We are optimistic about the coming year in Marin real estate. From a seller's standpoint the next few months are going to be very active. Because inventory is down and we expect a 35% jump in the spring, acting sooner rather than later would be advisable and the three factors that will affect you the most as a seller are timing, pricing and marketing. Keep in mind that the more choices a buyer has, the less your home will be worth and if you have something good to offer, make sure the world knows about it.
From a buyer's standpoint, 2010 is the year to buy a home for the reasons outlined below. U.S. News and World Report just came out with an article on why they think that this the year to buy but be careful about procrastinating, because that will hurt you. One of the biggest challenges buyers will face this year is financing. If you don't have a stable job and a history of employment, you may not get conventional financing but with some cash and good credit, there are ways of overcoming that - seller financing for instance. Be sure to get advice before you jump in over your head.
Here are some caveats that we need to be aware of for 2010:
1) Home Prices: After a free-fall of prices in the last two years we see signs of price stabilization. Because of the expected jump in inventory, we do expect a further drop in some price ranges and in some areas. However, the fact that Marin is a no-growth county and the inherent value of its lifestyle, buyers will recognize the importance of buying a home here and the long term appreciation that will occur.
2) Mortgage delinquencies: Nationally, there is going to be an increase in mortgage defaults because of the increase in unemployment and the fact that 1 in 4 homeowners owes more than their home is currently worth. The good news just came out of the White House that the administration is committed to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with as many billions of dollars as is necessary to get them through the next three years. There will be no limit to support the now government controlled mortgage finance giants. Since these two provide funding for well over half the U.S. mortgage market, the implications could be huge. This is another reason for our optimism in addition to the fact that Marin is somewhat immune to what happens in the housing market for the whole country because of the affluence of the county and the overall limited inventory.
3) Mortgage Rates: These are going up folks. They fell to an all time low in 2009 because of the Fed's program with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but now the experts predict a jump to close to 6% or more by year's end.
4) Foreclosures: Yes, Marin will have their share of these but if lenders will staff themselves properly, we should also see a surge of loan modifications and interest rate adjustments. The lenders don't want the keys and will opt to listen to requests for modification. Nevertheless, because of the government's move to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, these companies are expected to reach out and offer forgiveness to lenders. With far less foreclosures and "walk aways" we should see some very positive signs in the months to come and a positive effect on the overall housing market.
5) Tax Credits: These incentives offered by Uncle Sam give up to a $8000 credit to first time buyers and up to $6500 to buyers of their next principal residence. This offer expires in June unless recognized as effective by the government and extended again.
6) Varying markets: The trends for the nation are not necessarily going to be the trends for all areas. While Marin is subject to the economic trend of our country, it is one of the areas that will buck that trend and display stronger than average results. Buyers will seek a safe place to live where the weather, schools, proximity to a big city and an ideal place to raise a family. In California, Marin is one of the best and we will see that reflected in the demand for Marin real estate in 2010.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a home this year there has never been a time when the experience and expertise of a professional agent has been be more valuable. In one of the toughest years in real estate we have ever seen after over 50 years experience between us, we ended up the top agent team in the company and in the top 1% of agents in the county.