Risky Business

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Dress code Deconstructing Today's Home Prices Buoyed by rising prices, homeowners are unloading their abodes at a decidedly quick clip. R ising home prices show no sign of slowing, much to the delight of home sellers and to the chagrin of homebuyers. According to Fiserv CaseShiller's most recent index, the housing recovery will continue to grow at an annualized rate of 0.6 percent through Q 3 2013. Likewise, home prices will vault by 3.7 percent before settling down to 3.3 percent annually during the course of the next three years, the report notes. recovery. "If residential investment—which encompasses all direct spending on residential real estate construction and activity—returns to its 1997 level over the next two years, then housing will boost overall economic growth by 0.5 percentage points in 2013 and 2014," said David Stiff, chief economist for Fiserv. WHEN IN DOUBT, GO WITH A PRO: As more and more homeowners turn to friends, relatives, or try their own hand at selling property, experts' admonishments increase in lockstep. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), more sellers are opting for discounted Realtors who work on a flat-fee structure instead of commission. That phenomenon, in fact, has increased by 1 to 3 percent in certain areas. But amid today's heightened regulatory environment—where rules are aplenty and initiatives are enforced—some experts are crying for buyers to be aware of aligning with amateurs. IN AND OUT: Such news, it seems, has inspired some homeowners to go the DIY route when it comes to peddling their pads. For-sale-by-owner (FSBO) transactions reached an all-time low of 9 percent in 2012. In more than half of those sales, the seller already knew the buyer. Now, "quick buck agents" have made a return to the scene, crowding the field for licensed Realtors. "We are seeing a new wave of FSBO signs in 2013. With the return of the strong seller's market, it's just a fact. It's just something new to work with again, when they had virtually disappeared in the past few years," said Realtor Michelle Francis of Buckhead, Atlanta. FAR-REACHING GAINS: Home price recovery is solid and broadbased. At the end of Q 3 2012, prices had risen by approximately 62 percent in all U.S. metro areas, a dramatic jump from 12.5 percent in the same period in 2011. "Although some recent real estate activity has been speculative, it seems as if buyers have more realistic expectations about housing market returns after having lived through the largest housing market crash in U.S. history," according to the report. DON'T LOOK BACK: Analysts warn against consumers rushing to draw similarities between this post-bubble era and the years leading up to the 1997 buying flurry. Despite recent gains in construction, the number of new residential units being built per household remains at a near record low. As momentum in the housing market builds, we will see the residential real estate sector once again make notable contributions to the economic Pete Miller, a columnist with OurBroker, said that today's climate is not one for loose deals. "Long ago, the idea of buying and selling without a broker was both attractive and doable. That's just not the recommendation I would make today," he said. "I now tell owners to list houses with successful professionals, and I tell purchasers to find an experienced buyer-broker as well as a good home inspector." The M Report | 19

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