If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to buy, you might already be too late. The housing surplus is clearing fast, and some areas are already picked over as faster, forward-thinking buyers snapped up the best properties before others could even get out the door. Many buyers believed “the time is now” months ago, using the low prices and low interest rates to get into great properties just as the market began to return, further promoting housing recovery.
Prices aren’t rebounding fast, but home sales are picking up. The inventory of homes for sale in many in-demand areas is quickly evaporating. In San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Memphis, and Salt Lake City, among others, properties are all but tapped out, leaving not much left on the market but “trash” – homes with little value of interest. These top markets are seeing lightning-fast home sales, with quality homes selling the day they enter the market and multiple offers for every worthwhile listing.
The distressed and foreclosed properties are still around, keeping the housing market from taking off, but the foreclosure process is even slower under the closer scrutiny of the federal government, keeping them from entering the market at more than a trickle. Also, many homes are being bought by investors rather than residents, leaving market experts to speculate when home values will rise enough for these homes to reemerge on the market. Another slowing factor are the still-depressed home values, making underwater homeowners (those who owe more on their home that it is currently valued) reluctant to list their properties at the current market prices.
All of these properties could be seen in the future, though how many and when is still largely a matter of speculation. One agreement among experts is that many of these homes won’t be listed until the housing market reaches a higher pricing range than the current lows, making them less appealing to the bargain-hunting buyer. Very tight markets could loosen up as more foreclosures are processed, previously unsold or unsellable homes re-enter the market, and other homes join the fray, but if your area has fluctuated to a seller’s market, expect higher home prices both now and in the future.
In areas where home sales haven’t taken off yet, there’s still a little time to get the deals. The massive inventory of homes for sale is clearing, but in most parts of the country it isn’t clear yet. In most areas there are still a lot of good houses left at the low prices buyers want, and more are entering the market as the spring home buying season kicks off. Interest rates also remain low (for the time being). So if you’re thinking of home buying, now IS the time to move, before your area can become exhausted as well. Experts expect spring home sales to be brisk, the “best performance in five years” according to the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.
Don’t let the time pass you by! If you want to take advantage of the record lows in home price and financing, don’t wait for your area to get tapped out. Get your great home now “while supplies last.”
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About Tom Davidson — Tom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.