog - price per sq ft example

Big Point: The larger the house, the less you tend to pay for each square foot. Or we could say it a different way. Smaller homes tend to have a higher price per sq ft compared to larger homes. This is a principle we see when looking at county-wide data, but it’s also something we tend to see by neighborhood (assuming we have enough data). Just like coffee costs less per ounce the more you buy, it tends to cost less per sq ft for the more house you buy. That’s the big idea.

Be a Great Explainer: I love this analogy. Maybe it’s partly because I’m a coffee fanboy, but in truth talking through price per sq ft is hands-down one of the most relevant conversations to master in real estate. I hope the next time the topic comes up with a client, maybe you’ll think about using Starbucks cups to explain how price per sq ft tends to work in a neighborhood. For a refresher post you can read 5 things to remember about using price per sq ft in real estate.

Question: What drink do you order at Starbucks?

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Toxic Water & Real Estate: An interview with a Realtor from Flint

What happens to a real estate market when the water is unsafe to drink? In light of the tragic situation unfolding right now in Flint, Michigan, I thought this would be a timely conversation. So I reached out to Realtor Ryan McFarlane who has sold nearly 1000 homes in Flint. This brief interview isn’t an exhaustive case study, but only one conversation centered on real estate (which has so much to do with people). I’d love to hear your take in the comments below.

Flint real estate agent interview - by sacramento appraisal blog - image purchased from 123rf and used with permission

Tell me about yourself. How long have you been in real estate? How much business have you done in Flint?

Realtor Ryan MacFarlane - MichiganMy name is Ryan McFarlane. I originally got into real estate around 2004. Overall I’ve sold over 3000 homes, and about 1000 of them have been in Flint; the company I work for now was actually started in Flint.

What is the population of Flint?

According to the census, the population is 99,763. However, it used to be 141,553 in 1990. When GM closed down their plants, it was devastating for the housing market and job market in Flint as a blue collar town.

What is the City of Flint like for those who have only read it about it recently?

I would say there are still some nice areas of housing. People are investing in Flint and trying to bring up the Downtown area. Though when you get off the beaten path, there are some rough patches. There are still good areas, but there are many bad areas. Some people say it’s all bad, but it’s not that way. There are also some good things going on, but the attention is often on the bad things.

flint listing - by sacramento appraisal blog

How much do properties tend to sell for in the city?

As of right now there are 352 active properties on the market in the City of Flint. The low end is about $500 and the highest listing is $229,000. In the last year the highest sale was $350,000, but it was over 6000 sq ft and a custom home in a historical area. Otherwise most properties in the city are going to sell under $30,000. The majority of sales are bank-owned properties. Sometimes properties literally sell for nothing since people call me and want to transfer the quitclaim deed to someone else. Sometimes a bank-owned property is in such bad condition that it is worth absolutely nothing. Other times a home will be bulldozed and the land will be sold (often a neighbor will buy the land). Some owners will not pay their taxes too because they might end up paying say $1000 for taxes when the property is only worth $500.

What is the median income of Flint residents?

The median income is $24,834 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

flint vs sacramento

How much does a typical house rent for in Flint?

I would say on average about $500 per month.

How much are water bills right now in Flint? How does this compare to surrounding areas?

A family of 4 told me recently their bill was $250 per month, and the bill has to be paid even though they cannot use the water. Even vacant houses are being charged $50-60 per month for water. Some surrounding areas bill on a quarterly basis, and the quarterly water bill ends up being about the same as someone’s monthly bill in Flint.

NOTE from SacBlog: Most articles online state Flint residents are easily paying $140 to $150 per month for water they cannot use. This is obviously only an average since Ryan mentioned above that some residents are paying $250. Keep in mind $150 per month is 7% of a household’s monthly income (based on the median income in Flint). Also, if a home rents for say $600, the water bill is 25% of rent. Imagine a $1500 rental in Sacramento and having a $375 water bill (that’s 25%).

flint listing 2 - by sacramento appraisal blog

Some say it’s illegal to sell a house with toxic water. Is that true?

Legally there is nothing that says you cannot sell. There was a recent article from the Michigan Association of Realtors that said you can sell them, but you need to disclose the water issue on the seller’s disclosure form to make people aware of the water issue. Though buyers would have to be living in a cave to not know about the water issue already, so the disclosure is only a formality.

