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The Houses By Harlan Team


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 107

Have a Blessed and Happy Easter!!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

The March Statistics are ready:


March 2013

March 2014

TTD 2013

YTD 2914

New Listings





Closed Sales





Median Sales Price





% Orig List Price





Inventory Homes for Sale





Month's Supply of Homes for Sale





We also watch these same type of numbers for the small towns around us so if you would like those, feel free to contact us and we can also bring you up to date on those markets as well.

It appears that our current inventory is stable but we are not getting the new Listings into inventory.  The other thing we see this month is that the median sales price is increasing slightly which offers some good hope for values to eventually rise as well.

We hope you enjoy hearing what is happening in our market.

Carpet Cleaning Tips

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Morning! What a beautiful day! Let’s get outside to enjoy it!

Now that spring might finally be here, maybe you are ready to do a little spring cleaning? Got a good tip this past week, take a peek at these Carpet Cleaning Tips from InTek, This first one is for liquids, There is a 2nd link to carpet cleaning for spills & stains, I hope you take a peek and bookmark it for future reference. They have some procedures and different steps to many of the items. I can witness to how good their carpet cleaning is. I had a renter that hired brand x to clean their carpets, they even had them return to redo it to try to get it better. The carpet still appeared dirty, I hired InTek to come in after the other supposed professionals and WOW what a difference they made over the previous ones. It went from carpet that needed replaced to this is very good for the next party. It saved us a lot! Thanks InTek!

The Market is continuing pretty strong. We are staying busy and saying thank you!! Oh, by the way, We are never too busy for your referrals!!

Thanks and have a Fantastic Week!

The Market Seems to be Picking Up!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Morning to all!

Just a quick summary of the last couple weeks will give you a small window of what we are seeing. Here goes, since March 15  the activity of only single family homes in the city of Sioux Falls, we have had 109 new Listings, 4 that were sold contingent upon a house selling first, 90 that were sold subject to miscellaneous (usually inspections), 15 that were sold subject to another house closing (the previous house was sold but not yet closed) 16 listings that expired (they were on the market but did not sell so the listing expired) 51 that were reported sale pending (contingency was removed or there never was a contingency) and 88 that were reported sold (they closed).

We will make a 30 day report on or about April 15 when we do our supply & demand report for the previous 30 days. We are anticipating good numbers there also.

Spring has sprung and maybe our housing market has as well!  Have a Fantastic Week!

Mortgage Rates are Still Very Good!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Day to all! Has your snow melted already, ours has here at the office. Warm weather coming again!

It has been a busy week here. We have listed several properties, (but we need more Listings)! We have had offers written on several properties as well. Some are accepted and some are still in process of negotiations. The market is seeming to be picking up pretty good. We have had good showings on some of our listings but not on all of them. We are very optimistic about the market in the next few months. There is a pretty good supply of homes on the market. Take a look at the latest report that Betty just posted to our web site today. This covers the market from Dec 15 to Mar 15. The supply has actually been increasing in all of the price ranges so for buyers that is good news. If you are a seller that is not such good news.

Mortgage rates are still very good, the 30 year conventional is somewhere in the 4.25-4.375% range, the 15 is stable at 3.25% today. However the Fed did announce last week that they are going to continue to taper off their buying of bonds some more in April. That is not going to help mortgage rates. As they do this it is happening at the time of year that mortgages are in higher demand so logic says mortgage rates are going to rise sometime soon? Kind of what we have anticipated looks like it is going to happen?

As we have been saying for many months, NOW is a better time to buy than it will be later!!

Have a Fantastic Week!

Shortsale Buying Guide For Todays Housing Market

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Foreclosure is a fairly well understood process, but as short sale signs sprout like weeds, you may wonder what it's all about.When a lender agrees to accept a mortgage payoff amount less than what is owed in order to facilitate a sale of the property by a financially distressed owner, it's called a short sale. The lender forgives the remaining balance of the loan.

Everyone loses -- or wins

Short sales are a mixed bag for the buyer, the seller and the lender.If you're a seller, a short sale is likely to damage your credit -- but not as badly as a foreclosure. You'll also walk away from your home without a penny from the deal, making it difficult for you to find another place to live.The buyer gets the property at a reduced price, but the property in all likelihood has its share of problems -- think fixer-upper -- and will need to go through considerable red tape in order to make the deal happen.

The lender takes a financial loss, but perhaps not as large a loss as it might if it forecloses on the property.Before you even start considering getting involved in a short sale, there are two situations in which an attempt at a short sale is almost certain to fail:

  • No default on loan — Lenders almost never will accept short-sale offers or requests for short sales until the borrower is far behind in payments and a notice of default has been issued.
  • Bankruptcy — If the seller has filed for bankruptcy, forget it. Few, if any, lenders will consider a short sale when the seller has filed for bankruptcy because negotiating a short sale is considered a collection activity and collection activities are prohibited in bankruptcies.

