Toledo is the silver liningWritten by Jody Zink | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I just returned from a seven-day San Francisco getaway. Highlights from the trip include taking some great photos of the sights, holding and touching the newly unveiled MacBook Air computer and driving around looking at real estate.
Expensive is the first word that comes to mind when I think of San Francisco real estate, and expensive it is. We saw some gorgeous, multi-million dollar estates with great views that anyone would love to own. But what is really interesting is the average-looking homes — like the ones you’d see at the opening of the ’80’s sitcom “Full House.” Those seemingly “average” homes could easily go for a half-million dollars. Browsing through San Fran’s Real Estate Times I’m hard-pressed to find anything less than $300,000, and the average asking price at a glance is about $1 million.
In real estate, of course we know the asking price and the sale price can be two very different things. One of the headlines I stumbled upon while visiting spouted that the median sales prices of homes in California had plummeted to just over $400,000.
Now, amid the negative news you may have heard or read surrounding real estate and the economy, I’d like to put some things in perspective.
Seeing what $400,000 could buy in San Francisco, I’m thrilled with my modest West Toledo home. Truly! It’s affordable, and without big-city crime, traffic and pollution.
It’s true, home prices have gone down in several areas. My translated view? Affordability could not be better, especially for first-timers. A buyer with a good credit score and a good job who can afford a good down payment and document everything is in the driver’s seat. This isn’t music to sellers’ ears, but consider that loss can be made up on the buying side. If you don’t have to sell right now, don’t. Not everyone needs to or wants to.
The cost of borrowing money is just as affordable. Who could complain about a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of less than 6 percent, or a 5 percent, 15-year mortgage? Plus, homebuyers who can’t afford a down payment of 20 percent can now deduct mortgage insurance premiums on their taxes.
It’s true, many homeowners took on big, complicated mortgages they couldn’t afford, but there are alternatives to foreclosure. Talking with creditors and modifying the loan can help borrowers hang on. Short sales can save a borrower from foreclosure, and a new law even saves them from paying taxes on that forgiven mortgage debt. This is a huge win for homeowners.
Buyers are out there. Every day, somewhere, property is transferred to someone else. People are still getting married, getting transferred, dying and being born. They are moving up, down sizing and building. They’re coming and they’re going. Realtor’s meet them every day.
So, as I sift through the real estate inventory here in Toledo, I’m not likely to find a home where the TV characters of Mary Kate and Ashley once lived, nor do I necessarily want to. I do, however, believe there are some Californians in their cars right now, perhaps sitting in traffic, who would welcome the fresh air and affordable housing that Toledo has to offer.
Jody Zink is a licensed Realtor in Ohio and Michigan with Loss Realty Group. She can be reached at (419) 725-1881 or through her Web site at www.JodyZink.com.