Category Archives: Real Estate Info

Is the New Milford CT Real Estate Market getting better or not?

Three bedroom home for sale in New Milford CT
Three bedroom home for sale in New Milford CT

It is so hard to listen to national news about the “hot” real estate market others are experiencing across the country and wonder if it is happening here in New Milford, CT. It is a complex answer as you can see below. Did we hit bottom and are now on the way up? Is it a sellers market in New Milford? . We are on track to have the best month in number of sales for 2013, if things continue to go as they have so far. I don’t believe the total number of sales will be jaw dropping, but any improvement is good. There are a few more days for homes to close in May, I will have to be patient to get the final numbers.

The success of the real estate market is tied to many other things,  the employment rates in the state, the proximity of jobs available to New Milford, confidence in the housing market, good rates and a lower housing inventory. Connecticut again posted a rate higher than the national unemployment averages which needs to come down in order for the real estate market to feel more positive effects.

The unemployment rate in Connecticut has been at 8.0 for the last three months, the national average for April posted at 7.5. When we hear that the real estate market in our neighboring state of Massachusetts is really heating up you must look at their unemployment rate, which was last posted at 6.4%, where it has been for a while. This means more people in Massachusetts are working and can afford to purchase homes. They have more jobs,  a shrinking pool of homes available for sale which creates the perfect storm. I must qualify that statement, I know that the Metro Boston area is doing very well in the housing market, I don’t know how the rest of the state is doing. The metro area seems to be on fire!

A new problem for New Milford CT seems to be an abundance of short sales.

Our inventory is still down, which is a great thing for sellers. Although for buyers looking up to $300,000 it is slim pickins, and much of those are short sales, a full 10% of the active single family homes for sale in New Milford are now short sales.

What impact does this have on a seller? If you are not in a short sale position and you price your home correctly according to condition and location, you should find that you will have lots of showings and hopefully an offer fairly quickly. I will warn you that overpricing can cause issues, especially when it comes time for the buyer to do an appraisal.

If you are a seller in a short sale position, it will take longer to sell, however with the inventory shrinking you just may procure that much needed offer. It is imperative that you are prepared to work with your agent, attorney and lender to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible once an offer does come in! Some short sales can be pre approved prior to going on the market, if you would like to know if that is your situation, give us a call at 860.946.0686 to further discuss the matter.

34 homes are under deposit. of these, the majority (15 homes) are in the $200,000-$300,000 price range. Again, this seems to be our hottest market right now. Of the homes that are under deposit, 4 are short sales and 2 are foreclosures.

40 homes are listed as sale pending. This means contracts are signed and most contingencies have been met. 15 of these homes are short sales which translates to 37.5%. That is very, very high. These short sales will sit in the pending sale status for far longer than a traditional sale making it very hard to judge what is going to happen. 3 homes that are pending sale are foreclosures.

Buying a home in New Milford, CT can be tight for anything under $300,000. First time home buyers can get very frustrated, many of the homes they are looking at are short sales that may need work, and very importantly, time to wait for the short sale to be approved by the lender. Homes that are priced well and are not short sales are moving very, very quickly. Often with multiple offers on them. This means you must be FULLY prepared when looking for a home.

  • Pre qualified, or better yet, pre approved (if possible)
  • Ready to run out and look at a moments notice
  • Be prepared to decide quickly to put an offer in or move on
  • Remember, in this lower price range it is NOT a buyers market, do not play around with low ball offers

What we are seeing is in a multiple offer situation, sellers are choosing buyers that are NOT using 100% financing. This does not mean there isn’t hope if you are using a product that is 100% financing, but you must be+ aware you may have to move on until you find someone that is not afraid of 100% financing. The housing market in New Milford is not sliding backwards and this is good news. It is fragile, and those who are selling or buying should know what the latest market conditions are.

Keeping you updated on the housing market in New Milford, CT.

We post detailed monthly market reports. Fill out the form below to get your monthly copy of our New Milford CT real estate market report. We do not sell email addresses, and will not use it for any other purpose than to notify you when the latest market report is ready.

SEARCH HOMES FOR SALE, NEW MILFORD CT

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Free app, search homes for sale in Litchfield County CT

We have a free app for you to search homes for sale in Litchfield County and all of CT. A no ad app, which I actually use myself when I am out and about. The app uses your GPS to locate nearby homes for sale and rentals, or you can put in your own search criteria. You can even search sold homes!

Text GLR to 87778 to download the free app and start your home search right away from your cell phone! Courtesy Swiedler, Pomerantz & Adams, the SPA team and Prudential Connecticut Realty.

