Could 2012 be the year that real estate finally picks itself up of the floor? Across the nation, we are seeing individual markets showing stirrings of life. Of course prices remain at record lows and we still face potentially millions more foreclosures, but on a local scale in many cities, there is much to be optimistic about.
Take the example of Memphis, Tennessee. Here we have a city that was never awash with overbuilding and overspending in the days before the housing market went bust. Far from being a roller-coaster city, Memphians prefer to move along at a much steadier pace – neither too fast nor too slow - and so it’s no surprise that its real estate markets have cruised along in a similar fashion.
Memphis’ economy remains in pretty good shape even today. The downturn in real estate wasn’t nearly as pronounced here as it was in foreclosure hotspots like Nevada, California and Florida. Hence, Memphis is quickly pulling itself out of the economic downturn.
Memphis, home to a busy airport and the headquarters of FedEx, is a hub of transportation and distribution. The city also has a thriving local music industry, and as far as its economy goes, is nowhere near as volatile as other parts of the US. Indeed, there are plenty of signs that the Memphis’ economy and real estate markets are heading in the right direction. The Memphis Area Association of Realtors says that the city is well-positioned to recover from the economic downturn and housing inventories are slowly decreasing.
At a first glance, 2011 doesn’t appear to have been a very good year for Memphis real estate; data supplied by the Memphis Multiple Listing Service (The MLS figures differ from those issued by the MAAR, as they cover ten counties compared to the MAAR’s three, and only reflect sales entered by a Realtor) shows that total sales fell by 1.5% compared to the previous year.
Yet a rise in sales at the end of the year offers hope that a recovery could well be in the offing for 2012. Home sales in Memphis rose by some 10.6% in December 2011 (compared to December 2010) with 802 units sold, compared to 725 units 12 months before.
The increase in Memphis home sales mirrors a national trend throughout December which saw sales increase by 5% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.61 million units, representing the best level in the year and a third consecutive monthly rise.
There are at least anecdotal signs that Memphis is set to continue on this positive trend.
Prudential Collins-Maury, one of the leading realtors in Memphis, tracks weekly appointments with potential buyers who want to view the agency’s listings. The agency reported 203 appointments made in the first week of January, a significant increase on the average 135 appointments that are usually made in the first week of a new year. Even more encouraging, 248 appointments were made in the second week of January, a figure comparable to spring time when weather conditions are better, reported the Commercial Appeal.
Other Memphis realtors are equally upbeat about the city’s outlook. First National Realty points to the fact that affordable housing has always been one of the crucial factors of any strong economic recovery in the US.
Like most US cities, Memphis is a buyer’s market right now, and with its relatively strong economy, we can be hopeful that more people taking advantage of the city’s affordable housing soon.