Last fall I heard an economist speak to a group of real estate people and mortgage brokers. He spoke about what we could expect in 2009 in our industries. He told the mortgage people that there was good news and bad news for them. The good news was that the interest rates would drop and they would be flooded with homeowners who would want to refinance. The bad news for them was that many of those who wanted to refinance would not be able to because they were upside down on their mortgages (they owed more than the home is currently worth.) I remember thinking, “well, I’m sure we in the real estate industry here in Hutchinson, MN will also be faced with a similar problem.” The guy was right! Just last week I met with four homeowners who wanted to sell their homes, and I had to tell them that it was not possible for them to sell and pay off their mortgages in the market we are currently in. Fortunately, none of them had to sell. We discussed other options they had such as renting out their current home (which two have decided to do) or just waiting for a more favorable real estate market for them to sell their current home. This real estate market is not so different than it was in the early 1980’s. Back then we were faced with huge interest rates that most people could not afford and so we had to find other solutions like contract for deeds, seller second mortgages, assuming existing loans. Most real estate agents today weren’t around during those challenging times and don’t understand what we are talking about when we mention assumable loans. Finding solutions to help people accomplish what they want to do is what our jobs as real estate agents is all about. It’s also important that we be honest with home buyers and sellers about their expectations. This is a very exciting time in the real estate business as we are all part of a very challenging market.