Text GLR to 87778 for your free home search app

Litchfield County CT Real Estate Q&A, Pricing Your Home

House for sale New Milford CTThe question we hear most often when listing a home for sale in Southern Litchfield County is…

“But how much should we build in to the list price of our home for negotiating purposes?”

Let me show you some REAL real estate statistics for New Milford, CT.

In August of 2012, homes sold, on average, at 95.5% to their LAST LISTED PRICE.  You think that’s not bad, right?

However, the real number is arrived at by looking at the ORIGINAL LIST PRICE to sales price percentage. That would be 92.3%

Homes that are overpriced sit on the market longer, become “stale listings” and take price reductions before they sell. Why would you want to do that? Why not price it to sell in the first place?

List to sale price in New Milford CT

Buyers actually determine the price of your home these days. We are, after all, in a buyers market. If no more homes come on the market, it will take 11 months for us to sell the current inventory. And these homes will sell for at MOST 92.3% of their original list price.

How does that look? Simple. $400,000 actually sells for $369,200 after sitting on the market. Why set yourself up like that for all the disappointment and heartache? And what if that final amount is less than what you owe on your mortgage? It would really be best to be prepared for that up front, not having the sale halted because you didn’t realize it, or didn’t want to acknowledge that the actual sale price of your home would put you in the short sale category.

By the time you add all your expenses up for the 11 months it may take to sell your home, mortgage, taxes, insurance, perhaps the better idea is to list your home at the price suggested by looking at current comps, both sold and active. Forget about building in room for negotiating purposes! And then there is the hassle of waiting and waiting before someone actually comes to look at your home when it is overpriced, or the disappointment of no offers after showings.

The answer to the question, “how much should we build in to the list price of our home for negotiating purposes”?

NOTHING. List it to sell, not to sit and try to negotiate your hopes away. Get realistic right from the beginning.

 

Update, upgrade or merely maintenance? And what is the difference?

Litchfield County Real Estate Talk, is that an update, an upgrade, or was that merely maintenance?

Litchfield County CT real estateI hear it all the time, I put a new roof on, new siding, new furnace, the dreaded new septic, so THAT will certainly add value to my property, right? I mean, after all, I upgraded…. right?

Are these updates or maintenance?

You won’t get your money back for putting on a new roof, or replacing a failing septic or a furnace that blew… nope, sad to say but you won’t. Not in the way that you think.

You and your neighbors home started life as identical dwellings. Over the years your neighbor has done nothing, the house has the original roof, original septic, original heating system, on and on. The house shows wear and tear. But you put a new roof on, you replaced the failing septic and heating system. (But otherwise the homes are still the same) I will give it a bit more value for condition, you will be more marketable, more sale-able. But dollar for dollar, you won’t get it back. That is routine maintenance that should have been done. The good news? Your neighbors house, with all the deferred maintenance, is worth less than yours!

When an agent tries to sell me on the fact that the house had upgrades, a new roof, a new furnace, a new septic, I tell them that is maintenance, routine maintenance. It may make the sale easier, but a new septic doesn’t warrant a $25,000 price increase over an identical home with the original septic!

It does work in reverse however. I will say, if the septic is shot and the price to replace it is $25,000, I can pretty much guarantee that the sales price will reflect that $25,000, even if the asking price or the offered price didn’t reflect it in the first place.

Upgrading, updating, that would be a bit of a different story. A home that has a new kitchen, complete with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances is certainly more valuable than the house next door with the original kitchen from the 70’s. Bingo, you are at the head of the class! Now you are worth more!

That was my long answer, now here is my short answer. There is only so much value we can give your house, no matter what you did to it. Style, size, location, market conditions, these all come into play. I cannot use a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath colonial built in 2005 as a comp against a ranch built in 1970, no matter how many updates and upgrades were done. After all, a t-bone steak is worth more than a rib eye steak! But the good news is, there are many people that will be happy with rib eye at the end of the day!

Yes, make sure you maintain your house, that deferred maintenance may cost you a bundle when you go to sell. And when you have upgraded, you will see an increase in price, but not dollar for dollar!

Originally posted at Update, upgrade or merely maintenance? And what is the difference?

Unemployed in Litchfield County with a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae Mortgage?

How am I going to pay my mortgage now?

