Monday, March 9, 2009

Real Estate Market Continues to Lag as we Move to Spring

The first two months of the year are behind us and the hoped for improvement in the Monmouth County real estate market has yet to materialize. The sales of both single family homes and condominiums are running significantly behind the figures for the same period last year and the inventory levels relative to demand, for both single family homes and condominiums are at staggering levels.

As bad as last year was, this year is shaping up to be worse. Through February the number of closed sales of single family homes was more than 30% behind 2008. Keep in mind that 2008 sales were more than 20% less than the 2007 figures. The news for condos is even worse. So far this year, sales figures for condos are more than 50% behind the figures of just one year ago.

As if this new wasn't grim enough, the Months of Inventory for both single family homes and for condominiums were averaging about 25 months in through February. Keep in mind that 6 months of inventory relative to sales is considered a price stable marketplace.

What can we expect as we move forward. Although California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida are the worst markets in the country, it looks like we are trying to catch up with them. So far all efforts made by the Government to stabilize the housing market have not had any measurable results. Expect prices to drop significantly as we move through the year. A figure of 1% per month would make sense, but it wouldn't be surprising if it were more.

When will the market bottom out and prices start to stabilize. Nobody knows the answer to that, but the guess here is that 2011 is the earliest we can expect that to happen. If you are thinking of selling and postpone the sale because you don't like today's prices, be prepared to wait at least 5 years, and quite possibly more, to realize a price significantly higher than today will bring you.

I know the news isn't good, but houses are being bought and sold. There is always value in the present and gambling on the future may prove to be a costly mistake.

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