Bi-Coastal Real Estate Market Update: From SC to AZ + Self-Care | ft. Audra Soto

Daniella Squicquero and Audra Soto

This is the first of our “Remain Calm” livestream series. Hosted by Daniella.

Joining me in this first installment is my beautiful, real estate rockstar, Hall-of-Famer friend, Audra Soto, all the way from Arizona. We swap insights and updates on the real estate market, as well as some discussion on self-care and its importance not only now, but always. It was so wonderful to have her on and hear what’s going on in her neck of the woods, as well as her ideas on how best to stay safe, healthy and sane with those things within our control.

During this time of uncertainty, I hope you’ll find value in the words and insights of several awesome pros in various industries. For the full text of the video, see below. Thanks for watching!

 

Cheers,

Daniella

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INTRO

Daniella Squicquero:

Joining me today is the beautiful, uber talented Audra Soto, straight over from Arizona. Audra, why don’t you tell our viewers and our group a little bit about yourself and what you’re seeing right now in the real estate market. You and I both keep up with what’s going on nationally and internationally, but also locally on your level.

Audra Soto:

Yes. Hi, good afternoon! I’m so excited to see you via live Facebook as well as just connect with you on this level. I wish I was sitting in your living room with you in South Carolina and we could just go to the beach together. But unfortunately we are in a stay-at-home position here in Arizona, as you are there, and we’re learning a new normal, right? What is that? What is normal? But in Arizona, you know, we’re all a part of an MLS that we pay to be a part of and it’s changing all the time. As of this morning (we’re just going to talk about residential real estate in Phoenix), we’ve got 228 properties, brand new listings on the market. This is single family. Under contract, 73 of those already under contract, nine with contingent contract, 139 of those closed, 96 pending, 94 of the 228 are back from being under contract.

AS:

And then we have what’s called the delayed status here. Don’t get me started on that. Okay, now coming soon properties we have 12. But what I really want to focus on here in Arizona is we have a huge, huge… we *had* a huge market of iBuyers. So we had every platform known to man; Zillow, OfferPad, OpenDoor, you know, and then we had some unconventional ones. We had every kind of platform that you could imagine. So that was a platform where sellers could just go in and bypass us as the real estate agent and request an offer on their property. And they, you know, they thought that they weren’t getting a convenience, which they were, but they were paying a high premium for that. All of those platforms have pulled out of buying properties.

AS:

So now we have eliminated that middleman who has been buying those properties, and it allows that seller to then come back on the market with a conventional real estate agent, get more money to their property and it allows a buyer to come in and negotiate and buy those properties. So we have about 10% more market of homes coming on the market due to that. So that is really nice to see that happening. We’re also able to negotiate seller concessions for that buyer and then the seller is still walking away with a lot more money in their pocket than they would have had they gone to the iBuyer. So it really does create a win-win strategy for all parties. So that is really nice to see that happening. It still is a really great time for a lot of people to be in this market. How is that for you guys right now?

TOPIC TWIST: IBUYERS

DS:

Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. And actually before we move on, because you mentioned the iBuyer thing — in our market we really don’t have that. So if you wouldn’t mind, if we can just sort of sidetrack for just a moment, those viewers who are watching from my side of things who may not really understand what an iBuyer is. You were mentioning that middleman and kind of talking about the quick and dirty on what that is, but how you’ve seen that affect your market. It’s a little bit of a sidetrack from what we were planning today, but it’s such an interesting topic.

AS:

So there’s an article that I’m going to share and it does deal with the person who deals with our Cromford report. And it’s just such a fantastic, fantastic article. And it talks about who the iBuyer is. So they are a pool of investors that come in and that have money backing and she talks about it. They’re still not buying rentals, and that they buy through REITs, which is a real estate investment platform and that they are also backed by publicly traded companies. So when you’re seeing what’s happening in the stock markets and all those things happening there, it’s just crazy. So let’s take OpenDoor for, for instance. They are a big investment firm that goes in, buys from a seller and then they turn around [and sell it]. When I was at R4, which is our big real estate conference, we were in an Uber going somewhere and the driver happened to know about the platform.

