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Friday, May 23, 2008

Partial eclipse: NAR's sunshine economist sees some dark clouds

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Memorial Prices:  Some homes at Lennar Corp.'s Colonial Heritage community in Williamsburg, VA come with impressive financing this weekend.  The golf course in the age-restricted community is one of the toughest we have played.

    The housing crisis may be starting to wear out even the most ardent Polyannas.  If you are a dedicated visitor to this space, you know that we are not big fans of economists who try to blow sunshine up our storm drains in the face of all prevailing evidence of dark times in the housing market.  Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, has come in for especially negative attention here for the illogic of his spinmeistering.
    But after reading today's report by Yun and the NAR of the latest housing sales data, we are cautiously optimistic that the economist may be

If Lawrence Yun and we agree, perhaps world peace is not far behind.

breaking the string of unremittingly positive comments started by his predecessor, David Lareah.  Although his report is filled with customary equivocation, Yun actually seems to have given an overall honest read of the numbers.
    Consider this comment from Mr. Yun about those contemplating selling their homes in the current over-inventoried markets:  "...the high inventory levels are uncomfortable. It is also a signal to many home sellers to be more realistic about pricing to attract buyers. Unless you have immaculate, unique home features, don't even bother listing if you are not going to concede on prices in today's market."
    Yikes.  Who are you, and what have you done with Lawrence Yun?  The economist we know would never even hint that people should refrain from listing their homes with a broker under any circumstances.  Since we have preached here a number of times the mantra of reasonable pricing, it is nice to see the "expert" finally agrees.  More importantly, he has offered advice that people can actually use to their benefit, even if it runs counter to the traditional hype the NAR has spun for its members and homeowners.
    In his report, Mr. Yun also indicates that previously strong markets showed a loss in terms of raw sales in the first quarter of 2008.  Raleigh and Charlotte, NC, for example, suffered sales declines, although prices continued to increase incrementally in both markets.  Our own two cents on this phenomenon, as we have said before, is that if you are contemplating a move south to a market where prices are holding up, but prices where you currently live are not, then take what the market has to offer and head south.  If you wait, it is quite possible the spread between what you will get in a few years for your primary home and what you will pay for your home in the south will widen.
    GolfCommunityReviews and Lawrence Yun in agreement?  Maybe there is a shot at world peace.  Read Yun's full commentary here .


    National builder Lennar is having a blowout sale this weekend that features impressively low-rate financing for a select group of its new homes.  Lennar will finance purchases of the homes at 2.88% the first year, 3.88% the second year and at 5.38% for the life of the loan.  Included in the group is Colonial Heritage, an age-restricted (55+) community in Williamsburg, VA, with a challenging Arthur Hills golf course (challenging is an understatement, it was tough).  Prices on the Villas in the special promotional program are mostly in the $300s.  Check Lennar.com for other homes that qualify for the special financing.


The Arthur Hills course at Colonial Heritage accepts public play.  The course is just too tough for some of the residents of the 55+ community. 

Read 4137 times Last modified on Friday, 23 May 2008 08:07
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.