This past week our listings saw an average of 1.9 showings each. We had a very short burst of warm weather this past weekend, but it didn’t seem to last long enough to encourage buyers to get out and look at houses. While our listings are getting moderate traffic, the offers have most certainly slowed in the first two months of the year. After the end of year surge we experienced in 2009, likely due to the pending tax credit expiration, it seems that buyers may be taking a short break. All we can do is hope that the expiration of the revised tax credits on April 30 will bring new life to the market over the next two months.
A press release from Standard & Poors earlier this week reports that the Case Schiller Home Price Index is sending mixed messages. Specifically for Charlotte, the index shows that as of December 2009, prices in our area are down 3.8% over the previous year. It does note that when taking seasonality into consideration (home prices are typically lower in the winter), Charlotte’s month over month prices increased slightly from October to November, and again from November to December.
However, the press release also specifically mentions Charlotte along with Seattle and Tampa, stating that gains seen in earlier months have been wiped out. It goes on further to say that based on their index for the Charlote area, December 2009 represents a new low for the last four years. This basically puts Charlotte’s home prices back to levels seen in early 2006.
The December 2009 of the Case Schiller Index for Charlotte was 117. This can be compared to the baseline value of 100 as of January 2000. So this means, that according to Standard and Poors, Charlotte’s home prices are up 17% over the past 10 years which translates to about 1.5% per year.
Many of the Southwestern markets such as California and Arizona have been experiencing price gains for several months now. In the past, that part of the country has been the first to define the trends for housing. That was true for the housing boom and bust. Charlotte experienced a milder version of both. If that trend continues, perhaps we’ll begin to see a similar pattern come to our area soon.
If Case Schiller has accurately predicted a new price low for Charlotte in December 2009, that means the buying opportunities will be ripe in the next few months. Interest rates are still close to all time lows, but they are slowly beginning to rise. If you are thinking about a purchase, I can’t think of a better time in history to make the move.