Image by reeltor99 via FlickrWith less than a week to go before the tax credit is over, I've been thinking about what the real estate market in Philadelphia will look like for the rest of the year. I was thinking specifically about the real estate market here, because real estate is too local for me to have a sense of what the national scene will look like in May and after.
The tax credit has certainly sped up the market so far this year. All of our offices have outpaced their production for the same period last year (when we were ranked as the number Century 21 company in our area, and number 3 for the state), so its obvious that the tax credit has had some impact. The question is whether is has driven the market or enhanced the market, and my opinion leans towards enhancement. Investors seem to have re-entered our market, and that (to me) is a sing that they percieve value in our real estate. Though activity is speeding up as we near the deadline, my sense is that the market will slow but not stall after the tax credit, because all of the basic reasons to buy a home are in place.
1. Prices are stable and gaining ground. According to Trend MLS, in the first qiarter of this year, closed transactions were up almost 10% (9.6% actually) and the average sale price actually increased over the same period in 2009.
2. Interest rates remain historically low - I don't think I really have to explain this one. Articles speak about rates going up from 5 to 6% as if that were a lot. People wouldn't be happy unless the bank paid them, but frankly, anything under 9% has always been really indicative of inexpensive money.
3. The financial benefits of home ownership are undeniable in the current market. In a recent article, the New York Times once again published its rent vs. buying calculator, and in our market, with no appreciation and no rental increases, a home buyer still makes out better after only 5 years of home ownership - and any prudent landlord would certainly increase the rent at least a few percent over 5 years!
With all of that going for us, it would seem that we have reason to believe that there will be reasonable activity for the rest of the spring market. Certainly if more jobs are created, and we avoid any major economic body blows, it would seem that we might be headed towards the recovery we have heard so much about.