“iBuyers” & Instant Cash Offers

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Technology is changing the way we do almost everything, and real estate transactions are no exception. In fact, a new crop of tech companies wants to revolutionize the way we buy and sell homes. iBuyer startups like Opendoor, Offerpad, and Properly are rapidly expanding into new territories, and now established players, like Zillow, are starting to get in on the action. Also known as Direct Buyers, or wholesale buyers, these companies use computer algorithms to provide sellers with a quick cash offer to buy their home. While the actual market share of iBuyers remains small, their big advertising budgets have helped create a noticeable buzz in the industry. This has left many of our clients curious about them and how they work. In this article, we explain their business model, weigh the pros and cons of working with an iBuyer, and share strategies you can use to protect yourself if you choose to explore this new option to buy or sell your home.

FIRST, HOW DOES THE iBUYER PROCESS WORK? 

While each company operates a little differently, the basic premise is the same. A seller (or seller’s agent) completes a brief online form that asks questions about the size, features, and condition of the property. Some also request digital photos of the home. The iBuyer will use this information to determine whether or not the home fits within their “buy box,” or set of criteria that matches their investment model. They are generally looking for houses they can easily value and “flip.” In most cases, their ideal property is a moderately priced, single-family home located in a neighborhood with many similar houses. The property shouldn’t require any major renovations before listing.1 These qualities make it easier to assess value (lots of comparable sales data) and help to reduce risk and minimize carrying costs. Once the iBuyer has used their algorithm to determine the amount they are willing to pay, they will email an offer to the seller, usually within a few days. The offer should also disclose the company’s service fee, which is typically between 7% and 12% of the purchase price.2 If the seller accepts, an in-person visit and inspection are scheduled. The iBuyer will ask for a reduction in price to cover any defects they find during the process. Once the sale closes, they will make the necessary updates and repairs and then resell the home on the open market.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF SELLING TO AN iBUYER? 

Of course, the biggest benefit of selling your home to an iBuyer is convenience. For some homeowners, the stress and disruption of preparing and listing their home can feel overwhelming. And what busy family with kids and pets wouldn’t want to skip the hassle of keeping their house “show ready” for potential buyers? Additionally, many sellers like the predictability of a cash buyer and the flexibility to choose their closing date. However, this added convenience does come at a cost. An iBuyer is an investor looking to make a profit. So their purchase offer is usually below true market value. When you tack on service fees of up to 12% and deductions for updates and repairs, studies show that sellers who work with iBuyers net a lower amount than those that list the traditional way.3 In fact, a MarketWatch investigation found that transactions involving iBuyers net the seller 11% less than if they would have sold their home with an agent on the open market.2

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF BUYING FROM AN iBUYER? 

Buying a home from an iBuyer is a lot like buying a home from any investor. The pros are that it’s usually clean, neutral, and moderately updated. You’ll often find fresh paint and modern finishes. And because it’s uninhabited (no one is living there), you don’t have to work around a seller’s schedule to see the home. However, there are some pitfalls to avoid when working with iBuyers. Speed is of the essence, so sometimes the renovations are rushed and the quality can suffer. Also, their investment margins don’t leave much room for negotiating a price reduction or additional repairs. That leaves buyers —who have already invested hundreds of dollars in an inspection—little recourse if any issues are uncovered.4 That’s one of the reasons we always recommend viewing properties with an agent. During your visit, a real estate professional can point out any “red flags” at the home, provide background information about the neighborhood, and help you assess its true market value. That way, you don’t invest time and money in a high-risk or overpriced property. Safety is also a concern. Some companies allow buyers to access their homes via a smartphone app. While it may seem convenient, it provides an easy way for squatters and others to enter the home illegally.5 Luckily, since most iBuyers (and traditional sellers) pay a buyer agent’s commission, you can benefit from the guidance and expertise of a real estate professional … at no cost to you!

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF IF I CHOOSE TO WORK WITH AN iBUYER? 

