Predicting future events is never an easy job, and more often than not, a futile exercise of vanity over reality. However, that has never stopped me from sticking my neck out! Further complicating the issue this year is the fact that we will be installing a new administration on January 20th, 2009. Also, due to the strange peccadilloes of the electorate in general, we have managed to re-elect virtually every member of Congress, (leastwise those who were up for re-election). Please bear in mind, that this was a congress whose popularity rating has never, ever been rated at a lower percentage, since records have been kept. This means that they very same congress-critters who got us into this mess, will be the ones who will be attempting to fix it! Encouraged-I am not!
I believe that the volume of sales will remain steady, or increase slightly, during the course of 2009. Here, in the Valley of the Sun, we have a great deal of affordable housing, which attracts out of state buyers. If the economy remains constant, or improves slightly, there will be a commensurate increase in sales. Notice I said "increase in sales"- not increase in prices. Big distinction. I still believe that the majority of sales will be some kind of distress sale, i.e. REO's, short sales or people losing money personally to close the deal. However, it is absolutely vital for these properties to be absorbed into the market in order for normalcy. Whatever that may be, to eventually return.
In the more affluent neighborhoods, Cave Creek, Carefree or Fountain Hills for example, I think we will see fewer sales. This is because in those areas, many of the homes are owned by retirees or wealthy snowbirders. Often, they do not have to sell, so the decision to stay in the property and ride out the storm is a relatively easy one.
So, is it going to be a good year, or a bad one? Well, it all depends on your perspective. For buyers, I think it will be all good--especially first-time buyers. For homeowners, who purchased in 2005 or later, who have to sell, there will be some degree of pain. For those who don't have to sell, or bought before 2004, it's a wash. Although, the growth they initially experienced has gone away, I think we will return to low single digit appreciation in late 2009, early 2010. Which will mean, as ever, that a home is always a good Long-Term investment.
More importantly than all of the above, however, is to stay healthy and enjoy life.