In recent news, there has been much controversy over the government's announcement that the recession is over. For many people, and especially those of us involved in the real estate industry, this news feels as though it is a long way from "being over." Our industry is strongly related to the banking sector, which has undergone a great deal of change in regulatory provisions. These provisions enacted by the powers that be are designed to protect the consumer from predatory lending, as well as to mitigate against irresponsible lending practices that lead to distressed properties. This "adjustment" to new practices has required professionals from both industries to work closer and harder than ever before. Ironically, a consumer with excellent credit can now secure a 30 year fixed mortgage for as low as 4.3%---the lowest in recorded history, yet it has never been more difficult to secure a loan. Underwriting departments are under a great deal of pressure to check and re-check to ensure that parameters are met, and oftentimes, this requires additional documentation from the borrower. Typical timelines for closing loans can now approach 45-60 days depending on the type of loan. Appraisals are another issue altogether, and have been discussed a great deal. However, despite these challenges, it appears that the old adage, "time heals all things" holds true even for the downturn. Please don't misunderstand--the numbers are definitely not where we would all like them to be; but the downturn has definitely slowed a great deal, and we are now beginning to see some positive signals.
The most recent reports released by the South Carolina Association of Realtors reflects this sentiment. "Over the last 12 months, sales in the area have held nearly even with last year, with a slight 0.1 percent increase...The total inventory of homes for sale grew 10.3 percent from a year ago...The median sales price of single-family homes over the last 12 months was $142,000, up 1.6 percent from a year ago." My interpretation of the numbers is this: Though growth is slow, it is at least climbing, if ever so slightly. More folks are looking to sell, yet the average median price has risen, again, if ever so slightly. This is good news for sellers overall. Translation: the recession is over (at least in Columbia with respect to the housing numbers). So....BUY NOW. Buyers will need to overcome their fears, because the market is now beginning it's initial ascent. Get the best rate you can, because it appears rates have no place to go but up from here. At least this is based on conventional wisdom.
U.S. News recently recognized the Columbia, SC market in an article titled "Where to Buy a Home for Less Than $800 a Month." According to this article, if you purchase a home for $142,000 (our median price) with 20% down payment, estimated monthly P & I payment can be $564. My first apartment in 1999 with one bedroom cost $500/month, and believe you me, it was no where as nice as your typical single family home! Wow! No, really, wow! So my friends, tell your friends that you got it from the source: a real estate broker who's been on the front lines battling this market in Columbia, SC----that it's time to get out there to fight for a great loan to get the great house, because it is still going to be the BIGGEST investment one will ever make. Buy low, sell high. Nothing good comes easy, but it'll be worth it in the end. I'm out of old adages for now, but you get my point.