Posts Tagged ‘House Market’

Is Now A Good Time to Buy A House?

July 7, 2008

   When I called Sandi Green to get a state of the state of real estate in the Columbus area, I was prepared to hear her say that business is great. Sandi is president of the Columbus Board of Realtors. She also sells for Waddell Realty Company. The reason I was prepared to hear that business is great is that over the years I have come to the conclusion that no matter how business really is a sales person will say it’s great. I figured it was simply a matter of sales psychology. You could say that I have become cynical, but I like the term skeptical better. After all, I was in the news business for more than half a century and you had better be skeptical if you want to be a decent reporter.


Sandi Green
Columbus Board of Realtors President
  Refreshingly, I have come across some car sales people who admitted that business is lousy right now. Sandi didn’t, to her credit, say business is great, but she made it clear that she was doing fine, as well as most of the old established real estate agents. They, she says, have built up a large enough loyal client base to keep them busy. It’s the newer agents who are having a tougher time right now. 


  Are prices down, I asked her. “No,” she said, but qualified that statement with, “but some people are accepting less than the appraised value to sell their home. Let’s say you got a job in New York and you can’t afford to pay rent there and a house payment in Columbus; you’ll take less.”


  “Now,” she said, “this will cause the comp price to come down in the future.” I asked her to translate the real estate jargon phrase “comp price” for ordinary folks like me. “That means comparable price. You sell your house for less and that brings down the appraised price in the future. That also can help bring down the appraised value of other houses in the same neighborhood.”


  While saying the older established agents are still selling well, she did admit that the inventory of homes for sale is large right now. “People are hearing these stories in the media about the national housing slump and become frightened and that affects their decisions to buy or sell. Like, I always say, like politics, all real estate is local. The Columbus economy is not like the national economy. It’s good, and it’s going to get even better with all of those people coming in here because of Fort Benning getting more troops and the big Kia plant being built at West Point.”


  What about all of those foreclosures?


 “Well, there has been a lot of that for those people who had those sub-prime loans.”


  How well are those homes reselling?


“Some are selling, but sometimes less than appraised value. I know of one home that was first sold for 490 thousand dollars and was resold for 265 thousand. There is some problem with selling those, because when people see a bunch of them up for sale on one street in a neighborhood, they become a little afraid to buy them.”



  In summary:


 – There are a lot of homes for sale right now and a lot of people are taking less than the asking price.


– That could bring down prices in the future.


– News about the national economy and home sales slump has affected the Columbus market irrationally because the Columbus economy is good and promises to get better. 


– Bottom line: it’s a good time to buy a home. (I get the feeling that real estate agents always say that, and, for them, that’s true.) But, if you wait a little, it could be an even better time because people taking less than the appraised value now will possibly bring down appraisals in the future.