Greetings from the South Carolina Lowcountry! It's been quite a month thus far here on Hilton Head and aroud the USA, hence the delay in writing this monthy update. Nationally, we have been dealing with the upcoming Election, the ‘Palin Effect', Hanna, Ike, Lehman Brothers, Fannie & Freddie, gas price fluctuations, the economy and on and on. All this and the start of the football season, too! It seems to be more than one can handle.
Locally, we have seen the end of the summer season, the start of school and the typical early September slowdown as the Island morfs into its' Autumn market, which many feel is the best time of year here on Hilton Head. For those in a position to get away, it's a great time to visit and recharge your batteries. The days are warm, the humity is lower (we're still waiting), beaches, golfcourses, stores and restaurants are less crowded.
Financial News Update: Here's where the rubber meets the road in today's real estate market. As you most likely have heard, there has been some problems in our credit markets. Lenders have been experiencing major issues from Wall St. to Main St. The Treasury has recently had to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an effort to stem a major credit crisis of world wide impact. Lehman Bros. has been teetering on the brink of failure and on and on.. The good news is that with the Treasury's takeover of Fannie and Freddie, mortgages rates have come down and are expected to hover in the 5.5%-5.75% range for the foreseeable future. The bad news is the potential that taxpayers could be on the hook to underwrite a lot bad loans and foreclosures.
All in all, the Treasury felt they needed to make the move to stem a financial meltdown and secure mortgages and lend some stability to the housing market and avoid a credit crisis.
What does it all mean? Back in the Go-Go days of '04 and '05, lenders conceived and approved adjustable rate mortgages with little or no income verification to meet consumer demand and which helped fuel the rapid rise in property values due to the increased demand. With the easy money, people bought more house than they could afford or multiple properties, at artifically inflated prices. Developers were able to meet the rising consumer demand by building more homes and condos with easily accessable credit. Much of what had been built, especially in South Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California, now remains empty and can be had for pennies on the dollar.
Where do we go from here? The good news appears to be that those who did not particapate in the overheated housing market are now in a position to take advantage of some really great opportunities. Housing prices have come down and appear to have stabilized here in the Hilton Head market. Experts have said that if we haven't seen the bottom then we can certainly see the bottom.
Lower home prices + Lower interest rates + Available inventory = Great Opportunity!
The bad news is that with the tightening of credit by lenders, buyers in some areas of the Hilton Head market- those wanting to purchase a villa in a complex with 50% or higher investor type properties will find it difficult to find a loan.