I have been saying it all summer long- the market has changed! The purchase market is picking up! In Alameda, Ca. it has indeed been one crazy summer of multiple offers, first time buyers, over bidding, and all cash offers.
The National Association of Realtors® released data showing national median home sales rose for the 5th consecutive month. July 2012 home sales in increased 2.3% over June 2012 and 10.4% over July 2011!
Distressed homes constituted 24% of the sales. First-time buyers accounted for 34% of sales in July, up from 32% in June. All-cash sales declined from 29% in June to 27% of transactions in July.
So what should you prepare for when buying a home today?
A. Your Pre Approval
Make sure you have one. Make sure you know what your limit is for what you can afford. It sounds obvious but if you are put into a bidding situation you don’t want to over extend yourself in the heat of a bidding war. Also, I am always astonished when a buyer comes to me who is already pre-approved and their loan officer never went over basic closing costs.
B. Investors and Flips
Alameda, Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland…As mentioned while all cash offers are down we are seeing a lot of investors AND a lot of flipped homes being purchased by first time home buyers. Now a flip, a house that is bought for a low price and typically remodeled and resold quickly, has its own set of issues with both conventional and FHA financing. Make sure you are aware if the property is a flip and how long it has been owned by the seller- this could impact your loan. With many lenders there are issues when a property has been owned less than 90 days in today’s lending environment.
C. Over Bidding and Multiple Offers
This is when it pays to have a good real estate agent to help you with your offer. Obviously you don’t want to pay too much for your home; however, many homes are priced just under value to attract multiple offers. I like to provide my clients with multiple pre-approval letters as well as the payment impacts before they write the offer if they expect multiple offers. That way my buyers’ agents are prepared for bidding on the spot! With the fast bidding we are seeing in areas of Alameda and the Oakland Hills like Montclair and Piedmont, this is a very effective strategy.
Many believe we are experiencing the very natural real estate cycle of an active spring and summer…the way it used to be! Things typically slow down when school starts. Many others believe we are in a “mini bubble” due to low inventory and historic low rates and that a shadow inventory of foreclosures could change everything. While this may be true, in Alameda County for example, there is a small inventory of bank owned homes making up less than three months inventory if they all went on the market today so it’s hard to know. That being said I have heard from many agents recently that the market has slowed while personally my office is still getting a lot of buyers calling in.