Can it work for you?

Buying a home in a short sale can be a hassle, so why should you consider it? It boils down to the bottom line. You will get the property for a substantial discount. Since the lender is eager to continue to get paid the money it loaned out, it may also offer favorable financing terms.

Since the sellers play an active role in the short-sale process, you will have their cooperation (and most likely won't need to evict them upon taking possession of the home). This is not always the case with a property that has gone through foreclosure.

Whether you've become aware of the distressed situation on a property through an agent, a “for sale by owner” ad or word-of-mouth, this is not a do-it-yourself project. A short sale is one real-estate deal where you really need to get help from an experienced agent or attorney. Not all real-estate agents know how to handle a short sale, so make sure you consult with one who can demonstrate special training or a good track record with short sales.

Why lenders (might) agree

It might seem counterintuitive for a lender to go along with a short sale. After all, a lender is legally entitled to pursue the full balance of the loan. When a homeowner falls behind on payments, the lender can (and often does) hold the borrower responsible for every penny owed.

And yet more and more lenders are willing to consider approving a short sale.Lenders are painfully aware of just how bad the current foreclosure crisis is. They know the cold reality is that a large number of struggling borrowers will end up losing their homes, and so they often see the advisability in accepting the inevitable and trying to minimize their losses. Yet some lenders seem to remain in denial.Foreclosure is an expensive and time-consuming process for a lender. By agreeing to a short sale, the lender wraps up this little mess quickly, and perhaps with less of a loss than it would have incurred with a foreclosure.

Remember, after foreclosing, the lender owns the home and has to maintain it, insure it and pay taxes on it. So instead of receiving payments each month, the lender is now forking out money every month. Plus, short sales help the lender look good on paper — the property never gets listed as an actual foreclosure, which helps the lender's numbers. Lenders see it as the lesser of two evils — if the numbers make sense for them.Here are the 10 steps to buying a short sale:

1. Identify potential short sales

Locate pre-foreclosures in your area. You can use an online database, search courthouse Listings and legal ads or use an experienced real-estate agent as a buyer's agent. First, try to determine how much is owed on the house in relation to its approximate value. If it seems high, it's a good candidate because it indicates the seller might have trouble selling it for enough to satisfy the loan. Pass on those in which the owner has a lot of equity in the home — the lender likely will prefer to foreclose and resell closer to the market price.

2. View the property

Gauge its condition and estimate of how much it's going to take to repair or renovate. If it needs work, many normal buyers won't consider it, which is good for you.

3. Do your research

What is the property worth? What's the profit potential? If you're an investor or even a homeowner planning to live in the home a short time, you'll want to profit from the deal.

4. Find all liens and mortgages

Ask the seller or his agent what liens are on the property, and which lender is the primary lien holder.

5. Figure out the financing

This is critical. You have to know how you're going to pay for the property. If you're a good credit risk, the existing lender may be willing to give you a loan. Since it already has a lot of your information in the short-sale paperwork, it may be able to expedite the loan application process. It's important to understand that in a short sale, you have to be able to move quickly. Once an agreement is worked out, it is common for the lender to require closing in as few as 20 days. This is too late to start shopping for a mortgage.

6. Contact the lender

You or your agent should speak with the loss mitigation department — or perhaps the resource recovery department — rather than the collection or customer service department, which is only interested in recouping past-due loan payments. Finding the decision-maker can be one of the biggest initial challenges. You will first need to have the homeowner complete and sign (notarization is usually required) an authorization letter, which gives the lender permission to discuss the mortgage situation with you.

7. Complete the lender's short-sale application, if it has one

Many lenders have an application specifically for a short-sale request.

8. Assemble the proposal

The proposal generally consists of a package of materials including the application and authorization letter, plus:

