11-18-2009, 08:54 PM #1
Oct 2009 South Walton Sales (Homes, Condo, Townhomes)
Are You Sleeping While the Train Passes the Station?
by Murray Balkcom, GRI, Realtor
SoWal’s Real Estate Guru
Coldwell Banker United, Realtors
Nov 18, 2009
For the last three years, I’ve listened to many people talk about waiting until the real estate market hits bottom before they will purchase. We all know that the bottom is seen only in hindsight, but by watching the market closely and constantly, we can begin to see trends and changes in the market, which might alert us to shifts which we later recognize as peaks or troughs. The charts I created below are not intended to point out a bottom, because we won’t recognize a bottom until we are well off the bottom floor and it is behind us. However, if you look closely at the charts below, you will see a market shift over the last several months.
2009 vs 2008 South Walton Sales - Homes, Condos, Townhomes
I don’t want to throw too much historical data at you, but I will share a bit for context. Looking at the South Walton sales for Homes, Condos, and Townhomes, over the last several years, we see a common trend. Generally, we see an upward trend in sales from Jan through July of each year. Then, from August through December, we see sales decline.
With that background setting the context, it is interesting to note the sales in 2009. In the chart above, don’t just compare 2009 to 2008. Also look at 2009 sales month to month. Since July 2009, we see the total dollar sales volume of Homes, Condos, and Townhomes which sold in South Walton, increase month over month, with October sales dollar volume showing an increase of 42% over July sales, and ...READ MORE HERE
11-18-2009, 11:53 PM #2
murray you forgot one factor and its the most important factor. $6 TRILLION OF PAPER WEALTH HAS BEEN ADDED IN THE STOCK MARKETS MASSIVE 65% GOV'T INDUCED RUN.30-a has a special charm and will always stand on its own but i'm very pessimistic about the next 5-10 years.This massive gov't intervention the past year has basically pushed back a true long term turnaround by 5-10 years. the us is now saddled with $12 trillion of debt that means huge tax increases and higher interest rates in the years ahead. by squandering trillions on zombie bankrupt companies the gov't has misallocated precious capital.as i said 30-a will always do well due to its stunning unmatched beauty
11-19-2009, 12:04 AM #3
....so now is a great time to buy???
Last edited by SHELLY; 11-19-2009 at 12:06 AM.
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Murray, can you get a median sale price graph sans condos and townhomes, for the SoWal area, excluding everything west of the 30a cutoff?
11-19-2009, 07:57 AM #5
Ray, I didn't forget about the paper wealth of the stock market. I am not reporting on the stock market and am not predicting the future 5-10 years. My report is focused on past sales, not future sales.
I simply point out that sales are happening, while many people continue to wait until we see an upward curve. Well, guess what, the upward curve of sales in both quantity and dollar volume appears in the stats. Median Sold price is leveling out somewhat. Will it continue to grow? I don't know, but I can definitely see changes over the last four months in sales quantity and dollar volume.
Shelly asks a great question, "Is now a great time to buy?"
It depends. If you find the property you want and you can afford it, and you feel it has value to you, then perhaps you should consider it. Should you buy a property just because other people are? No, no, no!
30ashopper, thanks for asking. Yes, I keep those stats and can make you a chart on median sales price for that specific area. Do you want to include sales in the area north of hwy 98 in the area you mention?
If anyone has other special area request of data, please ask and I will try to get the info for you.
11-19-2009, 08:55 AM #6
Here is the chart you requested, including the areas in South Walton, north of Hwy 98.
I went back to 2000 to give some perspective. Interestingly, we are at the same level as the beginning of 2004, when the run-up started. Most of the buyers starting in 2004-2007 were what I call flippers, rather than end users. It seems to me that we are exactly where we should be if the flippers had not bought in.
Last edited by Murray Balkcom; 11-19-2009 at 08:59 AM.
Good stuff Murray - thanks for posting!
