1. Selection, selection, selection.
Regardless of price range, there are plenty of houses from which to choose. There's a great selection of attached homes, condos and townhouses. You can find large lots, small lots, and a lot that will accommodate your boat or RV. You have many options. When resale inventories are low, buyers are forced to make compromises. Not today.
2. No bidding wars.
In 2005, we knew one family who made offers on 10 homes. They lost the first nine to the feeding frenzy that existed in the market - other buyers bid the properties up substantially from the original listing prices. There were even escalation clauses where buyers authorized their agents to outbid other offers by thousands of dollars. There's no competitive bidding in the buyer's market of today.
3. You can make an offer.
A few years ago when you made an offer, the only question was how high above the list price you should reach in hopes of being the best offer on the table. Today the sell price vs. list price ratio is about 96 percent. Sellers won't be insulted if you "make them an offer they can't refuse."
4. Patience is tolerated.
In the hot seller's market, everything was rushed. You had to find a house before other buyers did, then hurry up and make the offer. Today, buyers can take their time. They can look at several homes and think about their decision for a while.
5. Due diligence is welcomed.
In this market, a buyer is encouraged to obtain a home inspection, termite inspection and appraisal. In 2005, many buyers waived these contingencies in order to gain an advantage.
6. Plenty of specs.
Buyers sometimes had to play games if they wanted a newly built home. There were lotteries and waiting lists. Some buyers even slept in their cars in order to get to the head of the line.
7. Repair requests are accepted.
After buyers complete a home inspection, they're allowed to submit a repair request to the sellers. But in the past, sellers often insisted the home be sold as-is. Many times, there were back-up buyers waiting for the primary buyers to upset the sellers, whose home was increasing in value almost daily.
8. Few, if any investors.
It's estimated that one third of all sales in 2005 were to investors. These buyers caused the market to inflate and affordability to decline. Mortgage fraud became commonplace. It's a great time to buy without having to compete with hundreds of prospective landlords.
9. Location, location, location.
Today's buyers can find homes closer to work. In this market, reasonably priced homes are within biking or walking distance to schools, rapid transit lines and relatives.
10. Real financing is available.
The "wink, wink" zero-down, no-doc, adjustable, sub-prime loans are gone. Fixed rates are back. FHA financing, first-time homeowner bond programs, and special loans for teachers or police officers are back in business. The bottom line: It's a great time to buy real estate!