Low inventory, long stagnated pricing, creative mortgage financing and the hope that property taxes may soon be a thing of the past. The ingredients for a robust Berks County real estate market may be in place.
Each week I have the pleasure of speaking to real estate agents in areas of the country outside Berks County. Most times the discussion leads to how robust their home market is. They tell me things like, “I just put a home on the market yesterday, and there are three offers with two of them being more than asking price.” Oh and yes, the home was over $500,000.
For the past several years, I have refrained from sharing my Berks County home selling stories with them mostly because they just aren’t as exciting. Hopefully, that will end sooner than later.
There are several reasons why I feel that our local home market may see brighter days ahead. For starters, the inventory of available homes for sale in Berks County has steadily declined since 2010. The lack of new home construction which remains at all-time lows further exacerbates the situation. Remember your Economics class, supply and demand.
Home prices in Berks County have not appreciably risen for some time. Homes in the upper price ranges may have been affected most. The good part of the equation here is that the prices have not been forced considerably lower. Holding the line on home pricing combined with low inventory could get things started, but we need some help.
The home mortgage market is back and doing their part. Lending restrictions were increased since the infamous housing bubble that was created by the lack of them. That said, the geniuses of the lending industry have been hard at work figuring out ways to lend money to the masses. They have concocted a thing known as a Lender Credit. In short, this makes more money available to home buyers who have little or no down payment. The Lender Credit along with Seller Credits gets us another step closer to the “Sign and Live” home purchase. When money is available, people use it. Available capital is good for the real estate market in the short term anyway.
I saved property taxes for last. This is the big one!!! If the lawmakers in Pennsylvania get this figured out, it could create a windfall for Berks County real estate sales. Solving the property tax issue would likely benefit Berks County buyers and sellers more than other areas because we are negatively impacted by them more than almost every county in the nation.
Lower property taxes lead to more qualified buyers. Add more home buyer action to the already low inventory and available mortgage money and you have the makings of a very healthy Berks County real estate market.
I dream of selling a $200,000 home in Berks that only has a $1,500 tax burden instead of a $6,000 value killing millstone (or keystone) around its neck. Lower property taxes lead to more money for the seller and greater affordability for a buyer. I am sure home buyers and sellers in Berks County are dreaming the same dream.
Knowledge is Power!
Jeffrey C. Hogue
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