By Randy McCreith, Principal Broker Bella Casa Real Estate Group
You would think it is Christmas! The numbers in November’s report look like a remarkable gift: 72.4% increase in closed sales compared with last November, and 19.9% increase in pending sales. This is the largest increase on record! The previous record was 56.9%. Is that because sales are so high this year, or because sales were so low last year?
A year ago we were shell-shocked by the banking crisis. Was it the beginning of a depression? Were any banks lending? Was anyone uptight about the elections? The stock market was in a free-fall and we were still in the middle of the mortgage and housing calamity. Paralyzed or frozen seem most apt descriptions. Therefore, other than taking comfort in the fact our real estate market has improved since one year ago, we should not read too much into these recent numbers.
In this report, inventory climbed modestly but in keeping with seasonal expectations; it is still at an attractive level. This should contribute to price stability. Both the average sale price and the median sales price have declined, each from last month, and from last year (ASP down 11.4%; MSP down 9.8%). Pricing is still searching for a bottom. Price declines continue to be fueled by bargain shoppers and some desperate, and other realistic, sellers. On average for the metro Portland market, pricing is about where it was in mid-2005! Of course, remember that all real estate is local. Prices are better in some locations and price ranges, and worse in others.
The good news continues to be the incremental improvement each month. Many economic indicators give confidence that we are recovering from the deepest recession since the depression of 1929. I find consensus among older colleagues that this recession, while similar in effects to the early 1980’s, is worse because of the banking crisis. However, it is still only about half as bad as the post ‘roaring 20s’ depression.
While we in the housing industry are all bruised and bleeding, we remain optimistic for continued improvement next year. We agree that it will still be a rough winter/spring but expect conditions to have significantly improved by spring/summer. So much depends on the performance of the larger economy. Meanwhile we are undergoing a priceless education, enhancing our skills, upgrading our methods, overhauling our websites, and further developing our professional services. We appreciate your trust and loyalty, and we are grateful for the referrals of your friends, family, and colleagues.
You can always view our Market Action Reports and other market data on our websites and blog. We post much local information and the most valuable articles we receive from our industry associates. Currently the best opportunity is the stimulus tax incentives. This is a gift, worth so much more than its face value, and available for purchases under contract before the end of April, closing by the end of June. Comprehensive information is provided about the tax incentives for first time buyers and almost anyone who buys through this spring. See the links in my signature below.
Attached you will find the Market Action Report and a Home Sales Report for November, and two 30 day snapshots as of 12/17/09 of current pending sales and closings. The latter are sorted by price and then by city for Yamhill County. Other areas are available by request.