Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Bako bits: With fingers crossed, is the real estate market finally turning? Some believe it is ...
* ... IS THE RECOVERY IN SIGHT? So here's some good news: it appears there is finally - belatedly - some firm signs that the local residential real estate market is beginning to turn. Really. First there was the release of Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Index yesterday that showed home prices in most major cities gaining for the first time in three years. (Of course some markets, like Las Vegas and Phoenix in particular remain depressed.) That was good enough news to make the front page today of The Wall Street Journal, which has pointed out repeatedly that there can be no recovery without residential real estate leading the way. So I picked up the phone and called old friend Ray Karpe, president of Karpe Real Estate Center, to take his pulse. It was the first time I had talked to Ray in months that he seemed genuinely upbeat. In his words:
"Houses are going quickly and we're looking at inventory down to a couple months supply," he said. "And it's not just foreclosures but good homes, more expensive homes that are moving too. Look, we're not out of the foreclosure mess; we're going to have more of those. But the good news is you can sell houses now. The interest rates are good and prices have even ticked up a bit." Meanwhile, I heard on CNBC that tomorrow new statistics will be released by RealtyTrac, and that should help confirm if things are getting better. But they warned: there are indications that rising unemployment is leading to a new round of foreclosures that are unrelated to the earlier bad loan foreclosures. So, we'll have to wait and see.
Ray did go on to say that, contrary to single-family residential, everything from "apartments to heavy industrial" property is "in the tank. It's just awful." He said the same is true for folks in the development business or anyone who is holding debt on land. He continued:
"It's the single family stuff that is moving. Look, if you're going to buy a house, do it now. Don't wait. We've hit the bottom and you're going to see prices start rising again."
* ... BC RECYCLING PROGRAM: Got a note from Amber Chiang, marketing csar over at Bakersfield College, about a free e-waste recycling collection set for Aug. 15. You'll be able to take your old computer monitors, laptops, fax machines, toner cartridges, old cell phones and even car batteries and drop them off at the college's southeast stadium parking lot at the corner of Mt. Vernon and University. It will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m..