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A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

April 4, 2008
Majority finally believes it: Now or soon is a good time to buy

If there is one thing I have heard over and over from real estate agents and home builders since starting this beat two years ago it is this: NOW is a good time to buy. They were saying it in March 2006, they said it all last year and they are saying it still. At one Realtor event I went to late last year an agent joked I should say it out loud because it feels good.

Now, after sales prices have fallen 30 percent since late 2005, a majority of public opinion in the Sacramento region finally agrees. The 2008 Sacramento State Survey of the Region
being released today says 63 percent of people in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties believe that now - or the next six months - is a good time to buy a house.

- The belief is strongest among whites, households earning more than $50,000 a year, residents of Placer County, Republicans and people who already have mortgages.

- It is weaker among renters, minorities, households earning less than $50,000 a year and residents of Sacramento, Yolo and El Dorado counties. All say that a year from now will be a good time to buy.

I will offer some more highlights here, but I recommend looking at the survey for some great details. It really breaks down well the various way people feel about this market by income, politics and county.

Survey director Amy Liu says only three years ago one third of those surveyed were thinking of moving out of Sacramento because housing was so expensive. That 2005 survey was taken after Sacramento County residents had seen their median sales prices rise 32 percent from 2004 to 2005.

No one talked this year about leaving Sacramento, she says.

The annual survey, the seventh conducted by the Institute for Social Research at CSUS, shows that concern about affordable housing has fallen almost as fast as home values.

- Two years ago 51 percent of those surveyed called the availability of housing they could afford a big problem.

- This year, 36 percent called it a big problem.

- The survey shows 75 percent of respondents in the four-county region believe it will be two years or more before the capital region's real estate market fully recovers.

- About 20 percent believe the market will fully recover within six months to a year.

The survey, conducted in English and Spanish, has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Here is a link to the annual surveys from previous years. These are good indicators of public opinion during the run up to the boom, the boom itself and now during the correction.

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