Real Estate Headlines

April 2011

HINTS OF SPRING IN HOUSING, by Alan Olson, Broker

Otter Tail County's real estate market is coming out of winter following a good market last year.  However, like our seasons, the change is not complete.  Spring year to year housing comparisons are going to look suspect as the warm weather approaches.  Last year at this time the housing market place was benefiting from the repeat and first time federal tax credits. "Most important to Minnesota home owners is that we're moving in the right direction," said Russ Portele, President of the Minnesota Association of Realtors.  Even with the federal tax credit in 2010, January and February sales figures were very positive."

Closed sales in Otter Tail County were up in January and February:

     Lakeshore          + 71%         Residential     +24%

Another refreshing sign that the seasons are changing positively are lower inventory levels.  Statewide there were 19.4% fewer homes for sale in February 2011 than in the previous year.  Lower inventory levels will help balance the demand between those seeking to sell and those wanting to buy.   

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market.....use a professional full time real estate agent that knows not only the past comparables but one who knows the present ones and the trends.

____________________________________________________________

March 2011

POSITIVE SIGNS FOR HOMEOWNERS

By Alan Olson, Broker

Although some areas in Minnesota are still experiencing declines in sales, most of the Minnesota housing market has regained its footing and is looking at a strong, slow and sustainable recovery.  Values in most areas have found bottom with median home prices statewide ($150,000) the same as they were at year end 2009.  This mid-point price (as many homes sold above as below the median) reflects the broadest indicator of the direction home prices are taking.  The year-end average sales price is up 8.1% over year-end 2009.  Home price stablization is critical to the housing recovery and indicators look very positive that the worst is behind us.  In fact, Real Estate sales in Otter Tail County rebounded 14% in 2010.  Investors are back in the market and are definitely leading the pack in real estate purchases.  The federal home buying stimulus was a boon to both buyers and sellers for homes but even so the 2010 market closed with sales on par with 2009.

The highlights of 2010 sales were as follows:

  • Lake home sales UP 51%
  • Commercial sales UP 54%
  • Land sales UP 68%
  • Lake lots sales UP 9%.

To summarize:  Investor sales back on tract with boom years; residential sales were less that the sale in the boom years; interest rates are at 50 year lows but creeping up; no housing stimulus program on the horizon; extension of the Bush Tax Cuts will have a big impact for at least two years.

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market....use a professional full time real estate agent that knows not only the past comparables but one who knows the present ones and the trends.

____________________________________________________________

February 2011

Judi Olson, Broker Associate with Century 21 Vista, Fergus Falls, MN has earned the prestigious Certified Distressed Property Expert designation (CDPE), having completed extensive training in foreclosure avoidance and short sales.  This is invaluable expertise to offer at a time when the area is ravaged by "distressed" homes in the foreclosure process.  And foreclosure is happening in all price ranges.  Local experts say that even high-priced homes are not immune.

Short sales allow the cash-strapped seller to repay the mortgage at the price that the home sells for, even though it is lower than what is owed on the property.  With plummeting property values, this can save many people from foreclosure and even bankruptcy.  More and more lenders are willing to consider short sales because they are much less costly than foreclosures.

"This CDPE designation has been invaluable as I work with sellers and lenders on complicated short sales", said Judi.  "It is so rewarding to be able to help sellers save their homes from foreclosure."

Alex Charfen, founder of the Distressed Property Institue in Boca Raton, FL said that Realtors such as Judi with the CDPE designation have valuable training in short sales that can offer the homeowner much better alternatives to foreclosure, which virtually destroys the credit rating.  These experts also may better understand market conditions and can help sellers through the emotional experience, he said.

____________________________________________________________

February 2011

Lake Home Sales Off the Charts

By Alan Olson, Broker

The sale of lake homes in 2010 was the highest in 8 years, indicating investors are back in the market.  Listing inventory is down to a 15 month supply which shows demand is catching up with supply.  Sales were strong through the fall and continued through January, indicating it is an excellent time for sellers to list their property for sale.

                                   

Activity                      Lake Home Sales           Ave. Sale Price

Total Sold in 2010                174                                $245,100

Total Sold in 2009                116                                $267,600

Total Sold in 2008                148                                $277,500

Total Sold in 2007                154                                $254,900

Total Sold in 2006                154                                $291,500

Total Sold in 2005                170                                $244,800

Total Sold in 2004                171                                $255,900

Total Sold in 2003                226                                $208,300

Annual Returns on Lake Homes

Activity                              Term             Lakeshore Residential

Invest in 2000 to 2010         10 years                    6.07%

Invest in 2005 to 2010           5 years                    2.45%

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market...use a professional full time real estate agent that knows not only the past comparables but one who knows the present ones and the trends.

