Housing market: All is well?

Gloom and doom, indeed. Existing-home sales were down 27 percent in July from what had been a healthy June on the national housing market.

There can’t be any good news there – at least that’s the sentiment that’s been reflected in the news media.

“There’s this huge decline in the number of people buying houses nationally. The future looks bleak. Those are the national headlines. But we’re just not seeing the same trend here,” said Scott Rogers, a broker with Coldwell Banker Funkhouser Realtors in Harrisonburg and the author of the HarrisonburgHousingToday.com real-estate blog.

Rogers and other analysts had been projecting a slow July with the June 30 deadline for closing on homes under the federal home-buyer tax credit being a key factor. Rogers, whose focus is on activity in the housing market in Harrisonburg-Rockingham, said he has seen signs of health in that market, including solid activity in new contracts in July.

Rosemary deButts, a Leesburg-based Reatlor who blogs at HousingAnalyst.net, also sees signs of health in the market statewide, with home sales and median sale prices in the second quarter of 2010 rallying back to 2007 levels with assistance from the first-time buyer tax credit, which has shaved two months from the average month’s supply of inventory, from a 10.5-month supply in mid-2008 to an 8.3-month supply in mid-2010.

deButts forecasts continued movement in a positive direction into the future.

“Assuming a healthy economy, the recovery will continue,” deButts said. “I don’t foresee any big chance of economic disaster as the financial integrity of the nation has hopefully been protected by government regulation and the period of time when a huge number of risky mortgages issued during the boom were scheduled to readjust has passed. I suspect that the median sales price across the state will reach the 2008 high by 2012 and that sales will exceed 2007 levels in both 2010 and 2011.”

Rogers doesn’t commit to specifics in terms of whether it will be 2010 or 2011 when we see the turnaround, but he is, like deButts, positive about the near-future.

“Once we start to see more buyers buying, we’ll see inventories start to come down, and as volume comes up and inventory comes down, after those things start happening, we’ll see prices going back up again,” said Rogers, who projects home sales will stabilize this year with positive movement on sales prices out into 2012.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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