Easing back into the real estate market

I love to walk through new houses. The smell of new wood, the clean, shiny surfaces, the perfect landscaping. All hold a promise for a perfect home, one where we can raise children in idyllic settings, dine with friends around a gloriously set table, and share rich, intimate moments with our spouses. Ahh, home.

The last few years have been hard on the family home. Foreclosure rates climbed. Home values fell. The real estate market bottomed out. Houses lost their homey feel and became the albatross around our necks. Real estate agents began selling shoes. Mortgage brokers disappeared, and appraisers found themselves sitting by a silent phone.

But we had a Parade of Homes here in Jackson this year. It wasn’t the big splash we’ve seen in previous years, but there were enough houses in the parade to make it interesting. The good news is that builders are sticking their toes in again. New construction is evident. Even existing home sales are inching up, as sold signs slowly appear.

The overbuilding that occurred before 2008 will take some time to clear out, and the recovery of home prices will be gradual, but the housing market is healing. Don’t expect to see double digit annual returns on your home equity anytime soon, though. We’ll all be happy just to go back to normal appreciation numbers in the 4-5 percent range.

A couple of houses on the parade were priced over $1 million. Wow! Who has that kind of money, especially in these difficult times? Not me. Many of the houses were a more reasonable price for the rest of us. It seems that, when it comes to our homes, we are coming back to our senses.

We tried moving during the real estate crisis a few years ago and just gave up. While I’m not ready to dive back in, I can see that things are improving. In the meantime, my walk through those new houses has spurred me into action. I may not be ready for a million dollar home, but I plan to keep my place I call home looking like a million. Time to remodel.

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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