Posted in bay city, Bay City Michigan, Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Home Buyers, Home Selling Tips, midland, Midland Michigan, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Real Estate Market Statistics, Realtor, saginaw, Selling Homes, Selling Your Home, Tips for selling your home faster, Uncategorized

Less Sales – Higher Prices for Saginaw County

Based on number of transactions, March 2017 fell short in Saginaw County home sales when compared to a very robust March of last year, and even behind the 5 year March average. Don’t despair! If you are a buyer or seller there is still good news.

Despite the lower number of sales, Saginaw’s 12 month average sales price ending in March 2017 was at $104,314. This is up 3.33% over last year at the same time. I remember back in 2008 when the average home sale was at a whopping $64,143 – so we’ve made a lot of progress getting back to the “Pre-crash” price in 2005 and the average was just over $107,000.

Lots of numbers. What does it mean? Well, we can’t really formulate a trend from the low March sales. I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see if it was a statistical anomaly for the month. A slow March in essence is really a slowdown of activity in January. The plus side is the increase in home values for our various communities. That’s good news for sellers.  This in turn, realistically is also good for buyers.  Why? Well, all year we’ve seen low inventory of good homes.  As word spreads that home prices are continuing to rise, more sellers are likely to get their homes on the market. This gives a buyer more choices, which also gives them more leverage when making an offer.

The March trend was different for Bay and Midland Counties, despite how closely tied our Mid-Michigan communities are.  Bay County saw 25% more transactions this March over last year which is great; however the average sales price rose less than 1%.  Midland also saw about a 20% increase in number of transactions over last March plus had a 6.13% increase in values.

Quarterly reports should be out soon and that will perhaps give a little more insight as to whether March was a trend or an anomaly. Always good to keep in touch with the heartbeat of your community.  If you would like to know more specific information for your area, please feel free to call or email me. If you’d like to receive a free home market analysis – I’d love to hear from you.

~Build a better world by building a better you

  • Monique Gilbert – Your Real Estate Matchmaker – Connecting Buyers & Sellers for a Perfect Match
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Posted in bay city, Bay City Michigan, Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, Home Buyers, midland, Midland Michigan, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Realtor, saginaw, Uncategorized

Is Real Estate Investing For You?

Recently Saginaw was deemed the 2nd Best Housing Market in the United States. I know that seems to be contrary to what most people think when they ponder the state of Saginaw, with its loss of population and manufacturing jobs over the past decade.  There were a lot of factors that went into the study which gave us this infamous title. Though many of the factors are good things for us; higher number of residential sales in 2016 than any other in 10 years, average sales price climbing, etc – there’s more to it than that; and it and of itself could be a series of articles. But my point today is with the current changes in our market, could real estate investing be a good avenue for you?

If you are active in the stock market you are well aware of the volatility over the past years. If you’re toward the end of your working age, or recently retired – you may have had to make drastic changes to your retirement plans due to extensive losses.  What do you consider a good Return On Investment? (ROI) Many in the stock market are averaging 5-8%. You might be thrilled at a higher amount.

What if you purchased a home for $25,000 and put in $3,000 of repairs and rented it for $650-$800/month? Taking out taxes and insurance, even on a $650/month home, your income would be about $5,500. That in one year would be an APR ROI of almost 20%. Granted, you will occasionally need to do maintenance, perhaps pay a fee to a property management company. I would always suggest that for the first year, all of your rental income be kept in a designated savings account for future maintenance issues, as well as a good 10-15% each year.

With this income of 19.6%ROI annually, you would have a steady income and when the day came you wanted to sell, history tells us that you should get at least 100% of your original investment back as well. Why isn’t everyone doing this? Well, a lot of people are. I don’t have any stats about the percent of homes being purchased in Saginaw by out of area investors but I know it is much higher than any other time in the past ten years.

Let me be very clear that being a landlord, even if you hire a property management company, is not risk free.  You need to do a great job in selecting tenants (or the PM co. does) You need to be sure you’re setting those maintenance funds aside. There will be tenants who do crazy things and cost you money.

You may decide the risk for damages would be less if you were dealing with more expensive rentals. For example I recently had a client who purchased a home for $60,000 in the Township and then rented it for $1300/month.  That’s an awesome ROI, but a higher initial investment. You have to do what you think is best. And that might be nothing at all! But I believe it bears thinking about.

If you think investing might be worth looking into, feel free to call or email me. We have a great property management division here at Berkshire Hathaway too. If you want some honest advice I would be happy to sit down with you.

 

Posted in bay city, Bay City Michigan, Best Time to Sell, Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, Home Buyers, midland, Midland Michigan, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Realtor, saginaw, Selling Homes

…Giving Your Character That Ravishing Red…

Dear Friends:

Fall has been beautiful thus far and soon the festivities of Thanksgiving shall begin. We shall see gourds, pumpkins, shocks of corn, cornucopias, and turkeys galore. Though I personally am not much looking forward to the wintry mix that is sure to soon follow; Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite day of the year.

