The real estate market outlook, based on results for the month of June 2009, appears to be transitioning to more of an even market. This is because of the shrinking inventory, and days-on-the-market which are reduced compared to last month as well as this time last year.  While much of the month of June has mirrored May statistics, there were some trends that show a strengthening.  There were 121 homes sold in Charles County during the month of June compared to only 109 homes sold this time last year. There is currently an overall inventory supply of 10.5 months based on the current level of active homes for sale, which is up slightly from last month.

Home prices continued to fall, as we find the average sold price down nearly 17%. In addition, there has been a very strong demand for lower priced homes, as indicated by the median price, which fell from $299,950 in 2008 to $265,000 this year.   Many buyers are attracted towards price points of Bank-owned properties and short sales.  There are some very attractive purchases, but they come with risks. In the State of Maryland, property owners must provide the buyer with full disclosure of property defects. Banks are exempt from having to provide disclosure.

While the Bank-owned departments seem to have adequate staffing to support the high level of sales activity, the short sale departments are failing miserably.  I have learned that many agents across the country have had difficulty in the responsiveness of bank short sale departments. Many agents, including myself, have written letters to Congressmen with specific issues regarding the lack of responsiveness from the banking institutions.  My letter to Congressman Steny Hoyer resulted in an immediate response from Chase Mortgage, and a resolution to the transaction. The letter campaigns from Realtors and home sellers from all across the Nation have resulted in getting the attention of Congress.  I would ask any homeowner who is experiencing difficulty in reaching a solution with their mortgage company to contact their representative immediately.  In any event, until responsiveness changes within the short sale department of mortgage companies, home buyers who are submitting offers are being held up for up to nine months before receiving a stamp of approval on the submitted offer.

As for properties in Foreclosure, reported 105 new properties in default for the month of June in Charles County. The bad news in all of this is that because of the  low number of available buyers, the total number of properties in Charles County that are in some state of Foreclosure (including Bank-owned) has risen to 887 properties, compared to just 849 during the month of May.  The number of properties in a state of Foreclosure continues to rise, and all these numbers are not reflected in the MRIS Trends Report because the majority of these homes are not currently being actively sold at this time.

A word for the buyers:  Interest rates have been inching up over the past several months.  List to sell ratios are up from last month and now sit at 92.10%.With the list to sell ratios increasing it means that buyers are paying closer to the list price than they have been in previous months.  We should see this trend continue.  Banks have also been tightening up on their negotiations, not dropping prices as quickly as they once had.  While the number of defaults are still up, the banking industry is gaining strength. This is a signal to buyers, if you have been waiting for the bottom to hit, now is the time to buy.