The national homes sales figures for the month of November have now been reported. Home sales surged 7.4 percent from October, and are 46 percent higher than the numbers reported for January of this year. The National Association of Realtors is reporting that the sales pace for November was the highest in nearly 3 years, and that the existing backlog of 6.5 million homes for sale is the lowest it has been in nearly 3 years.
Many economists and realtor organizations are attributing this surge in sales to the fact that the tax credit for first time home buyers was due to expire at the end of November, and there was a rush to sign sales agreements prior to the expiration date. The tax credit has been extended, and eligible purchasers now have until April 30, 2010 to sign a sales agreement to qualify for the program. The program has also been amended so that existing home owners who have lived in their homes for at least 5 years, may qualify for a tax credit if they purchase a new home.
The realtor organizations are speculating that sales may drop off again over the winter, which usually happens to a degree anyway, and will pick up again in the spring as buyers rush to beat the deadline in April. What happens after that seems to be anyone’s guess. When the tax credit was extended, there was speculation that Congress would not extend it another time. There has also been speculation that some banks and lending institutions have been holding off on placing many of their repossessed houses on the market until they felt that sales figures, and home values were going up. There are also thoughts that another large round of foreclosures may be coming, and that interest rates may begin to rise.
We don’t know what the future holds, but the real estate market sounds like it might be pretty good through April. If you have an old house for sale, or you are thinking about selling one, if it’s priced right it may have a good chance of selling by the end of April. If you have always wanted an old house, there might never be a better time to purchase one than over the next 4 months. Whether you are buying or selling, check with your local real estate experts, as markets vary across the country. But I know that if I were thinking about purchasing or selling an old house, I would definitely think about taking action now. I also know that if sales continue to be strong, all of those contractors who have slow schedules now, will soon be busy and their prices may start going up. So if you have a restoration project on your old house you have been considering, it might be a perfect time to take some action on that, too.