Seeing is Believing
June 1st, 2020
A few days ago, a local newspaper reported that Jackson County real estate sales are down 26% for the month of April. It caught me so off guard, I had to read it again. As you might expect, it cited Covid-19 as a contributor to the declines but based on what we are experiencing first-hand, this statistic feels totally out of whack as we are already seeing evidence of a very robust real estate market now and projected for the summer.
Upon closer review, the article mentions the median sales price for places in Medford is actually up 12% as compared to April 2019 and while Ashland’s median home price is down April 2020 vs April 2019, it was down only $16,000. That sounds more like it. The inventory of homes for sale in April, particularly in Ashland was most definitely less but let’s be honest – nobody wanted strangers coming through their home with all the uncertainty pertaining to Covid-19. All brokerages implemented safeguards to protect their sellers, buyers and themselves and quite frankly, unless a homebuyer was without shelter and really needed to find a place to settle – most everyone was delaying their visit to any listings. From our perspective, this pause only felt noticeable for about two weeks and shortly thereafter, things were right on pace for what we would expect in a typical spring market.
As families adjusted to having kids at home during their regular school day, they took a few moments to catch their breath while also finding a way to adjust to the new routine and learning how to settle into a pattern that was quite foreign to most. I don’t know about you, but when my family has sold homes in the past, we were quite strategic about when they were listed and a large part of that equation was factoring in how available our house would be for visitors and how tidy we could keep it. Having children in school, outside of the home and for eight hours a day, certainly helps to create the spaciousness to market and show a property. But, when classroom time started taking place at the dining room table and older kids return home to stake claim in their parent’s guest bedrooms while they are “distance learning;” it’s no wonder we didn’t see a lot of new listings hitting the market.
Moms and dads were never busier making room for their kids, loving on them and managing emotions all while trying to remain poised and seemingly unaffected in the process.
We are listing homes like crazy right now, showing more and more property and really seeing a vibrant and healthy market so don’t believe everything you hear or read. There seems to be a lot of movement among our local buyers/sellers but also with folks making the decision to settle into Southern Oregon from the higher density communities outside our state. Two of our current buyers are moving here to be closer to their adult children and another escrow just closed where aging parents purchased a property large enough to accommodate them along with their grown children and grandchildren. Amidst the turmoil caused by the Covid-19 virus, we are seeing such beautiful things emerge within our community. The desire for communal living is increasing as people settle into this different way. For many, it may have been out of need to pool their resources and provide support for one another but for others, perhaps they finally slowed down enough to actually have the opportunity to enjoy their families and in doing so, discovered they actually do want to “do life” together.
As you hear rumblings of a pending crash in the real estate market from those who think the “bottom” is near, I would encourage you to not consider it gospel. Reach out to a local real estate professional and get a first hand accounting of how things really are. We are in a new time and it’s critical to have up to the minute information. Relying on statistics from a year ago, three months ago or even 30 days ago is unwise. Having an informed perspective from someone who is in the throes of the present market conditions will serve invaluable as we continue this journey into unchartered waters. Inventory levels are increasing and pending activity is up. It’s a great time to live in Southern Oregon.
We've Got You Covered
March 20th, 2020
It’s no surprise that we are in uncharted territory. Not only in American but the world in general. You can’t turn on the news or open a social media account without being smacked in the face with another report about the Coronavirus. Even if you want to take a moment to get a “break from the headlines” you simply step outdoors into the community and can feel the new normal.
Although this is a scary time for many it can also be a very empowering time as well. We can be the change that we want to see in the world. As each community slows its pace we have extra time to offer a smile, a laugh or even an extra hand (not literally). It’s within our power to send a text to someone who is placed on our heart, to allow the person behind us in line to go in front of us, to pick up an extra grocery or two for our neighbors. It’s in these times that those moments of kindness can change a person’s day.
As we each get used to the new normal for the next 30 + days I personally am finding ways to be the change I want to see. I am noticing the extra kindness in others in moments of uncertainty. None of us have the answers but we each have the power to make a difference and to see the silver lining.