While it may seem like the “quick and easy” way to go, working with an iBuyer can present some unique challenges. For example, they are notorious for presenting a strong initial purchase offer and then whittling it down with a long list of costly updates and repairs once they complete their inspection.2 And unlike a traditional buyer who is incentivized to make a deal work, iBuyers can easily walk away if you don’t meet their demands. Just like you wouldn’t go to court without a lawyer, you shouldn’t enter into a real estate transaction without an advocate to represent you. Having a professional agent on your side can be especially important when negotiating with an iBuyer. Remember, they employ sophisticated representatives and a team of lawyers who are focused on maximizing their profits, not yours. You need someone in your corner who has the skills and knowledge to ensure you get a fair deal and who understands the terms of their contracts, so you don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises along the way. Overall, we think the emergence of new technology that helps to streamline the real estate process is exciting. And if we believe a client can benefit from working with an iBuyer, we present it as an option. But there is—inevitably—a cost to the convenience. After all, most iBuyers eventually list the properties they acquire on the open market, which is still the best place to find a buyer if you want to maximize the sales price of your home.

EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS! 

Do you want to learn more about iBuyers and other options currently available in our area to buy or sell your home? We can help you determine the best path, given your unique circumstances. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!
Sources:

  1. The Dallas Morning News – https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2019/07/11/so-called-ibuyer-real-estate-firms-pitch-programs-to-buy-your-house-help-you-hunt-for-another/
  2. MarketWatch – https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11
  3. Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/08/16/study-shows-ibuyers-cost-home-sellers-thousands-is-convenience-worth-the-price/#697ac0c42269
  4. US News & World Report – https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/what-to-expect-when-buying-a-home-from-an-ibuyer
  5. Inman – https://www.inman.com/2019/09/11/police-arrest-couple-found-squatting-in-opendoor-home-with-their-kids/

October 2019 Market Update

Asking Price Up 9% Over Last Year
Square Footage Drives Appreciation

October 2019 Market Update

For Buyers:

The news media is filled with short-term predictions regarding the economy and how it will, or will not, affect real estate prices. It’s understandable for buyers to want their home to appreciate in value after they purchase, who doesn’t? However there is far too much attention paid to short-term influences and fluctuations these days and not enough attention paid to the long view. Real estate is a long-term investment for many people. Despite the euphoria of 2005-2007 and the nightmare of 2008-2011, on average homes are selling 81.6% higher today than they were in the year 2000. That’s an average appreciation rate of 4.3% per year over the course of 19 years. Smaller homes appreciated the most over time while larger homes appreciated the least. Homes under 1,000sf have appreciated 122% since 2000, an average of 6.4% per year. Those between 1,000-2,000sf appreciated 106%, an average of 5.6% per year. 2,000-3,000sf appreciated 68% at 3.6% per year. 3,000-4,000sf appreciated 49% at 2.6% per year and homes over 4,000sf appreciated 11% at 0.6% per year.

For Sellers:

Average asking prices per square foot are up 9% over this time last year and they’re continuing to rise. However, not one individual price range has risen 9% or more; confusing, right?  That’s because the sharp increase in the average has more to do with a growing market share of luxury active listings over $500K as inventory has plummeted everywhere else. The highest increase is within $200K-$250K, where sellers are asking 5.6% more than they were last year.  That’s followed by listings over $1M where they’re asking 4.2% more and $500K-$1M at 4.0%.  All other price ranges are just 1-3% higher. But are buyers paying? Actually, many of them are! In the $200K-$250K range, the average sales price per square foot is still 0.8% higher than the average list price; and between $250-$300K the average sales price is 6.8% higher than the average list per square foot. Things change over $500K. Between $500K-$1M there’s a -6.3% gap between asking price and sales price and over $1M the average sales price is -15.1% below the average asking price.

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

September 2019 Market Update

New Listings Up 10% from July
Supply Down 73% in $200-250K

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For Buyers:

A faint glimmer of good news for buyers, supply finally stopped declining and actually rose a tiny bit in the last week. While active listings are still 16% lower than they were this time last year, they’re 1% higher than 4 weeks ago. This rise can be attributed to a 10% increase in new listings from July to August, which is not uncommon as July is typically a low point in the year for new listings. However this August was 3% below last August in comparison and the lowest August since 2016. One price range that is still declining in supply is $200K-$250K, which has plummeted 51% since February. The Southeast Valley on the Maricopa County side has seen the largest decline of 73% in this price range for single family homes. Gilbert is especially low with only 5 listings in the entire city under $250K as of September 9th, all of them townhomes with an average size of 1,116 square feet.

