July 17, 2008

If airlines have fare sales, should real estate agents? Part 2

Businesssuckssale Poking fun at the current cover story in Barron's Magazine, "Bottom's Up: This Real-Estate Rout May Be Short-Lived," Bill Apgar of the Harvard's Joint Center for Housing predicted, "There will be 10 articles a month [like that] until we hit the bottom, and the last one will be right."

When will it be the right time to buy?  That's what all The Real Estate Cafe's clients are asking.  Some of their house hunts began two years before the market peaked, and are now into the third year of falling prices.  Nearly 50 of our active buyers have looked at more than 1,000 MLS page views. Twenty-one have looked at more than 1,000 MLS pages in the past year alone, but only four of them have paid any fees to The Real Estate Cafe.

Unlike listing agencies who represent sellers and charge 5% to 6% commissions, or dot.com start-ups that are venture funded, The Real Estate Cafe pays it's overhead almost entirely from hourly consulting fees paid by clients.  With so many buyer waiting out the housing bubble, those fees have slowed to a trickle.  Now, after 13 years, we need your financial support.

We constantly look for ways to help you save money, by learning more about the housing bubble and the latest technologies.  Today, for example, we attended a seminar on State of the Nation's Housing and a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop. This weekend, we'll participate in PodCampBoston (for the third time.)  Next week, we'd like to participate in two real estate technology conferences in San Francisco:  REBarCamp and Real Estate Connect.

To do so, we need to raise $2,000 to $3,000 quickly.  You can help us, help you save money by selecting one of the following special offers:

Money-saving offer #1:  Fare sale
Repeat the Fare Sale we used successfully in 2007 to get two to three clients to prepay $500 to $1,000 in exchange for 1 to 3 hours additional work for FREE.  Email for details.

Money-saving offer #2:  Experiment with monthly fees
Introduce an optional monthly subscription fee. If you agree to pay $250 per month, we’ll slash our our consulting fees, normally $100 to $150 per hour, to $50 per hour for five hours—that’s a savings of 50% to nearly 70%! Like frequent flier miles, hours you prepay accumulate and you can use them any time you like.  Email for details.

Money-saving offer #3. Attend educational seminars
Host a technology debriefing after our trip to San Francisco to share best money-saving tools and tips from the two real estate technology conferences. We would like to host two events, one for buyers and the other for FSBOs ("for sale by owner") within 10 days of the conferences at TogetherInMotion, One Broadway, Arlington, MA.  $49 per household, per event.  Email for details.

Finally, your best savings opportunity may already be part of our normal menu of fees & rebates.  For example, one of our $3,000 flat fee options enables you to buy down our hourly consulting fee from $150 per hour (without retainer) to $75 for 40 hours - that's a 50% savings before payment of any performance bonus.  (Contact us for more details on this option and others.)

We encourage buyers to wait for the housing prices to correct, but don't wait to take advantage of these savings opportunities. Once we raise $2,000 to $3,000, they'll be gone.

10:25 PM in "We" companies, Bubble Hour, Client Feedback, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, Housing forecasts, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2008

Bubble Hour topic: Money magazine forecast 10.5% decline, SF home prices in Boston by May 2009

Glad to see the pundits agree with the people, again. Boston buyers - interested in a Bubble Hour to discuss this forecast in Money magazine's Real Estate Survival Guide, summarized today on Boston.com's real estate blog:

Boston is forecast to see a 10.5 percent decline in single-family home prices by May 2009. While that's slightly higher than the projected 9.7 percent decline for the nation overall, there are 35 metropolitan areas expected to see bigger declines. In the past five years, prices had increased slightly more than 13 percent in the Boston area, according to Money's calculations.

The other four areas included in the list are also expected to see price declines: Cambridge (8.5 percent); Peabody (8.8 percent); Springfield (9.5 percent); and Worcester (9.2).

Would One Broadway in Arlington -- near the Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, and Medford lines -- be convenient for people, particularly parents who can bring the kids to play while adults talk?

Open to suggests on when and where to host this Bubble Hour, as well as future gatherings and topics.  Follow http://twitter.com/RealEstateCafe for updates on time and place, as well as other BUBBLE BITES.  Watch for link to upcoming story on slowdown in Cambridge housing market, too. Preview of market stats and custom research available "a la carte."  Call The Real Estate Cafe at 617-661-4046 or email for details.

12:51 PM in Bubble Hour, Defensive Homebuying, Housing forecasts, Real Estate Bubble, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 18, 2008

Economists mirror consumer survey: "Housing prices apt to fall much more"

Blitzsurvey_1q2008_5yrs_v1(Turn off pop-up blocker, and click on table for larger image.)

An AP story hidden on page four of the Boston Globe business section, entitled "Housing prices apt to fall much more," reports that:

"A group of 10 economists says that home prices in the United States are only halfway through their fall."

"...and most of the further erosion should occur this year."

