First, mortgage interest rates have remained incredibly low. So low, that I believe they are now taken for granted. I am consistently amazed when people brag, argue and/or debate a quarter point of interest when discussing 3 and 4% mortgages. No one knows how long these rates will remain this low, but one thing is guaranteed; not forever. A good general rule of thumb (but definitely not exact) is for every 1 point of interest (that's 1%) you'll save $100 dollars a month in payment and/or be able to afford $10,000 more in house for the same payment.
Homes are selling. In Oklahoma City it is still a buyer's market. What that means is, buyers can be picky, with exception to a few hotly sought after locations. However, if a seller takes the time to prepare the home, with the advice of professionals, prices the home right at the very beginning, then the sellers can expect a contract quickly. Preparation, appearance, marketing and pricing are everything and will determine how quickly you ride the merry go round of selling your home.
More neighborhoods are taking more pride in ownership. This is not to say we do not have areas still experiencing sharp depreciation in property value but that seems to be rather the exception in general. As a result of the downturn in the economy people are less transient and developing deeper roots within their communities realizing they are investing for the long term. Volunteer HOA's are on the rise and more active to ensure quality of life and property values continue to stay stable and rise. Buyers continue to buy and invest in older areas for multiple reasons to include the ability to build 'sweat equity' more quickly.
Real estate gimmicks still abound and the consumer still falls for them. Here are a few that are my especially pet peeved areas:
1. You can determine the value of a property on the internet.
2. All real estate agents are created equal.
3. Consumers not understanding IDX technology and the antiquated models the most popular real estate websites use causing buyers to continually miss the opportunity for the perfect house.
4. Real estate auctions, foreclosures and short sales are the best deals.
5. Flipping houses and building equity is easy.
6. Appraisals determine the value of a property.
7. Title Insurance is a waste of money.
As we enter the real estate world of 2013 I would encourage everyone to educate themselves in regards to this industry. I still believe real estate is the safest investment anyone can make but it is still a risk. Thus, remember that knowledge is power!