I’ve been a bit silent here on the blog lately. This is partly due to the fact that I’ve been so busy with my clients. So, does that answer the question, “How is the real estate market?” Not exactly.

As a Realtor, I get asked that question ALL the time. Sometimes it is just conversation filler, but most of the time people really want to know. Over the past decade or so, the so-called health of the real estate market has come to represent the so-called health of the overall economy.

So, this is what I typically say, “It is stabilizing quite a bit, but real estate is a neighborhood-to-neighborhood business. How is your real estate doing?” (See that? See how I get you talking instead of me? Gotcha!)

You know I’m not the real estate agent who is going to sugar-coat the situation, but this is how I see the state of the real estate market in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, circa September 2012:

  • Inventory remains tight. Sellers are still reluctant to sell at current price levels if they really don’t have to. And, the supply of bank-owned properties locally has slowed down (rumors abound that there might be a flood of bank-owned homes hitting in early 2013, but only time will tell).
  • Interest rates are low. Every time I think interest rates have bottomed out, they tick down just a bit. Sure, they ticked back up a bit a couple weeks ago, but it was nothing alarming. We are still seeing jaw-droppingly low interest rates.
  • Lending is tough. Even though those interest rates are low, lending institutions are still being tough on potential borrowers. Be prepared to give every bank statement and tax return you’ve ever had. And, then do it a second and third time. Oh, and you might want to have your third grade report card handy. The lender’s goal is to have the thickest loan file possible. Not to scare you off–it is very possible to get a loan if your credit and income are decent. Just have to jump through a lot of hurdles. Make sure you have a mortgage broker you can work with nicely through the process.
  • Bidding wars. With a low supply of homes and growing demand from buyers taking advantage of these interest rates, we are seeing a lot of competition. If it is a decent house in decent condition in a decent location at a decent price, then there will likely be a decent number of offers. A lot of homes are selling for at or over their list price within one month of hitting the market.
  • Short Sales. There are still a lot of short sales on the market, especially in Vancouver. Banks seem to finally be getting their act together on pushing these through the system, but the process can still take 3-5 months. And, in my opinion, if you are patient and steely, short sales are typically the best deals on the market right now.

So, yeah, the market is stabilizing. What will it be like in 2-3 months? Who knows. The real estate market often gets a little unpredictable around presidential elections, as well. But, I’ve been very busy helping home buyers and sellers take care of their business. If I can help you with listing your home for sale, finding the right mortgage broker for a new home or a refinancing, or you know someone who needs assistance, let me know. I’m always happy to help.

PS….Don’t rely on Zillow and the Zestimate on your home to tell you the health of the real estate economy. Like the lottery, Zillow is for entertainment purposes only. You are not your Zestimate.