Archive for the For Professionals Category

AASU Economic Monitor Says Regional Housing May Have Stabilized

Posted in For Buyers, For Professionals, For Sellers, Real Estate with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

Armstrong Atlantic State University Center for Regional Analysis has released its Economic Monitor for the 1st Quarter of 2008.  In it, Dr. Michael Toma acknowledges the challenging economic conditions facing the coastal empire, but offers a few bright spots for the housing sector saying, “it is possible that some of the leading indicators may have ‘found a bottom.'”  He went on to say this about the housing market specifically:

Although residential construction in the Savannah metro area has suffered through a three-quarter recession, the sector may be at the bottom of the cycle. During the first quarter, the number of building permits issued for single family homes increased 3.2 percent from the previous quarter, after the usual seasonal adjustment to the data. On an over-the-year basis, permit issuance appears to have bottomed out in the last quarter of 2007. Other evidence suggests that the inventory of new unsold homes is beginning to back down from cyclical highs. The average value of a new home building permit issued decreased modestly to $157,500, but has been moving within a relatively narrow range for several quarters. (Dr. Michael Toma, AASU Economic Monitor 1st Qtr 2008 )

This is similar to what I have felt about the existing home sales market in our region.  I have said recently that I believe our below $250,000 market has picked up considerably and is somewhat strong. Which I believe will translate into a stronger $250,000 to $350,000 market this Summer and culminate in a Fall market with homes under $500,000 selling well again.  I do think the $500,000 to $1,000,000 market will not return until next Spring however.  Our luxury market continues to be on par as luxury Buyers are less affected by slowing economic factors and should do well right into next year and beyond.  Dr. Toma’s report concluded with a brief wrap-up which I will include here as my conclusion:

In conclusion, the two-quarter decline in the leading index continues to send a clear signal that the economic environment in the Coastal Empire will remain challenging through 2008. While some promising (perhaps fledging?) signs of stabilization are emerging from the regional housing market, the area’s labor market will be hard-pressed to absorb surplus labor in the short run. 

(Dr. Michael Toma, AASU Economic Monitor 1st Qtr 2008 )



Ed McMahon Fighting Foreclosure On His Beverly Hills Home

Posted in For Buyers, For Professionals, For Sellers, Real Estate with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

I watched this story last night on Access Hollywood and had to post it here as warning and a lesson.  This morning it was picked up by the Today show on NBC.  This is particularly sad story for myself as I have been welcomed into the McMahon home on a few occasions with his adopted stepson, whom I attended college with.

I say a warning because this threat of foreclosure is affecting a large sub-section of our society and I feel that everyone needs to be aware that anyone can be in this situation at one time or another.  Many are able to turn their situations around, as I hope the McMahons will.  I also think that the lending institutions are aware of the mounting threat and have some systems in place to help those that are proactive and contact the bank before being in default.

When I say lesson, I mean a lesson for home sellers and real estate professionals.  Both of these groups need to look at the details of the McMahon story and take them into consideration.  The home has been for sale for two years for $6.2 Million.  It has been reported that the McMahons are in delinquency of  $644,000 and that they have loans of $4.8 Million.  Your real estate professional should be your real estate adviser.  The McMahons have known they were in default for at least a few months to wrack up $644,000 in arrears and that information should have been made crystal clear to their agent early.  In response, their real estate professional could have advised an immediate and decisive price reduction to get the home sold. 

If you are currently facing foreclosure, tell your real estate professional as such and how far along in the process you are.  Let me repeat, tell your real estate agent you are facing FORECLOSURE.  Many real estate professionals have experience in dealing with foreclosures and the lending institutions who are filing these defaults.

Would you rather sell your home for less than what you owe and be a little in debt with a decent credit score or have your financial situation splashed on national television for everyone to see and your credit destroyed if you go all the way to foreclosure?  Okay, so your foreclosure might only make the local newspaper, but your friends and neighbors will find out and your credit will be affected.  Not being able to pay your mortgage is NOT a crime, but allowing the bank to take it without a fight is.  Be proactive and enlist the help of a real estate professional who knows how to deal with preforeclosures, including marketing to investors and savvy home buyers looking for a deal as well as aggressively pricing the property.

