Be An Informed Consumer

The housing market has evolved over the last decade. Many homeowners watched the value of their homes skyrocket during the mid-decade boom, only to see it plummet back down over the last three years  for a variety of reasons.  Buyers, many new to the market, were lured in by questionable lending practices and sub-prime mortgages, offering zero-down and interest only payments. The pains the market is feeling now are thanks in part to this wild ride.  Investors and all-cash purchases now make up more than one-third of the market. And, credit has tightened, making it increasingly difficult for builders and buyers alike to finance their next move.  Your best protection in this wildly fluctuating market is a clear understanding of the market conditions in your area.  So, where to start…first, get familiar with your area market by connecting with an experienced local Realtor.  Most agents will offer a free comprehensive market analysis on your home & neighborhood. This means they can tell you what your home could sell for, and show you what comparables homes look like and what has sold and when. This will give you a better idea if now would be a good time to make a move.  By enlisting the help of a local real estate agent, you can find out everything from the average time a home sits on the market based on what price bracket, the average & median sale prices for neighborhoods, to whether or not the ForSaleByOwner down the street is a good deal. Other good online resources include Realty Times for a list of local market conditions. Reports can start you out with an overview of the market, from inventory levels to pricing.  Zillow.com is the leading online real estate marketplace dedicated to helping homeowners, buyers, sellers, renters, landlords, and property managers find and share vital information about homes, real estate, and mortgages.  Zillow.com will also show you homes that are for sale (and those recently sold) and give pricing trends over the last year. Zillow estimates may not reflect the best pricing strategy for your home because they provide a wide view of regional trends and do not take into account local influences, home conditions & most recent home-selling activity.  Your friends & family may have had recent experiences in your market. Be sure to ask around and see what they’ve encountered. The key to making wise moves in this ever-changing market is to be informed—because an informed consumer makes better decisions!

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