"Housing market continues to fall", read the headline yesterday on the money page of the local newspaper. It was an AP article discussing the situation nationwide. Quoting statistics from the National Association of Realtors and economic experts, the article suggests that the real estate market is in for a really bad year.
National statistics may interest some, but I hear from most people that they'd like to know what is happening here...where they live and work. I would love to see the Yakima Herald Republic print more articles about our local economy because this national doom and gloom reporting is scaring people. I answer panicked calls from sellers and buyers daily.
So, today, I'm writing to people in my community and sharing some GOOD news, some SO-SO news, and some LOCAL market information....
GOOD NEWS: Local non-agricultural job growth is at the second highest level in Yakima County since 1990. The new Osteopathic college will open it's doors to the first class this fall. The HOP market has gone crazy and all those farmers planting extra acres are going to bring loads of money into the local economy. Downtown Yakima has been born-again as a hip, fun, artsy place to be and be seen. New construction homes are selling here...more and more homes are being built and most are purchased in advance. (Have you driven around West Valley lately!) I hosted an open house in Yakima last Sunday and was bombarded by buyers...I haven't done an open house that busy since last spring!
SO-SO NEWS: Lending standards have changed. You now need to have some money and good credit, in addition to a pulse, to get a home loan. Sub-prime loans have gone bye-bye. This just means that young first-time buyers will need to plan and save before becoming homeowners. Gas prices are up, just like everywhere else, and this is affecting local businesses. Those who rely on shipping products in or out, folks in the trucking or repair industries, or real estate agents driving to showings have seen it first-hand in their wallets. This is forcing us to be more conscious of our driving habits, and also urging the faster exploration of alternative fuels. We all need to buy as much locally as possible. The Farmer's Market will be back soon and even bigger this season!
LOCAL REAL ESTATE MARKET NEWS: That headline about the falling market was all about the number of pending home sales. In Yakima, the pending sales are down, too. For the last thirty day period compared to 2007 for the same 30 days, we are down 4 pending sales. FOUR. That could just be four folks that couldn't get a loan this year, or four that were too afraid to try because of all the negative media. We have 10% more houses on the market this year-to-date compared to the same period last year (114 more residential listings, which is less than one month's inventory). But average sale price is up 4% (GOOD). Average Days On Market from list date to closing date is longer, though. Four days longer. FOUR. Four days longer to sell, Four pending sales worse than 2007. Prices up 4%. This isn't the same real estate market the AP reporter was writing about. We are affected by some of the same things happening nationally, but not nearly at the same level.
If you are waiting to buy or sell in the Yakima area because of the bad news reports...STOP IT! Now is a fine time to shop for a house. The extra inventory is a treat if you're buying, lots to choose from...and sellers that price right for the market and present their homes well are still getting them sold. Call a local Realtor if you have questions. We have ready access to the facts and are willing to share the information.