Real Estate — Is Now the Time to Buy?

Real estate is not a national market, and I’ve always taken issue with the presentation of it as such. There are simply too many highly-influential factors that exist at the local level to justify evaluating the quality and stability of a real estate market as though it is a national one. For example, Amarillo, Texas’s historically modest real estate prices and low unemployment through this Great Recession contributed to a 3% rise in median home prices in that community from June 2008 to June 2009, while the «national average» for the same period saw median prices decline 15% nationwide. While there is, of course, important component data that comprises national real estate figures, presenting that data in the form of a single number can be misleading, at the very least.

That said…even I have to grant some significance to the recent trend of the U.S. real estate market’s attempt at potent truth serum, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index, which has not been historically kind in its measurement of the «national market» in many, many months. Last week, the index noted the first quarter-on-quarter increase in values (Q1 to Q2 2009) in three years. Information like that should not be wholly embraced, but neither can it be wholly disregarded. When you also consider collateral information from other weighty resources, like the National Association of Realtors’ report of an increase in the sales of existing homes at a rate of 7.2% from June to July, it’s hard to disagree with those who say we’ve turned the long-awaited corner in residential real estate.

There are still warnings being sounded by those who see a worsening of the foreclosure mess over the next 12 months, and while that may prove to be true in some areas, it’s getting more difficult to believe that prices will resume any sort of free fall. The simple truth is that there’s no reason to think that we haven’t realized stabilization, which means it’s time for those who’ve been fence-sitting for some time to at least climb down from their perches, get back in their cars, and resume touring America’s neighborhoods.

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