Many people have been saying we'd bump along the bottom for awhile and that may be true since there are still national economic problems, but I am hearing about a lot of people moving here right now, especially families. Maybe it is the adjustment in the prices. People who thought they missed their chance with rising prices but now have gotten a second chance and aren't going to miss it this time.
11-19-2009, 09:36 AM #8
I think we have enough inventory out there that we will continue to see median price remain more level than trend upward, because all of those would-be sellers will have to adjust price to meet the buyers' perception of value, in order to make a sale. Most of the inventory is overpriced, but that needs an entirely new thread. I'll pull some numbers to show why I think that most of the inventory and new listings are over-priced, and report back soon.
11-19-2009, 02:37 PM #9
11-19-2009, 02:45 PM #10Originally Posted by SHELLY;627072"
Maybe Murray hasn't seen this chart yet ...
Last edited by bdc63; 11-19-2009 at 02:53 PM.
11-19-2009, 05:15 PM #11
The stock mkts gains have been the engine behind the small uptick in all the econ #'s from housig to manufacturing. Many people including myself are expecting a double dip back down that will hit the stk mkt and housing next year. Murray my pt was the stk mkt leads everything and if it didn't turn up housing wouldn't have either. that said if you find a good deal and its something you love i'd 100% buy it. but one most be willing to hold 10 plus years
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Attached is my column from last week's Sun.
In some cases buying is a good idea, for others, far from it.
Last edited by Buz Livingston; 11-19-2009 at 06:40 PM.
11-20-2009, 08:36 AM #13
In my view the chart from bdc63 confirms that a return to "normal" will take valuations back to the years 1998 through 2002 rather than 2004. Every bubble that I have studied starts with excess credit creation that fuels valuations which attracts faster money. This cycle repeats until the credit runs out and the market collapses back to or below "normal". Having watched real estate trends in the area from afar for 17 years, I recall that the valuations started getting out of hand by 2003, coincident with the Fed's efforts to reflate the economy by providing the housing market with unsustainably low short term rates.
If you take the year 2000 to 2002 range of 200k to 300k from murray's second chart, use the midpoint of $250k, and adjust this value using an inflation rate of 2.5%, you get a current midpoint of $300k. In my view that number represents a more educated guess at "normal" for the area. Unfortunately when a bubble collapses the market often corrects to below "normal" levels before settling out.
As ray points out there are several federal progams propping up valuations this year in an effort to avoid a deflationary death spiral for the economy. In essence we are replaciing excess credit creation in the private sector with excess credit creation in the public sector in an effort to slow down the correction process, thereby avoiding a collapse of the U.S. banking system. This is unfortunate for potential buyers for obvious reasons but perhaps necessary to avoid an even larger governement intervention - as in New Deal economics - at a later date.
The good news for buyers, in my opinion, is that the commercial real estate market is now collapsing in predictable fashion. Those banks that were forced to aggressively write down their residential loan portfolio before mark to market was suspended will be looking for cash to buffer their reserves as they begin writing down commercial loans. That cash is sitting in their residential portfolio, which I believe is one of the reasons that residential foreclosure metrics will continue rising over the next 12 months. The banks are coming for their cash.
11-20-2009, 11:39 AM #14
According to this economist who created this index above, we will see prices across the USA, on average, dip below levels of 1997. Let me show you what that would mean if South Walton is representative of the rest of the USA.
Look at the chart above (based on sales reported to Emerald Coast Association of Realtors) and you will see that the median sales price of detached homes in South Walton is currently $410,500. Median sales price in Jan 1997 for detached homes in South Walton was a whopping $152,000. (Median Sales Price is the number in the middle, where half of the sales are above that price and half of the sales are below that price.) If prices were to retreat to a level of 1997 or earlier, that would mean a 63% further decrease in SOLD prices. Many of today's sales are selling with multiple offers, and there are many buyers looking and willing to buy. If prices decrease further, more buyers will be competing against each other, which should push sold prices, up, not down. I disagree with your comparison of the economist's chart with sales in South Walton. About half of today's sales in South Walton are cash, so with financing not being a concern for many buyers today, it sure won't be a problem if that $410,500 house is available in a few years for $152,000.
