On the Road to Recovery

For the first time in nearly 3 years, housing sales are finding a floor and perhaps even heading up.
The June 2008 REAL Trends housing market shows that, for the first time in nearly three years, housing unit sales are at the beginning stages of finding a floor and perhaps even heading up. In this months report, the key states of California and Nevada showed increases in units closed, versus the same month a year ago. Also, the report showed that every region was improved from the May 2008 results. Decreases in units closed shrank as did the price declines that had been seen in the past nine months. We expect that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the melt down in the mortgage markets the year-over-year decreases in units closing will continue to shrink and may turn modestly positive in the months ahead.However, when reading the results from the report it is clear that a major factor in the turnaround in key markets is the decline in the average sales price of the homes being sold. The average price declines in the California and Nevada markets was between 28 and 32 percent, indicating that the turnaround is mostly in the entry level market segment. What we hear from brokerage firms in these markets are that homes at the entry levels include a significant number of foreclosure sales, short sales and builders dropping their prices to clear out older lower priced inventory. The strengthening of the entry level market is a critical component of a housing recovery. As the excess inventory gets sold those in the lower price segments have the liquidity to consider a move up into higher price levels. We know from experience that this is the foundation of a recovery.It is apparent, however, that until the excess inventory throughout the price spectrum gets brought back into line with demand that prices will remain under substantial pressure. And this will not happen until sales professionals and brokerage firms regain discipline in how they price and market listings. The Denver area, where the author lives, cannot be that different than most markets throughout the country. There are simply far too many overpriced listings on the market; listings that the listing professional and brokerage firm both know are overpriced and unlikely to sell in any reasonable time frame.

by Michael Staver, The Staver Group

From Real Trends

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Neil D. Lyon CRB, CRS, GRI Cell: 505.660.8600 Direct: 505.954.5505

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