It's a buyers' market for those looking to purchase property in New Albany.

It's a buyers' market for those looking to purchase property in New Albany.

Local real estate agents and business owners gathered last week for the New Albany Chamber of Commerce's monthly meeting to discuss the state of real estate in the area.

A panel of realty professionals answered questions and explained new needs for buying and selling homes.

Lu Klaiber, an agent with RE/MAX-Green & Klaiber Executive Real Estate Services, moderated the event, which was held at the New Albany Country Club on Thursday, March 19.

"We are here to help with the fear of what's going on in the market," Klaiber said. "We've had to redefine how we do business. Real estate terms all of a sudden have new meanings."

She joked that the new meaning of closing on a sale is "an act of God."

"Real estate affects everyone," Klaiber said. "We are New Albany, Ohio, one of the best planned communities in the United States. We want to teach you how to position yourself in the market. We're not sure when the bottom will be, but we're close."

Panelist Joe Evans, with RE/MAX Town Center, said one of the most effective measures would be for sellers to find ways to set themselves apart in the market.

According to his research, 184 homes are for sale in the village of New Albany, and 85 homes are for sale in Columbus' Win-Win area of the New Albany-Plain Local School District.

These numbers are compared to the 194 homes for sale in neighboring Gahanna and 133 homes for sale in Powell, which, Evans said, is considered a similar suburb.

"People have really got to know what their competition is," he said. "Each individual person has their own market."

Evans said now is as good a time as any to purchase a home.

"Maybe four years ago, you thought you could never move into New Albany," he said. "Now you can. At the end of the day, I hope everyone realizes that this is a great time."

One of the factors helping to drive down prices is foreclosure.

Panelist Jill Beckett-Hill, with Realty Executives Decision, said buyers have to differentiate between homes that have gone to sheriff's sales and homes that are up for short sales.

Homes that are up for sheriff's sales have been foreclosed upon and have liens on such items as second mortgages or construction work.

According to Evans, 15 homes are up for foreclosure in the village.

Beckett-Hill said buyers could close on these homes in 30 to 45 days.

Short sales are homes that owners have cooperated with the bank to sell the home before it goes to a sheriff's sale.

She said it takes seven and 12 months to close on a short-sale home.

"Banks do want to do short sales because they do want you in the property," Beckett-Hill said. "The most important thing is patience."

Chamber president Eileen Leuby said she thought real estate was a good theme for this month's chamber meeting because springtime is when many people start thinking about selling or buying homes.

"Spring is a great time to relocate," she said.

Elvah Donald, chamber chair and owner of The Donald Co. Realtors, echoed the sentiments of the panelists that interest rates are down, housing inventory is up and real estate professionals are available to help.

"The stars are perfectly aligned," she said.

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com