Saturday, December 29, 2007

2008 A Normal Market - Steadying Picture

Economists agree that home sales (new and existing) will bottom out in 2008, somewhere in the second or third quarter. While we've kind of been in that scenario already, it is quite a different thing for forecasters to go on the record stating a clear demarcation for appreciation again. So, local markets may vary, but nationally, because of underlying health issues involving the U.S. economy, there is a projected 'line in the sand' coming, stemming an unprecedented historical decline in housing prices.

In certain areas where there has been fantastic appreciation in the past, causing more of a bubble bursting situation, one can relatively project before old pre-appreciative spiked sales prices, given a homes average typical appreciation of 4 to 5% a year, where things ought to be now. It mostly lines up with a bit of slowing still projected through 2008.

Some variance of predictions exists between Chief economist Yun with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and economist Douglas Duncan with the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Yun asserts that while lending is more stringent in their requirements, he still believes that the pool of qualifying buyers is larger than believed saying, "This slowdown has never been about the underlying fundamentals of the economy... Consumers have the means to buy, but they've lacked the confidence. Once they see sales and prices stabilizing, they'll be back in the market." Conversely, with access to loosely written credit closed off, Duncan asserts, "you're likely to see continuing decline in the house prices and buyers sitting on the sidelines."

Economists say that tighter underwriting is exactly what the market needs right now. But Yun believes that the pool of ready buyers will still be larger than believed because they will have more financing options such as federally backed loans, specifically FHA loans. He recounts that FHA loans had a 20 percent share of the market in 2000 before the growth of sub prime lenders and if Congress passes reforms making them easier to obtain, which it is doing, then it can capture that share again.

I called one of my local St George Lenders, Steve Stout with SGI Mortgage to ask him about FHA reform passing and he told me that it hasn't done so yet, like anticipated. He also detailed how that he already supplies the FHA lending options as a lender. He clarified that the reform making FHA more of an option to people is not so much the requirements they have, but in outsourcing the availability of the program itself to all the different mortgage lenders there are, although reforming requirements is arguably a needed big part of it as well.

Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, in speeches last year, gave a less than one in three for chances that the economy would slip into recession this year, which is the only thing that could quell a return to normalcy in the housing market. Even the Mortgage Bankers Association, sees a persistent growing of the economy through the first three quarters of the year as a basis for home buying ramping up into the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. The key factor of how the housing is also dragging or won't be dragging on the economy is also thus taken into account in their models.

The commercial real estate is poised for continued solid performance across sectors this year. The tightening lending standards in the commercial sector have been taking place over time relegating commercial to a more normal and traditional scenario involving income investing. In other words, commercial owners plan to make more money from cash flow rather than appreciation. I can help if you need help regarding St George Commercial Real Estate.

Overall, 2008 is the year of return and not continuing decline... a year of return to normalcy.

If you'd like Brian to keep his eyes and ears peeled for you to help take advantage of good deals which equate to buying right, just give him a call or visit us on our website at St George Real Estate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

St George Real Estate - National vs. Local Market Conditions and Projections 2008

National Scene 2008
The National real estate scene has seen characteristic turns in the market that correspond with interest rates, such that predictions into 2008 on existing-home sales is projected to trend gradually and only modestly upwards according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They point to a recent mortgage disruption that peaked in August leaving the fall-out of lower home sales in September and October 2006. Since mortgage rates have improved the existing-home sales are expected to improve slightly to stable over the next couple of months. Because home sales have been significantly less in 2007, however, as compared with 2006, a Pending Home Sales forward-looking indicator index, helps project that the broad trend over the coming year of 2008, while a gradual rise in existing-home sales, will only be modestly higher than 2007, according to Yun, chief economist with the NAR. A recovery of new home sales is unlikely before 2009.

St George Utah Real Estate
As far as St George Utah goes- one local guru has gone on the record to say that he thinks things will pick up early spring.

Here on the local scene, home sales in periphery locations, even Hurricane, have suffered the most. Normally we would get our spill over of buyers into the more rural locations, perhaps from Californians looking to get back to a more rural simple existence and out of suburbia. In my limited view, we are closely tied to the national scene, such that when the coast lines free up, then we also tend to get back to a normal market. I think the highly affected rural areas are symptomatically the first responders and indicators of the future. One system affects another and right now Sellers in the more rural areas are mostly hanging onto their equity, rather than giving it away. Who might could blame them? In other words, if they were responding with significant price reductions, than we could forsee it in our future more centrally located in the Greater St George area.

It appears to me that while transactions are down there is and has been, for some time, a pretty good resistance by home owners to NOT lower prices, such that speculation buyers have had to halt activities for longer than they have wanted to in desperate hopes that prices would drop even more. I suspect that some of that will go on into the new year with some wondering if the winter will put the "freeze" enough on the sellers to come down even more. St George is still an attractive place and other non-speculative buyers are and will be buying and creating enough activity, to keep sellers sustained in their activities to try to maintain value... in my opinion.

In other words, if you as a buyer are waiting, I do not think it will be for an opportunity corrsponding with the market at large that you will avail yourself of, so much more than in waiting for that right opportunity that one can 'normally' find. However, this view is being challenged still, by all the Bank REO sales and short sales that seem to be receiving some numbers and flow, in terms of a large number of porportionate properties that are "moving" at this time.

This is your eye on the St George Real Estate market coming to you from the desk of Brian Habel, your St George Utah realtor. Be sure to visit my website and use my advanced property search provided through the Home Buyers Scouting Report- you will be glad you did. My many users, over 60 buyers, are currently enjoying the aerial photography of listings (I hope you've learned about the "Birds Eye View" from clicking on Map Views) and a way to save and track your favorite properties with email updates and being notified of any changes, such as a price change, addition of a photo or if the status changes to Under Contract, etc.