Thursday, January 28, 2010

They're Back....Multiple Offers in the San Diego Housing Market

While the medium home prices in San Diego County may be climbing slower than in 2003 in, due to the uncertainty of the economy, the bidding atmosphere with Multiple Offers is back.

As the inventory of homes decreases below the normal 6 months of inventory in most areas of San Diego County to 2-to-3 months and the number of buyers increased 10%, compared to a year ago, the competition for good homes is driving buyers into a competetive bidding frenzy. Buyers are making offers on multiple properties, and sellers in the lower end of the housing market are getting multiple competing offers.

"My goal is to get a house this year," said one of my serious first time home buyers. Many are racing towards that goal before the $8,000 Tax Credit expires, before the giant carrot disappears from underneathe their noses April 30th. To add to the mix, the government added in a $6500 tax credit for repeat buyers. And then there are the investors buying while prices are low.

Sellers and banks are looking for the cash to back up those rising offers, should the appraisal not come in and the buyer may have to pay more cash to make up the difference.

So what are buyers to do?

1. Lite Fixer. Look for a home that may not be perfect. Look for the potential in a home. Cosmetic repairs can always be done one at a time. Look beyond the stained carpet and scuffs on the walls. Ask the seller to help with your closing costs so that you can use that money to replace the carpet and paint. Also, the tax credit can be used in the near future for needed repairs or updating. But beware, avoid homes that require too many "honey do's" unless you have lots of money to sink into the home. Watch "The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long before jumping into a home with lots of issues.

2. Buy Low. Buy a home below your means, below your maximum preapproved price, so that you have room to bid up. While you think you are doing good by giving the seller his asking price, multiple offers pushes the price upward and you may need room to meet that higher price.

3. Be Realistic. Most importantly, listen to your Realtor's advice and be realistic. Listing agents toss the low ball offers aside, unless you have "all cash" for a quicker sale. Know what the comparable homes are running in the area and plan to make a fair market value offer.

For more tips on being a successful buyer in this challenging market, read 5 Tips How FHA and VA Buyers Can Succeed

--Virginia Hall
ABR®, CRS®, e-Pro®, GRI®
"2009 & 2010 FIVE STAR Real Estate Agent(SM)”.
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Saturday, January 16, 2010

5 Tips How FHA and VA Buyers Can Succeed

First time home buyers grow frusted! Good homes at good prices are being snatched up by All Cash and Conventional buyers. Homes that are priced well below the market value, a technique called Power Pricing, are meant to get multiple offers in record time. The frenzy created by a low priced home creates an atmosphere of desperation amongst buyers. Each buyer outbidding one another in an effort to secure the great deal.

Unfortuately, there is a heirarchy of loans: "All Cash" is the best, then Conventional, FHA and lastly VA loans. How is an FHA or VA buyer to compete?

1. Representation. Serious buyers must employ the help of a qualified Realtor who can help them catch the brass ring. However, they need the experienced agent to help them understand that everyone is looking for the elusive great deal! They need a representative that can help find a home with their needs in mind, at the same time being realistic.

When buyers are first exploring the market, there are many websites (i.e.,,, etc.) for them to investigate on. However most of these websites have a 48hr filter delay. In this market, those great deals may have multiple offers and not even available in 48hrs.

A Realtor can set up an automated search that is directly connected to the MLS, such as Gateway, notifying buyers immediately of new listings or changes.

2. Ready to Jump. Buyers need to check their personalized online searches daily. They have to be ready to go, to make a quick decision. While a buyer is thinking it over, another one has put an offer in on it. What buyers need to remember is that they can change their mind within a certain period of time defined in the purchase agreement without risk of losing any money.

3. Closing Costs.For sellers, FHA & VA buyers are less desirable when compared to "All Cash" and Conventional loan buyers. The FHA and VA buyers have less down and are less financially stable, often needing assistance from the seller with closing costs, and may not qualify for a loan at the end of the road. Where the all cash and conventional loan buyer may have more money and if the appraisal comes in low, they are more apt to pay the difference. So what is an FHA and VA buyer to do? The price and conditions are the only way to stand out.

The all cash and conventional buyers know they have an advantage and may make lower offers. However the FHA and VA buyer has to come up to the plate with a reasonable or higher offer. With a Realtor's assistance, carefully analyse the comparable home prices and consider the condition of the property and make a reasonable offer. The offer may be higher than the asking price.

If you have the money for closing costs, pay your own closing costs. While you are searching for a home, continue to save your money for the down payment. This will help give you an advantage. If you need the closing costs paid for by the seller, you will need to add those costs into the offer.

4. Ask for Less. When buying a Bank owned property or a short sale, the less a buyer asks for the better. In a normal market, the buyer may ask for appliances or additional items such as a home warranty that the seller would typically pay for. However, the banks don't want to give any frills.

While normally in Southern California, the termite inspection is paid for by the seller, in Northern California the buyer pays for it. In the case of Short Sales and Bank Owned properties, the tide seems to be turning. While VA buyers have to have a termite inspection and clearance, the buyer should put a maximum price tag on the repairs. Banks don't deal well with unknowns.

FHA buyers may want to avoid asking for a termite inspection with repairs altogether, if the appraiser will allow it. Especially, on condominiums where the HOA usually pays for the exterior termite inspections once a year. Buyers should let the home inspector know this so that they can look for any issues of wood rot under sinks.

In regards to houses, if the seller of the short sale home purchased it in the past few years it more than likely had a termite clearance at that time and less likely to have costly damage and repairs needed. However, if the house shows lots of signs of deferred maintence, this may not be the house for a first time home buyer. The bank wants to give you a great price for the house "as is".

5. Stand Out. Buying a home is an emotional purchase. By appealing to the emotional side of a seller, buyers may beat out the competition. In a letter, buyers should give the seller a little history of themselves and reasons for them to like them. Especially Veterans, they need to use their service to our country to their advantage to tug on those heart strings. Even add a nice photo.

These tips will hopefully help a FHA and VA buyer succeed. But the biggest tip is to patient and persistent.

--Virginia Hall
ABR®, CRS®, e-Pro®, GRI®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585DRE#01409760