Sellers are buying homes again

Real estate has returned. Everyday there are new indicators that a healthy market is being born, and we’re now seeing something we haven’t seen for a while.

People were sitting on mortgages with negative equity, could barely make their payments, and were doing all that they could to hold on to their homes. Those who could not make their payments were negotiating with the bank on loan modifications.

The result was a deluge of foreclosures and short sales. Banks trying to unload their newly acquired real estate put many homes back on the market at very low prices. Lower prices fed back into the short sale environment and the cycle continued.

But in recent months, I have seen homeowners sell their homes and buy new ones.

Prices have risen enough that many people who delayed doing this for years are finally able to move up into a nicer home or down into a more affordable one.

This is good for our industry.

Our industry thrives on people moving as their lifestyle changes -- children grow up and leave, families get bigger, people are promoted -- and Realtors are there to assist in the transition. For the first time in a long time, housing prices are allowing this regular movement to occur.

In January, sales of single-family homes in San Diego County were 15 percent higher than the previous January, and the median price ($390,000) was up 12 percent from a year ago.

Another positive sign for the local real estate market: the average number of days previously owned homes remained on the market fell by 25 days when compared to January 2012.

Sellers are buying again, and that’s something we should all be excited about.

Lee is Board President of the San Diego Association of Realtors.

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