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By helisnapa | Agent in Napa County, CA
  • How are things now?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Napa  |  March 4, 2009 3:32 AM  |  1,397 views  |  No comments
    Wow!  And they say the market is slow. 
    Not so in the affordable price ranges and that includes any relatively decent house in fair condition for under $450,000. 
    We are seeing competing offers on most well priced homes that are only "cosmetic fixers".  
    The junkers that have been run down by de-spirited owners who lost them in foreclosure are not getting the "rush" unless they are really cheap.
    Homes that have been extensively modified without permits by the previous owners are tough to finance right now because most loans are FHA and non-permitted garage conversions can make the sale really tough.  The buyer has to risk the cost of an appraisal to see if his lender will accept the property modifications, or will require the work to be undone or corrected.  If work needs to be done on the house to qualify for an FHA loan, the seller-lender is very reluctant to shell out a lot of money to get the work done and often the seller concessions are not enough to make the FHA financing work. 
    Buyers who have decent down payment and can use a conventional loan have much more flexibility in their choices of houses, and they can do a lot of the repair and restoration after they close escrow. 
    A challenging market for the first-time buyer for sure.
    I have been working very hard with some first-time home buyers and they are not making their decisions fast enough and aggressively enough.  I am trying to push them to move faster, but so far no luck.  I think little by little they are getting the drift of what is going on.
    We have looked at over 20 properties, and being cautious, they have always wanted to "not rush into a decision", and by the time they decide, the property is in escrow...and with competing offers. 
    I have tried to explain to them the competition they face, but it has not really sunk in yet.  Maybe soon.  They have lost their chance on 3 houses by not being fast enough.  We looked at a house on Saturday, and by the time they got their offer in yesterday, there were 5 other offers and the property went into escrow for $50,000 more than the asking price.
    The brokers who are listing the bank repo properties are pricing them artificially low so that there will be a fast rush, and people will outbid each other in the frenzy.  Good for the seller and a fast sale, but really difficult for the starter buyer who hears all the media hype telling them they can get a "bargain"...and then there is me...trying to tell them they have to bid OVER asking price in order to have any hope of getting the place, especially if they need help with closing costs or will be asking any kind of repairs.
    My clients will have to loose a few in order to really believe what the market is, and then decide to jump into the frey with both feet.  I have told them, but they need to believe it for themselves before they will become new homeowners in this town. 
    I tell them the truth, but they have to believe it before they will act.  Nice folks, they want a house, I want to help.  We will get there!  It will just take a little time.

    So, when you read about the real estate market, don't believe in articles that paint the scene with a broad brush.  In your area always ask: What area? What price range? What kind of a property?  What kind of financing was used? 
    It all plays into making the market an active one, or a sleeper.

    When in doubt...ask a lot of questions.
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