Nobody knows for sure what the real estate market is likely to do in Carson City this year, but there were comforting words for homeowners in Monday's paper from Assessor Dave Dawley, who said simply, "The worst is over."
Let's hope he's right, but while we're at it let's hope that Carson City doesn't see another boom any time soon. Why? Because every boom has its bust that leaves victims, and in this case, they're strewn all over Carson City. Following record home sales and skyrocketing values, 1996 was a cold slap in the face. There were fewer homes sold than any of the previous 18 years, and now there are many people trying to come to terms with the fallout.
Consider that homes cost an average of $199,000 in 2002, and that now, just over four years later, they're well over $300,000, well out of reach for many of the residents of Carson City. That's not likely to change, and to correct for that huge disparity, Carson City must make it a priority to get affordable housing established. This should not be a city where people have to be rich to afford an average home.
Others who are suffering include those who took advantage of easily available credit and overextended themselves, eventually losing everything in foreclosure. The market is full of homes from speculators who bought intending to resell soon after at a huge profit that they'll never see. Many of those homes are likely to become rental properties.
A much better scenario for Carson City is steady, sustained growth in which everyone will benefit. There may not be many people getting rich, but at least there won't be as many people going broke.