December 2006 Fast Takes

December 1, 2006

Buyer’s market affects consumers’ view of competition

Consumers believe that real estate brokerage, already fiercely competitive, is becoming more so because of today’s buyer’s market, a NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®-commissioned consumer survey shows.

Nearly two out of three consumers say it’s more difficult to sell a home today than it was a year ago and that practitioners are working hard to sell their clients’ homes. Most consumers also believe practitioners are competing intensely for business.

“Consumers know real estate is a highly competitive industry and that it’s even more so in a buyer’s market,” says NAR President Thomas M. Stevens. The results were compiled in October by Public Opinion Strategies from a survey of 1,000 consumers.

Use of affiliated services doesn’t raise closing costs

Consumers pay the same for settlement services whether or not the title company is affiliated with the referring broker, the mortgage lender, or another company involved in the transaction, finds a study commissioned by the Real Estate Settlement Providers Council. Researchers at CapAnalysis Group LLC looked at closing costs on HUD-1 Settlement Statements in 2,236 transactions in 2003 and 2005.

More: RESPRO AfBA analysis

Growth woes create sales niche

Unique among developed countries, the United States continues to grow rapidly and is expected to hit 400 million people shortly before 2050, up from 300 million today. The number of households is expected to grow to about 113 million by 2010. The downside: rapid loss of farmland, biodiversity, fresh water, and open space, according to a report from the nonprofit research and policy group Center for Environment & Population. The silver lining may be more opportunities for practitioners with knowledge of energy-efficient and sustainable housing techniques.

More: Population growth and environment

Spread the news: Home buying opportunities are exceptional

NAR stepped into the slowing housing market with a national ad campaign in early November urging households not to wait if they’re thinking about buying. “Right now may actually be one of the best times to buy a home,” says the ad, which ran in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal among other major national newspapers. The campaign also includes an extensive broadcast component.

Buyer hesitancy has been a driving force behind the current housing slowdown.

Unlike in past periods of cooler sales, the national economy is solid, interest rates remain historically low, jobs are being created, and demographic trends point to continued strong housing demand.

To ease households off the fence, the ads emphasize these favorable trends and point out that rising inventories of homes for sale give buyers the best selection they’ve had in years.

Commercial real estate hiring strong

Almost two-thirds of female commercial real estate executives say their companies plan to increase staff over the next six months, according to a survey of more than 500 members of the CREW Network, a group of women in commercial real estate. Other findings: Loan workouts, sustainable design, in-fill development, one-stop service for clients, and health industry property needs will be areas that create business opportunities for commercial brokers.

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