November 06, 2008

RSVP: Private research LIVE from Realtors EXPO

Home buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate innovators:  Wish you could attend the National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando this weekend but can't?  Interested in participating virtually?

I arrive Friday mid-afternoon and plan to spend all four days visiting 500+ vendors at the Realtor Expo to identify "best of breed" money saving opportunities for home buyers and sellers. Last July, I acted as the LIVE BLOGGER at Inman New's ConnectSF08 and am willing to provide private market research reports LIVE from the floor of the exhibit hall for a few select clients.

Are there are any vendors or competitors on this interactive floor plan you'd like me to check out?

As in the past, I can provide feedback by phone, email, text. This weekend, I hope to experiment with video, live or recorded, as well as screen sharing and video conference calls.

Fees begin at just $25 – $50 per vendor you'd like me to investigate depending on the research question and how you'd like the results presented. That modest fee would cover 15 to 30 minutes, additional time is negotiable.

07:21 PM in Change Agents, Counterintelligence, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, Market trends, Real Estate Blogs: Best Practices, Tech Trends, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

BUBBLE HOUR: Slowest real estate sales since 1991 got you cheering or crying in your beer?

Bubblehour_beergoogles1Bubble watchers in Massachusetts, time to pull out the beer googles and celebrate today's headline in the Boston Globe about the slowest pace in real estate sales since 1991 with a Bubble Hour?

Sellers, does the same news have you crying in your beer, prepared to drop your price again, or tempted to drop your real estate agent (once your listing contract expires, of course) and try "for sale by owner" this Fall? 

If you're one of the 15,000 sellers across Massachusetts who's listing has already expired, been canceled, or temporarily withdrawn from the MLS during the past two months, The Real Estate Cafe is eager to talk to you about selling for sale by owner, or help you evaluate and select your next listing agent

We've just returned from LIVE BLOGGING the leading real estate technology conference in San Francisco, and are eager to demonstrate new money-saving tools and web sites. Do-it-yourself home buyers and sellers, would you like to see those demos in a small group or a personalized one-on-one presentation?  We're eager to take advance reservations for a "FSBO Cruise" in Boston Harbor aboard the Yacht Starship: $99 includes a private, one-on-one presentation of our "FSBO on Steroids" seminar plus a lunch buffet with four-star cuisine.

Sellers:  we don't see the housing bubble through rose-colored glasses, so if you are intimidated by selling "for sale by owner," The Real Estate Cafe can prepare a "Listing Agent Report Card" instead and try to negotiate a reduced commission.  If you pay in advance for our analysis, we'll rebate one-third of our referral fee.

05:30 PM in Bubble Hour, Do-it-yourself, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, Market trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 15, 2008

Part I: Housing slump hits Cambridge: 1 in 3 single family homes selling below assessed value


Part I:  On Sunday, July 13, 2008, the Boston Globe published a lead story in City Weekly entitled, In real estate sales, not all cities are equal.

A blog post earlier today by Redfin stated that "several single-family houses sold for less than the assessed value" in Cambridge, but the magnitude of the price correction underway is far more substantial.  As shown in the graph above, approximately one in three single family homes sold below their assessed value in Cambridge during the first six months of the past two years.  (The Real Estate Cafe's analysis was limited to the first two quarters of each year because we assume that a higher percentage of homes sell below assessed value during the second half of each year.)

The Real Estate Cafe first began tracking sales below assessed value during the first quarter of 2006; and by September 7, 2006, our research was featured in a Boston Globe story entitled, "Priced below assessment."  Contrary to Redfin's assertion that "a house would have to be ravaged by fire" to sell below assessed value, a map in the Globe story revealed that 37% of the single family homes sold in Brookline were below assessed value, compared to 22% of the single family homes sold in Cambridge at the time.  (Click for sample of the homes selling below assessed value in Brookline in the past.)

Two years ago today, our first user added their own examples of falling house prices to our interactive real estate bubble map.  Inman News also featured our map in a mini-series on Real Estate 2.0 innovations, and we need your financial support to attend their real estate technology conference next week to continue our 15 year tradition of helping real estate consumers save money.

Preview of Part II:  Homes selling below assessed value has clearly become more commonplace, but what was newsworthy about the Globe's recent story is the magnitude of how far below assessed value:  During the first six months of 2008, two homes in Cambridge sold for approximately $2 million below their original asking price; and more significantly, more than $1 million below their assessed value (based on our analysis of MLS data.  Watch for more details this week.

05:58 PM in Bubble map, Market trends, Million Dollar Markdowns, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (1) | 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 08, 2008

Expired & canceled listings soar in MA as Petitions to Foreclose approach MLS sales


SURVEY: NOW, what do YOU think will happen to housing prices in 2008 & beyond?

11:24 PM in Foreclosures, Market trends, Real Estate Bubble | Permalink | Comments (3) | 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 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 26, 2007

Billions in savings: Will real estate consumers extend a helping hand?

GiveahandIt's Christmas 2007, and I am visiting extended family in St. Louis, my beloved boyhood home. Missouri is the "Show Me" state, so it's a fitting setting to ask how much money have real estate consumers really saved since McKinsey & Company predicted that industry restructuring could deliver $30 billion in annual savings ten years ago?

Last week, BusinessWeek's real estate blog, Hot Property, reported that home buyers and sellers paid $55 billion in commissions in 2007, down $13 billion from the peak in 2005. They attributed the decline to falling sales and noted that consumers paid $19 Billion more than 2000 "largely because of the surge in home prices during the boom."

What caught my attention was an estimate that "‘for sale by owner’ sellers saved almost $9 billion in home value that they otherwise would have paid to real estate agents." That figure is just shy of the $10 billion in savings from real estate brokerage commissions predicted by McKinsey & Company in January 1998.

