Wow!! What a terrific article about where sales have been and where they’re headed. Consumer confidence is certainly back, if you ask me!Please take time to read this great report from Allen Tate’s very own President, Pat Riley.
When you read the national housing reports talking about Q1 2011, you need more information to figure out the “rest of the story.”
Let me try, from my perspective, to help you. First and foremost, you must understand that the report for the month or quarter might be speaking to numerous categories. For example, sales, pending sales and solds – or even a category like new homes vs. resale – might be represented in a single report.
The data indicates that sales of existing homes fell 9.6 percent in February, the lowest level in 9 years. To understand why, you need to remember what happened last year in Q1 and Q2. We had a tax credit incentive that “borrowed” sales from the second half of the year, sending us into 2011 with a very small pipeline. Additionally, new home sales continue to drag, due to the availability of lot-ready opportunities and lender restraints on speculation building at this time.
Now … for the rest of the story. Sales in March in the Carolinas – without a tax incentive – were very strong. In fact, at Allen Tate, we rivaled last year’s numbers without the incentive. This indicates that the recovery is real and this is what we need… gradual and steady.
Yes, lending standards remain very tight and we are overcompensating for the Ills of the past, where lending standards were much too loose. The rental inventory is full of folks getting their credit in order so they can buy. Clients who have credit are listening to today’s mantra of selling low in order to buy low, instead of what their neighbors did just a few years ago – selling high and buying high, which is all relative. Everyone is realizing that there will still be downward pressure on pricing in 2011, but waiting is not a wise decision, with interest rates pushing.
The first half numbers of 2011 may not rival last year, but the real story will be told at year-end. Sales and closings will prove that the “bottom” (according to me) was October 2010. Interest rates, while still historically low, are up considerably from last April. Smart buyers will understand that waiting for another price concession will simply not make up for the difference in higher interest rates.
Rental vacancy rates went from 10.7 to 9.4 percent in the last year, so competition for the opportunities is out there. With lower home prices, the first-time home buyer today is KING. It is “time to get off the fence” for sure!
By Pat Riley