January 2011

2010 Real Estate Results in Otter Tail County

by Alan Olson, Broker 

 Real Estate sales in OtterTailCountyrebounded in 2010 with multiple listing statistic sales up 14%.  Prices averaged 3% less however.  Investors are back in the market and are definitely leading the pack in real estate purchases.  As we know, when investors are active it stimulates the entire market.  Strong investment sales also lower the inventory of real estate for sale which helps trend prices up.  The federal home buying stimulus was a boon to both buyers and sellers for homes but even so the 2010 market closed with sales on par with 2009.

The highlights of 2010 investor purchases were as follows:

 

 

  • Lakehomes sales                     Up 51%
  • Commercial sales                      Up 54%
  • Land sales                                Up 68%
  • Lakelot sales                           Up  9%

 

2010 Summary:  Investor sales back on track with boom years; residential sales were less than the sales in the boom years; interest rates are at 50 year lows but creeping up; no housing stimulus program on the horizon; extension of the Bush Tax Cuts will have a big impact for at least two years.

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market…..use a professional full time real estate agent that knows not only the past comparables but one who knows the present ones and the trends.

 

 

December 2010

LAKE HOME BUYERS SEIZE THE MOMENT

By Alan Olson, Broker

Lake home sales have been on fire all year, according to Alan Olson, Broker at Century 21 Vista.  There has been somewhat of a feeding frenzy this year as borne out by a 54% increase in sales.  Noteworthy is that the increase in sales are in 3 price ranges and the sales in those 3 price ranges are much higher than they have been in each of the last 5 years.

Sales 2010

$100,000 - $150,000       Up 150%

$300,000 - $400,000       Up 127%

$600,000 +                      Up 200%

The balance of the price ranges are up 15 to 20%.

Interestingly, offers from multiple buyers are back which have been somewhat off in the previous 2 years.  This above information helps us to know that the investor/user buyers are back in the market.  They are able to choose from a 28 month inventory supply which translates to negotiated pricing.  They also are taking advantage of a 50 year low in mortgage interest rates or are bringing in cash to close.

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market....use a professional full time real estate agent that knows not only the past comparables but one who knows the present ones and the trends.

Fall 2010

HEALTHY REAL ESTATE MARKET

By Alan Olson, Broker

The sales of Real Estate in OtterTailCountyfor 2010 are showing a healthy increase of 20% overall.  The breakdown is as follows:

 

  • Residential                    +6%
  • FergusFalls                  + 13%
  • Rural Residential           + 1%
  • Lots                             +40%
  • LakeLots                     +35%
  • Lake Homes                 +66%

The reasons for the healthy market inOtterTailCountyare:

  • Real Estate remains a better investment than cash, plus you can use real estate
  • Low 6.5% unemployment rate; people have jobs
  • Interest rates are at a 50 year low
  • Pent up demand
  • Affordable prices
  • A good selection to choose from.

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market….use a professional full time real estate agent that knows not only the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.

__________________________________________________________

 

September 2010

GOOD NEWS FOR LAKE HOME BUYERS AND SELLERS

By Alan Olson, Broker

Lake home sales remain strong for 2010. Sales are up 107% according to Otter Tail County multiple listing statistics.  In addition, the average sale price is on par with 2009.  This is great news for sellers.  The good news for buyers is the inventory of lake homes is up from 2009 offering good selection which helps keep prices in check and interest rates are at a 50 year low.  This means mortgage payments for the average lake home are about $3,600 per year less than 2009.

Where do our buyers come from?  Interestingly, lake property owners in Otter Tail County represent 48 states and Canada.  North Dakota is first in out-state ownership, followed by Iowa, Arizona and California.  Minnesotans own the majority (71%) ofOtterTailCounty lake property.

My advice for buyers and sellers entering the market….use a professional full time lakeshore specialist that not only knows the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.

 

August 2010

LAKE HOME SALES REMAIN STRONG

By Alan W. Olson, Broker

The sale of lake homes is up 102% over last year, according to Otter Tail County multiple listing statistics.  Inventory of lake homes for sale is up 7% however, which is still allowing for it to be a buyer’s market.  The good selection for buyers also has kept prices in check since there is a 22 month supply of lake homes available compared to a 15.4 month supply of all homes in the county.  Pricing remaining stable is important to Otter Tail County residents as 26% of Otter Tail County lake property owners live here permanently. 

REAL ESTATE AFFORDABILITY

  • 6.5% county unemployment rate
  • A good housing affordability index as median family income is 198% of what is necessary to qualify for a median priced home
  • Interest rates at a 40 year low.

Interestingly, lake property owners in OtterTailCountyrepresent 48 states and Canada.  North Dakota is first in out-state ownership, followed by Iowa, Arizona and California.  Minnesotans owns the majority (71%) ofOtterTailCounty lake property.

My advice…..use a professional full time lakeshore specialist that not only knows the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.  Century 21Vista has 22 agents, 10 of which specialize in the sale of lake homes!

