Buying and selling anything in this economy can be a bit tricky, and that goes for real estate as well. Many buyers, who think they’ll be able to negotiate a phenomenal deal, are often discouraged when they actually get out there in the market and try to do so. Likewise, sellers who price their homes at market value may find it hard to hook an offer, oftentimes having to reduce their price well below comparable value to get it sold. Sellers who do not have to sell are opting not to, which makes for less inventory. Why is it so hard to buy and sell real estate right now?
1. Lender hurdles. Getting qualified for a loan these days is very difficult. Even those who have steady jobs, make sufficient money and have a nice savings on the books are facing troubles. The lenders, who I believe are the main cause for much of the stagnation in the market and the overwhelming number of foreclosures (see previous blogs if you want more detail on this), simply have a death grip on their funds. Anything that is seen as risky, any tiny little thing, gives them cause to deny a mortgage application. This applies both to traditional sales and distressed properties.
If you are a buyer you need to make sure you are working with a mortgage professional who has access to different products, and can help you to figure out which one is best for you.
2.Â Foreclosures/Lender owned properties. Foreclosures have been weakening the market for years, and there is no end in site. The lenders simply have too many properties on their books, the majority of which have not even been released to the open market. Once they are, prices will suffer. This tends to make sellers withhold selling their homes (the ones who can), in order to wait for a “better” time to do so. Buyers, who should be able to reap the benefits from the lower prices, still have to go through the loan qualification process. Many buyers are now also afraid because of recent lawsuits claiming bank-owners did not in fact possess title to the homes. If purchased at auction buyers usually do not have the opportunity to have home inspections or even get inside the property; if the property is sold as an REO (lender-owned, post-foreclosure) the buyer can view the property but is provided no disclosures related to it’s history.
3.Â Short Sales. Short sales should be a no-brainer, as I have blogged about many times. There are willing buyers out there who want to buy homes in neighborhoods they otherwise would not be able to afford, but for a short sale and the lower prices. Sellers of short sales obviously want to and need to sell to avoid the scarlet letter “F” on their credit. Similarly, banks save lots of money selling their properties short rather than going to foreclosure. Despite the end goal being common, short sales as we know can take a long time. The main reason for this is because of the banks, who dilly dally around and take forever to approve them, work off bad BPOs, and often have inexperienced and downright nasty people in their loss mitigation departments.
4.Â Title issues. Another problem plaguing the real estate industry is title issues, especially in homes that have been foreclosed upon. There have been several lawsuits against lenders who have been found to have wrongfully foreclosed on homes – after the home had been sold and new owners had moved in. These types of suits seem to be growing, and there is no telling what will happen to the new owners. If found that the banks did not have the authority to sell (because they did not physically possess title), the sale is rendered void. We will have to wait and see what effect this will have on purchasers, but surely it will may scare some buyers away from these lender-owned properties. For sellers, it is imperative to understand any title hurdles at the time your home is listed
5.Â Appraisal and BPO issues.Â It seems appraisal issues come into play these days more than in times past. This is especially true in areas where there have been a lot of foreclosures or short sales, which bring down comparables. If an appraiser has to look outside a neighborhood s/he may use comps from another neighborhood or complex that really does not compare to the subject home. If the appraiser is from out of the area s/he may not understand the particular nuances of a neighborhood, and that can also affect valuation.
Bad BPOs (Broker Price Opinions – these are ordered by the banks and are typically completed by certified real estate agents, not appraisers) also wreak havoc on short sales. Some properties are hard to appraise/establish value, if they are one of a kind or there are no valid comps in the vicinity, or where the condition of the comps do not compare to the home being appraised. California has hinted at drafting a law about how foreclosure and short sale homes can be used as comps for a traditional sale home. There are problems either way when a home is hard to appraise. Suffice it to say there is a lot of deal-killing going on because of bad appraisals and BPOs. [NOTE: This is not meant to be a degradation of appraisers – most are highly skilled professionals.]
Buying and selling property can be difficult in these troubled times, but the silver lining is that there ARE great deals out there for buyers, and it is possible for sellers to sell their homes as well. One simply needs to know how to best accomplish her/his goals. To do that, you need to start with a great agent.