What are real estate professionals saying to home buyers and sellers about current market conditions? The successful brokers and sales associates are talking about the strengths that exist in the market - not the negative hype.
"There are many positive angles that have recently developed in the Hillsborough County market that underscore why it is a good time to buy real estate," said Jeff Shaw, president of Century 21 Shaw Realty.
Shaw believes selling should not be a personal matter; it is a business and should be treated as such.
"So, the first thing is to make sure your home makes a good first impression," Shaw said. "With buyers, you usually don't get a second chance. It's important to have your agent do a walk-through to give you tips on things to do to improve your house's curb appeal and make it look lighter and more spacious. It has to be better than your competition."
Shaw warned that sellers who need to sell should not wait on the market.
"Even in a great market, it takes time to find a buyer and close the transaction," Shaw said. "Homes are still selling, but it takes a little more market time and therefore more advertising dollars than many are accustomed to spending.
"Price the home to sell. That doesn't mean you have to give it away, but it does mean you have to stay on top of the comparables and your competition."
A seller should be prepared to accept an offer if an offer is made.
"If you don't, they will very likely have a second choice in this market," Shaw said.
"What does work to the benefit of the seller is that much of the builders' inventory has been depleted, and based the on [the Mid-Florida Regional MLS system], the number of single-family homes for sale in our market is down from 4,779 in June of 2007 to 3,918 in June 2008, a decline of over 18 percent."
As for the buyers, Shaw notes there still are quite a few houses on the market, but cautioned there are not as many as there were just one year ago.
"There are some deals out there, but when you find one you think is outstanding, you need to be ready to act on it, or you may find that it's under contract with someone else tomorrow," Shaw said.
"Short sales have the potential to be great, but there are two major drawbacks. One, it can take two to three months for a lender to approve the payoff to close the deal. You may wait three months only to find out the answer is no, and you are back to square one in your home search."
Shaw cited a second major drawback as some licensees may be hesitant to show short sales to buyers because of a recent change in the multiple listing service rules.
"It is possible for a licensee to work for five months with a buyer, find a home, close on it and not be sure how much compensation they will be paid until they get to the closing," Shaw said. "There are even circumstances where the agent may have to bring a check to the closing after five months of hard work if a third party short-sale negotiator is used. This is a new rule and I'm not even sure yet how many of the licensees understand it."
Shaw called attention to the fact single-family investment homes are "starting to make sense again."
"Even with the current property tax structure, there are houses for sale that should yield positive 'cash on cash returns' and a very acceptable Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for the average investor," Shaw said. "This is the first time I have seen this in the last few years.
"Financing is not quite as easy as in years past, but the return on investment numbers are starting to make sense again. As an investor, you just need to be very selective in what you buy and make sure you run the numbers so you know approximately what your rate of return should be."
Shaw cautioned against buying investment property without learning how to qualify one's investments.
Century 21 Shaw Realty has five offices and 280 professionals throughout the Bay area. To contact Jeff Shaw, call (813) 643-0054 or e-mail Jeff.Shaw@Century21.com.