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Cynthia LaChapelle

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A House, A House, my kingdom for a house...

by Cynthia LaChapelle

Want to buy a single family house in this area? How many bidding wars have you been on the losing side of trying to get an average home of an average price? Why is this happening, and when will it end?

The big story in our current market is how hot the market really is. Prices keep rising as inventory levels keep decreasing. Boomers aren't selling and builders can't make up all the slack.

Supply and Demand

It's a Catch-22 that the Boomers don't sell, because there aren't enough homes to move up or down into. Add that the new home builders got behind in production during the downturn last decade. However, now that they are building again, they are building higher priced homes.

The Triangle area just hit a historic high sales price - an average of $303,000 for our market, according to Stacey Anfindsen. He is a long time appraiser and provider of market statistics to the Triangle MLS, author of the TARR report and acclaimed expert on local market data.

Anfindsen says that annual prices usually peak around the beginning of the third quarter and dip in the fourth. The average price could stay above $300,000 for the first time.

Builders have starting prices for single family homes from $400,000 in much of the Triangle, and that does mean starting price. You expect upgrade charges, but I've noticed that many of the new homes I'm selling now have an added price of tens of thousands of dollars for every lot. Nothing is included.

 Below that price point is generally townhomes and condos. The inventory of townhomes and condos increased by double digits over $199,000, due in large part to the new construction. Most of that construction is now hitting the $250,000 and up buyers.

Conventional Loan Limits

Those wanting a new single family home have a second problem. It can be more difficult to get a loan above $424,100. These "conventional" loans are packaged and sold on the secondary market (think Wall Street) so the lenders' source of funding is constantly replenished.

 

Most counties have a maximum mortgage limit of $424,100 for a single family residence, ($543,000) for two units, ($656,350) for three units & ($815,650) for four units. These limits are applicable for purchase and refinance mortgage loans.

It's generally easier to get a conventional loan. Fewer buyers are eligible to buy homes the further you go above the $424,1000 limit.  

That circles back to supply and demand. Offsetting the loan limits is that builders are providing a supply of single family homes. The effect is a slight softening of the higher priced resale homes, because the builders are tapping into a limited market of buyers. 

If You Want to Do Anything in Real Estate, You Better Know the Rules

by Scheryl McDavid
Scheryl McDavid
Broker with LaChapelle Properties 

 

It’s an understatement to say that internet shopping has taken over the real estate industry. Who hasn’t used Zillow, Trulia or Redfin to find their next home or investment? So, my interest was definitely piqued when my mentor offered me her copy of Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries, who chronicle the rise of their powerful real estate search app and all the data that went into creating it. And that, my friends, is exactly what makes Zillow so useful, it’s the data. More than 3 terabytes of it (that’s one million million).

If you’re thinking about selling a house, here’re some pricing pointers from the book that you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • On average, sellers overprice their homes by 6.9%
  • When a home is overpriced, it tends to sell for less than market value
  • Overpriced homes can almost double the time it takes to sell them (often as long as 4 months!)
  • 47% of sellers end up cutting their list price to make a sale

Here’s the good news:

  • Houses priced at fair market value tend to sell for 2% above the asking price
  • Homes with “psychological” or strategic pricing — where you place a “9” in place of the last non-zero digit — may sell up to 4 days faster and for slightly more money than those with all zeros in the price ($299,900 vs. $300,000, for example)

Published in 2015, I think a number of Zillow’s findings are still relevant for our area today:

  • Negative equity reduces the housing supply; “under water” homeowners don’t sell when there’s no down payment for their next home
  • Low mortgage rates create higher demand because of easier financing
  • Both of these conditions create a market with fast-rising prices (North Hills, Raleigh, I’m looking at you)

 All this sounds a lot like another real estate bubble might be coming, so I appreciated, especially, the authors’ refusal to offer predictions of how the real estate market will perform following the 2008-2009 crash. Instead, they use an interesting quote from Donald Rumsfeld, “There are known knowns … there are known unknowns … But there are also unknown unknowns.” Rascoff and Humphries suggest that America has the data and the understanding to avoid another devastating bubble.

The main takeaway is this, read the data, understand the data, and get to know your area really, really well. And yes, even with Zillow, Trulia and Redfin in your pocket, this can be overwhelming. So, if you’re going to buy, sell or invest in real estate, get some help from a professional who can guide you and there will be a lot fewer unknown unknowns to hurt you.

Home Staging

by Cynthia LaChapelle

You may have heard that it doesn't take much effort to sell a house in this market these days. I've even heard other realtors say they don't bother to stage or prep a house for market. While you can get away without working at it, I don't think it serves the client. It’s commons sense that the house that has buyers fighting over it and generating a bidding war is going to go for a higher price than the one that people will settle for.

