Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What's Going On In Our Real Estate Market

First of all, let's talk rates. Here's a graph of the National Average Contract Mortgage Rates for the last 45 years.
Copyright © 2008
Reprinted with permission

If someone tells you that "rates are kinda high these days", just grin and nod. Many of my friends , family members, and clients have purchased and financed their homes in the last 3-5 years. That's great for them, you can see that rates were at an all-time low during that window. It's no coincidence that they bought and re-financed then, is it?!

Before 2003, when were rates lower than they are today? Scanning our graph, we see that the answer to that question is sometime around 1966. Remember how great we thought rates were then!? Yeah, me neither....

There's all sorts of talk about "stagflation", that's when economic growth is close to zero, or negative, and yet we have inflation. A Reuter's article yesterday sited domestic manufacturing and U.S. construction data adding "to concerns the United States is in a period of weak growth accompanied by high inflation."

All of this is pointing to this month and this season and this year being strong opportunities to getting your dollar to stretch farther than it has historically, and farther than it may be able to in years to come. Unless the U.S. and Global economies can find an opportunity to resurrect steady growth, or the Fed can find a way to slow inflation, we should expect to see interest rates continue their ascent.

July and August are traditionally slow for the Chicago market, and this year is not an exception. That said, you can see from the statistics in the right margin (provided by that the median condo price in Chicago is $320,000, up 10% from the beginning of the year. On the other hand, new listings and closed listings are down notably, and average market time has increased by 4%.

There continue to be people that need to move or that are simply ready to move. For those homeowners looking to upgrade, or for first-time homebuyers, there are some real opportunities on the market. Taking advantage of deeper inventory, and acting while interest rates are still low will be in your best interest.

On the other hand, there are homeowners who are looking to move into a smaller home who will find this a challenging time. Selling a bigger home and buying a smaller one at a time when home values have not seen appreciation will limit the investment upside of your transactions. That said, if it's time to move, your best bet is finding a skilled and experienced agent to help you navigate this tricky market.