Defensive Buying – 5 Ways to Buy Smart in a Down Economy

Depending on where you live, your local real estate market may be experiencing a downturn. Historically, these market adjustments have served as a natural protection against runaway price inflation, and in the long-run can be very positive, but as a buyer in one of these markets you must buy smart to protect your financial future.

Here are 5 ways in which you can take advantage of a down market and protect your interests for the future at the same time…

1. Look at the local job market. Know who the major employers are in town and where their employees typically live. Read the papers and pay attention to the stability of these employers. If the company is in financial trouble, or is going to lay off employees, be careful about buying in areas heavily populated by their employees. Yes, you may get a great deal, but home prices may drop dramatically around you and cause you to lose money. Plan for that in your negotiations.

2. Research new commercial developments in your area. If you discover that a new retail / commercial center is going in near an area you desire to live in, take the time to find out what stores are planned for the development, and look at how things like traffic flow and access are going to be addressed. A bad plan can negatively affect area property values, but conversely a well-planned development can draw buyers like a magnet raising property values.

3. Learn about zoning. If you buy a home right next to land zoned for commercial development and you do not realize it, your property value could be negatively affected by the increase in traffic and the type of development. If you are looking in a fully-developed residential area this may not prove to be much of a factor, but be aware of any nearby open spaces and their zoning that could make access to your residential area more challenging. Again, good developments can be to your benefit, but consider how the changes could affect value in your negotiations.

4. Drive the area you desire to live in. Take a camera and a note pad to record what you find. Look for things like for-sale signs, blighted properties, new construction or residential developments, open lots and land, road construction and access, and the availability of retail services. Lots of ‘for sale by owner’ or real estate signs could spell trouble as numerous homes for sale could cause a price reduction war to sell. Again, it may be to your benefit, but you must consider this in your negotiations.

Blighted properties will reduce the value of homes in the immediate area, and new construction, or anything that increases housing density can ultimately reduce value in a slow market as inventory increases and the number of buyers decreases. Be wary of new developments without any noticeable construction activity as there may be financial issues that could affect the value of all of the homes in the area. Don’t be the sucker that pays top price for a home nobody wants.

Open lots and the availability of land can be a positive depending on the area you are looking in, but keep in mind that zoning can change and there are lots of commercial developers out there looking for any sliver of land possible to develop in many markets.

5. Negotiate strongly with the seller. I am a firm believer in homes being exchanged for fair market values, meaning the transaction should be a win-win, but that doesn’t mean you cannot, or should not attempt to negotiate your best terms. Do your research and come to the table armed with extensive, current market knowledge, and a willingness to set your final terms and stick with them. Be reasonable, but firm. Be aware of the long-term implications of your purchase and ensure you have an exit strategy in place. Most importantly, do not be afraid to stand your ground. If you have done your research, the numbers will speak for themselves.

I hope these ideas will help you make a smart purchase in a down market. You must keep in mind that even if you get a great deal on a home, the market can continue to slow down and negate your gains. Know your market well enough to withstand the fluctuations. Above all, secure competent, knowledgeable assistance from professionals in the real estate industry to answer your questions and educate you so you can buy smart in our current market.

For Sale By Owner – The Smart Choice for Independent Sellers

For Sale By Owner is one of the fastest-growing segments of the real estate industry. Also abbreviated as FSBO, this refers to the practice of selling property without the intervention of a broker. Some FSBO sellers do use limited services of a real estate broker for getting their homes listed with a Multiple Listing Service. With the right research and marketing efforts, you can sell your home FSBO and avoid costly broker fees. These real estate broker fees can range between 5% and 10% of the final home price. FSBO selling allows the home owner greater control over the sales and marketing process and brings in buyers who might not be attracted by ordinary real estate listings. Because FSBO sellers are often willing to make arrangements with a buyer, such as a rent to own situation, buyers can negotiate directly with the owner. For Sale By Owner selling accounted for 12-13% of the properties sold in 2005 and 2006.

Marketing your FSBO property is an important part of the selling process. Buyers can’t come to see your house if they don’t know it’s there. The simplest and least expensive method is the yard sign. In areas with hot real estate markets, a yard sign can be enough to bring buyers to your door. Even in slower markets, signs can bring in interested parties in your immediate area.

Next up from the yard sign is the classified ad. This is still inexpensive, and allows you to reach a large number of people easily. Local papers are read by many prospective customers every week. A short ad that runs multiple times will reach more people than a long ad run only a few times. You can announce open houses and other such events with a classified ad, also.

Brochures and bulletin board ads are other good ways to get your house noticed. With the help of a camera and computer, you can produce announcements about your FSBO sale. Many public buildings and workplaces will allow posting of these ads. You can also make brochures available in a container attached to your yard sign. Be sure to keep a few at home so that visitors can remember important information about the house that they have come to see. Home shoppers see many houses in a day, so having a brochure could be the thing that makes your FSBO property stick in their minds and eventually sell.

Another great way to market your For Sale By Owner property is through Internet FSBO sites. These sites allow you to put up details and photos of your house, including dates for open houses and other events. A site like FSBOmarketing.com or one found through a search engine can help you reach a wide range of browsers. Many people in the real estate market now start their house hunt online with a FSBO site. For a small fee, these web sites can improve your exposure dramatically. If you’re comfortable with the sales and negotiating processes, there is no reason at all that you should pay a Realtor to do things that you could very well accomplish on your own. Hot real estate markets can make real estate agents almost irrelevant.