February 23, 2015

Homeowners Have Decided: ‘Let’s Get Out’

The Fresno Bee reports from California. “Madera County is swimming in a nine-month supply of homes for sale, a jump from only five months at the end of last year, according to the California Association of Realtors. Home sales in the central San Joaquin Valley fell in January helping to replenish the housing inventory which tightened in recent years as homeowners waited for prices to rise. But it looks like homeowners — at least in Madera County — have decided its time to make a move. ‘One quarter we have nothing to sell and the next quarter we have a lot to sell,’ said Junia Painter, president of the Madera Association Realtors.”

The Arizona Republic. “New home sales and building across metro Phoenix fell back to a slower pace in January after December’s year-end surge. Last month, new home sales dropped to 620 from 1,006 in December, according to RL Brown Housing Reports. Home building permits declined to 799 from 977. Deals offered by builders trying to sell houses before the end of 2014 worked to draw more buyers in December, but the trend didn’t continue in January.”

The Standard Times in Texas. “Because rents were so high in 2014, sales of houses less than $200,000 were going strong. At the same time, said Max Puello, president of the San Angelo Association of Realtors, many investors saw the demand for housing and decided to buy properties to rent out. ‘There was a lot of pressure on under $200,000 homes,’ he said. ‘There were a lot of investors and homebuyers.’”

“The inventory of high-end homes over 2014, by contrast, seemed to stay on the market for longer, Puello said. ‘It’s like two separate markets,’ said Scott Allison, a San Angelo Realtor and broker. It was a seller’s market for houses below the $200,000 range, Allison said, whereas there are years of supply in high-end houses.”

The Billings Gazette on Wyoming. “A steep decline in oil prices has forced companies to stack rigs and curb their spending on new production. North Dakota’s rig count stood at 127 on Thursday, down from 189 a year ago, according to state information. ‘Moving forward, it’s OK to slow down and take a breath,’ said Wenko, who addressed a Billings energy forum. ‘Some say we’ve gone from insanity to just a little bit crazy.’ Wenko said oil service companies operating in the Bakken are trying to get lean and mean in response to lower prices. However, the local job service agency continues to report many openings. People searching for housing have more choices, and some landlords are discounting their rents.”

The Globe & Mail in Canada. “Although the National Association of Realtors (NAR) doesn’t have statistics about Canadians selling U.S. properties, some real estate agents south of the border have noticed an uptick in Canadian clients eager to sell. ‘Oh my gosh yes, I’m doing a lot of listings,’ says Diane Olson, a Canadian-born real estate agent who specializes in snowbird properties in Phoenix. ‘And a lot of them are making money.’”

“Ken O’Brian, a real estate agent based in Naples, Fla., says that while some of his Canadian clients are selling their properties, most are holding because they feel the market will get even stronger in future. ‘The projections we are hearing say that prices will be back to 2006 levels by 2019, 2020, so they are going to wait for a better time,’ he says.”

“‘Is it a good time to sell? If you are in upgrade mode and you have something on your radar, there is strong demand down there,’ says Don R. Campbell, senior analyst at the Vancouver-based Real Estate Investment Network and co-author of Buying U.S. Real Estate: The Proven and Reliable Guide for Canadians. ‘The economy for the country as a whole down south seems to be catching a bit more fire than it has in the past, and that means that you won’t be selling just to investors or snowbirds, also to locals. But it will be even hotter next year from a market point of view.’”

“On the other hand, says Mr. Campbell, some snowbirds may be feeling relieved after buying property a few years ago and then realizing that U.S. home ownership isn’t for them. ‘A lot of people did get caught up in the dream and now reality starts to kick in – maintenance and tax rates and Home Owners Associations,’ he says. ‘Some people are saying, ‘Thank goodness prices are up, I feel guilty whenever I go anywhere else except this property. Let’s get out.’”

The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey. “This could be one of the best times ever to buy a house in South Jersey. There’s plenty of supply to feed any demand in this buyer’s market — although many local owners are either underwater on their mortgages or in foreclosure. Matt Dice, of Shore Living Realty in Ocean City, suggests that this combination of factors ‘has created a space in time that may never be seen again.’”

“Many buyers have been advised to avoid the potential headaches of short sales, but to Dice, those who are flexible on time — and can find homes that have been through part of the process — can get great deals. He was in on a short sale last month in which a home sold for 50 percent of what it last sold for in 2008.”

Bits Bucket for February 23, 2015

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