Posted in consumers, economy, real estate

U.S. consumer confidence hits five-year high


NEW YORK – May 28, 2013 – The Consumer Confidence Index is arguably the most important economic statistic released each month that most people ignore.

A positive index number means Americans are feeling secure in the economy and their ability to spend – and their spending feeds an increased rebound as they buy homes, furniture, cars and more. Upbeat attitudes are a precursor to other positive indicators, such as a rising home demand and selling prices.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved in April, increased again in May. The Index now stands at 76.2 (1985=100), up from 69.0 in April. The Present Situation Index increased to 66.7 from 61.0. The Expectations Index, which gauges attitudes about the future six months from now, improved to 82.4 from 74.3.

“Consumer confidence posted another gain this month and is now at a five-year high,” says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions was more positive, and they were considerably more upbeat about future economic and job prospects. Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining the traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll-tax hike and sequester.”

May’s present-day conditions

Consumers saying business conditions are “good” increased to 18.8 percent from 17.5 percent, while those stating business conditions are “bad” decreased to 26.0 percent from 27.6 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more positive. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased to 10.8 percent from 9.7 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 36.1 percent from 36.9 percent.

Future expectations

Consumers were considerably more optimistic about the short-term outlook. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 19.2 percent from 17.2 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen decreased to 12.1 percent from 14.8 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead improved to 16.8 percent from 14.3 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 19.7 percent from 21.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase dipped slightly to 16.6 percent from 16.8 percent, while those expecting a decrease edged down to 15.3 percent from 15.9 percent.

Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch, conducts the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey based on a probability-design random sample. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 15.

Presented by  © 2013 Florida Realtors®

Posted in writers

Preparing Your Home for Sale


One of the hardest things for a seller to do is to transform the home that they have taken years building full of treasures, keepsakes and memories and change it into a product.

When Tommy fell and chipped his tooth on that cracked floor tile, that tile became a memory, not a faulty piece of flooring. When Suzie colored on the guest bathroom wall, that wall became a shrine to the little girl that is now in Kuwait with the Peace Corps. The love of our families can put blinders on our home. We only see the memories, not the flaws. Remember, those chipped tiles and crayon colored walls are not endearing to buyers, they represent work. Buyers need to build their own memories and your things only clutter their mind and get in the way of visualizing living in the home.

A buyer must be able to envision themselves living there before they will ever make an offer. As a Realtor® for 24 years, I recognize the body language of buyers. If they sit down, they are trying to picture themselves sitting there, looking out the window, entertaining their friends or relaxing from a stressful day at work. Women especially, but not exclusively, will wander about the kitchen opening cabinets, gazing into the pantry or the sink. They are not looking at your dishes. They are picturing their own things behind those doors.

Keep in mind that if you spent $500 ten years ago to upgrade an appliance, time might have flown by for you and you think of that refrigerator as new – your buyer thinks it is OLD. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a seller say to me, “but I just replaced that”, but when I pressed for a date, it was 5, 10 maybe even 20 years ago. Every single upgrade in your home loses value beginning the very first day. Just like a brand new car, the minute you drive it off the lot, it begins to depreciate. Kitchen and bathroom upgrades hold their value the best, but only if they are current to the style of today. Yes, homes follow trends and fashions just like your clothes and cars.

If you are serious about selling your home, here are some “Must do’s”. Not only will it get you’re an offer faster, but statically, it will bring you a higher dollar.

