Real estate Q&A: Prospective buyers complain of depleted options in Grand Junction housing market
YOUR JOURNEY HOME
Free Press Real Estate Columnist
Q. It is getting so frustrating that my husband and I drag our Realtor all over town looking at houses and we still do not find the right home for us. We want to live where we currently rent — in the Redlands — and we want to buy for under $400,000. However, there does not seem to be anything that appeals to us there; so, we’ve looked in north Grand Junction and Fruita, too. We came here two years ago from a larger city. What is wrong with this housing market?
A. I hear the sound of frustration in your question and I can empathize. It seems that many of my clients are asking the same question (and it is not only buyers in your price range). Last week a client in the under $150,000 range in Fruita said he is giving up on looking, that there is just “nothing” for sale that excites or even satisfies him.
In reality there are fewer homes on the market now than at this time or up to this last year. It is also true that the number of total sales is down by about eight percent over this time last year. Both those facts seem to bear out your situation of not finding a place to purchase.
Why are more people unwilling or not ready to sell their houses this year?
In our market, there are only a small fraction of bank-owned (REO) and government-owned (HUD) properties for sale compared to last year. And among private owners, they are hoping for price increases; our market has simply not seen significant appreciation in home values over the past year. So, if they do not need to sell right now, many owners are opting to wait for what they hope will be improved prices in the future.
Our local job market is likely impacting home sales, too. Since we are not seeing wage increases and in some cases even seeing a decline in wage-earning jobs in Mesa County, many people cannot afford to move up; so, they are not in a position to sell their current home.
None of these explanations make the home selection and purchase process any easier for you.
My advice: If you need to buy, pick a home that is not at the top of the price range in a neighborhood you like; then take the plunge. Interest rates are still very favorable. If you wait, like my client plans to do until next year, interest rates may be up — and home selection may still be limited. Regardless of the market, you can choose to buy when interest rates are in your favor.
A local economist I know points out that with the mortgage interest tax deduction from your Federal income tax, with each passing year – depending on your cost to rent — you may be paying $8,000 to $12,000 more than necessary each year when not taking advantage of that tax write off.
If you need to buy, as Nike says, “just do it.” If you don’t need to make an immediate purchase, looking at open houses is a way to maintain a relationship with your Realtor.
Doug Van Etten is a local Realtor with Cherry Creek Properties, a Colorado-wide realty firm that recently opened a Grand Junction office. Van Etten has been helping home buyers, sellers and investors accomplish their real estate goals since 1992. To contact him, email DouglasVanEtten@gmail.com.
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