  • The purchase and sale contract, signed by you and the seller, to buy the property for a specified price. The lender is not going to entertain tentative offers. You're not going to get the chance to ask the bank, Would you take X number of dollars? In most cases, this also means posting a sizable amount of money to demonstrate your desire and ability to go through with the transaction if it is accepted. If you can't make a sizable down payment, the lender would have no reason to believe you can do any better than the last owner. It's also very important to the buyer that the contract be contingent upon all lenders approving the short sale in writing.
  • A hardship letter. It's important to remember a lender will not even discuss a short sale until the homeowner has fallen behind on payments — usually 90 days. The lender must be convinced that taking a smaller loss now is better than a bigger loss later. To make that case, start with a letter written by the seller giving an overview of the seller's desperate situation. The lender must recognize the seller's inability to pay the loan — immediately and in the foreseeable future — and that the situation is irreversible. The seller should supply as much evidence and documentation as possible, such as divorce papers, evidence of job loss, delinquent accounts, utility shut-off notices, car repossession paperwork, last two years' tax returns, recent pay stubs and recent bank statements. If the lender thinks the seller has money or assets stashed away, it will never go along with a short sale.
  • A statement of the property's value. This can be an appraisal or a broker's price opinion. The lower the estimate of the property's current market value, the better it will be for you. You want to show the lender that the seller would not be able to get enough for the home via a normal sale to satisfy the loan. Compile a list of all the problems with the home that hurt the value and make it undesirable to the average buyer and tougher for the lender to resell. The longer a lender must hold onto a property, the more expensive it becomes. If the lender realizes the property will bring it nothing but headaches, it will be more likely to OK a short sale. Richard Geller, of, who has participated in hundreds of short sales, says this part is critical. Many short sales are turned down because the lender doesn't think the offer is high enough. He advises doing this before the lender does a valuation. There are ethical and legitimate ways to get a low valuation, and if you show this to the lender to start with, your offer won't look so low. Geller adds that the offer to the lender can be below the amount of valuation: The offer can be 85 percent in areas that are slow but not terribly distressed, and as low as 50 percent in really distressed areas.
  • Detail the costs and liabilities. You want to show the lender it would be much better off letting you take the property off its hands. If you can convince the lender that the home is a money pit, all the better. Take photos of any damage and get estimates of the repair costs. Note: This is also a good opportunity for you to take an honest look at the property and decide if you are willing and able to invest the time and money required to fix it up. Remember: A short sale is always an as-is sale. The lender is not going to pay for or otherwise be responsible for any repairs. But, for example, if the lender forecloses, there's a good chance it will be forced to make repairs just to get the house resold. That's one of the liabilities the lender may face.
  • A settlement statement. This statement, which can be prepared by a closing agent or real-estate lawyer, outlines the purchase price, the closing costs and any other costs or fees involved in the transfer of the property. It is often referred to as a net sheet, and the information can be entered onto a HUD-1 Settlement Statement to show the final, negative result at closing.

9. Negotiate

It's not uncommon for the lender to reject your offer or to come back with a counteroffer. As with any real-estate transaction, you should figure out beforehand what your absolute highest limit is, and don't be afraid to walk away if the lender won't meet your figure.

10. Seal the deal

Once you've reached an agreement that all three parties — you, the seller and the lender — are OK with, get everything in writing and officially recorded. Make sure the seller understands all of the terms of the deal. Next comes the closing and the property is yours.

More important details
1. The entire process gets far more complicated — and success more uncertain — if more than one lender is involved. Second or junior lenders often are the ones absorbing most of the loss. If there is a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit, you'll need approval from all. In addition, you may find your mortgage loan was sold to another entity in a process called securitization, and therefore you also need approval from that company.Be sure to do a title search, and verify the lien position of the lender you plan to contact. Pursue short sales only with the primary lien holder. Making a deal with a junior lien holder is a waste of time, as you will still be on the hook to the primary lien holder for whatever is owed to it.

2. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 gave short sellers a big tax break by changing the way the forgiven amount was viewed for tax purposes. Before passage of the act, that amount was considered as income for the borrower and was subject to tax. However, the new law removed that tax liability.

3. Time is of the essence. While you negotiate with the lender, the clock keeps ticking. Do everything you can to get the lender to move quickly. Many short sales fall apart because the lender moves too slowly and fails to complete the deal before the property goes to auction.

4. Some buyers have successfully negotiated with the lender to minimize the damage to the seller's credit rating. The lender has no obligation to agree to this, but if you can persuade it not to report this action as a black mark on the seller's record (and put this in writing as part of the deal), it will give the seller a big head start in rebuilding his financial life. Typically, the loan will show up on a credit report as paid, but it will carry a notation that says something like settled for less than originally owed. That is more favorable than a foreclosure, but still negative.

By Bobbi Dempsey

Market Report for February!

by The Houses By Harlan Team
  Feb 2013 Feb 2014 % Change YTD 2013 TD 2014 % Change
New Listings 420 345 -17.9% 869 768 -11.6%
Closed Sales 195 195 0.0% 415 389 -6.3%
Median Sales Price 146,000 148,300 1.6% 146,000 150,395 +3.0%
% of Orig. List Price Received 94.9% 96.0% +1.2% 94.8% 96.0% +1.3%
Inventory of Homes for Sale 1457 1387 -4.8%      
Month's Supply of Homes for Sale 4.7 Months 4.1 Months        

Are you enjoying it?  We are sure glad to see the warmth and the sunshine.  It feels like winter is over, however we know it is still just March 10!

We have the market report for February so we will share the latest market news with you today.  These are numbers that reflect the 6 counties that are on our MLS.

If you are living in a small town around we also have statistics for those specific markets. Contact us for the details of your market at any time.