 

 

July 2010

Otter Tail County Real Estate Sales Rebound

 

 The sales of Otter Tail County homes are up 29% in 2010 over 2009, according to multiple listing statistics.  Part of the increase is due to the government stimulus program but more importantly, we have 4% interest rates, pent up demand, and low local unemployment rates.  Average sale prices have dipped 10% which is also a factor.  The sale of lake homes is off the charts, however, with an increase in 112% but again a 10% reduction in prices.  Consequently buyers and sellers are being more realistic in pricing.  Demand was high up through 2007 and sellers were able to gain high appreciation every year, plus the buyers were willing to pay for it.  That appreciation ended in 2008 but many sellers did not lower their expectations soon enough, which resulted in larger inventories.

 

It is a very good time to buy and sell real estate now.  Buyers are buying, interest rates are at a 40 year low and prices are realistic.

 

My advice……use a professional full time real estate specialist that not only knows the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.  Century 21 Vista has twenty-two, ten of which specialize in the sale of lake homes!

 

June 2010

LAKESHORE SALES UP 165%

The sales of lake homes and cabins continue to climb!  2010 sales were up 133% last month over 2009 and are now up 165%, according to Otter Tail/Grant counties multiple listing statistics.  It is a definite trend after declines in sales of 20% for 2008 and 2009.  Sales in 2010 have been at all price points and so has the interest of buyers.  The average sale prices are trending 9% less which reflects buyers and sellers being more realistic in pricing.  Demand was high up through 2007 and sellers were able to gain high appreciation every year, plus the buyers were willing to pay for it.  That appreciation ended in 2008 but many sellers did not lower their expectations soon enough, which resulted in larger inventories.

It is a very good time to buy and sell lake homes now.  Buyers are buying, interest rates are at a 40 year low and prices are realistic.

My advice……use a professional full time lakeshore specialist that not only knows the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.  Century 21 Vista has twenty, eight of which specialize in the sale of lake homes!

2010

LAKESHORE SALES UP 165%

The sales of lake homes and cabins continue to climb!  2010 sales were up 133%  last month over 2009 and are now up 165%, according to Otter Tail/Grant counties multiple listing statistics.  It is a definite trend after declines in sales of 20% for 2008 and 2009.  Sales in 2010 have been at all price points and so has the interest of buyers.  The average sale rices are trending 9% less which reflects buyers and sellers being more realistic in pricing.  Demand was high up through 2007 and sellers were able to gain high appreciation every year, plus the buyers were willing to pay for it.  That appreciation ended in 2008 but many sellers did not lower their expectations soon enough, which resulted in larger inventories.

It is a very good time to buy and sell lake homes now.  Buyers are buying, interest rates are at a 40 year low and prices are realistic.

My advice……use a professional full time lakeshore specialist that not only knows the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.  Century 21 Vista has twenty, eight of which specialize in the sale of lake homes!

 

____________________________________________________________

SPRING 2010

LAKESHORE SALES REBOUND.  Sales of lake homes and cabins are up 133% in 2010 over 2009, according to Otter Tail/Grant counties multiple listings statistics.  It is a definite trend after declines in sales of 20% for 2008 and 2009.  Sales in 2011 have been at all price points and so has the interest of buyers.  The sales prices of these homes reflect 2005 prices which indicate that buyers and sellers are now more realistic in their pricing.  Demand was high up through 2007 and sellers were able to gain high appreciation every year, plus the buyers were willing to pay for it.  That appreciation ended in 2008 but many sellers did not lower their expectations soon enough, which resulted in larger inventories.  2010 is different as many homes are coming on the market at realistic prices.

It is a very good time to buy and sell lake homes now.  Buyers are buying, interest rates are low and prices are realistic.

My advice.....use a professional full time lakeshore specialist that not only knows the past comparables but one who knows the present and the trends.  Century 21 Vista has twenty, eight of which specialize in the sale of lake homes!

__________________________________________________________

November 2009

HOME BUYERS SCORE BIG

New Cash Rebate for Most Home Buyers.  This program that went into effect on November 6, 2009 (when President Obama signed the legislation), gives a Federal Tax Credit of up to $6,500 to anyone purchasing a home that has used their previously owned residence for 5 consecutive years out of the previous 8 years.  If you have owned your current home for more than 5 years and are selling and buying at the same time, you are eligible.  If you lived in your home for 5 years but have sold and rented the last two years, you still are eligible.  With this program, you must enter a contract before April 30, 2010, but will have until July 1, 2010 to close.

First Time Home Buyer Cash Rebate.  The first time homebuyer Federal Tax Credit that was to end on November 30 has been extended to April 30, 2010.  Remember, a first time homebuyer is anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years.  If you purchase and close on a home before April 30, 2010, you will receive up to an $8,000 Federal Tax Credit.  (There are exceptions to close up to June 30, 2010).  This is a great opportunity.

