Home, cheap home?

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Haddonfield Sun

It’s a buyers’ market right now on the streets of Haddonfield and Camden County, according to several real estate experts in the area. Even with the first-time homebuyers tax credit expiring this past April, this is still an advantageous time to purchase a home.

William J. Labbree, Jr. — president of the Burlington Camden County Association of Realtors — said the federal tax credit did a good job of stoking interest in the real estate market. With its initial success it was extended until April, and, even with it expiring, the market has still benefited up to this point.

Seeing how successful it was, the state is looking to implement several programs that will give incentives for purchasers of property, he said.

“It’s definitely a buyers’ market. From a seller’s standpoint, there is a lot of competition on the market and not as many buyers. It’s also a little more difficult for buyers because of increased requirements for lending — lenders are much more strict in their qualifying requirements,” he said. “But for those that are qualified buyers, it is certainly the time for them to make a move. They have the benefit of having a large selection of properties to choose from at a good price.”

Short sales and distressed properties are having an impact on home values at this point, he said, keeping prices low and providing some affordable houses for buyers.

Even though the market is filled with homes at this point, Labbree warned prospective buyers to qualify themselves with a legitimate lender to determine what they can afford. Buyers need to realize what they can spend on a home so they can stay within a comfortable margin and not become “house poor,” he said.

Gary Vermaat, president and broker of record for Lenny, Vermaat, and Leonard Inc. in Haddonfield, said since the end of the tax credit the number of buyers on the market has dropped, but the inventory has remained strong. Haddonfield currently has about 150 homes listed, he said.

“It’s still a buyers’ market. If homes aren’t listed correctly, they’ll sit a bit longer. In the past two years, we’ve seen a buyers’ market. The lower prices also mean low interest rates,” he said. “These are historically low interest rates with prices being depressed from where they were a few years ago. They’ll start to rebound, so people might not have the advantage in the future.”

Because of the market’s condition, Vermaat said he has seen several potential sellers have to decrease the asking price of their homes. There’s a high inventory right now, he said, and a lower number of buyers than usual, so correctly pricing a home is key for a potential seller.

Also, making sure the home is in impeccable condition, clean, and in a great showing state can go a long way to getting it off of the market quickly and at a good price.

“We see people making adjustments to the pricing based on the supply that’s out there. Sellers are starting to realize that there is more competition, supply is a bit higher and the buyers’ demand is lower. They’re adjusting the price to stay competitive,” he said.

“The houses must be in good condition. The more updated and cleaner that it is, the better chance it has of selling in the market.

“Buyers don’t want to do a lot of work to a home they’re purchasing. Unless you want to sacrifice a lot on the sales price, have it in good condition.”