It is a time I am able to take just a very short break and surround myself with family, my extended family. All five of my siblings, their children, and grandchildren gather at my parents for a day or two of full tabletops, glorious wafting smells arising from the oven, mixed with laughter of children and adults alike. We have pillow fights, card games, leaf wars, football, and more.  I am blessed to have a family who loves to share these types of days together. I am blessed also that we have a wonderful home to gather in and enough in the bank to put whatever we’d like in the oven and on that table.

I encourage you, even if you aren’t a Thanksgiving Day “celebrator”, to take this opportunity to inventory those things in which you can be thankful.  As we watch the leaves turn from their bright greens to ravishing reds, glorious golds, and soft yellows we can turn our thoughts to the changes in our own lives from the past year. Maybe it wasn’t an easy year – those struggles leaving you stronger in the end, giving your character that ravishing red. Maybe there were wonderful celebrations providing you with glorious golden memories, and those little moments to cherish like the soft yellow leaves twirling down in the fall winds.  Whatever has transpired this year; we all have things to be thankful for.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, & change ordinary opportunities into blessings” – William Arthur Ward

Blessings to you and yours,

Monique Gilbert

Posted in bay city, Finding a great Realtor, Midland Saginaw Real Estate

What Makes a Great Real Estate Agent?

More than 60% of home sellers choose the first agent that visits their home. Wow! Does that mean the majority of real estate agents are great? People are so blown away with the sales presentations and marketing plans they need look no further? I would say, NO. As much as that statistic would make my day if I could somehow find the way to be the first one to home sellers’ doors; I don’t believe the majority of agents are “great” or “outstanding” . I would suggest that more than likely, the public is not aware of what makes the difference between a good agent and a great agent until they are well into the sales process and they’re already under contract.  Because buying or selling a home isn’t usually something done with frequency, how would one know what they SHOULD expect? Well, I think as a Realtor, I’m in a unique position to give an idea of what separates bad, good, and great agents. Why? Because I’ve heard a lot of complaints and even nightmare stories over the years. I have heard the shortcomings of agents as well as some spectacular acts of service. Let me share with you a little bit about what I believe home sellers & buyers should expect from an agent.

1. Do they make you feel comfortable in their presence? That may seem like an odd requirement but buying or selling is a big transaction. Don’t work with someone that you don’t feel comfortable with. You should feel like they are trustworthy, that they have your interest in mind. They should be listening to you and asking you questions to find out your needs. Trust your instincts.

2. Do they have a plan? There’s a little differentiation here between buyers and sellers. For buyers – the agent should be asking what your “dream list” is and be taking notes. They should be getting to know you and what is important to you and offer to put together an automatic search for you. They should be flexible with times that work for you – that is not saying they’re going to clear their schedule the next day and make you their only priority. They should offer you information on the community; events, schools, etc.                                                                                                                                     Sellers should find that an agent comes to their first appointment well prepared and professional.  They should already have done background work on your home’s information. They should have printed or online material about themselves, and the company they represent, ready for you.  A great agent should be able to walk through your home and point out the pluses and also those little things you may want to change to make your home more sale-able. They should be able to sit down and specifically give you a marketing plan for your home – don’t settle for someone who just says they have a great marketing plan. You should be able to see it in black and white right there. It should involve a multi-faceted approach – online (websites, FB, MLive), print, etc. Find out if they’re a member of your local board of Realtors. If you live near a county border, be sure they’re a member of the neighboring board too, or at least have guest listing privileges there. You need to make sure it will be listed in both places.

3. What is their route of communication? One of the biggest complaints from sellers that I hear is, “They stuck a sign in my yard and I never heard from them again”. That should never happen. You should have some type of weekly interaction. Even if there hasn’t really been an event for them to report, they should be calling or emailing (your preference) about what stage they’re at in their marketing plan and what they plan to do differently the next week. A buyer’s agent should be auto sending new and reduced listings any day they appear and also keep in touch with your situation to be sure nothing has changed.

4. Are they full service? This is a time where not every brokerage out there is full service.  You will find discount agencies. Note: THERE’S A REASON they’re called a discount agency.  They will not be handling all the details for you – before a contract, nor during, nor after.  I had my first encounter with working with a discount broker last year. I had a buyer who was interested in a home that was listed with a discount broker. It was a flat fee company that put a sign in the yard and listed it on the MLS and that was about it.  We went to make an offer and were told to work directly with the seller. The seller was absolutely confused, they were also not prepared to negotiate with an expert negotiator (me). They ended up walking away – their agent was not even aware.  Three weeks later their agent called to find out the status of the deal only to find we’d purchased another home. Be sure your agent is full service! Be sure you sign a contract so they are legally representing YOUR best interests; whether you are a buyer or seller.

To wrap it up; a bad agents tend to be pushy and hard-sell, most likely impatient, and want you to decide everything at that moment; a good agent will say they know your area, be professional, list your home on the MLS and some websites. A great agent will prove they know your area, show you their plan, come prepared, take time to listen and answer all your questions regardless of the lengthy number, list your home with a multi-faceted marketing approach, stay in communication, and make you feel like you are in the hands of an expert – because you are.