You don't have to go all out, and there is a perfect comfort level for every seller.  Some clients want to do whatever is necessary to get top dollar, some are willing to do only simple changes that will double their money or better, and some just want it sold without as little hassle as possible. I let them know what I recommend based on those desires. 

The idea isn't to present the house the way it's most comfortable to live. This is a show. We start with cleaning and decluttering. If you are moving out of town, you may want to get rid of a lot of possessions before you take the time and expense to pack and ship a lot of things. You can donate household items to charity and get a tax deduction. You can also box up things you won't need to use for a while along with some larger furniture that may make the rooms seem smaller, and put these in storage until your move. You will be happy you've done this in the period of time between contract acceptance and your closing date, because that is a little stress of your back during a fairly hectic time.

After I give my opinion, I bring in my Stager, Honey. (Yes, that her name and yes, she is very southern.) I pay her for one consultation, and we make the most of it. Since I've already gone through and given my advice and opinions she covers a lot in that session. If we haven't made a decision about repainting in some areas, she can help make that decision and which colors may work best with the carpet, tile, counters and things that can't be changed.

She picks items that need to stay and need to go. She goes through the closets and storage to find decor items that are just the thing to make a room pop. Best of, she is the queen of artful rearranging. She makes lovely scenes on walls and surfaces that were jumbles. 

I keep up with the trends in home styles and decor so that I can advise clients and market their homes. Colors to put a house on the market trending now are grays and beige. Both color families can work, and there is a hybrid,“GREYGE." Somehow these are both at the same time and tend to change as the light changes.

Some of Honey's current favorite colors are Accessible Beige, Silver Strand, Rainwashed, Quietude #6212, Agreeable Gray, Urbane Bronze, Sea Salt (Sherwin Williams Colors). 


I learned a trick of the easy way to pick the ceiling color. You don't want stark white ceilings, but you usually want a nearly white color.

(Remember this is to sell your house, not a design statement.)  Paint ceilings a 25% saturation of the wall color. You don't have to worry about finding the lightest possible color in the color chart that correlates to your wall color any more.

My next blog will have more on choosing colors and fixtures that drive the buyers to a bidding frenzy, especially what is cost efficient.

TREIA Presentation Invite & Info

by Cynthia LaChapelle

 

You're invited to a presentation!

Cynthia LaChapelle, has been a real estate broker since 1986, a TREIA (Triangle Real Estate Investors Association) board member for 12 years and past President. She is a also an investor, rehabber and landlord. After working with Century 21, Remax and Fonville Morisey, she opened her own brokerage in 2005. 

This landlord presentation will be an owner’s perspective of the following issues:

  • Criteria for acquiring buy and hold property in the Triangle area
  • Tips and tricks for choosing and managing tenants
  • Protecting yourself
  • Avoiding legal trouble

Cynthia also will share some of her forms that she uses as a landlord.

 

When: Thursday Oct. 27  11:30-1:30

Where: Prestownwood Country Club - 300 Prestonwood Parkway, Cary NC

Please register by noon Tues Oct. 25 for rate of : Cost $15 TREIA members, $30 guests

https://www.treia.com/Events.aspx?ID=Women-in-Real-Estate-WIRE-15-10-26-2017

New House Blues

by Cynthia LaChapelle

New House Blues

I recently closed a new construction sale here in Cary that had some interesting twists at the end. I had made several offers for the Buyers over the Fall and Winter. It's a very hot market,  and we had gotten none accepted. Then we spotted an inventory/spec home that a large builder had. It was a great deal, but I had still negotiated a bit more. 

The home was nearly finished when we went under contract. It needed things like flooring, paint   and finishing touches. The problems came when the house wasn't finished to acceptable standards. This was a $500,000 home, and while it wasn't custom, the builder had done a vastly better job for me with another client only a few months earlier. Many items were unacceptable. Among the worst things was wavy sheetrock, imperfections in the mirrors, the tile grouts were mismatched due to repairs, paint and sheetrock that had been marked for repair in the walkthrough hadn't been redone, and the most unsightly thing was the stainless steel range vent that rises to the high ceiling was bent. This was after one repair attempt.

We had noted all these things along the way with the supervisor. We'd had an inspection done, and not all of those items had been finished.  As we noted repairs from Day One, he'd said that he would do what he could, but not to expect everything to be done. He had about six stock answers to say no to our requests that he rotated through. I nicely refused to agree.. one, two, three through six times. My theory is if you can't say yes, let me find the person who can say yes.

