Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Looking ahead to 2009

I'm looking for things to pick up very soon in the real estate marketplace. Maybe, just maybe, all of this will weed out the "I'll sell only if I can get a high enough price" sellers and have the serious sellers with properties on the market at fair value.

On the mortgage lender side, I see a need for the lenders to increase their role and become more of a consultant or advisor to home owners and first time buyers. Too many lenders, which frankly includes some of my clients around the country, have gone to a "today" mentality and not thinking long term. Whether or not this is really the case, some come across with the attitude of "If I can't do this deal right now, I don't care about later on". And this will hurt them in the long run.

Even as some lenders have closed their doors, there are still plenty out there. Don't ever forget this. The lower mortgage rates are prompting some home owners to check with their previous lender about the possibility of refinancing. However, their home might not currently be worth enough to make a refinance worthwhile, such as when the market value of the home drops to the point where it goes below the current equity. I already know of lenders who make this discovery and then fail to handle it properly.

"Properly" means addressing this head on with the potential client, letting him/her/them know that you will be watching the marketplace and area property values and rates with an eye toward the first available opportunity to make it worthwhile. Make a note to follow up with them every 45 days or so no matter what.

Chances are that homeowner will start watching on his/her/their own. And if you have not indicated a responsible follow up, chances are they won't feel obligated. Do not overlook how today's work can produce benefits months from now instead of thinking it won't help you next week and forgetting a once solid potential deal. Six months from now you could be "that guy who never called back and couldn't do it" OR you could be the "guy who we used before and told us last month this could be the time". Some lenders think that "we get referral business", but a negative referral doesn't count.

If you are a home owner (consumer), you can and should do your homework. You already know what rate you are now paying. A rate lowering even 3/4 of a percentage point could mean a $150 or more per month decrease in your monthly mortgage. If the last mortgage lender you used hasn't been in contact with you, do your homework. Start checking area sales for property values. If your home is still worth close to or more than its original value, you have a great opportunity to shop for the true best deal out there that fits your needs. You do have a choice.

And if you are a realty agent, a consumer interested in a refinance who maybe can't get one just might be a candidate to move to a "better" property for the same or less on their mortgage. You can certainly help to keep your previous clients posted on trends in their area for very much the same purpose. If you are not keeping in contact, you add to the negative beliefs about the current marketplace.

Speaking of which, one more gripe session for this year about how the real estate industry is, unfortunately, helping to fuel the negative publicity about the marketplace. This time with more proof to make my point.

For November, 1100 homes sold in the Columbus OH area. As a stand-alone, that is actually an impressive statistic. Yet, here's how the member based realty association presents it:


In the Pittsburgh PA area, 1,800 homes sold during November, but here is how it was reported:


In Houston, 3,900 properties sold in the one month period, but it comes out like this:


Nearly 1,000 homes sold in Austin TX, yet it is made to look like nothing:


And don't think this is only for bigger cities. Almost 300 properties sold last month in Erie PA. That's an average of 10 a day including weekends in a smaller market, and that is impressive. Until you read it this way:


And I could go on.............

If I were paying dues to any of these (and other) realty associations, I'd be strongly suggesting that some of my dues money go toward a publicity writer.

Have a great holiday !!

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