Welcome to the Century 21 Real Estate Center of Laramie, Wyoming website. We would like to invite you to look around the site. You will find many attractive listings and helpful information. Take a moment and get to know our Professional Real Estate Agents and how we can make a difference for you. As an independently owned and operated CENTURY 21® office, we are dedicated to providing you with service that is professional, courteous and responsive in helping you market or find a property.

Are you thinking of buying a home in the Laramie, WY area? Finding the right home can be a difficult process but no matter what you are looking for as an experienced Laramie, WY real estate agent I can provide you with the resources you need to make the home buying process simpler, from, to tools to estimate your mortgage payments, and buyer resources and articles that will help you through the home buying process.

Thinking about selling real estate in the Laramie, WY area? No matter which market you’re in, you can use the marketing programs and experience of a qualified Laramie, WY real estate agent like me to help sell your home quickly and at the right price. Learn more about my services, see information about recent home sales in Laramie, WY, or contact me to get started today!

Are you interested in more Laramie, WY area details? Please take a minute and browse the local neighborhood and school details, real estate mortgage information and interactive maps for the Laramie, WY market. Thank you for visiting www.realestatelaramie.com! This is a one-stop real estate website for all your home buying and selling needs in Laramie, WY. I’m a professional real estate agent who will help make your search for a new home an enjoyable experience. I encourage you to check out my website for local neighborhood and school details, mortgage information, maps, listings of properties of homes for sale, plus many more features. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about the Laramie, WY real estate market, or buying or selling a home in Laramie, WY.



If you are thinking about buying or selling, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to serve all of your Real Estate needs.

We invite you to view Bruce Guice’s stunning video of Southeast Wyoming http://vimeo.com/72949159



The Federal Reserve raised rates at its December meeting by 0.25 percent.

Here’s what you need to know about the event.

1. The Fed raises or lowers the overnight cost of money, “Fed funds,” not mortgage rates.

Yes — twice in Fed history it manipulated (down) long-term rates (1942-1950 and 2008-2013), but only in all-out emergency situations.

2. Mortgage rates did rise after the hike today.

Mortgage rate quotes are always hard to decode, presented as they are in deceptive mixtures of rate and fee. The 10-year T-note is definitive and in plain sight, 2.43 percent this morning and 2.53 percent this afternoon.

No-fee 30-fixed mortgages are just barely holding on to 4.25 percent, going higher.

3. The Fed estimates two more hikes next year, possibly three.

It will continue to hike until it either slows the U.S. economy to growth well under 2 percent and sees the unemployment rate rising to 5 percent or a little more, or (by accident) causes a recession.

Every prior hiking cycle has ended in an “accidental” recession.

The Fed's "scattergram" for the next 3 years.

The Fed’s “scattergram” for the next 3 years.

4. The future signal that the Fed will be nearing an accidental recession: Short-term rates keep on rising after each hike, but long-term rates stop.

The short-term marker is the 2-year T-note: From now until the accidental recession, compare 2s to 10s every day.

So far, the two are rising in tandem: Since election day, 2s from 0.80 percent to 1.26 percent, 10s from 1.80 percent to 2.55 percent.

Recessions always follow the moment when 2s yield more than 10s, a “yield curve inversion.”

5. Trump effects?

The jump in all rates on the morning after the election partly reflects Donald Trump‘s intentions to goose the economy, but nothing personal.

Gridlock had been nice and comfy, and Clinton would have extended gridlock. Trump means uncertainty above all other things, and unified government means that it may act, which could be good… or not.

6. Long-term rates had begun to rise in summer, partly the result of foreign central banks’ slowing their purchase of their nations’ bonds.

As German and Japanese yields have risen, so have ours.

7. That summer rise, then the election jump…the bond market had ignored the Fed’s threats for four years, and a slowish economy made bond traders right.

A good part of the election jump was an accidental trigger of a bond market overdue and poised to sell and raise long-term rates.

8. The stock market? Try not to pay attention.

If stocks went into free-fall, that would give pause to the Fed. But the Fed would see an orderly unwind of a couple of thousand Dow points as normal stock-market wandering. The exuberance boys are on their own.

9. Back to Trump. It may take a day or two, or deep into the night, but I’ll be amazed if we don’t get a tweet-storm trolling Janet Yellen.

The great Fed chair, William McChesney Martin, gave us the Fed-defining line: “It’s the Fed’s job to take away the punch bowl just as the party gets going.”

In a matter of hours or a few days, His Tweetness will roar: “Take away MY punchbowl? MINE?”

10. In 1980-’82 the nation survived a collision between the Fed and a new administration hot on stimulus, but the result was sky-high interest rates.

The most encouraging news this week: Senate majority leader McConnell is opposed to any deficit-adding tax cuts or stimulus spending.