Century 21 Vistasales associates understand both of these programs.  If you are thinking about purchasing a home, whether you are a first, second, third or fourth time homebuyer, you may be eligible for a great tax credit.  Call for details!

September 2009

Sales Headed in the Right Direction

Pending home sales in July reached their highest mark in two years, and closed sales also continued on an upward path.  As a result, inventories are tightening; in June there were 3.8 million properties for sale nationally, compared with 4.5 million at the same time last year.

 

More broadly, there are other indications the economy is heading up.  Durable goods orders have risen for three straight months because business inventories have been depleted.  The stock market has also made a nice comeback, and exports have been rising faster than imports.

 

Thanks to these promising signs, we forecast higher home sales and stabilizing prices in the year ahead.  But there are still some concerns.

First, although inventories are improving, it’s possible that many owners want to put their home on the market but are waiting for conditions to improve.  Banks may be doing the same with their foreclosed properties.  These concerns might be off the mark; in areas where housing has been recovering, we would expect to see inventories softening as sellers and banks jump back in, but we haven’t been seeing that.

Beyond the housing market, there are other economic factors that could hold back recovery. The country is looking at a continuing long-term budget deficit that could translate into higher mortgage rates.  We’re also looking at rising oil prices ($70 from $50 earlier this year), with that extra money shipping overseas rather than staying home.  And heavy job losses make it likely foreclosures will keep rising through the remainder of the year.

Still, we have reason to be confident.  With home sales heading up and inventories shrinking, prices are stabilizing.  These are the key conditions needed for housing to lead the economy into growth mode.  Once that happens, jobs will follow.

 

August 2009

Century 21 Vista Clients Score Again

Century 21 Vista held their first Annual Client Appreciation Picnic, Sunday August 23rd at the Lions Park on the shore of West Battle Lake.  Over 350 people attended the event, participating in a hog roast picnic, children's games, entertainment, and real estate news by Century 21 International.  Best of all, there were 10 cash drawings!  The grand prize winner of $2100 in cash was Christopher Fritz of Fergus Falls.  The event was sponsored by Century 21 Vista real estate agents and local partners.  Buyers and sellers of real estate sold so far in 2009 were present.  Will we see you there next year?

July 2009

REAL ESTATE SALES UP AND DOWN

Residential sales in Otter Tail County are dead even with last year at this time.  Even better, the average sale price has risen 7%.  The reason?  We are somewhat insulated from high inflation and recession.  Our county people ARE working, gas prices and interest rates are low and the best investment is still real estate.  In addition, we can enjoy the use of our real estate investment.  But the best part is, we don't lose money on our investment but rather, the value has always increased.

Lake home sales are down from last year as they generally are when we have had a severe winter.  They are picking up with gusto as of June and July, however.  The bread and butter buyers (lower priced lake homes) are back which is good news because they left the market last year, due to many factors. Most of our lake home buyers come from major metro markets where recessionary times have had an impact. Consequently the buyers coming to Otter Tail County have a very good selection of lake homes to choose from.  We at Century 21 Vista are finding that many more sellers are using our free staging service to help prepare their homes "to sell faster" than the competition.

 

 

 

June 2009

SELLING YOUR LAKEHOME - SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER

We have 2 lakeshore offices with 7 agents who specialize in the sale of lakeshore.  These agents say that the following are the most frequently asked questions by Buyers:

* Lake size - acres * Water clarity *Fishing * Swimming * Lot Size *Lot topography * Lake frontage size *Location * Distance to communities * Driving distance from buyer's home * Does the agent have access to all for sale properties * Need more information posted on the website.  Note:  we have the entire multiple listing services downloaded on our website and many real estate firms don't have adequate information or photos. * Financing * Land & Resource requirements * Zoning * Knowledge of the community * Re-salability * Real estate trends *Statistics for the real estate market for the last 3 years  * Agent technology skills * Agent negotiating skills * Home suitability and condition *Comparable sales data to support price * Competitive listings

Buyers are much more sophisticated than when Century 21 Vista came to Otter Tail County 32 years ago and are very particular when choosing an agent and homes to view.  They use web sites almost exclusively (90%) and have selected the homes to view before ever leaving home.  The end result.....both buyers and sellers are choosing the leading agencies and agents more than ever before.

 

 

May 2009

REAL ESTATE STIMULUS

The sale of lakehomes continues to be strong.  After one of the severest winters in recent memory, lake home sales have begun in earnest.  The real estate stimulus plans in place seems to have a positive influence on real estate sales along with very low interest rates. However, there are 333 lake homes for sale this year for buyers to choose from; in fact, there is a 2-1/2 year supply, so buyers have a very good inventory to choose from. That puts downward pressure on prices. Most lake home buyers for Otter Tail County come from outside the area which is true for most US resort areas.  Generally these buyers are from real estate depressed areas where real estate values have decreased.  We have found that by using our training to represent our county's positive lake home values is paramount in being able to help our sellers achieve maximum true values when selling.  Buyers and sellers realize that knowledge of those statistics is important.  The good news?  It is a very good time to enter the lake home real estate market, whether buying or selling.

