According to FEMA, the deadline for residents and small businesses to apply for federal assistance for damages  related to super storm Sandy has been extended to Jan. 28, 2013.  The original deadline was December 31, 2012.  The extension applies to Long Island, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley.

 

Any homeowner, renter, or business owners who suffered loss and damages as a result of Super Storm Sandy, is encouraged to register with FEMA and seek assistance by the January deadline.  http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/sandy-update-4-send-us-your-completed-loan.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. And some of that advice is probably negative. Why buy now with prices still falling? Don’t you realize real estate is no longer a good investment? Don’t you know that people who bought six years ago lost their shirt? We understand the concern your friends and family have. However, let’s look at whether or not now is actually the perfect time to buy a home.

There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

1. What are the experts recommending?

In the last 120 days, many experts have said that buying now makes sense. This list includes: John Talbott, Christopher Thornberg and Warren Buffett.

2. When will I begin to see appreciation if I buy now?

This is a great question. Macro Markets, LLC is a company that studies housing prices. They started their Home Price Expectation Survey in 2010. They ask 100+ housing industry experts to project housing prices through 2016. The most current survey shows that the experts are predicting prices to remain relatively flat in 2012. The experts then project prices to rise reaching a cumulative appreciation of over 10% by 2016.

Purchasing a home today makes great sense from a financial standpoint. Think of the old axiom: you want to buy low and sell high. This decision should not only be a financial one however.

That leads us to our third and final question:

3. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey shows that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
A place where you and your family feel safe
More space for you and your family
Control of the space
What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the reason you decide to purchase or not.

Bottom Line

Don’t allow money to get in the way of you making the right decision for you and your family. In the long run, the finances will work in your favor anyway.

Beginning in 2007, foreclosures rocked the real estate world. Like an out-of-control freight train, they began decimating the market, peaking in 2009. Myths and rumors began propagating like mushrooms as consumers struggled to understand the new reality. Although many misconceptions have come and gone, we still encounter five myths on a regular basis.

1. There is going to be a flood of new foreclosures to the market.

This rumor has appeared every year since 2008 and has been routinely debunked. However, recent announcements that the Feds reached a settlement over the robo-signing scandal have reignited speculation. The idea is simple: Since the cork is now out of the foreclosure bottle, we’ll soon see another flood of REOs inundating the marketplace.

My personal opinion: don’t hold your breath.

Banks have learned that if they control inventory, they can affect local prices. By releasing homes in measured amounts, they realize higher prices than if they released a glut of homes. In addition, they’ve learned that if they can mitigate their losses by agreeing to a short sale, everyone wins.

2. You can go directly to a bank to buy a foreclosure.

Every few weeks I’m asked how to buy foreclosures direct from a bank. Someone knows a friend being foreclosed on and they want to step in and grab the house before it hits the market. Don’t we all? In reality, banks have a simple system – they first offer properties on the courthouse steps. The rest they assign to asset mangers who then hire local real estate agents to put them on the market along with all the other homes. Want an REO? Pay cash at the courthouse steps or get in line witheveryone else when they hit the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

3. You can get a killer deal by submitting lowball offers on foreclosures.

You would think this myth would be dead by now. Unfortunately, like Elvis sightings, it just won’t go away. Here’s the truth: Banks want REOs sold in 30 days or less, so they typically appear on the market priced slightly under comparable properties. If the property doesn’t sell quickly, the bank will lower the price after about 30 days. Lowball offers are ignored and are, quite frankly, a waste of everyone’s time and effort. You might get a deal by offering a lower price on a foreclosure that’s been sitting on the market for more than 90 days, but remember that there are good reasons it’s gone unsold for so long. And even if you have cash, your lowball offer won’t be accepted —seriously.

4. You can’t use foreclosures when doing an appraisal.

Or short sales, for that matter. That is no longer true. In fact, in many neighborhoods, that’s all that’s there. Therefore, foreclosed or distressed sales represent the actual value of homes in the area and HAVE to be used to appraise other properties. Don’t like it? Get over it. Times have changed and the ways neighborhoods are valued have changed as well.

5. Foreclosures are only affecting the bottom end of the market.

This used to be true. However, while foreclosure rates on the lower end of the market have actually decreased, they’re actually increasing on the upper end. According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, the market share of foreclosed homes under $1 million is shrinking, but those among properties valued over $1 million are rising – up 115% since 2007. And foreclosures on properties valued upwards of $2 million have increased by 273%. While some well-known jet-setters have melted down and lost everything, others are choosing to strategically default. They see it like liquidating a poorly performing portfolio – they have enough resources to cut their losses and move on. Historically, banks have been reticent to foreclose high-end homes and absorb a large loss, but defaulters are now forcing their hands and mansion foreclosure rates are moving on up.

Myths control behavior, and this has never been truer than in the housing market. Savvy agents will work hard to educate their clients, debunk myths, explain market trends, educate with solid facts – and actually close transactions.

 

Author: Carl Medford, a practicing Realtor with Prudential California Realty in the San Francisco Bay Area   TRULIA.COM

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