April is a time of action. The fourth month is usually when the real estate market lumbers out of its winter stillness and sales and development activity kick into high gear. So far this year, market veterans indicate a slow but steady growth away from the lopsided buyers’ market toward one that is more balanced. As steady as the market has been, Long Island, like much of the country, is not all the way back yet.
Certain sectors are seeing increases in home prices. Luxury single-family homes on the East End are the closest thing we have to recession proof and always-popular summer rentals help keep it that way. But sales of single-family homes farther west have stagnated. Buyers are looking for the right project in the right location at the right price—and assembling that virtuous triangle is tricky.
What’s holding things up? Unemployment, more stringent lending standards and the bevy of unresolved foreclosed homes. Until those are taken out of the equation, home prices will continue to be hampered, suppressing the market. One key for buyers and sellers is to facilitate a solid and transparent transaction. Many decisions—desired location, school districts and transportation—need to be made and murking the waters with dishonest or shady negotiations (quality of home, finances, etc) can hinder closings and ultimately thwart market growth.
Even if the market were stronger and more balanced, chances are you wouldn’t know it. A negative market draws the most attention despite any positive sales pace and volume indicators. The public is skeptical of the positive findings of recent market analyses by the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. Until more trust is built, more jobs come back and the overall health of the economy strengthens, the real estate market will be held down.