I happened to be in Twentynine Palms recently and checked out the real estate situation. There is a massive amount of empty 3/2 spec homes with the obligatory granite countertops. Land for sale signs are everywhere. I talked to a local realtor and asked her about the market. The following is part of our conversation:
“Have prices come down?” I asked.
“Yes, it is a buyer’s market.”
I lifted up a flyer for house with her picture on it. It was a brand new 3/2 home on an infill lot with a shack a few doors down. “This house is listed at $229,000. How much would you have asked for it during the peak?”
“Oh, about $295,000,” the realtor said. “There are some great bargains out there now.”
“So how much could you rent this house for?” I casually asked.
“Well, I don’t really handle rentals but I think you could get about $1,000 a month and maybe up to as much as $1,200,” she said, trying to impress me.
I nodded thoughtfully, hiding just how impressed I actually was. “How many homes are on the market right now?”
“About 300,” she said after a hesitation.
I accepted this silently but decided to follow up on ziprealty (actual number was close to 500). “How many months inventory is that?” I asked.
A frown had appeared on her forehead and her lips were starting to purse. It was beginning to dawn on her that I was not an easy mark.
“I really don’t know.”
I didn’t press her on it and just moved on to my next casual question. “So how big is Twentynine Palms? What is the population?”
“About 5,000, I think.” Out of all of her answers, I gave the most weight to this one as she claimed to have been a resident for 20 years.
I nodded, thinking of the very large number of military housing on the base and the fact that all of those people were not in the market for a house and could not really be counted as a substantial force in the demand.
Trying to reel me back in, she told me about how she had spent the entire morning showing developers land and giving them a tour of the town, pointing out the highlights.
Just before I had met her, I had observed her saying goodbye to these same developer moguls. I had been struck by how bad their teeth were, coupled by the absolute lack of sophistication in their dress and manner. Now I know that I sound a little snobby here, but they just did not strike me as savvy businessmen.
Sighing regretfully, I said, “I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem like it is a good time to buy here. I think prices are going to go down quite a bit more.”
This elicited an instant and fervent response from her. “Oh no! Prices are not going to go down any more! There is so much building going on here. All of these new houses are going to make prices go up!”
After my enlightening conversation with the local realtor, I drove around. While going down the street of one of the nicer neighborhoods with a lot of infill spec homes, I saw two police cars park behind another police car. About 9 officers with bullet proof vests piled out of the cars and headed, en masse, toward one of the houses. Most of them turned aggressively and looked at me as I drove by. It was quite the capper for my day!
Post your observations of other markets here. Does anybody have any recent info on Yuma?