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.

Advertisements

Typical Weekend Weather

Posted in Real Estate with tags , , on April 28, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

We had picture perfect weather this weekend, which is usually very typical of spring.  Low 80’s with a quick afternoon downpour on Saturday, which did not dampen the SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival which showcased beautiful chalk renderings in Forsyth Park.  I took advantage of the event and held a long overdue garage sale just a few steps from the park.  I sold about half of my extra inventory and was happy with the outcome.  I will say that Savannah residents and visitors really want a deal, as do most people going to a garage sale, but everyone was happy when they did purchase and it was nice see old stuff recycled.

Sunday we did some gardening in the yard with again perfect weather, not too hot with a gentle breeze.  I spoke with several people and we all agreed that the last two years spring was only a couple of days.  It went from cold to hot in a week, but not this year.  We have had more great days and a lot of them over weekends.  It just serves to remind me why we found Savannah in the first place as a close match to the weather in Taipei, Taiwan where we lived for two years before returning to the states.  Taipei was great, but Savannah is better.  It is the people who make it so, characters and all.

SCAD Alumni & Parent Weekend

Posted in Real Estate with tags , , , on April 25, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

My first Friday post, hooray!  This weekend will be a busy one filled with lots of fun events brought to us by the Savannah College of Art and Design in connection with their alumni and parents weekend.  The Sidewalk Arts Festival in Forsythe Park features artists in an unbelievable competition to transform the pedestrian by-ways with beautiful works of art.  A must see if you are in town for any reason.

At night they screen films in the park as part of Films in Forsythe at 8:30pm tonight “Jaws” and Saturday “An American Tale”.

It is also a very busy time for your neighborhood Realtor® with all of the parents in town researching whether to buy or continue to throw away money every month on rent.  Check out our company blog for some of the best options for students downtown: SCAD Options or how about this one bedroom one bath in the center of town?

24 East Macon Unit 324 East Macon Street Unit 3 — $239,000

How Bad Is It?

Posted in For Buyers, Real Estate with tags , , , on April 24, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

My family and I live in the Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent Historic District and I spend a lot of time specializing in this area.  This morning I was thinking about how the market is really starting to pick up over the last two weeks and how it has been a long year.  I wondered just how bad has it been in Ardsley Park last year as compared to this year.

Last year by April 24th there were 24 sales in the Ardsley Park area as defined by the Neighborhood Association boundaries compared to just 9 this year.  It was 24 the year before if you were wondering.  Thankfully there are currently 9 properties under contract and 1 contingent so by the end of April we should see an uptick.

Two years ago there were 118 reported sales in the same area which was the the three year average and only 90 last year representing a drop of more than 23.0% of existing home sales.  Currently there are 84 homes on the market which represents nearly one year of inventory if the number of sales is similar to last year.  The magic number for inventory seems to be 6 months.  As the number falls below 6 months it is a Seller’s market and when it becomes more than six months, as is the case today, a Buyer’s market.  When this market equalizes we should have about 60 units on the market, but 84 properties is not totally unusual for a Spring market.

The statistics for Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent is not unique to the Savannah marketplace, so if you have been thinking about Buying in Savannah, get out there and find your best deal, you’ll be glad you did!

Ardsley Park For Sale Sign

Caravan Etiquette

Posted in For Sellers, Real Estate with tags , , , on April 23, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

Just a quick primer for any of those Sellers who want to know what is the best way to present your home when the office caravan comes rolling through.

DO have the home as clean as you can possibly make it.

Think of this as a test.  Believe that every agent who walks through your door has a Buyer right now that they are working with that is going to put in an offer on the house down the street this afternoon and you have one chance to get the agent to tell them they HAVE to see your home before making that offer.  Agents preview homes all the time for out of town clients, caravan is an unsolicited preview but nonetheless very important.

DO NOT be home during the caravan.

Caravan moves at its own pace unlike a scheduled showing.  Keep in mind sometimes the order of the homes change last minute or on the fly.  If you are told the group will be there between 10 and 11 plan to be out of the house at least a half hour before 10 and then ask your agent to call you after they have finished but then tell them to call you later in the day for agent feedback.  This is because they will probably be riding with other agents and may not be able to give you all of the important feedback from those agents.  Also, if you are home there is the awkward meet and greet with every agent who feels the need to small talk for a moment and then on their way out will say “Thank you, you have such a beautiful home.”  This will lead you to believe that everyone loved your home and when your agent comes to you with negative feedback you will be less likely to believe it.

DO provide some sort of snack or mini meal.

From the time your agent opens the door to the time they close it up after caravan averages about ten minutes.  Agents preview quickly and you want them to really think about your home.  Give a quick bite or at least coffee or juice with to go cups or bottled water and those agents will spend another five to ten minutes and leave remembering your home.  Also, put the snack in the room where you want the agents to really remember, if its the kitchen put it there, but if you have a back patio with a great view put it there.  Agents are always a little thirsty or a little hungry.  This is always a good idea when your home is farther away from the company office to entice a good turn out.

That’s really all there is to caravan.  Treat it like a VIP is looking at the home and the response will be exactly what you want.

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 www.corabettthomas.com) 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.

 

Hello world!

Posted in Real Estate with tags , , on April 21, 2008 by Peter Nelsen

Welcome to Situation : Savannah!  Here you will find a daily post Monday through Friday about topics that I find interesting from my daily life in Savannah, Georgia.  I am a real estate broker with Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates (www.corabettthomas.com), husband to beautiful wife Tomi, and father to our daughter Harper and maltese China.  If you find my writings interesting please pass them along, I’d like to see how many people who want to know about living in Savannah, Georgia are out there looking for more information.

You can access my personal website, which is a work in progress, by going to peternelsen.com.

Today seemed like the perfect start day and went rather well.  It started with a meeting to discuss writing an offer on a condominium property, then a closing on a condominium at 10:00.  And ended with the writing of a contract for purchase of another condominium.  Okay, so the market has been slow (Even in Savannah) but an uptick in the number of Buyers looking for condominiums is encouraging.  When I first got to Savannah I ended up specializing in Condominium Conversions and did quite well for a couple years.  Then, about two years ago I noticed a trend in the condominium market, more inventory and less buyers.  I then shifted my focus to the neighborhood of Ardsley Park where we had just moved from downtown Savannah.  I look back and see that I did get the trend right,  I just didn’t see it affecting the entire market and not just condominiums.  This Spring has been steady and I predict that Buyers who are purchasing homes in the next 45 days will benefit from the slow down, and be part of the roughly 15% of Buyers who actually time the market right.  After that happens, Buyer’s confidence will be back and everyone will jump on the bandwagon and will have just missed the super deals.