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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In the middle is good…

I get lots of real estate news feeds. There always seems to be stories about the Top 10 this or that. There’s usually at least one a week about the 10 worst real estate markets and maybe one about the Top-10 real estate recovery markets.

For the longest time the Detroit area market seemed to make every story about dismal markets. Then places in Nevada and California and Florida took over those positions. We haven’t consistently made the Top-10 good markets stories yet; but it feels good to be mired somewhere in the middle and not making as much news anymore.

Like many places, Michigan is seeing an inconsistent market right now. We have townships that are doing well right next to townships that are still seeing far too many short sales and foreclosure sales. Those sales are driving business volume and many companies like the one I work for are reporting strong year-over-year unit volume, albeit with lower dollar volumes in most cases.

Our inventory level is down and still dropping, which is an indicator that too many people are still underwater on their mortgages and don’t feel like they can afford to sell. The low-end category – under $100K – is still the best selling housing category; although the luxury end has held its own, too. Apparently the “trickle-down” economic theories don’t apply to real estate; because our mid-market is virtually frozen.

Still, it’s good to be in the middle and not being the subject of articles and press releases. We actually got some good press in the last Case-Schiller Report, with positive home value growth showing up for the Detroit-area market for first time in years.

Now if we can just get something good going on the jobs front (hint, hint Congress), we seem to be poised for a housing recovery locally. We appear to be in what someone dubbed a “catfish recovery” – bouncing along the bottom of this recession and bottom feeding on distressed home sales. We need to get the fish jumping out of the water again. Until then, being in the middle of the pack is good.

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