Happy holidays! Christmas is almost here and people are busy getting ready. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.
This time of year tends to have fewer active buyers and sellers, but those who are active are generally feeling the need to move for some reason or another. There is talk of interest rates heading up in the Spring due to the Federal Reserve changing strategy and focus, in an attempt to avoid inflation. Astute buyers are trying to lock in ahead of that.
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 December 7, 2009 searches in the Lancaster County MLS:
------------Active Listings UA Listings Ratio Prior year Ratio
Dec 7, 2009----2,873 439 15.28% 18.19%
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%
We started 2009 weaker than corresponding months in 2008, stronger in September, October and November, but weakness returned in December. The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit had some impact on that, possibly nudging buyers that were planning to move in early 2010 to act sooner and purchase a home before the original deadline of November 30, 2009.
The Lancaster County Association of Realtors publication, House Calls, reports in the December 2009 issue that settled units, where the home has transferred ownership, was up 24.2% in October 2009 over October 2008. Pending home sales for October 2009 have increased over 2008 by 26.0%. We have seen a significant change in the market compared to 2008. House Calls also reports that the National Association of Realtors® forecasts 2010 home sales are expected to be 15 percent over 2009.
Over the last few months there were several homeowners that I spoke with that are facing challenges. Most are dealing with job losses or health issues that led them to being unable to make their mortgage payments. In viewing homes, there are a larger percentage that are vacant than I remember seeing before.
Sellers currently face stiff competition from other sellers and from builders selling new homes. Buyers have many homes to choose from and can use guidance in making their selection. 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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p.s. As we approach the celebration of a new year, and become involved in making resolutions and plans for 2010, may you have hope and excitement as you think about your future.