Friday, October 29, 2010

Time Machine: House Price Rollback

If you live in a big city in the United States, you may have noticed that today's home prices are reminiscent of yesteryear. What year specifically depends on what city you live in.  Calculated Risk presents this interesting chart for us (click to enlarge):

Go Detroit!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photo of the Day: Scenic Seasons

I took this photos at the top of Washington Blvd this week.  Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

JUST SOLD! Ultra Bargain Duplex

For those of you watching for the low water mark on pricing, this one sets a new market cycle low. 

This bank owned duplex was listed at $35,500 in a residential neighborhood east of Washington Blvd.  Obviously, it was priced to sell.  We offered $40,500 and won the bidding between us and other contending buyers. 

Thats when all the fun began.  It then took 50 (not a typo) days for the bank to get signatures back to us so we could proceed to closing.  We also had earnest money confusion on this file as well.  Then, when the bank did get the signatures back to us they counter offered us at $35,500....$5,000 LESS than our original offer.  Interesting.  Note: The last time a duplex in Ogden sold for under $36,000 was back in 2003!

Anyhow, we closed on this property today and it should be a cash cow for the buyers.

Click here and email me if you are interested in opportunities like these and want to be notified when they are available.

Happy Investing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Real Estate Horror Show

Interesting and creepy article out of California today:

A former real estate agent drove with the partially mummified body of a homeless woman in the passenger seat of her car for several months, according to a report. 
"This person was somewhat used to the smell," Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett said. The 57-year-old former real estate agent said she had been too afraid to call the police after she found the body of the woman, the Register reported. 

So does one of those pine tree odor things you hang from your rear view mirror actually cover up the smell of death?  If so, I have some new marketing ideas for them.  And speaking of scary, is it less scary to drive around with a dead body in your car than to call the authorities the moment you find it?  Hmmm....

The body of the woman, who is believed to have been between 50 and 60 when she died, had been reduced to about 30 pounds when it was found, with the lack of air and weather conditions at the time helping to preserve it.
The Register said officials believed the woman had been dead for three to 10 months, based on the state of the body.

Yikes. Anyone want to go drive around and look at houses with this realtor?   

Monday, October 18, 2010

Zoning Zoo: North Ogden McMansion Melee

The Standard Examiner this weekend had a very interesting story about a North Ogden resident wanting to use his suburban home as an auto shop. 

[The resident] lost his job approximately two years ago and started to do small car repairs in his home garage to make ends meet.


Soon word spread and [the resident] was fixing more and more cars, but minimum repairs such as brakes and oil changes...
Just as a reference, here is a photo of the home and neighborhood in question.

Obviously, this is not quite what you think of when you think of a neighborhood appropriate for an auto shop.

There are two interesting things to take away from this story.  The first is on how to behave as a good neighbor.  Rather than talking to the offending neighbor, the other neighbors simply reported him to the city.  And yet, the offending neighbor tells the paper "he had worked on nearly all of the complainers cars on the last year."  Beautiful. So much for friendly neighborly relations.

Secondly, and even more surprisingly, the North Ogden City council seems to have no clear direction on this issue.  In the face of public pressure in support of the offending resident, they created a compromise of allowing him to run his auto shop business but with OSHA standard ventilation and more insulation to prevent noise.  Councilman Carl Tanner states: "This is a hard issue and it's awful hard for us as a city council to tell someone they can't have a business."  Really?  The city council shouldn't be telling him he can't have a business, but what they should be telling him is where he can have a business.  That is exactly why we have zoning laws so as to prevent this type of craziness from occurring where it is not supposed to.

The camel might get his nose under the tent on this issue and you may see more suburban neighborhoods declining because of it.  Look for more auto shops springing up in a cul-de-sac near you. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Demolition Day: Ogden River Project

Finally, dozens of homes sitting vacant and rotting along the Ogden River have been torn down.  This area can now breath easy since all the empty homes were an attractive nuisance to vagrants and transients.  These tear downs might explain recent events where squatters have been trying to occupy vacant homes in other more populated neighborhoods.  The ones that lived in these homes need to find new housing.  We recently chased two squatters out of vacant homes on our block.   

Friday, October 8, 2010

JUST SOLD! South Ogden Bungalow

I just closed with some buyers who moved to the Ogden area from Tennessee.  In our pursuit of the right home, we stumbled upon this property near 40th South.  The home was listed for $98,000 and had been on the market just over two months at the time of our offer.  At the time, market sentiment was down so we decided to press our luck and see what kind of price concession we could obtain.  We offered $90,000 and asked for $2,700 in closing costs.

The next day we got a call that our offer was accepted.  Wow! It appears that the sellers were more motivated than we had anticipated.  I had prepared my clients for a counteroffer somewhere in the $95K range.

Initially, we believed the home was owner-occupied due to the nature of the furnishings and the condition of the property.  However, it turned out that the occupants were tenants and the owner was living in Mexico.  They were motivated to clear the home from their books.  Hence our accepted offer.

After that the transaction went fairly smoothly except for a couple inspection hiccups and some minor paperwork hassles at the very end of the process.  Overall, it should be a great home and some some upside when it's time to sell in the future.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Car Conundrums and Parking Pickles

One of the issues that faces landlords and investors wanting to rent and/or flip properties is trying to grapple with the function and amenities that are often missing in many of the old homes in Ogden.  I purchased a fourplex once that lacked any laundry services in any of the units.  I have purchased properties where we had to deal with gray water issues and obsolete boiler systems. 

However, one of the most notorious problems (and likely the most overlooked) is the importance of parking for automobiles.

This problem manifests itself in several different ways in Ogden:

1.  The Common Driveway

The common driveway, a driveway shared by two homes, can be a hit and miss problem.  For instance lets take this home as an example.
I showed this recently to some buyers.  On a scale of 1 to 10 the home's condition and style is a 9.5.  Its very impressive.  However, as we walked around the property here is what we found.

Uh oh, this looks like quite a tight space.  The big SUV might have a tight squeeze in this space.

When going to the back we discover that the neighbor has a pad to park on but the home we are looking at does not.  In order to shorten market time and maximize the sales price, the seller of this home will likely need to install a parking pad.  My buyers loved the home but could not see themselves putting the effort into pouring a parking pad.

On the other hand, common drives can work well if there is ample room to move and to park.  Here are a couple of examples:

2.  The Abuttars Alley

The abuttars alley was a commonly used method for accessing property from the rear of the lot some 90 years ago.  Often, homes were built so closely together that abuttars alleys were necessary so parking could occur in the back yard.  Often times garages would exit immediately into the alley rather than trying to exit into the back yard to reach the front of the property.  The problem with alleys is that maintenance needs to be done to keep them up.  There are three homes that I am aware of that could utilize this alley since they have no driveways or parking off street.  However, it looks like no one has taken advantage of this opportunity.  There are probably all kinds of hidden surprises lurking in the overgrowth.

3.  Former Driveways

Finally, many homes once had driveways but have since been sodded over.  Here is a photo of a home I sold several years ago that was impeded by the lack of a driveway.

 You can clearly see where a driveway existed at one time.  We had multiple offers on this property but the driveway problem kept us from receiving many more. 

The bottom line is that parking is a big issue for buyers and renters.  Market times are shortened and prices and rents are increased when parking is adequately addressed.  Keep that in mind while shopping in the market for a property.