The New Year’s Rainbow and the Housing Market

I tend toward optimism. The New Year is always quite appealing. It’s not that I believe there will be a sudden, magical turn in the way life works, ushered in […]

January 3, 2012 // Tracy Shaffer // No Comments //

I tend toward optimism. The New Year is always quite appealing. It’s not that I believe there will be a sudden, magical turn in the way life works, ushered in by a herd of unicorns; I like the New Year in the same way I like clean, white sheets.
January is filled with energy, coming off of the seasonal rest we call the holidays. Things are wrapped up with shiny bows; gifts and year-end spread sheets. There is an ending, the ball drops, you rest, wake up and begin all over again. I love it. For many 2011 was a rough year; a devastating tsunami, a lingering doubt over the debt ceiling and our jobs. For others it was glorious; oppressive regimes were overthrown and the taste of freedom filled the air. The global economic uncertainty of the day can stop you in your tracks if you let it, but even Chicken Little eventually realized it was not the sky that was falling, but the rain.
Here in Denver, 2011 was not the worst year in the housing market. Though families still struggle to keep their homes, those numbers are receding and we are well beyond the “crisis”. Investors have stepped up (or rushed in) to purchase distressed homes, gentrifying neighborhoods and flipping them for first time buyers or building their portfolios with buy and hold strategies. Vacancy rates in Denver are under 2%, making landlords very happy. This is all good news as the housing market recovers from the ground up.
We begin 2012 with the standard economic indicators up; consumer confidence, GDP, retail sales, housing starts and existing home sales, while the unemployment is slightly down. The good news kibble:
• Pending Home Sales index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) went UP 7.3% in November, hitting its highest level since April 2010!
• NAR’s chief economist commented, “Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines. The sustained rise in contract activity suggests that closed existing-home sales should continue to improve in the months ahead.”
• The S&P Case-Shiller index for October showed minor price drops in 19 of the 20 surveyed metro areas, but the index was UP 1.9% from its post-crisis low in March 2011.
I am a news junkie, constantly scanning cable news shows and internet sources to see what the ‘experts’ have to say and to learn both sides of the issue. Lately, where real estate is concerned, everything I watch says yes. Even the “con” side says “yes with caution”, which makes perfect sense to me.
As we head full gallop into an election cycle, we can expect to be pummeled for the next ten months with tales of silver linings, predictions of doom. That’s their job. Mine is to help people buy, sell and invest in real estate, creating wealth in the process. Cue the Unicorns.


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