The new administration can focus on reducing regulation and adding to productivity — but so long as McConnell holds, we will not have a replay of Paul Volcker standing on red-hot, smoking brakes while an overeager crew rolled out the money hose.


THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PROVIDED BY INMAN and are the results of a survey that was done recently, if you are a first time home buyer, or a buyer please read and get in touch with me if you have questions.

As with many things in 2016, the housing market has been plagued with various issues: plummeting inventory, skyrocketing home prices and affordability problems that are keeping some buyers still. However, the National Association of Realtors’ September existing-home sales report revealed a promising silver lining — first-time homebuyers.

First-timers accounted for 34 percent of all buyers and helped drive one of the best months NAR has seen yet.

But as our latest poll showed, it takes a lot of coaching and patience to reap the rewards of this plucky bunch.

Money is the root of all…buying problems?


The biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers are related to a lack of financial wherewithal — not talking to a lender first took the top spot, with 61.1 percent of Inman readers saying this was a problem they’d encountered and 18.04 percent of respondents saying it was the biggest problem they encounter.

Waiting too long to make an offer and offering too little for properties rounded out the top three mistakes, with 17.18 percent and 15.46 percent of respondents saying this was the biggest mistake buyers make and 59.62 percent and 57.73 percent of respondents saying they had encountered this mistake before, respectively.


Prepare thyself

A home is one of the biggest purchases anyone will make in his or her lifetime and, according to readers, first-time buyers seem to be grossly unprepared for the process — which includes getting pre-qualified.

“They want to look at houses before they are pre-qualified or ready to buy. This sets them up to be disappointed or wasting their time if they end up not qualifying for what they want or qualify for more than what they thought,” said a survey-taker.

Furthermore, the same survey-taker noted, newbies rely too much on online resources to get a loan rather than asking their agent for trusted local loan officers.

In addition to delaying the pre-qualification process, respondents said some first-time buyers don’t know their actual financial status, which includes an accurate credit score, the amount of money they have in their savings and checking accounts, and robust financial planning for future homeowning costs.

To help first-time buyers avoid these pitfalls, readers suggested hosting a buyers’ workshop or having in-depth one-on-one buyer consultations before looking at listings.

“I’ve tried to avoid these mistakes (and I’ve made most all of them) by having a very thorough buyer consultation before I ever take them out looking,” a respondent said.

“I talk about all of these items and add further advice and guidance in my ‘buyer book’ that I give them — a binder full of everything they will need to know to buy a house in NC.”

Once buying newbies get over the lending hurdle, survey-takers said the next obstacles are waiting too long to make an offer — and when they do, making low-ball offers.

Simply put: “Buyers think that it’s always a buyers’ market,” says a survey taker.

This assertion is especially problematic right now, when the housing market has struggled to overcome tight inventory and skyrocketing home prices that can give a seller the upper hand.

“I work in the Colorado Springs market, and buyers kept wanting deals. Deals aren’t happening in 2016,” noted one respondent.

“Buyers under the $200K price point are lucky if they can even get an offer accepted. You are not going to get a house offering $10,000 under asking.”

Mother, HGTV and portals don’t know best

What’s the issue with second opinions? Respondents said the culprit is the preponderance of online information, false realities sold by television shows and well-meaning advice from family and friends.

“Buyers [are] looking at properties on the internet and getting angry when they can’t see them. When told they are under contract, they get upset that websites don’t keep their sites up-to-date,” said a survey-taker.

Beyond listing issues, online home valuations — such as Zillow’s Zestimate or the Redfin Estimate — seem to be causing headaches when it comes to negotiating prices.

“I’m experiencing buyers placing too much emphasis” on online valuations, said one reader.

Apart from portals, agents are having a hard time battling the “HGTV experience,” which paints a much prettier (and much-edited) picture of the homebuying process.

“They think they’re experts because they watch HGTV,” lamented one respondent. “They expect the process to go smoothly and are not prepared for the unexpected occurrences that pop up in the contract negotiations.”

Finally, first-time buyers often look to family and friends for advice — advice that can hold up the search process and derail an offer.

Trust your agent!

Outside of financial issues and faulty advice, survey-takers noted that first-time buyers need to come to the table with a firm understanding on the kind of home they need, the neighborhood they’d like to live in, and they should be able to explain how owning a home fits into future plans — for example, “do you plan to move in five years or stay forever?”

But the one overarching theme from respondents was the lack of trust first-time buyers have for their agents, whether it be because of outside knowledge that makes them feel like an expert or the fact they didn’t vet an agent before signing on.

Readers suggested that first-time buyers throughly research agents rather than choosing the first one they see on Zillow, social media or on a billboard.

And, once they’ve chosen an agent, readers said: “Listen to your Realtor’s advice — whether it is about lenders, price, offers.

