Realtor Paula Hartman on What's Hot Right Now
Interview by Jane Kellogg
Has the state of the economy affected buyers looking for second homes?
It made it a lot harder for most people to get mortgages. But if you already own a home, people with good credit can still get mortgages at wonderful rates right now. It’s a fabulous time to buy. All of the smart people are still buying their second homes, because the smart people know that when a lot of people are selling, the smart people are buying. There’s a lot of inventory. And you can get a great deal because sellers are willing to negotiate.
How have things changed in the buyer’s favor?
It used to be [the case that] you came down the street to look for a house, and if you didn’t hurry up and run back to the offi ce and type an agreement, it would be sold. Or there would be three more offers. Now if a buyer looks, they can negotiate, they can look at 10 or 15 houses, and there is no sense of urgency. The buyers can actually take their time, see what things are worth and negotiate a little bit off the sales price.
The buyers are absolutely brilliant. They use all of the tools on the Internet now. They use all the different websites, and they can figure out the home values and what things have been selling for. I love how intelligent the buyers are. They know what sold on the block, the square footage of the homes, what things are selling for per square foot— it’s wonderful because I don’t need to educate them! People who are buying a second home are very, very intelligent. They’ve had a lot of time, they’ve done a lot of research. They’ve moved their money around. That’s a good thing for real estate agents—we have a very educated consumer.
What kinds of second homes are people buying now?
The largest demand is for new construction. Usually the second home is smaller. A lot of people will say to you, “I have a big house at home; I don’t need a big house here to take care of.” They want easy, and I think that’s why they want new. I just sold three townhouses in one week. I wouldn’t call that a bad market. And if they’re not buying new construction, they’re buying things that are a few years old or things that show beautifully. There’s no reason to buy something where the ceiling is falling down and you don’t like the bathroom and the kitchen. You can buy a beautiful house for the same price.
Are there specific locations or neighborhoods that are gaining popularity?
Close to the beach is number one for second homes, always. For a while bayfront was the hot ticket, but now it goes in spurts. Now there’s a lot of inventory on the bay. You can get a wonderful deal, prices are down. It all works with supply and demand… I’ve got a lot of sellers near the bay that are ready.
Properties are still doing very well at the Shore. A lot of the homes are still getting 90 percent of the asking price, depending of which town they’re in. I can tell you exactly how many properties sold [in 2009] in Margate. There were 335 houses on the market, but 109 of them have sold, so there are 191 left. Thirty-two percent of the homes have sold, and they sold for 90.19 percent of the asking price. Not bad! The average sale price in Margate is $593,610 for a house. And the average number of days on the market is 103. So it’s not a week or a day or two days like it was. It’s a slower market for us, but it’s good for a buyer.