3 Common Real Estate MYTHS for 2013

February 11, 2013

  AS we move into 2013,  the question on everyone’s mind is : What’s going on with the real estate market? . Right?  That’s because we all know that EVERYONE is interested in real estate, home values, interest rates and Realtors®.  After all, we Realtors® are the most important people on the face of the earth…which is why we put our picture on everything!  But I digress..

Myth #1 :  Now is NOT the time to list and sell my house..its too much of a buyers market.

…While it might be true that the general feeling is that it’s a buyers market, in recent months statistics have shown that the inventory of homes listed for sale is starting to drop. The numbers are starting to show a shift in several key categories important to clients looking to sell their homes.

Compared to the 4th Quarter of 2011, the 4th Quarter of 2012 saw a decrease in the number of homes for sale. A 12.3% decrease to be exact.  **

Add to that the fact that the number of homes sold in the same time period  increased by 21.2%**

**Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (click for full report)

What does this mean? :  Inventories are starting to drop, and demand is starting to rise. And as we all know from ECON 1o1 , Falling supply with rising demand = $$.

With these numbers and the current interest rates, NOW is a great time to put your home on the market. A properly priced home, with the proper marketing  WILL SELL.  Additionally, if you are buying another home after you sell yours, you can take advantage of MYTH #2.

Myth #2    Interest Rates will always be this low, no need to buy now. 

In 2013 interest rates will go up. That’s just  my prediction. There are a lot of signs that interest rates will begin to rise. Mortgage professionals i talk to are saying they agree. Rates will still be low, but they might begin to tick up.2013 rates.

The reasons for this are many. The FEDs monetary policy should be kept a close eye on. Treasury Notes are of major importance. The following excerpt from ABOUT.com explains the relationship between T-notes and Mortgage interest rates.

“Treasury notes directly affect the interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages. How? When Treasury yields are higher, so are interest rates. That’s because investors who want a fixed return on their money will either shop for Treasury notes, CDs, money market funds, mortgages or corporate bonds. Treasury notes are considered ultra-safe since they are guaranteed by the U.S. government. CDs and money market funds are slightly less safe, since they aren’t guaranteed. However, that safety comes with a price – a lower return.

Investors who want a slightly higher return, and are willing to accept more risk, will buy mortgages. Instead of buying the mortgages directly, they usually purchase products backed by mortgages, called (you guessed it) mortgage-backed securities. When Treasury yields rise, mortgages also have to provide higher returns to attract investors. The result to the borrower? Higher interest rates. ”  ( see full article )

With rates still around 3.5% -4%, buyers should be thrilled and beating the streets to buy properties now. I have seen a fair number of people putting it off for one reason or another. What they should be doing is buying now rather than later.

Myth #3     I don’t need a Realtor®

You always should consult and hire a professional real estate agent. Certain things in life you should always hire a professional to handle:  you wouldn’t try to diagnose your own chest pains and you wouldn’t try to install your own in-ground swimming pool. It just makes sense, when  there is the potential to make or lose a lot of money or die, to hire a professional.  Realtors® are trained and experienced in the nuances of the real estate transaction .  We are trained to negotiate the best possible terms for our clients and we follow a strict Code of Ethics.  (see my blog post on Realtors for some great info.)



Housing Market Facts: For Buyers and Sellers

February 1, 2010

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010! (At least if you’re a Real Estate Professional.) If the U.S. economy is going to get back on track, real estate must lead the way.(see my previous blog : Real Estate- the foundation of the American Economy. ) While my primary area of specialization is the Mechanicsburg , Pennsylvania real estate market, its important to keep up with trends and information on the national market as well.

The following website is a great resource for anyone interested in real estate market facts. The link is provided by the NAtional Association of Realtors.

Housing Market Facts.

-Cal Williams

Feb 1, 2010

Mechanicsburg Realtor completes Technololgy Real Estate Training

January 4, 2010


For Immediate Release 

 Jan 2, 2010 As more and more consumers begin their search for real estate-related information on the Internet, it is critical that real estate professionals stay on top of the latest technology for the benefit of consumers and real estate practitioners alike. The e-PROÒ Technology Certification Program fills that need.

Realizing the importance of technology training, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) created a comprehensive Technology Certification course in 2000. And now that course, e-PROÒ, has been completely updated to include information on Social Media and Web 2.0 aspects that is, and will continue, to change the real estate business.

“The real estate industry has undergone a fundamental change over the past five years,” Calvin W Williams said. “Today, more than 85% of all buyers and sellers begin their search online. As an e-PROÒ certified agent, I have knowledge and tools needed to provide my clients with the information they need and the customer service they demand. It’s both hi-tech and hi-touch.”

The all new e-PROÒ certification course — the only technology certification program offered by NAR — is designed to prepare real estate professionals to make the most of Internet technology and to identify, evaluate, and implement new Internet business models. The elite group of course graduates represents only four percent of all REALTORSÒ in the country including Cal Williams of Straub and Associates Real EstateGroup.

