Friday, February 25, 2011

Fielding a Lowball Purchase Offer on Your Home

By: Marcie Geffner
Published: June 10, 2010

Consider before you ignore or outright refuse a very low purchase offer for your home. A counteroffer and negotiation could turn that low purchase offer into a sale.

You just received a purchase offer from someone who wants to buy your home. You're excited and relieved, until you realize the purchase offer is much lower than your asking price. How should you respond? Set aside your emotions, focus on the facts, and prepare a counteroffer that keeps the buyers involved in the deal.

Check your emotions

A purchase offer, even a very low one, means someone wants to purchase your home. Unless the offer is laughably low, it deserves a cordial response, whether that's a counteroffer or an outright rejection. Remain calm and discuss with your real estate agent the many ways you can respond to a lowball purchase offer.

Counter the purchase offer

Unless you've received multiple purchase offers, the best response is to counter the low offer with a price and terms you're willing to accept. Some buyers make a low offer because they think that's customary, they're afraid they'll overpay, or they want to test your limits.

A counteroffer signals that you're willing to negotiate. One strategy for your counteroffer is to lower your price, but remove any concessions such as seller assistance with closing costs, or features such as kitchen appliances that you'd like to take with you.

Consider the terms

Price is paramount for most buyers and sellers, but it's not the only deal point. A low purchase offer might make sense if the contingencies are reasonable, the closing date meets your needs, and the buyer is preapproved for a mortgage. Consider what terms you might change in a counteroffer to make the deal work.

Review your comps

Ask your REALTOR® whether any homes that are comparable to yours (known as "comps") have been sold or put on the market since your home was listed for sale. If those new comps are at lower prices, you might have to lower your price to match them if you want to sell.

Consider the buyer's comps

Buyers sometimes attach comps to a low offer to try to convince the seller to accept a lower purchase offer. Take a look at those comps. Are the homes similar to yours? If so, your asking price might be unrealistic. If not, you might want to include in your counteroffer information about those homes and your own comps that justify your asking price.

If the buyers don't include comps to justify their low purchase offer, have your real estate agent ask the buyers' agent for those comps.

Get the agents together

If the purchase offer is too low to counter, but you don't have a better option, ask your real estate agent to call the buyer's agent and try to narrow the price gap so that a counteroffer would make sense. Also, ask your real estate agent whether the buyer (or buyer's agent) has a reputation for lowball purchase offers. If that's the case, you might feel freer to reject the offer.

Don't signal desperation

Buyers are sensitive to signs that a seller may be receptive to a low purchase offer. If your home is vacant or your home's listing describes you as a "motivated" seller, you're signaling you're open to a low offer.

If you can remedy the situation, maybe by renting furniture or asking your agent not to mention in your home listing that you're motivated, the next purchase offer you get might be more to your liking.

Marcie Geffner is a freelance reporter who has been writing about real estate, homeownership and mortgages for 20 years. She owns a ranch-style house built in 1941 and updated in the 1990s, in Los Angeles.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Existing-Home Sales Rise Again in January

Existing-Home Sales Rise Again in January

Washington, DC, February 23, 2011
The uptrend in existing-home sales continues, with January sales rising for the third consecutive month with a pace that is now above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million in January from a downwardly revised 5.22 million in December, and are 5.3 percent above the 5.09 million level in January 2010. This is the first time in seven months that sales activity was higher than a year earlier.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the improvement is good but could be better. “The uptrend in home sales is consistent with improvements in the economy and jobs, which are helping boost consumer confidence,” Yun said. “The extremely favorable housing affordability conditions are a big factor, but buyers have been constrained by unnecessarily tight credit. As a result, there are abnormally high levels of all-cash purchases, along with rising investor activity.”
A parallel NAR practitioner survey2 shows first-time buyers purchased 29 percent of homes in January, down from 33 percent in December and 40 percent in January 2010 when an extended tax credit was in place.
Investors accounted for 23 percent of purchases in January, up from 20 percent in December and 17 percent in January 2010; the balance of sales were to repeat buyers. All-cash sales rose to 32 percent in January from 29 percent in December and 26 percent in January 2010.
“Increases in all-cash transactions, the investor market share and distressed home sales all go hand-in-hand. With tight credit standards, it’s not surprising to see so much activity where cash is king and investors are taking advantage of conditions to purchase undervalued homes,” Yun said.
All-cash purchases are at the highest level since NAR started measuring these purchases monthly in October 2008, when they accounted for 15 percent of the market. The average of all-cash deals was 20 percent in 2009, rising to 28 percent last year.
The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $158,800 in January, down 3.7 percent from January 2010. Distressed homes edged up to a 37 percent market share in January from 36 percent in December; it was 38 percent in January 2010.
NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said the median price is being dampened by unusual market factors. “Unprecedented levels of all-cash purchases, primarily of distressed homes sold at deep discounts, undoubtedly pulls the median price downward,” Phipps said. “Given the levels of inventory we see today, we believe that traditional homes in good condition have held their value.”
Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 5.1 percent to 3.38 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.6-month supply4 at the current sales pace, down from an 8.2-month supply in December. The inventory supply is at the lowest level since December 2009 when there was a 7.3-month supply.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.76 percent in January from 4.71 percent in December; the rate was 5.03 percent in January 2010.
Single-family home sales rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.69 million in January from 4.58 million in December, and are 4.9 percent higher than the 4.47 million level in January 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $159,400 in January, down 2.7 percent from a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 670,000 in January from 640,000 in December, and are 7.9 percent above the 621,000-unit pace one year ago. The median existing condo price5 was $154,900 in January, which is 10.2 percent below January 2010.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons To Do It NOW!