How much more money did home owners save by using a flat-fee MLS listings services in 2007, AND how much more money home buyers receive via real estate rebates?

My guess is that those savings also exceeded $1 billion in 2007, and will grow in the future. As a "Change Agent," my question is whether home buyers and sellers are willing to share some of those savings with charitable causes? (Think "pay-it-forward" meets real estate savings.)

ChangeAgents's goal is to create a voluntary coalition of money-saving real estate business models and to invite their clients to share fraction of their e-commerce savings with local, national, and international causes of their own choice. Here's one example of a "community commission."

If you're part of the new generation of real estate companies delivering billions in savings, or if you're hoping to sell "for sale by owner" or receive a real estate rebate check in 2008, would you like to join our conversation about ePhilanthropy & Cause Marketing in real estate?

Please let us know what about your own dreams for 2008 and a better world.

02:02 PM in "We" companies, ASAP: AIDS Shelter Alliance Partners, Change Agents, Commission Reform, Do-it-yourself, Fee-for-service, FSBO: Best Practices, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, In the News, Market trends, Savings & Rebates, Spiritual Home, Unbundling the Commission | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2007

Back to the future: Real estate search centers 2.0

Recafe_watercolor199507/30/08:  Pull quote re FSBO Cruise, more information coming soon.  Email for advance reservations & special offers for 1st 5 responses:

Looking for coop ad partners and sponsors for three experiments in 2008:  our ice cream van, FSBO cruise, and voice-enabled listing search for cell phone users -- another vision of the office of the future!  As we wrote in September 2007, traditional walk-in real estate offices may be obsolete, as evidenced by the closing of 14 Carlson GMAC offices in Massachusetts.

The lead story last night on Inman News was Real Estate Search Stores - Coming Soon?, a blog post yesterday by Joel Burslem, the visionary behind The Future of Real Estate Marketing.  His enthusiastic support for the concept has re-energized me to update The Real Estate Cafe's business plan. (Part of me is also tempted to add some or all of our b-plan, old photos, and video on our wiki so others can learn from our decade plus experience, on and offline.)

As comments on Joel's post reveal, there have been a number of experiments with walk-in real estate centers over the past 13 years including The Real Estate Cafe (Cambridge, MA), SOMA Living (San Francisco, CA), DeWolfe Direct (Cape Cod, MA), @Properties (Chicago, IL), etc.  We've maintained a running list of them in our business plan since approximately 1994. If there is interest, maybe we can share that content on The Real Estate Cafe's wiki, and invite others, like Gabe Gross, to add local experiments we've missed, like the Cornish & Carey showroom in Palo Alto, CA, as well as their own learning experiences.

Having had two retail storefronts in the past, The Real Estate Cafe is now ready to experiment with the same vision "Portland Real Estate guy" added to Joel's post, "the office of the future or now has 4 wheels not 4 walls. Equipped with a wireless laptop, blue tooth everything, and a Starbucks frequent customer card."

Looking for coop ad partners and sponsors for three experiments in 2008:  our ice cream van, FSBO cruise, and voice-enabled listing search for cell phone users -- another vision of the office of the future!  As we wrote in September 2007, traditional walk-in real estate offices may be obsolete, as evidenced by the closing of 14 Carlson GMAC offices in Massachusetts. 

PS.  We've created a subgroup for anyone involved in a "real estate search store" -- past, present, or proposed --  to network on our Ning site.

10:38 AM in "We" companies, Change Agents, Do-it-yourself, Inside The Real Estate Cafe, Market trends, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 31, 2007

Misleading medians understate savings opportunities for homebuyers

Surprising_bubblestats1 Posted in response to blog post entitled "Boston Housing Prices" on's new real estate blog, Boston Real Estate Now:

As some of your readers know, focusing on median sales prices can understate the magnitude of saving opportunities in the housing market.  Like the image above, a closer look at sales behind the housing bubble reveals some surprising findings!  If, for example, you focus on sales of single family homes in the 28 most expensive suburban communities in Greater Boston last month (Sept. 2007), these findings emerge from the MLS:

1.  Sales were down nearly one third from last year:  216 sales in 9/07 versus 300 sales in 9/06;

2.  The percent of homes selling below their assessed value, once unthinkable in Greater Boston, rose slightly from 37% in 9/06 to 40% in 9/07;

3.  Those who argue that prices are holding up in Greater Boston can point to these stats: 

3.1  Twelve listings sold for over  their original asking price or 1 in 20 listings;

3.2  Another 13 listings sold for their original asking price or 1 in 20 again;

4.  In contrast, those who argue that median statistics are misleading would point to these stats:

4.1  One in four listings, or 53 of 216 single family homes in the most expensive suburban communities, sold for at least $99,000 less than the original asking price -- a trend we mapped last year;

5.  Looking just at the 86 homes which sold below their assessed value, 1 in 3 sold for at least $99,000 off;

6.  Switching from dollars saved to percent saved last month:

6.  One in three listings sold for at least 10% less than their original asking price; and worse

7.  One in ten sold for at least 17% below than their original asking price!

So, if you are a buyer, don't be too quick to base your assessment of market value, and hence your offer, on median sales prices or market indexes which are showing modest declines.  Historically, one in five homes which go under agreement between Thanksgiving and New Years, sell for at least 10% below the original asking price.  As the statistics above reveal, price reductions are likely to be deeper and more wide spread this year.  We'll map them on our award-winning real estate bubble map. It's an open, interactive map so Real Estate Cafe clients can earn rebate bonuses by adding properties, too.

11:42 AM in Bubble map, Defensive Homebuying, Market trends, Price trends, Savings & Rebates, Timing the market | Permalink | Comments (2) | 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, 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?  "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