Help! I just got a pink slip, how am I going to pay my mortgage???  You may be entitled to some help, mortgage forbearance, or more to the point, deferring payment for a period of time. Of course you will have to repay the amount, and it won’t be tacked on to the end of your loan. Rather when you get back to work you will have to pick up your mortgage payment again plus an additional amount to repay the amount that wasn’t paid. They may also report your mortgage as delinquent and you should check on their specific policy on this.

If you find yourself unemployed (if your partner is on the mortgage too, but they are still employed, they still may give you a reduction or accept no payments for a time) you need to make sure you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. If you are unsure, call your loan servicer and ask. The guidelines rule out assistance if you financed with an FHA, VA, or USDA Rural Housing mortgage. The home must also be your primary residence.

There are very specific rules and regulations. I strongly urge you to contact your loan servicer to find out if you qualify, and always a good idea to discuss loan forbearance with a real estate attorney to understand how it will impact you later on down the road. For some the program will help to keep them from losing their home. The initial time frame allowed is 6 months, in some cases it can be extended up to 12 months.

What is the first thing to do if a job loss is threatening your mortgage payment? Contact your loan service provider immediately, don’t wait until you haven’t made a payment. Ask if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns or has guaranteed your mortgage. If the answer is yes, have them explain the mortgage forbearance program to you, go over the long term effects and ramifications with you. I also suggest you may want to speak with a real estate attorney to understand how this program might affect you in the long run. The initial time frame allowed is 6 months, in some cases it can be extended up to 12 months.

If you lose your job in Connecticut and have a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage there is hope.  Contact your loan servicer to find out if you can participate in the loan forbearance program and save your home.

Unsure if your mortgage is a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage? Check these links out.

Fannie Mae Mortgage

Freddie Mac Morgage

If you don’t have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage, you may be able to get help from CHFA’s EMAP program, the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program or get some advice from the Housing Development Fund’s Foreclosure Intervention Program. Whatever you do, please do not wait. Call before they knock on your door!

If you need to sell your home in Litchfield County give us a call. Even if your home is worth less than what you currently owe on your mortgage, we can help you with a short sale of your home. You can use the contact form here  or call us at 203.460.1775 for a confidential interview.

 

Originally posted at Unemployed in Connecticut with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan?

The Great Real Estate Divide

A new study came out about the great real estate divide between buyers and seller. Although I live in the great real estate divide, the figures still took me (a bit) by surprise.

The Commercial Record published an article yesterday called “It’s Really a Buyers Market”. (You may not be able to read it without a subscription, sorry) They published findings by Research Institute for Housing America (associated with the Mortgage Bankers Association) that said it was really a buyers market. Yes, we in real estate know that. But they put a name to the dilemma we often find ourselves in these days.

NEGATIVE SELLING SENTIMENT

The research says that:

92% of current home owners think it is a bad time to sell
80% of consumers interviewed think it is a great time to buy

Another telling statistic:

In the early 1990’s, 40 – 60% of home owners felt “relatively positive” with the prospect of selling, even though prices had taken a dive and interest rates were through the roof.

Home prices:

For those who purchased their homes from 2007 and up, they valued the sale price of their homes at 14% higher than the actual sale price.  A 350,000 sale price means the home owner believes the home should sell for 399,000. That is a huge difference!

For those who purchase their homes before 2002 overvalued the sale price of their homes at 12% higher than the actual sale price.  A 350,000 sale price means the home owner believes the home should sell for 392,000. That’s still a big difference!

The study also notes that inventory is down. I have noticed that, I attributed some of it to the recent storm we had in the Northeast at the end of October, the market really hit the brakes after that. Add the holiday to the mix and we are much lower in inventory than in previous months. But this study was nationwide, not just New England. I am curious to see what 2012 will bring in terms of inventory. Buyers are getting frustrated with the lack of inventory AND the unrealistic pricing we run into.

There are those that believe this lack of inventory may just be what the market needs. That it may help to stop the market from dropping more, may even help to ease prices up a bit. I do not agree with that as a whole, buyers still believe most homes are overpriced. And if the statistics are right, if agents have listed homes at prices their sellers want rather than what they know it will sell for, it will not help as buyers are very, very wary of pricing right now.

We need to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers soon. Sellers need to realize that 80% of consumers believe it is a good time to buy. Yet if they are not buying their home, the reason is price. Price overcomes all obstacles. Selling a home these days requires a seller to be very realistic about pricing, and the listing agent to be very honest with the seller. It is the only way to bridge the gap over the great real estate divide.

It is, after all, a buyers market!

C Andrea Swiedler 2011

Real Estate As Is

New Milford, CT real estate talk. What does “As Is” really mean?

