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Much Ado About Nothing In Real Estate?

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The media doth protest too much, me thinks

Are conditions surrounding the real estate market as bad as we are hearing and reading in the media? Is the mortgage market in as terrible shape as financial pundits claim? In a word, yea . . . and, nay. It all dependeth upon where thou liveth and if thou haveth been a good citizen and paid all thine debts on time.

Yes, the real estate market and the mortgage industry have undergone significant changes over what we have come to know and experience in recent memory and there is no doubt that home prices are falling, foreclosures are up, and money is harder or impossible to get for many folks. Home sellers are making less off of the sale of their homes and home buyers are finding it harder to qualify for a mortgage that they normally would have just a year ago.

But there is also another side to the dismal real estate figures with which we are daily bombarded. Not all areas of the country are experiencing the housing slump that the numbers seem to indicate. So, no, for some people, the housing market is treating them just fine and both home buyers and home sellers are profiting, but not at the expense of each other, something that wasn't always true back in the day. Home prices are stable or climbing and buyers are buying. And, the areas that are hit the hardest with foreclosures are those areas in which the bulk of subprime loans were made, Detroit, for instance, but not as pervasive as one would assume from the media.

The housing statistics that we read and hear about are national figures that are based on averages and other such formulations from governments, real estate associations, and other polling groups that fail to take smaller regions into consideration. It's the same with mortgage figures. The numbers are based on a large pool of national data.

Also, the figures that are thrown around can send the wrong message when not clearly explained to those who are not financial wizards. For instance, we hear that 25% of subprime mortgages are not performing. But, only 25% of all mortgages are subprime, which means that three-quarters of the subprime mortgages are performing. And that all means that only 6.25% of all mortgages are not performing. Not a great thing, but a lot less scary than 25%. It puts a whole new perspective on the overall impact of that number on the housing market.

The areas in which the housing downturn has hit the hardest, such as Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida, also had the greatest growing spurts in previous years. The markets there are merely settling into equilibrium, which benefits everyone involved in the housing market. Home prices have been coming down because they escalated too high. Fewer buyers are in the market because most found homes during the boom. Once the over building of new homes scales down, the real estate market will be adjusted to normal. And, hopefully, the economy will follow suit.

When you look at areas like Salt Lake City, UT, Beaumont, TX, and Ashville and Charlotte, NC, you see real estate as being very healthy. Another spot, Richmond, VA, is also a good example of a housing market that bucks national figures. Richmond, VA real estate is healthy as the other metropolitan areas mentioned. It's not like it was just two years ago, but there is no housing crisis. Things have just changed. We all adapt sooner or later. Just think gasoline prices.

So, when you read those figures spewed out by prognosticating pundits of real estate, keep in mind where you live and how good your credit is. If you're selling in a good area for a decent price, you will make money and sell within a reasonable amount of time. If you are in a tough market area, you may need to stick it out or take less profit. If you are in the market to buy a home, you will make out fine with the still low interest rates as long as you have good credit. Homes are plentiful for reasonable and even bargain prices. If your credit is not so hot, say less than 700 (it used to be 500), you may have a hard time finding a good deal or even getting approved for a mortgage. You will probably also have to come up with a good-sized down payment. Ye can protesteth to thine heart's content, yet thine words shall fall upon deaf ears. The real estate market progresseth as it shall and we are all but pawns in the hands of the real estate gods.

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