The San Diego Association of Realtors hosted its Regional Real Estate Summit Tuesday and featured guests like National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, California Association of Realtors President James Liptak and N.A.R. immediate past President Dick Gaylord.
The Realtors spoke to a crowd of 700 that included real estate professionals, representatives from the offices of local congressmen and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Liptak said the key to achieving Realtor goals was for organizations like N.A.R. and C.A.R. to interact with government officials.
He said it is an “amazing” time to be in the residential real estate business since Realtors have a chance to make a change for the better.
“I honestly feel like I won the lottery,” he said about being the president of C.A.R. during what most real estate professionals have said is one of the strangest markets they’ve encountered.
One of the major points of contention between local real estate professionals and the federal government is the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), which has led to out-of-town appraisers being required to do appraisals.
Both the Realtors organizations and the California Association of Mortgage Brokers have urged state and federal governments to put an 18-month moratorium on the HVCC.
Additionally, Realtors and other residential real estate-related industry associations have been pushing to extend and expand the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.
With the credit expiring on Nov. 30, real estate agents have about a month to make sales that will close in time to qualify for the credit.
Realtors hope to extend the duration of the qualifying period to sometime in the middle of 2010 in order to encourage home sales. Additionally, they want it to be available to all home purchasers, not just first-time buyers.
The Realtors said the tax credit is responsible for the number of home sales tripling in some parts of San Diego County this year.
With inventory levels in the area at a two- to three-month supply and median prices stabilizing, Yun said the housing market is improving while the rest of the country lags.
“In my view, the downturn is over” in San Diego, he said.
Even with a slew of foreclosures expected to increase inventory across the country, Yun said in San Diego, there is enough demand to absorb it.
Local real estate agents have said they have received dozens of offers on underpriced foreclosures.
S.D.A.R. President Erik Weichelt said he received 103 offers on a house he listed recently, with the final sale totaling more than $150,000 over the asking price.
With all the competition in the market for mid- and low-priced homes, Yun said there are reasons for potential homebuyers to be optimistic about the current market.
“People who are buying today might see a home equity gain a year from now,” he said. “Further decline in prices could be minimal — if there are price declines at all.”
However, he said sales for higher-priced homes are still sluggish and will likely not improve until financing for jumbo loans is easier to come by.