“It’s what we do, and we do it every day. Trust


Information from Jon Vierk of Wallick and Volk

QUOTE OF THE WEEK… “You can do anything, but not everything.” –David Allen, American productivity consultant and author

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE …We may be able to do anything, but some things are more difficult than others. Take predicting when the Fed will next hike rates. Even Fed members can’t forecast their own actions. San Francisco Fed President John Williams told Reuters: “There is definitely a data stream that could come through in the next couple of months that I would think would be supportive of two rate increases.” But he added: “There’s data we could get that wouldn’t be supportive of that and it could be supportive of one maybe, or of none.” By the way, the majority of economists are betting on “none.” Then again, the Fed, like we, can do anything.

What’s not doing much is the economy, expanding only 1.2% in Q2. The National Association of Realtors chief economist said this “shows the economy barely above water…the third consecutive quarter of near 1% growth, as opposed to the historical long term average of 3%.” He thinks housing has an answer: “More homes need to be built and that in turn will lead to faster economic growth.” Hope also came from Freddie Mac’s CEO who said 42% of non-refinance purchase loan buys they made in Q2 were to fund loans to first time homebuyers, the highest level in 10 years. But with no home to sell, first timers aren’t helping supply. Can’t do everything.

BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK… Take a moment to reflect on your goals–what you want to achieve this month, this year, and over longer time frames. Then create a plan that will keep you focused on your goals and get you there.

>> Review of Last Week

HIGHER HIRES, HIGHER STOCKS… Friday’s July Employment Report gave us all an upside surprise, coming in with 255,000 new Nonfarm Payrolls for the month, plus 18.000 more jobs thanks to upward revisions to May and June numbers. We also saw Hourly Earnings up 0.3% in July, and up 2.6% over a year ago. This was good stuff, but not so good that investors thought the very cautious Fed would be moved to hike rates in September. So the S&P 500 hit an all-time high, scoring its fifth weekly gain in the last six weeks. The tech-heavy Nasdaq also closed the week at an all-time high, its first record in more than a year, while the blue-chip Dow ended ahead as well.

One analyst explained that while the July jobs numbers were good, they hadn’t reached “escape velocity.” By that, he meant a level that would show enough economic strength to let the Fed hike. He said 150,000 new jobs a month takes care of population growth, while economic growth is indicated above that figure. And wage growth needs to be 3% annually in order to push inflation up to where the Fed wants it. Other news of the day included the June Trade Deficit jumping 8.7%, to $44.5 billion, a 10-month high. Earlier in the week we saw both ISM Manufacturing and ISM Services indexes dipping in July, though still showing slow expansion.

The week ended with the Dow UP 0.6%, to 18544; the S&P 500 UP 0.4%, to 2184; and the Nasdaq UP 1.1%, to 5221.

As usual, the good jobs report was bad for bonds, sending Treasury prices down sharply. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond we watch finished the week down .03, at $107.14. In Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending August 4, national average 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell back near their yearly lows after inching up for three weeks. This was put to “a disappointing advance estimate for second quarter GDP.” Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.

DID YOU KNOW?… A personal finance website reported investors flipped more than 110,000 homes last year, at an average profit of $55,000. It was the highest rate for flips since 2007.

>>This Week’s Forecast

RETAIL SALES SLOW, WHOLESALE INFLATION STOPS… It’s a light week for economic data, with the big report being Retail Sales, forecast up again in July though not by as much as June. The Producer Price Index (PPI), gauging wholesale price inflation, is expected to be at a standstill in July. But Core PPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is predicted up, though less than it was in June. We watch wholesale price inflation because it’s often a leading indicator of consumer price inflation. And that’s what the Fed wants to see more of before it raises rates.

>> The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.

Economic Calendar for the Week of Aug 8 – Aug 12

 Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact
Aug 9
08:30 Productivity – Prelim. Q2 0.5% -0.6% Moderate
Aug 9
08:30 Unit Labor Costs Q2 1.7% 4.5% Moderate
Aug 10
10:30 Crude Inventories 8/6 NA 1.413M Moderate
Aug 10
14:00 Federal Deficit Jul NA -$149.2B Moderate
Aug 11
08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 8/6 266K 269K Moderate
Aug 11
08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 7/30 NA 2.138M Moderate
Aug 12
08:30 Producer Price Index (PPI) Jul 0.0% 0.5% Moderate
Aug 12
08:30 Core PPI Jul 0.2% 0.4% Moderate
Aug 12
08:30 Retail Sales Jul 0.4% 0.6% HIGH
Aug 12
10:00 Univ. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Aug 90.2 90.0 Moderate
Aug 12
10:00 Business Inventories Jun 0.1% 0.2% Moderate

>> Federal Reserve Watch

Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… Well, this week a few more Fed watchers think the central bank will hike the rate in November or December, but the majority still say it stays where it is through the end of the year. Note: In the lower chart, a 15% probability of change is an 85% certainty the rate will stay the same.

