Without a doubt, 2007 was one of the worst real estate years many had seen in quite some time. In fact, many people have begun to compare the current real estate market crash to the crash of the 1980s. While it does not appear that prices will improve this year, there are indications that the market may begin to experience some recovery next year. This could mean an improvement in prices which have appeared to be in free fall for the last few months. One of the reasons that it is anticipated that prices will begin to improve in 2009 is the fact that many experts have anticipated the market will bottom out in 2008. At first glance, this can certainly seem to be frightening news; however, it is important to keep in mind that the market really cannot begin to recover until it does bottom out.
In understanding the recovery of the market it is important to look at the factors that resulted in the current real estate market slump. There are actually several factors that led to the current slump. One of the most important factors is the fact that prices in several areas throughout the country doubled between 2000 and 2005. In some cases, those prices even tripled. As a result, there were a record number of people who were unable to afford homes, especially first-time home buyers. As the number of buyers able to purchase real estate began to dwindle, resulting in price and sales declines throughout the country.
As headlines have proclaimed recently, subprime loans also contributed to the recent debacle. During the last few years, a large percentage of the number of loans that were made were issued to buyers with credit scores that were below average. Additionally, a large number of loans were made to buyers with minimal down payments. Approximately two years ago real estate prices stopped rising. At this time, a number of buyers who had snapped up houses in red hot markets suddenly discovered that the balance of their mortgage exceeded their home’s values.
The rate of defaults began to escalate at this point. Before long, foreclosures also began to increase as a direct result. As more and more foreclosures hit the market, the inventory in many markets began to spiral out of control. As more homes hit the market, prices began to drop even more. To make matters even worse, economic growth began to stall and massive layoffs in many areas further fueled defaults and foreclosures.
While it has taken some time, assistance is now being provided to homeowners; which is anticipated will help to stave off the increasing rate of foreclosures. Overall, this is anticipated to help stabilize the rapidly rising inventory of homes for sale throughout the nation.
It is important to keep in mind that while headlines appear to be constantly blasting news about the softening real estate market, there are actually some markets in the country where prices have continued to rise rather than decline. On average, real estate prices nationwide are approximately 5% less than they were last year; however, many of the metro areas in the nation are still experiencing price increases. This is largely due to first-time home buyers who can still afford to purchase properties and retiring homeowners who are selling their home sand then either moving into a retirement community or purchasing smaller properties. These markets include Salt Lake City, Utah; Charlotte, North Carolina; Beaumont, Texas and Bismarck, North Dakota.