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RISMEDIA, January 9, 2010—Being in the midst of a tough housing market, anyone waiting around until the Super Bowl to reach out to prospective buyers may be losing a lot of ground. Here, Sherry Chris, President & CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate discusses why you should remain in front of buyers during the long winter months.

Sherry Chris
President & CEO
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Because so many home buyers drop back and punt their home search until after the Super Bowl in February, some in our industry consider it the official start of the spring home buying/selling season.

Perhaps January’s cold winter temperatures in most parts of the country make house hunting less appealing; or the end of the long holiday season has many people turning their attention to things that have been put off. Or maybe there is intense focus on keeping those resolutions.

Whatever the reason, the fact is National Association of Realtors (NAR) data over the last five years shows that there is no other month with fewer home sales than January.

But this year, I firmly believe that anyone waiting until the big game to get moving could find themselves losing lots of ground.

It cannot be overstated how big of a game changer it is that the home buyer’s tax credit has been extended for homes purchased or under contract by April 30, 2010. The credit of up to $8,000 for qualifying first-time buyers, and up to $6,500 for families that have lived in their homes for at least five years and are looking to upgrade, means that the gridlock caused by a stagnant “move-up” market could be broken and the field could soon be wide open.

A home buyer seminar is a great way to get first-time buyers engaged and to demystify the process of buying a home. And this time around, it is important to modify any seminars to include move-up buyers. The new tax credit extension applies to those who have owned and resided in a home for at least five consecutive years of the eight years prior to the purchase date. So the last time they looked for a home, Facebook and Twitter had not yet been invented and the iPhone was still in development! Clearly, the rules of house hunting have changed dramatically since 2004.

NAR data released in November proclaimed “first-time home buyers reached the highest market share on record during the past year.” Not to mention that affordable interest rates and low house prices have kept the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) around its highest level for the third consecutive quarter. All signs point to a very frenzied first four months of 2010.

So to keep the momentum going strong in January, I am advising agents to stay vigilant and attentive, especially on social media and direct outreach. While April 30 may seem far away to some buyers, any experienced real estate professional knows the home-search process can take a while and there is no time to lose.