Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5 New Market Rules

Let me say it one more time, because these days you can’t say it enough: the real estate market in Houston is stable! It’s not what it was nor will it be but it is better than the rest of the nation.But of course, there are rules, and most of them are new rules. Pay attention and you can still play the game.
  1. Buyers today are pickier than ever. Why? Well, the national news is so dismal that it’s easy to forget that real estate markets are very localized. Think of real estate like food: it’s best to focus on your local market.
  2. Buyers today are cautious. The future is uncertain, and they don’t want any more reasons to lose face. Basically, they do not want to be the guy at the dinner party who bought in 2007/2008 who totally shrivels when real estate comes up. It’s understandable.
  3. Buyers today have Ph.D’s in real estate. Wait, there’s no such thing. But they all THINK they do because of the Internet--and for the most part, they’re right! These days, my buyers have all done their research on Trulia, Zillow, and Yahoo Real Estate.  Each one of the sites has great information on the do’s and don’ts of home buying, and the information is accurate and up-to-date. Don’t be surprised. If the Internet can tell you what kind of chardonnay your Aunt Martha had last week, it can tell you how to buy a house.
  4. Lenders today love to rake buyers over the coals. By the time they make an offer, they’ve been through the wringer. Don’t be surprised if they’re demanding, they’re just paying all their annoyances forward.
  5. Buyers today are not looking to make improvements. With Houston being such a migratory city, people are moving in (not as rapidly as in 2005-2007, but we’ll take it) and they need homes in move-in condition. Your home needs to be updated if you want it to sell.

So, sellers: home sales are flat for Houston, and that’s actually great news. We’re turning the corner slower than the past. Are houses appreciating like they did during the bubble? No, of course not! But we can still have a steady market.   We are one of the few.

This is both good news and bad news for all of us: in terms of the real estate market, only the strong will survive. If you’re a real estate agent, know that you cannot be a “lazy agent.” If you’re a seller, know that your home must be priced to sell, or it simply won’t. Real estate agents are not genies. Buyers can see every home on the market. What’s more, they’re searching the sold homes, not the active listings. They don’t want to see your set price, they want to see what other buyers are willing to pay. If your home is overpriced, you’ll lose more money than you wanted to gain.

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