Shelly, the story is that sales are happening while people have no clue. I think the title is very appropriate. As I mention in the article, I hear many people saying that they are waiting until the market bottoms out before they buy. What they really mean is that they want to see other people buying before they will jump back in, because in their minds, when people are buying, and sold prices look level, while volume is increasing, we are near the bottom. For these people looking to time the market, they are the ones who the train is passing. It isn't to say that other trains aren't continuing to stop at the station.
Last edited by Murray Balkcom; 11-20-2009 at 11:58 AM.
11-20-2009, 12:46 PM #15
Please note that the econ chart is inflation adjusted. So you have to take your local chart and adjust for inflation relative to any historical range you choose. I too would be shocked to see us return to 1997 levels on an absolute basis, but I think a return to 1998 through 2002 levels adjusted for inflation is well within reason. Per my prior comments I guestimate that gets you to a current range centering roughly around $300k. Of course, the market might overshoot to the downside but in my view that would be the central tendency. Alternatively perhaps we will bounce around $400k for several years until inflation catches up to your chart.
Personally I am more interested in understanding supply side behavior versus the demand side right now. I suspect a chart of REO sales as a percent of total sales would show a still increasing trend, and I don't think you can point to volume as confirmation of a bottom until the percent of that volume from REOs peaks. As I mentioned previously, I think the banks are coming for their cash more aggressively over the next twelve months versus the prior twelve months.
11-20-2009, 01:33 PM #16
Exhibit A: NAR full-page ad from Nov 2006:
IMO You'd do well to stick to the facts about "normal" home buying going forward and can the investulator hype.
Last edited by SHELLY; 11-20-2009 at 01:38 PM.
11-20-2009, 01:53 PM #17
I'm not the one pointing to the future. My article is based solely on past sales. If there is any predicting of the future on this thread, it seems that would be coming from you and a few others.
You talk as though I work with investulators, but the vast majority of the buyers with whom I work are end-users, and are able to afford the properties, and don't intend to sell in the near future as a quick flip, so there is no blood being shed. They like the property, and they can afford it, and they will use it.
Since you are such a predictor of the future, at what level do you predict the median price of South Walton homes sold in 2015? I'd love to see your forecast of the future, perhaps on a new thread, since this one is really for actual sales of the past.
Do you have any comments about the recent past sales, other than people will be bloody?
Last edited by Murray Balkcom; 11-20-2009 at 02:07 PM.
My guess is, once the government incentives dry up, we will revisit them again. I sense people think this graph is suddenly going ot head north like it did in 2003, trust me, it's not. I'm guessing we'll be locked into this range for quite some time to come.
Last edited by 30ashopper; 11-20-2009 at 05:04 PM. Reason: numbers off
11-20-2009, 02:17 PM #19
Regarding inflation in the economist's chart someone posted, I still think it is way off. If we took that median sold price from Jan 1997 of $152,000 and adjusted it for inflation, that price in today's money would be $204,728.37 according to my calculator. That is about half of today's actual value, which is still a hefty return.
11-20-2009, 02:30 PM #20
We ask that everyone give respect to contributors (especially moderators), instead of taking useless pot shots at someone like Murray who is contributing useful information and helpful posts to our community.
If you need to post your disagreement with posts, please do so in a respectful manner that adds to the discussion, thereby encouraging others to do so as well, instead of creating a chilling effect on this forum.
A few posts have been deleted.
I'll add in this case that speaking with Murray about real estate is as real as it gets, with zero hype. I understand where he is coming from. I hear about "the bottom" all the time. It is what most people around here have wanted to talk about for the last few years in relation to real estate, and I appreciate the discussion.
Now, lets look at return..
Between 1997 and 2009 (12 years) at 2.5% inflation and a closing value of 375K (average for 2009 off your graph), we have
80-100K appreciation if you sold mid-2009
That's 3% annual return beyond inflation.
