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Real Estate Professionals Point to Silver Lining

The Northern Arizona Association of Realtors (NAAR) recently released annual home sales figures for 2011. Comparisons of 2011 real estate home sales (including Flagstaff, Williams and Winslow) to the previous year revealed some good news for Northern Arizona.

“There were lots of positives last year,” said realtor Jeff Ross of Realty Executives Flagstaff pointing to the report. “More homes were sold in 2011 than the previous year.” The number of total homes sold was up 10.6 percent over 2010. In 2011, 1,385 single-family, manufactured, townhomes, condos, modular and mobile homes were sold, compared to 1,252 in 2010.

“When you hear that 2011 prices were falling 20 and 30 percent, that’s just not true,” said Ross. Although the average price of single-family homes dropped, Ross pointed out that the 2011 average price is down only seven percent over 2010. In the previous year, the average price of a 2010 single-family home had dropped 16 percent from 2009. “So, we are moving in the right direction with a drop from 2010 to 2011 of only 7.32 percent,” Ross said.

Another positive aspect of 2011 statistics, according to Ross, is the decline in the percentage of distressed homes sold. “The percent of distressed homes to the total homes sold is less than the year before,” he said. Distressed homes are properties under foreclosure or advertised for sale by mortgage companies or banks. Usually sold below market value, the sale of these properties can drag down the average home price.

“Compared to Phoenix, we’re not dominated by distressed properties,” added Jerome Naleski, NAAR president and realtor at Re/Max Peak Properties. “We didn’t get a lot of that sprawl that Phoenix saw, so we don’t have the empty houses that have yet to be sold.

“What we’re seeing now is some demand. The reason for that is low interest rates, which are right around four percent. We won’t see anything like this again in our lifetimes,” predicted Naleski.

“In past 60 days, we’ve seen a significant increase in loan applications,” said Alisa Carlson of Suburban Mortgage, Inc. “We are closing home loans everyday right now. People are getting amazing deals on homes.”

“There is a lot of money available for mortgages right now,” added Carlson, who is a licensed mortgage professional. “The common conception is that money is not available.” To get a loan, she recommends that buyers should have two years in the same line of work and a “decent” credit score. “Every borrower is in a different situation and it is the job of the mortgage professional to translate the information into black and white figures,” she said.

“The standard rule of thumb [for loan documentation] is two most recent paystubs, the last two years of tax returns and W-2s, two months of bank statements and a copy of your driver’s license. That’s going to give you a really good start to the process,” said Carlson, who has been in the mortgage business for over 13 years.

“Loan prequalification is the most important thing to do as a buyer,” she said. “Buyers can start out shopping within their price range and then will be able to present a strong purchase contract when they show that they are already approved.”

“Now is a great time to buy because of two reasons,” explained Ross. “Prices are at a good value and lending rates are really low.”

According to real estate agent Valerie Caro, now is a good time for sellers, too. “A lot of people take their properties off of the market [in winter] instead of leaving them on. They say, ‘Oh, we are just going to put our homes back on the market in spring.’ But last year between Jan. 1 and March 31, there were 43 new homes put on the market. During that timeframe, there were 178 that were sold. As the supply went down, the demand stayed the same and all of the homes that were newly listed got sold.” Caro says that winter is actually one of the best times to sell.

“In the type of economy we think we are in, there’s a lot of positive in the housing market,” said Ross, who also serves as secretary on the Board of Directors for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

“This next year could be a great year. A great year compared to 2006? No. Will we get back to that [2006 high]? That’s the crystal ball thing that I don’t know,” he said. FBN



Alisa Carlson, Suburban Mortgage, Inc.

120 Milton Road, Flagstaff



Valerie Caro, Flagstaff Top Producers Real Estate

323 S. River Run Road, Flagstaff



Jerome Naleski, RE/MAX Peak Properties

717 Riordan Road, Flagstaff



Jeff Ross, Realty Executives Flagstaff

15 E. Cherry Avenue, Flagstaff



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