By Kay Wilson-Bolton
May 15, 2004
The winds of change seem evident in Ventura County with the increasing inventory, a good sign for those who want to get into home ownership. The stress of it all is taking its toll on the real estate community and on those who want to buy or sell their home.
Disappointment and frustration are being felt by those who are bidding over asking prices, only to worry about appraisal and qualifying issues, and by those who continue to be on the losing end of making an offer.
Buyers are scouring newspapers for “first run” ads and calling the listing agent, often bypassing their own agent who has been diligently working for them. It is all too common that new listings are “office exclusives”, and buyers are not able to use their own agent because the listing agent has either taken the listing at a very reduced fee, or due to lack of sales activity, is looking to cover two house payments instead of one and doesn’t want to share the fee with another agent.
An example, all too familiar, is a recent one where heirs decided to sell the home in which their parents had lived before they died. They contacted three agents; selected one to list it, and raised the price by $10,000 from the initial conversation three weeks prior.
One of the competing agents had already written an offer $5,000 over the initial asking price, with 100% financing, and the listing agent wrote an offer at the revised asking price for a highly qualified investor with more than 20% down payment who would have provided a rental opportunity for someone.
The sellers felt that they owed it to the estate to test the Multiple Listing Service before accepting even the full price offer.
The day the listing appeared in MLS, there were three calls from agents to show the property, one of whom had already written an offer. This buyer lives in the same town, works for a county agency and is well qualified for the purchase. They are renting and would love to have this as their first home. Their offer is well over the asking price.
As of this writing, there are three written offers, five showings scheduled, and the “first run” ad will be in Sunday’s paper.
“It isn’t fair,” one agent said. “My clients can’t afford to pay more, and we can’t seem to get there first. They will be sick if they don’t get this house.”
He’s right you know; it isn’t fair. How more unfair will it get before this frenzy normalizes itself? Rising interest rates will provide some correction, but what seller wants to be the first to take less than their neighbor.
How will we balance the fear of paving the hillsides and lowlands with not owning a home in our town of choice?
To whom does a city owe home ownership and to how many? How much longer can buyers pay rising prices? What does the future hold for SOAR supporters and opponents who will have to grapple with how many homes are enough?
Tough leadership will be required. Not many of us will be up to it, and fewer of us will want to. Ventura County is under siege with rising home prices, and it is going to get worse before it gets better. No one knows when they will be curbed. None of us thought they would go this high.
The real estate community is bursting at the seams with new agents adding new competition to the fray. New styles of marketing and strategies are appearing that may not be in everyone’s best interest.
Lenders and appraisers are being taxed to the max to help buyers get loans. Some of these strategies may have short term benefits, but hidden, long term traps.
I do recall kindly the good old days. Gee. Was 1976 really that long ago?