ForSaleByOwner.com, a national real estate services company that allows home buyers and sellers to connect online without the need for a real estate agent, makes the following predictions for real estate in 2005:

1. Increased industry competition means home buyers win big. Along with shrinking real estate commissions across the board, consumers will get more benefits when they sign up with mortgage and real estate services companies competing for their business.

ForSaleByOwner.com, a national real estate services company that allows home buyers and sellers to connect online without the need for a real estate agent, makes the following predictions for real estate in 2005:

1. Increased industry competition means home buyers win big. Along with shrinking real estate commissions across the board, consumers will get more benefits when they sign up with mortgage and real estate services companies competing for their business. Companies are offering everything from cash-back purchase programs to retail shopping cards to consumers who sign with them. Even companies catering to the “for sale by owner market” will offer more amenities to customers.

2. Six-percent commissions are so 2004. Flat-fee home listings have taken off in the last few years through sites like ForSaleByOwner.com, but consumers will now have more choices when it comes to selling without brokers. Companies will offer more add-on services that can further aid in the home-buying and selling process, including contract negotiation counseling, competitive market analysis, access to the MLS and more.

3. Single women and the city. Traditionally a step that is reserved for married life, single women aren’t waiting for Mr. Right to invest in real estate. Twenty-one percent of first-time homeowners were single women last year – this is nearly double the rate of single men–11 percent–who are buying homes.

4. Dawn of the “paperless” property transaction. With a push toward streamlining the home-buying process, consumers will see options for “paperless” property transactions in 2005. More than 70 percent of consumers currently go online before viewing a home in person, but soon the entire transaction will be possible online too, from completing contracts to negotiating the selling price.

5. DIY nation. With interest rates on the rise, consumers will look for alternative ways to increase the value of their homes in 2005, with an intense focus on do-it-yourself remodeling projects. According to industry statistics, most of the consumers who remodel do so to improve the look or function of their homes, instead of moving and purchasing a new one.

ForSaleByOwner.com said its traffic grew by nearly 100 percent in 2003. According to industry estimates, one in four homes are sold directly by their owner.

In addition to its online database of properties, ForSaleByOwner.com distributes 1.2 million magazines in 23 states, with a readership of close to 3 million each month.

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