Archive for July, 2009

Real Estate Alert!

Here’s another edition of Jimmy Rex’s Top Ten Deals of the Week:

While I didn’t find quite as many deals this week as I would have liked to, a few of these deals are some of the best that I have seen all summer.  Homes are selling and buyers are walking into unbelievable deals.  Call me or email me back if you want to know the value of your home in this market or if you would like to see the weekly # of homes that are selling in your county, city, and area. Thanks!
1. Draper- 2027 sq ft- $137,500- needs some but minimal work
2. Cottonwood Heights- 4,322 sq ft- $274,900- Bank Owned
3. Lehi- 3,866 sq ft- $234,800- bank owned
4. Herriman- 2,468 sq ft- $201,000- bank owned (One of my clients is already offering on this one, sorry)
5. Draper- 6,516 sq ft, 1/2 acre – $459,000- Trying to avoid foreclosure, needs an offer quick
6. Provo- Triplex on Center St., rents for over $1700/mo. – $234,000
7. West Valley- 2707 sq ft- $105,000- Bank owned, needs some work
8. Draper- 3,050 sq ft- $219,900- built in 2006, priced well below any comps (Not a bank sale)
– Please pass this along to anyone you know that might be interested in buying or selling a home in the next 30 days.  I would love to show them any of these or any other homes that they may be looking for.
Jimmy Rex
Realtor/Keller Williams Realty
cell: 801-979-4506
fax: 801-405-6737
I’m a fan.  This guy hustles.

RateWatch – Continental Drift

Markets: Yesterday was a good day up, and today is down only slightly, so it appears we might hold our gains.  We gained 65 bps yesterday and have lost back 16 so far today, which on net is pretty good.  For the uninitiated, there is a strong correlation between mortgage-backed securities (mbs) and mortgage interest rates.  When mbs rise, rates fall, but the correlation is not 1-to-1.  A 50bp move in mbs corresponds to at least a .25% improvement in rate price, which means about .125% better rate (see detailed explanation here).  Usually.  Not always.  Not for every program.  Not for every lender.  Professional mortgage guys get paid for their services, and there’s a good reason for that.

Analysis: Markets liked Ben Bernanke’s testimony yesterday.  He’s forecasting more unemployment, and the economy hitting a bottom here and starting to climb late this year or early next.  But he’s also telling us that he sees a slow climb, with no huge bounce, especially in real estate.  This is what is called an “L” recession, where things fall and then plateau at the new, lower level.  I think that’s a good analysis.  I expect the same, for a good while, until US households shed more debt and build more cash.  Right now it is the cash dearth that is starving the economy.  That dearth has been created by huge appetites for debt.  Eventually, all debt payments come a’cropper, and that’s what is happening now.  It will pass, if we’re smart, and if the government doesn’t insist on a recovery according to some electoral timetable.

Which is why I’d get my own house in order as fast as possible.  We’re not all that smart, and the government always acts according to electoral timetables.  The basics still work, though, people.  Save some, pay off your debt, find someone to help and help them.  That’s the way through.


Random Stuff

I discovered the other day, when making a list, that I have roughly 8 part-time to full-time jobs, in various stages, some mature, some embryonic.  I had been somewhat neglecting those commitments, and I decided to stop.  So this leaves me less time to blog.  I don’t have a free half hour anyplace to just sit and write.

Still, it’s not like blog-worthy stuff doesn’t happen, so I thought I’d take a second and put some of that stuff down.

  • A couple weeks ago I went to a book lunch with Kris Belcher, a dear friend, and last night I got to go to another one, with Crystal Godfrey, of I Can’t Believe It’s Food Storage fame.  She has a rocking blog, and her class was really excellent.  I love preparedness stuff anyway, but this was one of the best classes I’ve been to.  Buy the book, read the blog.  You’ll thank me.
  • Need incentive?  Her food budget, including replenishing her food storage as she uses it, is $60 (sixty) dollars.  A MONTH.  This is not a typo.
  • How did a mom decide to write a book?  She was out running.  She had a thought.  She contacted the usual suspects, and one of them bit.  Actually, two of them bit, one very large publisher and one smaller one, but the large one gave her the runaround until she had already signed a contract.  The publishing industry, people, is broken.  B.R.O.K.E.N.  But you can still beat it.
  • The evening was organized by our own Olivia Votaw, the Girl with Red Lipstick (much in evidence last night, and very classy-looking as well).  If you’re not reading her blog, shame on you.
  • So I’m sitting with my clients this last week, and their 6-year old Austin is going through my 5-inch-think stack of miscellaneous business cards.  He gets to one, stops, looks at it, and announces “hey, a house business!”  It occurred to me that if you want a really effective logo, one good way to know if you’ve got one is to hand your card to a 6-year-old and see if he can tell what you do for a living.  If he can, that’s a good sign.
  • I think Lance Armstrong not winning the Tour de France will improve his image and increase his popularity.  Depending, of course, on how he handles it.  It’s been some time since anyone finished ahead of him, after all.

That’s it for now.  But big changes are coming to this blog, to the website, and all the assorted projects.  Stay tuned over the next month.

Social Media for Real Estate, Vol 1

I only address this topic because I can’t find a lot of good commentary out there about this specific subject.  I’m also no great expert; my experience with social media is pretty small compared to the Great Lords of Twitter and the Ancient Kings of Facebook.  I confess this.

