I've been out talking to a lot of people in the business, as well as doing a good amount of research (as a geek might do). Understand that what you're about to read is my informed opinion, not necessarily that of other Realtors or the “official” Realtor organizations.
I think the real estate market, in certain neighborhoods, at certain price points, has gone soft again. I think the local economy is in, or near, recession. And I think there is a lot of uncertainty out there as we head into what will be a very contentious fall election cycle.
On top of this, there has been a significant increase in the number of licensed real estate salespeople here in South Florida over the last couple years. One would expect the number of licensees to be a lagging indicator. The better the perceptions of the market, the more people who want to get licensed (and vice versa).
So now there are a lot of relatively inexperienced people trying to do business in a changing market, where in many neighborhoods (for example, most of the Island City) the volume of sales has gone down.
And from the property owner’s perspective, economic uncertainty and softer sales can mean more of a challenge selling their homes than we have seen over the past couple years.
What is to be done?
If you are a Realtor in a likely-changing market space, you want customers to say of you what property owners want to hear from potential buyers. Those three words from the iconic Dana Carvey Saturday Night Live sketch:
“Isn't That Special”?
Let's look at it from the Realtor perspective first. What would happen to average Realtor's income if, for example, you had 10 percent more Realtors (probably an understatement) going after 10 percent less business (and as we have seen from previous columns, business in parts of WilMa has declined by more than that)? Simple math tells us that, all other things being equal, average income would decrease by 18 percent!
Now as I've written before, averages can be misleading. But how can someone stand out as being a whole lot better than average? What can they offer customers that is “special”?
Then from the property owner's perspective, there must be an understanding of new realities. What is the new market-clearing price, and how long might it take to achieve that? Also, is the property the kind that is sufficiently “special” to sell in these market conditions? As I mentioned in a recent column, I'm seeing two types of properties selling (where sales are occurring): Fully updated properties in move-in condition; and also, properties in need of updating, available at a bargain price. Anything in between is now a much harder sell.
James Oaksun, Broward's Real Estate Geek(SM), is a Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Preferred. In addition to having degrees from Dartmouth and Cornell, he is a graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI).