Posted by: msundermier | April 2, 2019

2019 What to Expect

crystal ball (2)Many of us have begun to get our tax paperwork in the mail, and are beginning to get into that annual financial mindset of planning for the upcoming year. It probably doesn’t hurt that every third TV ad is H&R Block or Turbo Tax commercial! This annual market forecast is a timely message to my clients and readers who may be wondering if now is a good time to buy or sell.  I’ve always said forecasting is a fancy word for guessing.  No one knows for certain what lies ahead in our local real estate market. Nevertheless, as someone who witnesses the front-lines action in the market, I have the chance to share observed indicators with you.

Perception is Reality
From 2012 to 2017, demand was VERY high, supply was low, and interest rates were low (but rising). Those years were certainly a strong sellers’ market characterized by multiple offer situations and home values increasing 10% and higher year after year. 2018 on the other hand, the market began to shift. The combination of interest rates rising 1% coupled with low inventory has had a twofold effect on both buyers and sellers. Rising rates hurt buyers’ purchase power. Higher rates make it more expensive for sellers too, and many opt to not move further contributing to the low inventory problem. Many buyers anticipate (and hope) the market will run out of steam and have a wait and see mindset. These factors have led to the number of homes sold to decline for 11 straight months. While the rate at which homes are appreciating has slowed, values aren’t declining. In 2018, the Sacramento area saw an appreciation of 6-7% in home values. In 2019, I expect appreciation closer to 3-5%.

Buyers are getting picky (and they should)
According to the California Association of Realtors, the median sales price and median income in Sacramento County last year was $371,000 and $63,000, respectively. It would take the “median buyer” 16 years to save enough for a down payment of 20%. Fortunately for buyers, there are many options to purchase a home with less than the traditional 20% down payment. Many buyers can’t afford 20% down, but they’re able to afford the housing payment. With home prices at all-time highs, buyers are not willing to spend more on a house that is in need of improvements.

The Fixer Upper Effect
Everyone has a favorite home renovation show-I’m personally a fan of Nate and Jeremiah by Design. We watch while updating our Pinterest board with ideas for our dream home. But home renovations aren’t cheap! I know. My wife and I are 2 years and several $1000’s into our own. Like I mentioned above, it’s more difficult than ever to save money for a home purchase. Because of that buyers are no longer willing to pay extra for a house that isn’t turn key. If buyers are going to pay record prices, many want and expect the home to come with higher end finishes. A word of caution to sellers that are considering listing. Price accordingly. Yes inventory is still low, but it’s trending up. Don’t expect to list your home that has floral wallpaper, blue carpet, and avocado colored kitchen counter tops at an unrealistic price simply because you’re the only house for sale. Buyers aren’t willing to overpay for a fixer.

A Balanced Market is Coming
chris hands 2 (2)I anticipate sales activity to rebound in 2019; especially in the Sacramento area. Sacramento and the surrounding communities continue to be a popular destination for bay area transplants as well as other buyers looking to relocate. In fact, last year Sacramento was the number one destination for one way U-Haul rentals in the country! Yes, California (Sacramento included) is still in the midst of an unprecedented housing shortage that makes it one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. However, over the last 2 months rates have fallen .5%, and we anticipate they will remain stable for the foreseeable future. Lower rates combined with increase inventory will help move the market more towards a balanced market. Expect to see home appreciation to slow to 3-5%. In my opinion, this is a win/win for buyers and sellers. Home values continue to go up, but not at a rate that prices out potential buyers.

Posted by: msundermier | April 2, 2019

It’s the Climb

mount20kilimanjaro (1)A few years ago my brother, Andy, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.  The trek requires 6 days of climbing to get to the 19,000+ summit and back.  Needless to say, I was eager to hear of this trip upon his return that took him to the top of an African mountain like no other on this planet.  Over a beer and a narrated slide show, Andy shared with me the details of this life-changing adventure.

As I reflect on his stories, I most remember his journey up the mountain rather than his time at the top.  Sure, the pictures of the summit were breath-taking, and the sense of accomplishment I saw in him was inspiring.  But, in life’s adventures it’s often the challenges, not the triumphs, which best define the experience. 

