As a Realtor, most of the questions I get asked have to do with the smartest moves to make when starting a home search. I've noticed a bit of a shift lately in terms of inquiries and they seem to have more to do with the future of the housing market rather than the current state of real estate. That said, I thought I'd dust off the old crystal ball and make some predictions. But please keep in mind that one of my last predictions was that I my bald head would re-grow some hair. No such luck.
Prediction #1: Pent-Up Demand = Strong 2013 Interest rates are anticipated to remain in the low single digits throughout next year and that translates to good news for sellers. Buyers who have been sitting on the fence for too long are finally going to jump into the house-buying fray so as not to be left behind. That said, I believe that we'll see new highs in home sales come spring.
Prediction #2: More Home Sales But Lower Sale Prices Massachusetts homeowners are being cautiously optimistic about the next year's selling season and, as such, are keeping their homes off the market until spring 2013. This has created diminished housing inventory for the time being. If sellers flood the market come 2013, I believe that we'll see more sales but lower pricing due to more competition in the market.
Prediction #3: Do-It-Yourselfers Will Boost Home Improvement Store Stock Prices In anticipation of putting their homes on the market come spring, homeowners are going to start to "refresh" their homes this fall/winter. Best way to beat the competition in terms of selling your own home? Make yours is the nicest one on the market. New flooring, brighter window treatments, freshly painted bedrooms, upgraded electrical, etc. In other words, more and more trips to your local Home Depot and Lowes.
Prediction #4: More All-Cash Purchases Unless we see a radical shift on the part of mortgage lenders, getting a home loan will remain a daunting, near impossible task. Unless you have excellent credit scores, a proven history of credit payment history, plenty of assets to report and a full-time job, you'll need to show home sellers the money. The strict lending standards we face now will continue to hinder homeownership in 2013.
Prediction #5: Online Home Research Gets Trumped by More Personal Service The current high level of real estate license applications will inevitably translate to more agents entering the work force next year. But, in the case of newly minted agents, more isn't necessarily better. With a dizzying array of sales agents to choose from and a rapidly moving housing market, buyers in the coming months are going to have to turn to experienced Realtors and not Wikipedia to get the best advice. Those brokers with many years in the business and positive feedback on the Internet will be the best bet for first-time home buyers and sellers looking to sell at the best price.
SO HOW CAN SELLERS AND BUYERS PREPARE FOR 2013?
Before you go DIY crazy, have a Realtor evaluate your home BEFORE you pick up that paint brush. They can save you time and money by having you focus on the fix-ups that will bring you the best returns on your investment.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you don't think you'll want to buy anything until next year, finding out now what you can comfortably afford later will make your search more targeted and thus more successful.
Hire a Realtor. Whether you plan to buy a new home or sell your current one (or both), do the smart thing and hire a licensed real estate professional. This is one case where using the Internet for your housing needs makes sense: research various agents' online recommendations from their previous clients so you'll know who will be the best choice for you and your family.
Now all I need to do know is check this blog posting next year at this same time and see if my crystal ball predictions proved to be true. In the meantime, good luck and have fun!