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Houssee.com Real Estate Award #2

Posted by John Lockwood on 13th June 2008

The Houssee Award is an award for the best real estate content every week.  As much as possible, we try to pick the awards from the stories that received the most natural votes and comments from other Houssee.com users during the week (though sometimes in the case of ties or categories with no votes, we have to punt and the host has to pick a winner).

Congratulations to everyone who won and thank you to everyone who participated!  Winners, feel free to pick out a shirt in your size — wear it proudly under your gold Century 21 jacket.

The top vote-getter this week in the General category was Brian Block’s amusing video of the Desperate Realtor®.  Some of you may not know whether to laugh or cry when you see this one.  I was reminded of the two agents who knew one another back in the bad old days of 14% interest rates.  One of them came in grinning from ear to ear one day, and the other one asked why he was so happy. 

"I had two sales this week!", said the happy one.

"Really, that’s great", said his jealous colleague.

"That’s right", said the first, "my television and my car."

The Market Updates category was an eight-way tie, so we’ll single out two for special because they went beyond the usual recital of data (which is admittedly a staple of my own blog).  Michael Saunders’ Sarasota Real Estate Market Perks Up (with the catchy subtitle "Looking Down From Where We Used To Look Up From"), chronicles the Sarasota details behind a phenomenon that’s happing in many areas — as prices have fallen, unit sales have started to pick up.  Another winner in this category was the short but sweet look at how a single strong employer will help stimulate her local market in Christina Asad Edwards’ Economy Booster.

Hey investment writers — no new posts this week.  Could you have won easily?  You bet.

Melina Thompson’s I Think I’ll Wait for the Half Off Sale takes top honors in the Real Estate Marketing category.  Buy one house get one free?  Why not!

Listing Announcements — the category you didn’t vote for — was tied between a lot of listings, but since this week’s entries were all featured courtesy of Bill Gassett’s Blog, we’ll declare the blog the winner this week and let you go over there and check them out.  Hey look:  Bill plugged Houssee, too.  I just saw that while linking over.  Thanks, Bill!

The vote winner in the Mortgage category was Peter Thompson for his article FHA Is the New Conventional.  Although on the one hand Pete shows how FHA ended up filling the gap formerly served by conventional financing (instead of sub-prime as predicted), this article is also an excellent overview of many of the feature differences between FHA and conventional financing.

In the About Houssee / Winner’s category, you voted most for Houssee.com Passes 100 User Mark (And Other Updates).

Who will win a Houssee next week?  It’s up to you to let us know by submitting and voting for your favorite real estate articles.  Remember, Houssee winners are as much as possible based on natural votes, so please be aware of our spam policy, but other than that, come on by and dive in!

Are you interested in hosting a Houssee award on your blog?  If so, stay tuned to our Houssee Blog, where we’ll have instructions coming soon.

Happy Birthday To Us!

Posted by John Lockwood on 9th November 2007

Today I noticed (just in time, too!) that this blog has turned one year old, when I happened across our kickoff post. Bridget and I started the blog on November 9th, and a week later, Bridget officially signed on with Elite Properties. Or more precisely, John Lockwood Associates hired Bridget with the understanding with Bridget and with her former broker that she could continue to use the name Elite Properties.

We did trail off a bit in the writing at some point, as I moved on to other projects and Bridget decided that being serially verbose was not for her. However, I think we’ve managed to make the blog a fairly credible resource, especially for Amador County, which has no other similar site that I know of. Lately we’ve gotten a huge help from Purva Brown, who is doing a great job of helping me beat back the tremendous onslaught of blogs that I keep putting up. This will be post 135 — not a bad year’s work for a side project!

To me the site is special because its beginning also serves to mark the real beginning for my brokerage, even though on paper it started in July of 2006.

Aren’t you Glad you don’t Live in Placer County?

Posted by John Lockwood on 6th November 2007

I rarely have trouble taking sides with most issues, but today’s article in the Sacramento Bee about homeowners upset with Placer County’s budding wineries for ruining their country living peace and quiet is just difficult for me. There is no greater proponent than me for your ability to enjoy your home in peace and not have to listen to loud music around you when you come home, but I must say I am happy to live close to wineries here in El Dorado and Amador Counties.

This story explains it all.

I’m curious, especially from a marketing point of view as a Realtor. Does “winery minutes away” not count as a positive statement then?

And if you’re a wine enthusiast don’t expect prices on wine from these parts (El Dorado, Amador, and now Placer) drop any time soon. Not with this kind of resistance.

Is your Home in the fire zone?

Posted by John Lockwood on 31st October 2007

An article by the Sacramento Bee sent chills through me this morning. It wasn’t long ago that the South Lake Tahoe fires had forced me to cancel all appointments and stay home just in case we had to evacuate. I live in Pollock Pines, and everyone thought it was pretty safe around here, but nevertheless - I have a dog. And the thought of him caught inside a burning home… well, you know.

So this article from the Sacramento Bee made me wonder if we shouldn’t be doing something about clearing some of the brush around the home, just to make it safer. If you live in the foothills, or the hills, you should read it. If for nothing else than a good Halloween scare. Boo!

And oh yeah, I also learned I’m an “urban refugee.”

Pollock Pines in Snow

Posted by John Lockwood on 16th October 2007

For those of you who are already here and enjoying the snow, good for you! For those others who wonder what it’s really like, here’s a picture from my house - I took it last week as it was snowing. It was my first snow up here in this new home and it’s beautiful.

