Tag Archives: NP Dodge Real Estate

Feeding Frenzy

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The chatter among agents in the spacious, sunny work area of the NP Dodge Real Estate office in Elkhorn doesn’t focus on the global economy, the Brexit fallout, or what Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve might or might not do about rate hikes. They are too busy writing up contracts and swapping stories about how fast a listing sold in what continues to be a robust housing market.

“We’re seeing multiple offers on one home, like we had 20 years ago,” says Nancy Bierman, who manages 120 agents in the office at 204th Street and West Dodge Road. “Homes are selling above asking price. We’re seeing more cash buys, and homes are going very quickly, selling in one day.”

Homeowners now include millennials, the biggest generation ever to come into the marketplace. They’re moving into all areas of the metro, not just west Omaha.

“The urban market, Omaha’s core, seems to be really strong,” says Jeff Royal, president of Dundee Bank. “Young professionals want to live closer to older, established neighborhoods with more character like Benson, Blackstone, Dundee, Field Club, even south of Old Market in Little Italy.”

What’s driving Omaha’s housing frenzy? Chronically low 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages, now below 3.5 percent, tell part of the story—one that has benefited everyone involved in real estate, from brokers to builders to bankers.

InterestRates1“It’s a good time to be a buyer,” says Royal. “We’re seeing an uptick not only in mortgage applications, but refinancing as well,” which follows a strong national trend. Figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association show applications have been running more than 21 percent higher than last year—a far cry from the darkest days of the Great Recession of late 2007-2009.

“That was bad,” John Caniglia says bluntly. The owner of John Caniglia Homes, builders of higher-end custom homes, remembers buying a few foreclosures and flipping them just to stay afloat. “We started to see a perk up in 2011, even in the $450,000 range, when interest rates were really low. Then the tight regulations on borrowing money started to ease and we’ve been rolling along every year since, even our apartment and office development.”

The experience of that recession made Caniglia and other developers highly skittish to build on spec—building before you have a buyer—which explains an equally huge factor in Omaha’s hot market: a lack of existing homes. According to Omaha Area Board of Realtors statistics, the 2,600 homes on the market this spring represented a 16 percent drop from 2015, and a whopping 56 percent drop from 2011, when 6,000 residences were available. In addition, the median price of existing homes rose 7 percent over the past year, to $155,000.

“Many baby boomers looking to downsize are finding they have to pay more for less square footage because of the median prices going up, so they’re staying put and their houses aren’t available,” says NP Dodge sales associate Therese Wehner, explaining another piece of the housing crunch equation.

This classic scenario of low supply and high demand has tossed homebuyers into a whirlwind.

“When a house under $150,000 comes on the market, it’s like throwing raw meat into a lion’s cage,” quips Carole Souza, associate broker at NP Dodge. “You have it on the market and within four or five hours you’ve got 10-15 showings. Before the day is done you have at least one offer, sometimes more.”

But the downside of quick decision-making often leads to headaches for all involved.

“We’re seeing an increase in buyer’s remorse,” explains Souza. “They win the battle, but lose the war sometimes.”

The number of sales contracts that fall apart keeps rising. Wehner noticed, over a two-day period in early July, 19 houses that previously sold went back on the market. Three hours later, when she checked again, the number had risen to 21. Sales agents concede it is getting tougher and tougher to seal the deal.

“The buyer rushes into something, they sleep on it and decide, ‘Well, I really like the first house I saw better,’ and then they look for an out,” says Wehner. “And I’m telling you, when that happens, the emotions from the buyers and the sellers can run very, very high.”

Well-trained real estate agents will make sure their client asks all the right questions up front before making any decision. Sometimes they’ll suggest a simple, but effective, gesture to win a bidding war.

“A listing agent told me my client got the house because of the ‘sappy’ letter my client wrote to the homeowners saying, ‘I love how you took care of your home and I will love it, too,’” says sales associate Kori Krause. “Letters can work.”

The health of the real estate industry always depends on the big economic picture, especially as a presidential election looms. As John Caniglia says, “We builders pretty much spend our whole life worrying.” But with less than two months’ worth of housing inventory available and high demand, experts expect the Omaha market to continue its amazing run for the next three to five years.

Visit federalreserve.gov/releases/h15 for more information. B2B

Homes for Heroes

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When mortgage loan officer Michael Petrovich with The Private Mortgage Group in Omaha was offered the chance to work with the national Homes for Heroes program, he says it seemed like a perfect opportunity to show his thanks to those we depend on.