On Andy’s climb, one of his porters broke his leg, so they had to carry on with fewer resources until a replacement could catch up with their team.  On the day before the summit he climbed a cliff called Barranca Wall, a steep 800 foot vertical climb that intimidates many climbers to simply turn back down the mountain.  Andy and his team were among the first that day to tackle it, meaning they had a unique opportunity to be at the summit in solitude.  These challenges they faced and overcame are the pieces from his adventure that I most remember.

As the great philosopher Miley Ray Cyrus says, “It’s The Climb” (listen to it here) *

“I may not know it,
but these are the moments,
that I’m gonna remember most yeah,
just gotta keep going.”

It’s no secret; life is challenging for everyone.  For you, for me, for your Instagram buddies that only show the polished side of their lives…for everyone.   Several of my posts on this blog have been about dealing and struggling with challenges;

Living In Gratitude
Challenges
Hurricanes

Win Some, Learn Some

In some way, all of these posts have also been about embracing challenges.  “There’s always gonna be another mountain”, and “it’s always gonna be an uphill battle.”  We need to learn to embrace challenges, because life is rarely a cake-walk.  We can keep our eye on the summit and relish those moments when we’re at the top, but we need to remember that it’s the climb that defines our journey.  I think Andy would agree.

*The song “The Climb” is provided only for illustrative purposes, and is not meant to be distributed without copyrights.

 

Posted by: msundermier | March 19, 2019

Taxes Are Almost Due! Are You Prepared?

There are only 28 days until Tax Day! If you’re like most, you’re probably getting tired of all the tax commercials on TV. Doing your taxes is one of those activities that you either absolutely dread because it is so much work, or kind of look forward to because of the possibility of a refund. No matter how you feel about the subject, this year will be different because it is the first year we all prepare our taxes based on the changes from the 2017 tax reform.
Important Disclaimer – I am not a CPA, for that reason, do not take this as tax advice.
JJ
What I can speak to is that there have been major changes to the tax law. For example, the Child Tax Credit has changed. In case you were wondering, that cute tax deduction…I mean kid…is my trusted team member’s (Chris McGann) little boy.  Almost as important as our kids are our homes, and there have been changes to the tax law that affect home ownership. For example, homeowners are now only allowed to deduct a combined maximum of $10,000 in property and state income taxes on their federal returns – even if the amount they paid was greater than $10,000. There was also a significant change to the mortgage interest deduction. The cap on this deduction was lowered from $1 million to $750,000. While this doesn’t affect all of us, it does impact many people who live in high cost areas like the Bay Area. Ultimately, there are several noteworthy changes to the tax code that could impact you this year. Don’t wait until the last minute to file.
If you have questions about whether you’re preparing your taxes correctly, I’d be happy to recommend a good CPA.
Posted by: msundermier | February 1, 2019

Market Update – Rates Are Dropping!

rates dropping

Interest rates have dropped 1/2 a percent in the last 2 months! This is a huge opportunity for anyone who purchased or refinanced in 2018 as interest rates haven’t been this low since January 2018! Also new for 2019 is that many counties had their loan limits increase. This is an opportunity for anyone who has a 2nd mortgage, line of credit, or other high interest debt to consider consolidating and save money. Having helped many (if not all of you) navigate through past transactions makes the refi process easier for you since as we are already familiar with your needs and know how to best address them.  We always look for opportunities to save our clients’ money, and we may be reaching out to some of you in the coming days to discuss some options we think may be worthwhile. If you have been considering refinancing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Posted by: msundermier | January 29, 2019

My Business Partner is a Champion

Lisa, my business partner, and I have known and worked with one another for over 16 years (check out her bio here).  We’ve always had a very positive working relationship, with a touch of friendly competitiveness.  We share and compare our goals and our results, but regardless of who outperforms the other, we are always rooting for and pushing one another to be our best.

business superwomanBut, she has been absolutely destroying me in one important discipline of our business, and I’m hoping you can help me catch up.

If you look at our business pages on review sites such as Yelp, Facebook, and Google, her clients have been leaving raving testimonials of how Lisa took exceptionally good care of them.  That’s not surprising, as Lisa genuinely cares for her clients and is a knowledgeable expert in our field.  In fact, every single review of Lisa on-line is a 5-star review (atta girl!!!).  But, what is surprising (and a tad humbling for yours truly!) is that Lisa’s clients account for 74% of our company reviews on Yelp despite she and I having roughly equal transaction counts over the years.