RE:  $8,000 FOR HOMEBUYERS

Home Purchasers Get a Tax Credit Windfall If They Buy Before December!

There's a nice windfall for some homebuyers in the economic stimulus bill.  First-time buyers can claim a credit worth $8,000 - or 10% of the home's value, which everever is less - on their 2009 taxes.

A big plus is that the credit is refundable, meaning tax filers see a refund of $8,000 even if their total tax bill - the amount of withholding they paid during the year plus anything extra they had to pony up when they filed their returns - was less than that amount.

To qualify for the credit, the purchase must be made between January 1, 2009 and November 30, 2009.  Buyers may not have owned a home for the past three years to qualify as "first time" buyers.  They must also live in the house for at least three years, or they will be obligated to pay back the credit.

Aditionally, there are income restrictions:  To qualify, buyers must make less than $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. (Higher-income buyers may receive a partial credit.)

Applying for credit will be easy - or at least as easy as doing your income taxes.  Just claim it on your return.  No other forms or papers have to be filed.  Taxpayers who have already completed their returns can file amended returns for 2008 to claim the credit. 

Many may look at the tax credit as a discount on the home price, according to Olson. A $100,000 purchase effectively becomes a $92,000 one.   That can reassure buyers apprehensive about purchasing in a down market, he added.

And it provides a nice nest egg for the often-difficult early years of homeownership, when unexpected reapirs and expenses often crop up.  Recipients could also use the money to buy new items for their home - a lawnmower, a rug, a sofa - and in that way, help stimulate the economy.

February 2009

Real Estate - A good InvestmentAverage sale prices of Otter Tail County Real Estate continue to edge up year after year.  2008 was no exception.  Average sale prices in Fergus Falls rose from $115,154 to an all time high of $119,565, and out in the lakes area, from $254,441 to $277,534. 

In fact, the return on investment for the last ten years for homeowners inFergusFallsis 4.73% per year, and on the lakes 10.82% per year.

 

That’s the American dream…..buy and live in a home in OtterTailCountyand it can be worth 5 to 10% more each year.  These numbers don’t necessarily mean values have risen, but are an indicator that higher price homes sold in 2008.

 

        WHAT’S THE FUTURE?  YOU BE THE JUDGE

 

·        Interest rates continue at around 5%

·        Homebuyers may receive a $15,000 rebate, depending on Congress

·        Gas prices are less than $2.00 per gallon

·        Our agricultural economy is good

·        Investors are turning to Real Estate

·        A housing stimulus package

·        Senior home mortgages available with no payments due – ever.

 

Now is a good time to enter the Real Estate Market!

Lakeshore Sales Explode

Sales of lakeshore went up 45% for Century 21 Vista in 2008.  According to multiple listing statistics for Otter Tail County, sales rose only 4% for ALL Realtors.  The increase can be attributed to our lakeshore agents who are located in our lakeshore offices in Battle Lake and Ottertail - the heart of the lakes area.  Also, are internet presence is astounding as our listings are on 11 major real estate web sites.  84% of people who purchase real estate look at a real estate website first.

Our predictions of several months ago are coming to fruition, i.e. the election completed, gas price reductions, interest rates at historic lows, money markets staying low.  The result.....Century 21 Vista sales in December 2008 doubled our sales of December 2007.

Look for a repeat in 2009!  Buy or sell lakeshore property this year.  Do it with the professionals at Century 21 Vista, the only real estate firm with a 45% increase in sales!

December 2008

Foreclosure

We don't see a lot of foreclosure in Otter Tail County, especially on the lakes where we continue to set sales records.  But do you know that the majority of people that foreclose their property NEVER once pick up the phone to speak with their lender to discuss possible, creative accommodations that may be considered during these tough economic times.  The lender is typically in the dark as to individual's hardship other than he/she is behind several months of payment.

Did you know that it costs a lender roughly 20% of the mortgage principal to foreclose on a property?  So what does this mean exactly?  Say you are working with a client that owes $200,000 on his mortgage and he is so far behind on payments that he's looking to foreclose.  That lender will spend roughly 20% of the remaining $200,000 owed just to retain the property and attempt to sell it back to the marketplace.  That's $40,000 it will cost the lender!  The good news is that it's in the lender's best interest that people do NOT foreclose; instead work out an alternative payment option or interest rate.  The lender does NOT want people to lose their homes.  They WANT to work with homeowners.  Communication is the key!  Remember, lenders want to avoid the excess costs associated with foreclosure.  They have nothing to gain, and so much to lose.  Spread the word!  Communication is the key.

__________________________________________________________

November 2008

Real Estate Markets Are Local

Real estate markets are local - like the average temperature in Miami versus Otter Tail County. 

