Real Estate

Friday, Oct 05 2012 05:09 PM

Crabtree report: Housing market not sustaining recovery

BY REBECCA KHEEL Californian staff writer rkheel@bakersfield.com

Numbers across the board in Bakersfield's housing market pointed to a stagnant recovery in September from August, but the market still fared better than a year ago, according to the September Preliminary Crabtree Report, a monthly gauge of Bakersfield's housing market.

"It's just kind of an anemic market," said Gary Crabtree, an appraiser with Affiliated Appraisers who prepares the report. "It just does not seem like the market can sustain a recovery."

Month-over-month, total supply was down 6.8 percent from 1,405 to 1,309. And demand, or closed sales, was down 18.3 percent from 557 to 455. But with a decline in supply should come an increase in demand, Crabtree said.

Prices dropped, too. In August, cumulative median price was $155,000, and in September, it was $149,500, a difference of 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile, foreclosures rose from 299 in August to 373 in September, an increase of 24.7 percent.

But all that is still better than a year ago. In September 2011, supply was 1,912 and demand was 596. Culumlative median price was $131,00. And there were 453 foreclosures.

The reason for September's drag down could be twofold, Crabtree said. First, it could a precursor to a normal slump during the fall and winter months.

"It's a little alarming because we shouldn't start seeing the drop off until November or sometimes October," he said.

Second, the economy is general is pretty weak, he said. High unemployment or underemployment, tight lending standards and declining incomes could all have contributed to September's weaker housing market, he said.

For example, with lower incomes, people can only afford houses in a lower price range.

"That holds the market in check," Crabtree said.

Robert Dobbs of 611 Realty said the slowdown does not concern him, echoing Crabtree's reason that the fall and winter seasons generally bring a slower market.

Dobbs added that he sees more demand than there is supply. He has a list of buyers who are looking for "the right house in the right area in the right price," he said. But there's no supply because people don't want to put their houses on the market if there's nowhere to move.

"Where are they going to go?" Dobbs said.

A lot of his clients are also getting beat out by cash buyers who pay less, he said.

"Anybody buying a house needs to be patient," he said.

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