Over 100 of my clients have left wonderful reviews of my services, which are posted at MattsMemos.com.  These reviews, however, do not automatically show up on Yelp and other online sites.  I need your help to make your opinions of my services well known.  Doing so will help us continue to earn the confidence of future clients, and help me to save a little face with Lisa.

leave your feedbackPlease consider taking a few minutes to leave a review of us at Yelp, Facebook, or Google.  OR, visit the testimonials page at MattsMemos.com and copy & paste a previous review you’ve written onto the review sites of your preference.  Its simple; when at the testimonials page click “Ctrl & F5” to search for your first name, and your browser will take you directly to your review. Copy it, then paste it to Yelp, Facebook, or Google.

No need to exaggerate and try to give me 6-Star reviews; let’s simply show Lisa that my client family is as loud & proud as hers!  Thanks for your time.

Posted by: msundermier | January 2, 2019

I Learn The Most From Poor Reviews

Earlier in 2018 I shared the 100th positive written review from my family of clients.  I post them on MattsMemos.com as a way for new clients to learn about our business and our track record of earning folks’ trust.  These reviews are the single, most-important marketing tool I could ask for; thank you to each person who has taken time in the past to leave us a review.

Negative to PositiveCoincidentally, I also recently received two negative reviews from clients last year.  It takes courage to constructively criticize someone’s life craft, and both clients provided their feedback with a good-nature intent to help our business improve.  While difficult to admit, I now know I genuinely let these clients down and did not deliver the caliber of service they both deserved.  Our business has already become better as I’ve implemented changes to avoid our follies from happening again, but truthfully I valued one of these poor reviews so much more than the other.

Helpful TipsYou see, one client gave me their feedback during a transaction and the other was given over two years after our work together had ended.  The former allowed me to make adjustments, earn the client’s trust back, and show them that their input was valued and heard.  The latter moved on to another real estate professional’s services, and I’m left wondering if I’ll ever get a second chance to prove our services and value again to that client.

lessonslearnedWhile I know the best time to receive feedback is during a transaction, we’ve historically only asked for it AFTER a transaction.  That is changing!  Moving forward, we will send you a feedback survey half-way through the transaction as well as the customary one immediately afterwards.  While I won’t turn a blind eye to praised reviews, I honestly have learned the most from the handful of negative reviews I’ve received over my 16-year career.  Believe me, I hold onto all 6 of them (who’s counting!!??), but not in a bitter, scornful way.  Rather, I hold them close as reminders to find ways to improve our services, to not take for granted the trust clients place in us, and ultimately to become a better person.

Thank you for your honesty in future reviews.

 

Posted by: msundermier | December 12, 2018

The Fine Line Between Caution & Fear

My oldest turned 13 a few months ago…glorious and gory teenage-hood has entered our home!!  One thing my teenager yearns for is independence.  Those close to her know she’s been this way from day one.  In fact, I posted about her fearless spirit as a tiny 4-year old in this 2010 blog post.

Maddison (2)

Her adventurous and independent streak runs deep.  One way we have channeled this is to allow her to do some very daring feats under adult, but not parental, mentor-ship. Case in point, she climbed Mount Shasta when she was 10 years old!

Andy and MaddisonMount Shasta, as many know, is an iconic mountain in Northern California.  Its summit, at 14,179 feet, is one of the highest peaks on the West Coast.  My brother and sister-in-law, whom my daughter quasi-worships, led & accompanied her on the two-day trek.

Many treacherous conditions awaited them, most notably unseasonably warm temperatures that melted the ice that was coagulating the rocks and preventing rock slides.  On their descent, boulders broke free and cascaded in their direction.  They were aware of this potential, and were lucky to steer clear of the rock slides.  If a careening rock would have hit them, life-threatening injuries, or death, would have been the consequence.

It’s quite natural to protect your kids from dangerous encounters.  It would have been very understandable if we held her back from future expeditions after experiencing such a close call with the violent great outdoors.  But, my daughter feels most alive when she’s adventuring outdoors.  She relishes in the courage, the freedom, and the perseverance it requires.

maddison-hiking-e1544571816111.jpg

I would argue that while it’s scary to let your kid take chances, being overly fearful for them can be even worse.

Kids are sponges.  They absorb our actions, our words, and especially our emotions.  A fearful parent will breed a fearful child, and a fearful child often grows up to be a fearful adult.  Too many of us, unfortunately & admittedly, let “fear take the wheel and steer” (a great line from the song Drive by Incubus) in our life and it inhibits our ability to live life to the fullest.  As parents, we should try to avoid instilling a fearful outlook in our children by means of our own fearful behavior.