For Sellers:

For some sellers the idea of listing their home is stressful, even if they really need to sell it.  The pressure of keeping their home clean for showings and open houses, enduring negative feedback, and the unknowns of the inspection report can send homeowners right into the arms of flip investors who will happily buy their home “as is” with significant fees attached. While there is nothing wrong with doing that (there is value in ease and certainty) sellers should understand that if their home lands within a frenzy price range for their area, where there are literally more homes under contract than there are for sale, they may be pleasantly surprised at how little they have to do to sell it on the MLS. Negotiable listing costs, multiple contracts and buyers willing to buy “as is” make this the perfect market for sellers who know their home is not so perfect. To find out if your property lands in a frenzy zone, contact us today!

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

August 2019 Market Update

New Listings at Record Lows
Contracts in Escrow Up Over 15%

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View Real Time ARMLS Market Gauges

For Buyers:

It’s slim pickings for buyers in Greater Phoenix these days unless your budget is over  $500,000. Overall supply is 14% lower than last August while contracts in escrow are 15.5% higher! There are a plethora of zip codes considered “frenzies”, where there are literally more properties under contract than there are active for sale; all of them with an average sale price below $400,000. This is unusual for August, which is typically a much softer month. Buyers  will have a slightly easier time in more expensive areas such as Central Phoenix, Ahwatukee,  South Tempe and the Northeast Valley, but not much unless they’re willing to go further out or increase their budget. Any projections of prices flattening out or coming down in Greater Phoenix this year have been obliterated.

For Sellers:

As supply plummets, fewer sellers are deciding to sell. July was THE lowest month for brand  new listings going all the way back to the year 2001. That’s significant because the population today is 50% larger and the number of housing units is 63% higher than it was 18 years ago.  19% of all MLS sales and 26% of sales between $100K and $250K sold over asking price last  July. Coincidentally (or not), 32% of sales within that same price range still included some form of seller-paid closing cost assistance. Despite the frenzy market, the annual appreciation rate for Greater Phoenix is just 6.4% and sales between $225K-$500K are clocking 3.5-4.0% on average. This may seem surprising given the widening gap between supply and demand; but appraisers remain conservative in their valuations and with at least 80% of buyers needing a loan, they’re riding the brakes on runaway appreciation thus far.

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

Will Your Remodel Payoff?

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Most new homeowners have something about their property that they want to change. And as family needs and design trends shift over time, many will eventually choose to remodel. Some homeowners make updates to their property before listing it to maximize their potential sales revenue.

Whatever your reasons are for taking on a home improvement project, it’s wise to consider how the money you invest will impact your home’s value.

We’ve taken a look at six popular home renovations and identified those that—on average—have the best and worst returns on investment. So before you lift a hammer or hire a contractor, take a look at this list and see if your remodeling efforts will reward you when it comes time to sell.

RENOVATIONS THAT PAY OFF

These three common home improvement projects not only add function and style to your home, but they also offer a strong return on investment. Making strategic upgrades to your property will help you increase its value over time.

Minor Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home,” and for good reason. Traditionally used for preparing food, it has morphed into so much more. Many of us now eat our family meals in the kitchen, it serves as a favorite spot for homework and kids’ art projects, and it’s the place guests tend to gather when we host events. 

Because we spend so much time in our kitchens, it’s natural that we will eventually want to make updates and upgrades to better suit our needs and changing style preferences.

Luckily, a minor kitchen remodel is one of the best investments you can make in your home. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, it has an average 80.5% return on investment.1

The key to making a kitchen remodel pay off is to keep it modest in scale. Spend too much on custom or high-end selections, and you are less likely to recoup your investment. Instead, make an effort to keep your existing layout if it works for you and your family. Paint or reface cabinets instead of replacing them. Update countertops with low-maintenance quartz and swap out old light fixtures with modern alternatives. Replace outdated appliances with energy-efficient models. The average cost for a minor kitchen remodel is $22,500, and it’s likely to recoup more than $18,000 at resale.1

Patio Addition/Extension

A patio addition is a popular way to extend and enhance the use of your outdoor space. It’s the perfect spot for grilling, dining alfresco, and entertaining. In fact, 81% of surveyed homeowners said they have a greater desire to be home since completing a patio addition.2

For a 16 x 20-foot patio extension, you can expect to spend around $13,000. Fortunately, the money you invest offers an average return of 76%.1

Siding/Stucco Replacement

Everyone knows good curb appeal is important when selling your home. And while it may not be the most exciting way to spend your remodeling budget, new stucco and paint can make a big impression on buyers … and your selling price.

