Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some thoughts on housing, both buying and renting

Two articles from RISMedia this week have highlighted the fact that prices are at some of the lowest prices in nearly 20 years, and that the affordability index is 67%. This comes as no surprise. Here in the High Desert, in California, it is still possible to buy a house for less than the construction costs.

The good news, is there is continuing commercial and industrial development here, despite some problems caused by local government overextending themselves financially (like most levels of government during the tech and real estate bubbles). The City of Hesperia has just been named an enterprise zone.

Due to Governor Schwarzenneggar's moratorium on foreclosures, I've seen a slight upward trend in the prices in the Victor Valley, as supply of houses on the market is causing an increase in bidding on the houses. I think prices are likely to drop again as there is another wave of foreclosures on the horizon in California. This is going to be exacerbated by small business people deciding to leave this highly regulated and taxed state, even if they have to walk away from their homes.

The affordability of houses has caused quite a bit of competition. First time buyers are competing for houses, with small and large investors. My wife and I had a small house in escrow, but the house wouldn't appraise, so I'm sure an investor with cash will buy it. I could go look up the sales price at the county recorder or online, but I don't want to aggravate myself.

I have seen a trend toward lower rents. Many rental owners are advertising move-in specials. I see family members moving in with each other. I have seen people leaving the area, some to be nearer the larger metropolitan areas, some to leave the state, a few to leave the country.

There is a push for more government subsidized, low-income housing (projects), which will lower rents as landlords compete with the government subsidized landlords.

Some of these landlords are likely to find the competition too fierce and add more units to the market place through sale or foreclosure, which will reduce rents further. It is a question of where the market will bottom out on the government induced spiral. Look to the subsidized unit costs, and the features to set your prices. It may be more important to keep a good renter than make a profit. This is a typical of what happens when the government starts competing in the private sector.

No comments: