Well it’s that time again. I wanted to really familiarize myself with everything that the big brokerages were reporting before making any effort whatsoever to make sense of it all. In an effort to interpret the data from the reports, I’m going to "borrow" this nifty chart from my friend Noah over at Urban Digs. And please check out his post on what these numbers mean as well:
Once again, I’m puzzled that the same data sets yield different numbers but we can definitely garner the following conclusions based on these reports and experience from the front lines:
- There is no doubt that sales volume has increased greatly over the past 2 quarters. No surprise here as prices had come down to levels where buyers have begun to perceive value. (15-40% from peak depending on location, size, amenities, etc.)
- Prices seem to have stabilized for the time being with no one certain of whether they will remain flat, increase, or decline further. (I’m guessing flat to further declines particularly if mortgage rates increase next Fall)
So what? What is happening now? After all, that is what matters most for buyers and sellers trying to navigate this bizarre real estate market. Here’s what I and many of my colleagues are still seeing:
- Asking prices still all over the map with overpriced property languishing on the market.
- Buyers are infinitely more patient and their qualifications have vastly improved.
- Sellers are reading somewhere that the real estate market is poised for a rebound and they should "wait it out." Could be a very long wait indeed.
- Inventory has shrunk considerably again from last quarter of 2009 but the Spring market should open that up (incidentally, I think the Spring market this year is from April 6 to roughly May 15)
- Bank policies like sending appraisers in just 2 weeks prior to closing are slowing down the transaction process.
The market has definitely improved from same time last year but let’s not pretend that we are in any sort of recovery yet. We definitely have a more active market where qualified buyers are purchasing properties for prices that appear much more reasonable than just 2 short years ago.
That said, I can’t imagine that anyone in the real estate industry wouldn’t welcome the heated activity of…let’s say…2006.