May 15, 2014

Sellers Are Afraid They Won’t Get The Peak Price

CNBC reports on Virginia. “Home prices are moving so far, so fast, that potential home sellers are giddy with value. ‘I even hear them say that prices are skyrocketing,’ said Jeremy Cunningham, a northern Virginia real estate agent with Redfin, a real estate brokerage. ‘When you ask them what their data source is or where they’re getting their information, it’s more of a vibe.’”

“The Soricelli family in northern Virginia thought about selling their home a year ago, but held off, hoping that prices would improve. They decided to put their home up for sale this spring. Their asking price, however, was higher than their real estate agent, Cunningham, thought was realistic. The Soricellis did take Cunningham’s advice and brought their asking price down. The house sold in one day, but they say they have no regrets. ‘Not having to go through waiting and some of the aggravation of having your house on the market for a period of time is worth a certain amount of money,’ said Brad Soricelli.”

“Especially when they look across the street. Their neighbor’s house, which has already undergone a price drop, is still sitting on the market.”

The Washington Post. “Usually the busiest time of the year for home buying and selling, spring has been a disappointment for the D.C. region’s housing market. Only 3,883 homes were sold in the D.C. area in April, the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year declines. Pending sales also declined year-over-year in April, the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year declines and an indication that the pace of sales isn’t picking up anytime soon.”

“The 8,871 homes listed for sale last month was a 16.7 percent increase from March and a 24.5 percent increase from April 2013. Alexandria saw the biggest jump in supply. Active listings increased 53.1 percent last month compared to April 2013. ‘There are some weak spots as you go out farther from downtown D.C., but the hot areas are still doing fine,’ said Donna Evers, owner of Evers & Co., a local real estate agency. ‘And really they would be doing monumentally well if we had more product. … The reason we don’t have sellers is people are still afraid they won’t get the price they got at the peak of the market.’”

The News & Observer in North Carolina. “Triangle home sales dipped slightly in April compared with the same period a year ago, but the inventory of homes on the market ticked up for the first time in more than three years. ‘The only way the market is going to move forward in more than 1 or 2 percent increments is if we get job growth at more than 1 or 2 percent,’ said Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes Triangle MLS data. ‘That’s not happening.’”

“Anfindsen said last year was somewhat of an anomaly because the region’s job growth didn’t support the rise in sales that the market experienced. ‘I think that’s what we’re seeing this year,’ he said.”

The Pocono Record in Pennsylvania. “While real estate investors in Reading, Bethlehem and Easton are earning a windfall by flipping houses, the market still hasn’t rebounded enough for those in the Poconos to take full advantage, according to Realtors and experts. ‘Flipping homes in the Poconos remains a gamble. What had been a lucrative endeavor for many investors has lost its appeal over the last seven years,’ said Michael D. Gilliar, president of Great Pocono Real Estate.”

“‘As compared to many markets across the nation, the Poconos tends to lag in terms of the recovery,’ Gilliar said. ‘One of the primary reasons for this is that the Poconos is a popular secondary home market. Vacation homes are often the first sacrifice made by struggling homeowners, which contributed significantly to the high foreclosure rate and increased supply of housing.’”

“Leon Rybner of the home building company Pocono Dreams, said flipping houses in the area still works for him. ‘There’s a lot to learn in any market. Buying and fixing a home is the easy part,’ he said. ‘It’s selling the property that’s the hard part, but I’ve been doing it for many years.’”

The Baltimore Sun in Maryland. “Home sales in the Baltimore region dipped slightly last month amid concern about a relatively weak housing market nationwide. Price gains appeared only in Baltimore and Howard counties, while Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford counties posted declines. It is still too early to identify a downturn in the Baltimore region, which by some metrics fared better than other parts of the country, such as Washington, D.C., where sales slumped 8.3 percent, said RBI senior product manager Corey Hart. ‘Last year was a year with big year-over-year gains in sales each month, and now we’re flat,’ he said.”

“Underlying conditions in the state’s labor market are also a cause for pause, said R. Andrew Bauer, a Baltimore-based senior regional economist with the Federal Reserve in Richmond, Va. While unemployment in Baltimore-Towson dropped to 6 percent in March, down 1 percent from last year, the rate of job creation in Maryland has slowed ‘considerably,’ Bauer said. ‘There’s a number of cross currents when trying to figure out what the underlying demand in housing is right now,’ Bauer said. ‘When you net it all out for our region, I think things are going to be a little slower moving forward.’”

“Sellers placed 5,596 new listings on the market last month, the most added in any month since April 2010, according to the RBI report. The total number of active listings was 11,965, up 12.3 percent compared to March and 14.6 percent compared to last year.”

“Daraius Irani, executive director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University, said as more homes are listed, prices might decline or properties might take longer to sell. He, too, sounded a note of caution about the weakness of the labor market’s recovery. ‘This year might be a fairly flat year for real estate,’ he said. ‘Many people still don’t feel quite fully recovered.’”

From Marketplace. “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen feels alright about most of the economy. But keep an eye, she advised, on one sector: ‘One cautionary note though is that readings on housing activity, a sector that has been recovering since 2011 have remained disappointing so far this year and will bear watching.’”

“Stephanie Rizk didn’t need to hear it from Ms Yellen though. Two years after the housing market bottomed out, she can see it from the window of her house in Laurel, Maryland. ‘On my street there are three abandoned or foreclosed properties that are empty,’ she says. ‘There’s a decaying speedboat in the back yard of one. I can’t do anything about that as a homeowner.’”

“Rizk put her house up for sale last year because she wanted to move closer to work and school. The house didn’t sell, even after six months on the market. ‘It’s really hard to sell a house when there are literally no neighbors because the houses are empty,’ she says. Luckily, Rizk found renters. She and her family were able to move…but not buy.”

“Buying a home new home was a whole other ordeal involving disputes over appraisals and stubborn sellers. ‘It was very frustrating,’ she says.”

Bits Bucket for May 15, 2014

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