Your home’s exterior is one of the first things buyers see when they view your home. It sets the tone for what they are going to see inside. It also gives an impression of how well the property has been maintained. Worn, peeling, or rotted stucco can be a major red flag for buyers.

Replacing 1,250 square feet of siding costs around $16,000 and will net you an average of 76% at resale.1

For an even greater impact, consider replacing a portion of your stucco with manufactured stone veneer. It can have a dramatic effect on the visual appeal of your home. A 300 square foot area will run you around $8,900, but you can expect to see a nearly 95% return when it comes time to sell.1

RENOVATIONS WITH WEAKER RETURNS

These three popular remodeling projects are homeowner favorites. However, don’t expect to see a high rate of return at resale. Instead, consider them an investment in your current quality of life. Just make sure you’ll be living in the home long enough to make them worthwhile.

Major Kitchen Remodel

If there’s one room the majority of homeowners dream about making over, it’s their kitchen. From custom cabinetry to high-end appliances, the possibilities are endless. But those dreams can come at a cost. 

An upscale kitchen remodel with high-end cabinetry and countertops, commercial-grade appliances, and designer features can cost upwards of $130,000. And unfortunately, you’ll only get back around 60% at resale. Even a mid-range kitchen remodel that includes new semi-custom wood cabinets, laminate countertops, and energy-efficient appliances could run you around $66,000 and net you a mere 62% at resale.1 

Of course, an outdated or non-functional kitchen could turn buyers off from your home completely …  and keep you from enjoying it yourself! So if your kitchen needs a major remodel, you shouldn’t necessarily scrap your plans. Just go in with the realization that you may only get back a fraction of what you invest. Then you can decide which upgrades are worth the splurge.

In-ground Pool

Few additions deliver more entertainment or enjoyment than an in-ground pool. It brings families and friends together, provides a break from the summer heat, and offers a fun and convenient way to stay fit. Plus, you’ll be the envy of your neighbors! But before you dive into a pool addition, consider whether the benefits outweigh the (substantial) costs.

The average expense to install a standard 18 x 36-foot in-ground pool is $57,500. And the estimated return at resale is only or 43%.2 In addition to the installation cost, plan to spend money each year on maintenance, repairs, and additional insurance. 

However, 92% of surveyed homeowners said they “have a greater desire to be home” since installing a pool, and 83% have “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.” For you and your family, the perks of a pool may be priceless.2

Master Suite Addition

If you own a house built before the 1980s, there’s a good chance it lacks a master suite, which is a feature that has become commonplace in most newly constructed homes.3

Master bedrooms have evolved from a simple place to sleep into a homeowner’s retreat—often featuring a sitting area, his-and-hers walk-in closets, and an attached bathroom with double vanities, a soaking tub, and a walk-in shower.

And master suite additions have become increasingly popular—both in homes that lack one as well as those with aging owners who can no longer accommodate stairs to an upper-level bedroom.

But what’s the typical return at resale? Unfortunately, a master suite addition offers one of the lowest returns of any remodeling project. With a median cost of $125,000, most sellers will only recoup around 52% of their investment. Nevertheless, in a survey of homeowners, the majority were satisfied with their decision to add a master suite, giving it a “Joy Score” of 10 out of 10.4

WEIGHING COST VS. BENEFIT

It’s always wise to enter into a remodeling project with knowledge of how it will impact your home’s value. In most cases, upscale or highly-customized upgrades are less likely to offer a high rate of return. That said, home renovations that improve your quality of life and enhance your enjoyment may be worthwhile no matter the cost.

GET A CUSTOMIZED ANALYSIS OF YOUR PROJECT

We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual return you can expect on a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighborhood. If you have plans to remodel, call or send us the details. We’d be happy to conduct a free analysis to determine how the renovations will impact the value of your home!

Sources:

  1. 2019 Cost vs. Value Report – https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2019/
  2. NAR’ Remodeling Impact Report – https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2018-05-remodeling-impact-outdoor-features-05-23-2018.pdf
  3. Zillow – https://www.zillow.com/blog/evolution-of-the-master-bedroom-48286/
  4. House Logic – https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/bedroom-closet/master-suite-addition-return-investment/