Ask any real estate agent the answer to that question and it is all the same – Right Now! Wish that was the case though. The right time to buy is not an impulse decision. It is a well thought out and planned decision because the home ownership landscape and dramatically changed over the last few years.
Even though 2009′s data shows an increase of property sales exceeding an increase of a 100% (114% to be exact), a healthy economy was not the precursor. The First Time Home Buyer Tax credit was the major driving force in 2009′s sales – buyers seized the opportunity to receive a government bonus while purchasing a home that maybe undervalued.
Yesterday I received a phone call from a gentlemen reviewing the blog and he asked me what is my opinion of the real estate market through 2010. Interesting enough,this is a topic in which one of my clients and I have touched on quiet often.
To look at 2009′s sales statistics and claim the market has turned around and everything is going to be okay would be unwise. It is a good thing that sales are up but after analyzing a greater scope of the market there is little hope on the horizon for an upswing. Snohomish County is faced with the relocation of the 787 Dreamliner to South Carolina and with a unemployment rate 8.8% it seems highly unlikely the local economy will be healthy enough to drive recovery.
In 2002, Washington seen its highest unemployment rate in 10 years and it also directly correlates with Washington’s real estate boom. 2002 through Sept 2007 were the good years, low unemployment, and a real estate buying and selling frenzy. Sales and home values soared and many people thought it would go on forever but like any good sugar rush – it wasn’t meant to last. In Sept 2008 everything changed and slipped into this new reality that we all have the pleasure of experiencing. With the lack of consumer related spending, Washington’s unemployment has since sky rocketed to a 19 year high.
The 2010 year is going to be about jobs and getting people back to work. The working middle class is the fuel that feeds the economic engine which reaches far beyond home ownership.
The government has been taking measures to stimulate the housing market and it has worked – I would hate to see the state of the market with no government intervention. The Tax Credit has served its purpose and now the government needs to formulate a new recovery strategy.
It is my opinion that elected officials need to do what ever it takes to keep local employers in Washington and to make the state attractive for employers who may be thinking about relocating for business.
My Message to the Government: “When you’re done creating jobs – create more jobs.”
As a person unable to influence those changes, it is upon the elected officials to create jobs, influence large local employers, bring back local confidence, and be the leaders during trying times. The outlook of 2010 is not all grim.
Prices in and around Snohomish County have been slowly stabilizing through 2009 but reports still show November 2009 being 14% lower than November 2008. Also, in a recent transaction a home originally sold in 2006 for $352,010 is now under contract for $254,900, a 28% decrease in price from 2006.
Affordability is a positive indicator for Snohomish County. Lower prices have returned making it easier for people to purchase a home. Instead of a 3 bedroom 1 bathroom costing $300,000, a 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom single family home will cost in the low $200,000 range. Couple low home prices with low interest rates and the result is a natural market force providing an incentive to purchase.
But is it a good time to buy? Yes it is. There is a lot of standing inventory, banked or not, that is very well priced, well taken care of, and in good locations. It takes time looking through all the homes on the market but it can be done and having a watchful eye is one of the best ways to find great deals. Keep a look out – 2010 is going to be interesting.