Real Estate Sales

Larry O. Doss Friday, July 24, 2009

Real Estate Sales

Posted: Friday, Jul 24, 2009 - 05:11:08 pm PDT

http://www.cdapress.com/articles/2009/07/24/real_estate/1-real-estate-sales.txt


Email this story Printer friendly version By Press staff and
The Associated Press
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press In this July 21 photo, a home for sale is shown in San Francisco. A real estate group’s report said Thursday, July 23, sales of previously occupied homes rose 3.6 percent from May to June, the third consecutive monthly increase and a sign that a housing recovery is under way in much of the country.
COEUR d’ALENE - Homebuyers across the Western U.S., many convinced home prices are close to the bottom, helped fuel a 15 percent annual increase in the region’s home sales in June, according to two reports released Thursday.

And while it’s not likely to mean another huge surge in out-of-state buyers flush with excess cash to drive North Idaho prices higher, it could mean another trickle of transplants.

"We are getting back to the way it was eight years ago, before the boom," said Michael Threadgill at Keller Williams Realty in Coeur d’Alene. That means a mix of people coming into the area, and others leaving.

Fire-sale prices on foreclosures and other distressed properties lured many buyers, particularly in California, Nevada and Phoenix. Those sales also dragged down the median home sales price in the 13-state region. It tumbled nearly 25 percent from June of last year to $214,800, the National Association of Realtors said.

That was the biggest median price decline in any region and helped pull the national median down about 15 percent from year-ago levels to $181,800. Nationally, sales rose 4 percent, without adjusting for seasonal factors. But more importantly, sales posted their third monthly increase, indicating the housing market has turned the corner and is recovering.

Leonard Baron, a real estate professor at San Diego State University, said for homes in the lower end of the market at least, where many properties are getting multiple bids, "we’ve hit a floor." But the same is not true of homes above the median price.

"For higher-dollar properties, it’s harder to tell," Baron said. Threadgill said Kootenai County is similar, with good activity on homes less than $200,000.

"There is a healthy amount of demand," he said.

The turnaround in the West, has also been geographically uneven. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Boise were the only major metros in the West to register an increase in home sales last month, according to The Associated Press-Re/Max Monthly Housing Report, released Thursday.

"Interest rates are very favorable, so I’ve had a lot of people looking and getting off the fence," said Laura Zajdman, a ZipRealty agent in Los Angeles.

Elsewhere in the West, home sales fell last month in Anchorage, Alaska, Denver, Albuquerque, N.M., Billings, Mont., Honolulu, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, according to the report, which tallies all home sales in the metropolitan statistical area by all real estate agents, regardless of company affiliation.

The demand for bargain-priced properties has created a traffic jam of buyers for lenders trying to unload homes. Often, banks are fielding multiple offers for a single property and buyers are finding themselves forced to put in bids higher than asking price - a market dynamic not seen since the heady days of the housing boom.

"There’s an extreme amount of multiple offers on those (bank-owned) properties," said Mike West, broker-owner of Century 21 MoneyWorld in Las Vegas. "A decent property, within days on the market, could literally have 10 to 20 offers."

"That happens here, too," Threadgill said, and in some cases is driving prices up. A bank selling a home worth about $200,000 may offer it at $150,000, but multiple offers can drive bidding to $180,000 - still a short-sale price for the buyer, but netting the bank more of its investment.

"The worst may be over," Threadgill said. "It is going to take a while to sort through all the repercussions."



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