100 Tips for 2011 » 10 resourceful real estate tips for 2011
Must we endure yet another year of housing crisis? What choice do we have? No amount of optimistic projections and statistical manipulation can remedy this protracted housing pain. Historically speaking, five to seven years has been a standard interval for house prices to stabilize following serious corrections. By that measure, the worst should be behind us.
There is some good news: Mortgage rates remain at their lowest point in nearly 60 years, and prices are settling in several markets. Real estate is becoming more affordable and needs-based instead of speculator-driven, making a home primarily a shelter once more.
Meanwhile, some see another year of value declines in 2011, perhaps up to 7 percent. Several more waves of adjustable-rate mortgages are set to ratchet upward for homeowners in 2011. "Strategic defaulters" are surrendering their upside-down loans as a financial strategy, not because of extenuating circumstances. And unemployment remains stubbornly high.
Yet, people still move up and still move down -- buying and selling homes to meet those ends. For them, here are 10 real estate tips for 2011.
Sellers: Redefine "market value"
If your home has been on the market far too long, there's a good chance you're not facing market realities. The value of your home isn't what the tax assessor says it is, or the sum on that two-year-old appraisal you have filed away. It's not what a similar-size home that sold across town. It's what a buyer is willing to pay today. To arrive at that sum, the sales prices of foreclosures and short sales must be factored into the equation, along with the average value of seller concessions in your submarket. These factors are advanced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, in its appraiser code-of-conduct revisions to ensure more accurate documentation of market conditions. If your agent tells you that you're overpricing your house, he or she may not just be trying to grease the wheels for a quick commish, as you might suspect.
Buyers: Hire personal peeps
As tempting as it is to share the seller's agent to save a couple grand, don't. The same goes for using the other party's inspector and appraiser. They were hired by the seller and have a fiduciary allegiance to the person who's paying them. Don't automatically opt for real estate professionals referred to you by your agent either. A huge capital purchase is not the time for such friendly accommodations. Briefly interview three of each by phone. Make sure your appraiser and your inspector (and perhaps a separate termite inspector) are appropriately state-licensed or state-certified and, ideally, have been practicing for at least five years and have done more than 200 inspections or appraisals. Compare the results of your inspector's findings with the inspection findings of the other party, and you're likely to stumble on disparities or omissions.