REM sang it and now we are singing it too. "It's the end of the world as we know it." Of course, we are talking about the end of the Real Estate market. But hasn't that been the hit song sung by CNBC and the news headliners for the last 2 years? So what is the reason for the end of the world this time? Let's recap.
On August 24th it certainly seemed as if the housing market was falling apart at the seams when the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced the sales forecast for the 2010 year fell short. Sales of previously owned homes fell 27.2% in July as compared to June. That is like saying if 200 homes sold in the month of June then only 146 home sold in July. So why was that such a shocker to the analysts? Did they forget that the 8,000 Tax incentive's Rule #1 was that Buyers had to settle by June 30th. (That was extended by the way at the 11th hour.) Hello people, of course June sales would be higher than July sales. Of course the tax credit would artificially stimulate the number of settlements in June and create a bit of a "hangover" in July.
The Wall Street Journal stated that NAR announced the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales is 3.83 million and it was at the lowest level since the industry group started its tally in 1999. Immediately, the pundits were on the air saying how incredible this drop was, how far below analyst expectations this was, what a surprise this was and so on. I recall an analyst caught up in the hysteria blindly saying that renting is always the best option for anyone considering buying a home right now. This is a perfect example of the media playing up the doom and gloom card. Remember folks, high ratings are what keeps them on the news and admit it, if they do not sensationalize, we won't listen or watch.
Of course on our end, we have been blogging about the "tax credit hangover" endlessly for months. This dip comes as no surprise for us and if you have been reading our blog and newsletter, this is not a surprise to you either. So much demand was created and condensed in the months of April, May, and June 2010, it only makes sense that there would be a huge falloff in July. Is there cause for concern? Sure there is, in regards to the economy and primarily unemployment. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Of course not! Do we think REM is great? Yes! But we do not like the way the pundits sing their song and we disapprove of the way the media is spinning NAR's calculations. It is quite frankly dampening whatever remains of consumer confidence.
That being said, we are not blind to the negatives either. Let's look at the bad stuff a little closer. With the the home inventory increasing to a supply of 12.5 months (meaning it will take a year and a half to sell what we have for sale right now) and with the increased amount of bank owned properties entering the housing market, and short sales continuing to pop up on the market, there is more risk of price declines in the markets that are already suffering across the nation. More importantly, here in Philadelphia, we see a more stable market with smaller declines across the board particularly for homes priced under $400,000. The luxury home market will feel the sting of somewhat greater price declines due to the buyer pool being smaller.
What does this all mean to you?
Sellers - Price and condition are paramount. Thus, to get your home sold in this market, you need to be priced below your competition AND have a better product. Your house needs to show like a dream. Marketing and exposure are never as important as there are today which is why you really cannot hire your the part-time agent or go FSBO, but hire that agent who excels in Internet Marketing and has a strong presence in the area.
Buyers - Turn the TV off. There is substantial opportunity out there for you. This may be the single best opportunity in your lifetime in that the combination of prices being where they are, the amount of properties to choose from, AND mortgage rates being SO low offers you incredible purchasing power. "But what if prices go lower? " Good question.... But what if mortgage rates go higher?? Even if prices fall $10,000 on that average sales price, that does not even come close to the amount of extra money you will be spending if mortgage rates went up even one point. And I can tell you, sooner or later, this is going to happen.
On the investment side, there are more opportunities out there for investors as well since it is harder for buyers to get loans. In putting my money where my mouth is on opportunity in the Philadelphia real estate market, I have bought two properties in the last couple of months, one in East Passyunk and one in Northwood. More to come on these in our next newsletter!
It's the end of the world as we know it. And I feel Fine!