Edit, my numbers in my spreadsheet were off - 3% annual beyond inflation (6% total), if you purchased in 97 and sold in 09.
Last edited by 30ashopper; 11-20-2009 at 05:07 PM.
11-20-2009, 05:52 PM #23
About the same as the return on my 401k over that time frame, and a much more enjoyable place to spend vacation time. Even with the losses over the past few years, the true "value" of property on 30-a (some function of benefits/cost) would seems at least equal to other investment categories for the end user who can manage the cost structure.
11-20-2009, 06:10 PM #24
Here's the wild card. The gov't is hell bent on preventing a 1930's type deflationary spiral like the 1930's even if it means a massive inflationary spiral. the fed is sytematically destroying the $ by keeping rates at zero and printing to the moon.what this is doing is forcing safe $'s into stock and commodities such as gold and oil and causing more asset bubbles. basically since 1990 the feds ways out jams is printing $'s to flood the system with cash to cause bubbles to cover up the failures of the fed.The fed is praying $'s flee into real estate to hedge against inflation. so far it hasn't worked
11-20-2009, 06:38 PM #25
Last edited by 30ashopper; 11-20-2009 at 08:43 PM.
11-20-2009, 09:33 PM #27
In the context of bdc63's econ chart I still contend that the years 1998 through 2002 represent the best reference point. A review of credit issuance trends over several decades also suggests this time frame as the last period of "normal" in the U.S. real estate market. You might argue that the 1990s was a bubble period too but that was primarily in the equity markets. When the stock market bubble popped in 2001 the excess credit creation shifted to the real estate market. This to points to the 1998 through 2002 time frame as the last "normal" period for U.S. real estate valuations.
In fairness to murray one important difference between now and the 1998 to 2002 era is the level or mortage rates. Yes the fed is subsidizing the conventional loan market, but as I recall jumbo loan rates also are lower than during that era. So you might look at the issue in terms of owner's equivalent rent or the cost of monthly payments and determine that "normal" today is somewhat better than just an inflation adjusted metric.
However, I still believe we are going below "normal" as the banks move a substantial amount of distressed property to cash buyers over the next year or two.
11-21-2009, 07:39 AM #28
Another simple way to see the issue is to take murray's second chart with data back to 1993, place a ruler in front of your computer screen, and do your best to fit the line of the ruler to the trend in median sales prices from 1993 through 2002. When I do this I get a ruler line that lands between $300k and $350k in 2009. And yes that does include inflation adjustment since inflation is embedded in murray's data. Some might note that including 2003 and 2004 gives a better answer but I still contend that 2002 was the last year of normal in the U.S. and 30A market.
My thanks to murray for a very useful chart.
Last edited by horton; 11-21-2009 at 07:40 AM.
Last week's column
Couldn'f figure out to make the link work.
From Walton Sun 11/14/2009
There is nothing wrong with owning real estate. A popular local Internet bulletin board often touts that now is a good time to buy. They make a compelling argument: Prices are down, inventory is high and interest rates are at generational lows. Although owning a home makes sense for some people, for others, renting can be a much better financial choice.
For retirees who are living on their investments, high fixed expenses from a mortgage can be an economic albatross. Last year proved that investment portfolios can fluctuate, and fixed expenses require more assets to be withdrawn during downswings. Retirees with sufficient and sustainable cash flow are better suited for owning real estate and funding the subsequent mortgage. For others, renting is the best deal. Recently, both the client’s CPA and I agreed for their situation, renting was preferable.
“No brainer” is unprofessional, but entirely appropriate.
Is renting always better than owning real estate?
Always is a long time, but an esteemed colleague, Jake Engle, who practices in Seattle, pointed out that a house costs as much to own as a hedge fund (2-3 percent a year). Figure your annual expenses on maintenance, taxes, insurance and improvements. Residential real estate’s inherent illiquidity only compounds the problem.