Some appraiser colleagues working in the Flint area say FHA and USDA have asked appraisers to verify where a home is getting water from since FHA/USDA don’t want to guarantee loans on properties using Flint water. Have you found this to be the case too?

Most of my deals have been cash buyers, though there have been people getting loans though too.

NOTE from SacBlog: Who is lending in Flint? Please comment below. I want to hear if any FHA and conventional lenders are making deals happen. Unsafe water is a clear health and safety issue, which would seemingly prohibit FHA deals from happening.

flint listing 3 - by sacramento appraisal blog

What impact are you seeing the toxic water issue to have on the local market in terms of values?

In some senses we may see a slight decline in sales and out-of-state investors are probably not going to be buying properties. But at the same time, sales are going to happen. From a practical standpoint the water issue has to be fixed. Nobody knows when that will happen, but we all know it will presumably happen. Flint is still one of the most affordable places to buy for locals. At the end of the day, values are already so low that they cannot go down much more than they have already. However, anything that is considered “higher-end” will probably be impacted since buyers will definitely look at what they can buy somewhere else for the same price (and not have water issues). But I don’t think there will be much effect under $30,000. You just can’t pick up homes in other nearby places for those low prices.

NOTE on rents from SacBlog: It’s interesting to consider what may happen with rents in outlying areas near Flint. If residents leave the city, will rents elsewhere increase? This reminds me of some reports of price gouging with rents in Porter Ranch in Southern California, which is the community where residents had to be evacuated due to an ongoing methane gas leak.

Have you heard or seen any impact on the commercial sector?

Yes. Businesses serve bottled water and they seem to be careful about water filtration. A few years ago GM had a nearby used motor facility just on the border of Flint. After doing some water testing, apparently the water was not good enough to spray on their motors.

_______________________________________________________

I hope you enjoyed this brief interview. Thank you again to Ryan McFarlane for his time and insight.

Questions: What if anything stood out to you about what Ryan said? What would you expect to see happen in a real estate market when the water is toxic? What would happen in your market?

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8 things you can buy if you win Powerball (and the market in Sacramento)

Have you bought a Powerball ticket? It’s wild to think someone is probably going to win 1.5 billion dollars this week. Of course there’s an extremely slim chance you’d actually win, but if you do, here are some things you can buy when it comes to real estate. After that, let’s take an in-depth look at Sacramento’s housing market.

powerball winner - real estate - sacramento appraisal blog

8 real estate things you can buy if you win Powerball

  1. All current listings in Sacramento: You could literally buy every single active residential listing in Sacramento, Placer, and Yolo County (and still have about $150M left).
  2. NBA Team: You could buy the Sacramento Kings NBA team and have about one billion to spare.
  3. 63 million Shares of Zillow: You could buy 63,911,376 shares of Zillow ($23.47 per share).
  4. Buy an Island: This is an obvious choice for a billionaire. You could easily buy your own island. Heck, you could buy a group of islands. See some islands that are for sale right now.
  5. Own 7 Years of East Sacramento Sales: If you bought every single house that sold on MLS in East Sacramento since October 2008, you would still have 600 million left.
  6. Build a Sports Stadium: Most recent professional sports stadiums have ranged in cost from around $500M to $1.5B. For instance, the 49ers new stadium cost around $1.3B and the Sacramento Kings stadium is coming in around $500M. If you buy, what are you going to name it?
  7. Build a Bigger House than that One Guy in India: You may remember hearing about a 27-story residential home that was built in India in 2014. This home can withstand an 8.0 earthquake and it’s the second most expensive home in the world behind Buckingham Palace. Keep in mind it requires a staff of 600 to care for it. The property was said to have cost $1B total, so you have the coin to pull it off (Wikipedia).
  8. Do Some Good: Imagine the good you could do if you won the lottery. But we know that’s not going to happen. The great thing is we don’t have to wait to win Powerball to be generous since generosity is only relative to how much money we have – whether two dollars or $1.5B.

By the way, the winner won’t actually get 1.5 billion. I realize a huge sum is coming off the top right away for taxes and such.

