The Idaho State Journal ran an article on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, about the improving real estate market. I was a contributor to the article. The reporter called and asked my opinion. It is a common question from anyone who owns real estate in Pocatello, or who is thinking of buying a house soon. I thought you may want to read the article:
The local real estate market grew dramatically within the last six months. Although the local market hasn’t fully recovered realtors believe an estimated 20-30 percent increase in sales is a good sign East Idaho and Southeast Idaho are not far behind other recovering areas in the state.
“It’s gonna be some time until we get back to 2006 -2007 numbers. Those numbers were huge,” said Gate City Real Estate owner and broker Gordon Wilks. “It is quite encouraging frankly to see properties come on the market and be sold within a week. We’ve not seen that kind of activity for a few years.” The number of foreclosures on the market have dwindled and a demand for new construction has been on the rise.
Patricia Rawlings, the Greater Pocatello Association of Realtors president, said about 30 more homes sold in April than in May. She said single family-dwellings, condominiums and twin homes are being snatched up, in part to reasonable prices and low interest rates. “This is a great opportunity for people to sell or buy and inventory is increasing,” Rawlings said. “People are feeling more confident in putting their homes on sale. Then you have potential buyers who have an opportunity to make an offer on homes. ... I think previously because of the market buyers were afraid. Now, you see more confident buyers.” Rawlings said the Multiple Listing Service noted about 82 single family, condos and twin homes sold in April. Those homes sold between 30-125 days on the market and the average rice was between $144,000 and $145,000. In May, about 50 homes in the same category sold and the average price was between $149,000 and $150,000. “We are definitely seeing an improvement and the market is getting better and with interest rates ... really low it is still affordable,” she said.
Park Price, the Bank of Idaho CEO, located in Idaho Falls, said things in the real estate market began to pick up in June of last year, with January and February seeing a slight slump. He said a few of the factors behind the increase in sales could be “pent-up” demand from 2009-2011, when people maybe wanted to sell, but prices were low and the market was sifting through foreclosures and short sales. Price said decreasing unemployment, low interest rates and market confidence may also be factors to recent upticks in the market. “Prices were still quite low and affordability was still quite high,” Price said. “A lot of people held their home off the market because price hasn’t been up. ... Word is getting out among sellers that the prices are getting back up and they haven’t (fully) recovered, but they are getting in their range of acceptability for sellers.”
As people have seen the market improve, trends indicate many first-time buyers as wells as buyers looking to upgrade. “We’re seeing it across the board,” Wilks said. “The first-time home buyers prompt activity, all the way up the line. ... To sell (a buyer’s) first home we need the first-time home buyer and those people have really been discouraged. We are starting to see them come into the market place.” For Gate City, Wilks said his business has seen a 22-23 percent increase in the past year, which is a sign the housing “market is warming up.” “The upper end houses — the more expensive houses — are the ones that experienced the more dramatic losses when things started to turn down and they are the beneficiary of the upturn,” Wilks said.
Greg Johnston, a Realtor with The Home Specialists in Pocatello, said new construction has increased in the last year, indicating that buyers haven’t been able to find what they are looking for in the market. “We’ve had more new homes built in the past year than in the past five years,” Johnston said, adding that more new construction is a good sign of an improving economy. “Every new home that is built brings thousands and thousands of dollars into the economy,” he said. I am currently working nine or 10 news houses. ... There is a lot of new construction going on in the Pocatello area.” Johnston said in the last 12 months 33 new construction homes have sold in Bannock County. Homes contracted through a builder and not through a realtor may not be reflected in those numbers. About 10 of those were sold in the past three months.
In the past 12 months, 744 single-family homes have sold in Bannock County, and about 181 were sold in the past three months. About 238 of homes sold in the past year sold for less than $100,000 and about 370 sold between $100,000 and $200,000.
Johnston anticipates as more home are being sold, home values will likely increase. “The general buzz with real estate is that they are busier and things are happening” Johnston said. “We’ve got a lot of good things happening right now and I think we should have a good summer.”
Johnston and others also believe the attractive interests rates may be passed their lowest days. “The mortgage market has picked up a little as far as rates; probably the low point has been past,” Price said. “Although rates maybe up an eighth or a quarter (of a percent) they are still really attractive. If people are waiting for rates to go pack down, they maybe have missed that opportunity.”
Overall, I thought the article was accurate. Some of the statistics were taken from one of my entries I published on this blog. We do have fewer foreclosures. We have sold more homes this spring and early summer than in the past few years. The market is showing signs of improvement. Home values have not gone up much, but I feel they are poised to increase this year, and possibly make a big jump next year. Now is the time to buy your new home before home prices go up. If you have any questions about the Pocatello, Idaho real estate market, please call me, Greg Johnston, Realtor, at 208-234-0900.