While the economy sputters along and unemployment rates remain steady at more than nine percent, there doesn't seem to be much call for celebration—but all is not gloom and doom. The real estate market has been one of the most notable casualties of the recession but in certain regions sales of homes and condominiums are showing positive signs, giving hope to an industry that has been treading water for over three years.
“The market is about the same from where it was last year,” says Michael Slattery, senior vice president of research for The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). “We have come out of the recession and are in the process of stabilizing out.”
In September, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its monthly report and the news was somewhat encouraging. From August 2010 to August 2011, sales of existing single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops spiked by18.6 percent. The report also found that sales on a monthly basis increased by 7.7 percent with unsold inventory dropping by three percent.
“On the low end of the Manhattan market there are still some deals to be had,” says David Berkey, managing partner of the Manhattan law firm of Gallet Dreyer & Berkey. “Pricings are firming up, but they're still not up to where they used to be a few years ago. It depends on the specific location of the building and the apartment within the building,” adds Berkey, who practices real estate law and litigation, concentrating on issues affecting cooperative corporations and condominium associations
While national aggregated real estate statistics show promise, these real estate tea leaves should be read with caution. “Some of the improvement in August may result from sales that were delayed in preceding months, but favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations,” noted Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Investors were more active in absorbing foreclosed properties. In additional to bargain hunting, some investors are in the market to hedge against higher inflation.”