ABC Find Homes
If you watch CNN or any of the major cable news networks lately, it seems like the housing market is simply overflowing with homes. Foreclosures, short sales and just people wanting to sell at the bottom of the market. The truth be told, its not as easy to find the perfect house as the media would make you think. In some parts of the country like Los Angeles and its toney neighborhoods like Beverly Hills and Malibu prices never really dipped all that much below the highs of 2007. The same goes for many of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Hamptons, some parts of Chicago and much of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Going a little lower on the real estate food chain - there are certainly boom towns like Las Vegas and Phoenix that have thousands of properties waiting for buyers and being sold at auction. Rust belt cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh have a lot of inventory but believe it or not it can be tricky to buy a short sale from a bank. This is for a number of reasons - the first of which is that many people can't qualify for a loan today as banks have made "debt to income ratio" a much bigger factor to who they will lend to. Unless you make more money today than you did in the old days of the mid-2000s (not many do) and have 20 to 30 percent down payment and have little to no debt (home equity, student loan, car loans, credit cards etc…) then you could find trouble getting the loan that you need. If you can - enjoy the lowest rates and the "cheapest money" that have ever been offered but expect to jump through hoops to get any such loan.
The next factor in finding (and buying) just the right house is making an offer. Often someone will come to market with a house way under the current value and that can cause a bidding war. Even though this deal is smoking - you might not always be able to get in on it.
Cash buyers are another problem in the market. Some people are looking to buy up properties to make a one or two year flip on them and will use their own 100 percent financed cash to buy a property. Even if you offer more money, these buyers often win the bidding with short escrows and no risk of not getting their financing. Many of the houses that people agree to buy today it turns out are above their league with the new mortgage lending practices. This is often the cause of a house "falling out" of escrow.
International buyers are another factor that have brought new money into top areas in the country. They are buying up residential real estate like a commodity looking for a short to mid-term profit. Private equity and hedge funds are doing the same which can make it hard to actually buy your dream house in the real world.
While its not an easy process to buy the home of your dreams - now is the time to get into the market if you can. The money is cheap and there are still homes out there that are at all-time low prices. Be prepared for new factors to complicate the process but if you are patient - you could be rewarded with a property that a) you love b) has a great low mortgage rate and c) has the potential to increase in value. Just remember not to take out an equity loan when the house goes up in value so that you can buy that Bentley that you have always wanted. That's so very 2006!