As I write this at the end of January, the nation awaits news of whether the federal government will drop interest rates yet again in hopes of bolstering the “slowing” economy. Lately, it seems you can’t escape the dreary financial forecasts or the looming clouds of a potential recession. And while every industry is suffering, the slumping housing market—and its attendant mortgage woes—has been a media favorite for months now.
That in mind, I set out to research MLT’s latest assessment of the Main Line real estate climate. And I assumed local realtors would be wary of saying too much—if anything at all. I was convinced that it wouldn’t be like three years ago, when I wrote a similarly themed cover story.
Back then, we were at the height of a boom, and agents were thrilled to boast of their numerous successes. Their stories were remarkably similar—of homes on the market for a matter of hours before multiple offers above asking price started rolling in. Houses anywhere, in any condition, were flying off the market, they reported. And flippers couldn’t flip fast enough to keep up with appreciation.
Times were good. But all good things must come to an end—at least for a while.
So I was surprised that realtors were so anxious to talk this time around. It turns out they wanted readers to know the truth about the local real estate market—a version of reality untainted by the doom-and-gloom coverage in the national press.
The truth is, realtors aren’t reveling in the heyday they once were, but they’re not exactly scratching and clawing, either. Homes are taking longer to sell, but they’re selling—and multiple bids are still common. “With a larger inventory of homes for sale and interest rates still very low, buyers have a great window of opportunity,” says Linda “Z,” who’s been selling homes on the Main Line for decades. “At the same time, sellers whose homes are well-priced and in good condition continue to make profitable sales.”
Another unavoidable truth: The Main Line has been, and will continue to be, a desirable area. And though I must concede that I’m biased, I can’t imagine an area with more appeal to all types of buyers. Excellent schools, a diverse job market, close proximity to Philadelphia and New York, gorgeous houses at a variety of price points … Need I go on?
For better or worse, no one can predict what the remainder of 2008 will bring. The experts in the media will continue to do what they do best: speculate. But the one thing I know for sure is that I’m glad to call the Main Line home. And I’m sure you are, too.