Real estate values have maintained here in spite of what real estate values in other markets have done.  Sales are down in the county except at Century 21 Vista.  We have maintained our sales volume primarily because of the 12 national websites we put our listings onto, but also our seasoned agents and the 30 year longevity of our company.  Therefore, I have a positive outlook due to low interest rates, the availability of money and also the pent up demand.

The sale of cabins and lake homes continue to match last year as do values so Otter Tail County is a great place to own real estate.  Remember, REAL ESTATE MARKETS ARE LOCAL!

November 2008

Real Estate Good News! 

Sales of lake front property is up 6% over last year.  2008 has been the year to buy and sell lake homes.  The reason?  It could be the favorable capital gain rates, or the very good mortgage interest rates, or the quality of our lakeshore, or the wonderful choice of property - who knows.  But Otter Tail County is setting records for the sale of lakeshore and so is Century 21 Vista!  Century 21 Vista is the leading seller of lakeshore in the county and this year we are setting records.

The future is rosy.  In the past 35 years:  1.  Whenever the stock market suffers, people turn to real estate.  2.  Sales pick up after election uncertainties are over.  3.  It appears the economic stimulus package will work.  4.  The United States is committed to bring troops home from Iraq.  5. Money market rates and CS's are not generating good returns.  6. Gas and heating costs appear to be heading down. 

Keep your eye on premium properties on the premium lakes as these are the hottest sellers for 2008!

October 2008

LAKE HOME SALES - A BRIGHT SPOT FOR THE 1ST 9 MONTHS OF THIS YEAR

Lake home sales are neck and neck with 2007, according to multiple listing recods.  That is very good compared to residential sales which are down 29% in the county.  The higher price lake homes have been selling the best ever, meaning level lots, high-quality homes and sandy shoreline on our better lakes.  Buyers, now more than ever, can truly find their dream home because there is a 2 to 3 year supply of lakes homes for sale.

Otter Tail County is also seeing a softening of values on second to third tier lakes and or lake homes with high banks or vegetative lake frontagte.  In fact, it is so soft that in many cases the Otter Tail County Assessor has assessed lake home values as much as 38% more than the sale price.  That prompts me to encourage you to attend the Board of Equalization meetings of your township if you don't agree with the market value as it appears on your tax statement.  Should you need help in valuing your property, contact one of our Century 21 Vista Realtors who are professionally trained in doing market opinions of the current sale value of your property.

August 21, 2008

US Government Announces Housing Purchase Tax Credit

As part of the "Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008" that was recently signed into law, Congress has created a new, temporary federal income tax credit to provide an incentive for first-time homebuyers.  This is good news for first-time homebuyers.

The highlights of this federal tax credit are as follows:

1.  The amount of the federal tax credit is for 10% of the cost of the home, up to a maximum credit of $7,500. In essence, this is an interest-free loan that enables consumers to receive a tax credit on a dollar-for-dollar basis on their personal income tax return in the calendar year following the year of closing on their home.  They begin paying the tax credit back the year after that and make equal  installments during the next 15 years. If the homeowners sells the home at any point during the 15-year payback period, then the remaining amount is recaptured, unless they sell the home at a loss, at which point the balance is forgiven.  For example, if a home costs $65,000, the allowable credit would be $6,500.  If a home costs $120,000, then the allowable credit would be $7,500.

2.  Eligibility is for first-time homebuyers only.  In this case, a first-time homebuyer is defined as an individual who has not owned a primary home at any time during the PAST THREE YEARS, but who may have done so previously.  Although certain income limits do apply, the amount of the credit is the same for all taxpayers, married or single.

3.  Individals whose Form 1040 filing status is single (or head of household) are eligible for the tax credit if their income is no more than $75,000.  Individuals who file a joint return may have no more than $150,000 in income.

4.  Individuals with incomes between $75,001 and $94,999 (single) or $150,001 and $169,999 (joint returns) are eligible for a partial tax credit.

5.  Individuals with incomes greater than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (joint return) are not eligible for this tax credit.

6.  The federal income credit can be claimed on one's individual or joint tax return for the purchase of any single-family home between April 9, 2008 through July 1, 2009.  Individuals should consult a professional tax advisor for exact tax calculations.  For example, if an individual's actual tax liability was $5,000, then after the tax credit is applied the purchaser would receive a total refund of $2,500.  The refundable amount is the difference between the $7,500 tax credit and the amount of one's tax liability.  If an individual's actual tax refund was $2,000, then after the tax credit is applied the purchaser would receive a total refund of $9,500.

7.  This tax credit is required to be repaid without interest in equal installments of 6.67% of the total credit each year for 15 years beginning the year after the tax credit is claimed.  For example, if a homebuyer claims the $7,500 credit in 2009 on their federal income tax return for a closing that occurred in 2008, then the credit is received in 2009, so repayment begins in 2010 with an annual repayment amount of approximately $500 a year.

