Chico Home Buyers Get Off The Fence and Into the Real Estate Market

by Mike Wiegert

On a national level, existing home sales increased in May as buyers are reacting to lower home prices according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  May figures indicate 4.99 million existing home units sold, up two percent from April’s sales of 4.89 million sold units.  This number is still a far cry from May 2007 sales at 5.93 million units. The reason for the latest increase in national  home sales was summed up by NAR President Richard F. Gaylor,  “Home buyers are starting to get off the fence and into the market, drawn by drops in home prices in many areas and armed with greater access to affordable mortgages,” he said. “Today’s buyer plans to stay in a home for 10 years, which is a good strategy for building long-term wealth.”

NAR Chief economist, Lawrence Yun, indicated last week that there is a significant inventory of homes.  “The large supply of homes on the market clearly favors buyers, and it should take several months to draw the inventory down,” he said. “Stabilization in home prices can only occur with buyers returning to the market, so we are encouraged by rising home sales, particularly in distressed markets. Foreclosures and short sales appear to be a larger part of the market, particularly in California, and are creating a drag on current home prices.”

So what do the statistics mean to homebuyers in the Butte County area? At 472 active residential listings in the Chico area market, our local inventory is significantly lower than the national average per capita.

With an urban area population of 106,000 residents, the number of available homes compared to the number of residents is substantially less than most cities across the nation. In a nutshell, although the Chico real estate market is a “buyer’s market“,  a less than generous selection of listings in our area diminishes the possibility of buyers coercing sellers into accepting cut-rate offers.

Local homeowners have indisputably seen their home prices drop over the past year.  With a median sales price of $308,750 in June 2007 compared to $272,000 in June of 2008, year over year statistics appear to indicate almost a 12 percent decrease in median home prices sold for our area. And with the subsequent losses of equities following these price drops, many sellers are not in the position to accept bargain prices on  homes that  they owe more on than these proposed offers. I can’t really count the numbers of sellers who have expressed an unwillingness to go out of pocket to sell their homes.  Instead, they are bunkering down and waiting for the market and prices to stabilize.  Is this a good or bad strategy?  You’ve heard it before, “real estate is a long term investment.” For many, it might be prudent to wait out bad times. For others that need to sell to relocate, hopefully many redeeming real estate opportunities exist in their new location.

Sandi Bauman (Chico Homes): Real Estate Agent in Chico, Butte County, California
Tomato University Graduate Real Estate Tomato

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