Real Estate is on its way back

For a little over a year now, it’s been that elephant in the room. We’ve all been made aware that the real estate market — both locally and nationally — has slowed down quite a bit. It has even been speculated that the “bubble has burst.”

Not quite.

It’s obvious that the real estate market has not been bustling to the same extent that it was a few years ago, but it’s also never really gotten to the point of a bubble bursting, either. Prices have held relatively steady, developers are still trying to build more homes in the community and, though there certainly have been some lay-offs in the construction industry, a burst bubble in this community would have certainly meant economic destruction.

It just hasn’t happened.

What has happened is a market correction, plain and simple. The astronomical increases in home values for several years just couldn’t have possibly continued to climb at such a rate, and the evening out of the market place is what has replaced it. Home prices are still healthy, and still a good investment considering today’s interest rates. It just might take a bit longer to get the giant return than it had a few years ago.

A story on the front page of this week’s Point shows that home sales in this community might be on their way back, slowly but surely. There are currently 82 homes under contract in our coverage area. Consider that there were 92 sold for the first quarter of 2007. That’s a huge impact on sales numbers when many of those contracts go to settlement. And that has to be music to the ears of people in the real estate, construction and development industries — which means it’s a sweet song for our entire community.

If there is a bright side to recent the market correction, it’s that local towns have learned that real estate transfer taxes are not an infinite figure that can be relied on heavily to fund the business of a town. Slight tax increases are on board for some towns, and rental taxes and increased permit fees have been adopted or at least studied by many town officials.

It’s the responsible way to pay for services that are hard to take away from the public later if the funds dry up all at once.

The Coastal Point is cautiously optimistic that things are returning to normalcy for the local real estate market. “Normal” as in a healthy, productive economy that can sustain itself and grow, not necessarily back to the salad days of a few years ago — at least not yet.

-------For us at the Coastal Point, word that Bill Reid was retiring from the mattress business was met with sadness. Reid has been a great neighbor, friend and business owner, and we wish him laughter and happiness in his new endeavors.