I asked a group of Realtors who sell homes in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area recently what their thoughts are of 2009, now that it’s ‘in the rear view mirror.’
While a few Agents reported a strong year last year, most told me they weren’t sad to see ’09 become history.
We hear conflicting information in the media a lot these days about home sales, and this can even happen when you’re looking at sales in a small, targeted area.
Here are a few statistics from the Birmingham MLS that show trends in 2009, compared to 2007 and 2008. Clearly, the local market was a difficult one for many:
Here’s a look at average sold prices for homes in the area:
And, finally, how long did it take to get a home sold? Here’s a look at that:
While these numbers show a challenging market, people with a lot of years in the real estate business under their belt continue to believe that the market will undergo a gradual change, back to more balanced conditions.
No one knows exactly when that will happen, or how quickly it will occur, but most are confident it will. Some think it’s already starting.
Perhaps 2010 will be the year…
Congress has taken a step many people were watching for, and has extended the $8,000 tax credit for people buying a home for the first time. But the extension also carries a big change that could affect you if you own a home right now and want to buy again.
The credit, which was originally set to expire November 30th, now applies to Sales Contracts in place by April 30th, 2010. Homeowners have an additional 60 days beyond then to actually close the sale.
If you currently own your home and have lived in it for five consecutive years, the extension provides for a $6,500 credit if you buy another property by the new deadline. In the current market where so many homes have lost value, this may help Sellers frustrated over not being able to get an Offer for as much as they’ve wanted.
So … either way, the extension is intended to make buying a home more enticing to a larger group of people. That’s exactly why Congress passed the bill, in a continuing desire to stimulate the housing market.
Another point many buyers are not aware of is the fact that you can still qualify for the credit even if you owned a home previously. The government defines a first time buyer as someone who has not owned a home during the previous three years. So, if you owned a home in, say, 2004, but have not owned your residence since then, you would qualify for the first time buyer’s credit.
The tax credit’s extension and expansion, coupled with such affordable deals and financing on homes in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area really do suggest that—unless you plan to move again soon—you’re much better off owning, rather than renting, and—if you qualify as an existing owner and have been wanting to move—now’s the time.