A drop in consumer confidence frustrates the market as autumn settles in and buyers disappear.
Most real estate and mortgage professionals I’m acquainted with have had a disappointing autumn, at least as far as first-time homebuyers are concerned. When Labor Day had passed, we all felt that the Fall Market would bring a crush of new buyers who would be eagerly cramming our hallways to get a look at homes so that they could settle in time to qualify for the government’s tax credit. And in the first two weeks of September it started out that way.
And then something happened. No one is sure exactly why, but the enthusiasm waned. Interested buyers decided to postpone their search, or just disappeared altogether. Then in October the statistics — which always lag the event — started to shed some light: consumer confidence was starting to drop again. What was the reason?
The economy was continuing to shed jobs in numbers that, although declining, were still worrysome. But that had been the case throughout the summer, when the numbers were much bigger, and the buyers were out in force then.
September was colder and wetter than normal, and put everyone in a wintertime huddled pose on the street. But would chilly days be enough to keep interested people from getting money back from Uncle Sam?
Controversy erupted over whether or not the tax credit would be extended into next year, or even broadened. But would that cause people to postpone, or to hurry up and make sure they got theirs — just in case it went away completely?
Or, was it something even more personal? Was it the fear that began to seep into people’s minds as epidemic reports started to fill the news, and more untimely swine flu deaths caught the attention of the media? Certainly, most first-time homebuyers are going to be in the age group that has been identified as the most susceptible to this particular flu bug.
Its unlikely that we will ever have really clear data. But I’m putting my money on the pigs.