On the other hand, since according to Mortgage Strategy only 19% of the real-estate industry is even kind of using social media (this from a tweet this morning), and from experience I can testify that 90% of that 19% is using it badly and doing harm to itself, I thought I might at least give my opinions about how social media might be used well in a real-estate context.  I am certainly using these tools better than most in my industry, and that has translated into gigs at Zillow and the Daily Herald Newspaper, so apparently my ideas do not entirely suck.  Take them for what they are worth.

Here’s how I got to writing this:

From Seth Jenson, a really good Realtor in Colorado: “Chris, what do you think about Twitter vs. Facebook? Do you think I need to be on both?”


Whoo.  What a question.

Facebook is a terrific way for people to connect.  I’m no huge FB-er; I have about 400 friends, which is not a big number by any stretch of the imagination.  I don’t spend a lot of time trying to find friends on FB, or I likely could have a couple hundred more.  And maybe I ought to do that.  Probably I ought to do that.  But it depends on what I’m using Facebook for.

If I’m using Facebook to keep tabs on people I know – my family, my close friends here in town, a few of the guys I went to HS with – then I’m doing it the right way.  You can’t possibly keep track of the doings of 1000 people every day.  Impossible.  However, if one of the reasons for you to be on Facebook is that you want people to remember YOU, well, then you might want a few more friends.  You’d want to update your status at least once a day, and probably more than once.  These wouldn’t all be real-estate updates.  In fact, most of them would be about anything except real estate, and would be only for the purpose of strengthening relationships.  It is those relationships that bring the referrals that make you successful, and coincidentally, it is those relationships that make your life richer and more rewarding, so that’s a happy thing.  Facebook makes strengthening those relationships easier than ever, so I would definitely be on Facebook.

Twitter is very different.  I love Twitter, myself.  I like Twitter better than Facebook.  Where I post or comment about 5x a day on Facebook, I do that twice as much – or more – on Twitter.  Twitter is a research tool as much as it is a communications network.  I get a lot of my news from Twitter, most of my reading material, and have most of my online conversations there, even more than email.  Now, again, it depends on what you’re using the tool for.  Twitter can be a huge and pointless waste of your time.  It can also do you harm, I think.  But if you use it with respect, I think it has the potential to be incredibly valuable.

Here are some examples.  I am not a big noise on Twitter.  I have fewer than 200 followers.  I’m following only about 100 people.  I determined when I got involved that I wouldn’t try to amass a gigantic following until I had some idea what I was doing it for.  I didn’t know enough about Twitter to know what I was doing, so I figured I’d start by following some people that DID know, namely, those that have good blogs about social media.  So I followed Amber Naslund, Olivier Blanchard, Beth Harte, and some others, and learned about what Twitter could do, and more importantly, what I should NOT do on Twitter.

Then I started using the search functions of TweetDeck – TweetDeck is an indispensable tool for using Twitter – to follow mortgage news.  There were some interesting conversations that came out of that, which resulted in my following Tyler Osby, Dan Green, and Agentopolis and a few others.  They are doing most of the blogging and commenting about what’s going on in the mortgage industry.  There were two or three other topics that I thought would be good (hobbies, etc.) so I started running searches on those as well.  I’ve acquired my 160 or so followers through conversations, not spam.  In fact, most of those that are following me would unfollow if I used Twitter to promote myself ad-style.  But because I blog, many of them are reading what I write, and following them allows me to read what they write, get smarter, and engage them in conversation.  Again, for me it is about the relationships.  It’s made me better at mortgages, even though I haven’t spent a great deal of time on Twitter talking about mortgages per se.

Bottom line?  Yes, you should be on Facebook and on Twitter.  Figure out what you want these tools to do for you, and design a strategy to get them to do that.  Expect it to take time.  If you do it right, it will take a lot of it, and a fair amount of work as well.  Farming does.

Good luck.  Follow me at @chrisjoneslehi, and I’ll follow back.  You can friend me at


P.S. I’m thinking of changing my legal name to “Chris Jones Lehi”.  It’s just so dang much easier for people to find me that way.

Just kidding, Dad.

P.P.S. I’ll have Volume 2 of this post next week, with examples of what to do and what not to do on Facebook and Twitter, and how I think Realtors and mortgage agents can use those tools most successfully.  Stay tuned.  And for Heaven’s sake, get the opinions of some of those above that really know what they’re talking about.

RateWatch – What goes up must come down

Market: Bonds are taking a hammering the last couple days (off 65bps today), with economic news better than expected.  Empire State manufacturing numbers were, well, not UP, but a lot less DOWN than expected, and core CPI doubled from .1 to .2, so the stock market moved up and bonds are coming down.  This takes rates higher.  We’re in the low 5% range and moving toward 5.5%.

Analysis: A manufacturing reading of 0 means that the industry is stable, so today’s reading of -.55 is not good news except in the context of last month’s reading, which was -.9.45.  So things are looking up.  Sort of.  The inflation number continued to be higher, boosted by a spike in oil prices, but stripping that out the core CPI was still higher than expected, the second such inflation reading to the high side this week.  Mortgage-backed securities have dropped about 100 bps this week so far, a now three-day negative run.  We’ve given back most of what we got last week.

The economy is still in a shambles, but just as nothing goes up in a straight line, nothing comes down in a straight line, either.  There are inevitable plateaus, and every plateau looks like a potential bottom, especially to a population starved for good economic news.  In the macro sense, I hate to say this, but in the mortgage rate sense, I’m happy to report, that the economy is still moving the wrong way and doing so with some rapidity.  We are not at the bottom yet.  Repeat.  NOT at the bottom yet.

Look for rates to make a small rise here, then drift back to where we were last Thursday, or even a skoshe lower.