I received an email last night from one of my buyers.  It was 3 sentences long and titled “Market Conditions”.  Given the events of 9/29/08, my buyer was concerned as to what this meant now and what the future holds for real estate, here is my answer:

You have asked the million dollar, or should I say the 700 billion dollar question!

I believe it is safe to say the market is currently stalled and waiting to see what the end result will be.  Buyers are currently experiencing difficulty in securing financing if they are putting less than 20 % down as there are less companies willing or able to insure those loans.  I personally closed 2 transactions last week which involved local banks, so houses are still selling, and these lenders (though more cautious than before) were never risky players in the mortgage game.

Houses are selling!  The obvious values are still selling quickly…a 1500 square foot contemporary ranch closed in Griswold yesterday for $270,000 after only 11 days on market; a lovely colonial in Canterbury also closed yesterday for $395,000 with less than 30 days of marketing under its belt.  Both were in the 95% range of list to sell price.  (these are just 2 examples…there are many more)

As to the future, ugh, if I only knew!  But I will predict…some form of a “bail out” will be passed (today likely scared the living daylights out of everyone) and a new president is right behind, which usually ushers in more consumer confidence.  No matter what, everything I read indicates that we are likely in for a bumpy ride for the next 10 to 12 months.

For you, the buyer with no house to sell and funds to invest, this is likely a perfect market!  Only once before in nearly 24 years of doing this business have I seen such a market for buyers of real estate.

Invest in Real Estate!  It is clearly a safer long term bet.

The response to my email was:  Thank you for your response, I guess I will get off the ledge now.

Yes, please do!  This is a time for cooler heads….


That would be are very smart! 

I read the economy news, especially housing stuff (been watching Freddie and Fannie pretty closely), and I find myself wondering, if any of it makes sense to most folks?  So I shall attempt to (over) simplify:

NAR says it is a 11.1 month market and the Northeast has seen a 12.6 drop in activity year over year.  You can read all about it , research department.  (just so you know I do not make this stuff up..)

What does that mean?  We have a lot of inventory because people are not buying.

Why are foreclosures bad?  While aside from the lose of someone’s home, they affect market value for mortgage paying citizens.  Uninhabited properties held in bank inventory must sell, usually at more modest prices.  Foreclosures cost everyone!

What is SubPrime lending and why did it melt down?  Loosy goosy lending parameters that let folks buy property they really could not afford, at higher rates, which made it that much harder to afford.  It melted down because the risk was passed down on investors then these mortgages stopped being paid, investors were losing money and locked up the breaks for obvious reasons.  No more loosy goosy lending.

What needs to happen for the market to improve?  I say consumer confidence needs to improve.  Yeah, I know it is all blamed on housing, subprime markets and rising interest rates…but I contend that steadily rising fuel costs were the starting point for our deflated perspective on our economy.  When gas went over 3 bucks per gallon, is when the wind went out of the sails.   The survey says that a new president will improve consumer confidence (as reported in Realtor Magazine).

And the good news is…we are a short 6 weeks from that!  Now, if only Wall Street could calm down..invest in real estate, it is a safer long term bet.

It was the week of the mom!  And as I am one, I dig those folks.

But this week I simply must acknowledge my favorite mom of the week and her name is Stacy.   She is my lovely client who just sold her old house and slipped into her new condo.  No more mowing the lawn or shovelling for Stacy.

Stacy and I have been together since the end of April, through many showings, open houses and finally an offer, sale and purchase…it was a bumpy ride but through it all my girl kept her head and perspective.  Her goal was an easier place to live for her and her daughter, she accomplished her goal. 

She did it on her own.  She achieved it with class and efficiency–which given some of circumstances was not an easy task (3 weeks of delay, juggling moving, work schedules and the demands of motherhood).  And, of course, the unexpected…things not what they should be.

From home inspection repairs to moving dilemmas, Stacy kept her eye on the prize….even when we got to closing and there was not a smidge of paper to be found…we sat it out and a closing did indeed happen (though I suspect she may never eat Taco Bell again :-)!  Stacy knew what she wanted and went for it, got it and stayed the course.

I admire this mom and not just because she was my client, it goes to what she does everyday, she is a hardworking lady!  And very, very smart because she invested in her future.

Hats off Stacy…hope you love your new place and your world can get back to “normal” chaos!

I have always viewed Labor Day as the end of a fashion season…Oprah says it is a major fashion don’t to wear white after Labor Day…so I had to google to find out the true point.

Low and behold, it is suppose to be a “day off for working citizens” apparently all that hard labor, pays off at least once a year.  So despite what Labor Day ends…summer; it also starts a few things:

The NFL season and college football (NCAA)

The school season..officially, I say (those 2.5 days are a bit silly prior to Labor Day)

And, the 2nd new year for real estate…there is a lot of kickin’ it into high gear prior to the holiday season slow down.