This went up to the minute of the final walk-through. There were too many items that were undone, dirty and just not right. There were paint flecks all over the floors, carpets were dirty, and the wife was unhappy. We all know the adage, "If Momma's Not Happy, Nobody's Happy." I must make her happy.

This wasn't OK. The Buyers and I discussed this with the supervisor well past our allotted walk-through time. I got as many concessions as I could from him and gave the Buyers their options. I went to the sales office, but the onsite agent wasn't there. The lender was, so I got him involved. I got the closing attorney involved. Then we went up the food chain to the main office. I sent pictures and said we may not be able to close. We went to the attorney's office unsure of what we would end up doing

I finally got an executive to put into writing that all the Buyers requests would be done. He gave us his word, and we closed. They got a new stainless steel range vent, new mirrors, fresh paint everywhere, a deep cleaning, and everything on our list done!

The Buyers asked what happens when other buyers have these problems. I'm not sure, but I can guess. How many times were they told that this is normal, just accept it? Dozens...each time. How long does it take to wear a Buyer down in a stressful situation where they don't know the rules? A lot less than that.

I was well rewarded for my effort, because the Buyers were really happy with my service. He even told my husband that he could never have talked to them like that. That means I did my job. "Clients Are Protected" is my motto and my mission.  

 

Is a Survey Important?

by Cynthia LaChapelle

 

Is a Survey Important?


A picture is worth a thousand words. 

A survey can be mildly interesting or critically important, yet mortgage companies no longer require a survey, so I always recommend my clients get one when buying a home. They literally show things that the attorney can't see on a title search. 

The biggest encroachment I saw was several years ago. I had suggested my buyers order a survey, and it showed that a large part of the next-door neighbor's beautifully landscaped and fenced yard actually belonged to the property that my clients were buying. It stretched from about six feet wide in the front to thirty feet in the back along the entire side of the lot. It was a huge chunk of their yard. Both of the homes had been purchased nearly seven years earlier, and neither property had used brokers, so neither knew to buy a survey. We had to hold the closing until the sellers could have the neighbor's fence removed from their yard. (At one point the seller went out with a sledge hammer when the neighbors left for the weekend. Luckily I was there and advised him to go through better channels. This is how feuds get started.)  Since it was nearly seven years of allowing the neighbor to use their yard (even unknowingly), they were very close to creating a legal claim to keep it. 


How annoying is it when someone lays claim to your yard?

Sometimes it's by mistake, and sometimes they are trying to claim some extra space. Someone will mow "over the line" by a little or a lot, and the owner's blood pressure will shoot up, sure that this is on purpose. Other times the neighbors will plant trees or shrubs on the neighbor's yard. Quite often just having those little orange flags put along your borders can jog the neighbors' memories that this is your lot.

Don't build a fence or add any structure to your yard until you know where the lot lines are for certain. The city of Raleigh requires a survey to be drawn and flagged if a fence is built, as do many homeowner's associations. 


Hidden easements

Your attorney will perform a title search when you purchase a home, but they often don't show an easement.  For example:

•You would want to know if you can't fence the back 30 feet of your lot due to a utility easement. 


•You might like to know if the lines that pump jet fuel from Apex to the airport lie underneath your lot- especially if you were planning to dig a pool.

Since many homeowners will end up ordering a survey at some point in the future, you might as well get one when you are purchasing the property when you might still have some leverage to get a problem resolved by the previous owner.

For more information on how to be a savvy home buyer or seller, contact Cynthia.

Annual Holiday Party

by Cynthia LaChapelle

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Annual Holiday Luncheon for the office at Prestonwood Country Club. L-R Frances Wirth, Bill Hasse, Abby Kurtz, Sarah Ruiz, Stacy Millon, Walter Beard and Cynthia LaChapelle. The paper crowns are from our Christmas Crackers. Happy Holidays. We appreciate everyone who helped us make this a fantastic year.

Why Do We Protect?

by Cynthia LaChapelle

LaChapelle Properties was born from the idea that doing a really good job for people should be more important than how how much commission a broker could make. 

Thirty years ago, Cynthia LaChapelle took a call one evening from a man with credit problems interested in buying a home. She worked with him to repair his credit and he was able to buy a nice home for his family. He confided that hers was the last call he had ever planned to make - just one more try to provide for his family before he ended his life. He'd made so many phone calls and no one else would help him, he said.  Since that day, helping people has become the main mission of Cynthia LaChapelle and the foundation of LaChapelle Properties.

Buying or selling a home is the largest single investment most people will ever make. It is fraught with dangers and opportunities for both loss and gain. It is worth having a professional protecting your interests.  That is what we are here to do.

