"To active real estate agents, this market is definitely heating up," said RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly. "They are witnessing a recovery across the country fueled by home buyers and sellers taking advantage of a significant market opportunity."
Agent opinions are documented in the quarterly RE/MAX Market Insights, an online survey of 1,022 residential experts. The survey builds brand visibility for RE/MAX agents, and is typically picked up by more than 300 news outlets. Collectively, RE/MAX agents sell more real estate than any other real estate network in the U.S.
Key findings include:
- Price rebound: 68% say prices will be higher by the end of 2012.
- Today’s prices: 29% below the peak reached during the housing bubble.
- Demand for lower-priced properties: 80% of agents say it’s good or very good.
- Demand for homes in the middle-price ranges: 71% rate it as fair to good.
- Demand for high-priced homes: 58% call it poor to fair.
A snapshot of today’s homebuyers served by RE/MAX agents:
- Roughly one third are first-time buyers. Another third are homeowners looking to sell so they can move up or downsize. The remainder are mostly investors, who believe the market has hit bottom.
- One in five buyers pays cash, receiving an average discount of 15%.
The most significant challenges facing first-time homebuyers are having an acceptable credit score, posting a down payment, and facing a shortage of homes for sale. Repeat buyers have the added burden of selling their current home. They, too, are facing a scarcity of homes to purchase in the lower and middle price ranges.
Nearly half of the agents say lower priced homes in their markets are selling for slightly less than the asking price, while 17% say buyers are paying full price and 11% say buyers are paying slightly more than the asking price.
For homes in the middle-price ranges, 49% report sale prices are slightly less than the asking price, while 8% say full-price is being paid. For the high-priced homes, 43% report that sale prices are moderately less than asking prices, with another 25% saying it is slightly less.
With bank-owned homes making up a significant portion of the current inventory, agents report that 62% of their non-investor buyers have a favorable attitude toward foreclosures, while only 27% have a favorable attitude toward short sales.
"With distressed properties still making up a sizeable portion of homes on the market, this inventory is being cleared effectively by buyers, who don’t mind investing a little to fix up a property in return for an attractive bargain," Kelly added.
Among buyers’ highest priorities were quality of schools, and condition and size of the home. The lowest priorities included public transportation, walkability and energy efficiency.
Most RE/MAX agents advise their buyers to hire a professional home inspector and to attend the inspection. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage, not merely pre-qualified, also is recommended.