Monday, June 23, 2008

Why some local markets are still okay...

Here is a little article from MarketWatch on housing markets that haven't been as affected by the slowing economy as our local area seems to have been. I'm going to copy some bits of the article below, but read the whole thing right here.

Challenging real estate markets can be found across the U.S. as home prices decline, sales fall and foreclosures rise. But in some places the biggest challenge has been convincing would-be buyers and sellers that local conditions don't resemble the national trends.

It's a challenge that Randy Jeffers, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, faces all the time.

While the number of sales has fallen somewhat, he still regards his market of Amarillo, Texas, as a seller's market right now. The median price of an existing single-family home in Amarillo was up an annualized 11% in the fourth quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

"Often they're surprised about what is going on locally or statewide," he said of his clients. As the country's collective housing ills land bold headlines, locals incorrectly extrapolate the information to their own markets, Jeffers added.

Just a couple of comparisons of Kingman to Amarillo for a second. First the median age is over six years younger in Amarillo. The median household income is actually higher in Kingman by a few thousand dollars. Lastly, the biggie, the median house/condo value in Amarillo is $91,600 while the figure for Kingman is $144,600. All of this data comes from and you are free to double check.

I know there are higher property taxes in Texas, much higher in fact, and that leads to property values holding lower and usually more stable as compared to what we see in Arizona. But otherwise, it is entirely possible that right now people are moving to Amarillo because of favorable situations.

The housing problems largely aren't national but regional in nature, said Susan Wachter, a real estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

"The interesting thing is that there are parts of the country where housing prices are doing fine, thank you," she said. In fact, only five states are in what she would consider a housing recession: California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Michigan.

Not good.

Utah -- where home prices rose 9.27% in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared with the fourth quarter of 2006 -- was the state with the highest appreciation rate, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Utah was followed by Wyoming, where prices rose 8.27% over the year, North Dakota, where prices rose 7.87%, and Montana, where prices rose 6.90%.

Still, in Billings, Mont., buyers often say they're waiting for prices to come down, said Dan Wagner, president of the Montana State Association of Realtors. But because they never soared during the boom years, prices likely aren't in need of a correction, he said.

I bet those buyers in Montana will change their tune once interest rates begin to climb.

And now... jobs...

The strong employment picture in Seattle caused home prices there to rise after other major cities reached their peaks. Appreciation there in the fourth quarter was just over 1%, according to NAR, but it is believed that the city's employment landscape is keeping Seattle housing from losing value.

No doubt that fuel prices will further pinch us locally from perhaps some newer opportunities for job growth, but even in the face of those higher prices we must do what we can to attract jobs to the area or else ALL property owners are going to suffer.

More on jobs...

Home-prices in major cities fell 10.7% in January compared with January 2007, according to the Case-Shiller home price index. The index tracks 20 cities, and 19 of them saw year-over-year declines. But one market experienced modest home-price gains over the year: Charlotte, N.C., another market that never saw a huge run-up in prices during the boom.

An influx of banking and research jobs in the Carolinas -- especially in Charlotte and the Research Triangle -- has been important to its stability, said Marty Frame, general manager of About 15,000 jobs were created in the Charlotte area last year, said Dot Munson, president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. Large employers in the area include US Airways, Bank of America and Wachovia.

I'm not including the above because I weirdly think that Kingman is the next Charlotte or anything, but I've been reading about that market for a couple of years now. The availability of jobs is what is attracting people to the area. We have some opportunities here in Kingman for industrial as well as commercial jobs. Our community should focus on the things that will help bring the opportunities to our area.

The last point of the article is the coming trend of moving closer to town. I'm pretty sure they mean the big cities like LA, SF, NY, CHI, and many others. It is time for all of us to think of more creative ways to bring growth and opportunity to the area. We simply can't take things like the bypass bridge for granted. We have to give people a reason to come here... the nice weather we enjoy simply won't be enough.

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