For us personally, our business is going on. We have systems in place that are not only protecting our team, families but also our clients. We have always prided ourselves on being a well-oiled machine with plenty of systems in place. These systems will separate us from the rest and we are thankful that we can continue to operate and move forward. We are offering virtual walk-thru, electronic signatures, phone conferences to name just a few. We continually round table ideas to ensure our clients are not only safe but that their investment (real estate) remains as protected as possible.
But we also want to impress that it is important to understand that the real estate market is very strong and there is still a high level of demand. Please don’t compare this event with the 2008 market collapse. It was very different because during that time we had entered into a great recession with more than 11 months of housing supply, sub-prime loan options, high unemployment rates and don’t forget the double-digit appreciation (most owners were seeing their home value twice the amount of what they purchased the house for). To compare 2020 to 2008 is to compare an apple and an orange.
Right now, in our local market, we are seeing a 2.2 month of supply in a large amount pricing brackets, the lending rules and regulations are entirely different, unemployment at a 50 year low and our appreciation on house is in the 4-5% range. Real estate remains a safe, stable and secure investment. Don’t forget we are seeing an historic drop in the mortgage rates. It really is still a great time to purchase, sell, invest and/or upgrade your housing needs.
Our team is here to assist you and to still be your guided resource as we continue through this. Please reach out if we can be of any assistance…even if it is for a reprieve and a small laugh or two.
Oh man! Turning 20 never felt so good.
January 31st, 2020
It was the summer of 2000. The year I felt invincible. I had no fear and honestly felt like I had life by the “you know what.” What is it about graduating high school that makes us feel full of life and hope? I was headed to college with a full-time scholarship and a guaranteed job with the police department in four years. I felt free. Ready to make an impact on the world and leave a lasting imprint when I someday died.
It was that same summer that I met DeAnna Sullivan (aka Sickler). Looking back at it now, there is not a single shred of doubt that was the beginning page of an entering an entirely different life than my 18-year-old self had written. DeAnna had just recently obtained her real estate license and was herself on the very beginning of her own new journey. A journey I got to witness from the beginning.
As our friendship grew I quickly recognized her work ethic and tenacity. A client recently called her the ‘bull dog who wears lipstick.’ She was and still is the type of person that won’t quit until every aspect of a potential answer has been thoroughly examined. DeAnna is the one you want on your side when you feel stuck, when that property just seems like a tough sale, when you have found your dream home but don’t think you can “make it work.” She is the agent that will find a way… if a way exists. For the last 20 years I have been able to watch “the magic.” And now for a note to my friend. Happy 20 years of Real Estate and 20 years of friendship.
How can it be? I have officially known you two years longer than I have not known you. Over the past 20 years I have had a front row seat to the type of person you are, in every aspect of your life and when no one is looking. Every day may not have been unicorns and rainbows but there sure was a lot of coffee and even more laughs to make up for the poop sandwiches.
Over the last two decades I have watched you build a successful business, build two beautiful homes, move four times, become a wife, balance having your husband work in another county for more than five years and also birth a child on two different occasions. I have known you through financial blessings and financial heartache. I have seen who you are when you’re at the top of life and the person you are when life deals you an unfair hand. I have witnessed you rise to the occasion of being the Sheriff’s wife (something neither of you planned) as well as to the tough calling of raising two tenacious and spirited boys.
How would I describe a person I have seen through 20 years of life; a life where members of each of our families have died, gotten very sick, gone through relationship struggles, and countless other moments where you could feel the earth shake below us? I will tell you: COURAGEOUS, STUBBORN, GRACEFUL, SPIRITED, CLASSY, ADMIRED, KIND, GENEROUS, GIVING, LOVING, TENACIOUS, SMART, BELIEVER, FAITHFUL, TRUSTWORTHY, RESPECTED, ADMIRED, ADVISOR, FUNNY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY LOVED.
