Inman News bills itself as the leading source of independent real estate information. It says 2009 could go down as the worst year ever for housing since the Great Depression. RealtyTrac says it's the nation's most trusted source of foreclosure information. It claims foreclosures rose 81-percent from 2007 to 2008, and tripled from 2006. And the Moody's Economy research firm Predicts foreclosures will go up another 18-percent this year.
In this uncertain economic climate, homeowners are just trying to keep the house they have, much less looking to buy a new one. And realtors are saying what they can to inspire people to buy.
"I think at some point," says Dick Leike, president of Crye-Leike Realtors, "this is the United States and Americans say, 'Hey, enough of this, the sky's not fallin', we're not gonna implode. Let's get back with our lives.' And that's, y'know where you lay your head is not discretionary. You've got to have a home."
Leike is trying to put a good face on a business that saw a 30-percent plunge in sales last year. "Y'know the rates today are as low as they have been, "says Leike. "I've been in real estate 48 years, and rates today are as low as I've ever seen them in all that time."
And Bowling Green realtors continue to say things aren't as bad here.
"We're just gonna have to get the message out there that the banks are still lending money," says Kirk Tinsley of Crye-Leike Executive Realty, "that the interest rate is still good, and that people are not losing thousands and thousands of dollars on their home like they are in other parts of the country."
So as realtors try to inspire sales in a dismal market, just who is buying?
Realtors tell me, aside from repossessions, there are a few first time buyers and people who are relocating. Kim Johnson found herself in that position, returning to Bowling Green after eight years in California.
"And wanted to come back here, and just kinda start new," she says. "I needed a place for my daughters and I to start over, to start new memories and just a place for us."
And Kim's realtor was sensitive to her emotions. "Even for the people who say they're black and white, total business," says Gretchen Cherry of Progressive Real Estate Groups. "It's always an emotional experience, because that's where you're going to live, where you're going to raise your family. That's where you're coming home after work."
And Kim says there are advantages to buying now. "Lots of options, that was really good for me," she says. "And there were certain things I was looking for, and certain price ranges, and there was a lot of options, y'know it was a good time to buy."
Just as it was a mistake for people who really didn't qualify, to buy a house when lenders made it too easy, realtor Gretchen Cherry, says it would be a mistake for people who do qualify now, to sit on the sidelines, when they could be getting a good deal on a new home."
"And for people just to make the decision not to buy a home, because they have heard it may not be a good time to buy a house, is not a wise decision," she says. "They need to make decisions for themselves, based upon their own circumstances."
With housing prices and interest rates both down it appears to be a "buyers' market" for people in financial shape to buy. To check out your financial shape Inman News suggests you go to annualcreditreport.com. And to get good mortgage information they say try bankrate.com to see current interest rates from lenders who work in your area.