The Shrinking Apartment

DID YOU KNOW?  According to a new report from real-estate website RentCafe and data-analytics firm Yardi Matrix, the average size of a newly-built rental apartment has shrunk by 52 square feet, or 5%, to 941 square feet since 2008. New studios and one-bedroom units have shrunken in size even more by 10.3% and 4.2% respectively. New apartments have also become much more expensive to rent: the average price has risen 28% over the last 10 years to $1,944. Denver rents are up the most, over 80% in a decade. 

The Comforts of Home

Home is where we set the pattern of our days. The best ones create lovely habits. When I lived on Grove Street in NOPA, I adored reading in bed where I enjoyed a view of Buena Vista Hill. In my current home, I often sit outside at night in back. Right now, we have a Daphne bush in full bloom. It is intoxicating. 

When I show homes to people, I can see them thinking about their own habits. They picture morning coffee in the kitchen, stepping out of the shower and even consider their daily streetscape when they walk out the front door at the end of a showing. 

I like to ask my Sellers about their own habits at home. With the right questions, I not only hear about their favorite spot for morning coffee, but also learn how a moon sits in a child’s window, where the dog likes to sun and sleep, and what pizza nights are like in front of the television.

I always say I’m honored to represent someone in the sale or purchase of a home– but I also honor the spaces they live in. Home is sacred to me. If you feel the same way and are ready to sell or buy, perhaps we should meet. I’ll hope to hear from you! 

Homeownership is Declining Among People Ages 24-32

DID YOU KNOW? Homeownership among people ages 24 – 32 fell 9 percentage points, to 36% from 45% between 2005 and 2014? According to the Fed said. many factors affected the homeowner rate but about 20% of the decline was tied directly to student debt which now totals $1.5 trillion. That translated into 400,000 borrowers who could have owned a home by 2014 but didn’t because of student loans.

A Word About the Luxury Market

The luxury market ($2.5M+) held up well in 2018 when it comes to sales volume. We did have some disappointed Sellers, however.  

A Spring in our Step

This first chart shows the number of condo and home sales month-by-month for the past three years. The month of May was startlingly busy compared to years past.

Unrealistic Sellers? 

But there were also more homes that never sold. I’m going to speculate that some of these failed attempts at selling came from Sellers who were waiting for an opportune moment to take advantage of a robust market, then got too greedy about what they wanted to sell their properties for. 

The high number of withdrawn properties in November/December comes from Sellers either giving up or taking a break during the holidays. End of year is also a good time to pull a property off the market for thirty days so the days-on-market (DOM) number can go back to zero when it comes back on.  

And Still We Rise

I call this one the “Alpine Mountain Chart.” It measures market activity month-to-month and shows how prices occasionally slip but ultimately reach ever higher peaks. It should calm some Nervous Nellies who are prematurely worrying about heading into a declining market.

How to Write a Real Estate Ad

Write It Like You Mean It–

The following six tips come from copy writers who have helped me in the past– (shout out to Cynthia Long), a sales trainer and speaker named Matthew Ferrara, and a writing class or two I’ve taken over the years. While I don’t get it perfect every time, I like to think my own copy reflects these ideas.

1. Show don’t tell. I don’t need a recitation of the bedroom/bath count, square footage, and whether there’s a washer/dryer. All that information is already covered in the MLS or your bullet points. What I’d rather learn is what it’s like to live there.  Do I get to drive into the garage and go straight to the elevator? Will I hear fog horns at night? What’s outside my kitchen or bedroom window? 

2. A picture says a thousand words. We all know buyers look at the pictures before they read the description, so you don’t need to waste your valuable word count describing the subway tile, hardwood floors or stainless steel appliances. 

3. Turn a negative into a positive. Easy street parking in lieu of a garage means your guests won’t have to drive around in circles when they visit. A trek uphill after dinner on 24th Street can turn into an opportunity to walk off a meal. 

4. Get Specific. Saying there’s a flowering garden is good, but telling me the flower types is better (and a nice poetic turn if you have things like Birds of Paradise and Cats Paw). I also like throwing in sexy architectural details that might be missed or overlooked in the photos, like “stacked moldings” or “shouldered arches.” 

5. The internet is your friend. When I get stuck on how to describe something important but basic, I turn to an online thesaurus. “Good natural light,” for instance can be recrafted to use words like “sunbeam” “sunlit” and “shimmering.”   I also get inspired by online lists of emotionally positive words like “bliss”, “vibrant” and “balanced.” BrainyQuote.com can also kickstart the process. For example, Da Vinci’s “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” can perfectly describe tiny homes. 

6. Ask your seller. No one can wax more beautifully about a property than its owner. A few open-ended questions can deliver great details, like the smell of fresh bread from the bakery down the block, the mockingbird in the back yard or the neighbors who can cat-sit in a pinch. The conversation will also show the Seller you care and value their input. 

‘Don’t Cut the Agent Out’

Years ago, when I was taking some time off from actively selling real estate and focusing on family matters and on my real estate investments, a guy rang my doorbell and said he was looking to buy some units in the area.  Did I know of any for sale?  I said I didn’t and pointed to the real estate company down the street.  “You should check there,” I said.   He shifted his weight a bit and looked at me from under lowered eyes.  

“Well,” he said, “I’d just as soon leave the agents out of it.  I’m looking for a good deal, if you know what I mean– something that isn’t on the market.” 

I knew the feeling the guy had.  There are some bad apples in the agent bunch.  It doesn’t seem fair that they get these big, fat commissions at the end of the sale, especially when it seems like they’ve put hardly any work into it.  

What buyers and sellers forget, though, is how much goes on behind the scenes.  Good agents work hard for their commissions and have a far higher level of expertise at finding the best properties, negotiating an offer, and shepherding a buyer or seller through escrow.  

Of course, I’m a little biased.  And I have a skill set that allows me to take advantage of those commissions when acting on my own behalf. Even so, I’ve used an agent for any buy/sell outside of my area of expertise, be it geography or property type.

No one knows the inventory like full-time real estate agents.  The agents I use live and breathe their specialty–when they find a good deal, they let me know right away.  This includes “pocket listings” — properties that may not be on the open market, but are still for sale.  

Agents from the areas I’ve bought in call me about these listings because they know I’m loyal.  I’m not out shopping agents in their territory and looking for the best deal– if I were doing that, they would never call me about anything, because they’d figure that I was already going to find out about it from someone else.   The effort of the phone call would be a waste of time-time better spent with buyers that they know will work through them when they’re ready to make a move.   

 But back to the guy standing on my stoop, asking for the best deal-

 “Actually,” I said, “the building across the street just sold. But it went because the owner let their agent know they were prepared to sell at a certain price.” Anyways, that agent told his associates, and another agent in his office had a buyer for the property. It closed last month.” 

I didn’t tell him that this owner worked that way because they wanted to deal with someone they trusted– not a guy ringing their doorbell.