Lissner: Buyers taking a “wait and see” approach to home decisions

Gail LissnerIn her quarterly “Market Watch” column, Gail Lissner gives New Homes readers an overview of Appraisal Research Counselors‘ latest Downtown Chicago Residential Benchmark Report. In our July issue, Lissner writes about the “wait and see” approach many buyers are taking in the current housing market.

As reflected in our weekly survey of new-construction condominium developments located throughout the city of Chicago, fewer potential buyers are visiting sales offices in 2008 and even fewer are deciding to purchase. Overall, the number of potential buyers visiting new condominium developments each week in 2008 to date has declined 25 percent from the first half of 2007, with sales volume down more than 65 percent from the first half of 2007. Thus, while a smaller number of potential buyers are looking at their alternatives in the market, even fewer are ready to commit to a purchase.

The large drop-off in sales volume and potential buyer traffic occurred in August of last year, coinciding with the public awareness of the turmoil in the sub-prime and credit markets. At this point, market activity has not yet returned to its pre-August 2007 levels.

In 2008 and 2009, developers will complete construction on a record number of downtown Chicago condominium buildings, many of which started their marketing programs during the robust market conditions of 2005 and early 2006. While a total of 10,000 units are projected for completion in 2008 and 2009, 70 percent of the 2008 units and 55 percent of the 2009 units are already under contract to individual owners. Thus, the focus of the developers with 2008 building completions is to sell the inventory that is not yet under contract.

You don’t have to wait for the July New Homes to hit magazine boxes, offices and sales centers next week in order to read the rest of Lissner’s article. The whole thing is available here.

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