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Nationwide open house weekend opens the door to deals

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br />Julie Strzyzewski has a garage full of boxes and furniture in Prescott Valley as she waits to close on and move into a home in <br />Chino Valley.<br /><br />

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br />Julie Strzyzewski has a garage full of boxes and furniture in Prescott Valley as she waits to close on and move into a home in <br />Chino Valley.<br /><br />

Julie Strzyzewski's belongings are in boxes and she's eager to move into her new home.

Strzyzewski and her husband, Scott, are hoping to close next week on a 2,100-square-foot ranch-style bank-owned home in Chino Valley.

Making the purchase sweeter for Julie is the $6,500 tax credit, favorable interest rate and great deal they got.

"It gives us the opportunity as homebuyers to take advantage," she said. "We look at a home as an investment. We're taking advantage of these lower prices at this time."

Local Realtors are hoping to find more people like the Strzyzewskis with the nationwide open house weekend for consumers this month.

The goal is to showcase homes on sale, inform prospective buyers of their options and bolster activity in the housing market.

During the weekend of April 10-11, signs and blue balloons will direct buyers and participating Realtors will show their listings in the hopes of inciting prospective buyers to take advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer or the $6,500 repeat buyer tax credits.

According to Multiple Listing Service data from PAAR, sales are up in the first quarter of this year over 2009 nearly 40 percent.

Realtors sold 414 homes from January through March and 296 homes in the same three months this past year, an increase of 39.86 percent.

The average days on the market for a home is improving a bit from 165 days in 2009 to 157 days this year for a 4.85 percent improvement.

Average prices between the quarters is down 4.36 percent from $214,691 in 2009 to $205,322 this year and new listings are down 9.46 percent from 1,099 in the first quarter of 2009 to 995 in 2010.

Paula Smith, association president and Realtor with Re/Max Mountain Properties in Prescott, said the open house is a helping hand from the National Association of Realtors, the Arizona Association of Realtors and PAAR in the community as the home buying season begins.

"If you ask the agents, most of them have several buyers, and I think that good houses well-priced will sell," she said, Smith said the first quarter of 2010 for Realtors was better than the first three months of 2009, despite the hurdles in short-sale transactions and the challenges in working with banks.

"We're entering our prime season and the feds have maintained the interest rates, which are historically low," she said. "I think a lot of people are realizing that they need to buy before the tables turn."

Smith said homes with asking prices over $500,000 also saw a slight bump from six sales in the first quarter of 2009 to 11 this year.

"The under-$250,000 market is hot with bidding wars," she said.

Other Realtors like Dena Plane share Smith's enthusiasm.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for both buyers and sellers to be exposed to our market," she said. "For Realtors, it's mass-marketing exposure."

Dena and her husband Dave, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Prescott, have seven residential listings.

Dena said four of their listings are part of the weekend event, which gives buyers a chance to take advantage of the favorable market and tap the tax credits before they expire at the end of April.

"This is crunch time for them," she said.

Plane said she is starting to see listed homes selling in less than 30 days on the market and for more than the asking price, especially bank-owned properties.

"It's coming at a time when the market needs it," she said.

The open house weekend hours run from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and might vary slightly depending on the Realtor.

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