Current Fed Funds Rate: 0.25%-0.5%

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Sep 21 0.25%-0.5%
Nov 2 0.25%-0.5%
Dec 14 0.25%-0.5%

Probability of change from current policy:

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Sep 21       15%
Nov 2       15%
Dec 14       43%




7 Home Fixes You Must Complete Before Selling!

The process of getting a property ready to put on the market can seem daunting enough. There’s clearing the clutter, endless amounts of cleaning, organizing and scrutinizing your property with a fine-tooth comb. What needs attention and what can you leave alone?

Welcome to the new world of “fixing to sell.” Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens. Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.

Don’t ignore these seven areas.

1. Structural and mechanical

It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age and condition of the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, water heater, electrical panel and pipes.

Now, I’m not saying all have to be replaced, but if any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well as insurability of the property.

Appraisers are notorious for requiring a roof to be replaced, for example, as a condition of a loan when it comes to FHA and VA financing.

Replacing a roof that is at the end of its life before putting your home on the market will go a long way to solidifying buyer confidence in deciding to make an offer.

The buyer (and you) won’t have to sweat what an inspector says, deal with a potential renegotiation before closing or face a price reduction. The last thing you want to be doing is putting on a new roof in the midst of trying to pack.

If you lack the budget to replace these items, get estimates on the cost involved to replace. You can always offer to contribute to the replacement cost in the form of a credit to the buyer’s closing costs and offer a home warranty that can provide some coverage should something fail or need repair.

2. Exterior

How does the exterior of your home look? Is there any wood rot? When was the last time it was painted? Are there any stucco cracks that need attention?

First impressions start from the outside, and the exterior will show up in photos across a multitude of websites, etc. This is definitely an area worth spending the money.

3. Landscaping

Speaking of the exterior, how does your landscaping look? Are the plantings overgrown, worn and wilted? What about the ground cover?

Are the planting beds in need of some fresh mulch, pine straw, rock, etc.? Are there any overgrown tree limbs hanging over the house or blocking the home’s view? For a relatively inexpensive investment, you can transform how your exterior looks by trimming back and freshening things up with new plants and landscaping.

4. Cosmetic

Let’s face it: buyers buy with their eyes, so now is the time to go through the interior in detail. Are there dents and dings on the walls, scratched moldings or worn paint? Now is the time to spruce up the inside with a fresh coat of paint.

Pick light, neutral and on-trend colors. Choose a neutral palette that will transition well with any buyer’s furniture.

Look at your light fixtures, ceiling fans and light switches — these are relatively inexpensive things to update and replace, yet they go a long way toward creating value.

The front door? This is critical! Does it need a fresh coat of paint or new hardware? Consider adding a glass panel to create light that evokes a sunny and warm space.

5. Kitchen

This area is always huge with buyers. Even if the buyers barely know how to boil water, they always envision themselves in the kitchen cooking and entertaining or perhaps auditioning to be the next Food Network TV star surrounded by sleek appliances and cabinetry.

Here’s where you need to give them the look for less. Think new hardware on cabinets, adding or changing out a dated tile backsplash and updating appliances. Also, consider changing out counters — you might be able to find a reasonably price remnant of a granite slab.

6. Bathrooms

Simple and clean rules the day. Sprucing up your bathrooms to sell can be as simple as having the grout on the existing tile steam cleaned or regrouting where needed. Caulking, new plumbing and light fixtures along with mirrors can create value.

7. Flooring

What you walk on creates value. If you can only afford to make the investment in one significant part of your home, consider updating the flooring. There are a ton of low-cost options to choose from that include wood plank tiles and highly upgraded laminate flooring — think wide plank, light colored or hand-scraped styles.

New flooring can totally transform the look of your space and give it the “wow” factor that buyers desire.

In undertaking for sale preparation, strike a delicate balance between what to fix and what to leave alone, but in the end, make the right improvements that will result in a faster sale for top dollar.

Cara Ameer.


Home Prices: More of the Same

The most-watched home-price index of them all was released on Tuesday and nothing changed, so nothing was unexpected – home prices continued to rise.


The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index was up 0.9% in March, posting its largest monthly gain since November. Of the 20 cities that comprise the index, 19 showed overall price appreciation.

Despite the strong showing in March, year-over-year price appreciation remained unchanged. Overall, prices in the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index were up 5.4%, which is still a respectable increase when you consider that official consumer-price inflation is running at 2%.


