Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The hottest neighborhoods on both the city's East and West sides share the key qualities of convenience and reasonable home prices, Based on inventory data for unsold homes from statistics by the South Central Wisconsin MLS to calculate the months of home and condominium sales inventory for all Madison neighborhoods and many other Dane County communities. Much of research can be found online at www.danecountymarket.com.
Months of inventory is a standard used to determine the health of a real estate market. It is determined using a year's worth of sales for each area and calculating how many months it would take at those sales rates to work through the number of homes and condominiums on the market.
Experts consider about 5.5 to 6 months of inventory to be an optimum balance between sellers and buyers. A smaller number indicates a seller's market while larger number indicates a buyer's market.
The inventory data identified the hottest and slowest real estate markets in the county and also revealed that:The county has a range from 3 months of inventory for single-family homes in the Atwood East neighborhood on Madison's East Side to 49.7 months for condominiums in Oregon.
The local single-family home market overall is much stronger than the condominium market.
The strongest single-family and condominium markets are in Madison neighborhoods convenient to shopping, schools, parks and buses, while the weakest markets are in the suburbs.
High gasoline prices could heighten the disparity between city and suburban real estate markets, said William Malkesian, president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association.
"I don't think there's a question today that if you're going out to buy a house, transportation is probably higher up on your list than it was a year ago," he said.
Five Madison neighborhoods are strong markets for single-family home sales despite the overall real estate market slowdown.
With small ranches and bungalows, the Atwood East area near the intersection of Milwaukee and Walter streets is close to Woodman's Food Store, Schenk Elementary School and Olbrich Park. Most homes for sale are priced below $200,000. Homes priced for first-time buyers are a huge influence on the market because people don't have to sell homes before they buy.
Other East Side neighborhoods with low inventory rankings include the Williamson Street/Atwood Avenue area along Lake Monona west of Olbrich Park, and the Monona Drive area near La Follette High School.
On the West Side, the Parkwood Hills/Faircrest neighborhood north of Mineral Point Road between Whitney Way and Gammon Road is among the hottest markets both for single-family homes and condominiums. It ranks second in both categories with 3.2 months of single-family home inventory and 17 homes for sale, and 7.2 months of condo inventory with 10 units for sale.
Every place is a little bit different, of course, Since traditional buyers are out there in the $250,000 and under price range, price point is very important.
The Near West area east of Whitney Way between University Avenue and Mineral Point Road also has a low inventory ranking, making it a hot market.
Maple Bluff is the county's slowest single-family market with 17.7 months of inventory, 28 homes for sale and most priced in the $350,000 to $700,000 range. Four homes are priced between $1 million and $3 million.
Other slower single-family markets are in Mount Horeb, McFarland and the South Midvale/Verona road area in Madison, south of the Beltline along Verona Road, and the Southwest area north of Raymond Road to the city limits.
(Excerpts taken from: MARV BALOUSEK |Sunday, May 18, 2008 Wisconsin State Journal)
Monday, May 3, 2010
Don't buy if you can't stay put.
If you can't commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner - even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it's an even worse proposition.
Start by shoring up your credit.
Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.
Aim for a home you can really afford.
The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you'll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.
If you can't put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.
There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price. The Wisconsin Realtors Association even offers grants for closing costs and down payments. Ask me for details!
Buy in a district with good schools.
In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values. Check out the local school districts online.
Get professional help..
Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Ahem! Like me! I can help you with market analyses of a home that captures you fancy to see if it is fairly priced, save you time, preview properties, help you with strategies during the bidding process, and, at all times, do whatever it takes to keep your best interests at heart.
Choose carefully between points and rate.
When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points -- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing -- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time -- say three to five years or more -- it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.
Before house hunting, get pre-approved.
Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history