AS:

And they said, well, you know, they just restructured and now they’re only charging sellers 9%. I said, “9%! Do you hear what you’re saying?” You know, we don’t talk about commissions ’cause they’re not set. It’s all negotiated. But, so we talked about that and what the seller is losing out of convenience and not having to walk their dog, or not having to have showings and, and so that is being removed a bit right now. And then they turn around and they put the home back on the market, for either at what they bought it for or a little bit more. And then we’re renegotiating that to a new buyer, and it’s just crazy how that iBuyer platform is doing. But I’ll share this article and it just came out, I think yesterday. My loan officer shared it.

AS:

It’s amazing how that that is affecting our market and the opportunity that it gives. So even Zillow, Zillow makes their money by selling leads to us. We buy, and we buy advertising through Zillow, but they are in our market or we’re in our market buying homes, and they have backed away from doing that. She also talks about how they actually were, they even canceled offers during the escrow process. And why were they doing that? Um, so I’ll have to share that with you a little bit more. I don’t want to take a lot of time and digress into the [details]. The short answer is: iBuyers are an algorithm that is a pool of investors and they pull their money together. They are not a real estate firm, but they buy properties directly from a seller.

THE MARKET

DS:

Yeah, thank you for that. Like I said, that wasn’t part of our topic today, but when you mentioned it, it just sort of pinged on my radar because that’s not something that we really discuss in this market, at least not yet. You and I’ve talked a little bit about our market; it’s a destination for the most part, right? Especially South of the Broad River where Hilton Head Island and the beach and all that stuff is. So our market responds differently in a lot of ways in, in situations like this where you have a little bit of a market downturn. So in our case it’s been really interesting because we tend to lag behind in some ways the rest of the country, for better and worse. It really lets us sort of watch and see how things are happening in bigger areas and sort of, you know, what’s the expectation going to be here?

DS:

Of course in this case it’s different because, just speaking from our market, it’s not just a matter of the financial world, right? It’s not just a financial or real estate market based thing. This is not 2008 in the sense that it started and stayed within, you know, the economy as such. This is a world health issue that is causing other governmental actions, economic things to occur. So it’s a very convoluted set of things that are affecting this right now. And so what I’m seeing is interesting because for awhile there, we were seeing still some fairly robust spring activity, and there definitely still are buyers and sellers in our market. I think [that’s] probably true for any of the markets that are still allowed to engage right now.

DS:

People always need a place to live, and people’s leases always run up, and their families expand, right? People are still having children, and there is any number of events that can cause you to need a different home, or need to sell your home. So those things are definitely still happening. For our numbers, looking back at the last seven days, it’s interesting because we are definitely seeing a slowing in our market as far as the numbers [go]. The whole thing is sort of suppressing a little bit. And that’s okay, too, because you know, again, people’s health and safety is really of the utmost importance. So, if that’s what they feel like they need to do, that’s exactly what they should do.

DS:

So, for us to compare numbers: We had 141 homes come on the market, which is good. It really hasn’t slowed week over week since this started, which is a really good thing. We’ve had 44 come back on the market. That’s something that’s been a bit different. That’s out of the norm. That’s a high number, but that’s something that for any given reason, it’s not that people’s financing is falling through or anything like that. People are just a little nervous and pulling back. So we’re definitely seeing that, and we’re also seeing a lot of homes getting withdrawn — they don’t want them to be shown. And then temporarily off the market, we actually have more temporarily off the market than withdrawn, which is also atypical.

DS:

So that’s that expectation of okay, we don’t want to have to redo the entire thing, but we’re really not comfortable sitting on the market right now because we don’t want to show. I actually just had a conversation with a client this morning because we had another showing request. There’s a house that should sell fairly quickly, all things considered, and it’s really not an issue of showings for them. But their question was, well okay that’s great if we sell the house but we can’t have movers here, what are we going to do? Right. What are you telling your clients about that, outside of just the transaction itself? Because we all know we can do that [part] virtually.