Talk of an impending interest-rate increase was also amplified this past week. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen got tongues wagging last Friday with the following statement: “Growth looks to be picking up, and if that continues and the labor market continues to improve – and I expect those things to improve – we’ll continue to monitor incoming data and assess risk to the outlook…It’s appropriate for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase the overnight interest rate over time.” Yellen sees that probably occurring “in the coming months.”


Even so, we wouldn’t be surprised if we remained in the current interest-rate purgatory through summer, and possibly through the November election. If Fed officials have proven one thing over the years, they are willing to drag their feet.

Are Low Mortgage Rates a Free Lunch?

Low mortgage rates appear to be a double blessing. The first blessing is obvious: Lower mortgage rates translate to more affordable monthly payments. The second blessing is more obscure. The borrower builds equity faster.


A $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage serves as an example: With a 4% mortgage rate, the mortgagor’s payments for the first 12 months total to $11,458, of which $3,522 is earmarked for principal reduction. After 12 payments the outstanding balance stands at $196,478.

Now, let’s say we have a 6% rate applied to the same amount over the same time. Payments for the first 12 months total to $14,389. But, of that those payments, only $2,456 is earmarked for principal reduction. After the first 12 payments, the balance stands at $197,544. There is $1,066 more in reduced balance with the 4%-rate mortgage compared to the 6%-rate mortgage.


So, with a lower-rate mortgage, monthly payments are lower; at the same time equity builds faster. Who could argue against super-low mortgage rates, as we’ve done on occasion?

There’s more to the story. Interest rates are also a discounting mechanism.

Let’s say you have an investment that will pay you $10,000 a year in perpetuity. If the market rate of interest were 4% (assuming interest rates were your only concern), you’d be willing to pay $250,000 for an investment that paid $10,000 annually.


But if the market rate of interest were 6%, you’d be willing to pay significantly less. For an investment that paid $10,000 annually in perpetuity, you’d be willing to pay only $166,667 when market rates are 6%.

We understand that an owner-occupied home is no investment; it’s an asset. Nevertheless, the same principle is at work: On the one hand, low mortgage rates increase affordability and equity appreciation. But on the other hand, low interest rates raise the value of the putatively more affordable home. As economist Milton Friedman observed decades ago, there is no free lunch.


Chelsa Harrison





Information on SBA Loans just out:

Here is the latest from the SBA on the 504 refinance.

Announces SBA Administrator Maria Contreas-Sweet at today’s NADCO conference.

1. The new rules will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register. SBA will begin processing applications this June 24th.

2. The commercial mortgage/deed of trust debt to be refinanced must be at least two years old.

3. The loan (or loans – can be more than one eligible loan) being refinanced must not have any late payments in the previous 12 months and evidence of such must be presented.

4. The subject property must be a minimum 51% owner occupied and meet all other eligibility requirements of the SBA 504 program.

5. For refinance-only projects, the maximum LTV is 90%.

6. Cash-out refinancing is permitted to cover most eligible business operating expenses.

7. Unfortunately, existing “government backed” loans, such as 504’s, 7(a)’s or USDA loans, cannot be refinanced under this new program. Only conventionally financed commercial mortgages/deeds of trust are eligible.

The published federal register notice will be out tomorrow.







Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff may have recently given real estate agents a gift they won’t soon forget: a sure-fire way to show that Zestimates can miss by a mile.

How? By selling a property for much less than its Zestimate.

On February 29, Rascoff sold a Seattle home for $1.05 million, 40 percent less than the Zestimate of $1.75 million shown on its property page a day later.

The gap between the Zestimate of Rascoff’s former property and its sales price has decreased only modestly since then.

Zillow readily acknowledges that Zestimates can be inaccurate, but some consumers can still take them at face value, causing he

Citing the chasm between the sales price of Rascoff’s former home and the property’s Zestimate may be one way for real estate professionals to show clients that Zestimates are, as Zillow says, only a conversation starter for pricing a home, not the final word on its value.

Philip Gray, a San Leandro, California-based appraiser, is taking this approach. Bringing up the Zestimate of the property Rascoff recently offloaded will help him deal with the frequent pushback he receives from homeowners “who think Zillow is the magic 8-ball,” he said.

‘We missed’ 

Zestimate’s on Rascoff former home have certainly been overstating the property’s value, said Zillow Chief Analytics Officer Stan Humphries.

“The fact that we missed and there are empirical reasons we missed — that’s a great conversation that real estate agents should have” with consumers, he said, citing the property’s irregular lot and location on a busy road as partly responsible for its Zestimate’s inaccuracy.

But he expressed hope that, in the same discussion, agents also won’t instill “data nihilism” in consumers, and that they acknowledge that humans also can miss the mark.

Smaller gap at start

In July, the Zestimate of Rascoff’s former property wouldn’t have raised the eyebrows of anyone who’s familiar with automated valuation models (AVMs). At $1.388 million, the property’s Zestimate was 7.3 percent higher than its listing price of $1.295 million at the time.

