J. Dudley Schiel

Thursday, October 7, 2010

September Home Sales Report

There were 1,567 homes sold in the month of September, which is a 19 percent decrease compared to the 1,935 closings reported in September of 2009. Year-to-date closings are at 15,929, which is a 3 percent increase over the 15,453 closings reported through September 2009.

Median prices for both single-family homes and condominiums showed an increase. The median price of a single-family residence was $171,820 and for a condominium it was $155,000. By comparison, the median price of a single family residence in September of 2009 was $160,000 and for a condominium it was $142,500.

Source: Greater Nashville Association of Realtors

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mass Transit in Nashville?

I recently had the privilege of attending a meeting about the future of mass transit in the greater Nashville area. The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors brought together Ed Cole, Executive Director of The Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee and Hiroshi Sato, the Consul-General of Japan in Nashville, to speak about viable methods of mass transit in Nashville and its surrounding nine counties and ways in which we can make these methods a reality. Why would a bunch of Realtors get together to listen to a discussion about mass transit? Mass transit would make Nashville better for its residents and having mass transit would attract new businesses to the city. Anything that’s good for Nashville is good for the Nashville real estate market. Here’s a brief synopsis of what was discussed at the meeting and how it could benefit Nashville.

What is mass transit?

Mass transit is any method of public transportation that allows people to travel without the use of their personal vehicles. There are many forms of mass transit in use all over the world. Light rail, commuter rail, heavy rail, monorail, streetcar, express coach, and bus were all discussed at the meeting. At this point almost everything is on table but commuter rail, light rail and streetcars seem to be the most likely candidates for Nashville.

Commuter rail uses existing freight lines and is already in use in Nashville. The Music City Star commuter rail has been very successful in connecting Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Martha Station, Hermitage, and Donelson with downtown Nashville. Existing railways lines might make it possible to expand this service to Ashland City and Clarksville in the future.

Light rail is ideal for a city that doesn’t have the population necessary to support the investment into heavy rail but one which is quickly outgrowing conventional bus lines. Light rail provides high speed service for short or long trips and is currently being used successfully in Dallas, Charlotte, Denver, and Portland. Building a light rail system similar to the ones in these cities would be a major undertaking requiring federal, state, local and private funds but it seems to be the best long term solution for Nashville.

Streetcars are lines that run on existing roadways. Streetcars have been used extensively by the city of Portland and have been credited with the revitalization of several areas of the city by attracting private investment and development into areas being serviced. Mayor Dean is a big fan if streetcars and has been focusing on a line stretching from lower Broadway as far as Murphy Rd and I-440.

Why do we need it?

Nashville is quickly outgrowing its current interstate road system which will lead to even worse traffic congestion in the near future. In Nashville, only 3.2% of our population utilizes public transport for their daily work commute. Because for most people the bus lines are not convenient, the majority of our population is travelling in their cars clogging up our interstates and roads. Even after every currently proposed road project designed to fight traffic congestion has been completed, we will still be dealing with overwhelming traffic by 2035 according to recent projections. Convenient mass transit is the only way to fight the worsening problem of traffic congestion in Nashville.

The future of Nashville commerce depends on mass transit. Nashville constantly competes with cities throughout the nation to attract new businesses and jobs. Not having a mass transit system in place is a major drawback for some major employers and for some workers contemplating relocating to Nashville. In addition, major events like the World Cup game Nashville is vying for are unlikely to choose Nashville as a host city due to its lack of mass transit.

Due to growing environmental concerns, efforts to reduce fuel consumption are underway all over the nation. Worldwide fuel consumption is outpacing fuel production which means gas prices will continue to rise. The public will demand mass transit to save on fuel costs.

How do we get it?

In order for mass transit to happen in Nashville about one fourth to one third of the funding will need to be provided by private businesses. In other cities that have instituted mass transit systems, the local businesses have been instrumental in promoting and funding the programs. It will be ultimately be up to the residents of Nashville to show their support for mass transit to encourage businesses to step up.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Four Signs You’re Ready To Be A Homeowner

No doubt you’ve been hearing about the current mortgage rates of around 4.5% being some of the lowest in history and that homes in Nashville are still available at a significant discount compared to four years ago. All the talk probably has you wondering if it’s your time to buy. While the talk is all true and it makes for one of the best opportunities in history to buy your first home, your decision to buy should not be based on the market alone. The most important thing is deciding if the timing is right for you to buy. The following four signs are good indicators that you are ready to buy and not just rushing into buying because everyone says you should:

You’re planning on staying in the same place for at least three years:

Plan to own your home for at least three, preferably five, years prior to selling to allow equity to build up through monthly payments against principal, appreciation, and home improvements. This equity will cover the costs of selling when you’re ready to sell and will give you a cushion against future dips in the market. If you might have to move before the three year mark, renting out your home for a couple of years to allow more equity to accrue is an option you should consider ahead of time in case the alternative is bringing money to the closing table.

You have a dependable income and adequate savings:

Allow room in your budget for a downpayment, a monthly payment, taxes, insurance, and additional costs of home ownership before you buy. You need to have a minimum of 3.5% of your purchase price to put down for an FHA loan and 20% for a conventional loan.
Only buy what you can afford with your current income and don’t plan on future raises or promotions. Adjust your budget if you plan on going down to one income from two in the next three years. If you aren’t certain of your job security or have a varying income, have adequate living expenses saved before purchasing in the event of a job loss or period of decreased income.
Consider the costs of routine maintenance, unexpected repairs, and desired home improvements when designing your budget.