I pray many blessings over you and then next 20 years of whatever this life might throw your way. I can’t promise you much on the 20 year birthday. But I can sincerely promise I will always be here. -Dy
PS. You’re looking pretty dang fine for 20 :)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
August 2nd, 2019
Over the last few weeks a number of insightful articles have come across my lap, all of which beautifully related to the season my family and I are wrapping up… baseball. Each had a different perspective on the influence team sports such as baseball can play in the lives of children as well as their parents. Both of my sons, Grady and Griffin had the pleasure of playing on the same Little League team this season. With the exception of one year during high school ball, it may have been the only opportunity they will have to be on the same team. Being coached by their dad was the icing on the cake. It provided wonderful quality time for the three of them to really connect and let’s be honest…. Mom didn’t have to worry about getting them there or picking them up. Freedom!
Our oldest son also decided to play on a tournament team so in addition to his weekly practices and games with Little League many weekends were spent watching tournaments. At the end of the regular season, there is a try-out for the All Star team and not only did Grady play and Nate coach, they actually won their local District Championship and earned a spot at the state tournament in Portland. I am not sure if my tears were for excitement or bewilderment at the idea of more baseball.
The time commitment for participating in team sports was just one of the many valuable things we extracted from this experience. Our seven year old quickly learned about sacrifice of his free time in support of his older brother, not to mention that concession stand hot dogs and hamburgers just might be dinner three times a week. The older one got to witness first hand that the team with the most talent doesn’t always win and there are lots of different “styles” when it comes to coaches. He got to see tantrums, tears and poor sportsmanship while also discovering the importance of strong leadership and how losing with grace will quickly set you apart from the crowd. Mom and Dad learned how to keep things in perspective. With many of our days and nights revolving around our 10-year-old it didn’t take long before we found ourselves reeling him in to realize that despite how it had appeared over the last several months… our world didn’t actually revolve around him.
In one of the gems passed along to me, it reflected on what really takes place “when you give a boy a baseball” and as it outlined how it simply started off with just a baseball, a bucket of balls, some cleats and eventually a bat, what you really gave him was a sport, a team, a talent, hope and dream. You also give him a “new” family, a place to learn about life and room to grow as a person where he will push limits and become more courageous. By giving our boy a baseball, we got to celebrate victories as individuals and as a team, but also learned how to console lack of success.
Another great article that was shared was the importance of teaching our kids how to be good losers. Sounds a little crazy in this competitive world we live but in the article, “Raising 27’s” we were reminded of the opportunity that defeat presents. In the write up, the kids lose badly, a player has a crappy attitude about it and mom, who felt tempted to lecture her boy about the sacrifices made just to be there to support him, found herself staring into the eyes of a weeping 12 year old boy who then justified their loss by blaming everything and everyone. After his “carefully crafted tantrum” he settled in to a genuine sadness and then the magic happened. She realized in that moment she had never taught her son how to lose. With a culture aimed at success; improving performance in school, sports, etc. we find ourselves dedicating all our time teaching kids how to win and never how to cope with failure or struggle well. It goes on to explain how character, grit and resilience are only born inside these experiences. THIS!
At the state tournament we were eliminated by the two teams that ended up winning all the way through and battling it out in the championship game. It goes without saying we got our booties handed to us… and rightfully so. They were all around just better. Our son, typically not an external processor, was visibly pissed at the butt-kicking they were receiving; his body language, his lack of enthusiasm, his literal pouting from shortstop. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to ring his neck and I will not confirm nor deny that I may have recorded some of his shenanigans just to show him how ridiculous it looked. When it was all said and done and he had his cool-off time to just settle in to the tremendous disappointment, we had one of the most incredible heart to hearts our family has ever had. The other team was better and that’s okay. Grady got to hear from his parents how proud we are of him and his team for getting all the way to state but also reminded what a gift he has been given to be a leader on his team and with that, comes tremendous responsibility. Despite his disappointment, his behavior set the tone for his entire team and as he watched the video (you know, the one that might or might not have been taken) he saw first hand what an influence he has. He also got to hear how the way he acted was not okay and even though they were getting smoked, he had a responsibility to his team, our family and theirs to put forth his best effort and not act as though they had already been defeated… in the second inning.
