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market forecast
The National Association of Realtors just wrapped up their 2013 Conference & Expo. Chief economist for the organization, Lawrence Yun offered his insight on what to expect for the 2014 housing market: steadiness in existing-home sales over the next year as prices continue to ascend.
Based on what has happened in 2013, Yun says he expects existing-home sales to be up about 10 percent in 2013 to 5.13 million and that 2014 will hold fairly even at about 5.12 million.
We in the Denver housing market, predict continued growth in the number of homes sold, with the accelerated appreciation of 2013 to level out in ’14 to around 4 percent.
National median existing-home prices should end this year about 11% higher than 2012, while next year’s growth is expected to nearly half of that. Those who’ve been following the return of the housing market know that the past two years have shown a 20% cumulative increase in existing-home sales with prices rising an average of 18%. Incomes have not kept pace, rising between 2-4% in the same period.

“We’ve come off of record high housing affordability conditions in the past year, and are now at a five-year low, but conditions are still the fifth best in the past 40 years,” Yun said, noting that the median-income family should still be “well-positioned” to buy a home in 2014 in many areas.

Affordability, limited inventory (especially in metro Denver), stringent mortgage standards and rising interest rates will all factor into the expected gains over the coming year. Housing starts are predicted to fall short of the underlying demand, while sales of new homes are expected to total 429,000 in 2013 and 508,000 next year.
Based on Lawrence Yun’s forecasts,the top 10 markets to watch for a housing turn around in 2014 are Salt Lake City, Utah; Naples and Tampa, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Boise, Idaho; Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona.

Paint FanOne of my favorite things about being in real estate is looking at houses. I’m mad about architecture, color, design, shape and style. I love staging that brings out the best features in the home while keeping it homey. Watching home improvement shows, HGTV, and all that real estate porn… I must admit, excites me. And when January rolls around and the color wizards announce the nominees, I feel as dizzy as an ingenue on Oscar morning.
On any given power-shopping Saturday, I can take buyers to look at five to fifteen properties. After house number 10, you’re beginning to feel a sense of overwhelm and the ‘buyer’s blur’, as each house starts to blend into the next. As the day progresses, the copious notes you started out taking become chicken scratches or a simple “NO!” until you get to my favorite place… walk in, walk out.
At the beginning of a house hunt, we feel the need to take the time to visualize ourselves in the home, our colors on the wall and grandma’s hutch in the dining room. Once you get the “Blur” it’s like triage, you identify what’s wrong quickly and assess if you can fix it or if you have to move on.
So sellers, what is it that buyers are responding to? First off I’d say CLEAN. And I mean clean to the point that a team of pros came in and scrubbed every corner with a toothbrush! Even an old house will look new when it’s sparkling clean. It inspires trust, helps us believe you’ve taken good care of your home. And by all means DECLUTTER. I know you’ve heard this before, from me and a thousand other HGTV Realtors, because we’re right. We’re the ones in the house when you’ve left for the showing and we hear EVERYTHING. When I say declutter, I don’t mean get rid of those things you’ve been planning to take to the Goodwill, I mean take all that to the Goodwill and then come home and pack up half of what you own!
Now comes the good part; UPDATE! The new 2013 colors are out and they are sensational. Spend some time browsing around to see if there’s something that speaks to you. If you’re prepping to sell (and right now you should be), look at the new neutrals, look at the latest accent colors and see if there’s something you can do to make your home feel au currant. You’re going to have to break out the paint brush, may as well add some pop! A word of caution though, if you’re not comfortable taking the lead on this bring in a color consultant or a stager for a professional eye. It can make a big difference in how much your home sells for and how quickly it sells.
The Denver market has changed. Home prices are up a stout 7% but that doesn’t mean you can just plant a sign in the yard and ask top dollar. If you want the most for your home, put the most into it. I guarantee you, that’s what your neighbor’s doing.
So… I guess it’s time to start moving on moving.

