As Inventories Shrink, So Do Seller Concessions

With inventories down and prices up, sellers are ending the costly incentives they have been forced to offer buyers during the six-year long buyers’ market. Concession-free transactions make deal-making simple on both sides of the table.

There’s no better gauge of the onset of a seller’s market than the demise of concessions that were considered essential to attract buyer interest just a few months ago. The National Association of REALTORS®’ December REALTOR® Confidence Outlook reported that the market has steadily moved towards a seller’s market with buyers more willing to bear closing costs, in some cases paying for half or more of the closing cost. Tight inventories of homes for sale are making markets increasingly competitive.

NAR reports that last year 60 percent of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers. The most popular was a free home warranty policy, which costs about $500, offered by 22 percent of sellers, but 17 percent upped the ante by paying a portion of buyers’ closing costs and 7 percent contributed to remodeling or repairs.

Concessions linger where inventories are still adequate and sales slow, but in tight markets like Washington D.C., the times when buyers can expect concessions are already over.

Buyers are discovering, to their dismay that homes they wanted to see or possibly buy have already been snatched up before they even get a chance to see or make an offer on the property. This area’s unprecedented low inventory levels are slowly driving up home prices and making sellers reluctant to cede little if any concessions to buyers. Realtors are warning (or should in some cases) buyers to be prepared to act that day if they are interested in a property.

In Seattle, not only are concessions a thing of the past, desperate buyers are even resorting to writing “love letters” to win over sellers in competitive situations.Those buyers, who were using FHA financing, wrote a letter introducing themselves to the seller and explaining why they liked the home so much. After reviewing 13 offers, including one from an all-cash investor, the seller chose the letter-writer’s offer.

New regulations enacted last year by the Federal Housing Administration to limit its exposure to risk forced many sellers to cut back on the amount of assistance on buyers’ closing costs. Sellers on now limited to no more than six percent of the loan amount.

Underwriting standards on conventional mortgages also have the effect of limiting the amount sellers can contribute.

In recent years many lenders have disallowed seller paid closing costs on 100 percent financed home loans because of the high foreclosure rate.

However, seller paid closing costs are typically limited to 6 percent of the loan amount at 90 percent loan-to-value or lower, 3 percent between 90-95 percent, and then usually 3 percent for 100 percent loan-to-value.

Some sellers bump up the home sales price to pay for concessions. However the buyer will need to get the higher amount he will need to borrow covered by the appraisal and he will have to meet increased debt-to-income ratio in order to close his loan.

The demise of concessions will make buying and selling a little simpler and more rational. As one observed asked, “Why would anyone selling a home pay the home buyer to buy it?”

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About thenoelteam

As a Broker with RE/MAX Alliance, I work energetically for my clients whether they are a buyer or seller. I help you achieve your goal of owning a home or getting the best price for your home in the shortest time possible. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in communications and finance, I was licensed in 1977 and since then I have sold over 3600 properties amounting to over $1 billion in sales. I currently rank in the top 10 in home sales for Colorado. I offer the same quality of service and superior communication to all clients, ranging from starter homes to multi-million dollar estates, commercial and income properties, relocations and foreclosures My goal is to provide you with the best representation possible whether you are buying or selling. Over the years, one of the things that I've discovered is that there is a difference in the way individual Realtors do business. For me, I have always felt that honesty and personal integrity are the foundations upon which a successful business and career are built and sustained. I have an extensive background and knowledge base in real estate, including financing, which has enabled me to provide outstanding, quality advice and service not found with many agents today. My commitment to communication creates a positive relationship between my client and myself that results in a successful property sale or purchase. My passion for real estate, commitment to my clients and personal integrity has helped me to achieve success placing me in the top 1% of all brokers in nationwide. In my career, I have earned a number of awards and received considerable recognition for my success but the most significant recognition comes from the fact that over 75% of my business comes from past clients. My success is a true measure of my client satisfaction.
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