Lastly, I want to address the main factor that affected the foreclosure situation and the wrong way to place blame.  The neck injury which kept Ed McMahon from working, thereby creating a disability, should have been covered by some sort of disability insurance.  Everyone should consult their insurance professional when purchasing a home and inquire about not only hazard and life, but as important disability insurance.  It is more likely you will be injured and unable to work than the likelihood of death, as shown at MetLife.  In placing blame, it was not the paparazzi that have kept the McMahon home from selling; it was probably the price and the “black mold” history.  Perhaps the home needs a new tag-line like, “Live like a celebrity, paparazzi included at no additional charge for a limited time!” or more simply “Home in Foreclosure, Celebrity Legend Considering All Offers”.

Ed McMahon Fighting Foreclosure On His Beverly Hills Home


Market Update : Ardsley Park and Historic Savannah

Posted in For Buyers, For Professionals, For Sellers, Real Estate, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 13, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

I hope everyone had  a good Mother’s Day, I know we did.  I thought I would update my market report from two weeks ago.  As of April 25th their were 9 sales in Ardsley Park, today there are 14 sold.  Then there were 9 properties under contract, today there are 7.  While these numbers are encouraging, they do fall short of the normal average of 10 homes per month and closer to the numbers from last year of 7.5 per month with a total of 7 homes sold in April.  With the inventory steady at 85 properties it is interesting to note that Cora Bett Thomas Realty has represented 4 of the 13 sales or over 30% of Sellers in this challenging market chose our company to get their homes sold ( 2 of them chose me and I was happy to get the job done. )

Let’s take a look at the Landmark Historic District.  The boundaries of this area are from the Savannah River in the North to Gwinnett Street to the South, and from East Broad Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard (West Broad Street) in the west.  Last year there were 130 sales in this area or 10.8 per month.  The good news is that although there are 31 sales so far in 2008, 15 of them were last month.  As I said two weeks ago the great deals have been snapped up and May will be another great month.  We have bounced off bottom in Savannah, the only question left is when will you get into the market?

Under Contract in the Historic District

  506 Tattnall Street — Under Contract

Last Day of the Month

Posted in For Buyers, For Professionals, For Sellers, Real Estate with tags , , , on April 30, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

Welcome to the last day of the month and one of the busiest days for a busy Real Estate agent.  Today I have a Ardsley Park closing, which is great because I also get a new neighbor.  Many agents have been busy with closings this month and I look forward to reporting the new statistics early next week.  The market has definitely picked up and I am surprised by the number of condominiums that have gone under contract this week.  That is allowing Sellers to explore upgrade options so we should start seeing a trading up market from now until August when the market slows slightly for the hot weather before ramping back up for the Fall before the start of school.

This week I am calling all of my contacts in order to get more inventory because there will be a need for diversity in listings in the coming months as properties go under contract.  I have already had twice as many showings on my listings this week from last week and it is only Wednesday!  Hopefully this will translate into offers for my loyal Sellers. If you would like to explore my current listings please visit

Many real estate closings happen at the end of the month for shear economic reasons.  That is because if you have a loan for the property you are purchasing the bank will charge you up front for interest on the loan for each day until the end of the month.  So if you close on the 1st day of April you will have to pay a full months interest payment at closing, but you will not have another payment until the 1st of June.  However, if you close today, the 30th of April, you will pay one day of interest at closing and your first payment will be still be due on the 1st day of June, but you will have more money in your pocket.  Therefore, your real estate professional should book your closing time early in order to get the time slot you want.

Vacant Houses

Posted in For Professionals, For Sellers, Real Estate with tags , , , on April 29, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

Savannah is a tourism rich southern treasure with university and military influences.  What this means is that there are more than a few vacant houses at any given time in Savannah.  Some are vacant because the Savannah family can’t bring themselves to give up the family house even though they don’t live here.  Others are situational, deployed to Iraq or home for the summer from SCAD, but nonetheless vacant.  The overwhelming number of vacant homes are fully furnished second or third homes.