For further information, go to www.century21.com.  For help in purchasing a home under this tax credit, contact a Century 21 Vista Realtor at www.century21vista.com

 INVEST IN LAKESHORE REAL ESTATE

By Alan W. Olson, Broker/Owner

Despite what Wall Street wants you to believe, owning a lake home isn't the same kind of investment as stocks or bonds.  What you get is a USE asset that grows in market value.  All you have to do is keep the home in good repair to maximize your investment.  Here are 4 reasons why you get more for your money with a house than the stock market:

1.  LEVERAGE.  With stocks, you put in all your money for a little piece of a company. With a house, you put in a little money to get the entire house.  Keep this in mind:  purchase a lake property for $250,000 with a $13,000 down payment. Appreciation for the last 5 years has been 6.68% per year - on your purchase - $16,700 per year. This is a 18% return on investment each year!

2.  TAX BENEFITS. Uncle Sam knows that owning a home is a pain in the neck; that's why you get tax incentives.  These are basically government bribes to get you to buy. Think about it, with what other investment can you put in 5% of the cost of the asset, reap all the appreciation and pay no capital gains?  That's right:  homestead your home for at least 2 years, and you don't have to pay capital gains tax on up to $250,000 in appreciation if you are single and a combined $500,000 if you are married.  And that's not all - consider the benefits of fixed-rate mortgages, property tax write-offs, interest rate deductions. Is this a great country or what?

3.  LIFESTYLE. Do you want a look at a concrete jungle or your children playing at your lake home? With your home, you are purchasing a vantage point for yourself and your family - the lake you want to be on and the size and style of a home that fits your needs.

4.  VALUE. Unlike some stocks, your house will never become worthless.  Barring a catastrophe, your home will retain value, even in the worst of times. So don't freak out about slight fluctuations in the value of your home in any given year.  You'll make it up.  Housing has lost value only 1 year out of the last 35.  It's more normal to beat inflation by 1 percent to 2 percent.

TAKE STOCK IN THIS

So let's add a little perspective here. You lost a greater percentage on the stock market this past year than if you owned a lake home. You lost more on your SUV.  And you sure lost a lot more on your iPhone.

And keep this in mind:  When it's summer, which would you rather have - a lake home or a stock certificate?

___________________________________________________________

June 10, 2008

Press Release by Alan Olson, Broker/Owner

Alan Olson, Broker/Owner of Century21 Vista, Inc. announced today that Connie Caspers and Pat Johnson were recently awareded the Accredited Buyer Representation (ABR) designation by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC) of the National Association of Realtors.

This coveted designation is the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation and is awarded to real estate agents who meet the specified educational and practical experience criteria needed to provide the high level qualtiy service required by REBAC.

Home buyers can be assured that ABR Designees subscribe to the strict Realtor Code of Ethics, have access to the latest technology and are committed to their clients' best interests when buying a home.

____________________________________________________________

May 21, 2008

Press Release by Alan Olson, Broker/Owner

Alan Olson, Broker of Century 21 Vista, Inc. announced today that Century 21 Vista agent Jon Drews has achieved his Broker Associate license.  "Jon has worked tirelessly these last two years to achieve his Broker's License, a feat that very few realtors realize."  This was done by 2 years of high level service to his clients, receiving a high level education and passing the expert Broker's exam.

_____________________________________________________________

May 20, 2008

Press Release by Alan Olson, Broker/Owner

Alan Olson, Broker of Century 21 Vista, Inc. announced today that 3 more agents in the Century 21 Vista, Inc. team have been awarded the prestigious Certified Residential Specialist Designation (CRS) by the National Association of Realtors.  They are Pat Johnson, Connie Caspers and Jon Drews.

Realtors who receive the CRS Designation have completed advanced courses and have demonstrated professional expertise in the field of residential real estate.  Fewer than 38,000 realtors nationwide have earned the credential.

Home buyers and sellers can be assured that CRS Designees subscribe to the strict realtor code of ethics, have access to the latest technology and are specialists in helping clients maximize profits and minimize costs when buying or selling a home.

__________________________________________________________

May10, 200

OTTER TAIL COUNTY LAKESHORE SALES ARE GROWING, by Alan Olson, Broker

Your home is not just a home anymore, it's an investment and for most of us, it is the largest investment we will every make.  That can be scary.

However, countrary to the informaiton we are all bombarded with daily, it is still a great investment.  According to information available from local multiple listing services records, if you purchased a lake home in 2002, the rate of return per year is 6.68%, way more than returns on CD's.

One of the greatest financial aspects of buying a home is the ability to leverage your money.  Simply put, leverage allows you to use a small down payment and financing to purchase a larger investment.  For example, if you bought a $150,000 home with 20 percent down, you leveraged the $30,000 down payment to purchase an asset worth 5 times that amount.  The benefits of leverage really become apparent with appreciation, or the rise in value of a property.  If you take the same $150,000 and the property values in your area were to rise an average of 3% a year, your home would then be worth almost $175,000 in just 5 years.

