I've read today's Business section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and there are several interesting articles about real estate. In no particular order of importance:
1. According to a report released by HOME, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, foreclosures in Virginia slowed considerably in 2011, but foreclosures + underwater houses, houses worth less than the total amount owed, will continue to be a drag on the housing market specifically, particularly on prices, and the economic recovery generally.
3. An Associated Press story on the National Association of Realtors' report on January 2012 home sales nationwide also supports the proposition that the housing market recovery isn't a Central Virginia phenomenon, but is occurring broadly across the U.S.
What are some of the takeaways, in my mind, from these stories?
- There is room for cautious optimism about the housing market, both nationally and locally.
- However, we still have long way to go.
- There will continue to be downward pressure on prices until the foreclosed and "shadow" inventory have worked their ways through the housing market.
- It continues to be a buyer's market, requiring sellers to take some extraordinary actions. Case in point, the Hanover couple, who not only have their home featured on a national show, but have moved out of the home and into a two bedroom apartment with three small children, perhaps to make their home easier to show and therefore sell.
An observation of my own: Certain areas of the City are already showing strong signs of recovery, with quick sales and multiple offers. Haven't seen those in a while! So be aware of that, buyers. Listen to your real estate agent if they advise you that you're trying to buy into one of those areas. Right now, for the areas I specialize in, that looks like parts of Area 10 (Fan, Museum District particularly) and almost all of Area 20 (West End of the City of Richmond).
Stay tuned, and keep your fingers crossed. A stronger housing market is good for everybody.