Local housing market on fire
Homes in Summerfield and King City sold like hotcakes in 2012
In a nutshell, the local real estate market in 2012 was hot, hot, hot, and local real estate brokers were busy, busy, busy.
"It's been a great year," said Robyn Starr Dezendorf, real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty. "It's the best year we've ever had at Keller Williams."
Dezendorf sat down Dec. 10 to discuss the banner year with Ken Miller, principal broker at Ken Miller & Associates Realtors, and Brad Wyatt, principal broker with Prestige Properties.
"It's like a switch turned on six or seven months ago," Miller said, and Wyatt added, "I saw the action pick up this time last year, and the momentum has continued. It's the best year I've ever had. It's been an incredible, incredible year."
The numbers bear out their statements: Summerfield was projected to have 84 sales by the end of 2012, while King City had 92, and the Highlands had 21.
Compare those numbers with the worst year for sales in the past 10 years - 2008 - when Summerfield had 26 sales, and King City had 46. Bucking the trend, the Highlands had 17 sales that year, which is its annual average,but dropped to its lowest number - 13 - in 2010.
Wyatt specializes in King City, Dezendorf concentrates on Summerfield, and Miller sells homes in both.
Wyatt said he sold 51 homes, including 47 in King City, in 2012; Miller said he sells three to four dozen each year; and Dezendorf said she expected to sell 12 to 15 homes, noting that she sold seven in the previous 60 days.
But the great sales numbers followed a few lean years after the recession hit in 2008.
"Last year and the year before, there were enough sales to get by, but it was nothing to write home about," Wyatt said.
As a comparison, Summerfield has had an average of 55 homes sold per year over the past 10 years, with 48 selling in 2007, but then the numbers dropped - 26 in 2008 and 36 in 2009.
The numbers started rising in 2010, including 61 sales that year and 66 in 2011, due to two factors: an aggressive marketing campaign by the Summerfield Civic Association that included two communitywide open houses in 2009 and 2011 and the beginning of First Sunday events in July 2009.
Dezendorf initiated the First Sunday program and still organizes it every month, encouraging listing agents and owners selling on their own to hold open houses; she provides lists of the properties and maps, and volunteers offer tours of the Clubhouse.
"Easily 95 percent participate," Dezendorf said. "There are always three or four who don't do open houses. But it was no-brainer to do it. You see all these signs as you drive around - it creates a buzz."
Dezendorf also tracks how many people attend each open house and what their comments are, emailing monthly feedback reports that also include the number of properties for sale or pending and other timely information.
More recently, the Summerfield Civic Association updated its website and is working on the golf course site as well.
Wyatt said that efforts have been made to start a program in King City similar to Summerfield's First Sunday, but it just hasn't taken off. However, he provides the King-Netters email list with information about current real estate activity.
There are always a few properties being sold by their owners, with Dezendorf noting, "I know of four FSBO sales going on."
The sales situation is helped by the current sellers' market, the brokers said. There is a 3.8-month supply of homes for sale in the metro area, meaning that if no new ones come on the market, the supply would be exhausted in that time.
"If the supply is five months or below, it is a sellers' market, and if it above five, it is a buyers' market," Wyatt said.
In January 2012, there was a 12.6-month supply, the highest it has ever gotten.
"Now, it hasn't been this low for a couple of years," Dezendorf said. "Summerfield loves this. Baby boomers want to retire here. Of the seven homes I've sold in the last 60 days, most of the buyers were in their 60s."
Due to the relative scarcity of homes for sale, the brokers are seeing multiple offers on homes and many full-price offers.
"We are definitely seeing more offers," Miller said, and Dezendorf added, "Two-story homes have traditionally been harder to sell, but they are getting more offers too."
Prices are going up, and bidding wars have even erupted over desirable properties, but prices remain reasonable, with Wyatt saying, "In King City, you can buy a decent house for $175,000."
Miller added, "There have been some condos selling for $50,000 and $60,000."
The brokers said that while the market has tapered off a bit recently, they foresee relatively strong winter sales.
"Halloween to Easter is generally considered the slow time," Dezendorf said. "But I have some listings in the wings for February and March."
One characteristic that is no doubt common to 55-plus communities is a larger number of vacant homes than in regular communities.
"It's a funny little thing, but there are a lot of vacant homes." Miller said. "The parents (homeowners) pass away or move to assisted living, and the kids can't decide what to do with the house. There are about 20 situations like that in Summerfield right now."
Wyatt added, "There is a house in King City that has been vacant for 15 years due to this situation."
Also, owners are sometimes forced out due to foreclosure.
When dealing with bankers and lawyers and heirs, sales can become more complicated and time-consuming. "I have dealt with four people at once and needed four signatures - and two were out of state," Dezendorf said.
Wyatt has a pending sale where he dealt with the owner, who then wanted a four-week delay before closing. During that time, the owner died.
"The home is in a trust, which is good, but now we're waiting for the death certificate for the sale to close," Wyatt said.
Even the dreaded foreclosures and short sales are occurring in the local area. (A short sale occurs when the proceeds from the sale of a property fall short of the debts secured by liens against the property, and the seller cannot pay the difference, forcing the lien holders agree to accept less than the amount owed.)
"I never would have thought that," Miller said. "But there are some bank-owned properties for sale in King City."
All three are real estate veterans: Dezendorf has been in the field for 23 years, and since 2007 she has dealt with residential properties for Keller Williams; Wyatt has spent the past eight years with Prestige; and Miller has been in real estate for 10 years, including the past four as principal broker at this own company.
They also all live locally - Wyatt lives in King City, and Miller and Dezendorf live in Summerfield.
"You get to know everybody doing this," Wyatt said. "But it's sometimes hard to live in a 55-plus community where your good friends get sick and even pass on."
And dealing with seniors also can present challenges - for instance, many don't use the Internet or email, which slows down communication and dealing with documents.
Another issue is that after the quick-and-easy loans of the mid-2000s before the recession hit, lenders are now pickier than ever.
"People make plans to move or whatever based on the closing date, and then you don't know if a home will close on time," Dezendorf said. "I try to build in another week."
Miller explained, "Lenders don't submit the documents to the underwriters until the last week, and then they sometimes want more information," and Wyatt added, "They're definitely getting hard."
Dezendorf noted, "You do so many things if you're a good Realtor. You take everything on."
Meanwhile, the brokers are staying busy.
"It feels like the market is rolling along," Miller said. "We need more inventory," and Dezendorf added, "And for the interest rates to stay low. This is just the best time. The ultimate promotion is referrals, and that takes a few years, but there's enough business here for everybody - we just try to make everyone happy."
Wyatt said, After I sold 51 homes this year, my goal for 2013 is 75 sales.
Their websites are 5starrealestategroup.com and Kingcityhomes.net for Wyatt, Kenandvicki.com for Miller and PremierPortlandProperties.com for Dezendorf.