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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mixed messages from the local market…

Everyone, including me a few times in this very forum, has been trying to call the bottom of the real estate market. We search for any consistent sign that things have bottomed out or stabilized and may be headed back up. There is anecdotal evidence from appraisers in the area that prices have stabilized a bit…at least in some markets.

That’s the maddening thing. All real estate is local and the various local markets are all over the map.. Just take a look at the charts that I keep on my Milford Team web site to see what I mean -

As you will see, Median sold home values in Milford is up – Yea! But Highland Twp. Continues to be in a home value free fall – Boo! Commerce is up, but White Lake has turned down again, after a brief up-tick. Brighton too had its upward turn, but fell back into a decline. Lyon seems to be a bright spot with a sustained upward swing over the last month or more.

Inventory continues to fall in every market but Brighton where it has been up for a couple of weeks. Lyon too is about to turn positive (more homes being listed than have sold) on inventory.

One bright spot is the Days on Market statistic which appears to have peaked in March and is headed back down across the board. That may well be a temporary thing as last-minute first time home buyers scoop up anything that they can afford as soon as it comes on the market.

So, what does this all mean? Maybe it mans very little, since the market is currently being skewed by the rush to cash in on tax breaks. We shall see what happens when the tax credit deadline passes on April 30th. What we still aren’t seeing are consistent listings and sales in the mid-range houses – those “move-up” houses between about $250 – 400K that used to be the backbone of the market. That segment appears to still be frozen in this area with many houses that used to be in that price range now selling as foreclosures or short sales.

Speaking of short sales, we are starting to see somewhat better behavior and performance by the banks in dealing with short sales. It isn’t taking months to get an answer on offers like it used to, but there are still “problem banks” that just don’t seem to have their acts together.

I’ll report back in May on what happens to the market when the tax break ends. Right now first time buyers make up over 50% of the buyers in the market, with investors and people looking to lease making up another 25% or so. That doesn’t leave a lot of traditional move up buyers in market.

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