As a real estate professional in the greater New Milford, CT area, I do come across the term “as is” many times. “As is” means something different to each party, let me explain.

Selling your home “as is”.

Sometimes while listing a house the seller will tell me they want to sell the house “as is”. I caution them that if we put “as is” in the listing it will send up a big red flag to the buyer and buyers agent.

“I wonder what they aren’t going to fix?”

Perhaps you have spent time and money preparing your home for sale. You had a pre-listing inspection and took care of the issues that were pointed out to you. There is no need for you to put “as is” in the listing, if any issues do come up with a buyers inspection you are not required to fix them. The confusion on this point comes in with the buyers lender. They may ask for the inspection report and red flag certain items themselves, refusing to  lend money until these issues are addressed.

But again, it is your right to say no, I will not fix anymore. I have done enough! Just know it might cost the deal, you should always discuss it with your real estate agent and if you are already in contract, discuss it with your attorney as well.

Buying a home “as is”.

Buyers do not like to see “as is”. I expect certain types of listings will be sold “as is”. For instance, a short sale. Often times the home owner does not have the financial ability to address an issue that crops up. If the issue is a real deal breaker, it is not unheard of for the lender to assist correcting the issue in order to keep the sale on track, but don’t hold your breath.

Foreclosures are often sold “as is”. However I am seeing more and more lenders who understand that if they want to get the property sold they may have to address certain issues. If a buyer discovers that the septic system is shot, they may fix it if they know it will stop any other buyers from purchasing the property. However this is not a given. Homes that are in probate are often sold “as is” also. There just may not be enough money in the estate to pay for any repairs.

All in all, when purchasing a home that is “as is”, make sure you get a very thorough home inspection. And make sure you understand that your lender may not be on board with the findings, especially for a first time home buyer.

“As Is” in real estate is not always the case! My advice? Keep it off the listing if you are a seller.If you know there are issues that are going to pop up and you can’t address them, price it accordingly.  If you are a buyer, just make sure you know what you are walking into. “As is” is really nothing more than a big red flag!

AS IS IS NOT ALWAYS AS IT IS!

No Way Out!

No way out of this basement!I was perplexed as I walked around the semi “finished” basement. One side of the basement had sheet rock, had a dropped ceiling and the cement floor had been painted. The other side held the mechanicals, the oil tank and the washer and dryer. There was plenty of room for storage, and on the whole the area was dry. This space was a bonus as the house was on the smaller side. (On the MLS the basement was listed as “part finished”.)

But…

There was no way out! Well, there was the staircase leading down from the kitchen, but otherwise, there was no way out! No second egress. And to install a below grade window to allow for egress may cost upwards of $5,000!

I couldn’t shake this as time went by, this is a fatal flaw in my opinion. The basement, on first glance, appears to be a great place for kids of all ages to romp around, but with no second egress, is it safe? This basement is a true basement housing the mechanicals, and quite inconvenient at that! And it certainly does not qualify as “part finished”. The only way to get anything down there is through the kitchen and down the stairs. So even if you solve the safety issue by forking over the money and installing a below grade egress window, you still won’t solve the problem of getting anything in and out of the basement. Just think if the furnace/boiler needs to be replaced?

No (second) way out is never a good thing in my mind. Being in this basement reminded me of the recent story in the news of the Massachusetts family who got stuck in a corn maize and had to call 911.

Originally posted at “No Way Out”

c Andrea Swiedler 2011

No road maintenace agreement for your private road or shared driveway?

No firetrucks allowed!New Milford CT real estate talk. Private roads and road maintenance agreements, you think you don’t need one, just wait until you try and sell your house. Or you need emergency services…

I looked at a house a while back that is on a dirt road, there are probably 10 homes on the road, most built in the last 10 years. For some reason the person who created the subdivision did not build in a road maintenance agreement for the owners to share in. The most amazing thing to me is all the subsequent people that purchased homes and lots did not raise an eyebrow over this. Neither did their attorneys, lenders or insurance companies. Until now….

The road is in disrepair, it needs maintenance, road grading for one. And when the winter time comes there is no one who will plow anymore. The guy with the truck and plow up and left. There is a person at the very end who is in landscaping, but refuses to plow the road in winter. Bet that went well last winter!

The town was approached and asked if they would take the road maintenance over, they refused. Until the road is brought up to their standards they won’t even consider it!