Fortunately, Grady is quite resilient and after an hour drive and some real talk, he asked me if I could play “baseball catch” with him so he could work on a few things. For nearly two hours we just tossed the ball around; I threw grounder after grounder in as many crazy directions and bad hops as I could muster up til he finally was ready to stop. He took pop flies, line drives and we ran through scenarios picking off the “virtual runner.” This boy – he is going to do great things and I can’t wait to be cheering him on along the way.
May 27th 2019
I often can find myself overwhelmed by our hurting world. It doesn’t take long for you to encounter someone that is in need of assistance, a shoulder to cry on, a laugh or a dang big hug. And let’s not forget about the social media side of things where people are continually showing us their perfect and flawless angle on life that I think often can feed into others sadness. Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us compare our daily lives with those around us.
There is no doubt about it…I am a fixer. I hate to see others in pain, sadness, struggle, despair etc. I can find myself lying awake at night fixing others problems and taking them on as my own. It can seem like a daunting task that never makes headway. So of course the next course of action is usually feeling helpless or discouraged. My brain starts to tell myself there is nothing I can do to change people’s circumstances. And that I have found is one of the biggest lies from the Enemy. This world needs people to care, they need us to step out and do something, even if it is just a small random act of kindness. We each need to listen to that small, quiet voice that whispers guidance on how we can help. The more we listen to those whispers, I strongly believe, the more they are there.
I know you have had moments standing in line behind a struggling mother with an out of control toddler. You want to offer to hold something for her, to take the groceries out to the car or to simply entertain the fussy kid until her credit card is accepted. But then you pause and in the next split second you rationalize why you shouldn’t step forward. “I don’t want to offend her.” “I don’t want her to think I am a creep.” And on and on it goes. Before you know it the mom is walking out the doors and you breathe a sigh of relief so you don’t have to continue this conversation with yourself.
We each have memories when someone reached out a kind hand and just changed the course of our day. I’ve definitely had random acts of kindness bestowed upon me; a best friend who has dinner waiting in my house after returning from a late vacation flight, a lady in line handing me a coupon for me to use at check out, a random Mother’s Day present from a lender, a sweet text encouraging me that I do touch people’s lives daily and am walking my true purpose, a hug from my kids after a long day. Each of these moments are stored in my arsenal of blessings. I can visually tap into each moment and access joy. What each of these people didn’t know, and I probably didn’t even realize myself, was at that particular moment I needed exactly what they offered.
The Enemy wants us to feel overwhelmed about the world and for us to say the problems are too big for us to individually make an impact. Oh how he wants us to just simply talk ourselves out of small acts of kindness. To this day, I still find myself getting talked out of random acts of giving. What is my secret to staying out of the lie? I literally count to three. 1…2…3…NOW GO! DO IT! In those moments, when I listen to the whisper, I am quickly rewarded with a moment of gratitude.
As my family was eating breakfast one morning at a local diner, my son and I walked by a man wearing a veteran’s hat. I began to explain to my six year old the sacrifices that man and his family made over the years. Bam! A small whisper…buy his breakfast. I took my boy over to his table, thanked him for his service and my son stole his bill. The look on Landon’s face that he was going to buy a strangers breakfast was priceless. Buying this man’s breakfast wasn’t an idea of my own. It was a whisper that I chose to listen to. And when I began to tell myself about how awkward it was going to be, I simply said “1…2…3! NOW GO! DO IT!”
I have countless other examples of moments when reaching out to someone because of a whisper has changed that person’s perception of their day’s events. I had no idea how much they were hurting or needed a word of encouragement. You can change the world. It doesn’t take millions of hours or millions of dollars. I have found it simply requires me to get out of my own darn way!
The Market is Talking... But are you Listening?