Those predictions are consistent with consumer surveys conducted by The Real Estate Cafe and Boston Bubble six months ago (December 2007 & January 2008), which revealed that consumers expected housing prices to bottom out sometime in 2009 or 2010. 

When consumers in Greater Boston were asked to graph housing prices over the next 5 years (through 2012) in their local city or town, the composite pattern above emerged.  A comparison of that table to the results of the same question asked two years ago (January 2006), reveals that consumer price expectations have taken a sharp downturn. 

A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston projecting that foreclosures may not peak in Massachusetts until the 2nd quarter of 2010, could send housing price expectations even lower.  What's your prediction as we end the 3rd quarter of 2008? 

11:55 AM in Consumer surveys, Housing forecasts, Real Estate Bubble, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 11, 2008

NOW, what do you think will happen to housing prices in 2008 & beyond?

Please take a few minutes to update this survey of housing price expectations in Massachusetts after a week of negative housing headlines. This survey is being conducted independently by The Real Estate Cafe but we are eager to share the results with the press.

CLICK HERE, not photo below, to start survey:  What do YOU think will happen to housing prices in 2008 & beyond?


04:11 PM in Bubble Hour, Consumer surveys, Housing forecasts, In the News, Market trends, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2008

Thousands of MLS page views over 2 to 4 years: Will Bubble-wary buyers extend wait thru 2008?

1000pageviews_010308v1Temperatures in Boston are approached zero yesterday which, regrettably for this fee-for-service real estate consultant, was about the level of client billable activity over the Holidays.  But that doesn't mean that The Real Estate Cafe's "do-it-yourself" home buyers aren't busy house hunting; to the contrary, 36 of them have looked at over 1,000 MLS pages online.  As shown on the graph above, house hunts of 2,000 to 6,000 MLS page views stretching two to fours years are not uncommon.

Can you imagine how long it would take to drive by that many properties, particularly in this frigid weather?  That's why The Real Estate Cafe offers two MLS access systems, one which includes thousands of expired listings plus another map-based search with links to Zillow estimates. 

That's also why we're eager to invite new and long-time home buyers to network online and off in 2008. Regardless of whether you're a member of our "1,000 click club" graphed above, please join one or more of the subgroups on The Real Estate Cafe's new experimental social networking web site and exchange market insights with other clients -- particularly if you're in a long-term holding pattern

Our survey of housing prices in Greater Boston includes a few questions about potential educational and networking events, like our "Bubble Hour."  Please let us know what interests you and where you think housing prices are headed in 2008 and beyond.

09:10 AM in Do-it-yourself, Extreme Househunting, Housing forecasts, Real Estate Bubble, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 27, 2007

Survey BLITZ for TV News: Boston housing prices in 2008 & beyond

Crystalball_2008A local TV news department is working on a story today about the housing market, so The Real Estate Cafe and BostonBubble.com have volunteered to conduct a quick consumer survey to inform their reporting. What do YOU think will happen to housing prices in 2008 & beyond, and if you are in the housing market, how will that influence your home buying plans for 2008?

The survey takes just a few minutes and we need your opinion AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to enrich tonight's TV news!

Privacy Policy: Survey responses will be tabulated as a group without attribution to individual respondents. Your identity is confidential will not be shared with anyone.

12:34 PM in Consumer surveys, Housing forecasts, In the News, Market trends, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2007

Pre-testing consumer survey of housing prices in Greater Boston: 2008 to 2012

Crystalball_2008 Over the past three years, The Real Estate Cafe has blogged about the real estate bubble. Now we'd like to get YOUR opinion about what will happen to housing prices in Greater Boston and an update on your home buying plans for 2008.

Right now, we're only looking for a few respondents to help us PRE-TEST our survey.  Can you spare a few minutes?  Your feedback will help us better understand the market and better serve home buyers like you.

Privacy Policy: Survey responses will be tabulated as a group without attribution to individual respondents. Your identify is confidential will not be shared with anyone.

10:22 AM in Bubble Hour, Consumer surveys, Housing forecasts, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 30, 2007

Wait 2.0: Negative cycle creating marginal or mega-savings for patient homebuyers?

Stop_poorfarmrd At the end of 2006, one of our blog posts linked to this cautionary (albeit biased) advice from the outgoing president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors:

“With home prices leveling, interest rates remaining low, inventory still plentiful and more sellers accepting market-based pricing, Bay State homebuyers have a special window of opportunity right now,” Mr. Wluka said. “We just don’t know how long the window will stay open, with factors remaining so favorable. For anyone trying to time the market, the waiting game may be a big mistake.”

Eight months later, a survey of economists and the interview below on Marketplace.org, suggest that waiting could create more savings opportunities for homebuyers from what economists call a "negative cycle."  How much have you saved by delaying your home buying plans over the past year or two, and how much more do you think you can save my waiting longer?  How long will you wait, or will you be bargain hunting this Fall and winter as seasonal markdowns accelerate savings opportunities?

