April 14, 2008
Regardless of all the doom and gloom being pronounced by the pundits, let me assert that people are still buying real estate in the Valdosta-Lowndes County markets. Don't get me wrong because times are tough. Our listing inventory has crested 1200 houses for sale and current absorption figures indicate that we have a 12.6 month suppy of inventory in our MLS. An (actually really good and well researched) article in this past week's Valdosta Daily Times indicates that foreclosures have plateued at around fifty per month and have maintained that level since this time last year.
People are still buying regardless of what the media would have the public believe. However, things are softer and slower and that presents us all with certain challenges. The National Asociation of Realtors Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, maintains that a good 80% of today's buying pool is sitting on the fence for the simple reason that they have property to move before reinvesting in another home.
This takes time, of course. Often times what we are seeing is that it may take anywhere from 12 to 24 months before a prospect incubates to become a bona fide buyer. This is an obvious change from the good ol' days of say '02-'05 in which prospects would either buy within a few weeks or at worst a few months because they had more confidence in the market and thus more options (swing loans, etc.).
People just won't stick their necks out like that anymore and really, who can blame them. This is a time of prudence and careful decision making as opposed to the swagger of just several short years ago.
But here's what all this means to seller. buyers and professional. Buyers now have the element of time to make decisions and as they are waiting anywhere from 12 to 24 months they can digest and assimilate a lot of information within that period of time. So, by the time they step into the negotiating arena, they are usually very well versed and sophisticated about a local market in terms of values, financing options, and local customs and concessions.
For the realtor, the name of the game is follow up. We now have the ability to automatically e-mail clients with property profiles that fit their parameters once such a property hits the market. Also, contact management software has never been as intutive as it is today. One of the great features of the LeadRouter System that we are now getting service for is that it has contact management software that prompts agents to follow up within a defined period of time. If an agent doesn't follow up, they don't get fresh leads as the system reasons that the agent is too busy to service new business. The broker can also look over the agent's shoulder as well. Yeah it sounds a little creepy and big brotherish, but accountability is becoming a big buzzword in our industry.
Okay Sellers, for you all of this points to the ever increasing need to PRICE PROPERTY RIGHT TO BEGIN WITH (!!!!! And if I had a way to highlight that last statement,I would). With an inventory of 1200 properties, houses in our services area are almost commodities with buyers caring very little for spending extra money for amenities and upgrades. We have several agents in this office who are still selling houses very strongly. I asked on e of them this morning what was the secret of her sucess and without hesitation it was that her listings have all been priced properly from the very first...