Tag Archives: homes for sale

Real Estate Agents and Buying a Home

Did you know that many real estate agents spend just as much time with home buyers as home sellers? This is something that a lot of consumers are not aware of. The reason for this is that you can purchase a home without the help of an agent. But with the competition and details that need to be taken care of in today’s day and age, getting help from an agent is almost necessary.

The question is: are certain real estate agents better at helping home buyers than others? This is a difficult question to answer, and one that is based on the agents who do business in your area. Generally speaking, if an agent is familiar with the area and has experience, they should be able to help you to find a home. In other words, real estate agents do not do anything out of the norm when it comes to helping home buyers; they all pretty much offer the same services.

When it comes down to it, you will want to find a real estate agent that has experience helping buyers in your part of the country. Even though any agent will be able to lend some sort of help, only those who know where to look will be the most beneficial to your situation. When a real estate agent has knowledge of an area, he or she will be able to pass this along to you, the buyer. Remember, if an agent does not know where to look for homes, they could point you in the wrong direction which could end up being quite harmful in the end.

The nice thing about getting the help of an agent when buying is that they will never charge you for their service. Instead, they will split the commission with the agent that is selling the property. This means that you get all kinds of professional help without having to pay for it. Does it get any better than that? Too bad home sellers cannot get the same deal!

Overall, more and more real estate agents are helping home buyers just as much as home sellers. If you are in the market, find an agent who you are comfortable doing business with.

Real Estate Market Conditions for 2008 (Feb)

Alright, I decided to do a little analysis today on how 2008 is shaping up when compared to 2007. This is something I like to do every spring or so. I have found that so goes the first three months of the year – so goes the year.

I decided to look at only settlements (not contracts written) that have occurred in the month of February going back to 2003.

First off, 2008 is not 2007. In 2007 whenever I was asked about how the market was, I would respond that it will take a little longer to sell your home, but that the market was still very strong and that the sales price was generally going up.

So far in 2008, the story is a little different. From what I can see right now* – only half as many homes sold in February 2008 as sold in February 2007. They were on the market longer (by an average of 16 days), and the overall settlement prices fell by 6%.

This is definitely the first decline we’ve seen in a while. It is almost like the market is catching up to all the bad news that we’ve seen in the media.

Here is my quick snapshot:

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I would like to tell you that these conditions are isolated, so I did a quick check for the following areas: Annapolis, Arnold, Crownsville, Davidsonville, Severn, Severna Park, Crofton, Gambrills, Edgewater, Glen Burnie, Laurel, Odenton, Pasadena, Riva and Hanover. The rest of the areas or towns had too few transactions to matter.

What I found was the drops are across the board.

On top of that, right now there are 3364 homes listed for sale in Anne Arundel County (not counting for new construction and build-to-suit properties). Based on the pace of February and taking into account seasonal changes in the market – we probably have 6 to 7 months of inventory on the market. Of course a lot of people are not going to wait around that long for their house to be on the market. They’ll withdraw their listings, just let them expire, or they will drop their price!

In any case that is a lot of gloomy news if you were looking for a turn-around in the market this year.

We’re probably looking at September or later before the market starts rocking again. The first transferees for the Base Realignment (BRAC) will start to relocate by then.

So, how do we use this info?

Real Estate Pricing Still Matters

First off, as always when selling a house – pricing is important. There are a lot of things to remember when setting the price. As your house first comes on the market, it generates a lot of interest in the community. If it is perceived to be overpriced, people will associate the house with that – even if you reduce the price later.

Also, you have to remember the vast majority of people do their home search online. And a lot of online home searches use a pull-down menu – so if you’re priced just a little bit above that price selection, and you’re willing to take something below it, you need to make sure your home is found by the people looking for it.

Make sure you are following an aggressive pricing strategy that will allow you to sell your home fast while getting the best value for your home. This doesn’t mean to give the house away, or to leave any money on the table when it comes time to negotiate a fair price. But you do have to be mindful of it and put a lot of thought and consideration into how you want to price your home.

Real Estate Marketing Still Matters

Just listed postcards, door hanging, staging, curb appeal, directional signs, open houses and Internet advertising – all still matter. Yes, it is true that most buyers find their home either through the Multiple Listing Service (either by an online search or through their agent). But in today’s market you really can’t afford to leave any stone unturned.

In order to sell your house you need a real estate agent that knows how to cast the widest net possible.

I’m not one of those agents that think people can’t sell their home “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO). I think there are a lot of talented and knowledgeable people out there that know how to price and market a home – and save the real estate commissions in the process. But I think a lot of it depends on the market. Unless you’re willing to give deep deep discounts on your house, I don’t think 2008 is the year to be going FSBO.

A Good Time to be a Move-Up Buyer

As the chart above shows, if you’ve been in your house for any period of time (3+ years) you’ve brought built up some equity just in market changes alone. Meanwhile, the house you’ve probably been looking for over the last year or so is now at the lowest its been in a couple of years. FHA limits in Anne Arundel County have been increased, making it easier to qualify for certain loans – and conventional rates will probably follow. And interest rates remain at historic lows making the move-up even more affordable than it would have been in the past.

If you’re thinking of moving up, now is a good time to put your house on the market and begin searching for your new home.

And just to leave you with a bit of good news. To understand how important pricing and marketing are to selling your home – this year alone 124 houses this year have sold in 30 days or less. Price your home right, market it correctly, and you can still sell your home in a reasonable amount of time in 2008.

Owner Financing

One option to buying a house when you can’t get a mortgage for the full amount is called owner financing (or seller take back).

There are many details to consider if you are going to get involved with owner financing.

Remember, this is not the same as getting a loan from a bank or mortgage lender. If you are going to get involved with owner financing, that is perfectly fine. But with that in mind, you need to make sure that you are aware of the details that surround this type of deal. Remember, when you are not working with a bank or lender, things are going to be a bit different. While this may not bother you, some people feel that owner financing is a bit too risky.

All in all, this is a decision that you will have to make on your own.

The first thing that you must consider is how long you will have to pay your loan when dealing with owner financing. With a traditional 30 year fixed rate mortgage, you more or less know exactly what you are up against. But with owner financing, this may be far from the case. Make sure that the term of you owner financing is detailed in depth so that you do not end up getting the bad end of the deal in the long run.

To go along with the owner financing term, you also need to take a closer look at the interest rate that you are going to pay. Just like a loan that you will get from the bank, you are going to have to pay interest to the owner. Of course, this should be negotiable, but with owner financing you usually have to pay a higher rate. This is common because it goes a long way in protecting the owner of the property.

But speaking of protection, what are you doing to keep yourself safe? When dealing with owner financing, you need to make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. Is the owner somebody that you can trust? Are you afraid that they are going to leave you hanging? The best way to avoid a skeptical situation is to not get involved at all. But if you are going to, make sure that you take the time to have a perfect contract in place.

As you can see, owner financing is not something that you should jump into without thinking about what you are doing. Take your time when deciding if owner financing would suit your current financial situation.