Our motto is Clients Are Protected for a reason. Webster's Dictionary definition #1 of Client is "One under the protection of another". Customer is "Someone who buys goods or services from a business". Most companies I worked at called people Clients, but they were treated like Customers. Brokers promoted how much business they had (i.e. how much money they made) as an enticement for new customers.

We get paid for our work too. We work hard for our pay. Our clients often get more money for their properties, or come out thousands better in repair negotiations, or find out something major/expensive because of a further inspection or investigation or just something that we knew. We are always studying and updating our knowledge of properties, hazards, legalities and all aspects of real estate to better serve our clients. We could make more money if we spent that effort on new sales techniques to lure people to hire us, but then we'd have lots of customers and few clients.

We keep working to learn how to make you more money, not ourselves. How weird is that? It's so weird, Mrs. LaChapelle had to found a new company to make it the Number One Mission.  

Market Update

by Cynthia LaChapelle

This is an amazing time to get a property on the market. The Triangle area supply of homes for sale is down to historic lows, while prices have been rising. The amount of time required to sell is also down. Here are some facts about the year-to-date statistics:

  • New Listings in the Triangle region increased 2.2% to 4,204.
  • Pending Sales were down 43.2% to 1,752.
  • Inventory levels fell 16.2% to 12,545 units.
  • Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 10.0% to $231,000.
  • Days on Market was down 11.5% to 54 days.
  • Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 22.4% to 4.6 months.

The general division between a Seller’s Market and  Buyer’s Market is at the point of having a six-month supply of inventory. More inventory indicates a Buyer’s Market, less inventory indicates a Seller’s Market. 

Interested in selling?  What will it take to get your home on the market?  We can answer that.  Maybe you're worried about missing out on your dream home in a hot market.  Use our custom search tool so you never miss a listing!

Yes Virginia, This is a Seller's Market...

by Cynthia LaChapelle
If you are in the right place and prepare your home properly
 

The market switches between being a Seller's market and Buyer's market at six months as average time listed on the market. You may know that we entered a seller's market in most parts of our area last year and earlier. You also may have heard rumors recently about bidding wars and houses selling on the first day that they hit the market. Both are true. (By the way, when a house shows a house was listed 2-5 days on the MLS until pending, that usually means that it took that long to negotiate which buyers to take, the final price and get it in the computer.)

The biggest surprise is that the market heated early - in mid-January. That is well ahead of the usual Spring bump in the market. Showings normally are the highest numbers in March and April, followed by the highest number of closings in May and June. (It often takes 30-60 days to complete escrow.) I have been involved in several multiple bidding wars this year in the western wake county area. We're past trying to negotiate the best deal in most instances. We have moved into the market where the broker's job is to be able to get the house for the buyer. I've lost houses because we showed up on Day 2 and others because we didn't bid high enough above List price. Register here to have custom listings emailed to you as they appear on the market http://www.buywakecountyhomes.com/

One caution to the person who is thinking about selling, however. Most of the houses that are sought after and fought over have been put into beautiful condition. They are freshly painted, usually have new or newer carpet, updated kitchens and baths and very little (if any) brass. Often the buyers ask if the sellers are still living in it. The ones that are dirty and need work will still sit a while. They won't usually have more than one offer at a time, which is the way that sellers get higher than list price. People don't want to buy your dirt and mess.There are numerous resources available if you want to know how to fix up your home for sale, including a number of articles on our website.  Interested in getting an idea of how your home compares to others in your neighborhood?  Check out this website http://www.sellingwakecountyhomes.com

However, beware of whether or not you can get the house to appraise in a rapidly rising price market. Houses in short supply go for higher prices than when the buyer has his pick of homes. Most appraisers want to value the homes at least where the buyer has paid, but they do have constraints put on them by the banks who have hired them. (They work for the bank, but are paid by the buyer.) Different types of loans and different mortgage companies put varying restrictions on the appraisers. They do use past data, which will be lower in a rising market. Whether you are a buyer or seller, it is wise to remember that when you win a bidding war, you will still need to be cognizant of the possibility of a low appraisal. The bank will lend only on the amount of the appraisal, not the sales price.

Takeaways:

  • Buyers need to watch for new listings closely and view them immediately
  • Sellers need to spend the time and money to make their homes market-ready
  • A properly prepared home will sell very quickly at a good price
  • Be cautious of appraisal amounts. The buyer may or may not be willing or able to come up with the extra down payment.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

Contact Information

Photo of Cynthia LaChapelle Real Estate
Cynthia LaChapelle
LaChapelle Properties, LLC
1204 Village Market Place #223
Morrisville NC 27560
(919) 467-4645