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Every little thing is a big thing these days. Working our way out of the greatest economic downturn in recent history, combined with election year histrionics tend to create some confusing headlines. It’s like seeing a fire ant on the sidewalk, taking a magnifying glass to it and finding you’ve blown the damn thing up!
CNNMoney ran an article late June featuring the ant and the magnifying glass, but buried the picnic basket. If you read only

Home sales slowed slightly in May, as the housing market continues on its bumpy road to recovery.Sales of existing homes in May slipped 1.5% versus the month prior, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday…

well that sounds kinda bad. Until you read the next line “to an annualized rate of 4.55 million.”
And now the picnic basket the ant is presumably heading toward.

The May sales figures are still a big improvement versus last year, up 9.6% compared with the annualized sales rate of 4.15 million in May of 2011, the NAR said. The median existing home price in the U.S. rose 7.9% over the same period, according to the report.

Now I’d like to lay out the checkered table cloth… (bold type mine)

Analysts say that demand among potential homebuyers remains solid, with many having put off purchases during the downturn in the past few years. Home prices remain affordable and mortgage rates are at record lows, but limited access to credit and high down payment requirements are holding back sales.

The last part about the credit scores and down payments? It’s true that lenders and underwriters being more diligent, as they should be, but there are also a wide variety of mortgage products and down payment programs available. The dramatic ending, “holding back sales” may be doing just that.

Read the article in its entirety and tell me what you think.

THE TROUBLE WITH FSBO.

There are a million real estate stories in the Mile High City; this is one of them. The story you are about to read is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. This is a story of one girl’s nightmare. Me. I’m a REALTOR®. But I’ll try not to let that get in my way.

It was a hot summer in cool real estate market. The rolling boil of winter’s tax incentives had simmered into springtime and left the pot dry. Houses sat for weeks without a showing. Sweaty listing agents tied balloons to open house signs as potential buyers rolled by on fat-tired bicycles. My phone rang. It was the clients I’d put into a downtown duplex some years before; cute couple, new baby, good debt-to-income ratio and a spanking clean credit score. They were smart enough to see it was time for a move up, down to the bucolic suburbs. Interest rates hadn’t been this low since… well, ever.

We set out shopping, searching for nothing less than the dream home: that elusive slice of Americana where you know your neighbors, raise a family. And we found it, love at first sight, a bit like Bedford Falls but in Technicolor. The drawback? It was a FSBO. *bum-bum-bum-bummm*.

Now I’m a kind of do-it-yourself type dame, within reason. I don’t mind doing my nails or washing the dog but I have to draw the line at what I don’t know, like removing a kidney or my taxes. It’s not that I couldn’t do it if I had to, but it wouldn’t be in my best interest. Some folks get all DIY when it comes to selling a house, I mean, how hard could it be, ey? Stick a sign in the yard, a couple snapshots on the Internet, throw some poor schmuck a few clams for an MLS input, then sit back and watch that baby sell.

As my old pal, Joe Friday, once said, “Ah, sure, but just like every other foaming, rabid psycho in this city with a foolproof plan, you’ve forgotten you’re facing the single finest fighting force ever assembled.” REALTORS®
The problem here stemmed from a lack of access to accurate data. Zillow, Trulia and the CMA done by the affable agent who sent the Broncos schedule doesn’t give a true representation of home value. My hunch is that they took the range provided by the neighborhood expert, added 20 to it for ‘negotiation’ and called it a day. They missed the mark in this game of real estate pricing horseshoes. By 35k . When our offer came in at market value and the appraisal backed it up they went into a tailspin, losing sight of the larger goal of selling their house. Every part of the negotiation was tinged with bitterness as dates, deadlines, inspection items; things that are standard part of the deal became emotional and difficult because they had no neutral party working on their behalf. A house is an emotional commodity and real estate transactions are a fine balance of the human and the business transaction. A good Realtor is adept at holding the deal in balance, by being rational, informed and calm. Our high-centered sellers almost lost the sale numerous times because they lacked the two most important things in the real estate process: accurate information and an advocate. Without these things you’re left vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Just like performing that kidney transplant with a Swiss Army knife and a yard of dental floss. It seems like a good idea at the time, but then you realize how much you don’t know.

Statistics show that 81% of FSBOs sign with an agent within 30 days, at least the smart ones. Because not only do you reduce your headache and legal liability with a REALTOR®, you actually make more money. Have I made my point? So if you’re considering a move in this hairy market, do yourself a favor and call a Realtor®, hopefully me, and ask a few questions.

Oh, and that cute couple? They made it to the closing table alright and are happily ensconced in their beautiful new home.