As a Real Estate Broker, focused primarily on distressed property sales, I can honestly say that I have. August – October of this year I was just about as busy as I have ever been in the business of Real Estate. Most the people I chat with in Mortgage, Title, Inspection Services, etc. say the same thing. The transactions were typically affordable in nature but it was nice to see a lot of them. More importantly there was a sense of urgency in the market-place. In certain price ranges and neighborhoods demand clearly exceeded supply. When considering the following points I can't help but feel as if another shoe is about to drop.
- The extension and expansion of the credit has left some recent buyers wondering why they were in such a big hurry. Meanwhile some would-be buyers are feeling a little less confident. All are worried they will or have paid too much.
- Housing demand is typically created by one or more of the following: Household formation, employment opportunities, attractive financing and the lure of home equity. All of these are lacking in my market.
- I sense that many if not most of the recent first-time buyers would have eventually purchased a home regardless. The looming expiration of the tax credit served to get them of the fence. This created a somewhat false demand.
In short I do think we'll suffer a bit of a hang-over this next year. As a generality banks are holding a bit firmer to their prices when dealing with fore-closed properties. I do expect interest rates to rise at some point. Short sales are just as mixed up as they ever have been. It will be interesting to see how things turn out for the big auto companies after the "cash for clunkers" revenue stops showing up on their bottom line. Perhaps an indicator for the near future in our housing market.
That said, if you're in the market for a home now, don't be too concerned. Your income should be secure. The monthly payment should be conservative in relationship to your income. It needs to be the right house at a fair price. If all those pieces fall in place, I say go for it. Prices will inevitably rise & fall and I think the joy of home ownership has been relatively under-rated lately. Planting a tree or shrub wherever you wish, knocking a hole in the wall to hang the family heirloom or driving down your street to the "best" house on the street; some things are priceless.