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Rain Rain . . . Hey, It's Sunny!

by Buddy Frey

I thought it was April showers bring May flowers...not this year!  What a month.  So far here in the Charlotte area, Mother Nature has sent us 6.8 inches of rain.  A normal May month for us here in the Queen City is 3.3 inches.

May has been crazy wet.  Events like Quail Hollow, Coca-Cola 500, my Golf Game and others have been delayed, postponed and cancelled due to the over abundance of rain.  This month the precipitation has come in what I call the soothing mist form, the all day drizzle and like last night, the monsoon down pour...you know, the kind of storm when you're driving and can't see 50 yards in front of you!

Year to date, we are actually 1 inch above our 18.19 average yearly precip.  Most lakes around the here are getting close to "Full Pool".  And the air quality...Good to Excellent with little to no readings on the allergy index. 

All this rain has but ended last year's drought conditions and water restrictions.  My lawn has made an almost full recovery from last season...(thank goodness for all this rain 'cause I'm not the best lawn farmer in the world).  And across the Piedmont Region...green, green, green.  I can't remember when I've seen it so lush around here. 

So I say enjoy, enjoy all this rain!  Get out there and get wet and muddy.  Hey you know "Singing in the Rain" and "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head" (anyone else have others?) just enjoy.  A few sunny days though would be nice too  :-)

Buddy

 

 

Home Prices Inch Up A Bit In March

by Buddy Frey

Considering our unemployment situation here in the Charlotte Region, it is surprising...pleasantly surprising, to see a modest gain in housing prices. 

Of late, the area's deep housing decline has shown signs of slowing.  And while overall sale's volume is still way off, we are actually seeing signs of the decrease slowing.  March's little price hike of 0.3% marks the first housing improvement in a while. 

Nationally though, prices are still down significantly compared to 2008.  "The S&P/Chase Shiller Home Price Index (Top 20 Markets) shows Charlotte remained in 5th place in March, one of a handful of urban areas with losses less than 10% (-9.3%)."  Denver was the best of the bunch at -5.5% from March of 2008 and Phoenix ranked last at -36.0%

Persaonally, I am very optimistic as I feel at least the pulse is back.  Most of Realtors I speak to echo the same thing that the phones are beginning to ring again and sales are picking up...big improvement over even 45 days ago.  Stay cautious though and price your home competitively...we're not out of the woods yet.

If you would like a comple list of the YTY top 20 markets, please shoot me an email and I will be happy to forward!

Buddy

Housing: Most Affordable In Decades!

by Buddy Frey

U.S. home prices are their most affordable in at least 18 years, according to a report released Monday.

Nearly 73% of all homes sold in the United States during the first three months of 2009 were considered affordable. That was the highest percentage ever reported by the 18-year-old Housing Opportunity Index, an analysis of markets compiled quarterly by the National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo Bank.

To be deemed affordable, a family making the median national income of $64,000 must be able to buy the property and devote no more than 28% of their income toward housing costs.

Plummeting home prices were primarily responsible for sending affordability soaring from just over 60% in last three months of 2008 to 72.5% in the first quarter of 2009. Sinking interest rates also contributed to affordability. A 30-year fixed mortgage averaged less than 5% during much of the quarter, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

"Underlying the increase in affordability are lower home prices and record low interest rates," NAHB Chairman Joe Robson said in a prepared statement. "Combined with the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, consumers are beginning to return to the marketplace."

Most affordable city

For the 15th consecutive quarter, Indianapolis led the nation's large cities (population 500,000 and up) in home affordability. The Indiana capital tops the list due to very reasonable home prices and relatively high median income: Nearly 95% of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the metro area's median income of $68,100.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 21% of the homes sold in the New York/White Plains metro area were affordable to those earning the median income of $64,800. Even there, affordability jumped seven percentage points compared with the last three months of 2008.

Rust-belt cities dominated the most affordable list, with Youngstown Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Syracuse, N.Y., all near the top. Joining New York at the bottom were: San Francisco; Los Angeles; Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.; and Honolulu.

Several smaller cities were even more affordable than Indianapolis. In Sandusky, Ohio, about 98% of homes sold were affordable to those earning the local median income. Monroe, Mich., and the Ohio towns of Mansfield, Springfield and Canton all exceeded 95% affordability.

Less affordable small markets were led by Ocean City, N.J.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Hanford, Calif.

Markets still slow

Despite the record affordability, both existing and new home sales are still slow. New homes have been selling at an annualized rate of 350,000 for the past few months. Existing sales have been consistently running at an annualized pace of less than 5 million units - about two/thirds the boom-years rate.

And increased affordability is not enough to drive sales quickly upward, according to Ken Goldstein, an economist and real estate analyst for the Conference Board.

"What really hurts is that people are losing their jobs now," he said. "The unemployment rate is at 9% going to 10%. That means that 90% of people still have their jobs but everyone is looking over their shoulders wondering if they're next."

As a result, there's still a double-digit inventory of homes on the market. Plus, a large proportion of recent sales have been foreclosures, homes repossessed from defaulting borrowers and put back on the market, often at fire sale prices.

Still, homebuilders are taking some heart in the improved affordability stats and other data indicating that perhaps the worst is over. Pending home sales were up slightly last month, and new home sales have risen off their bottoms.

Those trends have buoyed industry confidence slightly. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, an indicator of builder sentiment that was also released Monday, inched up two points in May to 16 after jumping five points in April.  To top of page

Are Charlotte Area Home Vales Holding Their Value?

by Buddy Frey

A recent article in our local newspaper The Charlotte Observer, came out with some very interesting statistics about our housing prices.  While many areas have been hit with lower prices, some regional pockets have actually gone up in price.  On average though home prices only fell 4% across the area...way better than most thought.  (See 5 year zip code stats below)

                  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/661/story/501993.html

States the Observer, "No one likes a loss, especially in the value of their home. But put your panic on pause.  The average price of homes sold last year in more than three-fourths of the area was at or above prices from 2003 through 2005. That means most people who have been in their houses a few years are likely still sitting on gains.

The Observer reviewed Carolina Multiple Listing Services' sales from 2003 to 2008 and found:  Last year, 26 of 70 area ZIP codes, or more than one-third, posted their highest prices of the six-year period.  Only seven ZIP codes posted declines for the period. In Charlotte, the University area's 28262 and northwest Mecklenburg's 28216, both pocked with foreclosures, had the biggest declines.  The region's biggest gain in the six years came in 28206, which includes part of Charlotte's Arts District, or NoDa, and the fragile Lockwood neighborhood north of uptown.   And, for 2008, Lincoln County's Iron Station led with a 49 percent hike for 28080.  Last year, the top Mecklenburg ZIP code was 28204, which includes the new Metropolitan condos and the historic Elizabeth and Cherry communities."

I believe the true decline in our market began in May of 2008.  Some believe it started as early as July/August of 2007 when Countrywide got in trouble.  I didn't see it here, maybe flat at worst.  But the truth of it is, we're haven't  bottomed hard because we never really exploded to the up side.  And historically, our home inventory is low.  Less people are putting their homes on the market and builders aren't building so that has helped as well. 

Warning!!!  When we turn around here in Charlotte, it will not be gradual.  We're the 7th largest market in the US and and over the years we have actually become a destination.  I predict we will take off big time.  Don't know exactly when but buyers...get in while the getting is good.  Sellers, hang in there. At some point, the ball will be in your court and it might be sooner than you think. 

Buddy      

    

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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