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Chat Plus: This is What Change Looks Like

Here's a question remaining from the most recent Real Estate Live chat, which happened Friday, July 24. You can read the full transcript online, or join us for the next go-round, scheduled for August 7.

Burke, Va.: What's really going on out there with prices? I know a few people in NoVA who are looking at single family homes in the $400k range who have been outbid on several properties. And since hearing these stories, I have been keeping an eye on Zillow, and that Web site has reported a value increase of almost $50k in my home over the last six weeks. Now, those Zillow numbers seem pretty fishy, but it is the trend that I find intriguing. What's going on here?

Elizabeth: Take the Zillow numbers with a big grain of salt. They just aren't that precise for any given home. Real, live, licensed appraisers are having difficulty pegging values now. What I think we're witnessing is a changing market, especially in the (relatively!) affordable price ranges. When prices are rising, people can predict where they're going; when they're falling, people can also predict that with some accuracy. But it seems many neighborhoods are bumping along near their bottom, and that's very tough to get a handle on.

This blog's Weekend Poll is a decidedly unscientific little device. Basically, it's a conversation piece. Still, I find the latest responses to be very interesting. When asked if buyers still have the upper hand in this market, responses are almost evenly split three ways. As of Monday morning, about a third agreed with the statement "Yes! There are tons of unsold listings," About a third chose "No. I still can't find anything I can afford." And the rest chose "It's a tossup. Both buyers and sellers are negotiating hard." Those split sentiments, to me, are another sign of a changing market.

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  July 27, 2009; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  Buying , Chat Plus , The market  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Home Sales Increase and The Weekend Poll
Next: More Signs That Home Prices are Steadying


Regarding the chat poster who asked about realtors buying foreclosed properties: I am in the market for a home in a very specific neighborhood. There are quite a few houses out there, but virtually all are short sales (when a regular sale comes on, it goes in a weekend).

I've had my eye on a few short sales for quite some time, but am not in a position to make an offer. However, my realtor sent me a list of homes in my area due to foreclose. The list showed about 5-6 homes that seemed like possibilities for me. All were listed with auction dates in the last month, but when I checked the property tax records, no sale had been recorded (yet). I did a street by street search of the tax records to find homes already foreclosed and found five, three of which were owned by a local investment company.

My realtor had not dealt in these homes before and was wary but willing. Of the three listed as owned this company, two were already under contract to a new owner. I kept checking the tax records for the homes that should have been auctioned, and Saturday one of them showed up as being owned by this local company. My agent called the company minutes after getting my email about it (I figured we'd not get any movement until today), but someone answered the phone. Unfortunately, that property was under contract already, but it gave my agent a chance to ask questions.

Basically, if I understand it correctly, the company never lists these properties on MLS, because there are agents they work with who they know are interested in these properties, so there is no need. So now my agent is a little more in the know and can check back with the company about any property that is past its foreclose date to see if the company owns it, and inquire about purchasing it. The company sells some as is and renovates some. So if your agent is willing to step a little out of his/her comfort zone, and you are willing to do some legwork, you too can purchase a foreclosed home. You just have to be on your toes about it.

Posted by: janedoe5 | July 27, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

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