The conventional wisdom when selling a home has always been to wait until the ‘Spring Buying Season’. Over the years, that has seemed to make sense and is now accepted as a good strategy for those who want to sell their house and receive the best possible price. This real estate market has shattered many previously held beliefs. The wisdom of waiting for a spring market is another belief that is about to fall. Here are five reasons why?
See the rest of the article at:
Selling Your House? 5 Reasons To Do It NOW!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Cost of Waiting For Home Prices to Fall

The Cost of Waiting
For Home Prices to Fall

 The are numerous people out there who want to buy a home, but are waiting for home prices to hit bottom. They want a guarantee that they are purchasing at the best possible price. In some markets, you may see a little more dropping of prices, especially in areas really hit by the foreclosure market (of which Massachusetts has one of the lower rates). But waiting may not be in your best financial interest. You should be concerned with the cost of buying a house, which is quite different from the price of a house.

The real cost of a house is made up of the price and the interest rate you will be paying.

The National Association of Realtors just reported that the average home price in the 4th quarter of 2010 rose .2%. In other words, price remained steady. A buyer who delayed a purchase might find solace in the fact that prices have not increased. However, the other news released the other day paints a different picture. Mortgage interest rates now average 5.05%, up from 4.17% from the middle of the last quarter.
By sitting on the sidelines for the last 90 days a purchaser lost:

    - $89.44 a month
    - $1,073.28 a year
    - $32,198.40 over the thirty year life of the mortgage

If you buy a $340,000 home, double all these numbers.

It also means that if you qualified for a $300,000 mortgage three months ago, today you would only qualify for a $272,000 mortgage.  The longer you wait, the less you will be able to afford if the interest rates keep rising. That means you either have to buy a home with less of the amenities you want or maybe located in a less desirable neighborhood, or you have to come up with a larger down payment.

Bottom Line
Even if prices fall another 10% this year, the cost of a home will increase if interest rates go up more than 1%. If you are in the market for a home, you should not worry about where prices are going. You should be more concerned about where the interest rates are going, and what the cost of buying a home will be later this year or in 2012.

Jim Armstrong
The chart and some of the details are from For more details, please go to:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The First Question You Should Ask Your Listing Agent

The First Question You Should Ask Your Listing Agent

What is the most important thing a seller should look for when hiring a real estate agent to sell their house? We are often asked this question. Is it the size of the company they are licensed with? Is it their marketing program? Their years experience in the business? Should you choose the agent who suggests the highest listing price?
There are many things that should be taken into consideration when hiring someone and giving them the responsibility for selling your home. In our opinion, the most important question you can ask a potential listing agent is a simple one:

Do you truly believe that now is a good time to buy a home?

Why should this matter when hiring someone to SELL your home? Buyers are nervous about purchasing right now. They want to know they are making an intelligent choice. We believe, especially in today’s market, you need to hire someone who realizes that this is one of the best times in American real estate history to buy. If an agent doesn’t believe that, how will they be able to convince a potential buyer to buy your home?
When interviewing a real estate professional, ask them to explain why purchasing a home makes sense today. They should be able to explain it simply and effectively. See how many of the following facts (which should be shared with every potential purchaser) the agent knows:
The Wall Street Journal last week stated:
“With home sales starting to improve, and with prices now possibly forming a bottom, real estate could well be the asset class that represents the best low-risk buying opportunity out there today.”
Donald Trump was just quoted saying:
“I’m pretty sure this is a great time to go out and buy a house. And if you do, in 10 years you’re going to look back and say, ‘You know, I‘m glad I listened to Donald Trump’.”
John Paulson, a multibillionaire hedge fund operator and the investment genius who made a killing betting against housing a few years ago, is now bullish on residential real estate market. He recently said:
“If you don’t own a home, buy one. If you own one home, buy another one. If you own two homes, buy a third. And, lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”
A recent Gallup Poll showed that 67% of American’s think that now is a ‘good time’ to buy a home. The Gallup Organization went on to say:
“Overall, there is good reason for most Americans to think now is a good time to buy a house. Interest rates remain near historic lows. Home prices are down sharply, providing many incredible buys.”
The iconic financial paper in this country, the country’s most famous real estate investor, the most successful prognosticator of the housing market and 2/3 of all Americans say now is the time to buy a home. Shouldn’t your agent agree?

Bottom Line

Selling is nothing more than the transference of conviction. How can agents transfer that conviction if they themselves are not convinced? Find a listing agent who truly believes that someone should buy your home – TODAY! This is the single most important thing you should look for in a potential listing agent.