AS:

Sure. Yeah. We have to look at that whole picture. So it depends. If they’re moving locally within Arizona then there’s really not a problem. But first the movers, if they’re relocating to California and they still want to sell the house because we are still in a strong market of selling, then then maybe we put them into a short term rental situation, which we still have quite a few of those. We have a lot of that going on, and they want to take advantage of… we’re still in a really strong sellers market, because our inventory is still very low here. So we look at that aspect and we just really [determine] what are the needs of our clients. That’s the most important thing. So we have a lot of both going on. If it’s just local then we’re there, we’re fine. For the most part, we’re able to still do all of that because everything is in a stay-at-home state. We’re still able to move and do that. I just had clients who closed on Thursday, and they were moving from Phoenix out to the West Valley; they were able to get their movers and do everything that day. No problem.

DS:

That sort of mirrors the conversation that we [are having]. And the other thing that we talked about — in situations where if they really just don’t feel comfortable having people come in to do things like the inspection and all of those things, you know, taking serious precautions for those things. Maybe even being able to go ahead and secure that sale, but then do something like a lease-back where they can stay in place for a couple of months if that’s a possibility for that buyer. As we know, there are ways to get creative in this business, and we just have to shift that a little bit towards this current situation.

SELF-CARE

Speaking of comfort levels and just general confidence, and in keeping with staying relaxed, you and I were talking a little bit about self-care and I really loved what you had to say. I’d love if you would share that.

AS:

Okay. Well I think the most important thing to me is surrounding myself with things that I know that I can control. You know, what I’m listening to, the things that I am reading, and things that I can surrounding myself with. I am huge about family — actually today, which you probably don’t know, is my 27th anniversary.

DS:

Congratulations!

AS:

After I’m done with this, I plan on taking some time and spending the day with my husband. But family is my heart and soul, and I am blessed in the fact that I do have family that lives with me. My son, and soon to be daughter-in-law, my other son and we have family visiting down from Prescott and some kids, and we just had our pool put in. So we are trying to really get out and get that sunlight and soak it in, and read books, and listen to music and take in the things that really lift your spirit. And those are things that are important even if it’s five minutes a day, you know, it has still been very busy in my business, and I’m very thankful for that. And so the times that you do have control over what you listen to, and then I try not to turn on the news or listen to ABC on my laptop or those things.

AS:

I started a community page where I’m giving back positive things. There’s a local shop owner in the area that actually got sick. She doesn’t have the virus, but she got sick and so she closed her kitchen. She runs Barrio Cafe downtown and her name is Chef Silvana, I believe is how you pronounce it. But she is doing an amazing thing [where] she gets with other chefs in the Valley, and she makes this abundance of food, and she feeds other culinary people. So at five o’clock she lines up and says, when it’s gone, it’s gone, but come in and if you’re cooking for other people or you’re serving food, I want to feed you and it’s always free. And those things do touch my heart. So you know, things like that, like Thrive AZ, which I’m very passionate about, is our foster care prevention, reunification and aged out program.

AS:

They’re still open. They still have to serve people. So 12 to 3 every day, Monday through Thursday, they need volunteers. I’m letting people know about that. Those things lift your spirit when you get outside of yourself, something happens, right? So those are the things that I’m trying to focus on. And then calling my clients and saying, you know, past present or future and saying, “what do you need?” Not, “are you ready to sell?” Or, I heard somebody say, you know, “you don’t like who you’re living with? I’m ready to sell your house.” Or those kinds of things kind of break my heart actually. But just saying, you know, what do you need and can I get you something that you weren’t able to get at the store? You know, can I drop something by your door? We don’t have to see you, I don’t have to come inside. But is there something that you weren’t able to get that I can help you with? And just continuing to serve in our community is so important. And it just fills me with something, you know, those are things that are good for me.

DS:

Definitely. Well, my inner introvert is really getting to play right now. So for me, I love that because it is… You’re so fortunate that you have your beautiful family all around you, and your family is so beautiful and they are such a wonderful and happy bunch of people. And so that’s all thanks to you and the love that you have, the love that you give in your family. But, you know, for me, my physical human sphere is much smaller where I live; my family is very dispersed. So despite staying in touch, for me that’s working and keeping me grounded in what’s important to me outside of staying in touch with our wonderful clients and friends, is doing very much the same as what you’re talking about.

