Friday, March 1, 2013

It's Not The Statistics, It's The Homes

Statistics do not buy or sell homes. While that sounds so simple, there continues to be too many realty agents who don't appear to take this into account.

Meanwhile, the majority of home sellers, even in the supposed "buyers markets" are still having to wait a long time for a sale, if they are fortunate enough to find their buyer.

The RealtyTrac statistics for 2012 (and that's for the year, not for a one-month period) concluded that roughly 43% of home sales were either foreclosures or short sales. Those were, for the most part, sold for less than the actual value of the home. What is unfortunate is that the sales statistics continue to fail to take this into consideration. Home owners who have paid their mortgages faithfully continue to suffer because nearly half of homes sold last year were underpriced and their chances to sell for a profit are significantly diminished through no fault of their own.

Yet, in reading a report today about supposed "hot markets", the sales process for the increased number of homes sold is still a long time as I see it.

Let's use Seattle as an example. Even with foreclosures and short sales, this region showed a 16% increase in the median sales price for last year, while the listed inventory reportedly declined by 44%. Some experts consider Seattle among the best "seller markets"., in its market analysis, reports that homes in this area spent "an average of just 56 days on the market". 

What this information fails to show is that an average 16% increase does not mean that home prices are back to the level that current home owners paid for them years ago. It is quite common to have had the foreclosures and short sales in most areas drop prices by more than 30% at bottom. In more common terms, many homeowners there still would not profit if they sold at these prices.

Perhaps the reduction of listed inventory is because the "faithful" home owner, whose property is still valued for much less than it was a few years ago, still has no financial incentive to sell. The decline in available properties is likely because many of the foreclosures and short sale properties have been gobbled up by investors waiting to flip them and profit.

In order to save the market, the time has come for the foreclosures and short sales to be completely separated from "non-distressed" home sales. But I'm afraid we'd see a much different picture of the current marketplace.

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