Lisa FowlerToday’s “Issues Forum for Local Leaders” addressed the timely issues of recession possibilities, economic stimulus implications, sub-prime lending, declining markets, housing demand, and more.

Some interesting insights from the panelists included . . .

  • Regardless of whether we are “in a recession” or not, finances will be tight for many consumers in the coming years.
  • A $600-$1,200 check from the government isn’t going to turn someone into a buyer.
  • Jonathan HillLoan limits are restrictive in some markets (often 125% of median sales price).
  • Some loan programs are disappearing, as large lenders are having a hard time re-selling mortgages.
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a loan, especially for first-time buyers.
  • Two-thirds of sub-prime lending in Virginia was cash-out refinances.
  • In the northern region of the state, 25% of listings are REO properties.
  • Virginia as a whole has a lower foreclosure rate than the nation as a whole.
  • Prince William, Loudon and Fairfax County are some of the hardest hit areas of Virginia with foreclosures.
  • Inventory is very high in many areas. MRIS has around 100,000 active listings — their historical average has been 50,000-60,000 listings.

Sandee FerebeeThe resounding consensus was that ALL REAL ESTATE IS LOCAL — each area around Virginia is experiencing these challenges to varying degrees.

One very interesting question was in regards to whether there is pent up demand. Lisa Fowler pointed out that there is likely “theoretical pent up demand,” but it may never translate into actual demand. A large part of this is affordable housing — there are consumers who want to buy, but they may not be able to do so. Current demand is significantly reduced compared to 2004/2005, because speculators have largely left the market, and increases in home prices have priced some buyers out of the market.

John Dickinson Panelists and facilitators included: