Monday, August 24, 2009

Crabtree: local real estate market has hit the bottom, but don't break out the champagne yet

Here's some long-awaited good news: it looks like we've finally reached the bottom of the real estate meltdown. At least that's according to Gary Crabtree, one of the most well respected authorities on our local market. Gary sent me a copy of "The Crabtree Report," a detailed, no-holds-barred look at our local market. It's always a sobering read, but there is a glimmer of hope. Said Gary:

"Overall, it can be opined that the Bakersfield market has reached a bottom and is experiencing a stabilization of prices with one quarter of slightly increasing prices brought about by a continuing decrease in supply and reasonable demand."

That said, he warned that the current market conditions "should be met with a healthy amount of caution" because we are nearing the end of the prime marketing season, meaning sales will naturally begin to decline as we move to the seasonal "off peak" period."
Gary's report is rich in detail and to my knowledge, it's without peer in terms of of research and analysis. Some highlights include:

* ... EXISTING HOME SALES: Sales of existing homes in July came to 657, slightly down from June but 11.7 percent better than last year.
* ... EXISTING MEAN SALE PRICE: The mean sale price was $154,211, again slightly higher than June but 27 percent lower than last year.
* ... CURRENT LISTINGS: There were 1,340 listings in July, fully 59 percent less than last year when there were 3,293 on the market.
* ... DAYS ON MARKET: The average days on the market came in at 18 compared to 35 last year.
* ... MEAN PRICE PER SQ. FOOT: In July it was $90.87 compared to $122.94 last year.

That gives you an idea of the state of things. Gary warned that unemployment continues to be a factor, hovering around 10.1 percent in Bakersfield, and we are still experiencing problems with inexperienced appraisers working in our market. Still, all in all, we take good news when it comes. Stabilization is a good word these days.

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