Judging by the national news, the housing bubble has definitely burst. New home sales are in a slump, and problems with the subprime mortgage industry are affecting Wall Street.
But, according to the president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, Neil Hubbard, the local housing market is still growing, albeit slowly. The group launched www.hopoffthefence.com this week to explain why it's still a good time to buy. — by Mary Cashiola
Flyer: What is the "hop off the fence" campaign about?
Hubbard: The principal message is quite simple: Rates are low, inventory is high, and we believe now is a great time to buy.
The reason we're doing this is to instill some confidence in the Memphis market. We're hearing a number of messages from the national media without a lot of localized information. We believe we have a stable and vibrant real-estate market in Memphis.
What makes Memphis the exception?
Memphis is a much more stable market. You hear about the real-estate bubble; Memphis doesn't really have that. We haven't experienced some of the more dramatic shifts in prices that they've seen in Las Vegas or South Florida.
Are Memphians wary of buying or selling a home?
We've heard some of that. That's part of the campaign: It's still a great time to buy or sell a house. It's definitely a buyers' market, but there are great opportunities for buyers and sellers. Prices have held steady.
How long does the average area home stay on the market?
It's in the 90-day range — 95.6 days to be more specific. That's up a little bit.
If I go back to 2003, the average number of days on the market was 86. In 2004, it was 93. In 2005, it was 88, and in 2006, it was 86. Now we're at 96. It hasn't doubled or changed dramatically.
Do you think people will be wary of the campaign because realtors make money off market transactions?
No, "Hop Off the Fence" is about providing information to consumers to let them make a better decision. It's more about providing information than about buying or selling.