Chicago, IL (February 2009) - According to the 2008 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 81 percent of homebuyers enlisted the service of a real estate professional. And while this is consistent with 2007 survey findings, some agents believe this number will rise in 2009 as more homebuyers seek the assistance of agents due to challenging market conditions.
In Chicago, Doug Ayers, president of residential real estate brokerage firm Koenig & Strey GMAC, sees this trend continuing, especially as more first-time homebuyers enter the market. “First-time buyers in particular are reaping larger rewards than ever before by enlisting the help of a Realtor,” said Ayers. “Not only do agents bring a wealth of neighborhood knowledge and negotiating skills to the table, but in today’s market they can provide insight on the latest financing options and government-subsidized tax credits that first-time buyers may not otherwise know about.”
Low pricing, an abundant supply and affordable interest rates make now the optimal time for entry-level buyers to enter the market, added Ayers. And while some buyers may feel overwhelmed by the large number of potential properties, an agent can quickly and effectively sort through the listings to find the best matches. In addition, agents have access to the most up-to-date information on home prices and recent sales, giving buyers the advantage when negotiating with sellers.
“Koenig & Strey GMAC has built its reputation on providing clients with the best service possible,” said Ayers. “When a buyer works with us they can feel confident that their agent is not only working hard to find the perfect home, but is also there to provide counsel every step of the way – from answering questions about home valuation and financing options to offering information about local school districts and where to find the best burger.”
Schaumburg-based Koenig & Strey GMAC sales associate Mark Bousquet agrees with Ayers, adding that educating homebuyers is a core competency of his business.
“Education is key when working with first-time buyers,” said Bousquet. “When we first meet, I spend a lot of time discussing the buying process, as well as answering questions about the special financing and tax credit options that are now available. Today, many would-be buyers are hesitant to consider purchasing a home because they think financing isn’t available. The truth is, there are a variety of mortgage options available to qualified buyers. And with interest rates at an all-time low, these buyers will enjoy lower monthly payments.”
For example, many first-time buyers can benefit from FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans due to their lower closing costs and down payment requirements. In addition, buyers who incur private mortgage insurance costs may pay less via an FHA loan. Bousquet also noted that as a result of the stimulus bill, qualified buyers can take advantage of the $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit for homes purchased between January 1 and December 1, 2009. This tax credit is an updated version of the $7,500 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit that was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Unlike the previous tax credit, the $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit does not require repayment.
“With the spring housing market just around the corner, it’s in buyers’ best interest to discuss the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit with their lender or financial advisor as soon as possible in order to determine how to best utilize it,” said Bousquet.
Recently, Bousquet helped Greg and Kristen Miller find a home in Palatine. Initially, the Millers looked at condos, thinking they couldn’t afford the townhomes that better suited their needs. However, Bousquet prompted them to discuss their financing needs with his preferred lender, as well as the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit with their attorney. After learning they could afford a larger home and were eligible for the tax credit, they purchased a townhome. This is a prime example of how first-time buyers can benefit from aligning themselves with a resourceful agent, noted Bousquet.
“As first-time homebuyers, the process of buying a home seemed daunting, but Mark was by our side the entire time” said Greg Miller. “He brought us up to speed on financing programs and helped us look beyond a home’s price to determine if it truly met our needs and lifestyle. As a result, we opted for a home with an extra bedroom and bathroom and a two-car garage, providing us with space to grow into over the years and hopefully boosting our resale value.”
Buyers interested in learning more about available financing options and the $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit should contact their local Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate office. A complete list of offices is available at www.ksgmac.com or by calling (877) 852-4622.
Koenig & Strey GMAC has 28 residential brokerage offices with over 1,250 sales associates serving some of the finest communities in Chicago, the North Shore, Lake County and the western suburbs. Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate is an exclusive affiliate of Christie's Great Estates, the leading network of luxury international property brokers with more than 35,000 sales associates worldwide specializing in high-end homes.