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A new day in local real estate by Diane Butler

July 30, 2014

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Like the rest of the country, I have for the past few years sat glued to the television and newspapers looking for any sign of relief from the Great Recession.

As an associate broker and realtor for the past 25 years in Sullivan County, I have watched the rise and fall of many a market, and I am finally happy to say that our market is now climbing back to a stronger and healthier selling climate.

The bottom line is how all of this affects our biggest investments, our homes. The biggest question is why, here in a state that ranks highest in the country for taxes, are we seeing an increase in our housing sales and closing prices?

Several key factors are at work here. First we have seen a major change is in the banking industry. Lending standards have tightened up and fallen back to a time when a home purchaser had to be able to afford the privilege of owning a home.

Credit scores must be in most cases above 640 and the prospective buyers must show that they can afford to pay the loan back.

Another major change is condition of properties on the market. If a homeowner wants to sell his or her property, then he or she must make sure that the home is in a condition that will allow for financing.

Years of homeowner neglect must be cured. Moldy basements, tattered roofs that have less than three years of life left, and wells and septic tanks that are located less than 50 feet apart are going to have to be corrected.

This tightening up of standards has changed the way a property can be listed and marketed. “As is” no longer means an owner can pass on the issues, especially if there is lending involved.

Another unexpected change is in the way that potential homeowners shop. Computer-literate, tech-savvy individuals know their way around a keyboard. They are out there looking around for value, and they are armed with mobile phone applications. They no longer begin a search by wandering into a storefront real estate office.

So why are these tech-savvy professionals heading for our hills? There are several major factors pulling prospective homeowners into the Delaware River hamlets.

Inventory has finally moved away from empty vacant houses into quality homes. Quality listings that are loaded into multiple listing systems are no longer limited to one Internet vehicle. Services like Zillow, Truilia and Realtor.com have created new marketing strategies.