Friday, August 29, 2008

Go Green Team! Part 1

Green has become one of the new buzzwords, but what does it mean? Ask three people, you will probably get three different answers.

The market is growing for green real estate, with certified properties selling faster or commanding a 5, 10, even 15% premium in some markets. Buyers are starting to look for environmental features in their properties. This is not a trend like shag carpeting, something that will be out of style in the next decade. Environmental features have moved from the domain of hippies into mainstream life because they make sense on so many levels.

So what does green mean in relation to real estate? That will vary depending on who is making the claim. If a house is being advertised as green, ask questions. Some Realtor will advertise green if a house has compact florescent light bulbs and an Energy Star dishwashesr. While these are great things and a good place to start, the serious environmental homeowner will consider calling a house green with only these features greenwashing, a form of a false advertising.

Get specific with environmental features. Is the landscaping done with native vegetation and landscaped to conserve water? Does the house have passive solar orientation and deep awnings to reduce summer solar gain? Say so.

The listing Realtor should put together a detailed list of environmental features to be distributed to any potential buyer. These features can be extensive and can include the following:
  • R values for insulation
  • efficiency rating for windows
  • native landscaping, xeriscaping and if the land has been maintained by organic standards
  • presence of recycled or reclaimed materials in building of new construction or remodeling
  • LEED or Energy Star certification, or other local third party certification
  • presence of alternative energy systems, ie wind turbines, photo-voltaic or passive solar arrays, geo-thermal installation and more.
  • Energy Star furnace, water heater, appliances
  • water conserving appliances, shower, toilets
  • if any third party inspections have been done for mold, radon, indoor air quality, water quality or other aspect.
  • allergy reducing flooring, sustainable cork or bamboo flooring or recycled carpeting
  • radiant barrier
  • alternative building method, ie berm, adobe, strawbale.

There are countless ways in which even existing construction homes can be marketed as environmental. The key is being specific and honest about what makes the home green.

Just say no to greenwashing.

Next part, third party certifications for green homes...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a working dairy farm near Orangeville, IL.

If you are interest in owning your own dairy operation, this is the perfect property. You will appreciate the nice lay of the one hundred thirty six acres. The barn and milking parlor have all been very well maintained and updated as necessary.

The three bedroom house was built in 2003. It has over two thousand square feet, three bathrooms and a two car attached garage.

In addition to the home and farm buildings, this property also includes a 2500 square foot commercial building with 440 amp 3 phase electrical, a loading dock and private office space.

The owner is willing to divide the land and buildings in a variety of ways, making this a truly customizable property. Contact Brenda or Luis at 608-214-5797 to schedule a private showing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Just make me an offer"

The market is a fickle creature. A house is only worth what someone will pay for it. As a Realtor, it is my job to help a seller price a house properly. I do my best to price a house in a range where it will sell within three to six months. In a market like the current one, following an inflated market from earlier in the decade, I may be telling a seller a price lower than what he or she wants to hear. That is hard to do, but still is something that I do because doing anything else would not be ethical.

Some sellers in the nation are coping with the idea of the lower price by deciding to shoot the moon. The seller asks to list as an inflated price, something the market will not and cannot bear at the moment. The rationale is that someone may come along who falls in love with the house and is willing to pay the higher price. I will not deny that this has happened on occasion. The seller takes a gamble and wins big. This is far from the norm, though.

Most often, the seller tells us, the Realtors, just to have buyers make an offer and they will negotiate. There is a couple of glaring problems with this reasoning.

Time and again, it has been shown that buyers tend to only look at homes priced up to 103% of their buying ability. If a home is priced 5% or 10% too high, the right buyers will never see it. For example, say a home should be priced at $200K, but was priced at $220K. Buyers who can afford to spend $210-230K will look at the houses priced in that range and logically pass by the overpriced home. Buyers who can spend $190-210K never see the house because they stopped their searches at $215K.

A second problem is that many times, the offer that would bring the price of the home to a reasonable level would be considered a lowball. Many buyers shy away from making absurdly low offers; they do not want to insult sellers. Offering $180K for a house that is priced at $200K feels awkward to many people, so they pass the house by.

Third, when a house is overpriced, it sits on the market for months or even years. In a good market, houses turn over within three to six months. As overpriced houses sit there, they contribute to the excess inventory in the current market. People see the house sitting on the market forever, and they start to think the market must really be bad if a lovely house like that cannot sell, further perpetuating the cycle of perception that is often at the root of economic downturns.

Finally, when a house is priced incorrectly,the seller becomes frustrated by the inability of the Realtor to sell the house as the months go by. The Realtor, likewise, becomes frustrated by wasting time and money advertising something that will never sell at the asking price. As the term of the listing contract ends, the seller moves on to another Realtor, and the first Realtor is upset because she could not do her job properly.

Pricing a house incorrectly is rarely a winning situation. I hope that as Realtors, we can have the courage to refuse a listing that is overpriced and I hope that sellers can learn to accept that pricing must be for today's market, not the market of two years ago. The sooner this happens, the sooner the housing market can turn around. Let's stop hearing the words "If it is priced too high, they can just make me an offer."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Treasure or....what is that?

Are you ready for some bargains? The annual citywide garage sale in Monroe is scheduled for next Saturday, August 16.

The Chamber of Commerce puts together the maps of registered participants. Maps can be picked up at the Chamber (located at 1509 9th St in Monroe) or at the area grocery stores, Piggly Wiggly or Pick’N’Save.

There are always unregistered sales as well since the deadline for being on the maps is rather early. Be sure to pick up the Monroe Shopping News or Monroe Times and look at the classifieds for information on these additional sales.

Who knows, perhaps you will find that vintage fishing reel you have always been looking for or a first edition book. I can guarantee that there will be children's clothing in abundance and plenty of salt and pepper shakers.

Garage sales - recycling at its finest!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Concert on the Square Part 2

A recent question asked about the Monroe Main Street Concert on the Square series for this summer.

The concerts are on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month this summer. There are two concerts remaining, one on August 14 and one on August 28. The concerts start at 6:30 pm and generally last about 2 hours. I do not have the information on the specific bands right now, but the concert next week will be jazz and one at the end of the month will be bluegrass.

Boxed dinners are available at downtown restaurants prior to the concert, and most downtown businesses will be open at least until the beginning of the concert.

Please come on downtown for one of the remaining concerts! These are fantastic events that are very popular. Bring your lawn chair, buy some popcorn to support Special Olympics and a bottle of water from MASE (Monroe Area Skate Enthusiasts), talk with your neighbors and enjoy some wonderful music on a summer evening.