Looking for the latest advice on how to protect yourself if you’re thinking of buying a home in these uncertain times? Business Week’s latest article, Steering Clear Of Bubble Trouble, is worth reading. If you want the 10 second executive summary, a link to the article recommends doing four things if you are "bearish on housing": Refinance, Move, Sell, or Take out. (As you will read, their list should have included a fifth bullet point: use a buyer agent.)
Still, the article admits things aren’t that simple. There are mixed signals coming out of local markets like Boston, where The Real Estate Cafe is located; and which PMI, as reported by Kiplinger, says "is the riskiest housing market in that nation." My favorite quote from the Business Week article reads:
In the absence of
solid information, the most sound advice is to hope for the best and
prepare for the worst.
Without pretending to be economists, and running the risk of being criticized by some for stressing the worst that can happen, The Real Estate Cafe will continue to try to help buyers make sense of important trends by providing timely data like that reported in the Boston Globe’s front page story on July 22, 2005. That article, entitled "Home won’t sell? Some cancel and relist", included a graph showing The Real Estate Cafe’s analysis of MLS data on page
B5, and a quote from one of our buyers (click on the link below for pull quotes).
Kudos to the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents‘s president, Barry Nystedt, for his contribution to the Globe article and the important role their members play helping their clients "steer clear of bubble trouble," as Business Week says. Think you’ll get that kind of protection from a new breed of counterfeit buyers agents in Massachusetts, calling themselves "designated agents"? Not if their office is also representing the seller of the same property you are bidding on, which is why Business Week should have added a fifth point to their executive summary:
If you are buying in an overheated housing market, or anywhere for that matter, use a REAL buyer agent who does not have a potential conflict of interest. (For more information on finding an exclusive buyer agent, you download a consumer brochure from AgencyInformation.org or contact The Real Estate Cafe. We’d be glad to make an instate or out-of-state referral as we did recently to Washington, DC.)
Kim Blanton, Boston Globe
Friday, June 22, 2005
Pull quote from page B5
The number of MLS Property cancellations is rising, an indication that
agents are refreshing listings on tough-to-sell houses or frustrated homeowners
are pulling houses off the market because they can’t get their asking price.
MLS had 10,606 cancellations in the first six months of 2005 compared with
9,722 in the first six months of 2004, according to an analysis of MLS data
by Bill Wendel, owner of The Real Estate Cafe in Cambridge. In the first
six months of 2001, just 3,736 listings were canceled.
In a recent spot check of houses for sale on MLS in Middlesex County,
Barry Nystedt, president of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents,
said one in four listings canceled between May 25 and June 25 was recreated
by the same firm with a new MLS number. The problem for buyers is that if
their agent is unfamiliar with a neighborhood, the agent ”may convey to
your buyer, ‘This is a new listing, let’s go look at it,’ when in fact it’s
not a new listing," said Maribeth Boisvert, with Coldwell Banker Residential
Brokerage in Shrewsbury.
Jonathan Cohen, who will relocate from New York to attend Harvard Law
School this fall and was briefly house-hunting, said knowing how long a property
has been for sale is essential when placing a bid. The securities trader
said it is more important for houses than for securities, because ”every
house is different, every neighborhood is different."