Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Real Estate – Still One of the Best Investments Around – Do You Believe It?

You should! Yes, we’ve read and heard about the all the doom & gloom in the real estate and mortgage industries. And there is a lot of truth to this. But at the same time we need to look at the larger picture. I know that for some that may have gotten caught up in the fiascos of late, that this will be next to if not impossible to do; and, I can greatly understand that. The long and short of it is this - Real Estate was never meant to be a short-term investment and as a long-term investment, it has proven itself time and time again.

Let’s first look at what brought us to this point. Firstly, we found ourselves in a seller’s market, in which the demand was greater than the supply. Part of what led us to this was the attraction of ‘easy money.’ Lenders where making loans & people where procuring loans & in many instances neither should have. We’ve seen interest-only loans, 100% financing with loans, no documentation loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, etc. These in themselves are risky, nevermind that fact many did not see or in some cases were never shown the complete picture.

Then we come to the people that were trying to ‘flip’ houses. This is fine and dandy if you bought it at the low end of the market, but many were out there buying at the top of the market and are finding themselves encountering losses or worse yet, a foreclosure.

The lack of buyer confidence in recent months has been one of the principal reasons for holding back sales. That and the fact of high inventories and also that housing prices are out of sync with incomes in many areas. But we are now seeing an increase, unsteady as it may be, in buyer confidence.

It has to be understood that the market changed quite quickly. Builders in general do not have the ability to respond that quickly to market changes. It takes months of planning, permits are pulled, supplies are ordered, etc. This has added to our increase in available homes for sale and has pretty much dampened the existing home market. Builders have been discounting their homes to get rid of inventory. But, we are seeing a cutback in construction and this bodes well for the market in that it will lower the existing inventory & help to steady home prices.

It also appears that the mortgage market conditions are improving and that we are seeing more availability of loans. Granted, most of these are conforming and not subprime, but here we are seeing a resurgence of FHA backed loans.

Yes, we’ve seen a lot of doom & gloom, but there are also a lot of positive signs as well. Everything is relative and has to be put into perspective. This is not the first time that the real estate market has had to deal with a downside. This will also not be the last time. The real estate industry as with almost everything else is cyclical.

Right now interest rates are still relatively low at approximately 6¼%. We are entering an election year; and historically, this has also worked well for real estate sales.

We keep on hearing about the median price and lately we are hearing about it dropping. But much of this could be contributed to the fact that there are fewer transactions at the top of the ladder, so to speak; and, this will just distort the figures downwardly. I still feel that a better judge is the average sales price. Except if you purchased within the last two years during the market run-up, if you wish to call it; you will find what I consider a great deal of appreciation for most of us.

According to the average sales prices in the Greater Orlando area, if you purchased a home 3 years ago, it would have appreciated over 32%. That isn’t too shabby! If you bought that home 4 years ago, we’re looking at approximately a 52% appreciation. Most people on the average own their homes for at least 5 - 7 years. If you bought that home in Sept. ’99, your home would have appreciated approximately 113%.

Again, this just goes to show you that real estate is a great long-term investment if not one of the best. There are many great homes out there & some great deals also. Most expect the value of their home to appreciate over the next five years.

In general, home sales and home prices should increase in 2008 as compared with that of 2007.

Til next time – Marc It Sold!

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