House Prices: Where They Will Be in the Spring

(Reprinted from The KCM Blog, October 2011.  Disclaimer: This blog covers the national housing market as a whole. Please check with a local real estate professional to discover how the following information will impact your region. – The KCM Crew.)

Hill’s Comment:  While the recent S&P/Case-Shiller Index data reflect an overall slight increase in Washington area house prices, this goes against the nationwide trends, in which residential real estate prices dropped more than forecast in the year ended September.  Prices rose and sales volume is highest in price ranges that meet the broadest market, the lower ranges.  Upper bracket properties prices are not increasing.  There are far fewer qualified buyers for higher priced inventory, and these homes are in fact attractive because buyers are getting great value for much lower cost (i.e., more house for their money).  Prices offered are declining or these homes are lanquishing on the market.  Many experts believe pressure inevitably will continue to mount and will drive all home prices lower in the Washigton market in the future.

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Many sellers want to wait until the spring before putting their home on (or back on) the market. This might be for any of several reasons:

  • They don’t want to be inconvenienced during the holiday season.
  • They believe that they will see more potential buyers and as a result will get a higher price.
  • In the northern part of the country, they might not want people walking through the snow and then into their house.
  • All of the above

In a normal real estate market, this may make sense. However, this market has been anything but normal. This spring will also see some abnormalities. The biggest difference will be the direction prices will take.

In years past, the spring market would favor the seller because increased demand would outpace any increase in supply: the number of houses coming onto the market would not be as great as the number of buyers newly entering the market. In most situations, when demand is greater than supply, prices increase.

The reason this spring will be different is that the supply of homes coming to the market will be dramatically impacted by foreclosure properties being released by the banks. Many believe this increase in inventory will far outweigh buyer demand. In situations where supply is greater than demand, prices decrease.

Will This Actually Happen?
RealtyTrac, in their latest foreclosure report, explained:

U.S. foreclosure activity has been mired down  since October of last year, when the robo-signing controversy sparked a flurry  of investigations into lender foreclosure procedures and paperwork. While foreclosure activity in  September and the third quarter continued to register well below levels from a  year ago, there is evidence that this temporary downward trend is about to  change direction, with foreclosure activity slowly beginning to ramp back up.

This will impact prices.

What Do Experts Believe the Impact Will Be?
Here are the pricing projections by several major entities:

  • Zillow believes we will not see a bottom in prices until the first quarter of 2012.
  • Standard & Poors thinks prices will drop %5 in the next few months.
  • JP Morgan Chase believes prices will depreciate 6 to 7% over the next six months.
  •  Barclays says prices will fall 7% by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

Bottom Line
You may pay a hefty price for the convenience of not having your property on the market right now.

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F. Hill Slowinski, JD, REALTOR® in DC, MD, and VA
W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, A Long & Foster Company
Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s Great Estates, President’s Club 2009
Consultant, Luxury Real Estate, Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers
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