Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

It’s March and there’s not much stirring in the housing market. Though I am writing in the dead of winter, I am sure that articles in other publications are touting the surge in Hamptons’ rentals; there’s always a surge this time of year, no matter the state of the economy.

But the Hamptons have been—and always will be—an enigma when it comes to the real estate market due to the region serving as an epicenter for second homes. If you are looking for a good Hamptons rental, I suggest you start your search now. If you are looking to buy a home, it may be best to sit tight unless an opportunity presents itself.

As was stated in last month’s column, not a whole lot is expected to change in 2011 market wise. Remarkably, the seeds of stagnation are beginning to bear fruit in the form of wackiness. For example, I read that someone hired what was in essence a witch doctor to rid the foreclosed homes he was acquiring of the perceived negative energy they possessed. Call me nuts, but it’s going to take more than an exorcist or two to rid this market of the bad voodoo that has a hold.

I have been looking for a home for some time. At this point, I have pretty much seen and heard it all during what was the halcyon days of the upswing to the dramatic fall from grace the market experienced. And despite the current state of the market, many experts argue that one curse that continues to haunt housing are prices still in need of a correction—a downward correction.
All one has to do is look at the real estate listings and see homes that have been on the market for years. There may be many reasons for the asking price being what it is, but it does little to effect the positive change necessary to jumpstart the market. Granted, home prices are not the only aspect of the housing matrix that needs to adjust to spur activity, but it is a major factor.

Unfortunately, the current market presents more questions than answers as to when to buy, what to buy and where to buy. It is generally perceived that the market has bottomed out. But rumblings from economic circles concerned about a “double dip” recession continue, which could easily result in those contemplating the purchase of a home to hop back on the fence and wait, interest rates be damned.

Further spurring inactivity is the growing cost of living. Living on Long Island is a costly proposition without owning a home. Housing, despite the recession-induced drop in prices, is still expensive. As are the associated property taxes, which is a difficult puzzle the region has to solve in order to maintain economic viability.

Is it all doom and gloom? Not necessarily. If you have the means, many see now as a strong time to buy based on the premise that prices have—or have nearly—bottomed out. Interest rates remain at low levels, though there have been some recent increases. And obviously there are many homes to choose from in what is a dramatic buyer’s market. Housing experts don’t foresee a return to market parity until the glut of housing flooding the market is absorbed, and that could take years given the sluggish response the economy has had to the efforts to stimulate a recovery.

So you can either be like me and wait. Or take a chance. The gamble is yours.

conor bly

Conor Bly has been writing about Long Island for the past 14 years covering, well, pretty much everything, from automobiles to zoning regulations. When not writing, much of his time is occupied by looking for that elusive perfect house.