Let’s crank up the old spreadsheet and run some local numbers. A hypothetical buyer purchases a home for $400K. For this illustration, they will pay 20 percent down, take out a 30 year mortgage at 5.125 percent, along with coughing up $208 and $200 for insurance and taxes monthly. Given the huge inventory of vacant homes, something comparable can be rented for $1,500 per month. Throw in $42 monthly for renters insurance — yes, renters need insurance — we see the renter’s monthly out of pocket is $959 less than the buyer’s ($1,542 versus $2,501).
So renting is always better. Not so fast; it depends on what you do with the $959. If you are like the typical American and blow it at Johnny McTighes or Chicos, then buying a home is much better than renting. Conversely, if you are disciplined enough to save the difference in a 401K and get a nice match from your employer, then you might be better off renting. At least in the short-turn — the most critical variable is how long you own the home before selling. Even when the investment return is 50 percent higher than appreciation on the home (6 percent versus 4 percent), owning the home becomes the better deal financially if you stay put for 13 or more years.
Predictions are pretty dangerous, especially when they are about the future. No one knows what returns will be down the line. A low return (2 percent) on both homes and equities/bonds means the break-even point for renting versus buying is more than 15 years. A higher return (4 percent) for both lowers the break-even period to fewer than 5 years. The dramatic difference is due to the down-payment a home requires.
Logically, if residential real estate outperforms equities and bonds, then buying a home is a better deal. Because you are building equity (theoretically), buying a home outshines renting even if home appreciation lags equities and bonds.
Contrary to my friends who post online, there are no magic answers. Buying a home might be the best option but for some people, and under situations, renting is the way to go. Thoughtful and realistic evaluation should be exercised when weighing financial choices and giving investment advice.
Warren Buffet knows the best way to make money in real estate. Berkshire Hathaway owns HomeServices of America, the second-largest, full-service independent residential real estate brokerage firm and the largest brokerage-owned settlement services (mortgage, title, escrow and insurance) provider in the U.S.
A popular local Internet bulletin board
While it would be nice for you to have mentioned "SoWal.com", on the other hand, a "popular local internet bulletin board" can't actually tout anything, can it? Unless you are trying to imply that the managers of this site tout something about buying, which is not true.
I assume you mean members of a "popular local internet bulletin board" are touting something. Truth is, very few members of this forum say it is a good time to buy.
For the last 50 years FL real estate has been impacted by retirees moving here.
There are some headwinds we are facing.
Most people dont have nearly enough saved for their retirement.
Inflaiton for older people may be understated due to rising health care costs.
Florida real estate used to be cheap. Now with taxes and insurance costs are higher.
Decline of defined benefit plans (pensions) ties into the first one but having a steady income during retirement impacts your standard of living.
Lack of infrasturture i.e roads.
Walton County needs industry that pays enough that people can afford to live here.
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11-21-2009, 05:58 PM #33
Buzz, I'm not sure who you are saying are the "buy now" people. I don't see much of that on "local message boards." When I report actual sales being high, and volume being high, that isn't the same as a blanket statement that buying is right for everyone.
I understand your article, and know you are in the financial planning business, and I respect that. One aspect your article leaves out is lifestyle choice, which I think home ownership is all about. Owning is 1) a lifestyle choice and 2) a place to park money. Many people are looking at it as a financial investment, and while it may, or may not, provide a return, in reality, it is a lifestyle choice, not an "investment." (Typically speaking. Of course one can, or at least could in the past, purchase "investment real estate," but I haven't seen many cash flowing properties in SoWal in the last decade.) If you want to change the color of your house, or rip out the bushes and plant sod, it may not be so easy to do so if you rent. Ownership, in most cases, unless there are tight restrictions, gives you that freedom. However, freedom doesn't come for free. You must pay for freedoms. Plenty of people buy luxury yachts, airplanes, Ferrari's, and/or beach homes. They are luxury items. Some retain their value, and some lose their value, and some cost lots and lots of money to maintain and operate. These are all lifestyle choices. In general, we all need shelter, whether it is a place we stay for free, a place we rent, or a place we buy -- In all cases, we only need the shelter, not the ownership.
