Kathy's Korner - February 4, 2009

A market rebound is inevitable

Kathryn MillerFebruary 3, 2009 

Kathryn Miller is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United Realty. She can be reached at kathy@homesinyorkcounty.com

Will 2009 be better than 2008?

If I knew, I'd be in Washington advising President Obama.

Or perhaps buying up real estate in the Carolinas.

We are all hearing predictions. Talk is cheap. The housing market in our area will turn early in the second quarter of this year. The market will turn in the fall. Prices are dropping. Prices are stable. Houses are appreciating.

You can prove anything with statistics. Local business people see a turn this year. Out of state business people don't foresee a turn until next year.

Overall sales are down, but savvy buyers are looking. Per the South Carolina MLS, there are currently 614 homes for sale in the Fort Mill, Tega Cay, and Indian Land areas (please note some Charlotte agents do not place their S.C. listings in the S.C. MLS. Also, new construction is often not reflected in MLS statistics). In 2007, we saw 1,087 closed sales; 2008 saw 804, a decrease of 26 percent. There are currently 163 homes for sale in our area priced from $150,000 to $250,000. There are 83 homes available priced between $500,000 and $1,000,000. The latter statistic is scary.

Do you remember Sept. 11, 2001? Everything came to a halt. President Bush rallied us and encouraged shopping sprees to stimulate the economy. Mortgage rates were slashed. Unbeknownst to most of us, mortgage ethics were also slashed. I personally refinanced at 4.5 percent, the same rate my parents had in 1954! Home prices in other markets around the country skyrocketed. The economy rose, buoyed primarily by an artificially fueled housing market. The Charlotte area bumped along on a slow, gradual rise. Perhaps you remember all the new subdivisions that started to pop up, slowing resales. When the bubble burst and the gerry-rigged housing market slowed, we continued to grow - dramatically - in 2006.

But our vulnerability dawned in March, 2007. Remember John Donne: "No man is an island, entire of itself." The Charlotte area was also susceptible to decreased sales and prices.

I reiterate the history, not just because I was a history major and former teacher, but because this is precisely why I believe the Charlotte market (you do know Fort Mill is a suburb of Charlotte?) will rebound more quickly and extensively than most of the country. Just look at the weather map tonight: How much rain in the Northwest? How cold in Alaska? How much snow in the Northeast? Do not underestimate the power of warm weather. It was Rome, not Frankfurt, that became the center of the world; Alexandria, not Stockholm.

So I digress. Will we rebound? Yes. In 2009? No, I don't think so, but I was seeing a lot of activity in January already. Wise buyers see great values. Some prices are dropping.There will be more foreclosures in our area. Builder inventory is renting or price discounted. But the population trend is to our area. Prices will slowly rise as inventory is absorbed. If you want to sell, you can. But buyers are price driven. Be realistic and look at the big picture. And if you can buy...buy now.

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