I have been told that most of the owners do not care to pay for road maintenance. I thought that was unusual, they will care when their insurance companies realize that in the winter time a firetruck may not be able to make it down the road. Or perhaps the realization that an ambulance may also not be able to make it. With the current temperament of lenders some are refusing to lend in situations like this with no road maintenance agreements in place.

No ambulance allowed!The fix is easy, have an attorney draw up an agreement for all the home owners to sign. Have it run with the land. Start an association up. Because it will be a shame if something happens that could have been prevented with a simple agreement in place. I think that a carefully worded letter to the current owners outlying the pitfalls of a private road with no agreement might help. Let’s hope we can get this cleared up so the house will have a better chance of selling in this already difficult market.

If you share a driveway and have no written agreement in place you are also at risk. Be very careful of this. If you are buying a home that shares a driveway, ask to see the written agreement, if you are selling and have just relied on the good neighbor policy, you might want to rethink that!

Who dealt this mess??? (As my mother used to say.) And one other question remains in my mind, who owns the lovely road? Seems like a trip to the town hall is in order for me, I do love a puzzle!

Buy a $1000 home in New Milford CT

Buy a home for $1000! Buy a home for pennies on the dollar! We all see those informercials about how you can buy a home for almost nothing!!! As a first time home buyer in the Greater New Milford Connecticut you need to understand the pitfalls of purchasing a foreclosure, and the reality of the situation.

First, I want to say I have yet to see anyone purchase a home for $1,000. Usually what this is referring to is a tax sale for back taxes owed to the town. And if you pay close attention to those, they rarely happen anyway. IF they do, there are some things you should know about properties that are sold by the state of Connecticut for back taxes.

  • The owner has the right of redemption for a year. The deed is not recorded during this period of time and because of this it is unclear of who has the right to live on the property during the redemption period.
  • Statute says the tax sale will wipe out the mortgage, however because of the way it is done, the lender may indeed come back and claim a constitutional right to defend their interest in the property.
  • Some of our Title Companies in Connecticut refuse to insure title for these properties. If that happens, you cannot mortgage the property at a later date and will have a hard time to sell in the future.

These are only a few of the reasons why purchasing a home at a tax sale is probably a bad idea for the first time home buyer, or for any buyer who isn’t prepared to deal with the above. Save yourself the money, don’t purchase the book from the infomercial. We don’t buy properties on the court house steps here in Connecticut like they do in some other states.

Foreclosures are often the first thing that come to mind for buying your first home in the Greater New Milford Connecticut area. After you realize that you can’t buy a home for a $1000 that is. Yes, we have foreclosures, not as many as other areas. But that will change and we will see more and more.

Here is the cold hard truth about foreclosures in the Greater New Milford, CT area. Very few are in good shape. Oh sure, you might be handy, but most I have seen need work far beyond “handy”! Many have been vacant for a long time, they have had pipes freeze and break, they have water and mold issues, the septic is a HUGE unknown. (Inspections on septic systems at a home that has been vacant for a while are difficult at best, you won’t get a true understanding of the system’s functionality.) Remember, this is a rural area and most homes have a septic system, unless they are in the downtown area and connected to the town sewer and water lines!

For instance, you see a home listed for $80,000, what a bargain! Your heart races, you want to see it, this is your home, you can fix those little problems, you are handy! However the reality is IF you are going to purchase this home with a mortgage, you will have to have a special mortgage that requires you to use licensed contractors to fix the issues and pay them out of money you have borrowed from the lender you use. (for instance, 203K rehab loan, you can read all about the 203K rehab program here at the HUD website.) So, this $80,000 home will cost you far more, depending on the amount of work needed you may have to borrow the funds to bring the house up to a standard where you can actually live in it! And the lender will check to make sure the work was done by a licensed contractor, not by you! So the house that you thought you were going to get for $80,000 is now going to cost you far, far more! And the lender will not allow you to pay more for the repairs than for the original home itself.

Not to say that buying a foreclosure won’t or can’t happen, but be prepared. Get preapproved for a mortgage so you know how much you can spend, how much you are comfortable with. Find out what type of loan products are available to you. Once you know how much you can spend, more homes may open up to you as a possibility to purchase. Stay in touch with the real estate market, focusing on more than foreclosures in the area. And if you find a foreclosure you want, make sure you have it inspected by a good home inspector.

Call me at 203.460.1775, I would be happy to talk about buying a foreclosure in the Greater New Milford Connecticut area. You may not like what I have to tell you, but I will be up front, honest and will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear, about purchasing your first home.

Originally posted at “I want to purchase one of those $1000 homes in New Milford CT”

c Andrea Swiedler 2011