April 28th 2019
We are seeing a great surge of inventory in our local market. In fact, we are seeing the spring inventory hit about a month sooner than when we typically expect it to. The rates are lower and the buyer appetite seems to be stronger than ever, making the market very exciting. Many of you probably heard in the local news last week that it’s a “buyers’ market.” Thankfully most of us learned a long time ago not to believe everything we hear in the news.
Right now, we are seeing a very balanced market based on our experiences in the past and the statistics are saying the same. Properties priced appropriately, i.e. those based on comparable sales and not Zestimates or just what feels right are typically receiving an offer within the first three weeks. The homes that are priced even a bit optimistically tend to sit. The current trend remains the same – those homes that aren’t priced appropriately are actually receiving less in the end, then they would have had they priced appropriately in the first place. It goes without saying the end result for the seller is less money at closing. Many of the homes that are overpriced end up making a reduction, then when the offer does come in, it’s on average 92% of the adjusted listing price.
On average, Buyers are viewing 7-12 homes before they are finding the “one” and during that time they are getting a real good sense of what the market values are. They are keeping an eye on inventory, including which properties are selling and for how much. From the moment they see something online, coupled with their first steps into the home (if they go so far as to make an appointment) most of them can tell if the home is priced fair or if they seller is stretching the value. For the properties that are overpriced, Buyers often respond, “I’ll just wait and see what happens” instead of writing an offer and testing the sellers flex in pricing. In our experience, by the time the seller reduces their price those buyers have either bought something else or are no longer excited about the house… After all, it’s been on the market for 30+ days at this point. Given most residential sales are driven by emotion, a lot of excitement gets lost when “fresh from the oven” transfer over to the “day-old bread” rack.
Think of it this way – when a new listing hits the market it is like new fish heading upstream into a pond. All the buyers (anglers, per se) are circling around the pond, waiting for new inventory to hit. The best chance of capturing a willing and ready buyer is at the beginning of the marketing period when the house is vibrant and new. After the debut, we are basically waiting for new Buyers to enter into the market because all the others have seen what you have to offer for your price and they aren’t jumping at the opportunity. Showing activity tends to slow after a home has been on the market longer than 30 days. We usually can help re-introduce some interest by changing our position in the market, which typically means repositioning the property in a new buying pool (price adjusting).
It can be helpful for sellers to look at what else is for sale in the same price band as their property. Sometimes, by putting on a Buyers hat, a Seller can get a better understanding on why their home hasn’t received an offer just yet. One of the most important strategies in today’s market is being proactive with price adjustments. Don’t let your loaf of bread become a giant stale crouton before you realize you aren’t priced appropriately. Homes are selling… heck, we had eleven new transactions in a two-week period. Half were our buyers and half were our sellers so it goes without saying things are happening and for both sides.
Don’t believe everything you hear broadcasted on the media. We would agree that the market isn’t favoring over priced homes but to go as far as saying it is a buyers’ market is quite a stretch. The current market is a fair market for both sellers and buyers. In the end both parties seem to be sleeping well at night and enjoying the next “move.”
If you are interested in knowing the current value of your home we would love an opportunity to meet with you.
If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit
March 27 2019
In a recent interview about our business model, Dyan and I found ourselves struggling to accurately describe how we go about running our business. We have been trying to overcome the assumption by prospective Buyers and Sellers that we only work with higher end price ranges. We want to really drive home that when we choose to take on a new client it really has everything to do with who they are, what they are about and very little to do with how valuable their home is or how much money they have to spend.
Certainly when we were building our business we were less clear on our priorities, more lenient on who we gave our time and energy to. Over the years and through many, many tough encounters we gained fresh perspective and clarity.
As Dyan and I talked about the path we have been over the last ten years as business partners and reminisced over the 20 years I have been in the business we kept coming back to the analogy of shoes. Well, we actually kept coming back to good bras vs. cheap bras but in an effort to help this be a bit more well-received by our non-bra wearing audience, we settled with comparing shoes.
