The return of buyers

2013-05-05T02:30:00Z The return of buyersMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 05, 2013 2:30 am  • 

That’s really been the story in real state for about the last year.

Even so, I was a bit surprised when I came across a recent headline stating “Builders hold lotteries for eager new homebuyers,” accompanied by a photo of a large drum loaded with hot pink tickets tumbling around inside.

Really? Lottery participants with mortgage pre-approvals and down payments in place waiting with fingers crossed to hear their name called?

Before the housing bubble actually burst, I had a local builder describe what he saw happening in the market. He made a sweeping gesture with his hand and described the movement of a pendulum. Since the real estate market’s pendulum had been swinging so far in one direction for quite some time, it would need to swing equally as far in the other direction before righting itself.

As many people have been watching and waiting for that balance to return, housing’s incremental gains over the last year have caught them by surprise.

Now, housing prices are inching their way up, and the market’s recovery has been consistently reported across the country. Partly the result of pent up demand and the tightening inventory of completed new homes, the nation’s growth “is finally being driven by housing again,” according to National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe.

During a webinar last week, Crowe’s outlook for the future is mostly positive, in light of certain market realities such as rising material costs and labor shortages.

Housing currently accounts for 3% of the total economy, or about half of its historical level. Single-family home starts are at 47% of the 1.3-million-unit annual level that’s considered “normal” to meet anticipated demographic and population trends. That explains the lotteries.

Crowe also cited consumer confidence polling by the Conference Board and the University of Michigan, which shows a growing number of people favoring homeownership and planning to buy. Plus, over the last four quarters household formations - which averaged 1.4 million per year during the housing boom but plummeted to 500,000 during the bust – accelerated to an annual average of 860,000.

He added NAHB projections for single-family starts will increase this year by 26% to 672,000 units, and by 28% to 858,000 units in 2014. These starts would be 53% and 71%, respectively, of what “normal” production should be this year and next.

With housing trends moving in the right direction, many people are looking to make their move. While everyone knows it’s virtually impossible to predict the best possible time to buy or sell real estate, when you consider how the pendulum swings, now certainly looks to be a great time for both sides of the transaction.

The key to success right now is getting an early start. With the spring and summer months traditionally the busiest time of year for real estate, there will most definitely be more buyers out there as the weather becomes consistently warmer and the kids get out of school. That’s precisely why it’s the prime time to move after all. People want to be settled in their new homes before school resumes in the fall.

With more buyers, there will be a need for more inventory – builders are definitely responding, and in all likelihood, there will be more sellers as well. Those who are ready – sellers who have staged their homes and priced them right and buyers who are preapproved and ready to make an offer – will be the ones getting their deals done.

As the dynamics of the market continue to change, the one thing that remains the same is the value of a professional Realtor®. While many of the important services and steps a Realtor provides go on behind the scenes, the expertise, knowledge and just plain hard work that go into bringing about a successful transaction are highly-valued by those who fully understand the benefit of having someone in their corner.

A full-service real estate professional handles routine actions, provides comprehensive research and deals with all the procedures, processes and review stages of your transaction from start to finish. Depending on the transaction, some steps may take minutes or hours to complete, while others will require him or her to stay on top of the situation for days at a time.

Most consumers are looking for a real estate agent who is honest, experienced in the local market, an excellent negotiator, good communicator, readily available by phone or e-mail and, most importantly, successful in getting results. Plus, there’s no substitute for the local insight of a professional Realtor.

Services on the selling side fall under several categories, each with multiple steps along the way. From pre-listing activities, entering the property in the Multiple Listing Service database, marketing the listing, negotiating the offer and contract, tracking the loan process, home inspection and appraisal to closing preparations and duties plus the follow up after closing, your Realtor will be with you every step of the way.

For buyers who have been checking out their options online, a Realtor typically has access to quite a bit more detail, including personal experience and listings that may not have hit the internet yet. That can give you a distinct advantage with today’s tight inventories. Plus, they work with lenders every day and can help you find the best possible loan for your situation.

You can learn more about working with a Realtor on the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors website at gniar.com.

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