DS:

Just being there as a resource, being there as a human, not only as a Realtor but as a person. They don’t even necessarily have to be separated. It’s about something a little bit different right now and you know, and staying in a place of help and assistance. So for me, it’s little things. It’s playing my cello, and I’m getting to garden more this year, which I love because that’s something [where normally] I’m so limited. Usually I do some herbs and some things like that, but this year I’ve got some vegetables, and it’s very fulfilling to me. I don’t know if you know this about me, but my father used to run a garden nursery in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. So I grew up around all of that.

DS:

When I was seven and eight years old, I was hauling 35 pound sacks of manure on my shoulder. So that’s something to me that’s just so deep in me and it’s something that I’m able to enjoy and spend more time with my hands in the dirt now. So I find that to be very fulfilling. Things like that. And of course, making sure that those whom, even though I can’t see them face to face, it’s just knowing that they’re okay. Even if I’m not in a place where I can do anything for them physically. I’m right with you on that one.

DS:

But, you know, one of the ways I’d really like to wrap this up… in our talks and what we’re seeing (it could be real estate related or not), but what’s one thing that you think that people can be doing right now to either, keep them calm and centered or just something that you see that they could be doing to help themselves as we get out of this and to be prepared for what’s coming after this. What’s one thing that you would suggest to people right now from what you’re seeing?

AS:

You know, I think the one thing I would say is surround yourself, whether it is via FaceTime or Facebook Live, with people in your life that lift you up, that speak life into you. Because there is life in every situation. You just have to find it. And we are going to come out of this and when we do, we want to come out of it with something left in us, right? Something positive left in us. Then in turn, take that and speak it into somebody else, right? And just know that there’s power, life and death, in the tongue, right? So how we’re speaking that whether it’s over ourselves or over somebody else is going to make an impact. So find something and hold on to that, if you need to write it on your refrigerator or write it on your door, write it on your mirror in your bathroom, whatever it is, speak that over yourself and, and know that that’s going to bring you through.

AS:

I think the other thing that’s been really powerful to me is, a good friend of mine at Re/Max, Peter Luft, has said something to me: “Those people in your life that, that grow you, that make you want to be better. You’re one of them. Hold them in you and let them be an inch wide, mile deep and just invest in them, invest in them. And hold them in in your life.” And I think that’s important. Who are those? Reevaluation. There’s nothing like a tragedy that makes you reevaluate your life. Who’s a positive person in your life that you want to hold onto? And then maybe who is somebody that is toxic and that you don’t need to hold onto any more, then maybe just say some prayers for and know that they’re not growing you in a good way. So those are times that we reevaluate. And I think that would be my one thing — my couple of things — that I would say in this time that could make things better during this pandemic that we’re all going through. You’re not alone. So find that person and then just speak that positive over your life.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, GET IN A GOOD MENTAL PLACE

DS:

Yes. I think that’s wonderful. And I would say, much echoing the same thing: It’s really all about staying in a good mental place. As we continue in this process, we all sort of have gone through a bit of a metamorphosis in terms of the initial, “What am I going to do?” The initial freak out. Everybody’s talking about toilet paper, it’s all about the virus, and now we’re in this other phase and it’s not, it’s certainly not the last. We know that we’re in this other phase where we’re getting used to this new sort of normal, at least normal for the moment. Just making sure you’re able to find whatever that is that keeps you grounded, and where you feel like you need to be to stay mentally healthy, and to be able to persist in whatever your day is supposed to look like. Because the world doesn’t have to stop because of this. It’s already changed quite a bit, but whatever we need to do to stay calm — take a bath, drink a glass of wine at 2:00 PM — whatever it is, whatever you need to do, go do it.

AS:

Right? Yeah. It’s good. We’re gonna get through it.

DS:

That’s right. Well, my friend, thank you so much for being on today and for sharing your insights with all of our viewers. And I wish you and your family the very, very best. Can’t wait to see your face in person and give you a big squeeze when we’re allowed to do that.

AS:

Yes. I am going to text you the link to that, to that article so you can post it. I will do that because it’s a really fantastic article that gives a lot of basis on all the things we were talking about today.

DS:

Beautiful, thank you. Good to see you. Bye.

AS:

Bye.

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