You can always find data to confirm what you already believe, but . .

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

You can always find data to confirm what you already believe, but like anything, that doesn't make it accurate. My mother-in-law has a saying when she's cooking. It goes like this, "When you don't have the ingredients you need, don't panic, improvise." I've seen her make some crazy dishes with some pretty unusual improvisations, and they've worked out well. But, when it comes to markets and financial data, the data has to line up with the circumstances of the time or people may make decisions and life choices that could cost them dearly.

At a recent meeting of our local board of Realtors, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, Dr. Lawerance Yun shared his current view of the Shenandoah Valley real estate market. Ironically, since I do a continuous flow of market reports, colleagues ran up to me at the end to see if I agreed with Dr. Yun's assessment. In this case, I was pretty in-line with his assessment.

In 2008-2010, I read market assessments from some pretty well-known brainy economists, but I couldn't agree with them. I thought they were painting a rosy picture of the economy that I just didn't see on the ground or in the data. During that time, 2010 ended up being the deepest part of the recession for our community. A lot of local people lost their homes, jobs and life savings. Based on the economists assessments of the time, they should have been fine, but the reality was, the economists were wrong. 

One of the great things about doing market reports of any market, is that you always have a feel for where the market is at any time. It's like a snap-shot in time. If the market has slowed, you can see it. If it has picked up, you can see that too. If it is off drastically, you might be seeing something that is hinting of bleak days ahead. I didnt' blog prior to the recession, but I saw things happening, but I didn't know how to interpret them.

Today, after half a dozen years of doing market reports, I'm very tuned-in to market changes. When I see an economist stating good news when the local market is changing negatively, I can adjust my marketing to meet the needs that are being created by a downturn. I can also explain what I see to my clients so they gain an advantage over the competition. I can help them take advantage of market changes whether they are good or bad. Get comfortable assessing your own market. 

Don't be afraid to take a serious look at your market and see it for what it is. Don't be swayed by what professional number crunchers are telling you if it doesn't line up with what you're seeing. In a seminar I taught years ago, I used to say, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure." That's not to call number crunchers liars, but it really means numbers can be manipulated.

Locally, if you ask a dozen Realtors if the market has slowed, nearly all will say yes. I ran the data for the past 11 months and the same 11 months for 5 years. The market has not slowed. What has changed is the number of Realtors working in our market. We've gone from around 500 to nearly 1200. When you add that many agents in a small market, the work is going to get thinned out. That will give the impression of a slowing market when in reality, it has just been spread over more people. The "real" data shows that the market is healthy and moving normally. The talking heads say it has slowed. What do you choose to believe, the data or the speculators? Always do your own homework. It will keep you plugged into changes so you'll always be ready to adjust your efforts to keep consistently stay on top. Oh, and by the way, Dr. Yun agreed with me. 



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  1. Ginger Harper 12/20/2018 11:12 AM
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Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Mike,

Glad you received a feature on your post as you make a very valid point! Numbers don't lie..facts are facts but there are those who like to manipulate and add their own spin on things.

Dec 20, 2018 04:53 AM #12
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Great post!  Market reports are a must for agents to get into the actual numbers in their niche.  Interesting that your local real estate agents had such an increase!  A good thing to look into!

Dec 20, 2018 05:09 AM #13
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

Very well said Mike Cooper . I look at it a couple of ways as well. I complete a great deal of bpos so i get to interact with the data in my market reports. I agree that here too we have seen a amssive increase in agents. One fact this fall is that a great deal of agents in mass, are changing from one company to another looking fo rmore of that share. My listings are up, my time on market is increasing as buyers are taking far more time than before. my pending sales are up but over all is down a little. The real test will be in the spring to see if higher rates will tame the real estate boom 

Dec 20, 2018 05:12 AM #14
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Mike Cooper - Congratulations on this excellent Feature story which I greatly appreciate. I always wondered how the economists seemed to know so much in advance from studying data? Their predictions, while often promising were never really accurate. The truth is, there is no crystal ball.

I can always appreciate the truth, even if it sounds dismal than to paint me up with false hope and higher expectations. Or worse, put me in a down mood when there is no need for it. 

Market changing is more truthful. Just as a farmer must prepare for crops, so too do we in the real estate industry. Here on ActiveRain, I've come to appreciate you and your wisdom greatly. Although all the essential criteria for evaluating the market may not be fully known, and of course, every market center is different, but you, Mike Cooper have a way of seeing the truth and exposing your results for all to see by sharing it with us here on ActiveRain. In my opinion, your brain is more knowing than any type of crystal ball or some well-known economist who flies into major cities to make a presentation.

Kudos to you! May you always secure your brain power to promote goodwill, the truth, and your personal marketing evaluations to all!

