"When you know it is the bottom, it is already on the way back up," the saying goes. So, have we hit the bottom in the real estate housing crisis, in Asheville and/or nationwide?
Well, I think the quote indicates that it is impossible to determine "the bottom" until we are out of it. Nonetheless, there are some positive indicators out there.
Overall, news about the economy and housing market is more optimistic. Unemployment is down and confidence is increasing in all sectors. Doubtless, many people are still without work, and we have a long way to go, but I think we are moving in the right direction for a slow recovery beginning this year (if I am wrong, I will quickly delete this post and deny ever saying that!).
Locally, 2011 ended about equivalent with 2010. The numbers are similar (taken from our regional MLS which includes Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, and Madison counties with some sales from surrounding counties):
Total Sales: $977,406,224
Total units: 4161
Average Sales Price: $234,897
Absorption Rate: 23.1 months
(absorption rate is the number of months it will take to sell the current inventory at the current rate of sales. A healthy market that is neither a buyer's nor a seller's market boasts a 6 month absorption rate)
Total Sales: $946,931,918
Total Units: 4288
Average Sales Price: $220,833
Absorption Rate: 20.4
The differences aren't dramatic, and actually indicate prices decreasing in 2011. I don't expect prices to increase in 2012 -- there is still too much inventory and more foreclosures to hit the market. But I do like to see the absorption rate tick down, even if it isn't by much.
I don't think we have statistics yet to document a recovery. It is more intangible. Agents are feeling a shift, and we are all more confident that this is the year the recovery really begins.
I have always heard that it is impossible to time buying at the bottom, whether it is real estate or stocks. But it is always good to buy at either side of the bottom, which is the best most of us can hope for. And interest rates still hovering around 4% make buying now even more appealing. When people begin to buy, it becomes a better time to sell, too. So if you have been holding off selling but are really interested in doing so, this could be the year to go for it.
More than 1,000 RE/MAX residential agents provided responses for a survey conducted in December. Participants offered their thoughts on market conditions and consumer behavior in 2011, as well as predictions for the New Year.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the December survey’s highlights:
39% of RE/MAX agents believe that prices have already hit bottom
Nearly three-fourths of agents say their markets will have emerged from declining home prices by the end of 2012
62.1% of agents predict good to very good sales in 2012
Half of closings were significantly delayed due to bank procedures (22.7%), financing (14.5%) and appraisals (8.7%)