So, relax!  Pat yourself on the back for all that hard work! (maybe that is why you look so tan?)  Put away the white!  And lets sell some real estate in the next 2.5 months :-)!

Happy Labor Day!  Happy Football Season!

But, alas, it is not…

There is a seller who wants to sell and a ready, willing and “able” buyer for their house.  Easy, breezy, right?

Not so fast my friends…there are lenders, appraisers and attorneys in the mix.  Which means financing, value verification and title searching are in play.  That poor “able” buyer is suddenly thrust under the micorscope of lending scrutiny and that group is being very tough on the borrowing public right now and even if they are not being tough on the borrower, they are being brutal on properties.

Lets talk about RD…

Rural Development financing has been dusted off and is back in play for today’s market.  It follows FHA guidelines (for the most part) but is one of the few 100% financing programs still available.  This program is being widely used in rural areas right now and along with FHA, CHFA and VA they are ruling the day.  What is irksome, aside from their long absence from the playing field which can make for some rusty lenders and REALTORS (not to mention perplexed sellers and buyers) is that for all the talk of more property tolerance and higher price caps…they are just as nit picky as they ever were.

Buyers be ready with your documentation and limber writing hand; they are all government financing after all and paper intensive.  Say what you will about subprime meltdowns and too liberal lending practices and I will likely agree; but nearly gone are the days of 3 weeks until closing, we are back to 80’s style minimum of six weeks and the non-committal lending which keeps you on the edge of your seat until the whirlwind closing scenario.

I attribute it all to too many cooks in the kitchen.  And, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with government financing programs, in fact, I am deliriously happy that they are here to get some fine folks into homeownership…I just long for properly prepared and educated buyers and sellers..folks who understand there shall be hoops to jump through…think of it as a means to the end. 

In many cases, it is the only gig in town so I also recommend that sellers not be too quick to disregard…it may be the best way to get your house sold.  And the process just is what it is…hang in there!

Best purchase I ever made!  I am never out of touch either by email, text or that old standby verbal communication…who knew it would become a standby form of communication?  2 years ago a fellow REALTOR stopped our conversation briefly to fire off a quick text message looked me dead in the eye and said, “this is they way things are headed.”

Dead right, she was!  (and I bet she is faster on a thumb than I!)

But what pleases me most of that I can attend my children’s various sports practices and still do some searches and supply listings to my very busy clients.  MLXchange has a mobile multiple listing service so I can check out those “hot” new listings on the fly.  It took me a bit to adjust to this new to me animal and I still prefer my laptop version (I can get much more detail, history reports, better pending information, and it is much, much faster on the PC)–but for those at property questions and the ability to contact my fellow agents directly from the site…it is priceless!

And there is the fact that my Brilliant Blackberry kept me connected these last couple of days when my modem blew in the last thunderstorm.  This little bugger filled my modem needs and kept me up and running while AT&T took its sweet time delivering my new modem.

Ah, my little Blackberry, I can not believe I got a rebate on you!  A world of information in my hands, available for my clients even while my 3rd littlest on the football team son makes me cringe getting tackled.  Thank goodness I was composing an email at the time and not verbal communicating; no one heard my gasp.

FYI – Yep, it was surge protected!

Guess what…I am a trouble maker!  I am about to share a little secret that some shrewd buyers might already know:

Days on Market stats are not always accurate

For awhile I hesitated in putting them into my per town updates because I contend that it can give the shopper a negative either way…too new, not ready to negotiate, too long ready to negotiate BIG.  I added them because the quarterly review and annual wrap-up use the days on market statistic.

As a mad Multiple Listing watcher, some might say stalker even, I peruse the hotsheet some 4 times a day (me, attempting to minimize).  I know that listings get withdrawn, expire and cancelled and then come back on the market…days on market start at zero with each re-list.

I have no quarrel with this practice, agents doing it are providing a service to their sellers.  The hotsheet view is a great way to have other agents take another look at a property, a freshen up, if you will.  And many times, the re-list comes with a price reduction.

My point is the Days on Market stat is not wholly correct and if it is important to you, I recommend you seek out the history perspective on the property for a true depiction of what has been going on.  I assume why buyers are interested in this number is to determine the degree of seller motivation.  I am here to tell you that would not be the best indicator…you can have a 2 day old listing with a highly motivated seller and a 212 day listing with a seller whose heals are firmly in the ground.

The DOM question is number 1 of the 2 asked just inside the door (by everyone).  I suggest it might be wise to ignore this number…each house only needs one buyer, maybe this one was waiting for you?   If you like the house, make your offer and let the negotiations begin. 

Can you guess question number 2?

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