You can qualify for a loan:

You’ll most likely need a credit score in the 700’s to get a preferred interest rate from a lender. Late payments and too much consumer debt are just a couple of the mistakes that can negatively impact your credit score. Contact a mortgage advisor to have your credit run well in advance of purchasing to allow time to correct negative marks on your credit report. Bad credit history can take months to repair.

You can handle home ownership:

Homeownership is not without its pitfalls. Unlike renting, when you own a home and something breaks there is no landlord to call. Repairs and house and lawn maintenance are part of the home ownership experience. Be prepared financially and emotionally for all of the unexpected expenses and occurrences that will arise over the next few years.

Purchasing a home can be a great financial investment, particularly when considering the current market conditions in Nashville and the great interest rates, but buying is only a good decision if the timing is right for you. Buying a home is the largest single investment you will probably ever make. My job is not only to help you find the right place for the right price, but also to help you make a smart decision concerning that investment that you will feel as good about when you sell as the day you buy. If you’re wondering if it’s your time to buy please give me a call so I can help you figure out if you’re ready. Whether you’re ready or not, I’ll get you started on the right track.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Never Fly Solo. Always Have A Wingman.

By Dudley Schiel

Your wingman watches your flank. He keeps you from getting shot down. Flying without him leaves you vulnerable. Purchasing a home without using an expert to guide you through the process and watch out for your best interests makes about as much sense as leaving your blind spot exposed to enemy fire, yet hundreds of people buy real estate in Nashville every year without consulting a Realtor. Largely due to a misunderstanding of what a Realtor does and a lack of knowledge about the many variables involved in a real estate transaction, many people feel they can purchase a house as easily as they can buy a car: Find the car, haggle a little over the price, and sign the papers. Not so. The home buying process has more steps and carries more risk than the average buyer realizes. Beginning your real estate search with a professional on your side will save you valuable time and money, help make the process easier and less stressful, and significantly improve your odds of getting the house once you find it.

Each unrepresented buyer probably has their own set of reasons for choosing to fly solo. Based on conversations with clients who've bought by themselves in the past, solo buyers usually forego a realtor for at least one of the following three reasons: First, some people don't understand what a Realtor does and therefore don't realize how using one can help them. Second, some are afraid that a Realtor will rush them to buy too soon or pressure them to buy a particular house. Third, some people think they can save money by not using a Realtor because they don't understand how Realtors are paid.

Ironically, the answer to each of these concerns creates a pretty good list of the top three reasons to use a Realtor. First, your Realtor's job is to represent your best interests throughout the entire home buying process and he can help you by using his experience, expertise, and knowledge to help you make the best decisions possible and prevent you from overlooking important details or making costly mistakes. He does a lot more than just drive you around town and introduce you to the right house. While supremely important to both buyer and agent, finding the right house is actually only one step of dozens involved in a Realtor's job. The majority of the process is negotiating on your behalf to make sure you get the house at your price and on terms that protect and benefit you and ultimately managing the transaction to a smooth closing. After all, finding the perfect house is a moot point if you don't get it or if you have to pay too much for it. Second, a Realtor will help you assess your needs to start your search on the right track, prepare you for the home buying process, educate you on the market and eventually help you make good decisions when you are ready to buy. Pressuring you to buy a particular house or rushing you into buying isn't in line with a Realtor's goal of establishing a long term client relationship. A good Realtor is more likely to talk you out of buying a particular house than to convince you to buy it. Third, using a buyer's agent doesn't cost you money. It saves you money. Your Realtor's job as your negotiator is to save you money by getting the house cheaper, getting the most seller concessions possible, and by preventing you from overlooking details that could cost you money in the future. Your agent's commission is almost always paid by the seller's proceeds at closing. The listing fee paid by the seller is usually the same whether or not a buyer's agent is involved. Foregoing an agent under the assumption that the seller will discount the price accordingly only means you've given up representation and donated your would-be agent's commission to the listing agent who is exclusively representing the seller's interests.

Jester's scold to Maverick in Top Gun couldn't have been more clear: "Never, never leave your wingman." Flying solo when you have the option of having protection just doesn't make sense. While lives aren't at stake in real estate as they are in a dogfight in the skies, buying a home is the biggest investment most people make in their lifetime and your money is on the line. Always hire a Realtor to watch over your shoulder. As your Nashville Realtor, I'm happy to be your wingman anytime.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nashville home sale prices fell again in March, thanks to distressed properties - Nashville Business Journal

Friday, April 30, 2010

Will the Tax Credit Be Extended?

As the $8,000/ $6,500 homebuyer tax credit contract deadline approaches at midnight tonight, it seems there is one question that is on almost every potential buyers mind right now: Will the homebuyer tax credit be extended? This week I’ve been asked for my prediction countless times. The answer is, of course, that I don’t really know. My gut feeling is that we will not see an extension of the tax credit, at least in its present form. Currently there are no bills pending in the House or Senate and no Congressmen or Senators championing the cause. In fact, several congressmen and senators reluctantly voted for the last extension but vowed they would not vote for another extension for 2010 should it be proposed. As we all know, anything can happen in politics and there’s no guarantee those same legislators won’t waffle or buckle under pressure from powerful lobbies like NAR (National Association of Realtors) or large homebuilders. If any tax credit legislation is proposed it will surely be after the closing deadline for the credit on June 30th. If you have any questions about the current tax credit or possible future extensions feel free to contact me.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

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