What a year to be in real estate! I think I am one of the last Realtors left! The last 18 months have seen an exodus of real estate agents from the business, and the ones who remain are truly the ones you want to be working with. This is a professional’s market, and now more than ever, you need a great Realtor to help you with your real estate needs. But what is in store for real estate in 2010?
Next year, we can expect somewhat of a roller-coaster ride for real estate, in general. We have a lot of good and a lot of not-so-good on the periphery, so how can you manage yourself and your home and investments as good as possible? Or will 2010 finally be the year that you jump into the real estate market for good? Let’s look at the good and the bad, and discuss both relative to each market segment out there (buyers, sellers, investors, etc).
First, the bad:
2010 will feature more of the same from bank foreclosures and short sales. In their most recent statistics, according to NAR about 25% of all transactions in America right now are distressed properties. Obviously things are different here in San Diego, where that number feels like 100%, but really is closer to about 2/3 of all sales, and it changes from area to area throughout the county. Because of a lack of cohesion and cooperation on the part of the banks and also on the part of government regulation, getting anything done with a bank in 2009 was (and is) pretty darn difficult. True, systems are in place and getting further refined, and more people are getting employed to take on the workload at the banks to get used to dealing with so many short sales, however, this has been a work in progress for the past 3 years and will continue to be so for 2010 and beyond.
In fact, there were a record number of Notice of Defaults (NOD’s) posted this last month, and with loan modifications becoming less and less apparent (meaning the banks just aren’t doing very many at all of these) expect there to be a consistent flow of more and more short sales and foreclosures. Furthermore, there are several ALT-A loans (what people have been calling the next wave of bad loans) where the borrowers of these types of loans will see their loan readjust to an unaffordable amount, causing further increasing pressure on defaults and foreclosures. More than anything, doing a short sale has in my opinion become an acceptable social construction. Doing a short sale is now commonplace and not as stigmatized as is has been for the past few years; the same goes for foreclosure as well. A vast amount people have gotten involved in a bad loan or a bad investment that there is no hesitation anymore in holding on to the home.
The trend now is to stop making payments and live in the property as long as possible then dump the property, and deal with the aftermath accordingly. Perception has shifted and I predict a heavy increase of short sales for 2010. I only hope that the banks are ready for it. Moreover, the IRS has an exemption on the tax you would typically pay on any forgiven debt for your primary residence. This is one of the main reasons folks have decided to do a short sale in the first place (among other benefits). This exemption is set to expire at the end of 2010, and this will be a cause for many homeowners who were just thinking about doing a short sale to get them to take action. You will want to consult a professional to get some real answers when it comes to a short sale, and you can contact me if you need that kind of help today.
Foreclosures as well as short sales will continue to be a big part of the available inventory throughout 2010, and I do not see them going away anytime soon. Expect this trend of massive distress sale (short sale and foreclosure) inventory to last well into 2012 or 2013.
Regarding the luxury real estate market and commercial real estate market; both of whom have struggled in 2009, they will continue to do so in 2010. I feel that the effect from the economic and market downturn will become even more pronounced for both of these market segments well into 2011 and on. For high end homes, perceptions are changing people are beginning to live more within their means. This recession has taught many a lesson on the excesses that had become commonplace over the past decade. Also, due to lending guideline changes, buyers who could normally afford an expensive loan can no longer qualify for it. More than anything, most people in this price point just aren’t ready to take the risk, or have lost their money and means to do so. As a result, the lack of sales in high end areas of San Diego reflects these trends. I am seeing that people with money are taking advantage of more lucrative deals at the lesser price points, and everything above a million still has yet to see the bottom. To cap it off, lending at this price point has just begun to turnaround; for most of this year it has been difficult to get financing for high end homes, even with a 50% down payments! Conclusively, I would not recommend entering the real estate market at any price point over $1 Million in 2010, unless you found one of those great deals that everyone is talking about (but very few actually find). Ultimately, I think there is just too much downside and risk here and not enough reward.
For commercial real estate, we have yet to see the bottom as well. For one, the economic downturn has caused many businesses to close up shop, which increases vacancies and decreases the money realized by the commercial property owner. This also causes property values to decline as commercial property is valued based on the income it generates. There will continue to be a lull in this regard for most commercial real estate until the economy begins to rebound and jobs are created in mass. Secondly, many property owners have refinanced their commercial real estate loans in the past few years, and these loans are going to be called due, which is especially problematic for those properties worth less now than what is owed to the bank. As such, we will see more and more commercial property being foreclosed and sold via a short sale (which simply has not been happening anywhere near the levels of residential real estate). I personally haven’t seen a significant enough decline in most commercial property values to call a bottom in 2010. This trend will continue for the next few years as commercial real estate tends to lag residential, generally speaking. I believe we are seeing only the beginning of what is to come. That said, I feel there is immense opportunity in this regard. I am beginning to see great income property that was not realistically priced prior, but is now selling at price points where the owner can cash flow with a modest amount down. I would keep my watchful eye on this market segment.
Importantly, the economy itself will also play a major role in both the local and national real estate recovery. We have seen how real estate got us into this mess, and it will also be one of the first industries to get us out. Although we have begun to see many signs of improvement, we aren’t out of the woods just yet. The issue at hand now is focused on job creation. Upon economic recovery, the creation of jobs will allow for substantial growth and appreciation in real estate.