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realtor_lead_9_3RISMEDIA, September 3, 2009—The only guarantee in real estate is that values and sales activity can rise and fall, but consumers still look for some assurance that navigating the current market is a sensible move. 

As of late July, the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index stood at -47 points, just seven points up from the record low of -54 reached in January. 

Consumer trepidation is keeping many potential customers from even beginning to explore real estate options that you know are deep and wide, such as the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, low-interest mortgages, loan modifications and short sales.

According to the 2009 National Association of Realtors Member Profile, Realtors hear various reasons why consumers are hesitant to enter the market. These reservations must be mitigated so they don’t become barriers to the benefits of entering the market. Examples include: 

Waiting to Buy at the Bottom 

There’s no way to know the market has hit bottom until home prices start to rise again. There are signs of recovery in many major U.S. housing markets where home sales are on the uptick. We know that when demand creeps up, prices are soon to follow. There’s no “now or never” in real estate, but timing is important and now is a great time to act. 

Worries About Financing 

Various government programs are in place and on the horizon to help buyers and sellers overcome credit concerns, daunting 20%-down down payments and high closing costs on new mortgages and loan refinancing. And many consumers overestimate the impact that a credit ding or two will have on qualifying. 

Concerns of Possible Job Loss 

Fluctuating jobless numbers are unnerving for even the most securely employed. Because buyers often qualify for more than what’s comfortable, the key to helping them stay out of trouble is encouraging a balance between maxing out borrowing power and true affordability. And homeowners in danger of losing their homes after a job loss have the best chance for a positive resolution when they contact a Certified Distressed Property Expert at the earliest signs of struggle. 

Caution is a virtue in any economy. But a consumer slump in confidence is something you can combat with your knowledge and expert guidance. 

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International, Inc. 

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