CautionThere’s nothing wrong with being cautious.  Caution can keep us safe and alive!  But too much caution, even towards our children’s welfare, turns to fear that is detrimental to their well-being.

Becoming overly fearful doesn’t just apply to parenting; it applies to everything.  In my mortgage and real estate practice, I often see clients, business owners, and myself make foolish, fear-driven decisions.  I’m sure you witness (and experience!) the same thing in your life too!  There’s a fine line between caution & fear, and it’s a tricky balancing act to pull off.  Parenting, more than anything, has taught me that.

As for my teenager, she’s entering a very risky time of life.  But it’s also one of so much discovery, opportunity, and growth.  Wish my wife and I luck with keeping her confident, fearless attitude in tact while trying to show her the pitfalls of preliminary adulthood.

Posted by: msundermier | November 29, 2018

Major Milestone in Folsom

Early this month, homeowners began moving into the first set of completed houses at Folsom Ranch. A project that has been 20 years in the making is finally taking shape and becoming a reality. Our office had the opportunity to take a bus tour of the South of 50 project to see the progress made.

Folsomranch

While a lot of construction has yet to break ground, a great deal of work has been completed. Currently, Taylor Morrison and Lennar are the two home builders have a total of 4 neighborhoods under construction for a total of 387 houses; 206 by Taylor Morrison and 181 by Lennar. In addition, the first elementary school is scheduled to open as early as 2020.

QR ScanClick here for a detailed map of the project, or scan the QR Code. 

If you are interested in learning more about the south of 50 Project, please reach out to our office with questions.

 

 

Posted by: msundermier | November 15, 2018

Being Professional Means Being Personal

A few years ago, a former colleague told me he wanted to improve his biography page on his web site to come across more professional to clients.  After making his “improvements” I noticed he polished up his professional accomplishments and completely removed the paragraph about his personal interests, hobbies, and passions.

This struck me. In my opinion, conducting yourself in a professional manner includes revealing yourself personally to create TRUST with others.  In fact, that’s what this blog is all about!  The slogan “Part Professional, Part Personal, Always Insightful” means I want to provide both professional and personal insight so you may better know and trust me and my services.  WHO you are often means more to others than simply WHAT you do. 

Maybe I feel this way because of my chosen field and the way we run our business.  When helping clients, we often ask personal questions about their life goals and dreams so we can best serve them and make the transaction’s outcome signify more than just dollars and cents.  In requesting such personal information, it is only fair we reciprocate and divulge ourselves through the process.

While driving around looking at homes, clients learn about my family, my boating obsessions, my ideals…they learn about me as I’m learning about them.  To me, professionalism is more than respectful demeanor, appropriate dress and market expertise; it also includes a personal panache that allows you, the client, to get to know, like, and trust me, the professional, as a person.

I consider this the “new-school” way of being professional.  Simply doing your job well is not enough.  You must do it passionately while exuding your values and your interests; your personal side.  On the chance you haven’t seen it yet, check out our team profile video to get to know our team better, both professionally and personally.

Posted by: msundermier | October 30, 2018

Want to Pay Less in Taxes? Let us help!

Business man pointing the text Time for TaxesMost California homeowners received their property tax bill in recent weeks. Many of us just file it away without looking since most of us have our mortgage company pay the tax bill. If you do this, you may end up paying more for property taxes than you should without even knowing it!                                                        Let me explain.

Tax_Man

Every year the county assessor’s office determines the assessed values of properties from which to calculate your property tax bill. California has many state laws, most notably Proposition 13, that skew one’s assessed value. Thus, the assessed value is often lower than true market value. Occasionally, the assessor’s office gets it wrong and assesses your home for MORE than the market value, resulting in you paying more taxes than you should.

time_managementAll counties have an appeals process to reconsider your assessed value, but there is a window of time to file the appeal. Sacramento County, for example, requires the appeal to be received before November 30.

I am offering a free service to my clients to help with the appeals process. If you believe your assessed value is unfairly high (check your tax bill or a link like this one), give us a call or a click and we will research comparable sales to your home to help make a valid argument to the assessor’s office. Doing so could save you hundreds on your property tax bill.

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