Now let’s look at the latest Sacramento real estate trends.

the market in 2015 in sacramento

Two ways to read THE BIG MONTHLY POST:

  1. Scan the talking points and graphs quickly.
  2. Grab a cup of coffee and spend a few minutes digesting what is here.

DOWNLOAD 78 graphs HERE (zip file): Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file (or send me an email). Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Quick Market Summary: If I had to sum up the market last year I would say: Modest value appreciation, but aggressive demand. If I added a few more details I would say the story of the market is summed up as follows: More sales, lower inventory, higher demand, a fairly normal fall (though far less dull than 2014), and modest value increases over the year. Right now housing inventory is only 1.28 months in the region, which is 32% lower than last year at the same time. Overall sales volume in 2015 was 10.8% higher in the regional market, and it’s important to note FHA volume increased by 30% this year. In December it took 4 days longer to sell a home than it did in November, and that reminds us the market experienced a seasonal softening dynamic even in the midst of more competition. Remember though it was taking 90 days to sell a house four years ago, and selling in less than half the time right now helps us see the market can be different each year depending on inventory, interest rates, the economy, etc…  Overall most of the value increases came in the first two quarters of the year, and the market was fairly flat for the past six months in terms of value. Buyers really haven’t had very many options because of how low inventory has been, but at the same time buyers are exhibiting price sensitivity by not pulling the trigger on overpriced listings. One last aspect worth mentioning is rents have been increasing in many areas in Sacramento, and it’s worth watching this trend.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY:

  1. It took 4 more days to sell a house last month than November (but 7 days less than last year at the same time).
  2. Sales volume was 20% higher this December compared to last December.
  3. Sales volume was 10.9% higher in 2015 compared to 2014.
  4. FHA sales represented 27.5% of all sales during the past quarter.
  5. Housing inventory is 41% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  6. The median price increased by 2% last month (see #6).
  7. The average price per sq ft and average sales price stayed about the same from the previous month (so don’t put too much weight on #5).
  8. The average price per sq ft is 10% higher than last year at the same time.
  9. The median price is 11% higher than it was last year at the same time.
  10. REO sales were less than 4% of all sales last quarter (Short Sales were less than 5%).

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

sales in 2015 2

Median price and inventory since 2011 by sacramento appraisal blog

bottom of market

fha and cash in sacramento county by sacramento appraisal blog - part 2

CDOM in Sacramento County - by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

inventory - December 2015 - by home appraiser blog

REOs and Short Sales in Sacramento County since the bottom

price metrics since 2014 in sacramento county - look at all

SACRAMENTO REGIONAL MARKET:

  1. It took 3 more days to sell a house last month than November, but it was taking one week longer to sell at the same time last year.
  2. Sales volume was 14.5% higher this December compared to last December.
  3. Sales volume was 10.8% higher in 2015 compared to 2014.
  4. Housing inventory is 32% lower than the same time last year.
  5. Cash sales were only 15% of all sales in 2015.
  6. The average price per sq ft, median price, and average sales price showed a slight seasonal dip over the past few months.
  7. The avg price per sq ft is 7.5% higher than last year at the same time.
  8. The median price is 5.6% higher than it was last year at the same time.
  9. REO sales were 3.5% of all sales last month.
  10. Short sales were only 3% of all sales last month in the region.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

sales volume 2015 vs 2014 in sacramento placer yolo el dorado county

prices in sacramento region - FHA and conventional - by appraiser blog

months of housing inventory in region by sacramento appraisal blog

days on market in placer sac el dorado yolo county by sacramento appraisal blog

median price and inventory in sacramento regional market

interest rates inventory median price in sacramento regional market by sacramento appraisal blog

PLACER COUNTY:

  1. It took 6 more days to sell a house last month than November, but it was taking 5 days longer to sell at the same time last year.
  2. Sales volume was 1% higher this December compared to last December.
  3. Sales volume was 13% higher in 2015 compared to 2014.
  4. Housing inventory is 16% lower than the same time last year.
  5. Cash sales were only 15% of all sales in 2015.
  6. The average price per sq ft, median price, and average sales price showed a slight seasonal dip over the past few months.
  7. The avg price per sq ft is 3.6% higher than last year at the same time.
  8. The median price is 2% higher than it was last year at the same time.
  9. REO sales were 1.8% of all sales last month.
  10. Short sales were only 3% of all sales last month in the region.

days on market in placer county by sacramento appraisal blog months of housing inventory in placer county by sacramento appraisal blog number of listings in PLACER county - December 2015 Placer County price and inventory - by sacramento appraisal blog Placer County sales volume - by sacramento appraisal blog

I hope this was helpful and interesting.

DOWNLOAD 78 graphs HERE (zip file): Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file (or send me an email). Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Questions: How would you spend the money if you won at Powerball? What stands out to you about the latest stats in Sacramento? How would you describe the market? I’d love to hear your take.

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