Real Estate Reference Home Buyer Beware – Know the Signs of Real Estate Market Tro
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  by Charles Essmeier

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  Lots of articles have appeared recently about the booming real estate market in the United States. Home prices, especially on the East and West coasts, are not only at record levels, but are increasing at record rates. In some areas around Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, home prices have tripled in the last five years. While many homeowners have been enjoying huge increases in their equity, realized when they either sell their home or borrow against it, the market has become increasingly difficult for those trying to buy homes. It may get worse, as there are now some strong signs that the market may be near its peak:

The prices of homes in many markets are so high that few buyers can purchase them using traditional mortgages. In Washington, D.C., for instance, 48% of new mortgages are of the interest-only variety, where the buyer pays only the interest on the loan for the first few years. This keeps the payments low enough that the buyer can qualify for the loan. The problem is that the buyer is only paying interest and not actually contributing to the purchase price of the home. The fact that so many buyers are obtaining interest-only loans suggests that prices in those markets may be too high to be sustained.

Many home appraisers have complained that lenders are constantly pressuring them to “make the numbers” when appraising homes. Appraisers in some modestly-appreciating markets, such as Buffalo, NY, say that they are often given a value when assigned an appraisal, with the unspoken understanding that their appraisal is expected to come in at or above that figure. The lending industry is competitive, and lenders want to issue as many loans as possible. It would appear that quite a few of them are even willing to lend money when the home doesn’t appraise for the asking price. Appraisers point out that if they don’t provide the “requested” figures, then the lenders will simply hire other appraisers.
 
     
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