Sunday, October 14, 2012

Put a Little Gravel In Your Travel....

This past week I was fortunate enough to endure a 16.5 mile bike ride with my "little" brother. Funny how even though I'm certainly not in my best shape ever - when the competition of a sibling comes into play - there is no hill too large in all of Lenexa for this lady.

He stayed with us for a week, in from San Diego, and quickly fell right into step with the daily grind of Irvine-land: 6:00 a.m. Ruby Kate winces for her morning bottle, dodging food blobs left behind on the kitchen floor, and endless requests for playing farm or golf from Elijah. 

We all have a case of "MISSING YOU" blues having said good-bye to him yesterday. But mostly grateful for the time we did have with him. Now there are more stories to remember Uncle Grant by and to re-play through conversation until our next visit. 


Until then....when I'm biking through the trails of Lenexa, I will think of that uber long bike ride and my groin will thank heavens Grant is back on the west coast. OR my competitive edge will sneak in thoughts of "if you could go 16.5 last week...why not 17.5 this week?"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What the KC Star Said....

KC area housing market shows signs of steady improvement
New figures show more houses are being sold, inventories are shrinking and prices are going up.
By DIANE STAFFORD
The Kansas City Star
Realtor Kirk Andersen had an eager buyer for a Kansas City house that had been on the market at 59th and Oak streets for only two days.
Somebody squeezed in an offer ahead of his client.
He had another buyer for a house at 97th Street and State Line Road that had been on the market for five days.
There, too, someone beat his client to the offer table.
Those actually aren’t tales of real estate woe. They’re signs that the area housing market is continuing its slow improvement from the depths of the recession.
New figures from the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors show there were 20 percent more home sales in August 2012 than August 2011.
Equally important, for-sale inventory continued to shrink, as it has done regionally for the last four months.
The improved Kansas City market reflects national trends. CoreLogic, a business analytics service, said Tuesday that home prices nationwide, including foreclosed properties, were up 4.6 percent in August compared to 12 months earlier.
The price jump was the biggest year-over-year increase since July 2006 — a sure sign of a healthier residential market.
“We’re lighting fires under buyers, because the good houses are going quickly,” said Andersen, who is with Coldwell Banker. “This hasn’t happened for a long time. Within the last five or six weeks, we started to feel a real difference. We looked around and said, ‘Wow, things have changed.’ ”
Although the market is recovering, it still trails the prerecession level of five years ago.
According to the Realtors Association, there were 236 new and 2,491 existing homes sold last August compared with 555 new and 2,533 existing homes sold in August 2007. The average sale price of a new home did increase to $311,262 in August compared to $291,053 in August 2007, but the average price of an existing home was $161,129 five years ago compared to $154,476 in August.
Still, the housing market has been gaining strength for about a year, said Mike Frazier, chief financial officer at Reece & Nichols, which has about 35 to 40 percent of the local market share.
“Anything under $400,000 is moving all across the metro area,” Frazier said, noting that the average Reece & Nichols sale price moved up to $180,000 in August from $150,000 in January. “That’s the sign of a transitioning market.”
Of course, some housing stock is moving faster than others. Hot pockets include north of the Missouri River in the Park Hill School District, especially for families that are shopping with schools in mind.
For DINKs — double income, no kids — and first-time home buyers, houses in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village and old Leawood are moving fast.
The quickest movers generally are in the $140,000 to $250,000 price range, agents said.
Steve Banks, a Realtor serving as this year’s president of the regional association, tallied the signs of housing market health: More properties are selling, the for-sale inventory is down, and the average sale price is creeping higher.
“Somewhere between five and six months of inventory has been determined to be the point at which the market is balanced, favoring neither buyers nor sellers,” said Banks, who is with Re/Max.
The supply calculation — measured by taking the inventory and dividing it by the 12-month average of the number of sales — is shrinking toward the balance point.
The association’s data for August set the Kansas City area supply at 6.4 months, which favors buyers. That means sellers have to get their houses in shape and price them competitively with comparable properties in the neighborhood, agents said.
It doesn’t do to just stick a sign in the front yard. Properties need to be “show ready” to get several offers.
Pricing properties right doesn’t mean fire sale prices. The CoreLogic report said year-over-year prices, excluding bank-owned and short-sale properties, rose 4.9 percent. In Missouri, the gain was 4.2 percent for nondistressed housing, while Kansas reported a 4.5 percent boost, CoreLogic reported..
From a mortgage lender’s point of view, the housing affordability index is at an all-time high.
According to Jim Nutter Jr., president of Kansas City-based James B. Nutter and Co., “unbelievably super-low interest rates combined with the price of housing payments” make buying a house as affordable as ever.
“It’s not as difficult as people think,” Nutter said. “Credit scores are higher than two years ago. If you feel comfortable about your job situation, it’s a great time to buy. There’s certainly less foreclosure action and lower delinquency rates. All around — pretty good signs.”
Nutter said the housing market data was pumping up the psychology of home buying: “We’ve gone from ‘We don’t want to do that right now’ to ‘We’ve got to do that now.’ ”
Frazier, with Reece & Nichols, said there were two other reasons to believe that the recent improvements had legs.
“We’ve outperformed last year every single month this year,” he said. “That’s surprising, given it’s an election year, which usually is an off year in real estate. And our showings for September are up 10 percent over 2011. That’s a further-out indicator than sales, and that’s looking strong.”
Kansas City area housing market
Year-over-year improvement by several measures

August 2011

August 2012

Average existing home sale price

$151,089

$161,473

Average new home sale price

$303,611

$311,262

New and existing home sales

2,282

2,727

New and existing home inventory

16,477

13,658

Pending contracts

1,837

1,962