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Inventory dips below 300 homes for 1st time in three years

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POSTED March 20, 2009 4:53 a.m.

It is definitely a trend.

More homes have been selling each week than are going on the market in Manteca since the first of the year.

Last week, as an example, 23 resale homes closed escrow while 13 more homes became available. The week prior 24 homes changed hands while 19 homes were put up for sale.

Perhaps even more of a milestone is the overall available homes through the Multiple Listing Service in Manteca dropped below 300 homes for the first time in almost three years. Eighty four less homes are now available – 292 – than were on the first of the year when 376 were available.

While nobody in their right mind is going to tell you things are going to swing in favor of the buyers any time soon, it is another indication that the runaway train of price drops is running out of steam.

The price obviously is right as more and more buyers enter the market despite a strong, steady stream of foreclosures.

Mortgage data suggests that the bulk of the foreclosures, in Manteca anyway, will roll through the market by the end of this year.

Manteca is better situated than Lathrop. Only 1 in every 11 homes in Manteca either was or is under duress compared to one in every five in Lathrop. Even so, this entire region is doing better than those areas in the Midwest that started to hit the skids big time in the past six months. Why? The reason is simple. Unattainable prices sent the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area into the mortgage morass first because conventional loans no longer worked. That, coupled with a somewhat more resilient economy, should help pull us out sooner.

The odds are that when 2009 ends everyone will look back and say that this year was the true bottom of the market.

While there definitely won’t be a major upswing in 2011 – that is assured simply by the number of people who have delayed selling and are waiting to time moves up or down to take advantage of the best prices affordability wise in 40 years while getting enough for their homes to make deals work – there isn’t much time to work.

A lot of people who are on the lower end of the income strata in Manteca can afford to buy homes today though they may not realize it. They need to find out where they stand by sitting down with a mortgage lender, pronto. Sometimes they may need to do things such as open a secured credit card line and buy things such as groceries and pay them off immediately for three months to get their scores up. They may have small dings on their credit to repair. It takes a little time but has to be addressed. Then there is the issue of looking for homes among hundreds of others who are actively looking resulting in multiple offers.

It is rare that you can find a buyer who intends to live in the home they buy in the under $200,000 market who get the first home they make an offer on.

What if prices drop another 5 to 10 percent? Well, if they do most people will still be in a better position even if they buy today since most homes are selling for less a month in terms of mortgage payments compared to current monthly rents.

Factor in tax advantages and the fact you aren’t subjected to rent increases and you can’t lose.

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