As a newbie, Rookie Realtor, with barely two nickels to rub together, I wore the shoes I could afford. Sure, they were stylish but didn’t fit well. They weren’t of the highest quality but they got the job done. The same could be said for many of my clients. They were nice enough but they probably weren’t the best fit for me. I didn’t have a lot of options so I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt and sold some homes. I worked a lot of evenings, every single weekend and held more Open Houses than I care to recall but I gained experience, name recognition, and ultimately a solid reputation for being a hard worker. My feet hurt like hell but only I knew that, and besides band-aids are cheap.
As I succeeded, I developed a savings and as I spent more time on my feet “pounding the pavement” as they say, I was afforded the luxury of choosing better shoes. I graduated from “man-made material” to leather uppers, so to speak and not only did my feet thank me, my whole body was appreciative.
As Dyan and I grow together, not just as mothers and wives but also as business owners, we have been forced to evaluate more closely what is working and what needs improvement. We don’t have endless amounts of time nor just ourselves to consider. Who I was in 1999 when I got licensed is not who I am now and I am not just grateful for that, I am very proud of it.
Over the years, we have learned how to be mindful of what we are capable of, what drives us and just how much time and energy is realistic for us to invest into our business while still maintaining a level of sanity. As we often say, when we leave the office each day is when our REAL jobs begin. Between us, we have 11, 10, seven and six year olds. Let that sink in. Three of them are boys and for those of you who have raised boys – they are no joke. Collectively, we have endured…. I mean celebrated 35 years of marriage and have successful husbands who have big roles in our community.
When prospective Buyers and Sellers are interviewing us we are also taking a lot of notes. We do this because we need to be clear whether the client is someone we are able to devote a fair amount of time to but also whether they are going to be the right fit. At the end of the day will our proverbial feet feel pinched, beat up and taken advantage of or will they feel strong, supported and ready for the next trek? We all know what it’s like to spend a day on our feet and hopefully you also know what it’s like after putting in a solid day of hard work and finally getting to kick off your shoes. Whether you spent the day in narrow toe, unforgiving plastic-leather or a well made, proper fitting masterpiece is up to you. Now, don’t get me wrong… I have yet to spend hundreds of dollars on any one pair of shoes. But I can most definitely appreciate the ones that hug my feet perfectly, working with my design versus those which only want to do what they want to do, regardless of how flat my arches are or how crooked my pinky toe might be.
We all had to wear ill-fitting shoes at some point and there will always be a market for it. Heck, if it weren’t for Payless Shoe Source and their Buy One Get One sales, I wouldn’t have survived most of my teens and 20’s. If you are the Seller who wants the best deal not necessarily the best fit or highest quality you will always have choices. Some may be straight off the clearance rack and others may simply be building their business and able to offer discounts figuring that part of something is better than all of nothing.
As a homebuyer, please be mindful that just because the agent isn’t spending money directly on you they are investing in you. They are taking time from their other clients as well as their family and friends. They are cleaning their cars relentlessly to maintain a great impression, filling their gas tanks regularly to show you homes and providing hours of counsel while you navigate the inventory. They deserve your loyalty and clear communication. If you don’t intend to include them in your home purchase, regardless of how you learn about a property – be clear about that. Give them an opportunity to continue to wear cheap shoes or free them up to let you blister someone else’s heals while they are look for higher quality clients.
We are so grateful for the caliber of clients we get to work with. We are fortunate to have the power to choose whom we spend our time with. There are times when we come across a “Oh my Gosh, I have to have them… they are so cute and on sale but they are just a little bit tight but it’s okay, I can break them in” kind of clients and we make a conscious decision to make an exception. We know going in what our feet will likely feel like at the end of the day but we got to make that choice. We also know we can’t wear tight shoes all week so we will likely just have one pair of those at a time. There are also times when we really, really, really want to have the shoes but despite all the squeezing, compromising and effort to make them fit, they are just not the right size and if we ignore that, we will look ridiculous and regret the investment. Sure, not ALL SALES ARE FINAL but if they don’t feel right from the very beginning – during the “honeymoon stage” as we call it… they are never going to fit.