What is the outlook for early season home sales in your community?

Published May 1, 2009  | May 2009 issue

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District Voices

[W]hat we are seeing is a real decline over the last couple of years, but we're actually up over last year at this time. Part of it is due to the stimulus, the $8,000 (buyer's) credit, although we would have loved to have seen that not apply to just first-time home buyers, because our market is very much secondary homes and retirement. … We have people that live and work here year-round that aren't affected by the automotive industry. And we also have people that are still moving here because it's on the Great Lakes, and waterfront homes are still of interest.
Cheryl Schlehuber, Broker/Owner
Mackinac Properties—St. Ignace, Mich

Our volume for our first-time home buyer programs is off some, but we would attribute that to the market more than anything. … We're not involved in the sales aspect, we're involved as a secondary market buying mortgages that are being done on homes. … We're optimistic that this year will be a good year for us.
Brent Adney, Director of Homeownership Programs
South Dakota Housing Development Authority—Pierre, S.D.

I am frankly amazed at the amount of first-time home buyers that are using this $8,000 stimulus. When it first came out, nobody understood it; they were afraid of it. They had to pay it back. Now that they don't have to pay it back and they can use it, everybody is on the street using this stimulus package. … The only area that I would hope would come around slightly is the nonconforming market. There's nowhere to sell the nonconforming loans, so those are all portfolio loans, and that area is still a little sluggish. But the conforming, $417,000 and below, is on fire.
Steve Havig, President
Minneapolis Area Assoc. of Realtors—Minneapolis, Minn.

Right now the outlook is pretty poor, I think, in this area. For some reason the rates aren't taking hold because it's more of a tourist area. Our clientele is more from Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and with the economic outlook, their jobs are in jeopardy too so they're not spending the money on their vacation homes. … Last year was bad, but this year right now we're probably worse. But it will pick up, I think it's just going to take a few more months.
Dale Blank, Owner
Northern Design Services Inc.—Hazelhurst, Wis.

[Y]ou never see interest rates down at the same time house prices are down. Now our house prices aren't down dramatically; they're only maybe a 5 percent depreciation off their peak prices. But still they're at the best values that they've been in probably a year and a half or two years. … I don't think it's going to be a major boom, but I think it's going to be a robust year, and I think it's going to be one of the better years. We never have had a boom, which is part of the reason we've never had a bust.
Joe Sheehan, Vice President of Mortgage Operations
Cornerstone Bank—Bismarck, N.D.

Through the first quarter, overall home sales (in the Flathead Valley) were down 45 percent from what they were a year ago [for] the same time period. Looking forward through the summer then I would expect them to be down. … Actually, if you take a look at the sales of family homes that would be typically purchased by a local resident, they're down but they're not down that 45 percent like it is overall. I've seen … a much higher slowdown in the higher-end properties or typical properties that end up going to out-of-area buyers.
Jim Kelley, Owner
Kelley Appraisal Services—Kalispell, Mont.