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The HQ Conundrum
Beyond all the statistical measures of what’s normal these days, Pozzuoli can tell the market is healing based on the “fun factor.” Gloomy agents, sulking around after another bad month, have been supplanted by smiling optimists once more.
“Agents in my office are buzzing again,” says Pozzuoli, who has spent 22 years in real estate. “Membership is increasing, which is what we always see when the market returns to normal.”
Advice From Real Estate’s Front Lines
Watch that rate:
Interest rates have been hovering at 40-year lows, but rates are expected to increase to about 4 percent in 2013 and 4.5 percent in 2014. Beyond that, attempts to wring out inflation could result in drastically higher rates.
With multiple offers becoming the new norm, sellers aren’t likely to take anyone seriously who doesn’t bring documentation of good faith from a credible lender.
Be ready to compete:
Especially for homes priced less than $300,000, be prepared to play hardball. That could mean bringing more earnest money to the table or paying your own closing costs (typically around $3,000).
The buyer’s market has shifted, and lower-priced homes are moving quickly again, especially with the revival of investor interest. Be ready to pull the trigger on a home you like.
Some who weathered the Great Recession still remember how their neighbors made small fortunes selling homes in the mid-2000s. A shift to a seller’s market doesn’t mean the return of instant millionaires.
But don’t leave money on the table:
A solid knowledge of a rapidly fluctuating market is key. A 1 percent miscalculation can be costly when selling a home in a still-tender recovery.
Set the stage:
“Staging” is an age-old tactic for home sellers, but it’s especially important when your place is competing with distressed homes. Buyers will go for the cheaper fixer-upper if your home doesn’t seem worth the extra investment.
Know your upgrades:
Some improvements, especially smaller cosmetic ones, may improve showcasing but not necessarily home value. Know which improvements matter to appraisers and buyers and focus on those.