Clients and Friends,
My primary motivation for providing this monthly report for the past seven years has been to help our sellers understand the markets in which they are trying to sell their properties. Our responsibility is to do everything reasonable (even heroic) to get these properties sold. Beyond that, we neither control the markets nor can we create a buyer- and no one else can either! One important service we can offer is to help our clients understand the current, local, market conditions in monthly increments so they can make the best decisions according to their goals and timing. Knowledge is power, and understanding reveals options and opportunities. While not a panacea, knowing is better than floundering, wondering, or imagining.
This month’s market snapshot confirms that a recovery carries some of the past baggage. The market is still skittish about changes in the interest rates, even though we are still at historically low rates for mortgages. Employment weakness continues to undermine the recovery and affect people’s optimism and confidence. February’s report affirms that we have not been imagining the disappointing months of sales we have been experiencing for over 6 months now. We are going through a very challenging soft spell. For two years throughout Portland, and for just over a year in Yamhill County we have been reporting lots of good news and steady improvement. The numbers have cooled over the past 6-9 months and they have become quite frigid in January and February. Most of the numbers this month are down compared with last month, and year-to-date compared to last year. The numbers that are still in positive territory are weaker than they have been in a long time. The disappointing numbers are consistent with many conversations I have had with agents, title officers, mortgage brokers, and other business people and an increasing number of articles in the public media. I have included an article from the Oregonian about national market conditions. For our sellers this is frustrating time bordering on the fearful. On the street in our area, showings have been weak, buyers seem scarce, and offers have been rare so far this year. In urban Portland, the bigger contributing issue is likely low inventory.
However, there is no reason yet to over-react. It is helpful to keep things in perspective. It is a slow-down not a crash. There is no new calamity that is causing this, just the dynamics of uneven and sporadic recovery. We are still very early in the selling season; too early to be writing an obituary for 2014!
The past 7 years have been exceedingly challenging and taxing for our clients- and for us. Fortunately, we are at last in a recovery and on the way to a healthier condition. We also have heightened hope for the future. This month, on March 15, 2014, we at Bella Casa Real Estate Group celebrated our 7th anniversary. We began with wild-eyed optimism on the Ides of March at the top of the market in 2007 and 4 months later found the market footing was unstable. We, along with the housing sector, the financial markets, and far too many people, tumbled down the mountainside. Thankfully, we are still alive, even thriving in so many ways. Perseverance and persistence is fundamental to getting the job done for us and for our clients.
Overall in the Portland metroplex the statistics and graphs still shows a fair amount of positive news. The average and median pricing levels are back to a point not seen since 2006 (when the market was on the way up) and it also matches levels of pre-fall of 2008 just before the financial markets crashed. Our closed sales are still at better volume than anything we have seen since 2007. We have made the case often that Yamhill County runs about 1.5 yrs behind Portland in this recovery. We are seeing this in the inventory numbers and in the resurgence of new construction. Unemployment, in an area like ours, may be the fundamental reason our recovery is not stronger. There are challenges, but there is hope.
I attached a couple of articles regarding current market conditions. One is an article from the Oregonian about national real estate market conditions and it confirms what we have been discussing for months. The second is from a local mortgage broker, Debbie Benson, with an update about the direction of interest rates. In one sense we have rates dropping because of worsening market conditions, on the other hand rates are rising because of the Federal Reserve’s tapering program, now down to $55 billion per month. If recovery is good this year, we could see interest rates up another percent; that is sweet and sour!
It is the prime season for listing properties for sale and our inventory is blossoming. The next several months are crucial for the success of the year and these are the months we trust we can get your properties sold. If you know of others who need the finest of services for a lower rate than others charge for similar or even lesser services, please ask them to call us or send your referrals to us to call them. We are grateful for your partnership with us. We are also aggressively looking for buyers who can take advantage of a market in our area which is still very very attractive.