This week our listings saw an average of 3.18 showings each. It was an interesting week to say the least. The work week saw almost no traffic at all but then ramped up to an extremely busy weekend. For the first weekend in months we had several listings that had second showings. The increased traffic has not yet resulted in a large number of offers but for now we’ll settle for the peace of mind that there seem to be more people out looking.
As spring approaches, the Charlotte market does seem to be showing signs of improvement from increased traffic to higher pending sales figures. But it is still a time of much uncertainty. Buyer fear is driving the market and its hard to blame them as we watch the Dow Jones Industrial average drop lower and lower.
Many of us (myself included) are wondering whether or not the stimulus bill recently passed will have much effect on the situation. Only time will tell. But there clearly are provisions in the bill that will stimulate home buying. The National Association of Realtors supports the bill and in a recent article they summarize the real estate highlights and their views on them. Click here for details: Realtor Views on Stimulus Bill
One section of the stimulus bill deals with increased loan limits for FHA in high cost areas. Our area isn’t considered high cost, but nonetheless, I thought that given the discussion, now would be a good time to highlight some points about FHA.
There are certainly myths about FHA including who qualifies and when its an appropriate loan to consider. The bottom line is that is an excellent product right now for anyone looking to borrow under the loan limit for our area which is currently $271,050. The biggest advantage is the low downpayment of only 3.5%. No other conventional loan program out there currently offers this loan to value ratio. The government’s FHA website offers some great information about the loan product. This loan product is not just for first time buyers, but if you are lucky enough to be a first time buyer right now, you get the added benefit of the low downpayment AND a $8000 tax credit; couple that with low interest rates and affordable housing prices and the perfect opportunity to have the american dream is screaming loudly.
Charlotte is now officially a bargain. According to the Case Schiller index Charlotte ended December at 122.41. Given historic inflation since 2000 (when the C-S index was set to 100 across all markets) for 12/08 the C-S index should be 125.67. This means that Charlotte is now below what should be expected in housing costs when compared to inflation as a whole.
The rub with Charlotte is, we are the Detroit of banking. The metro is way too dependent on an industry that has taken a tremendous hit during this recession.
That said, I think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Bank layoffs seem to be slowing their pace, some folks from higher cost of living markets may take this opportunity to cash out and move to CLT, and mortgage rates are very low. These things combined with the C-S bargain factor and spring right around the corner may mean we are ready for a rebound.
Well said Rob. Its nice to hear someone say something objectively positive.