  1. Most important – De-clutter. Your things are not going to get into your new place by osmosis. At some point you need to box them up anyway. Do it now. Box up as much as you possibly can, not just the obvious winter clothes in the summer, etc. Remove all knick-knacks. Take down family photos (Buyers need to visualize their family, not yours) Less is more. Keep boxing until the house looks empty and cold to you. You are almost there. Just a few more dozen boxes.  Now, store those boxes somewhere else. Rent a storage unit or rent a P.O.D, but get them out of the house.
  2. Fix those items you have been meaning to get to for years, the chipped tile, the crayon painted wall. Fresh paint can go a long way. Keep it neutral, but not white. Taupe or beiges, or soft greys are best with either fresh white baseboards or natural woods.
  3. Clean until every corner shines and don’t forget those windows. You may think that is obvious but I have been in literally hundreds of homes that were so filthy it was an embarrassment for my buyers and myself.
  4. Paint the front door. First impressions speak a million words. If they don’t think the house is well maintained at the entrance, they won’t believe it inside either.
  5. Add a pop of color to the front yard. Buy some live flowers that are in bloom for that time of the year. Even in the dead of winter, you can add some potted red poinsettias or bright green holly with red berries.
  6. If you have a yard, make sure it is at its very best, grass mowed and weeds pulled. Fresh mulch goes a long way to make a front and back yard shine. If you are in a condo, add a new front door mat and hang a colorful wreath on the door.
  7. Visit a model home. Even if you can’t put top of the line new furniture in your home, the one thing you will notice in the model is the minimalism. They don’t do that because they don’t want to spend money on furniture. They do it to make rooms look larger.
  8. Replace all light bulbs in your home with a higher wattage light. And remember to turn on every single light in the house during a showing. Even in the middle of the afternoon.
  9. Once you have the home on the market, never be there for showings. Let the Realtor® do his job. A buyer will feel uncomfortable sitting down or opening cabinets if you are there. But that is what you want them to do.
  10. Make sure your house smells clean and fresh. Use plug-in air fresheners but don’t overdo it where someone will think you are trying to cover a bad smell.
  11. If you have kept a notebook of warranties on appliances or service on the air conditioner or furnace etc., leave it out on the counter for the buyers to look through. They probably won’t spend much time actually going through it, but it leaves the impression with them that you have always maintained the home, not just put a Band-Aid on it to sell.
  12. Understand that the best real estate transaction is one where both sides win. The sellers deserve to get a fair price, but so do the buyers. If you are realistic on your price and negotiate with the buyer on price and terms, when that glitch pops up (which very often does), your buyers will be much more willing to work with you to resolve the issue.

For all your real estate needs, anywhere, let me help. If you don’t live in SW Florida, let me refer you to an expert in your town or community. I will do the research to make you get a professional experienced in the type of property you are buying or selling.

Joanne Tailele, Realtor

ERA Flagship Real Estate, Marco Island FL

Posted in real estate

The Rise in Real Estate


The big news in the real estate market is it is on an upward swing. The markets that took the biggest fall during the crash of the lending institutions in 2008 are the ones now showing the most growth. Sellers are optimistic that there homes will rise in value.

As in any business, it is all about supply and demand. The lower the inventory, the higher the price. Inventories throughout the United States are dwindling as more and more of the short sales are either being sold or the bank has made a new deal with the homeowners and letting them stay in their homes by restructuring their loans. This loss of inventory will drive the prices up, the best sign of a healthy market since 2008. The east and west coast are experiencing the most growth with a smaller gain for the midwest  and southern states.

Here in Florida, vacation properties are now back to bidding wars on the best deals. Foreclosures are few and far between and when they do come on the market, they go in contract with multiple offers within a week. New construction is bursting as the seams and lots are selling at a 70% increase from last year.

The NAR (National Association of Realtors) posted a statement from Freddie Mac on their website this week that indicated that another large batch of foreclosures from the banks is soon to be released. The savvy buyers should stay on high alert for them to hit the market and be prepared to offer their highest and best offer the first time around. Unlike the last few years, where buyers could come in on offers significantly below the asking price. . . and had a fair shot of  winning the bid, those days are gone. The foreclosures that are coming in this batch will be priced closer to true market value and are expected to sell fast.

My advise for buyers is to work closely with their Realtor to watch for these deals. Many will never hit the market because they will be purchased in large lots by corporate investors. The single family buyer will have to move fast to stay in the game.

What about sellers? What does this mean to them? I believe sellers can expect to see a slight gain in their home values but they must remember that the climb back up the hill will be much slower and laborious than the slippery slide down. Many home prices in parts of the country (including my location in SW Florida) were artificially inflated in the the first place, and even with a climb up, they  will probably never come back to its peak. The amount of joy your received by living in your home should be factored as equity spent.

For a short time, I believe both buyers and sellers are going to get a fair shake. ImageThis is a very rare situation. Usually it is either a strong buyers market or the scales are tipped favorably to the seller. In this short window, BOTH sides will see fair market value and either side can walk away from the transaction feeling good about their decision. It is time for both sides to get off the fence.