Since Zillow only shows revised historical Zestimate data on property pages, the home’s property page currently indicates that the property’s Zestimate was around $1.6 million in July 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 more than the Zestimate that actually appeared on its property page on July 17, 2015.

For all anyone knew in July 2015, the property might have eventually sold at a price closer to its Zestimate than its listing price.

But that didn’t happen. The home later sold for $1.05 million, 19 percent below its July listing price. Undergoing a number of price cuts, the property was listed and de-listed several times between when it was originally listed on July 7, 2015 and when it sold on February 29, 2016.

If Rascoff thought his home was worth its July listing price, the outcome of the sale might have come as a disappointment. But if the success of the transaction were judged by the property’s Zestimate, it was a failure.

The home’s Zestimate was $1,750,405 on March 1, the day after the property sold for $1,050,000.

If that Zestimate were accurate, it would mean the chief of the biggest name in real estate and the recent co-author of a book about “the new rules of real estate” would have sold his home for 40 percent less than it was worth.

Automated valuations vary

In addition to highlighting the shortcomings of Zestimates, the Zestimate of Rascoff’s home also brings into focus the potential for some automated valuations to be more accurate than others.

Unlike Zillow’s property page on the home the day after it sold, Redfin’s page on the home showed that the sale had occurred. At the time, it displayed a valuation of $1.1 million — much closer to the property’s sales price of $1.05 million.

On Thursday, May 5, Redfin’s estimate of the home’s value was $1.3 million.

So while Zillow’s estimate had come down by around $140,000 since the home sold, Redfin’s had increased by about $200,000. Both differed from the price the home sold for a little over two months ago by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Zillow has since added the sales price of Rascoff’s former home to its property page.

The property’s Zestimate had slipped from $1,750,405 the day after it sold to $1,608,670 on May 5, but its Zestimate on May 5 still only represented 65 percent of what the home sold for a little over two months before.

To judge the Zestimate’s accuracy based solely on the gap between the sales price of Rascoff’s former home and its Zestimate would probably be unfair. The discrepancy is unusually wide, according to what Zillow says is the Zestimate’s median error rate.

Zillow puts the Zestimate’s national median error rate at 7.9 percent, meaning half of Zestimates nationwide are within 7.9 percent of a home’s sales price and half are off by more than 7.9 percent. The listing portal claims an even higher level of accuracy in Seattle, where Rascoff’s former home is located.

There, Zestimates for half of homes are supposed to be within 6.1 percent of their sales price, while half are supposed to be off by more than 6.1 percent. This suggests that the Zestimate of Rascoff’s home missed by much more than normal in Seattle.

Why was that?

One reason is that the home’s Zestimate was comparing Rascoff’s former home, which is located on a triangular lot, to recently sold homes located on rectangular lots, according to Humphries.

Since rectangular lots provide more utility than triangular lots, he said, that meant the Zestimate was overvaluing the plot of Rascoff’s home.

Another reason was that Rascoff’s home was located on an “arterial” road while nearby recently sold homes sat on quieter streets.

Zillow continues to research how to program Zestimates to account for such factors, but “we haven’t fully cracked the nut on that one” yet, Humphries said.

‘The classic luxury homes problem’

Zillow Senior Economist Skylar Olsen added that the Zestimate of Rascoff’s home represents “the classic luxury homes problem.”

Zestimates can’t take into account “non-quantifiable facts,” such as layout design or lighting, and these facts can have much more of an effect on the values of luxury homes than less expensive properties, she said.

Real estate agents can see how special features impact a property’s value, but the “Zestimate algorithm can’t know” and “at this point in time, it’s not designed to know,” she said.

The reason why the Zestimate of Rascoff’s former property hasn’t dropped dramatically since selling at a much lower price than Zestimates leading up to the sale is that the Zestimates have a “smoothing function” designed to keep them from overreacting to recent property sales.

The Zestimate on the Rascoff’s former property will gradually come down to more closely resemble its sales price. And upcoming updates to the Zestimate’s algorithms will adjust the smoothing function so that the Zestimate of a home that sells will come to more closely mirror its sales price much faster.

Also worth noting is that Zillow does not have access to sold listing data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the MLS that covers Seattle. Automated valuation models (AVMs) that crunch sold MLS data can have an advantage over AVMs that only use public sales records — which are the only sales records used by Zestimates covering Seattle.

While Zillow says on its website that most consumers understand that Zestimates truly are only estimates, the listing portal concedes that, sometimes, “someone will come along that insists on setting the price they are willing to buy or sell for based solely on the Zestimate.”