This is important to Savannah because although we have seen a boom in housing, including many condominium conversions and in-fill projects, our population has not increased at the same rate.  Second home buyers usually keep their residency in their first home, and students normally keep their home address, not their school address.  Even most military don’t become residents because they will likely be moved within months, not years.  Home ownership then, as a non-resident, means that the city and county benefit from the property taxes not subject to homestead exemption and more importantly not subject to our Stephens-Day law which holds the property taxes to small increases every year as opposed to re-assessment.  This keeps the coffers of the local government filled and the squares and parks beautiful.

Vacant houses also affect the Real Estate market, in that, homes that are vacant usually sell for less money, and that means good business for professional staging companies.  Many times I will ask my clients to stage the home after a showing goes poorly and many times they agree and that makes a big difference, even if it is just for pictures.

Lastly, I want to mention security for vacant homes.  I recently experienced a security breach at a vacant listing where an alarm was present but not activated for ease of showings.  The side door was compromised and a new stove was taken.  This is not a new occurrence, and in fact I have heard of a couple cases of this in Atlanta, GA from new homes that are vacant.  My suggestions:  1. If the home has an alarm, set it, every time;  and 2. Have someone check the home once a week if it is not being shown very often.

Vacant homes are just part of Savannah and residents keep an eye on things, so go ahead and get a second home here.  Maybe in the future, more of those second homes will become primary residences and Savannah will continue to grow.  Savannah is a gem of a city and partially vacant, but never abandoned.

Office Caravan

Posted in For Buyers, For Professionals, For Sellers, Real Estate, Time Management & Organization with tags , , on April 22, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

This morning is our office caravan where all of my fellow agents and staff gather at our office (Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates and have a weekly meeting before the agents embark on a tour of newly listed properties.  Why would we do this some may ask?  Can’t we just look at the Multiple Listing Service or MLS and see the new listings, read the description, and look at the pictures?  Shouldn’t we be focused on listing more properties or touring with buyers to actually sell the houses listed and make money?  Here’s why this archaic real estate practice may be the most important weekly event that I have as a must attend meeting.

First things first, it gets me ready and out the door and into the office before 9:00am.  I need to explain that I get up every morning before 7:00am and begin answering email and now writing this blog, so I’m no slack.  The office meeting is usually began with a guest speaker.  These have ranged from the Chief of Police in Savannah, Chief Berkow talking about crime in Savannah to presentations from local Developers looking for our office support in selling their homes.  These speakers keep every agent current and expand their knowledge base for their clients and Meg Albertson, our VP of Marketing, does an exceptional job picking these speakers.  Next, we go through company business which includes sales leaders, announcements and usually a mini training session on a current topic. 

The next part of the meeting is the really best part, we go through all of the company’s new listings via projector, with pictures and stats, and the listing agent gets to tell every other agent why they need to have their buyers look at this home.  If you are a seller, represented by an agent of our company, this is when the networking skills of your agent are first tested.  I use the time to give a brief overview of the property, tell everyone why it is such a great property and sometimes the type of Buyer that has to see this property because they will love it!  After the new listings is an equally important call for “Quiet Listings and Special Needs”.  Again your agent has the opportunity to shine.  Whether they are alerting other agents to a listing they are about to put on the market in an attempt to get the active Buyers in the market or reminding agents of an older listing that may have had a price reduction or added value this time is extremely valuable.  If I have shown a set of Buyers every house and they haven’t found something yet, I’ll ask the office to suggest what I should show them.  It is really powerful to have the support of an entire company getting my clients what they want, whether its a suggestion or the sale of their home.

After the meeting we head out to look at between 4 and 8 listings.  If you don’t know your inventory you will not be able to speak effectively about the current market and its the time spent with fellow agents discussing real estate that really makes this an absolute necessityin my weekly calendar.  I can not tell you how many deals I have put together after asking for help from our agents.  I have used our time traveling from house to house to promote my listings, get suggestions for Buyers, discuss technology usage, discuss pricing my listings, and countless other real estate topics that benefit all of my clients. This is why Office Caravan is the most important re-occurring appointment in my schedule.