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Where Has 2016 Left the Real Estate Market?

After the sun set on 2016, many of us are looking back, reflecting on what the year brought us. Professionally. Personally. Typical hustle and bustle of the holiday season, paired with the reality of winter may leave buying or selling a home way in the back of your mind.

Real estate quiets slightly around this time of year, but will be back with a vengeance in 2017. If you’re contemplating a move, this is what you should know going forward.

Was 2016 a buyer’s market? A seller’s market? Balanced? Quite frankly, we never know. Hindsight being 20/20, this past year appeared to be quite in favor of both sides of the transaction. Likely, 2017 will begin the same way that 2016 ended. Prices are fair. They are not over-the-top outrageous. Sellers can expect a good price for their home if their home is in good condition, in a desirable location and comps in the neighborhood support what the seller is expecting to get. Buyers can expect to not overpay. Prices rose slightly in 2016, but not at the 2005 alarming rate that many of us feared.

Flagstaff can leave quite a few folks with what we jokingly refer to as “sticker shock.” Comparing Flagstaff to Phoenix – in terms of what you get for a house in each location – will leave you with said sticker shock when it comes to house hunting in Flagstaff. This was certainly the case in 2016 and will continue over to the new year. Simply put, your housing dollars go further in Phoenix. Flagstaff charges for those four seasons and small town lifestyle living.

2016 left us with a change in the way closing documents are prepared and delivered to customers. There was a shift in what lenders were accustomed to doing, which left some duties in the hands of escrow officers. Nothing that couldn’t be worked out, but a change in the day to day operations of closing homes. 2016 was a good year for being able to get a loan on a property. Lenders have strict guidelines to follow, but qualified buyers were able to get into a new property for phenomenal interest rates.

Inventory was slightly under the average this last year. That led to a bit of panic on behalf of buyers, multiple offers and homes going under contract for slightly more than the advertised sales price. This was a reminder of the rise in 2004/2005. Luckily, it didn’t come close to that volume. Lenders’ guidelines, appraisers’ scientific methods and buyers not willing to go over a certain amount all led to the fact that the market didn’t rise as quickly as it could have. Good thing. We all know that what goes up, must come down. Better to rise at the slow and manageable rate. There likely won’t be a huge surge of inventory for 2017 either. Flagstaff is very seasonal; more homes are on the market for sale in the warmer months than in the winter.

Realtors are asked all the time, “Is it a good time to buy?” “Is it a good time to sell?” If we had that crystal ball, we’d know for sure. But, without that, we are left to rely on history, current market trends and the wishes of the clients. One thing for certain, real estate will continue to be one of the most steady, stable and sound investments you can make. FBN


By Sherri Monteith


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