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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – As 2012 draws to a somewhat anti-climactic close, we can look back on the real estate market with a deep sense of relief. What a year it has been. After a 2011 that made many homeowners, and real estate professionals alike feel as though we were staring into a bottomless abyss, this year rocked from the very start. Buoyed by what many called “the winter without snow,” and fed by the lowest mortgage rates in history, we finally saw that “bottom” that we were looking for, and once we did, all bets were off. Prices in towns here in our area skyrocketed, beating back years of decreases, and sales volumes are up across the board.
If you’ve been keeping up with my articles the last few months you’ll remember that the three big keywords for the Shrewsbury real estate market this year have been inventory, inventory, and inventory. The huge imbalance between Buyers and Sellers has created one of the oddest markets I’ve seen in my 25+ years selling homes here in this area. Right in the middle of a supposed recession, we were seeing actual bidding wars on the best of the new listings just as they hit the market. This wasn’t limited to only the young, perfect, cream-puff colonials, but rather spread to even the below average homes, as long as they were priced properly.
On Thanksgiving weekend alone, of all times, I negotiated four transactions, totaling over $2 Million in homes and basically wiping out the inventory that I had in place leaving me almost empty for the first time in decades. It may sounds crazy but it’s been a wild year. By the end of the summer and beginning of fall, we were seeing spikes in prices across the board, with some homes selling for 20-30K more than they were actually “worth” on paper based on the recent comparable sales.
While the huge increase in Buyer activity has been fantastic, it has not been met with a similar increase in listing activity, and that has created some huge problems throughout our region. Our inventory has been depleted far faster than our ability to get new listings into the pipeline. This has meant an odd winter return to multiple offer scenarios, and Buyers desperate for something to purchase and finding absolutely nothing that meets their needs. On Thanksgiving weekend alone, when I thought I’d have some down time to eat turkey and watch football, I wound up negotiating four home sales, ranging from the 300’s to the 600’s! As it looks now, 2013 may be a pretty good year, but only if Sellers step up to the plate. For them, this may be a unique chance to hit the market in the dead of winter, and because of the low inventory, sell their properties for far more than they might have ever expected. Yes, that sound you hear is opportunity knocking, and yes, the winter will probably bring you more money than the spring, when you’re competing with more people.
Looking down the road, you just never know what the real estate market will look like. My guess is that we’ll still see a lot of pent up demand from the Buyers out there, who are rightly concerned that the post election economy may see large spikes in interest rates which will impact their ability to get a mortgage on a home. There is talk among the different parties in Washington that has caused many to believe that once again we may see an attack on the MID, or mortgage interest deduction, as both parties try to find ways to reduce the deficit and avoid the fiscal cliff. Additionally, there is pressure from some to actually raise rates substantially, based on their assumption (which I don’t necessarily agree with) that whether rates are 3% or 5% isn’t going to matter to the consumers, but that millions of seniors who had counted on their interest income to live are being devastated by the inability to get a decent CD rate over 1%.
Whichever way things head, the one thing we know for sure is that for some this may be the very best time in the market, since winter is usually quiet, spring doesn’t really start up until April or May, and that even though there are often more Buyers in the spring there are many, many more listings. As such, a late fall/early winter market often favors the Sellers much more than the spring. By the way, I still have a few slots left in that fall Homeowners Blend program that I mentioned, for those who were looking to potentially make 10-20K in extra money off the sale. Those will be available for the next few weeks, and then we’ll probably put them away for the winter, so if you are thinking of selling and want one of those few slots, give me a buzz or send over an email and I’ll save it for you. Have a great fall everyone!
You can email me anytime at steveshrewsbury.net and check out the map with all the listings in town at this link. http://www.shrewsbury-massachusetts.idxco.com/m/5257/Shrewsbury_Listings_Map