The Savvy Home Buyer in 2009
By Ginny Mees
The slower economy of the last couple of years provides savvy women plenty of incentives to buy real estate: cheaper home prices, lower mortgage rates and big discounts on foreclosures. Not to mention an $8000 tax credit for first time home buyers if your property closes by December 1, 2009.
Regardless, it is important to remember the real estate market is still uncertain; despite signs that it is “recovering”, the experts predict home prices will continue to decrease. This is mainly the result of the many foreclosures which have put downward pressure on home values and the modified appraiser requirements both of which are expected to continue in 2010.
If you are a single gal in the market to buy a home, keep these practical tips in mind and make sure to work with a real estate professional (buyer’s agent) who will represent your interests.
1. Make long term decisions
In this current environment, home buyers should purchase a home for a minimum of 3 to 5 years. With a record number of foreclosures expected in 2009 and 2010, the prices will probably continue to be in decline for a while. With home values increasing in double digit annual increments during the “gold rush” at the turn of this century, we should not expect huge appreciation in the near future. At best, a stabilization of values will provide the foundation for future appreciation, and a healthier, more sustainable real estate market..
If your plans for this year include buying a residence for the long-run, not a short term investment, make the move, especially if it is your first home.
2. Understand Your Local Market
Make sure you hire a local buyer’s agent to represent you in your purchase. There are often local issues that will affect your future value of your property. Do your research by seeing properties, even if they are not of interest. The number of foreclosures in a heavily depressed area, will continue to place downward pressure on neighboring home. Another great source for demographic information, crime statistics, and cost of housing index related to income is found at: http://realestate.yahoo.com/neighborhoods. You can compare information between different zip codes and make decisions on more than just your “gut instinct.”
3. Focus on the location, not just the price
In certain price ranges, buyers are definitely in the driver’s seat. Any home that puts you in striking distance of the conforming loan limits, which are currently $417,000-$729,750, depending on whether or not your county is a “high cost” county. Make sure you focus on the location to make a wise long-term investment, not to mention making sure it is a safe place for you to live. Many buyers make the mistake of looking at what the homes were selling for a few years ago, and thinking that is enough validation for the current home price. Remember the three most important things to consider in purchasing real estate: Location, Location, Location! It is better to pay a little more for a good location.
4. Don’t Rush into a foreclosed property
Buyers here from their family and friends that they should buy a foreclosure, and while they can provide some great opportunities, there are some pitfalls:
-many times the owners leave the property in sub-standard condition; vandalized, appliances missing, broken glass, dirty interiors, and neglected yards.
-Remember you are buying the property from a bank and they can take months due to the process. You also have no disclosures from the sellers as part of your due diligence, as the bank will not tell you anything about the history of the property.
-Many times investors are focused on buying foreclosures. This can mean multiple offers if the property is a great deal!
– Thinking of buying a foreclosed property? Do not get emotionally attached to the property when you make your offer. The chances that you eventually will be the new owner of this property can be slim, and you will remain more clear-headed if you keep the transaction in perspective.
All in all, the expectation is that home values will stabilize in the foreseeable future. But prudent women will seek out opportunities to buy properties in areas with appreciation factors due to something other than “market appreciation”. For example is there a major employer moving into the area? Are there factors driving people to a particular neighborhood? This is the kind of knowledge that experienced investors rely on to make wise investments. Make sure your buying decision involves a professional who knows your community. There are female professionals waiting to serve your real estate needs at www.womenhomeowners.com.
Ginny Mees has been a REALTOR for the past eleven years in the San Francisco Bay area, and she is the Founder of the Independent Women Homeowner network: WomenHomeowners.com.
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