Realtor shares thoughts on local real estate market

Published 6:43 pm Friday, December 4, 2009

Editor’s note: The following comments on the local real estate market were provided by Madelon Wallace of Walker, Wallace & Emerson, a real estate firm with offices in Columbus and Landrum.

The local real estate market, consisting of Polk County and neighboring areas in Rutherford County as well as the S.C. Upstate areas of Greenville and Spartanburg counties, has had a very tough year.

We are, generally speaking, an area that people move to not so much because they have to but because they choose to due to our rural small town environment and quality of life. In order to move here they usually need to sell where they currently are and have not been able to, due to the depressed national real estate market.

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Our poor market here has been directly related, in a domino effect, to the poor markets all over the United States. Mortgages have been and still are difficult to get as banks are still nervous about lending and appraisers are nervous about valuing property. Because there are so few current sales, especially in the residential market over $400,000 and the land market, the appraisers are having a difficult time finding comparables. This whole situation again creates a domino effect.

It seems that we went from one extreme to the other and now we need to get back to a balanced middle ground. Its a difficult situation you cant get a mortgage unless the property appraises and the appraisers cant appraise property without comparable sales. The banks are requiring current comps and often they just dont exist, so the appraisers have had very little to work with. That fact accompanied by the fact that banks often choose appraisers who are not from the local area (in trying to create an arms length appraisal) and do not have a direct knowledge of our local market makes it even more difficult. Appraisers who come into our market from outside and, for example, do not understand the intrinsic value that being located on a trail system has, can really skew the numbers. Local appraisers are going to understand local markets better than those who are from other areas.

The National Association of Realtors has been actively working with the powers that be in Washington to help them to understand the problems real people in real markets are facing and to help get the real estate markets moving in the right direction again.

We are seeing the market here beginning to improve. As the general economy starts to improve the local real estate market will also. There is no magic solution; unfortunately, we have to tough it out and do everything we can to keep our local economy strong. The stronger our local economy is the better our real estate market will be and that domino effect in reverse will happen . People want to live in and move to thriving stable economic environments.