So long 2012
Tough real estate market offered some encouraging signs
The real estate market of 2012 was an interesting one, with plenty of buying opportunities and bright spots. There were, unfortunately, quite a few short sales and foreclosures as well, which can have a negative effect on nearby home values. Although most people would agree that 2012 continued to be a buyer’s market, the reduced amount of available residential inventory in 2012 is normally indicative of a seller’s market.
“We started the year with 500 fewer (homes for sale) than the previous year,” said Olan Clark, broker and office manager for Coldwell Banker Home Owners Realty. Because of declining values, homeowners didn’t have much of an incentive to put their property on the market. The trend dominated the real estate market in 2012.
“The second trend was an increased number of residential transactions,” said Clark. Through the third quarter of 2012, there was an 11.7 increase in the number of real estate sales filed over 2011. Prospective buyers are no longer scared or too uncertain to become legitimate buyers.
Values haven’t risen significantly, which means that many homeowners still have no incentive to sell their current home, unless they see their dream home on the market. Fewer homes on the market and increased sales activity translate into a door of opportunity that’s opening for new home construction.
As of Dec. 27, there were 381 new home permits issued in Mesa County, which is about 33 percent more than what was issued in 2011. That number is also higher than the number of new housing permits in 2009 and 2010.
It’s also significantly lower than the number of permits issued in 2005, when the number hits its peak at 1,532. The construction side of real estate is getting better, but it’s nowhere near what it was a few years ago.
The number of real estate sales and the total dollar volume of those sales is also on the rise.
“We’re going to be up annually about 13 percent in terms of year-to-date sales,” said Bob Reece, president of Advanced Title. “We’re going to be up about 16 percent for dollar volume. If the dollar volume increases faster than the number of sales, that could be indicative of an increase in property values.”
No one is predicting a meteoritic rise in property values and Reece doesn’t expect real estate to feel good again until the unemployment level falls.
There is good news, however, for homeowners who are struggling to stay on top of their mortgage payment. Funds became available through multi-state mortgage settlement to help homeowners who are delinquent on their loans due to a verifiable hardship.
“We can help folks,” said Amy Case with the Grand Junction Housing Authority (GJHA). “I have three full-time counselors and that’s all they do - work as a liaison between homeowners and their lenders.”
Although homeowners have to be delinquent in order to benefit from the mortgage reinstatement program, Case said GJHA can also be a great resource for those who aren’t behind on their payments yet, but who can see their financial ship starting to sink.
“The earlier they get started in the process, the better they are,” Case said. “Our counselors are efficient, experienced and skilled in dealing with lenders on a homeowner’s behalf.”
GJHA doesn’t charge for its services, and Case said that no one should pay for legitimate debt relief counsel or help with loan modification.
“HUD doesn’t allow a legitimate counseling service to charge for their services and it’s almost always illegal under Colorado law,” said Case, who added that is the biggest red flag in determining whether or not the person offering relief is actually a scammer.
Offering a guaranteed outcome is another red flag.
“There are no guarantees,” Case said. “We will do the best we can for you, but nobody can guarantee an outcome.”