Housing market looks for upswing in 2009

Posted January 1, 2009 10:50 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:11 p.m. EDT

— After a rough year, many in the real estate industry are hoping for an upswing in 2009.

“There is a lot of hope out there that we’ve had the worst of it,” said Suzanne Harris, the vice president for government affairs of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County. “Definitely there will be some lingering, but the hope is that we will start feeling the upswing soon.”

Former Raleigh mayor and Triangle real estate mogul Smedes York thinks that by mid-year, “We’ll start having a much stronger feeling about the market.”

York, operator of York Properties, recently merged his firm York Simpson Underwood brokerage with Prudential Carolinas Realty, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s HomeServices America.

“We think we’ll be in a good position,” York said.

York said economic stimulus projects that are being pushed forward and the current low interest rates will help stave off some foreclosures. He thinks it is possible to start seeing a turnaround in six to eight months.

Many developers and builders in Wake County are struggling just to pay the 2008 tax bills that are due Monday, however. The developers still hold title to scores of homes and lots they had planned to sell in 2008, making them the taxpayers.

North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden has seen “glimmers of hope” in the economy, but he said improvements will hinge on the job market.

“I don’t see the job market improving appreciably this year, and I think that’s really going to weigh down a lot of consumers buying decisions,” Walden said.

For consumers who have a secure job and good finances, Walden said this would be a good year to make big ticket purchases like a house or car.

When there is a rebound, it will be stronger in the Triangle because this region is one of the strongest growth areas of the country, Walden said.