People are not only looking for a great deal these days, they are expecting it! And for good reason. There are in fact some good and even great deals in the Montrose, Colorado area. However, "a great deal" is a relative term and isn't the same for everyone. So, it is important that you first define what a good or great deal means to you before you start looking. Does it have to be a certain percentage below market value, e.g., 10%, 20%, 30%? Do you have to be able to get a certain amount of net rent after paying the mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs? And don't forget to include something for the vacancy factor. Do you intend to buy and then flip it in a short period of time? Will you be holding it long term (which I define as at least 5 years)? If so, do you have a certain percentage you expect it to appreciate annually, 3%, 5%, 10%, or more? And is that realistic based on national and local historical averages? Does your "good deal" need to be in good, turn-key condition or are you handy enough to take on a light fixer or even a heavy fixer? Those are just a few thngs to ask yourself and answer. Then, once you decide what your good or great deal means to you, you need to consult and retain the services of a local real estate professional with knowledge and experience in the local market, and particularly the type of property (residential, multi-family, commercial, farm/ranch, land, a certain area, subdivison, neighborhood) that interests you. Only such a professional will be able to help you determine such things as market trends (going up, down, remaining flat), tell you about comparable sales stats and competing propert types on the market, and maybe even pocket listings or properties that have not yet been listed or could possibly be sold by sellers not currently on the market. Zillow and other sites like this may be a good place to start, but they cannot replace the expertise of a real estate professional working for you.
I don't think you can make a blanket statement about it being a bad time to buy an expensive house right now. First, as Shawn said, "expensive" is a relative term. Second, not all markets are equal or have experienced the same effects of the recent economic catastrophe. In this area, the "expensive" homes and markets are generally in the Ouray County and Telluride markets. These homes have seen dramatic decreases in value because of the economy for 2 reasons: (1) Foreclosures (involuntary and voluntary, i.e., strategic foreclosures) and (2) those who haven't had to sell, don't, and those that do, either are forced to sell at substantially reduced prices or they walk and allow the foreclosure to happen). If you ever want an example of there are always people with money who will take advantage of a down market, the expenisve market is a great example right now. In our market, we see the higher end homes that comone the market at bargain prices being swooped up for cash. Why? Because buyers know that these are the very properties that will see significant increases in appreciation in a much shorter period of time then lower end homes when the good market returns. I suspect, too, that it has made these desirable homes finally affordable for those buyers who want such a home or for emotional reasons rather than strictly investment.My opinion may have been different 2 years ago, because expensive homes have continued to be particularly hit hard since then. But I think in my area, the market is stablizing. Yes, values may continue to fall a bit more this year and maybe into next. But we are seeing locally and nationally signs of an improving economy and housing market. If you want to live in an expensive home and arent' looking strictly for an investment or intend to sell in the next 3-5 years, investing in an expensive home to me makes sense right now--in my market, anyway. If it's strictly an investment, i.e., to be rented out or held short-term, than maybe not. Depends on the cash flow for the former.People buy "homes" for many reasons. Whether it makes financial sense to you depends on many factors, which your financial advisor, Realtor, accountant, estate planner, and attorney all need to consider in advising you. Ninah
As far as the agency part of your question is concerned, the short answer is "no," because in Colorado, a broker cannot be an agent without a written contract establishing that relationship with the buyer. However, many real estate brokers are willing to work with a buyer without a written agreement that makes the broker exclusive. If an agent assists a buyer without a written contract, the default relationship is that of transaction broker (versus agent) and there is no agreement or contractual obligation for the buyer to use that broker exclusively, although most buyers end up doing so if they are happy with the broker. The difference between an agent and transaction broker is another issue, beyond the scope of this answer.Even if a buyer and broker agree to enter into a written contract, all contracts are negotiable and do not have to be exclusive. Rather than an exclusive-right-to-buy contract, the parties could limit the contract to a specific property or exclude certain sellers. Even particular areas, subdivisions, and types of properties could be excluded.If you have any concerns or questions about an exclusive agency (or transaction brokerage) contract, you need to discuss those with the broker and make sure your questions and concerns are addressed and then determine if the two of you can negotiate a contract that is mutually acceptable before you sign anything.
Appraisals are a problematical reality of real estate transactions these days. For refi purposes, you are probably stuck with the appraisal. Your bank probably won't agree to pay for a second opinion or even consider another appraisal even if you pay for it. Now, for resale purposes, and for peace of mind, you might request a CMA from a local real estate broker. Contrary to appraisers who have to rely on historical data (i.e., recent sales within the last 6 months, and sometimes even less time), real estate brokers can consider trends and more recent history, and factors such as competing active listings. Plus, they just know the market much better than most appraisers.Unfortunately, in this recent challenging market, with more stringent lending criteria reducing the number of qualified buyers, an increase in short sales and foreclosures which are considered as "comps," and an increase in housing inventory, you might be sorely disappointed to find out the value of your home, based on a real estate broker's competitive market analysis, is even lower than the appraisal.
A county assessor uses a completely different, complicated formula for determining value for the sole purpose of setting the amount of property taxes you have to pay. And it is based on information as of a date 6 months to 2 years prior to the current date. Because the last valuation period (7/06-6/08) in my county included a period of time when the market was much stronger, most property owners are complaining the Assessor has valued their properties too high (which is true compared to current market conditions).The real value is more dependent on market factors, e.g., recent comparable sales, active listings (competition), a much closer comparison of features, condition, location, and even motivations of seller and buyer, etc. Real estate brokers may consider the Assessor's valuation just for a point of reference or curiosity, but certainly do not rely on that value, or any information in the Assessor property records, for that matter. Appraisers do not factor in the Assessor's valuation, either. So, don't worry that the Assessor's valuation will have any effect on the real value of your house. Just be glad you aren't paying more in property taxes.