There it was, the expansive Pacific with its blue waters sparkling in the sunshine as I drove down PCH past Crystal Cove several days ago. I could see a sailboat along the horizon and the whole scene instilled in me a sense of calm and inner peace and put a huge smile on my face.
It happens every time. The whole stretch of road from Newport to Laguna has been one of my favorite places to drive ever since I first put my foot on a gas pedal.
It was the memories of all my Highway 1 drives that kept me going when I found myself working several years deep in the heart of Dallas, Texas. Eventually I was able to get myself back home and swore I would never leave again. And though right now the market is pretty favorable in Dallas, our town here in the Southland continues tobe an incredible place to live.
Just recently a friend of mine put me in touch with Jack Kudray. Both he and his wife, Kathy, are realtors and offer in-depth knowledge and local expertise in the housing market and the complexities of buying or selling a home. And, no pun intended, I felt right at home speaking with him and instantly gathered good tips and valuable real estate information.
Q: What kind of real estate market are we in?
A: We are in a seller’s market, since inventory is lower than normal for this time of year. But considering that we are also experiencing historically low interest rates, buyers are able to afford more. We are also finding that with limited inventory, buyers are often competing with other qualified shoppers for the same homes and are experiencing (frustrating) multiple offer situations. If their agents do their homework and write a “good” clean offer, they may have a better chance of getting the home that they are bidding on.
Q: What should I consider before listing my home?
A: That’s easy; 1) Select the right agent, 2) Check out the competition, 3) Make sure to price your home correctly, 4) Be sure your home shows it’s absolute best, and 5) Verify your broker/agent’s plan to market your home for the world to see it!
Q: How can I get the most out of selling my home?
A: Very simply, price your home from the onset to sell in a reasonable amount of time. All markets and neighborhoods are unique. Use local comp sales to insure the list price makes sense and will appraise. Then de-clutter, paint, clean, wash windows, stage furnishings, plant flowers, trim bushes and trees, fix broken items, etc. Make your home clean and fresh. Take professional pictures and videos. An emotional home is sure to stimulate Buyers.
Q: Have we passed the housing bottom?
A: I think the last three months have started to show signs of improvement. Market prices in many areas are on the upswing as are the number of homes sold this year vs. last year. Let’s hope that this trend continues.
Q: Do you think mortgage rates will go any lower?
A: Rates are at a historical low point now. I don’t know how they could go much lower. I think they are stimulating buyers at this level and are also helping existing homeowners to refinance their old, higher rate loans.
Q: Do the coastal cities have their share of short sales and foreclosures?
A: The coastal communities seem to have weathered the financial storm better than the surrounding Orange County cities and neighboring Inland Empire. Currently there are only about 5 percent of homes on the Newport Coast that are active distressed sales. Orange County is currently reporting about 18 percent of its inventory as bank-owned and short sales, a considerable reduction over the last several months. This is another positive sign that the market is showing improvement!
Q: Is buying and selling in the real estate market mainly for investors or do homebuyers still have a chance?
A: I think that qualified Buyers looking to buy a home to live in still have a great chance of success. Interest rates are awesome if they qualify. The lower end market is a bit tougher when they are competing against investors with cash.
Q: What is the cutting edge trends in real estate right now?
A: Unbelievable technology that makes information available to buyers 24/7. Also, time-saving smart phones and tablet computers that enable real estate agents and their clients to communicate with each other faster and much more efficiently.
Q: How do you see the future of real estate in south Orange County?
A: South Orange County should continue to be one of the best real estate investment areas anywhere, gauging from the number of people who want to enjoy the extraordinary lifestyle that we have to offer as well as the number of foreign investors purchasing property here.
Q: Are there certain challenges for first time home buyers these days?
A: There are excellent FHA and other first time home buyer programs out there today as long as the Buyer’s are well-qualified with good income and credit history. Some specific challenges appear to be the current economy, job market and new/resale home standing inventories being lower than normal.
Jack and Kathy Kudray