05/13/11 10:12am

MARIE BENINATI

Existing-home sales continued to recover in the first quarter, with gains in every state but Vermont, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors.

Existing-home sales, including single-family homes and condos, rose 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.1 million in the first quarter and are only 0.8percent below the same period in 2010.  In New York, existing-home sales rose 9.5 percent, better than the national average.

Distressed Sales Put Pressure on Prices

The national median home price was $158,700 in the first quarter, down 4.6 percent from last year. The median is the mid-point — where half sold for more and half sold for less.  In Nassau and Suffolk the median price declined a mere 1.3 percent — much lower than the national average.  Distressed homes typically sold at a discount of about 20 percent and accounted for 39 percent of first quarter sales.

NAR President Ron Phipps said strong sales of distressed homes are exactly what the market needs. “The good news is foreclosures, which account for two-thirds of all distressed homes sold, are selling very quickly,” he said. “Short sales still take far too long to get lender approval, but it appears the inventory of distressed property is peaking and will be gradually declining next year. This means the market should slowly return to balance. “

Repeat buyers had the largest increase, 47 percent of the market in the first quarter versus 40 percent last year.  Investors accounted for 21 percent of first quarter transactions, versus 18 percent a year ago. First-time home buyers declined to 32 percent from 42 percent in 2010, when a tax credit was in place.

According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.85 percent in the first quarter, up from a record low 4.41 percent in the fourth quarter, but below the 5 percent average in the first quarter of 2010.

This survey suggests a real estate market recovery in the short term.  If you are considering a home on the North Fork, act sooner, rather than later.  The activity has picked up substantially.

The author is a real estate broker and co-owner of Beninati Associates in Southold.

Editor’s Note: Are you a real estate professional who would like to contribute a blog entry for our websites? Email web editor Grant Parpan to see how you can get your word out there.

05/10/11 9:11am

MARIE BENINATI

A sluggish real estate market hasn’t shaken the confidence of the public in how it views home ownership, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. Eight in 10 adults (81%) say owning a home is the best long-term investment a person can make, according to the Pew study of about 2,000 adults conducted in March 2011.

“Homeowners are not blind to what has happened to home prices, nor are they expecting a speedy recovery,” according to the Pew study. In fact, of the home owners surveyed, about half said their home is worth less now than before the recession, while 31% said their home’s value has stayed the same.

Nevertheless, 82% of homeowners who say their home is worth less now than before the recession agree that home ownership is the best long-term investment a person can make, according to the survey.

The value of home ownership even continues to emerge on top when homeowners were surveyed and asked to rate the importance of four long-term financial goals. Home ownership and “being able to live comfortably in retirement” rated the highest — viewed as either extremely or very important by 80% of respondents.

Owning a home is part of the fabric that makes America great!  Don’t let the naysayers derail you from getting your dream house.  It’s absolutely the best time to buy.

The author is a real estate broker and co-owner of Beninati Associates in Southold.

Editor’s Note: Are you a real estate professional who would like to contribute a blog entry for our websites? Email web editor Grant Parpan to see how you can get your voice out there.