Real estate experts say ‘it feels worse than it really is’ in Grand County
November 10, 2008
Is the American dream in dire trouble? Experts at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and in the real estate field say no.Americans dream mostly of two things: owning their own home and being their own boss. But just when homeowners in the United States were getting to the good part, with a boom in recent years, real estate trends now have left buyers and sellers restless.Many know the real estate market has been changing dramatically and some have been shaken by recent market trends. Just a few factors include the election, the stock market, and the economy. However, some are saying the dip in sales is a short-term hiccup, that this is the time to buy.To clear up some of the concern, Wells Fargo assembled a panel of what is thought to be some of the best minds in the industry for a discussion out of Chicago, Ill. At the table were Brian Buffini, chairman and founder of Buffini & Company; Cara Heiden, WFHM co-president; David Bach, founder and president of FinishRich Media; and Terry Watson, founder and president of Watson World Inc.The program was broadcast live to about 20 of the largest market cities in the nation and was shown during a special CineMeeting at the Winter Park Mountain Lodge. Topics included information about opportunities for qualified homebuyers and tips on how real estate agents and brokers can guide and educate them in such uncertain times.Advice that rang constant among all four panelists was staying positive, buyer and seller education, and using a credible lender. It feels worse than it really is, Buffini said, adding that there has been tons of misinformation in the marketplace.Bach, financial coach and bestselling author of seven books, reminds customers that real estate isnt national but local. Some areas throughout the country are indeed struggling but, on a state-by-state basis, more than half of the states recorded price appreciation over the past year. Guest speaker Jeff White, WFHM residential mortgage division representative for the Western Slope, predicts the market will pick up again in the third quarter of 2009.Although there have been tighter credit guidelines in the last four months and more thorough background checks being conducted, there are several things homeowners and potential homeowners can learn about to aid them. The level of scrutiny has gone up during the application process, with a list of 200 items to verify at Wells Fargo. Credit scores and assets that may not have been carefully verified before are being checked and double checked now, representatives say.Its not about the lowest rate, its about the right fit, Buffini said.The solution: Seek out trusted professionals and arm yourself with data. Wells Fargo lenders also advise applicants be generous or more lenient with the commitment and closing dates to allow for the time it takes to verify those items.Funds are also available through Federal Housing Administration programs (part of HUD), which arent being taken full advantage of those by those who would qualify. Of its overall business volume in September of this year, 20 percent dealt with FHA loans (compared to 5 percent in September of 2007) at Wells Fargo.FHA loans are even available for renovations. Help is also available through non-profit credit counselors. FHA is a great product with slightly more flexible underwriting guidelines, White said.Several realtors who attended the Meeting the Market Challenge in 2008 CineMeeting expressed concern about lack of lending approval for condos and timeshares in resort markets like Grand County. Suggestions to help answer some of the questions lenders ask include paying close attention to the language in covenants during condo development. Additional questions can be addressed through a professional financial institution.More than 250 mortgage companies nationwide have gone out of business recently and that is just one of many reasons to use a reputable lending firm. The panelists advised clients look for clean, honest, responsible financing.The panelists and Wells Fargo agree, waiting for the current worries to fade could cost potential buyers a great investment.This is what opportunity looks like, Buffini said. This kind of window of opportunity, Bach said, only comes every 15 years.