Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Buyers "cashing in" on Grand Strand housing market

MYRTLE BEACH, SC - Realtors say "cash is king" in the Grand Strand real estate market right now. Experts said they've seen a drastic increase in all-cash home sales. Some people have opted out of the mortgage process and cashed in on lower home prices. On the other hand, experts said, in order to avoid another mortgage mess, lenders tightened loan standards. 
"We are documenting two full years of income and history," said Travis Minter, Senior Vice President forCrescent Bank. "Gone are the days of stated income and no income loans. We are looking to document the borrower’s credit worthiness."
Even with the tighter loan restrictions in place, realtors said they are still seeing signs of an improving housing market. Experts said that some homebuyers have skipped the mortgage process and paid in cash.
Tom MaeserGrand Strand real estate analyst, said recent numbers show close to 55 percent of the homes sold were cash buyers. To put that in perspective, he said back in 2005, cash sales only made up about 13 percent of the market. Maeser said foreclosures and short sales continue to drive prices down. Experts said cash buyers can often bargain for a better deal. Lenders said borrowers do have financing options.
"FHA allows for a minimum of three and a half percent down payment. USDA allows for zero down payments," said Minter. "So affordable housing is still alive and well."
Realtors said tighter loan requirements as well as some desperate sellers have lead to a surge in cash buyers.

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