Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Real Estate, Politics and New England Weather

Tip O'Neil is quoted "All politics is local". And in proper perspective, so is real estate.
Real estate markets are local markets. What makes one street or neighborhood more or less desireable than another, if not individual preference?

So how was it that that the cost of housing in Massachusetts skyrocketed? With fewer than normal houses on the market and a pent up demand, coupled with very favorable interest rates, the cost was bid up and up. And yet, the sales continued. All sorts of creative financing was also used to support the demand.
Those of us, who have been in real estate for some time, had "sticker shock" as each new listing came on the market at higher and higher list prices. Home owners, seeing their neighbors' house on the market at a high listing price, jumped on the bandwagon and listed their property at an even higher price. At first, this upward spiral was sustained by demand and the 'low cost of money' (interest rates were on the way down, then). Eventually the market became saturated with listings at very high prices, and buyers began to resist.

Now it seems that the pendulum is swinging back. Some buyers are just waiting it out. Others are trying to use their best negotiating skills to get lower prices. Still others have left the state to buy elswhere. Sellers are either facing the new reality or they are taking their properties off the market after 6, 8, 12 months without a sale. This looks like Supply and Demand are trying to b ring the market back into balance.

In his acceptance speach, our new governor-elect just touched on the subject by saying he has a "mandate to make ... housing more affordable." That's going to be difficult. What can the governor of any state do to make housing more affordable. When people talk about "affordable housing", they are usually talking about housing, rentals or sales, that cost less than market value. Who is going to pay for the difference?

Part of the reality of Massachusetts and New England is the weather and the season. As the temperature goes down, so will the number of persons out there on a weekend looking at houses. It's better to stay indoors and watch the Patriots play or go to the mall to shop. If it gets really cold, then staying indoors becomes first choice. And if we have any kind of snowfall after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, the malls will be packed as soon as the roads are cleared.

This will be good. The crisp cool air and the clean white snow will help to clear our minds, if only for a little while.

Then we will all be ready for the first signs of the Spring buying season!

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