Eagle Rock Real Estate Report February 13, 2009
What's the story with short sales? (Again, a short sale is where the owner owes more to the bank than they can get for the property, so they can't sell unless the lender agrees to take less). Are they working out for people? In Eagle Rock, 17 of the 47 active listings are short sales, 7 of the 22 properties in escrow are short sales, and 1 of the 9 closed sales so far this year was a short sale. So the percentage of each goes from 36% of the actives to 32% of the pendings to 11% of the solds are short sales.
Contrast that with foreclosures: 7 of the 47 active listings, 9 of the 22 pending, and 5 of the 9 closed sales are REO. The percentage goes like this: 15% of the actives, 41% of the pending, and 55% of the closed are bank-owned.
So there are a number of short sales that try to close escrow, few that actually do. On the other hand, foreclosures are selling like hotcakes. And, though it's a very small sample, two-thirds of the closed sales in Eagle Rock so far this year, 2009, were distress sales, which is almost as high a number as in Highland Park (see my February 7 blog). And actually, one of the "regular" sales was a trust sale, so that reduces the "normal" number even more.
My view is that the short sales you see clogging up the active listing inventory are confusing the general buyer public. You see these artificially low-priced homes, like the one at 4911 Townsend listed for $250,000, and everyone thinks they are going to get a deal. Well, let's follow that one and see how it pans out. It will be a learning experience for us all. My prediction: if it ever sells as a short sale, it won't sell for $250,000, it will be more, because the house is too big to sell for that little, even though it needs a lot of work. It will get bid up to a higher price. Will the bank approve that price? Or will it eventually go to foreclosure? Let's watch that one and find out.
**UPDATE** Today (November 14, 2010) I looked up the MLS record on 4911 Townsend to see what did ever happen to that property, and the answer is... nothing! It expired on the MLS July 29, 2009, which means that it either did not sell and the seller decided to keep making payments, or the listing agent never updated the listing. Looking up the property in the title records I see that it hasn't changed hands since 2006, so I'm assuming the lender did not give short sale approval and so the seller has kept making his payments and kept the house.
Here is an example of what pricing right will do: I saw 5420 Mt. Helena, which came on the market at $559,000 with a list date of 2/6/09 and by 2/10/09, the listing agent told me it had received 4 offers and was now in escrow. It was a trust sale and the family just wanted it sold. I'll bet that one sold for more than its list price as well, because you cannot underprice a home, even in this price-conscious market. If it looks like a deal, more than one buyer will think so.
Of course we all want a deal, we don't want to pay more than something is worth, especially in today's market. Which gets us into the whole discussion of value, of what is a fair market price? Is the price today the same price it will be worth in a month? If the buyer and seller can't agree on a number today, then we don't have a sale. What will the property be worth in two months? Is the market going up or down? If you are overpriced today, what does that make you in two months if you still have't sold? Or is it just that the right person hasn't come along?
It's not simple buying real estate today, is it? Unless you just want to buy a home, need to move, find a place you can afford, and buy it. Oh, that sounds simple. Why is all the rest going on?
And that's why we have the whole real estate industry, my friends. What should be a simple transaction is full of so many questions to be answered.