The PROÒ certification course is an educational program unlike any other professional certification or designation course available, comprehensive and interactive. It is specifically designed to provide real estate professionals with the technology tools needed to assist consumers in the purchase or sale of a home.

The exclusive e-PROÒ certification course is presented entirely online and certifies real estate agents and brokers as Internet professionals. The course is designed to help REALTORSÒ stay at the leading edge of technology and identify, evaluate and implement new Internet business models.

Once completed, the e-PRO certified real estate professional joins the ranks of a special community of highly skilled and continuously trained professionals who provide high quality and innovative online-based real estate services.  Consumers can identify the e-PRO through the exclusive e-PRO  Internet Professional logo.

Both the content and the delivery platform were created by the San Diego-based technology company InternetCrusade®. Graduates use the skills they’ve acquired to provide clients information on properties for sale, local communities, and the local real estate market.

For more information, e-mail Cal Williams at cwilliams@homefindergroup.net or call 717-612-9901

Real Estate Questions Answered- ” How do I buy a foreclosure property? “

December 13, 2009

Today, everyone wants a foreclosure. “Where can I get a list of foreclosures? ” , ” How do I go about buying a foreclosure?”, “Will I get a STEAL on a foreclosure?”

These are some of the most asked questions in today’s economy and real estate market.

There are a ton of websites that advertise lists of foreclosed homes. Most of them require a fee to view the details of the properties. Most of these sites have outdated information, bad information and are usually a rip off. All the same information is available through your local real estate agent….FOR FREE!

I have seen several sites that claim they have properties before they hit the market. Wow, sounds great to someone looking to get a good deal on a property. The truth of the matter is what they have is a list of properties that MAY go into foreclosure or may not. If they do go into foreclosure they will eventually end up on the market, listed with a local Real Estate Agent. DO NOT PAY for lists of these properties. Find yourself a good agent that has his/her finger on the pulse of the market, knows the area and is searching the market daily for new listings. Make friends with this agent. There is no need to throw your money away when every property that goes into foreclosure ends up listed, which your agent will know about immediately and get you in to see it and make an offer, if so desired.

The process of buying one of these foreclosed properties is another blog in itself. Needless to say you need a good Realtor®  AND a good real estate attorney on your team. Your Realtor® will know how to get all your paperwork prepared and then an attorney usually helps the Realtor® negotiate with whatever bank owns the foreclosure. Usually the bank has taken over the property and does not want to own property. A good Realtor and attorney can help the bank understand this and at least get the offer considered.

Whether or not you get a great deal is another matter. Despite what most people think, just because it’s a foreclosed property that does not mean it’s a steal, or that its being sold below market value. There are several reasons properties go to foreclosure. The most common one being the owners cannot keep up with the mortgage payments and the banks exercise their right to take back the property through a foreclosure action. It depends on the current market conditions, along with several other factors, whether or not you get a “steal”. A majority of the time the property will be sold for the market value. The banks are not giving properties away, but they can be shown what the market value is. Thats where your Realtor®  comes in. He/She can prove to the banks what similar properties are selling for, thus making it more likely that your offer will be accepted.

Do not expect to low ball an offer, with no supporting documentation to the bank and get properties for less than market value just because they are ‘foreclosed’.  If you are serious about buying property, foreclosed or not, go about it the proper way. Thats not to say you cannot get a great deal. You can. But it’s not easy, and it’s not the norm. There are many good deal out there that are not foreclosures. You just have to find them.

In order to cut through all the bull, get straight, honest answers, anyone interested in foreclosed properties needs to consult a Realtor® or real estate professional. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for an investment property or a primary residence, consult a Realtor®. It’s the smart thing to do.

Cal Williams

Straub and Associates Real Estate

Camp Hill, PA


With the Internet , Why Do I need A Realtor® or Real Estate Agent at all?

December 7, 2009

In this day and age of information overload and the internet, the need for a good Realtor® or real estate agent can be diminished in many people’s minds.  With so much available on the internet, some people may think they do not need a Realtor®. The average person now has access to almost every listing in their market, thanks to sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. Furthermore, the amount of information available on these sites is remarkable and can make the services of Realtor seem unnecessary. That is very short-sighted thinking and can cause a person much financial hardship and stress.

It is true that most people are using the internet to do their own research on properties for sale, on the buying side. They may even be using the internet to help them figure out what their home is worth, on the selling side but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a real estate transaction.

Like a good attorney, doctor or financial advisor, a good Realtor® can be worth his or her weight in gold.  Realtors® do not get the credit they deserve and should be included when discussing necessary professional services. One reason for this is the qualifications for attaining Realtor status are not nearly as stringent as other professionals. Unfortunately this can lead some people astray. I believe this whole perception is changing and a good Realtor® will earn his commission several times over.

