Avoid foreclosure: Real estate pros help navigate home sales
Last year's real estate housing market frustrated many trying to sell their homes as they faced fluctuating housing prices and low home valuations. Clear Capital, a real estate valuation provider, predicts a 2.1-percent increase in home values this year after a 17-percent decline in 2010.
But housing markets vary greatly across the U.S. Some areas may see improvements in their real estate market, but others may continue to bottom out in 2011. Parts of the country could see an additional decline of 6 to 9 percent, according to the Home Buying Institute, an organization that compiles information on the real estate market for homebuyers.
Some saddled with homes worth less than they paid for are waiting to sell, if they can. Those who have to move or want to take advantage of low prices are deciding to rent their former homes while waiting for the real estate market to improve. "I'm hoping to get a good renter, and I figure in three to five years I should be able to get a better price for it," says Angie's List member Louann Lauer, who recently moved from the home she bought in Cleveland in 1979 to a house she purchased in the city's suburbs.
Lauer says she didn't want to try selling now because her home is situated in a neighborhood that's been besieged by foreclosures. She didn't think she could get a price commensurate with the improvements she'd made over the years, and other single-family homes on her block were also turning into rentals.
"I think 2011 is going to be the year of the involuntary landlord," says highly rated Chicago realtor Craig Easly. Illinois is among states, like Arizona, Michigan and Georgia, that continued to see high levels of foreclosures and other indicators of a challenging real estate market at 2010's end.
Easly says part of his job has become managing his clients' expectations about home selling while real estate listing prices stagnate. "Over the past couple of years, myself and other agents have had to get good at delivering difficult-to-hear news," he says. "And a lot of homeowners are playing it safe and getting on the sidelines."
But for those who can't afford to wait, real estate professionals who know your market and who can offer a realistic assessment of your prospects will help move your property more quickly.
Angie's List member Tim Disney knew it was a bad time to sell when he relocated to Tulsa, Okla., from Houston last year. But he says finding a canny realtor who knew how to advertise his home's unique features in a tough housing market helped sell his home within a month. "The hardest thing is getting an offer," says Disney, who settled for $15,000 less than what he'd bought the home for a year before. "You have to be flexible."