Merry Christmas!

Dec 20, 2018 06:29 AM #15
Ron Barnes
Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties - Jasper, GA
"Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1!

Bum Phillips said of Paul Bear Bryant ... "Bryant can take his'n and beat your'n, and then he can turn around and take your'n and beat his'n."

Dec 20, 2018 06:37 AM #16
Steven Beam
RE/MAX Alliance - Parker Colorado Real Estate. - Parker, CO
Parker Colorado Real Estate

No doubt that thousands of newly mented HGTV and DIY realtors have entered the market place to dilute the business. When you add thousands of new Realtors and have about half the inventory you had in 2010-2012 it feels like a slowdown. 

The Denver Metro market has definitely slowed. That is reality. Lower priced custom homes are selling. Entry level homes are starting to have price reductions and we haven't seen that happen in 3 years and mid level homes are seeeing regular price reductions again too. All of this with low inventory. Buckle up the next few years are going to be bumpy and hopefully we will shake out a lot of dead weight Realtors too. 

Dec 20, 2018 07:01 AM #17
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Input & feedback drives everything humans do...

Dec 20, 2018 07:01 AM #18
Matt Brady
Finance Of America - Del Mar, CA
Lending With Competence And Character

"Figures Lie and Liars figure" an age-old quote that pretty much sums up politics and our culture these days. If you just acknowledge the truth everyone will be better off.

Dec 20, 2018 07:47 AM #19
Mike Bjork
Pinnacle Home Loan - Redondo Beach, CA

Great post, Mike!  You're definitely right!  Data and Numbers can be manipulated, so it's imperative to view it from all different angles to really find the reasoning behind those numbers/data.

Dec 20, 2018 09:26 AM #20
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Agreed. One of my favorite posts to write is to compare a larger-area statistic with my local area. So if the state of Illinois or city of Chicago publish something, then I use that data to compare to what's happening in my market. 

Dec 20, 2018 10:10 AM #21
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

You speak of a historic problem that arises in our industry, Mike Cooper ... the ebb and flow of agents and lenders serving it.  Definitely been that way since I entered the industry back in 1977.  And one that I wish our industry leaders would take more seriously and address.  Raise the bar??

Excellent post and opinions.  


Dec 20, 2018 11:01 AM #22
Joshua Lother
Gwen Fowler Real Estate - West Union, SC
Real estate pro serving the Golder Corner

Great post, I've been trying to keep up with my market reports for a couple of investors I work with. I keep seeing houses above a certain price sitting for a long time and the rest lower than that get gobbled up if they are half way livable and the owner doesn't try to get blood from a stone on the price. Put an offer on a house last week only to be told before I sent it in that the owner had already turned down a slightly above ask price offer due to terms. Ours was much lower due to condition, so we backed out. I am fairly certain they ruined the wave they could've rode all the way to closing. That house will now sit after the initial interest dies.

Dec 20, 2018 12:14 PM #24
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good afternoon Mike. You always make me think and this is brilliant. Wonderful title.

Dec 20, 2018 01:00 PM #25
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

It has been said that we believe first, and then hunt down the data to "intellectually" substantiate those beliefs.  I was looking up data recently, and found the numbers all over the place, depending on who was reporting it.

Dec 20, 2018 05:14 PM #26
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

CONGRATULATIONS Mike, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Dec 20, 2018 05:16 PM #27
Lynda White
Bluegrass Homes & Farms Realty, Agent Know How - Louisville, KY
Admin. Mgr., Keller Williams Realty

I am just like your mom in that I usually do make substitutes in recipes. Did you know if you are baking brownies or cake and you don't have oil, you can substitute applesauce? Sounds crazy but it works! :0) 

Dec 21, 2018 04:41 AM #28
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Mike, as you well know it takes more than a 5 minute glance to really know the market. I try to keep up with the trends and that is accumulated over time.

Great post.

Dec 21, 2018 11:26 AM #29
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Mike

Great advice here...we should all be watching the market and creating market reports, not only to educate buyers and sellers on the local market conditions to to know the market ourselves. It makes no sense to tell consumers not to pay attention to the media and national reports if that's all we pay attention to.


Dec 21, 2018 12:23 PM #30
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

There's always nuance to the current market conditions, but we get to work both sides, buyer and seller.  It may be a harder time to list a property and get it sold quickly in Denver, but for buyers there is a lot to choose from and willing sellers ready to accept under asking prices.  

Dec 21, 2018 12:39 PM #31
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Well deserved feature  Mike Cooper 

This is a good observation...

"The market has not slowed. What has changed is the number of Realtors working in our market"


Dec 21, 2018 12:39 PM #32
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