Whether you are have purchased several homes or its your first, obtain the services of a Realtor®. The services provided by a trained professional will save you money in the long run. Despite what you may think you have learned from the internet or late night television, a real estate professional is still invaluable to the transaction. Here is just a small list of the services needed in a typical transaction:

  • Needs analysis, focusing to save time and money
  • Financing- Most Realtors are trained in the details of financing or at least have the proper resources to consult
  • Market information not available oon the internet- taxes, schools, etc.
  • Up to the minute sales numbers and market availability- even with todays technology many of the websites have outdated and inaccurate information.
  • Negotiation-where money can be lost or made

This list could go on and on. Let’s not forget the mountain of paperwork that needs to be properly reviewed and processed to get you to the settlement table. Getting to the settlement table is what it really is all about. If you are serious about buying or selling your home, then your ultimate goal is to get to the settlement table. And the smartest wasy to get to the settlement table is by obtaining the services of a professional Realtor®.

Even in a buyers market, such as most markets are today, a Realtor® should be hired. Yes, hired. The consumer hires the Realtor®. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, hire a good one, because they can save you a lot of time, money and headaches. One of the most unknown facts in this whole business is that the buyers do not pay for having a real estate professional represesnt them and use all their knowledge and training to get  them the best deal possible! The Realtors commission is paid by the sellers in most transactions!!

Look at it this way. The savvy buyer will do a lot of research on  the internet. Both on properties and on which Realtor to hire. Then he or she will hire a professional Realtor, take full advantage of all the agents training,experience and knowledge. They will find a property, make an offer, get all the paperwork properly processed. Have their inspections, close the deal and go to the settlement table. The buyer will have had no headaches, got a good deal, most importantly got the property he wanted, on the terms he wanted and then the SELLER PAYS THE REALTOR!!

Cal Williams, Realtor®, ABR



Real Estate Questions Answered – Part 1

November 19, 2009

As a  licensed REALTOR  for over 10 years in the Harrisburg Area, it amazes me how many questions I field about the basics of buying a home or selling a home. Because I have been trained in the business and deal with real estate transactions daily, i sometimes forget how intimidating it can be to many homebuyers or sellers.  For example:

Question: How do we know how much our house is worth?

Answer:  We ‘ve all heard this, ‘ your house is worth whatever someone is willing to pay’. While that might be true, that does not really alleviate any fears a potential seller has. There are many factors that go into determining what a particular home is worth. Location, square footage, condition, number of bedrooms, number of baths and MARKET CONDITIONS to mention a few. 

In today’s economy and media inspired gloominess, market conditions are of major importance when determining a homes value.  Most sellers are emotionally tied to their home and therefore will propbably over value what the home is actually worth. ( Which is why For Sale By Owner homes are usually not priced correctly. Most homeowners do not have the skills and training to properly evaluate market conditions.)

Once a professional real estate agent, such as Cal Williams, has analyzed the local market, researched any comparable sales in the area, taken into account the condition and location of the property and thoroughly studied the subject property,  can he  make a determination on what  price range the property should be LISTED  FOR SALE . It is up to the homeowner to actually decide what to LIST the property for, however the expertise of a Licensed Real Estate Agent should be taken into account.

So, there is no easy answer to the question ‘what is my house worth’. The best we can do is find a professional Real Estate Agent, who has been trained to evaluate market conditions and who knows the local market. Take into account all the available information and LIST the property accordingly.

Even then, what the home is worth and what is could sell for are sometimes 2 totally different numbers.

My advice: find a Realtor and ask them for a free evaluation of your home. It should be a free service and any Realtor should be happy to provide that service to a potential seller.


Cal Williams




Harrisburg Area Homes Sales Rise in 3rd Quarter 2009

November 13, 2009

For the first time in a long time, optimism creeps back into our local housing market. The national picture is not looking so promising. While there have been signs nationally that might lead some to believe things are starting to turn around, the statistics are not overly reassuring.  The major markets are still predicting doom and gloom for the foreseeable future. Some areas such as Miami and L.A. will see 20% or more price drops in 2010. This according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors.

The local scene is what I would like to talk about. The Central Penn Multi-List released some interesting numbers at the end of the third quarter. For the first time in 10 quarters, the total number of homes sold increased. From the same period in 2008, the number of homes sold  increased by 2.5%.  While this is a good sign, it must be taken in context with some other numbers.

The median price of sold homes dropped from $ 168,000 to $ 165,000 over the same period. And  the average number of days on market is now 77, up from 70 in the third quarter of 2008. Again, these numbers come from the Central Penn Multilist.

If we look at the national numbers from the third quarter, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we find that sales increased 5% from the same period  in 2008 and the national median existing-home prices dropped 15% from the same period in July 2008 and 12.5% from August 2008.

What this all means is that the Harrisburg area Real estate market does not see the big ups and downs that the national market sees. Markets are localized and never more apparent than in this real estate market. It also means that no one can say when the real estate market is going to start turning around or if it already has started. Statistics show some positive signs locally and some negative signs locally. the same with the national picture.

As a local Real Estate agent, I see signs things are picking up. The homebuyer tax credit has helped. I also see signs that things may not change very much for a while.  I see a lot of good properties for sale that are sitting on the market a long time. This is somewhat disheartening. The reasons are many. One of which is that the banks and lenders are having their own problems and it makes things hard to get clients the proper financing.

But that is a subject for a whole other blog!

Riding the local Real estate Market

Riding the local Real estate Market

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