I just returned from my semi-annual meeting with other large independent brokers from around the country. This time, we met at Lake Lanier in North Georgia. The weather was great, but the real estate climate is, in some respects, sobering. National experts are saying that equal supply and demand and a "normal" market may come as late as 2015. Sales for the first quarter were down around the country, in double digits. Some of that was weather-related, but the rest is still about jobs and financing issues.
There is a silver lining, though, and it's a big one. The interesting news was that prices of sold properties were up by a fraction, 1% or so. This is counterintuitive, if you think about the effect of foreclosed properties and short sales on the value of homes. What it seems to suggest is that it is the best homes (not the most expensive, but the most desirable homes in every price category) that are moving. What that means for sellers is that homes must be put on the market at levels that seem to be good values.
What it means for buyers is even more important. There aren't great bargains out there, at least on homes that are well priced and well maintained. Putting in a lowball offer isn't going to result in a purchase. It goes back to the old saying "You get what you pay for". If you want it, you're going to have to buy it at its value, and not at a fraction.
We just had an offer on a commercial property with a listing price of $2.1 million. Someone submitted an offer of $700,000. That's just wasting everyone's time. The statistics seem to indicate that the short sales and foreclosures aren't yet changing prices on regular properties, and given what we are experiencing in delays on such sales, we can vouch for that. Those things are backed up in the pipeline. What's moving through are the good deals, but they are good deals at good prices, not bargain basement fire sales. Buyers should assume that they won't get what they want if they insist on bottom fishing. It may be a sport, but it's not a strategy.