If you are forced to buy a house right now make sure you find a quality realtor who knows what the heck he/she is doing.
Many Realtors got into the housing game because all you needed was a pulse to sell a house from 2003-2006. Most of these newbies will not survive going forward because you actually have to know what you are doing right now in order to sell a property.
Pricing and realizing the market has dropped are now critical to finding a buyer and most of the realtors don't get it. I read a local article yesterday in the Baltimore Sun about the housing market and I am amazed at the stupidity of some of the realtors out there.
One of my favorite realtor quotes from the article:
"Tina Marine, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Annapolis, said she is seeing "tremendous traffic" at open houses. But buyers just keep looking and looking. "There's lots of activity, but we haven't seen it yet translate to sales," said Marine. "I think buyers are confused. They just don't know what end is up."
Ok Tina let me explain something to you. There is tremendous demand to buy houses AT AFFORDABLE PRICES. Buyers are not confused and they know what end is up. They simply don't want to buy a house that they know will drop in value because its inflated.
Buyers also realize that they cannot qualify financially to buy many of these houses they are looking at anymore because lending standards have tightened. The whole "we see tremendous demand so you better put a bid in" is a common line that buyers should ignore.
When you are buying a house approach it like you do when you are buying a used car. Be very skeptical about what they are telling you and question them when something doesn't make sense. Realtors are desperate right now and this makes them dangerous.
Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. Find a realtor you can trust so you don't end up buying a "lemon" house.
Realtors need to understand that housing has to get back realistic pricing. Buyers would then BUY and not look. The realtors also must make sellers realize that they need to lower prices if they want to sell their house. They need to stop taking the listings if the seller wants to price their house at 2005 prices.
One of the big problems right now is some sellers cannot lower prices because they cannot break even on what they paid for it as the Sun explains:
"But plenty of sellers do not want - or cannot afford - to lower their prices to interest buyers, agents say. With 19,000 properties on the market in the metropolitan area, it would take 10 months to move everything at the current pace of sales. That is an improvement over the winter months, but markedly worse than usual for this time of year."
These sellers will eventually get foreclosed on because most Americans have no cash to short sell a house.
So if you are a buyer, this is what you face as you head into the real estate marketplace. You have desperate realtors, sellers that can't afford to sell, and houses that cost too much.
My advice? Keep renting and let the sellers who can't afford to sell get foreclosed on. Prices will only be going down further as a result of this. The housing time bomb has not yet erupted. Now is not the time to buy.