The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Federal Reserve have announced their fixes for the down housing market. The two agree that increased lending to qualified buyers and more refinancing, loan modifications, and short sales. This strategy, the two agree, will revitalize the market, allowing for more action to take place for buyers and sellers. In a survey last year, the NAR said that tight credit restrictions made it harder for clients to close on homes, thus keeping the market down.
Last December, 1/3 of home transactions were paid for in cash says a recently released HousingPlus Tracking Survey. Cash, however, caused sellers to accept offers on their homes in less time and, perhaps, for less than the home was worth; buyers paying with bills offer buyers more security and money up front, an attractive option in an unstable market. These transactions also tend to happen in less than 30 days, meaning sellers can sell their house quickly and without the stress associated with a property sitting on the market for a long period of time. Investors, for the most part, use properties for rentals or for “flips,” where they remodel and sell the investment for a higher value. Paying cash gives them a property more quickly, which means cash can flow back into their pockets sooner through rental income or higher resale value. For buyers and sellers, cash allows quick exchanges of property without the stress of third party lenders.
One of the nation’s largest professional associations of real estate appraisers, the Appraisal Institute, spoke out recently about the way appraisers are received by buyers and sellers. The message: don’t blame the appraiser for a disappointing evaluation of your home’s value. Appraisers set prices, not for buyers or sellers, but for lenders, who make sure that transactions are fair. “Appraisers don’t set the… market; they reflect what’s happening [in it],” said Sara Stephens, president of the Institute. The use of an appraiser is important when assessing homes that are distressed or damaged, as they know how to compare those properties to others in the area.
For this generation of college students, foregoing the traditional roommate experience is becoming the norm. These students, who mostly grew up with their own bedroom, want their own, private space. As such, college campuses across the nation are investing in dormitories with more single rooms. And for those who can’t have single rooms on campus, off-campus renting is also attractive. At one of our own hometown colleges, the University at Buffalo offers upperclassmen the chance to live on or off campus in apartments that give tenants their own rooms. The university is also developing new townhomes, which offer tenants more private space for a higher price.
The number of properties offered for sale via real estate auction doubled in 2011, according to propertyauction.com. Sellers of both residential and commercial property are turning to auctions as they can help drive up prices. Locally, however, auctions are hardly popular: New York state was among the states with the lowest amount of auction activity. Here in Buffalo, where the market went almost untouched by the national crisis, there is no need for auctions. With a stable market, Buffalonians are still using traditional means to buy or sell real estate.