In comparison to six months ago, over half of member brokers responding to a recent Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® “Housing Beat” survey are reporting one bit of good news, declining housing inventory in their markets. And while only nine percent are seeing an increase in closings, 26% are experiencing more pending sales (homes under contract but not yet closed), although many of those contracts are for foreclosure properties.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of brokers are seeing more open house and website activity, unfortunately this doesn’t included me, and 54% are seeing much more flexibility from banks in responding to short sale inquiries. I must be doing something wrong.

An unusually high figure of nearly 90% of brokers are experiencing more activity with first-time buyers, with only 22% reporting the same for “move-up” buyers and 14% for high-end buyers. In many markets, there are rising sales to investors who are taking advantage of opportunities by buying at bargain-basement prices.

Some 72% of LeadingRE respondents believe that the original allocation of government funds to provide credit relief to banks was necessary, although most qualified their responses with a strong tone of frustration by noting that the disposition of the funds has been poorly managed with minimal favorable impact on local markets.

As always, real estate is very local, so comments on markets run the gamut, from those who believe the housing market will begin rebounding in the third quarter of 2009, to those who believe that will not occur until late 2010. While sales are down across the board, there are a number of cities which still have not seen any significant price depreciation. And in areas where prices are down, most brokers believe it is a natural correction that must be allowed to run its course and that real estate professionals who best serve their clients are being very realistic when properly valuing properties.

Based on demographics of the large Gen X and Gen Y populations, coupled with rising pent-up demand of buyers who are remaining on the sidelines due to fears of more housing woes to come, many brokers believe that there is strong light at the end of this proverbial tunnel, and that those who take advantage of the buying opportunities that currently exist will be the beneficiaries in years to come.

For more information, visit www.LeadingRE.com.

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