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Janelle Pfleiger

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Financial Freedom

by Janelle Pfleiger

With Spring nearly here (although it doesn't look like it in Alaska!), why not clean out your finances and reduce some debt?!? Here are some debt-busting strategies to help you on your way to financial freedom.

  1. Assess Your Debt. Remember, there is good debt, and there is bad debt. Good debt will produce some sort of a return in the future, or at least is deductible. Bad debt (credit cards!) should be paid off first.
  2. Set a Monthly Financial Target. Determine how much money you need each month to get yourself back to stable financial ground. Getting there may be challenging, but a little bit at a time will push you in the right direction.
  3. Make Smart Expense Cuts. Try to find ways to save that won't hurt your household or your business. For example, cancel luxury items or subscriptions such as dish TV rather than fall behind on a car lease. As you learn to live with less, gradually increase the amount going into savings or toward paying off debt.
  4. Look Ahead. Always make yourself aware of new revenue opportunities and expenses that may be in your near future.
  5. Prepare for the Worst. Put together a "what-if" plan to deal with scenarios that could arise that would become expenses. It will put you at ease to know you already have a solution in place.
  6. Make Saving a Habit. Its easy to drift away from saving money, but keep at it anyway. The payoff is seeing your debt decrease as your savings increase.

For more information about how you can save money and reduce your debt, visit REALTOR.org.

Pending Home Sales Turn Around

by Janelle Pfleiger

From www.realtor.org:

Pending home sales rose strongly in May with all regions experiencing gains from a year ago, pointing to higher housing activity in the second half of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 8.2 percent to 88.8 in May from an upwardly revised 82.1 in April and is 13.4 percent higher than the 78.3 reading in May 2010. The data reflects contracts but not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

This is the first time since April 2010 that contract activity was above year-ago levels, and the monthly gain was the strongest increase since last November when the index rose 10.6 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the improvement bodes well for home prices. “Absorption of inventory is the key to price improvement, and this solid gain in contract signings implies that home values in many localities are or will soon be stabilizing as inventories get absorbed at a faster pace,” he said. “Some markets have made a rapid turnaround, going from soft activity to contract signings rising by more than 30 percent from a year ago, including areas such as Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Houston; and Seattle.”

Pending home sales have trended up unevenly since bottoming last June, rising in seven of the past 11 months. “Home sales still could be 15 to 20 percent higher,” Yun said. “If banks would simply return to normal sound underwriting standards and begin lending to more creditworthy borrowers, we’d get a much faster recovery in the housing sector.”

“In addition, a nonsensical situation has developed recently in some states with HUD unable to complete foreclosure deals because of insufficient funds to pay attorney fees at closing, even with buyers offering the full listing price,” Yun added.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 7.3 percent to 69.2 in May and is 4.4 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 10.5 percent to 82.8 and is 17.2 percent higher than May 2010. Pending home sales in the South increased 4.1 percent to an index of 95.0 in May and are 14.6 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index surged 12.9 percent to 100.6 and is 13.5 percent above May 2010.

Yun cautioned that healthy job creation is necessary to ensure a solid recovery in both housing and the overall economy. “The job market has sputtered recently, and because variations in local job creation impact housing demand, markets will recover unevenly around the country,” he said.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.

NOTE: Existing-home sales for June will be reported July 20 and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be released July 28; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data in this release, other tables and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.

Why Isn’t My Home Selling?

by Janelle Pfleiger

If you’re a seller and have had your home on the market for a while without any promising showings that may be an indication that some changes need to be made with how your home is being marketed. It is especially important to make sure your home stands out among the other inventory on the market. Seriously ask yourself why a buyer would choose your home over all the other homes for sale.

First, check out who you are competing with. If a large portion of homes in your market aren’t selling, you need to look up the homes that are pending sales and see how your home compares. You need to know what is happening in the market right now and pending sale data will be your best indicator.

Second, make sure you have a good number of quality photographs of your home out on the market. Homes that are listed with only one photo will be passed by, but homes with dozens of good photographs get noticed. Also, keep your photos fairly simple. For example, if you have similar bedrooms in your home, focus on showcasing your master bedroom. Of all of the rooms in the house, make sure you have several photos of the kitchen, which is generally the most viewed area of the home.

