Mon, Sept. 16

Real Estate Rebound?
January home sales show rebound for Sedona real estate market; Forty-nine current pending sales in Verde Valley

The January real estate figures are in and it's good news for Sedona and Verde Valley home buyers. Houses are moving, and there are excellent buys in today's real estate market.

According to local real estate statistics, more houses sold this January than a year ago. In the Sedona area (which encompasses Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and Village of Oak Creek) 13 single-family residential homes sold in January 2009, with 24 pending sales. This is up from January 2008 when only eight houses sold.

In the Verde Valley (Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale, Cornville/Page Springs, Camp Verde and Rimrock/Lake Montezuma) fewer houses sold in January 2009 than a year prior (19 vs. 23), but there are 49 pending sales.

"Now is a good time to buy," says Beth Adams, president of the board of the Sedona-Verde Valley Association of Realtors. "Interest rates are at historic lows, there is a big selection to choose from, and sellers are negotiable. This makes houses very affordable."

Other members of the association are equally optimistic. "It seems that the biggest fall of the hump of the colossal roller coaster ride is over," says Sam Escobedo, 2009 association board member.

The buying trend is not an anomaly. It continues the strong performance of last year. In December 2008, for example, 21 homes sold in the Sedona area and 32 in the Verde Valley. This was up from 15 and 23, respectively, the year before. This strong performance is echoed in other communities. The Wall Street Journal reported that national pending sales of previously owned homes in December outperformed analyst projections - up 6.3 percent vs. an anticipated decrease of 0.5 percent.

Why are purchases strong? Local and national experts cite increased affordability. Indeed, the average price for a single family home was down in 2008 from 2007 - 23 percent in the Sedona area (from $676,877 to $521,752) and 25 percent in the Verde Valley (from $263,157 to $196,270). This continues a two-year price correction.

The increased affordability of houses locally is echoed in real estate purchases across the nation. According to nationally syndicated housing and real estate columnist Kenneth R. Harney, homes in the United States are more affordable than they have been for almost a decade.

Harney cites severe price rollbacks, near-record-low interest rates, lower mortgage rates and the determination of President Obama and Congress to bring relief to strapped home owners and home buyers.

"Standard and Poor's economist David Wyss calls affordability a major bright spot [in the real estate outlook], and that's confirmed by the Housing Affordability Index compiled by the National Association of Realtors, says Harney. "Some economists project an increase in sales of 500,000 to 700,000 homes in the coming 12 months if mortgage rates are cut by a point, and if the new Congress agrees to include a non-refundable tax credit of up to 10 percent of the purchase price of a home in the economic stimulus package."

- Sedona-Verde Valley Association of Realtors

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