Here are the numbers from my October 6, 2009 searches in the Lancaster County MLS:
Active Listings UA Listings Ratio Prior year Ratio
Oct 6, 2009 2,882 759 26.34% 22.65%
Sep 8, 2009 2,884 773 26.80% 24.12%
Jul 7, 2009 2,761 796 28.83% 29.17%
May 7, 2009 2,845 801 28.15% 34.95%
Mar 7, 2009 2,812 545 19.38% 31.00%
Jan 3, 2009 2,660 427 16.05% 21.29%
Several of our Prudential Homesale Services Group offices saw very strong production in September. The North Pointe office I work in was almost 37% above goal for the month in pending home sales. Some of this may be due to the $8,000 tax credit, which is scheduled to end November 30, 2009.
Buyers and Sellers are both a bit uneasy now. Buyers are uneasy due to wondering if they are buying at the right time, if prices will decline. Sellers wonder if they should wait to sell until the market improves. Sellers and Buyers anxiety also increases when inspection or appraisal issues arise, which happens frequently. Several people selling homes expressed significant relief when they reached an agreement to sell. Reaching that stage gives them the confidence that someone wants to buy the home in an environment with a lot of bad news and uncertainty.
The Lancaster County Association of Realtors publication, House Calls, reports in the October 2009 issue that settled units, where the home has transferred ownership, was up 16.5% in August 2009 over August 2008. Pending home sales for August 2009 have increased over 2008 by 30%. The pending home sales increase again points to future months of increased settled units, possibly in September, October, and November. House Calls reports that the $100,000 to $200,000 price range had the strongest performance. This is likely due to the $8,000 tax credit currently offered buyers that haven't owned a home in the last three years, since many will be buying their first home.
On September 25 I attended the Sheriff Sale at the Lancaster County Courthouse. There were 133 properties on the list to be sold. Many were continued until November 25, but 30 were sold. Of the 30 sold, all but 4 or 5 were sold to the bank forcing the foreclosure. The good news is that approximately 100 homes remained with the current owner who worked something out to prevent the foreclosure sale. The remaining homes will likely be sold in the next few months by the mortgage company using a local Realtor®. In July, there were over 150 homes on the Sheriff Sale list, so the 133 in September is a reduction of 11.3%. In a time when there is a lot of national news coverage on foreclosures, this is information that illustrates how our area in Lancaster is insulated a bit when considering other areas of the country.
Time is almost gone on the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit! People thinking of buying their first home really should be aware of this and carefully consider the impact of not acting to take advantage of this. To take advantage of this, you need to purchase (and settle on) a house prior to the end of November 2009. That means buyers need to be under agreement on a property before early to mid October. With the increasing length of time the mortgage process may take, it may be challenging to get approval and settled before November 30, 2009. There is a possibility the Tax Credit may be extended, but the Cash for Clunkers program was not extended, and the $8,000 Tax Credit may also not be extended.
Borrowing for a home loan increases in complexity and challenge. Lenders are faced with increasing rules and regulations and are still learning to work within the context of the legislation. Appraisal issues come up, but can be anticipated with a proper market analysis's being done by both the listing agent and the buyers agent. Buyers really need to get pre-approved to know how much they are qualified to purchase. Simply using a calculator on the Internet is no longer enough to be confident. Credit scores have become even more important that they were a year or two ago. Lenders have increased the level that a credit score for a buyer must be to qualify. Buyers that have been pre-qualified several months ago really should talk to their lender again to verify they continue to be qualified for what they are looking for.
A big Thank You to everyone who has recommended my service to someone they know. I really appreciate the confidence that shows you have in me, and will do everything I can to continue to earn that confidence.
If you know someone who is thinking of buying or selling, please recommend they call me. I'll also be happy to contact them if that is appropriate.
Prepared by: J. Merle Sollenberger, GRI, CRS, Associate Broker, Realtor®
Prudential Homesale Services Group
150 North Point Boulevard, Lancaster, PA 17601
Licensed in PA
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