In addition to the 20% down, you'll also have to make mortgage payments.  But with each payment, a certain amount of money is being used to pay down the principal balance that you owe. This is called building equity.

So in the event you sell your house, not only can you realize a profit from your leveraged money, you also have a chance to pay yourself back for the money you've put in over the years.  No wonder so many people consider a lake home an excellent investment.

____________________________________________________________

April 7, 2008

Press Release by Alan Olson, Broker/Owner

Century 21 Vista Sales Professionals Lauded for Excellence in Area of Customer Service.

Realizing that customer service is an integral part of its commitment to professional excellence, Century 21 Real Estate LLC has recognized Andrew Olson, Gay Folden, Scott Norton, Michelle Pearson and Tom Verhelst of Century 21 Vista, Inc. with the Century 21 Quality Service Producer Award.

This national award is presented annually to those Century 21 System members who receive a minimum satisfaction index of 85 percent.  Surveys are emailed to all customers immediately after the purchase or sale of a home through a Century 21 System office.

"The Quality Service Producer Award is an integral part of the Century 21 System's commitment to excellence and recognizes these agents's dedication to contonuously exceeding the service expectations of clients," said Alan Olson, Broker.  "Only 8% of agents nationally achieve this service level."

Century 21 Vista, Inc. is a full service brokerage located at 405 W Lincoln, Fergus Falls, MN specializing in residential, luxury, commercial and recreational properties.

 

___________________________________________________________

March 26, 2008

Press Release by Alan W. Olson, Broker/Owner

Three Receive Centurion Award from Century21 System

Tom Verhelst, Michelle Pearson and Alan W. Olson, Broker/Owner of Century 21 Vista, Inc. recently earned the Century 21 System's Centurion Producer Award for their continuous sales success.

The Centurion Producer Award honors Century 21 System sales associates who sell in excess of 7 million dollars in real estate within a calendar year.  Only 2% of all Century 21 agents worldwide achieve this award.  These agents were presented with a Centurion Award statue and lapel pin, in addition to being recognized at the Century 21 System's International Convention in Orlando, Florida.

"Tom, Michelle and Alan have over 70 years of combined experience in the real estate industry and are leaders and innovators in delivering powerful home buying and selling choices to their clients because they are so knowledgeable about the communities they serve," said Barb Ecker, Office Manager.  "These agents area a valued and trusted resource for the Fergus Falls community and major contributors to the overall success of Century 21 Vista."

___________________________________________________________

March 11, 2008

Press Release by Alan Olson, Broker-Owner

“BUSINESS AS USUAL” IN FERGUS FALLS, REALTOR OLSON SAYS; REPORTS 10 PERCENT GROWTH IN 07; PREDICTS MORE FOR 08.

In One Local Market, Broker Says Real Estate Business Is Stable

Orlando, FL  March 7, 2008 – Throughout the ongoing housing slump, real estate officials have preached that their business is local, and that pockets of the country were performing well despite the national figures to the contrary.  One of those pockets of success isOtter Tail County,MN.

“It’s pretty much business as usual.  Sales are quite good,” said Alan Olson, a veteran Century 21 Broker, from the Century 21 International Convention in Orlando.  “Our business is up ten percent.  And I owe it to the fact the national media is saying things are terrible.  It’s going quite well for us.”

Being 180 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, “we’re somewhat isolated from the big swings both up and down because we’re a rural area and quite stable.” Olson said in describing why his particular area is faring well.  “We haven’t had huge inflation and consequently we don’t lose a lot either.”

Olson, a self-described Pollyanna, echoed what many other real estate experts have said, namely that if a person is willing to sell their home for a “bit less” than they thought it was worth, there are plenty of bargains to be had.  Someone selling inOtterTailCounty and moving to the Twin Cities would make out quite well, he said, “because you would sell high and buy low.”

But Olson acknowledges that in many regions of the country the real estate market is not as vibrant as his.  “There are areas that are suffering and areas that are booming,” he said.  “It’s strictly local,” sayingOtterTailCounty real estate is stable, despite projections nationwide that home prices would fall from 6 to 7 percent this year.

In fact, Olson sees another profitable year for his business.  “From what I’ve seen in the last 4 months, our market is going to grow, he said.  “I feel I’ll be looking at another ten to 15 percent increase in 2008”.

___________________________________________________________
February 26, 2008

Press Release by Alan Olson, Broker-Owner

Kurt Nygaard Joins Century 21 Vista, Inc.

Alan Olson, Broker-Owner is proud to announce that Kurt Nygaard has joined the sales staff of Century 21 Vista, Inc.

Kurt has 19 years of sales and business experience in this area.  Kurt and