The media, all brands and flavors, has done a magnificent job of portraying the housing market as distressed and all but out of business.  Yes, there are areas that have been hard hit such as resort markets where property “flipping” was all the rage along with the belief that rising values would never end.  Well, it’s silly to believe that any commodity has an infinite price point and when markets got overbuilt and overpriced, look at what happened.  No one should be surprised.  There are other parts of the country that have faced manufacturing plant closings and other job losses and that has had a dramatic and profoundly negative impact on the housing market.

     But what about North Carolina and, especially, the Greenville-Pitt County area?  North Carolina and our locale are some of the hottest destinations in the country for business, industry and retirement.  There is no reason to believe that is going to change over the long term, and that’s good news for real estate.

     Let’s look at homes from a practical point of view.  A home is somewhere you live. It is something you can enjoy every day. It is something you can improve over time and immediately reap the benefits.  It is also something that affords most families a significant tax break through the mortgage interest deduction.  And as you pay down your mortgage over time, you build equity, or savings, that millions of people have found to be invaluable over the years, aside from long term appreciation.  Is all that gone?  In my opinion, not in the long run and history validates my position.

    So, what has happened here?  The Greenville-Pitt County real estate market has slowed along with the rest of the economy.  That was inevitable.  My opinion is that it will also improve along with the rest of the economy.  Exactly when?  Nobody knows.  In the meantime, and looking over  comparisons of sales activity for the first three quarters of 2007 and 2008, the number of closed single family residential sales has declined approximately 33%, but has outperformed some other markets.  That still represents over 1,100 homes sold – not an insignificant number.   What about prices?  Prices have actually increased in our market from an average of $185, 233 last year to $187,922 this year.  A modest gain, yes, but a gain nonetheless.  The slight price rise we’ve witnessed is  an indication of the value many buyers have seen in local properties for sale, in my opinion.  What about financing with the “collapse” of the credit markets?  The fact of the matter is that mortgage financing is readily available to qualified, credit worthy buyers.   It’s that simple.  And interest rates remain at historic lows, saving individual consumers thousands of dollars in mortgage interest charges.

     So with all that in mind, is it a good time to buy a home?  With low interest rates, realistic prices, homes for sale in all price ranges, the answer is yes.  Just be mindful that real estate, as with other investments, should be viewed from a long term perspective.

Submitted By Richard Lane, Broker-In-Charge
Prudential Prime Properties