A Look At The Market…

As I preview houses (a Realtor looks at houses on their own) almost on a daily basis I am constantly amazed at how many low end houses there are on the market that are in move in condition. I can remember in 2002 to 2005 it was nearly impossible to find livable houses under $100,000. Today I am seeing houses that are around the $80,000 price point that if they need anything it is only carpet and paint. Add in the fact that mortgage interest rates are around 4 percent and you can get a monthly payment for a $80,000 home including principle, interest, property taxes and insurance for under $600 a month. (Interest rates can vary daily. Property taxes can vary per house. Insurance is an individual thing based on your risk. For this example I used 4.25 mortgage interest rate, $600 a year insurance rate and $1440 a year in property taxes.)

Rental rates in Pike Township this year have gone up steeply. It would be hard to find a good rental for less than $600 a month. In fact I can remember it use to be easy to find rentals on the Broker Listing Cooperative (Software that Realtors use to find houses and rentals.) Now because of the high demand for rentals it has become much more challenging.

In 2010 the government offered a $8000 tax credit through April if you qualified when you bought a house. They allowed until June 30th to close those sales. As you can see on my sales chart,

this produced a high level of sales in the first 6 months of the year. When the tax credit stopped, so did the sales. This year the sales are 12 percent below last years but I am seeing some stabilization. In months past I have seen the market be down up to 30 percent from the year before. The gap is narrowing. That said there are many variables.

There is a high inventory of shadow inventory. (Foreclosures that are in the process but have not hit the market yet.) Mortgage companies learned a good lesson when they flooded the market with distressed housing. Not only did it bring overall prices down, it brought the prices of distressed homes down further and increased the mortgage companies losses. Now they are holding back and trickling out the distressed homes. This is a good thing in that it does not hurt the overall market as much. It is a bad thing in that there are more vacant houses sitting maybe waiting months or even a year before they go on the market. I hear more and more stories about people breaking into these houses and living in them without permission. I have heard stories from Sam Bruner, Pike Township Fire Marshall, about squatters starting fires in vacant homes to keep warm. Also about people living in vacant commercial buildings on Coffman Road. These are liabilities and costs that Pike Township let alone the real estate market does not need.

Since market pricing has dropped up to 20 percent and sometimes more in Pike Township over the last few years more people have less equity in their houses. In years past I can remember when houses for sale reached over 1000 at the peak of the summer. Now we are seeing about 800. That is a 20 percent drop. People can’t afford to sell their homes.

It is a buyers market. Prices are low, interest rates are at record lows and a lot of good inventory out there. For sellers, buyers are a lot more motivated in winter months. They don’t like to look at houses in the snow. They are more likely to make decisions faster. Their purchase can be a Christmas present to themselves.

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