Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year, New Attitudes

Happy New Year! It is clear from watching the stock market that investors in that area have confidence about the future. In our business, we are looking forward to the same sort of sustained rise during 2010. I just returned from Arizona, where the number of sales has gone up quite a bit from the year before, although prices continue to lag and short sales are still very common. Since we are behind Arizona on the real estate curve, we can look there to see what's down the road for us.

What they are worried about is the glut of homes that could come up for sale if owners lose interest in trying to hold on to them while values are low. Moral suasion may not be enough to convince people to continue paying on mortgages that are underwater. There have recently been a number of articles about just that--homeowners moving into rentals and spending the difference in their monthly payments on trips and consumer goods. That's not good for real estate.

We will be somewhat protected from that phenomenon in Connecticut, I believe, since whatever happens on the West Coast and in Florida will most likely cause the government to take steps to prevent the spread of anything that might impede a general economic recovery, and before it gets to us. They took prompt action in the banking crisis, and the recent extension and expansion of the tax credit for homeowners is a good indication that real estate will be treated in much the same way. In addition, since we had nowhere near the amount of speculation and building as the South and Southwest, we are not in the position of having lots of empty houses and condos to fill. Sometimes it's not bad to suffer from slower growth!

In the meantime, we should take heart in the surge of interest in real estate in Arizona and other similar markets. Investors are buying, and there is activity. I talked to one agent who said that her experience there is bearing out what I've been preaching in this blog: Those properties that are priced correctly and are in good condition are hard to get, since they receive multiple bids early on. Although there is a great deal on the market, only homes and buildings considered to be good values are moving. So, if you want to sell, be sure that you are in that category. If you want to buy, get a jump on that trend and buy before the spring market and before the tax credit expires on April 30th.