Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Beach Cities: The Bottom of the Real Estate Market....Are We There Yet?
Last week those in the know seemed to be saying that the recession was over. The LA Times cheered that Southern California's Vital Signs are Improving and the Southern California housing market was about to hit bottom. But toward the end of the week the news was not quite as good with state unemployment numbers reaching above 12% and a few economists hedging their bets. Irwin Kellner from Money Watch theorizes that maybe it ain't over til it's over and I think I agree with him. Much as I would love to see our Beach Cities real estate market stabilize I'm having a hard time believing that the real estate market in California has reached the bottom with such a high unemployment rate and the state in so much financial turmoil. Employment and financing are going to be major issues that must be resolved before we begin to see a return of a normal market
This real estate market is different then previous markets and consequently may be harder to call. I suspect that we will see the home market bottom by city and sub areas within each city. As an example I think that we may have seen the bottom in February of this year for the lowest priced single family homes in Manhattan Beach ( $750,000 or less), Hermosa Beach ( $700,000 or less) N. Redondo ( $600,000 or less), S. Redondo( $700,000 or less) and El Segundo ( $650,000 or less). We may also be nearing the bottom for entry level townhomes/condos in the Beach Cities. I think we will see properties priced in Manhattan and Hermosa from $800,000-$1M reach their lowest level by the end of the year. The rest of the markets will level at different times over the coming year. I also think that reaching the end of the market will not signal an uptick in prices. Most price points will remain flat with the exception of Strand and walk street properties near the Strand which seem to have a life of their own even in a down market.
While it may be true that the South Bay employment market is doing better then other parts of the state we are not out of the woods yet. I know a number of folks who may have jobs but have lost of lot of perks. Many companies will not be paying an end of the year bonus to employees that was a standard benefit. Others are changing more for health care benefits. If you are on a salary plus commission your commission percentage may be significantly lower. If you own a company you may be paying yourself less if the company income has decreased. In other words a lot of folks just simply are not making the same amount of money they were a few years ago.