Perhaps the happiest buyers that I’ve worked with lately are the first-time buyers who waited until now to get into the market. They are finding such unbelievable bargains that many are ending up in homes that would have been their first move-up home a few years ago. One has only to look at what you can buy these days for $100-150,000 to see what is making these people so happy. Homes that would have been $180-200K (maybe more) a year ago are selling at that level now, albeit mostly as foreclosures. Some need repairs or lots of remodeling/redecorating; but, that doesn’t seem to scare off most of these buyers.
Of course anyone coming into the state from almost anywhere else is finding Michigan to be a great place to buy a house, too. That’s all relative, I suppose; since, even with our currently depressed prices, Michigan housing is still higher than many of its Mid-West neighbors. What still shocks most of these people are the high taxes on many of the homes that they look at here. The assessed values have not tracked the prices down yet and many of the foreclosed homes are now taxed at non-homestead rates; so buyers will get hosed for the extra taxes until they can get the homestead tax break and maybe fight with the local assessors over the taxable value.
The few people around who feel secure in their jobs and are ready for a move up the home ownership ladder are also happy with how much house they can get these days for a relatively small increment in their monthly payment. Of course they still have the issue of how to get rid of their current houses, so maybe that’s a wash.
So, amidst the doom and gloom of the market there are people walking around with big grins on their faces, because they just bought the house of their dreams for much less than they thought it would cost. Let’s hope that they can hold on to those homes for the 3-4 years it will take to make sure that they break even on a future sale; otherwise, they will join the frowny faces on the sell-side of our business.