Here we are in our second month of 2014!!! So far, 2014 promises to be much different than last year. Things feel different. Not worse or better, just different. For starters, how about this weather??? As I write these words, freezing rain is piling up outside the office, and there are winter storm warnings in the Mississippi Gulf Coast of all places!!!

The weather isn’t the only thing that feels different, the market feels different as well. Again, not worse or better necessarily, but different. And, those differences can sometimes show up in some market segments more than others. I’ll try to explain. The other day I bumped into a friend who also happens to be a past client and was asked the first question that I’m often asked: “How’s the real estate market?” He’s considering listing his home; it’s an obvious question, and one that I’m asked often. It should be easy to answer, and I should roll off my thoughts on the market in a matter of seconds (which I did, to a certain degree, and perhaps to the dismay of the listener). The interaction reminded me of some things about answering such a question, though. The answer could be a simple one or two-word summary, I suppose. Some professionals might use descriptives such as “great, steady, challenging, slow, or fast.” These are the simple summaries that are often batted about as people “talk real estate.” Most sales people are trained to be quick to assert that things are “fantastic.” Personally, I always had a problem with a standard answer like that, because I found it to be disingenuous, and sometimes dishonest at a certain level, at least without some clarification.

Of course, it’s really not as simple as just “fantastic” or “challenging” (even if folks who ask are only looking for a quick summary or conversation starter). Why? Because real estate is inherently local in nature. What do I mean by that? I wish I had a better example to illustrate my point than the one that follows, but it’s the best example I know of to describe what I mean of real estate being “local,” so please forgive me for using an example that may seem upsetting. Several years back, I began to notice something in one of our area’s more prominent neighborhoods. There was one particular street within the neighborhood that was not performing as well as the balance of the neighborhood. In fact, while other homes in the neighborhood would sell relatively quickly, multiple homes on this single street remained up for sale for lengthy periods of time, and the ones that sold did so for less than the average sales of the homes within the same neighborhood - even homes only a couple streets over. There wasn’t anything conditionally superior to the homes throughout the neighborhood - in fact, several of these homes were lakefront! I wondered why this could be, and did some searching and asking and found the answer. I was dismayed by my discovery that a registered sex offender had moved into a home on that street. Subtly, people had become aware of this fact, and it started to have an effect on the sales of the properties on this single street.

You see, local can be as specific as a single street within a neighborhood. The point is that no matter what is happening in the nation, the state, the metro area, the city, or the suburb, there are still environmental and economic factors that come into play for a single neighborhood and even a single street within that neighborhood!!! The result is a lot of conflicting information out there. For example, you may read that sales in the country have increased 20%, but in your own neighborhood, you notice that homes are taking longer to sell (or perhaps they’re flying off the shelves).

You find evidence of this conflict in certain price ranges too, where at certain times a particular price range (or market segment) is more aggressive than others even though the market conditions appear to be the same. For instance, last year there was roughly a 50% increase in sales of homes in the $140,000 to $160,000 price range over the previous year. I suspect this was a result of first time home buyers entering the market once more with aggressive interest rates and renewed fervor in the market.

So what does that mean for 2014? Overall, the final quarter of 2013 dealt the market a lot of distractions including a rise in rates (only into the 4% range, incidentally); the government shutdown that affected VA, FHA, and USDA loans; grappling with the ramifications of Obamacare on the finances of families; and the expected focus on the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. As a result, the difference between the beginning of 2013 versus 2014 was there seemed to be less wind in our sails as January 1st rolled around. And then, like magic, on January 3rd, we started feeling upswings in buyer activity in several price ranges in our market place, which is an encouraging sign that these “distractions” may have run their course for now. Spring inventory is coming on, and the best property selections will be available for purchasing. Rates are in the low 4% range for most purchasers.

When it comes to serving our friends and clients, we hope that one of the things for which you can count on us is truly in-depth knowledge of the market and how that relates to making the best decisions possible regarding your home and property. Things like knowledge of the nuances of local markets that I’ve written about in these paragraphs along with countless other things. In the end, it’s what we hope sets us apart from anyone in our market as we serve you and those you care about.

To the best year ever!

Adam & Team