Recently I got a call from a gal I’d worked with on One Book, One Denver. “I’m getting married, relocating, and I need to sell my condo. Can you come meet me?” Of course. We met for a post-work beverage and talked about her marriage plans, the condo and then she popped the question, “Can you sell it for me?” Well, don’t you know how much I love to hear that question? Two days later I met Gina at her Mayfair townhome, a beautifully remodeled, two-bedroom, single story corner unit. We talked about timing her sale with the wedding and the move to Atlanta. All I could focus on is the fact that with so much big life stuff going on, I wanted to make sure the sale would go off without a hitch. Not always easy but always the goal, real estate transactions are an intense mix of business and personal and I consider it my duty to make sure your stress level is as low as possible.
Next we discussed price (usually where sellers feel a bit of an upsurge in their blood pressure) and settled on an opening list price smack in the middle of the competition with the agreement that we’d revisit the subject after a week on the market.
Now, it already looked like a shiny penny, “Pottery Barn Perfect” in Realtor parlance, but being a smart cookie she asked what needed to be done before we put it on the market. And then she did an amazing thing; she took notes and had all the polishing done within a week! I scheduled the photos for the virtual tour, put my marketing strategy in place and blasted it out to the market. After Sunday’s open house, I called Gina to tell her that I wasn’t excited about the showing activity in the first week and we decided to make a slight price adjustment. Monday we had three showings and an offer, lower than what we wanted but certainly high enough to open the conversation. Gina had shared with me the dollar amount she wanted for her home, which was reasonable, so it was very clear going into the negotiations what I was after. And they took it! Ten days, desired price, 30 days to a successful close.
Market data consistently shows that well-priced homes sell faster and for more money than homes which start high and chip away at the list price, especially true in this market. When a seller goes into the relationship with high motivation, reasonable expectations and trusts the advice of their Realtor®, things have a good chance of going smoothly. So what do I consider reasonable? As a seller, you have to be able to wrap your head around a few things.
• Your house is a commodity, not a product. A commodity is worth what the buyer is willing to pay for it. A product, like a hamburger, can be sold with the right marketing, like photos with enough glycerin on the patty to make it look really juicy. No matter how pretty your pictures are, your home is an emotional commodity.
• Just because you added the deck five years ago doesn’t mean you get to add that on to the price. Home improvement is tricky when it comes to selling your home. If you’re fixing it up to sell it, you’re putting that money in to make sure you get the highest amount of its fair market value. If your improvements have happened over time, they have most likely increased the value of your property, and you’ve had the pleasure of living with them. There is no guarantee that the $20k you shelled out for that sparkly new kitchen will result in a $20k return on your investment. I always tell my clients to make the changes they’d enjoy living with and deal with the rest when you want to sell it.
• Expect to pay for some pre-market repairs. You’ve been looking at that paint chip on the threshold, or the gold fixtures in the bathroom for so long you don’t even see it anymore. Buy your buyer will. And the little things mean a lot; new paint, bath fixtures, maybe some lighting and a professional cleaning will do wonders for your home’s appeal. You’re up against a lot of sellers who are doing their best so you gotta bring you’re A game!
• Buyers buy either from emotion, practicality, or a mix of both. If your goal is to sell your home for the most money in the least amount of time, make sure you keep this point in mind. You want them to fall in love with the home and you want them to write an offer. I can look at the MLS and tell you which homes in your neighborhood are going to be the next to go under contract. They’re the ones who hit either or both points. Make your house shine and price it well!
• Choose a good Realtor® and then listen to her. If you’ve chosen wisely, you’ve got an expert in your local market working as your advocate. Market conditions are what they are and they’re changing on a daily basis. You may have bought or sold a few homes over the years but there’s a good chance your agent has closed a few last month. That’s what we do and we don’t want to fire sale your house, quite the opposite. Happy clients refer business.

Hey, it worked for Gina!