We are at the halfway point in the real estate year in this area and so far things have shown improvement. Foreclosure sales are down, as are short sales. Home values have stabilized and even started to rise a bit in some of the local markets. Low inventory is still an issue for the local market, but even that seems to be getting better.
I'm seeing many sales with sale price to SEV ratios well above the 2.0 level. That says two things - prices are coming back and the assessors have overshot assessment adjustments ont he low side. You can be sure that they will adjust that as quickly as they are allowed under the Headley Amendment.
Low appraisals are still an issue, too. Appraisers are still using too many distressed sales as comps, but hopefully that will self-adjust as the distressed sales decline as a percentage of overall sales. We are also still seeing too many cases of out-of-area appraisers being assigned to appraisal jobs by appraisal management companies. The lenders are getting better about challenging that practice, so hopefully that too will self-adjust.
Of course the overall slowness of the recovery from the "Great Recession" has impacted real estate, too; however, the pent-up demand that has been building in the market is starting to assert itself, especially in the move-up segment of the market. Because of the lack of inventory, the demand in this segment is helping the new-build segment as more and more stalled out developments are re-energized. The combination of low home prices and low mortgage rates is also propping up the low-end of the market.
So, while we are not out of the woods yet, maybe we can see the edge of the forest. We have flipped over to a seller's market with the low inventory and are seeing many areas with less than a 6 month supply on houses at the low to mid-pricing points. That's good news for sellers but a bit frustrating for buyers. The rest of 2012 should be good also as the economy continues to improve and the market seeks a more state.