Thursday, March 15, 2007

Market Expectations...

"Wait. You're asking HOW much?????"

The Portland real estate market is in an interesting transition. Sellers’ expectations are still a little too high, Buyers’ expectations are a little too low. It’s neither the white-hot market of the last four years, nor is it anywhere close to a fire sale. We’re heading toward equilibrium; we’re not quite there yet.

Most fundamentals are good: Strong local economy, low unemployment, more people moving into the area than out, excellent interest rates. Both average and median prices continue their year over year increase, and sales are inching closer to those of a year ago: down only 7.5% in February when we’ve seen double digit decreases since last June.

On the other hand, inventories are high: a lot of new construction as a residual of the building frenzy (nearly a third of active listings), condo conversions (nearly three times more condos on the market than a year ago), sellers worried if they don’t sell now their value will go down.

And demand is down: buyers thinking that better values are coming, marginal buyers being forced out of the market because of the crack down on sub-prime lending.

Note the psychological components:

Two years ago buyers were afraid if they didn’t buy NOW!, they’d lose out, unleashing a buying frenzy; some sellers were reluctant to list, afraid that if they sold their home too soon they wouldn’t be able to find a replacement.

Now buyers are afraid that if they DO buy, they’ll…lose out; sellers are listing quickly, afraid they’ll get less if they wait.

OK. Everyone take a deeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath. The facts are these: homes properly prepared and reasonably priced are still selling, and selling well. Homes that are not, are not. Diligent buyers with attentive agents are finding what they want, at reasonable prices.

We’re heading into the active Spring season. Honest:

It’s a good time to buy. It’s a good time to sell.

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