The $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit has been extended, and, there is now also a $6,500 credit for people selling a home and buying another! People thinking of buying a 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 a house prior to the end of April 2010. That means buyers need to be under agreement on a property before April 30, 2010, and settle on that property on or before June 30, 2010.
Here are the numbers from my November 4, 2009 searches in the Lancaster County MLS:
Active Listings UA Listings Ratio Prior year Ratio
Nov 4, 2009 2,907 641 22.05% 20.43%
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%
Price ranges up to $250,000 again show the most strength in activity and ratio. Above $250,000 there is much less activity and the average time on market is significantly longer. The Market Absorption as reported in The Lancaster County Association of Realtors publication, House Calls, indicates that in price ranges up to $300,000 the "Months Supply" maximum is 7.3, whereas $300,000 to $400,000 is 15.2 and $400,000 and up is 20.7. That indicates that someone selling a home in the $400,000 and up price range may need to be prepared for possibly nearly two years of time on the market.
The Lancaster County Association of Realtors publication, House Calls, reports in the November 2009 issue that settled units, where the home has transferred ownership, was up 22.4% in September 2009 over September 2008. Pending home sales for September 2009 have increased over 2008 by 26.8%. The pending home sales increase again points to future months of increased settled units, possibly in October, November, and December.
Our office has been seeing nice sales numbers again this month. September and October 2009 were much improved over September and October 2008, but with the $8,000 tax credit scheduled to end in November, things have quieted somewhat.
Things have been interesting lately. Recently there were two transactions where my buyers had entered into an Agreements of Sale on the homes, but unusual issues came up and both agreements ended up being released instead of settling. This is unusual in typical market environments, but not so much in the current environment. Buyers and Sellers both take on some risk when they enter an Agreement of Sale to sell or buy a home. Even knowing that risks exist doesn't eliminate the frustration when plans get changed.
On Tuesday I was talking with someone who is selling their home without a Realtor®. He told me he had his home sold twice, but when it came to getting the agreement in writing, the buyers backed out. One even bought a house on the street next to his home. He also mentioned that someone from out of town had called him, and when he talks to them next he will make an offer they can't refuse. It appears he may be giving away any commission savings he hoped to enjoy by not using a Realtor®.
Also, someone told me about a recent auction on a house, and that prior to the auction the auctioneer approached a neighbor that was attending the sale and invited him to make a bid on the property just to get the bidding started. When the auction started, the neighbor did that and no one else bid any higher, for a long time. Ultimately the bidding went higher after several recesses, but the sellers did not accept the maximum bid after all of that. It appears to me that buyers tend to go to auctions and FSBO's expecting or hoping for a bargain.
With all of the challenges home buyers and sellers can be faced with in the market, doesn't it make sense to use the services of a Realtor® that has helped many people through the buying and selling process over the last decade?
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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