Third, ensure that your home is being marketed through several different methods. When your marketing material does catch the attention of potential buyers and they come to see your home, get some feedback about what they liked and disliked about your home. Make adjustments to overcome any disliked features of your home.

Fourth, if you do hire an agent, make sure it’s somebody who is competent, experienced and honest. The easiest way to find an agent is through referrals from family and friends. When interviewing agents, first find out about his or her marketing plan before discussing home pricing and commission.

Fifth, and finally, price your home right. To avoid overpricing your home, look at comparable sales in your market. You will need to make adjustments for square footage and location.

Importance of Home Staging

by Janelle Pfleiger

This morning I came across a great article from the Times that discussed the importance of home staging. The article, To Sell an Apartment, No Detail is Too Small, attempted to put a dollar value on simple staging and repairs with examples from NYC agents and their listings. Obviously the housing market in Anchorage is going to be quite different than in NYC, but there was one important point the writer made that I use as a main marketing piece for my business frequently…buyers aren’t buying a home, they are buying a LIFESTYLE:

An expensive shoe closet: worth every dollar. Michele Kleier of Gumley Haft Kleier has found that when buyers walk into a closet filled with Christian Louboutins, they are likely to pay more of a premium that what the seller spent on her show collection. She advises sellers, “You can buy 25 pairs of designer shoes, put them in your closet, and they’re going to get more than you spent on them.” That’s because, Ms. Kleier said, “people want to step into your life.”

As a seller, it is important to keep in mind that small details can either turn a buyer away or draw a buyer in. It really is amazing how attention to detail can determine whether a home will sit or sell. I encourage you to check out the article (by clicking on the hyperlink above)!

Buying Opportunities

by Janelle Pfleiger

In the past few months, first-time home buyers have represented about one-third of the market. Contrary to concerns about our nation’s general economy, those buyers still value owning their own home.

According to the 2010 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 53% of first-time buyers were motivated by the desire to own a home of their own. Low mortgage rates, rising incomes and stable prices helped them achieve those goals. 33% of first-time home buyers bought a home when they did primarily because they thought it was the best time for affordability.

For more information, check out the National Assocation of REALTORS website.

Home Ownership…is it the Right Move?

by Janelle Pfleiger

According to the results of a National Association of REALTORS survey, a majority of home owners and renters agree that owning a home is a smart long-term decision.

From this survey, 95% or owners and 72% of renters believe that over a period of several years, it makes more sense to own a home. Of the home owners surveyed, 93% are happy with the decision to own and would buy again.

The survey, American Attitudes About Homeownership, also reveals differences between owners and renters. More than half of home owners are “very” or “extremely” happy with the overall quality of their family life, while only one-third of renters reported the same.

For more survey results, visit www.realtor.org/statsanddata/homeownership/attitudes_homeown.

5 Tips to Reel in Renters with Social Media

by Janelle Pfleiger

Article from rismedia.com

RISMEDIA, February 10, 2011—It’s a good time to buy, but not everyone in every market is doing it. As home prices are rising again in some areas like San Francisco, Manhattan and some parts of Southern California (along with interest rates), and the act of qualifying for a home loan is still tough for many (especially the self-employed), a number of would-be buyers are staying put in the rental market in order to stay liquid. This is a more sophisticated demographic than ever—renters are far from second-class citizens, and luxury rental properties are sprouting up as proof.

Time-tested methods of advertising a rental apartment or home—a well-written, thorough description and great photography—are as critical to success as they always were. And in today’s technological world, the Internet is the best place to display all of these methods. But a website isn’t enough anymore. Today, a multi-tiered Internet presence is critical—and key to that is the use of social media like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. But doing this entails a lot more than logging on and “friending” a bunch of people. When navigating the world of social media, the effectiveness of the end result is proportional to the care put forth both cultivating and maintaining your message. To that end, follow these tips for successfully using social media, not only to attract renters in your target audience, but to keep them interested.

1. Emphasize any features that promote a healthier, happier lifestyle. Rather than just rattling off features of the apartment, go one step further and connect to people who want to live a better life. For instance, if your building has a gym with state-of-the-art equipment, link on Facebook to a fitness story about staying fit, or do a fitness-based Twitter post. If the rooms are particularly light-filled with floor-to-ceiling windows, link to a story about the importance of light to a healthy lifestyle. This will allow folks to associate your property with a high quality of life.

