On our local radio station (WTOP), I'm hearing breathless advertising to watch out for the Washington Post's Real Estate weekend section in which we'll find the annual Housing Outlook for 2007. Maryann Haggerty (the Post's Real Estate Editor) mentioned working hard on it in her chat last week.
Last year, I found the 2006 Housing Outlook to be more of a recap of the 2005 market rather than a foward-looking or even a real-time report. One article especially stood out to me because it dealt with the Prince William County area - clearly a suffering suburb as you can see from the data in this blog.
Housing Outlook 2006
Prince William County
By David P. Marino-Nachison
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 26, 2006; Page R12
Home buyers shopping for property in Prince William County in 2005 had to contend with a market in which prices increased sharply in almost every neighborhood -- and at every price point . . .That demand, however, cooled beyond normal seasonal levels in the fall as rising prices and interest rate concerns hurt foot traffic at open houses in the county, according to Blanchette. "We definitely saw a market shift." . . . Home buyers remain attracted to Prince William not only because of its location next to Fairfax but also because of its own strong job market and improving amenities, said Barbara Tynes, an agent with ERA Tynes Realty in Woodbridge. She cited improvements to high-traffic thoroughfares at both ends of the county and substantial recent and planned development in office space, retail and recreation. There are approximately 340,000 residents in Prince William County and thousands more here yearly," Tynes said.
In other words, no worries, mate.
Long-time No. VA readers of Ben's Housing Bubble blog probably cringed when I started this post with a mention of Maryann Haggerty and her chats. Local bubble bloggers prefer Kirstin Downey for "keeping it real". Maryann rarely talks about the possiblity of a real estate bubble, or lax lending, or mortgage fraud. She's more the "should I paint my ceiling blue"-type chatterer. Last year, however, Kirstin, seemed to be more in the know:
Kingstowne, Va.: What the heck has happened to the market lately? I see tons of ads offering thousands towards closing costs. I even saw a sign in the neighborhood offering to throw in a 2006 Mercedes Benz with a full-priced offer! Is it the interest rates or something else?
Kirstin Downey: It's a really unusual time. Lots of things feel kind of upside down. The bottom line, however, is that not many people can afford houses at these prices. Wages just haven't risen commensurate to the costs, and it is now becoming clear that many buyers made their purchases in the past three years with new and innovative (some say risky) loans, adjustable-rates, or interest only, that allowed them to reach further to pay more but that could leave them at financial risk. More financially conservative people may not wish to go that route...Rising interest rates aren't helping either. Each percentage point increase pushed about three million people out of the market, including about 300,000 to 350,000 who were likely buyers.