If you’re considering moving uphill to Placerville or beyond, take a look at the picture and imagine yourself here.

Then, give us a call! There are a lot of homes to look at. I’m sure we can find you something you’d absolutely fall in love with!

Market Update for Placerville

Posted by John Lockwood on 9th October 2007

Placerville seems mostly unaffected by the recent real estate downturn unless you consider the number of homes that have actually sold.

Last year, 355 single family residences sold for a median price of $425,000. Days on market averaged 73. This year, 242 homes have sold for a median price not too far from last year’s - $417,500. That’s a drop of just 1.76%

The days on market and number of sales tell the bad side of the story. The homes sold this year stayed on the market for an average of 84 days - 15% longer than last year and the number of sales dropped by 31.8% - but these are only numbers so far and we still haven’t reached the end of the year. The 31.8% is likely to get better but we don’t know by how much.

There are currently 33 homes pending sale and 320 homes active on the market between $179,900 and $6,500,000.

Amador / El Dorado County Rivals Napa in Wine!

Posted by John Lockwood on 22nd September 2007

One of the best things about living in El Dorado County is that some world class wine is just a few minutes away. You don’t have to sit in traffic for hours to go to Napa. Believe me. I know wine.

If you haven’t tried what’s growing in your own backyard, you should.

Zinfandels are by far the most famous wines here, however the weather conditions make the reds less fruity, less Lodi-like. (Although there’s a time and place for valley wine as well!) Just recently I went wine-tasting in Amador County near Plymouth. Maps for Amador County are here and El Dorado County are here. Or just follow Highway 49, turn off at Plymouth and follow the signs. It’s a beautiful drive. And some wineries have first crushes right now!

Just another reason to live up here! Hey, you’ll always have somewhere to take your house-guests!

Placerville Open House on Sunday

Posted by John Lockwood on 21st September 2007

Vicki Agregado-Babcock and I will be holding our 3400 Fort Jim Road, Placervilleopen on Sunday, September 23, from 1PM to 4PM. This is a really beautiful 4 bedroom home with a pool on almost four quite, pine-studded acres.

Please join us and check out this immaculate home.  Double click on the video below to preview it.

Note:  visit our open house and receive a free list of other homes being held open in Western El Dorado County this Sunday.

You Would Think Living in Pollock Pines…

Posted by John Lockwood on 18th September 2007

… would make me write more on this blog. But, nope. First post here. I’ve been spending time hanging out at the other blogs of Elite Properties.

First of all, let me just say I love it here. If you are, like I was, living in Sacramento and concerned about making the move up the hills and move to Amador or El Dorado counties, be assured that you will love it if you like waking up to birds in the background and squirrels. And not just if you’re socially anxious.

Where’s the second of all?

Keep reading. Check back often!

Scorecard — Average Amador County Real Estate Agent: 0.625. Bridget: 2.0.

Posted by John Lockwood on 21st May 2007

Yesterday I was working on the purchase of a home for a friend in Santa Cruz County, of all places. (I win the Elite Properties “Southernmost Adventure” award this year, I guess). While I was there, my cell phone showed that I’d gotten a call from Bridget Felmley, which I missed because I was in a bad reception area. Can you hear me now? I returned the call and got Bridget’s voice mail in turn, leaving the message that I’d called and I’m sure that whatever it was it was probably good news.

Sure enough, when we touched base today I learned that Bridget had sold another of her listings.

This may not be a big deal to people who don’t know how the market is doing, but as someone who watches it all the time for a living, I was impressed. Many of us who are doing well in this market are working with buyers and selling that 15% or so of the total inventory that sells every month — those homes that are the nicest and best priced. To be honest, this isn’t a great time to be a listing agent no matter how you slice it. But it’s even less of a great time if you’re not Bridget, because her listings are managing to sell.

I ran some quick numbers, and found that Bridget was working on her second listing this year. Not great, right? Well, Bridget would probably agree that she would have liked to do more, but here’s the thing. During the same period that Bridget sold two listings, the average agent in Amador County sold less than one. 0.625, to be exact. Another way to put that is this: In 2007 to date, Bridget Felmley sold three times as many listings in Amador County as the average Amador County real estate agent. Two’s pretty good when you consider that 449 hungry agents were competing for the privilege of selling 281 listings.

But hold on, it gets better. The average agent’s six tenths of a listing took 183 days to sell, on average. The average listing Bridget sold took 136 days, on average (the high was 152, and the low was 120). That means the sellers who used Bridget saved 47 days.

Now bear with me through just a few more statistics, and you’ll see why this is important. The average home sold during that period for $338,877. Let’s make an assumption that the sellers are financing and paying taxes on 50% of the value of their homes, on average, so that works out to about $169,500. We usually estimate carrying costs (Principle, Interest, Tax, and Insurance) at $8.50 per month per thousand borrowed, so if we round off forty-seven days worth of that, the average Amador County seller would have saved $2,257.00 in carrying costs — just by working with Bridget instead of another agent.

Moreover, keep in mind that we’re only talking about the financial carrying cost here. What’s it worth to you to close early and be able to get into that new home you had your heart set on instead of losing it and having to settle for less? Or maybe you’re not doing all that well financially — in that case, what’s it worth to you to get your home sold in time to possibly save your credit, instead of having late payments or maybe even a foreclosure on your record?