Realtor.com says, on average nationwide, prices and sales are blooming, inventories are wilting, and more and more markets reveal a potential for growth not seen in years.
“Things are picking up. All the prices are down and interest rates are really low. It’s like Macy’s is having a sale,” said Martin Morales, Secretary-Treasurer of the Monterey County (CA) Association of Realtors.
No, you didn’t miss the bottom, but the potential for a buyers’ bum rush and forecasts for higher rates later this year could cause the competition to heat up this spring.
That’s your cue.
Hire a real estate market hero
It’s the best time to buy a home in years, but the worst time to move without a professional on the payroll.
Shopping in today’s housing market without first hiring a licensed real estate agent is like going to war without combat skills. Investors will show you no mercy, all-cash buyers are looking to make a killing and agent-represented buyers are locked and loaded.
Ask family members, relatives, friends, co-workers and others you trust for a referral. Also get referrals from Realtor.com’s “Find a REALTOR” search engine.
Look for tenured experience in general and specialty experience – designations and certifications – for certain sales skills, including short sales, second homes, green homes, luxury homes, buyer representation and property management, to name a few, depending upon your needs.
“Talk to your sphere of influence. Also, take a look around the neighborhood where you want to live and see who is active and who has testimonials that prove they are active and successful” said Karen Smyth, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty-Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA.
Look for technology super powers
Today, tech-savvy is just as important as a solid track record, but it goes beyond laptops and desktops. Today’s housing browser is always connected and always on the go.
Virtually all, 98 percent, of homebuyers who used a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) in their home search considered the device a valuable tool, with 46 percent asserting the tech tool as “essential” and 52 percent stating it as “helpful,” according to a “Mobile Home Shoppers” a study from Network Communications, Inc. (NCI).
“Our research supports that homebuyers are turning to their smart phones and tablets in their search and taking action to reach real estate professionals,” says Scott Dixon, president of NCI’s Real Estate Division.
According to NCI, mobile device users do pretty much everything the last tech generation of home buyers did, and then some, when they went browsing for housing. The new breed of home shopper plugs into GPS to locate listings and check out neighborhoods, they fire up apps to help them hone their search, and, via social media, they Care Bear-share listings, video tours and their successful home-buying experience with family, friends and acquaintances.
“Tech-savvy agents who are comfortable with methods of communication such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc. tend to be faster to respond to their clients needs and thus also able to alert buyers faster when new homes come on the market, which is important due to well-priced inventory moving quickly right now,” said Jonathan Benya, a real estate agent with Keller Williams of Southern Maryland.
“We’ve seen a 50 percent drop in inventory over the last 12 months, so response time is key,” Benya added.
With great power, comes great responsibility
But a suitcase full of gadgets doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if the agent can’t wield other powers, says Morales, broker/co-owner of Century 21 Scenic Bay Properties in Monterey, CA .
For example, in the third of the market that offers bargain basement prices on distressed properties, the agent must ferret out hellish conditions that can come with those properties.
“The value of the agent is not showing properties any more. Anyone can look at a property, but you need someone to show you how to know if you can profit on the property. Someone who can keep you out of harms way so you don’t buy a property that will give you problems in long run,” said Morales.
Mild-mannered alter ego
Oakford Taylor, a real estate agent with Long and Foster in Bear, DE says the fundamentals also still apply, especially now, more than ever, in this hurry-up-and-get-it-done world.
Having strong rapport with an agent supercedes all else. If the two of you can’t talk, the deal will balk.
“It doesn’t matter what credentials you have. If you don’t have interpersonal skills, people will walk away,” said Taylor, snapping his cape.