This market report is a pretty good one considering it is for February and remember what we have had for weather the last month. Generally looks like sales are holding steady while the inventory of homes continues to get smaller. If you are looking to buy in the near future, it might be wise to consider buying in the next 30-60 days before the larger number of buyers start buying in May & June as you might find more choices today? If you are selling, it would be wise to get your house ready & on the market very soon as we have historically had very good sales in March & April.

If you have questions on any of these numbers or how to apply them to your personal circumstance, Please call us!

Have a Fantastic Week!                                             

Sioux Falls makes national news in Sports

by The Houses By Harlan Team

We are so proud of our city, It is not every city our size that gets to boast of a great economy and great sports venues and events. We think it is very noteworthy. Check out this link to the USA Today article!

Let us know are your proud of our city also? Respond to this blog!

The Houses By Harlan Team

Fan Review!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good morning everyone! The sun is shining and it has to get warmer from here on out!?!?

We just got back a raving fan review that we want to share with you:

Houses By Harlan Team is awesome!!  We found a house we wanted to buy and had to sell our house quickly.  The team set up a stager to come through and give us tips on what to do to get ready to sell.  Houses by Harlan even lent us a dining room table and chairs for the showing of the house that fit perfectly in our home.  I saw a lot of homes on the market before our house was listed that were still on the market after we sold our house. I believe this is due to the hard work and superior talent of the Houses By Harlan Team!  We are very pleased with everything the Team did for us. We have already referred one of our friends that are getting ready to sell and we will continue to refer anyone else thinking of selling!! Dave & Audra

Thank you Dave & Audra! This was from a client that we just closed. We have several new clients right now that are considering selling with the hopes of warmer weather and green grass. We are enjoying helping people find out what their house is worth and helping them get them ready to sell. We feel that our homes show better than many on the market because we do work with the sellers over several steps to get their property in the best possible condition and priced as competitively as the sellers want to be.

If you are considering buying in the next 6 months, it might be better to do it now before more of the buyers come out of the woodwork with spring fever and are competing with you for some of the same houses.

In addition to the above review we have available a list of references of past sellers or buyers for you to check with. If you or someone you know is considering a move, either buying or selling, please call us and share their names and phone numbers. We will do our best to give the same service to you or your family or friends. Call us if you are interested in seeing our list of references.

Interest rates are still very good, The supply of homes is less than it has been for 6 to 7 years. Now is going to be a better time than later. Call us!

Are you Ready to Sell?

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Morning all!

Congratulations to Erika & Mike Boen on the birth of a baby girl Delano Junia, she was 8 lbs 4 oz and she is a cutie! Congratulations again! Erika & Mike are great parents also of Seyler & Brekken. When you see or talk to them congratulate them all!

The market has been softer over the last couple months, see our Supply Of Homes on The Market Report.  Now with that said our team is doing well and have been very active in showing and selling houses in the last few weeks. We feel the market is picking up as we have been busy. Understand what we are seeing today does not show up on this report until after they close as the report we have is on houses that have sold and closed. Our sales are still in process. We are hearing some agents also saying that there are not a lot of Listings.

We are looking for Listings right now. Do you know of anyone that is considering selling, March has traditionally been one of our best months of the year. So now would be a great time to have us come and look at it and  get that house ready. We can tell you how to maximize the house to get it to show its best and get you the best dollars possible. In addition we employ a person for our listings to set the stage. Our person is not just someone that went to class for a week and came out with a designation, our staging advice comes from someone that has a 4 year degree in interior decorating. No we will not have all the houses looking like HGTV but we can give you great ideas and help to show it to its best possible condition. That is in addition to our many years of helping sellers and buyers ourselves.

If you have not already taken a look at the Morning Coffee column for today you might want to take a peek if you ever have trouble sleeping.

We want you all to have a Fantastic Week!

January Sale Numbers

by The Houses By Harlan Team


Sales are doing well. All 3 of us have written offers this week, some are accepted, some are contingent, some are still in process. Thank you!

The January sale #’s are in for us to report to you.

Listings are down by 6.7% from last year. Closed sales are down 15% from last year, Median Sales price is up 5.2% from last year. The percent of list price that the sellers are getting is up 1.0% from last year. The supply of homes for sale is down to a 4.0 months’ supply versus last year at this time we had a 4.7 months’ supply and in 2012 we had a 6.9 month’s supply of homes of homes available.

Take a peek at the morning coffee column above, some good thoughts today!

Hope you are all doing well, Enjoy the warm weather today and the next few days. It is a time to come up for a great big breath of fresh air!

Have a Fantastic Week!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 107

Contact Information

The Houses By Harlan Team
Ameri/Star Real Estate
5900 S Western Ave
Sioux Falls SD 57108
(605) 274-7273
Fax: (605) 336-7749

Houses by Harlan Real Estate team specializes in selling or buying homes and other real estate or property in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota region.