The program—which uses the tagline ‘Service Deserves Its Rewards’—offers discounts on real estate-related services to active and retired military, police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other civil servants that serve our communities and our country.

“My dad was a fireman for years with the Omaha Fire Department, and a good friend of mine’s dad is a retired Omaha police officer,” Petrovich says. “I also have a lot of friends in the military. [The program] sounded like an opportunity to help out a lot of friends and family, and this was an area I felt I could really make a difference…saving them some money when buying a home.”

Petrovich says as a Homes for Heroes affiliate member, he offers “hero” homebuyers free home appraisals, which are often required for home purchases and refinances handled by his firm. Waiving the fee saves the homebuyer $400. Fellow Private Mortgage Group employees Pete Coen and Jeremy Wilhelm are also affiliate members.

“[The program] sounded like an opportunity to help out a lot of friends and family, and this was an area I felt I could really make a difference.” – Michael Petrovich, The Private Mortgage Group

“We can offer the discounts to any qualifying client in the Omaha/Fremont territory we cover. All they need to do is sign up on the Homes for Heroes website, and it directs them to all the affiliates in the area,” Petrovich explains.

Real estate agents make up a large number of HFH affliliate members nationally. Locally, Prudential Ambassador Real Estate agents Michelle Gustafson, Gary Gernhart, Mamie Jackson, and Matt Anderson are affiliates. “We know the agents [at Prudential], and we’ve worked together to offer clients the HFH discounts. It’s been a team effort,” Petrovich adds.

The Homes for Heroes program was first created in 2002 by a group of lenders and Realtors in Minneapolis in response to the tragic events of 9/11. Petrovich was among the first Homes for Heroes affiliate members in Nebraska, joining in November 2012 when the program first launched in Omaha. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit, comprised of Realtors, lenders, and other real estate-related service providers, now has approximately 750 affiliates nationwide serving homeowners in 44 states.

Steve Minino, a Realtor with NP Dodge Real Estate, is another Homes for Heroes affliate in Omaha. Along with Realtors Deb and Mark Hopkins (all part of the Hopkins Home Team), Minino got involved when he learned about the program on the local news.

“We saw the advantages right away and jumped on board…being able to help our local heroes while getting some great exposure for us,” he says. “It was definitely a win-win situation.

“My family also has a long tradition of members serving in the Marine Corps. We liked the idea of helping out family and friends who serve and who could really benefit.”

“We saw the advantages right away and jumped on board…being able to help our local heroes while getting some great exposure for us. It was definitely a win-win situation.” – Steve Minino, NP Dodge Real Estate

As an affiliate, Minino says he offers 25 percent of his sales commission back toward the purchase process for Homes for Heroes clients. “This money is typically applied toward the closing costs being paid by the homebuyer,” he says. “If the buyer is not responsible for closing costs, then the money is donated to a charity of their choice.”

Minino also donates another five percent of his commission directly back to the Homes for Heroes organization, which they use to fund other projects, including the rehabing of homes to accommodate injured veterans.

“We’re currently working with several Heroes clients, and we hope to grow that number in the next six months or so.”

Millard Public Schools teacher Stephanie Poltack and her fiancé, Aaron Mackel, recently purchased a home together in West Omaha and took advantage of discounts offered by several local Homes for Heroes affliliates. “My Realtor, Judy Kramer with Prudential, told me about [Homes for Heroes] and referred me,” Poltack says. “Through the program, we received closing-cost assistance and got a discounted home inspection, and The Private Mortgage Group gave us a free home appraisal. I believe we saved $1,325 in all.

“Being a first-year teacher and a first-time homeowner, I’m very appreciative of all the help we received…It meant everything to us,” Poltack adds. “We were able to use the money saved to go out and buy a washer and dryer. It’s a great program, and I think if more people were aware of it, more would take advantage of it.”

“Being a first-year teacher and a first-time homeowner, I’m very appreciative of all the help we received…It meant everything to [my fiancé and me].” – Stephanie Poltack, teacher

Nationally, several media outlets and Hollywood celebrities have helped publicize the good works being done by Homes for Heroes’ affiliates nationwide, including Sean Hannity with Fox News, actor Gary Sinise, and the Orlando Magic basketball franchise. However, the nonprofit has grown primarily through word of mouth via the internet and news media.

Petrovich says one of the goals of the Omaha-area affiliates is to raise awareness of the Homes for Heroes program in Nebraska and encourage participation by our local heroes.

“We’re getting together to discuss ways to advertise,” he said. “We’ve placed ads in the Fremont paper, hung posters in firehouses and around town…We want our civil servants and military to know we support them and say thank you for serving our country and our community.”