Zillow goes on to say that “education is the key” and that, armed with knowledge of how Zestimates are calculated along with their local median error rate, agents can explain “why the Zestimate is a good starting point as well as a historical reference, but it should not be used for pricing a home.”

While Zestimates can create hassles for agents, some agents would certainly agree with Zillow’s assertion that understanding how a Zestimate is calculated, along with its strengths and weaknesses, “can provide the real estate pro with an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise.”

The gap between the Zestimate of Rascoff’s former property and its sales price may have made it easier for agents to seize that opportunity.

Zillow’s Humphries’ hopes that, when putting Zestimates in perspective for consumers, agents will also acknowledge that Zestimates do have a scientific basis, and that nobody’s perfect — even trained professionals.

He noted that a study released by Zillow in 2012 showed that the typical gap between a home’s Zestimate and its sales price wasn’t that much larger than the typical gap between a home’s initial list price — which is often set based on a real estate agent’s recommendation — and its sales price.

“We acknowledge humans are great at this, and we’re great too — but they’re greater,” Humphries said.

Email Teke Wiggin.



Please take time to look at the information from these pages. This was provided by Jon Vierk from Wallick and Volk


Click Here for the 30 Year FHLMC Rates On 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Chart

Click Here for the 200 Year Historical Rates On 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Chart

Click Here for the Housing Prices Chart

Click Here for S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Chart

Click Here for S&P/Case-Shiller (20 City) Home Price Indices Chart


WCDA Memorandum 2016-2
To: WCDA Approved Lenders Memorandum 2016-2
From: Carol A. Wilson, Director of Single Family Programs
Date: 3/29/2016
Re: Announcing WCDA’s new Home$tretch Down Payment Assistance Loan Program!!!
WCDA is excited to announce our Home$tretch program.  We believe the Home$tretch program is a financially responsible down payment loan program for low-moderate income borrowers seeking affordable housing throughout the state.  Let the Home$tretch Down Payment Assistance Loan program $tretch your borrowers buying power!!!
Home$tretch details:
  • 0% Interest Rate, 0.080 APR based on a $5,500 loan
  • NO Monthly Payment
  • Maximum loan amount $10,000
  • Minimum cash investment at closing is $1,500
  • Minimum medium FICO score of 620
  • Maximum Debt to Income Ratio is 41%
  • Due and payable upon sale or transfer of title to another party or upon refinance of the first mortgage loan
  • 30 year maturity
  • Can be used for down payment, closing costs and prepaid items.  Maximum 1st mortgage LTV is required.  HFA Preferred and Preferred Risk Sharing programs allow for a maximum CLTV of 105%, all other 1st mortgage programs allow for a maximum CLTV of 106%.
The Home$tretch program modifies the current Down Payment Loan terms and details outlined in the following Summaries of Forward Commitment:
  • Spruce Up Wyoming II
  • HFA Preferred and HFA Preferred Risk Sharing
  • WCDA Warehouse (Standard Mortgage Revenue Bond)
  • WCDA Advantage
The current WCDA Homebuyer Assistance program is hereby discontinued.
Home$tretch funds may be used with all of our current loan programs – Standard Mortgage Revenue Bond with FHA, VA & RD financing, HFA Preferred and HFA Preferred NO MI, Advantage with FHA & RD financing and Spruce Up II with FHA 203k and RD financing programs.  The transaction must be a purchase transaction and may not be used with a refinance transaction.
The new Home$tretch Note and Mortgage are on Lender Online and must be used when closing a Home$tretch loan.  We have also posted the Home$trech Checklist for your use as well.  The Legally Enforceable Obligation Letter, MPP Form 220 will continue to be required when the Home$tretch Down Payment Assistance Loan is utilized with an FHA insured 1st mortgage.
Home$tretch funds are limited to $1,000,000 – first come, first serve.  Help your homebuyers $tretch their buying power today!
As always, please feel free to contact  LoanReview@wyomingcda.com if you have any questions.


Our most recent blog p0sts!

10 Reals FSBO’s Don’t Sell!

Very good information if you are thinking of selling your house on your own.


Top reasons why FSBOs fail in real estate

There are a lot of reasons why FSBOs fail and do not sell. Some of the top among these are:

1. Too many people to negotiate with

Those deciding to take the FSBO route often have to negotiate with many people. Some of them are likely to be:

  • The buyer, seeking the best possible deal.
  • The buyer’s agent, who represents the buyer’s best interest.
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some regions of the nation).
  • Home inspection companies, working for the buyer, which are likely to find some problem or the other with the house.
  • Your bank, in case it’s a short sale.
  • The appraiser, if the home’s value needs to be assessed.

Without the help of experienced real estate agents, dealing with so many different parties alone is often a tough task for homeowners.