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Posted in bay city, midland, real estate, saginaw

Answering My Biggest Question: How’s the market??

It never fails when I meet someone new, the word Realtor pops up, the same question pops out! “How’s the market?” Everyone seems to want to know – whether they’re 25 or 75 the real estate market has an impact on their lives. Maybe they’re thinking of buying, or most likely they want to know if they have positive equity in their home and what it might be. I remember reading an article a few years back that stated some staggering statistic that 85% of people between the ages of 30-55 who’d bought a home in the last ten years were upside down in their mortgage. That’s pretty crazy! So I guess the How’s the Market question is pretty important. Let’s see what my experience and statistics are saying about the Mid-Michigan Area.

Mid-Michigan is made up of three counties, and they vary pretty drastically so I’ll address them separately. Saginaw County is where I reside, but I’m a member of all three area boards.  Of Bay, Midland, and Saginaw, we definitely hold the reputation for the lowest priced homes here in Saginaw. You can find all kinds of properties in the City limits for under $20,000; 127 to be exact. But what did surprise me is that statistically, Saginaw’s mean average has recovered a lot more than Bay County since the crash in home values back in 2008-2009. The average Saginaw County home back in 2005 was $107,073 and it fell to an average low in 2008 of just $64,143- a 40% drop. Keep in mind, that is an average for the county, which holds some “shining stars” as far as real estate prices are concerned, like Frankenmuth and Freeland. The average in the city of Saginaw at that time was around $13,000! The good news is that after the initial two years of prices in the depths of despair, we are crawling up and out! We rounded out 2014 with an average sales price of $91,985. That’s some good progress. The question is not just about sales price however, but about number of transactions. The last two years, 2013-2014 showed less homes sold than did 2012. So, we are finding that transaction #’s are down slightly, but sales volume is up. This is great news for people who are waiting to sell their home. Just in case you’re wondering the best months to sell in Saginaw are April-August, with August actually being number one in transactions – which busts the bubble of believers who think spring is the only good time in real estate. That means it is time to get your home on the market.

Statistics aside, I can tell you this: I have sold more real estate in the 1st quarter 2015 than I did annually 2009-2012! Granted I’ve been really working to grow my business, but I’m hearing it from lots of agents; “I’m crazy busy! The phones are ringing!”. I am excited to see what our stats show for 1st quarter when they come out next week.  Reality is, things are selling and prices are slowly rising, and our inventory is low. Good, nice, clean homes of all price ranges are in short supply. It’s a great time to sell and it’s a great time to buy. Interest rates are low, there are a lot of lending options, and I know of a really great agent who’s looking for both buyers and sellers!

I’ll share soon about Midland and Bay Counties. If you would like more specific market information for your location, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I have breakdowns for every township – some rebounding swiftly, others a bit more slowly. Regardless of where you’re at though, if you’ve a home to sell; it can be sold using great marketing and implementing tips about what’s most important to buyers.

Have a great day! (Despite the crazy snow we can’t seem to shake even toward the end of April!)

Posted in bay city, community, midland, real estate, saginaw

It’s a bloggin’ kinda day!

One thing I love about my new house is the skylight above my bed in the master suite. Nothing like watching puffy white clouds roll by and birds soaring as I awake, or at night, the twinkling of the stars set behind the swaying silhouette of a few monstrous tree limbs. This morning however, I was greeted with both the sight and sound of hail. Come on Michigan! It’s April already and I need a good day. I’m ready for some sun to stream through those windows. I’m ready to be invigorated with the forecast that announces itself not just through my window every morning; but aloud on my cellphone as my alarm speaks out the day’s weather, news, and my daily agenda. Today I had to settle for the fact that the freezing rain pelting my window was better than the picture of a frozen forest with snow flurries swirling on the face of my phone! My sunshine would have to come from within. Sound corny? Well, maybe so, but sometimes making other people’s dreams come true is just as good as sittin’ in the sunshine. 🙂 This is where real estate comes into play here on my blog Moniqueknowsrealestate.com  My intent here on my blog is not just to give you mundane facts about how the real estate market is doing. It’s to provide you with interesting articles, helpful tips, and community information, as well as allowing you to see a little bit of who I am as a person. Let’s face it – buying or selling your home is usually the biggest chunk of change you deal with at any given time and you want someone personable, trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced to take you through the process. I am that person. My hope is that by following my blog, not only will you enjoy the content but you will gain my respect as an individual who absolutely LOVES what she does and prides herself on providing excellent customer service from beginning to end. I love waking up in the morning with the prospect of seeing the smile on a 1st time home-buyers face at closing, at the relief that comes when I present a great offer to a seller who is just waiting to upsize or relocate, and even hearing about my seller’s favorite shopping trips with their daughter.  And let me tell you in the midst of it all; I’m always discovering something new and different along the way – funny things too. I hope to share that with you. So, stick with me – we’ll discover some great real estate adventures together!