Last edited by Murray Balkcom; 11-21-2009 at 07:26 PM.
IMO, "now is a great time to buy" ONLY if you have rock of Gibraltar solid finances, a love of home ownership, and a wad of spare cash.
Yes, there are some great deals out there and people are buying more, but this recession is far from over and for many the financial hits will just keep on coming.
Given the number of people struggling to pay their mortgages and bills, everyone should be able to sleep tonight w/o worrying they missed out on some short lived, never to be seen again, crazy arse period of low prices.
"Investing" in real estate as a get rich quick scheme or thinking of your primary residence as an asset is dumb.
But if you truly have the resources and the spare time, it IS a good time to buy.
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We are not that far apart.
Home ownership due to high entry costs works as a long term strategy.
There is a huge glut of exsiting homes for rent. For some people renting makes better sense if you run the numbers. For others, the opposite. That's why it is called personal financial planning.
Rental property with a positive cash flow is great. Also it has a low correlation with stocks/bonds.
A problem with real estate is that if you need 50K you can not sell the garage.
Interesting post about Rent vs Own. Obvioulsy many variables exist, but renting the past two years has been tough. I am about to move, and while I have flexibility in that, it sucks to think I've paid out over $20,000 and have nothing to show for it.
Then again, the probability is that if I'd bought a property here, it would have dropped by over $20,000 in value over the past two years. So it was a wash in one respect.
I'm moving back to Louisiana where things are just starting to slow a bit. I think prices there will begin to fall, but who knows. I've heard the rig count is way down. I've long felt that area would be a few years behind the rest of the country in being hit by the recession, just like in the 70's and 80's.
Rather than rent, I'd love to buy a low cost house there in need of repair, buy it in cash, work on it while I live there, and sell it for either a slight gain or make it to where I basically lived rent free.
But, that assumes I can find a place to meet my needs. And also that the bottom doesn't drop out in the short span I'm there. And... well, who knows. Maybe I'll live under a bridge rent free and keep my stuff in storage That'll save me some money.
11-23-2009, 12:22 AM #38
(1) You, your kids and your stuff has been kept secure/warm/cool/dry for the last two years. You had a place to receive your mail, watch TV, make/eat meals, dink around on your computer and lay your head down at night.
(2) You have the flexibility to up and leave and be with your kids without the weight of a ten-ton mortgage around your neck that can wreck your credit for years to come. (In two years you would have only paid off a buck or two in principle on the loan--the rest would have been interest that went into the bankers' pockets. And if you forked out 20% of your own cash as a down payment--that would had been flushed down the crapper.)
(3) You saved paying out 12% of the value of the home(coming and going) to feed and clothe the realtors and their kids.
(4) You didn't have to beat the bushes trying to find home owner's insurance.
(5) You didn't have to come up with several K's of cash to pay annual property taxes the past two years.
(6) You didn't have to fork over any cash for property maintenance and upkeep; and HOA dues if that applied.
Believe me, you are further ahead than practically ALL people who've bought their properties in Florida 2 years ago and need to unload them now.
So cheer up, buttercup! You've got an angel on your shoulder--you just don't realize it.
I couldn't agree more with Shelly's comments about having something to show for that money spent on rent. Whether you rent or own, you are paying for your shelter. The first seven years of a 30 yr loan has most of the money going to interest, so you really aren't making much progress on paying down the principle during that time anyway.
85 percent of the last one hundred years i would wager owning versus renting, owning wins.
12-10-2009, 07:09 PM #41
Many a bottom feeder has recently made a purchase. That’s a fact! Another reality is the vast majority of assets for sale in the country today are overpriced! Banks aren’t lending money, Unemployment is at an all time high with no end in sight, more banks will collapse in 2010, and commercial will most likely follow down the slide as business owners can no longer afford the rents! For heaven’s sake even Dubai can’t pay its bills! Those that believe we are going to POP back might consider drinking more coffee as they are simply sleeping!
12-11-2009, 11:42 AM #43
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