2. Homeowners do not know how to prepare the home for sale

A majority of homeowners don’t know about the prelisting tasks that FSBOs should do before they list their home for sale. These usually include:

  • Decluttering.
  • Painting the rooms with a fresh coat of paint.
  • Getting necessary repairs done.
  • Getting the home floors and carpets cleaned by professions.
  • Ensuring curb appeal of the home.
  • Replacing outdated light fixtures.

Because homes for sale by owners just have one chance to impress potential buyers, neglecting these home sale preparation tips often reduces the homeowners’ chances of selling the house.

3. Owners do not know how to screen potential buyers

FSBOs often have no idea about the difference between prequalification and preapproval, and they don’t know that buyers should ideally be preapproved or at least prequalified.

No wonder they let unqualified buyers inspect the house and waste their precious time. Not knowing if a buyer has the ability to purchase the home acts as a big deterrent for homes for sale by owners.

4. Owners fail to solve buyer’s queries

Handling inquiries from buyers on their listings and coordinating showings for their homes are prerequisites for making a sale. However, many homeowners either aren’t able to handle such inquiries on their homes or don’t have the time for them.

Even organizing showings might become an uphill task at times. Because these days potential buyers and their agents want quick responses to their inquiries, they don’t think twice before moving on to the next potential property if their inquiries and requests are unanswered.

5. Owners don’t understand the concept of golden time

According to this concept, homeowners get the most money for their homes in the first week of putting the property on the market. The longer homes for sale by owners stay on the market, the less money people will be willing to offer for them.

If a buyer tries FSBO first and then hires an agent, the buyer would have already lost the “golden time” window. This will eliminate the buyers who have already viewed the home, might have offered unrealistically low prices and have already moved on.

6. Owners fail to understand the contract procedures

The contract to buy a home involves much more than just the price offered by the buyer. Also, real estate contracts have lots of timelines and clauses and involve several common contract contingencies, such as inspections and mortgages.

Many FSBOs don’t have a firm understanding of such contracts and might not know what they are agreeing to or how to negotiate particular parts of the contract.

7. FSBOs don’t know how to handle the home inspection findings

Home inspections almost always find some issues with houses even when they are relatively newer structures. In such cases, the buyer requests problems be fixed or corrected before moving forward with the transaction.

However, many FSBOs believe that there is nothing wrong with their home, which is why they refuse to address the issues brought forward by home inspections. As a result, the offer falls through.

8. FSBOs incorrectly price their homes

FSBOs often price their homes incorrectly due to lack of experience. They set the price too high, which hinders their chances of closing the deal.

9. FSBO homes lack exposure

Homes for sale by owners are often listed on a few websites, but there are many that don’t allow FSBOs to list their property. Thus, FSBOs are unable to give their homes adequate exposure in the market.

However, when buyers hire a real estate agent, the professional can give a property online exposure as well as exposure in the local real estate segment of the newspaper. The agent even has tools to extend the exposure further, which FSBOs don’t have.

10. FSBOs fail in the closing process

Even after an offer is accepted, many things still need to be done prior to the closing. For instance:

  • Get the inspections completed within the allotted time.
  • Ensure the attorney(s) approve contracts.
  • Ensure that instrument survey is ordered.
  • Check if the buyer has obtained written mortgage commitment.
  • Find out if title work is reviewed.
  • Learn whether abstract is redated.

With so many things acting against FSBOs, it’s natural to find very few homes for sale by owners in the market.




Here are a few websites you may want to visit for information.

We hope these charts help you get some buyers off the fence!

Click Here for the 30 Year FHLMC Rates On 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Chart

Click Here for the 200 Year Historical Rates On 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Chart

Click Here for the Housing Prices Chart

Click Here for S&P/Case-Shiller (20 City) Home Price Indices Chart


Closing Rules Take Effect: Understand the Changes

Closing Rules Take Effect: Understanding the Changes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers an online “Real Estate Professional’s Guide” to help you and your clients understand the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, or TRID, that took effect Oct. 3. The guide, part of the bureau’s larger ” Know Before You Owe” initiative, include a look […]

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When Your Parents Are Out of Money

Marc Lichtenfeld, Chief Income Strategist, The Oxford Club Editorial Note: As we explained yesterday, the Fed’s decision to keep interest rates low will likely have disastrous long-term consequences. “Thanks to the death of interest rates,” Andrew Snyder wrote, “gone are the days of ‘safe income.’” Without a doubt, pensioners and retirees are the ones most […]

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Real Estate Market Recap, Sept 8 to 11th, 2015

The following is a reprint from Inman and gives us an insight into the market from Sept 8 to Sept 11th 2015. MBA’s Builder Applications Survey for August 2015: Mortgage applications for new-home purchases decreased by 6 percent month over month in August. Conventional loans comprised 68.5 percent of loan applications; FHA loans comprised 19 […]

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