Marketplace.org:  "Ride Dow roller coaster, or sit it out? (8/30/07)
Links and excerpts selected by The Real Estate Cafe, audio online above (but no transcript yet):

Marketplace host:  You get the feeling that investors can't seem to make up their minds?  ...Once emotions loosen the markets, where it all ends, can be anyone's guess.  ...That has a lot of us in some kind of limbo these days.

Steve Tripoli, Marketplace:  Even well-healed potential buyers are thinking twice these days.  Lois Vitt has written a book about real estate that focuses on buyer and seller psychology.  She says "caution" is what happens when markets turn sharply south.

Dr. Lois Vitt, author:  Fear is contagious and that's what's going on right now.  People are afraid.  And so they worry that they might get in trouble if they go ahead with their plans and so people are holding back.

Steve Tripoli, Marketplace:  Nationwide chatter about a housing bubble, and further price drops isn't helping; even if it is accurate says Wellesley College housing expert Karl Case.

Karl Case, housing economist:   I've got a t-shirt that says, "Mr. Housing Bubble:  I pop and you are done."  There's just a lot of press, a lot of news about the mortgage market, about auctions, houses, about foreclosures.  If you are in the market about to make a big decision about buying a large asset, that is going to scare you.

Steve Tripoli, Marketplace:  It's not only that a house is a big asset, says Case, but it's one most buyers will hold for a long time.

Karl Case, housing economist:   And they borrowed the money to do it.  So they naturally have expectations about whether it's likely for it to go up or down, and it is clear that the demand is sensitive to those expectations.

Steve Tripoli, Marketplace:  The problem with this negative market psychology is that it can be self-fulfilling.  Buyers hold back, prices drop; so more mortgages exceed the home's value, and prices drop more.  Then buyers pull back even more.  I asked re Karl Case and Lois Vit, "Are we are in danger of that kind of negative feedback cycle right now?"

Karl Case, housing economist:   Absolutely.

Dr .Lois Vitt, author:  Absolutely.

Steve Tripoli, Marketplace:  And all of the sophisticated computer models, and hedge fund managers in the world can't predict where that kind of negative thinking will take us.  So fasten your seat belts.  I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.

Listen to NPR's "All Things Considered" this evening for more insight into the negative cycle spiraling downward in the housing market.  Here's a key pull quote:

Economists expect total declines of about 10 percent throughout many parts of the country — and up to 25 percent in some of the formerly hottest markets.

02:15 PM in Consumer surveys, Housing forecasts, Market trends, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

August 27, 2007

Dismal scientists fear dismal housing recovery

Slow_sign1 For some time, The Real Estate Cafe has been saying that client house hunts that once took two to three months in Greater Boston, are now taking two to three years.  That was before this stunning headline,  "Economists see credit problems as bigger threat than terrorism," revealed these findings:

Asked to look five years into the future, 42 percent [of business economists] expected U.S. home prices to remain flat, 41 percent said prices should rise, and 16 percent predicted prices will fall

Only one in five of those surveyed predicted a "meaningful" recovery in U.S. housing markets before the second half of 2008. About 38 percent expected a recovery in the second half of 2008, while 42 percent said housing markets won't turn around until 2009 or later.

If you are a home buyer, will the dismal survey findings above cause you to extend your house hunt by months or years?  Or will you be bargain hunting this Fall and winter, as seasonal price reductions create attractive home buying opportunities?

Join the discussion on our social networking site:  Wait 2.0?  Will dismal housing forecast extend househunts another 2 years?

07:51 PM in Housing forecasts, Real Estate Bubble, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

August 16, 2007

Picnic-style Bubble Hour: "We're not in Kansas any more"

Crystalball_wizardoz What a week on Wall Street!  How soon will housing prices in Boston respond to the credit crunch?  That's the subject we explored in our blog post last night that's already been visited by more than 400 readers.  Many of them have come from a link on local favorite, BostonBubble.com, so we're inviting readers, Real Estate Cafe clients, and others to join us TONIGHT, Friday, August 17, 2007 for a picnic-style "Bubble Hour" at the Hatch Shell on Boston's Esplanade, just before the outdoor showing of the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz."

As always, Friday Flicks are FREE and start at sunset (approx. 7:30pm, we'll start gathering around 6:00pm so we can share insights into the falling housing market).  If it is not obvious where we are, please call us.


If you're a real estate professional, or just obsessed with money-saving real estate tools and toys, as we are at The Real Estate Cafe, join us for a real estate round table beforehand across the Charles River at MIT's Muddy Charles Pub (TENTATIVELY, approx. 4-6pm).  Bring your laptop so we can surf some of the hot new sites featured at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco.  We're also eager to begin brainstorming about the proposed real estate unconference this Fall in Boston.

If it is easier for fellow real estate professionals to meet earlier in the day, or in another venue (or to postpone the technology debriefing until another date, please use this wiki-style event planner to "Talk about it."

06:03 PM in "We" companies, Bubble Hour, Housing forecasts, Real Estate Bubble, Social Networking, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack