What to Expect In The New Year

It is always a challenge to project what lies ahead, it’s best to look at market trends as a guide. That being the case then the housing market is heading in a better direction then in the recent past. Although every market is different, this is what I see here locally in our market place, a gradual and slow climb out of the bottom, with more stability and a modest increase in the number of residential sales. As our housing inventory decreases we are hoping to see a slight move upward in pricing, especially in the lower and more modest priced houses. This trend is drawing more and more first time home buyers into the market as interest rates continue to be at historic lows and rentals become more scarce and rental prices continue to rise. The second home market continues to have higher inventory levels with fewer buyers able to afford the luxury of a vacation home. This market continues to favor the buyers, and savvy buyers are also seeing these trends and are jumping into the Real Estate market while these conditions still exist.

Real Estate 2013

If you are like most of us come the new year, we make our resolutions so that we can do better this year as compared to last year. If you are looking to buy a home, whether it be your first or maybe a weekend home, you need to put a plan into place to help you accomplish this goal. Start by asking yourself, can I afford to buy and what can I afford per month? Then, speak with a local bank or real estate professional. If it turns out that now is not the right time to buy, put an action plan in place with a target date, coupled with a savings plan to meet that goal. Failure to plan is planning to fail. If you are a homeowner and you are thinking of selling, you should also sit down with a real estate agent to help you write up your action plan.

Happy & Healthy New Year, and may you achieve your goals whatever it may be!

Can You Exploit Today’s Market…. Or not?

There’s some good, even surprising news here, along with some not-so-good news. Much depends on you, where you live, your financial situation, your wants and needs. Let’s ask some questions, and come up with some answers.

1)   How credit-worthy are you? Should your needs necessarily involve a lending institution; a strong credit score will be essential.

2)   How vital is the market? Nationally markets vary widely; ours is relatively strong, with median prices up some 6% over last year during the same period

3)   Are you looking for a vacation or ‘bargain’ home? We recently reported that sales for such properties were up significantly in 2011 and  – surprisingly- 41% of these sales were all- cash. Assuming you can afford to buy or can show a strong income profile, the investment of a lifetime both – in pleasure and financially – is likely readily available. But be advised: prices here are already up compared to last year during this period.

4)   Are you looking for a rental? Whether for a summer vacation or long term, these are in short supply- and rates are up. However, if you can remain flexible, some summer vacation rentals are still available. Stay in close touch with an agent here!

5)   I’ve heard that financing is now tougher for most buyers – is this true? Sadly, but understandably, yes. Bank demands have tightened, and buyers will have higher hurdles to get over. It is still worth moving forward in this buyer’s market.

Hope This has been helpful…

Now About That Burning Question…

Nowadays we hear this one question more and more – and still more. Are we there yet — has the housing market finally bottomed out? Answering that question fairly means more than just following a Media known for its appetite for negative  news.

It means looking past that Media to many positive developments in recent months that have often gone unreported altogether. In fact, all major indicators suggest we have more than hit bottom — we may be on the way back up. Good news indeed, and backed by reliable evidence.

One supporting example: sales of existing homes nationally over the past six months have increased 13% compared to the same period last year. Still another indicator: the rate of foreclosures and short sales has begun to slow down, thereby reducing the amount of existing inventory.

Historically low prices and interest rates have created a remarkable buyers market in many areas, and a lot of smart money is now moving in a positive direction.

While it’s perhaps a little early to start celebrating, a gentle smile would seem quite appropriate.

 

How Does The Laws Of Agency Work In Real Estate?

New York State law requires all licensed Real Estate Agents & Brokers to advise in writing to all potential buyers, sellers, tenants, & landlords of residential properties, who they will be representing in any subsequent transaction. This requirement is to be done at the first substantive meeting of the parties. Despite all the written material on this subject I find it amazing that many consumers are still unaware of the options and choices they have when choosing a Real Estate professional. Quite often, a decision on purchasing a home may be one of the most important ones we will make in our lifetimes. You need to become an educated consumer, learn all you can about your choices. For example, learn how you can have your own agent, one who will work on your behalf.  You owe it to yourself.

Take the Guesswork out of determining Home Values

Today more than ever before, buyers and potential sellers are innocently going on line expecting a time-saving path to an accurate measure of a home’s worth.  I call this the ‘On Line Pitfall’… and few pitfalls are more useless or misleading than this one. On line sites generally draw data from three sources: the property characteristics, the tax assessment, and recent transactions as recorded at the County Clerks’ office. The first pitfall? Information that is often neither current nor accurate. The second, simply enormous pitfall?  Critically important, even irreplaceable information including Location and Condition are simply missed or overlooked altogether in these so-called evaluations. The bottom line? There exists no reliable substitute for the opinions of an experienced appraiser or, even better, those of your Real Estate Broker or Buyers Agent. Both come heavily armed with intimate knowledge of the local market and the property itself, having explored first-hand its every nook and cranny inside and out – and likely more than once.  So…if you do have some fun going on line, fine, go right ahead.  Just remember to bring along that proverbial ‘grain of salt’ – on second thought, a whole pound might well be in order.

Really Good News For Columbia County

Just when you thought good news was an endangered species, it pops up in a big and meaningful way.

After floundering for years, we New Yorkers now have something to be proud of – a Governor Cuomo who realizes that creating opportunities requires strong leadership, this combined with a clear vision of a better future.

And through his efforts so far, some five major high tech companies are coming to our State. This will mean about $4 billion dollars in new revenue (possibly leading to lower taxes), plus some 2500 new high tech jobs and 1900 new construction jobs – most high-paying.  And more may be on the way.

The majority of all this activity will happen right here in our own backyard, the Capital Region.  Beyond the thought of reduced taxes, another result will be more and more people who can afford to buy homes.  Given our location/proximity, wonderful country feeling and affordability, Columbia County will very likely see more new Real Estate activity than any other.  Indeed, really good news.

Thanks, Andrew, we needed that…