2. Connect to the community. Show your property’s connection with the world outside. If it’s in an urban area with lots of younger professionals, do a post on five great coffee bars to visit before work, or wine bars to check out after quitting time. If a standout new vintage shop opens nearby, do a post on that. Remember, people will be renting not just an apartment, but a neighborhood. Highlighting the best and brightest places in that neighborhood will enhance your value proposition big-time.

3. Show that inventory. Is an apartment available? Show it via a quick link on your wall or social media page. The statement can be simple: “Check out the view from a sunny one-bedroom that just opened up on the 20th floor.” But don’t opt for one of those spinning 360-degree views with a fixed camera and no sound, where it looks like the walls are caving in. In those types of videos, a large bedroom is virtually indistinguishable from a closet-sized one. Instead, consider a video featuring a quick tour, with well-focused zooms on all the important details, from a marble shower to a well-lit breakfast nook. It doesn’t have to be dramatic and Broadway-lit, but it should look professional. You don’t need multi-thousand-dollar equipment—the new Flip video camera is a good pick.

4. Appeal to the tech-savvy crowd. If a potential renter is accessing your content on Facebook and Twitter, chances are he or she does a lot online, both business and personal—including paying bills, ordering lunch and joining a variety of communities and interest groups. It’s a given that you should emphasize tech-savvy features in the rentals, from free Wi-Fi to high-security intercoms. But, more importantly, consider using social media to organize social meet-ups for residents, and even issue friendly reminders to residents like “Don’t forget, you can pay your rent online!”—even offering to enter those who do in a competition. You might ask: How does this benefit those who haven’t rented there yet? The answer is simple: They can see that there’s a community there, and if it looks enticing enough, they’ll want to join.

5. Keep your messaging true to your brand. Entertaining is one thing, “cutesy” is another. Avoid the need to be excessively jokey or colloquial; don’t fall into the trap that some marketers do, thinking all renters are twenty-something’s who are all about partying. And don’t abandon your larger marketing strategy: Though social media posts should obviously be more conversational than the tone of the building’s website or other marketing materials, they shouldn’t sound as though they’re written by an entirely different entity. If it’s an affordable property, it’s silly to mention a just-opened store nearby that sells $2,000 handbags or a great nearby restaurant that offers $28 eggs Benedict at brunch. And finally, don’t overpost. Less is more. Five weather updates a day are best left to the weatherman.

Dan Steward is president of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspections.

For more information, visit www.pillartopost.com.

Fewer U.S. Homeowners Underwater on Their Mortgage

by Janelle Pfleiger

Article at RISMedia.com by Alejandro Lazo

December 15, 2010 - The number of homeowners in the U.S. who owe more on their propeties than what those homes are worth has declined steadily for most of 2010, according to Santa Ana, California research firm CoreLogic. But the drop in properties with negative equity has more to do with troubled borrowers losing their homes to forclosure than an increase in prices. About 10.8 million, or 22.5% of residential properties with mortgages were in negative equity positions at the end of the third quarter. That is down from 11 million, or 23%, in the second quarter.

The number of underwater borowers has declined by more than 50,000 during the first nine months of 2010, according to CoreLogic.

"Negative equity is a primary factor holding back the housing market and broader economy," CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming said. "The good news is that negative equity is slowly declining, but the bad news is that price declines are accelerating, which may put a stop to or reverse the recent improvement."

About 2.4 million borrowers had very little equity, less than 5%, at the end of the third quarter. Underwater and near-underwater loans accounted for 27.5% of all U.S. mortgages.

The states with the most underwater mortgages at the end of the third quarter were Nevada with 67%, Arizona with 49%, Florida with 46%, Michigan with 38% and California with 32%.

Congratulations Janelle!

by Janelle Pfleiger

Congratulations Janelle!!!

Janelle has been named the 2010 REALTOR of the Year by the Alaska Association of REALTORS!

This award is given annually to an individual who has displayed strong leadership, good real estate practices and business accomplishments and who is involved in civic activities.

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Janelle Pfleiger

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already. They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy. The problem with this approach is that you don't know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you've missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

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Janelle Pfleiger
RE/MAX Dynamic Properties
3350 Midtown Place
Anchorage AK 99503
(907) 257-0156
(907) 242-0076