Listings are down, and have been down for a while now. Sales were down in January, too, as compared to the last few Januarys. We are currently still in a balanced market because although supply is down, so is demand.
But (and this is a BIG ‘but’), demand is forecast to increase toward the end of the year. Billions of dollars are coming from the stimulus package to create jobs in our area. Jobs bring people. People need to live somewhere, and with rates as low as they are, why not buy a house? So, say it’s November ’09, and you’re moving to the Tri-Cities. And a lot of other people are also moving here. More people will be competing for fewer listings, which means that sellers will have the upper hand and a seller’s market will prevail.
Many of our local builders, whom we counted on to keep supply in-line with demand, have slowed their building significantly, or stopped building entirely because the need was no longer there. It took them many months to decelerate their production, and it will take many months to amp it back up again. They may not be up-to-speed in time for the peak at the end of this year, beginning of next. And if they’re not, either because they don’t see the need, or think it’ll be too expensive to get the building machine in gear again for what might be a short-term boom, the seller’s market will be more than just a blip on the radar screen.
So, if you are thinking of buying in the Tri-Cities, let me urge you to do so in the first half of this year. You’ll likely get the best deal. Buy later, and you just might find yourself in a multiple offer situation, offering more than you would have just a few months earlier.
Download the full Tri-City Real Estate stats for January, 2009. (649k PDF)