There are too many people who should not be in the real estate market right now, both buyers and sellers. They’re not serious, they are time wasters, and to me real estate is not a game.
If I were a seller’s agent, and I am not, and a home owner came to me asking me to list his property at a certain price that was out of line with my market research, and saying “let’s just try it for a while at this price”, I would say no thank you. Perhaps that seller is unable to sell his property at fair market value because he owes too much, and is upside down --- loan vs. current market. Perhaps that seller does not have to sell, but is just testing the waters or derives some pleasure at seeing his property advertised at a big number. It is sellers like this and the resulting skewed values and distorted inventory that create the negative public opinion and add to buyer’s misperceived impression of the market.
If a buyer came to me, and they do, saying they want to “steal a property”, I say no thank you. Pricing property is analogous to water seeking its own level. If you price a property too high, it will languish on the market until the price comes in line with the market. Across the country, 36% of all properties sold for list price or higher. Only 12% of all properties nationally sold for 90% or less than asking price. What this means is buyers continue to wait until properties are priced correctly. If you recognize that a property is priced correctly, you need to bid accordingly because properties that are priced correctly will normally sell quickly to a savvy buyer, and there may be more than one savvy buyer making a run on a property at the same time. Buyers must realize right now prices are good, interest rates are excellent and anyone with cash or excellent credit has power if they use it wisely in their negotiation. I’ve seen this too many times. Buyers who are eager and ready to get into the market, but continue to sit on the sidelines waiting for the ‘go signal’ from on high that prices have bottomed out are destined to join the ‘would have … should have’ club. You know who I am talking about, those people who painfully recount that they could have bought that property for ….
In the investment game, if you think you are at the bottom, or at the top, it is too late --- you are already on the other side. Right now is a great time to approach the market because the fruit on the tree is abundant and ripe. I don’t blame anyone for having doubts and fears; after all, the news these days is mostly negative and full of fear. I love what Louis Rukeyser once said about investing, no matter what you do, it is going to be wrong so do something, because the worst thing is to do nothing.
We need to remember real estate is cyclical and this too shall pass. Historically, the down-markets normally last two to three years and the up-markets last from seven to ten years. I believe we are walking in the valley right now, but we just don’t know it. It is going to be a long slow trek through the valley and we may not reach the mountain until the end of 2008, or the beginning of 2009, but we are on the march. One thing is for sure, real estate values overall continue to go up. Real estate is the one sure investment that always appreciates over time.