Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Doug's Thoughts For March

I write to you this month from “not so sunny” Florida where I am attending the annual RE/MAX international conference. For 4 days I will be educated in seminars and discussions focused on the real estate industry, economic trends, developments in technology and just about everything I need to keep on the cutting edge of our industry.

For now, the local news:
There were 22 sales on the island in February, a 20% decline from that in January, but still an increase from last February. There were 5 sales in February over $3M and 3 of the sales were bank foreclosures. Presently there are 17 properties “under agreement” with ½ probably closing in March and the other ½ in April or May, so the upcoming months will show a decline in number of “closed” sales.

This actually follows what I learned in an economic class yesterday about national statistics. All indicators say we will have a busy first 2 quarters of the year and things will slow in the 3rd and 4th quarter. This is partly due to an expected increase in interest rates by the end of the year and, on a national basis, the ending or changing of the first time homebuyer stimulus money. One staggering number I learned was that there are over 3 million foreclosures expected in 2010.

The past 4-6 weeks have seen a slowdown in the number of property showings. This is primarily due to the weather conditions across the northeast and upper mid Atlantic states. People in DC, Philly and NY are still digging out of their historic snow storms and the constant rain in eastern MA has kept people home. Once the weather breaks I think we will see a big influx of property showings and hopefully more sales. This is supported by an increase in Internet activity and property inquiries from our website.

Interest rates are holding steady (for now) at 5% on a 30 year fixed mortgage, which is good. But, as a seller, please be aware that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have seriously tightened the qualifying regulations. What this means for you is a frustrating loan process as the buyer is put through the “hoop jumping” required to get all documentation to the loan underwriter. Plan on 40-60 days just for loan approval!

Here’s wishing for an early spring.

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