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Jan. 3, 2009

Bargain-picking time

Its been a long time since buyers were in this commanding of a position in the buyer-seller relationship. The million dollar question is, will buyers overcome their fear and take advantage of their advantage?

Who could blame someone for wanting to sit on the sidelines for a year or two? After all, the real estate market has resoundingly crashed in places like California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida. Prices are down 40% or more from their highs in some areas. Even Northern Virginia's red hot real estate market has taken a licking, but evidence suggests it has bottomed.

What about the Northern Neck? Sadly, there is little in the way of quantifiable data in that regard. Real estate agents are sensitive on the subject, but anecdotal evidence suggests that rising inventories over 2008 have made it hard to sell a house. Finally, that's beginning to be felt in the marketplace.

Drive a hard bargain

If you want to buy a home in the Northern Neck in the first half of the year, the field is wide open. You just have to make sure you don't overpay, and that may require you to be ruthless. What might have been considered a "low ball" offer a couple of years ago could in fact be a very fair offer if the owner and listing agent are still living in a fantasy world.

I recently wrote an article for ConsumerAffairs.com about home valuations. I talked to economist Joel Naroff, who said buyers should pay no more than the house would have sold for in 2003. Anything more than that, you're paying for bubble.



Some sellers and their agents appear serious about moving property in 2009. A look at the latest real estate listings do, in fact, reveal some bargains. True, there was a lot of lavish building in the last couple of years, so there are lots of oversized homes priced at $1 million plus. But there are some waterfront bargains as well. It just requires a lot of looking - and tough negotiations.













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