2010 was a terrible year for real estate, even in Dallas, even in Texas. We started the year with high hopes that since 2009 had been so bad, 2010 could only get better. And then we had the euphoria of the first time homebuyer’s credit. But we ended the year knowing that Dallas home sales were 25% less than they were in 2009, when we thought we were scraping the floor. So how do we look for the new year? Now that your hangover is in check, here’s the bad news: hardly any expert out there thinks the market is going to be better in 2011. There’s Dr. Gloom, who is no longer Steve Brown: I’m talking about Gary Shilling (not to be confused with Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller report, which is also not very positive). Shilling says home prices could crater by 20%. Zillow puts their money on a 5 to 7% decrease. In a WSJ nutshell:
Some 96 analysts surveyed made their forecasts public. Of those, 30 expect prices to fall next year, and another 30 are calling for annual home price appreciation of no more than 1%. The most bearish forecaster, A. Gary Shilling, president of A. Gary Shilling & Co., calls for prices to fall by 11% in 2011.
And when you hear that John Paulson bought two homes this year, don’t get any wild ideas: he made billions betting on the sub-prime market and can afford several hundred homes. You and me, we don’t have that luxury.
But because I’m an optimist, I’m offering this: Santa Ana-based Veros Housing Research thinks that 40% of metro markets will see slight house appreciation this year. Those markets are San Diego / Carlsbad / San Marcos, Calif. (+3.5%, border state) Kennewick / Richland / Pasco, Wash. (+3.4%, also border state) Pittsburgh, Pa. (+2.7% a city with affordable housing enjoying a comeback) Fargo, N.D. (+2.6% say what?) Washington, D.C. metro area (+2.5% no-brainer: government getting bigger, D.C. economy on the upswing).¬† The places you won’t want to invest sound familiar: Reno/Sparks, Nev. (-7.2%) Orlando/Kissimmee, Fla. (-6.5%) Boise City/Nampa, Idaho (-6.4%) Deltona/Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach, Fla. (-6.3%) Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce, Fla. (-6.3%). I get Nevada and my beloved Florida, but I had heard that Idaho was kicking butt. Veros is also bullish on Texas and the central plains, and offers this:
‚ÄúSmaller metro markets with populations less than 250,000 make up the majority of the better appreciating markets,‚Äù says Eric Fox, Veros‚Äô vice president of statistical and economic modeling, crediting affordability factors.”
Example: Marble Falls, Texas. I used to drive through this town, located near the Hill Country’s Highland Lakes on the Colorado and Llano Rivers, when all it had was a Dairy Queen. But Marble Falls is one of the strongest economic stories in Texas. Located 48 miles from Austin, it has tripled population to more than 302,414 in the thirty-mile radius since 2000, when the population was 188,538. There’s art, great schools, golf, water-sports, culture, river cruises, vineyards, wineries and libraries. The town of Marble Falls has a population of¬† 45,149. And growing.
And that’s exactly what Veros is talking about.