Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thoughts on Recent House Showings

In the past few weeks I've been showing many houses to my buyers. None of them have houses to sell, several are cash buyers, and overall sellers and their agents should be very pleased to see them coming. But over and over again, whether it's waterfront or investment or first time home-buyer-type properties, we are running into issues.

The main issue is foreclosures - yes, here in Central New York! It wouldn't appear as if they are out there, but homesellers apparently don't like to tell their agents that they've gotten into trouble until it's almost too late. The agents believe they are doing their best, but when the possibility of an offer gets real, the sellers then tell the agents about their dilemma. And everything just stops.

I was reading a Realtor journal that talked about agents making sure they have the financial discussion with their clients. It suggested probing deeply, because it is difficult for owners to admit that there is an issue. I remember years ago getting a listing and my buyer finding out that the auction was a week away! The owner's wife had no idea until I told her. The fur flew a bit. When the house was sold eventually by someone else to someone else, the seller took the kitchen with him - appliances, cupboards, everything!

Short sales are another issue hitting us. Owners try to negotiate their way through and lose as little as possible. It's hard to take a $30,000 loss, for example, on a $100,000 home. So they try to work it out while taxes and insurance bills mount and the property isn't maintained.

This is not everywhere and all the time. I hear it from other agents, that they've run into these situations, and if they are listing the property then a lot of swearing gets into the conversation.

Huge reductions in price are now becoming commonplace. Today there were 7 new listings and 12 reductions. Most were in the 5% to 10% range. Instead of dropping by a few thousand, homes are coming down more rapidly so people can sell quickly and can make it up on the buying end.

Yesterday on NPR there was a discussion about a couple who had worked and saved to buy a home, waiting until they had 20% to put down. They bought at the height of the market and then watched as prices around them fell. The reporter blamed the real estate agent, saying the comps brought to the couple were all from a community a ways away. If this were the case, I would think it would have been noticed. The sale also had an appraiser check properties and values, so the appraiser must have missed it, too. But prices just fall all on their own in this economy.

Then of course I went to Auburn to see houses with my first-time homebuyer. Of the eight houses we picked out, five had contracts on them so recent that the computer didn't reflect them. I asked someone why and she told me that it was a wild, wild week and everything sold. I am certain the prices - around $100,000 for a good 3-bedroom home - had a lot to do with it. The tax credit expires at the end of April.

So help me out if you can, please! I need a pretty and well-built 3-bedroom home in the $80,000 to $120,000 range in this area - Skaneateles, Auburn and Owasco primarily. My buyer is well-qualified and eager to enter into an agreement before April 30th. And if there's any lower-priced waterfront, that wouldn't be bad either (different family).

BTW - If you would like to read the articles referenced yesterday about the Old Stone Mill and 45 West Lake Street, plus the comments, check out www.syracuse.com.