YAKIMA, Wash. - With only a couple of days until the New Year, lawmakers have still not made a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. This leaves many real estate experts worried about the housing market.
What has most experts concerned is what could happen to the short sale housing market. If the country goes off the cliff, short sales would essentially disappear, forcing many homeowners to choose foreclosure instead.
In Yakima County however, local experts are not expressing the same worry.
"Real estate really is the backbone of not only our local economy, but the national economy," said Daniel McLaughlin, a broker with The Buyer's Agent.
That is why many housing experts are worried about the upcoming fiscal cliff.
They said if we fall off, short sales would likely disappear because tax incentives would expire. This means people who choose short sales would have to pay significant taxes if they sold their home for less then what they owe the bank. Experts say this would likely add to the already high number of foreclosures across the U.S.
However, the same can not be said for Yakima County.
"It won't have as much of an impact on our local area. Our prices generally will remain steady, our market won't fluctuate like the national does," said Cory Bemis, a broker with Creekside Realty.
That is because short sales are a much smaller portion of the housing market in Yakima County.
In fact, Bemis said only about 4.5% of homes sold this year were short sales which is a pretty small number compared to other areas.
"I don't know if it will affect business that much with it being such a small percentage of total sales. However, it will affect the market," Bemis said.
He said the effect on the market is something that is a concern for everyone, especially with the growth Yakima's housing market has seen over the past couple of years.
"I think we closed twice as many transactions this December as we did last December. The market has been extremely strong here, rates have been low, home affordability has never been lower," McLaughlin said.
Bemis said the reason Yakima's market will not be as affected by the cliff is because home prices here have stayed relatively stable over the years. Even when the housing bubble burst in 2007, many homeowners did not find themselves under water with their mortgages.