Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Housing Is Up and It's Really Cheap, Especially in Oakland

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 12:13 PM

A national housing index is reporting the first quarterly rise in the housing market in three years, according to the Chron. The index also shows an uptick in Bay Area housing. But the newspaper also reports that the number of Bay Area homes for sale at rock-bottom prices - as cheap as $20,000 for a condo and $60,000 for a single-family home - also appears to be increasing.

First the good news. The S&P/Case Schiller national housing index grew 2.9 percent for the three months ending June 30 - the first increase since 2006. In the Bay Area, it showed a 3.8 percent rise. But Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, one of the co-founders of the index, said it's still too early to say that the housing crisis is easing. In addition, some economists say the uptick is due to the government's $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. The tax credit it scheduled to expire November 30, and if Congress does not extend it, then the market may decline once again.

As for the bad news, the Chron reports that the Bay Area is now swamped with very cheap properties, especially in Oakland, Richmond, Pittsburg, Antioch, and Vallejo. Condos listing for as low as $20,000 to $30,000 are becoming more common, as are single-family homes at less than $60,000. Some real estate professionals say banks are increasingly pricing homes aggressively to unload them. However, many of the properties are fixer-uppers that need a lot rehabbing.

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