The market has picked up, there is no question. No price increases yet in this neighborhood, but at least there is more buyer activity.
I own a house in Portland which I refinanced recently. It appraised 3 years ago and then again in December for this refinance. The new appraisal was 10% higher than the 3 year old appraisal. That was a refreshing indicator. Since 80% of my buyers for this area of the coast tend to come from the Portland Metro Area, then the first step is seeing Portland Metro values stabilize.
Not surprisingly here, buyers are still primarily interested in buying houses which are being sold at fire sale prices. And, since that's what everyone is looking for, the result is that we have frequent multiple offer situations (aka bidding wars) which do tend to push prices higher. So that will actually help the overall pricing trend. Unfortunately, homes for sale by owners who are not willing to accept a fire sale price still languish on the market. Once in a while a buyer falls in love with a particular house and agrees to be reasonable on the price, so little by little that should help the recovery.
Lot sales are still the worst of the worst. You can understand why. As long as there are distress sale houses coming on the market, buyers will be swayed toward the immediate gratification of a house they can start using right away, especially when it costs less to buy than it would to build one.
Here's what's happening in this area. An investor has purchased all the unbuilt lots at Ocean Highlands (the development of new homes just as you are coming into Netarts which was started by Centex, then came to a halt when the market dropped). He has been selling them, mostly to adjacent homeowners in that development, for between 19,000 and 69,000. Actually, only one sold for 69,000 and it was a prime lot with a fabulous view. Most of the other sales have been <39,000.
Here is a list of all the land pending and sold during the last 12 months in Netarts and Oceanside, and most of this activity has been in the last 60 days:
This link is valid until 5/8/2012.
Don't get too excited about the $1.5M pending sale (the 3 lots at the top of Maxwell Mountain in Oceanside where the hang gliders jump off). It is my sale, woohooo!
However, this property is not typical of the lots for sale on the coast. These 3 lots are what I call "trophy properties" because they have the rarest of views from high on a bluff, and the building pad is actually flat on two of the lots and the third lot is an oceanfront acreage.
Anyway, even though these 3 lots are not the norm, and neither are the bargain basement sales, all this activity is a giant step in the right direction.
I remember a couple of years ago attending a seminar by someone who used to head up the foreclosures department for IndyMac. His outlook/forecast suggested that the way we will know when we are coming out of the slump is when investors swoop in and start to buy up cheap lots/land. Well, that's exactly what is happening. So, that alone makes me feel very very optimistic about where we are headed: Not toward stellar price increases, yet, but at least that we are making our way out of the abyss!
Have a blessed day on this beautiful and incredible and hopeful Easter Sunday.