My Turn: Verde Valley real estate: The sky is not falling

I read the Aug. 1 article headlined "Verde housing market continues to weaken" with concern. Can I please be a voice of reason, or at least one of the voices of accurate information regarding today's real estate market in the Verde Valley? I am not going to be Chicken Little because the sky is not falling. What people need is some realistic information.

I pulled some statistics from our MLS. An average house in the Cottonwood area (around 1,500 square feet, on a typical-sized lot) sold for $143,900 in 2003. An average house went for $219,000 in 2005. Today, an average home sells for $191,000.

Did you notice that that home gained $47,000 dollars in 5 years?

Marketing times were 108 days in 2003, 51 days in 2005, and 144 days today.

Are you surprised? I was a little bit, too. The bottom line is that it's not nearly as grim as we thought. Real estate markets are local - not national, and not global. NBC and CNN don't tell us what's going on in the Verde Valley, or even in your neighborhood.

Locally, we have a reasonably steady market. Why? People want to live here. They like our climate. They like our people. They like our low crime rate. They like the hospital. They like our central location. They like a lot of things.

Marketing times are a bit longer than they were, and it takes just about a month longer to sell a house now than it did in 2003. Our buyers right now are ecstatic. They have plenty of choices, interest rates are low, most of the sellers are pretty negotiable, and reputable lenders are lining up for business.

Interest rates are creeping up. If you wait you might save a few thousand dollars in purchase price, but you will also probably pay way more in interest than you saved.

I wouldn't hesitate to help my children or grandchildren buy something today. I wouldn't encourage them to try to flip it, but if they're going to keep it for a year or two there is no doubt in my mind that I would be helping them to invest wisely.

At the moment that I write this, (Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008,) there are 1,210 houses actively for sale in the Sedona-Verde Valley Association of Realtors® multiple listing service; 50 of them are foreclosures. There are 98 houses in escrow and only five of them are foreclosures.

If you're wondering about our market, or if you think that you want to invest in property, talk to a Realtors®. Not to sound self-serving, but we do know what's going on out there and we will advise you regarding value and re-sale strategies.

How do you choose a Realtors®? Ask around, collect some names, interview, check out Web sites, and then go with your gut. Choose a Realtor® that you're comfortable with, that you believe will take good care of you. That is our job, after all - taking care of you.

Realtor® Carol Anne Warren is the secretary-treasurer of the Sedona-Verde Valley Association of Realtors® and Associate Broker for Professional Realty Group.

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