As Buyer activity continues to gain steam and the seedlings of a broader-based recovery take root in the Highlands-Cashiers, NC real estate market, I am often asked how to characterize today’s Buyer. Who is buying now? What is the typical Buyer looking for? What changes or shifts are occurring? What does all of this tell us about the market overall?
I am completely fascinated by today’s market, as well as today’s Buyer. When I respond to inquiries on how I would characterize today’s Buyer and/or market, I explain that today’s market, to me, is every market I have ever experienced. That is, over the course of more than a decade in the Highlands real estate market, I have witnessed certain trends each year, highlighted with differing predominant Buyer interests and focus.
The post-9/11 market was one of very nervous Buyers (and panicking Sellers), with the bargain hunter Buyer leading the charge. Years later, the surging market (which peaked in 2005-06) had a jubilant tone of endless possibilities and saw the renovator/builder and investor profiles emerge in the lead Buyer positions. Today, we are seeing a true melting pot of Buyer profiles and market behavior, with Buyer confidence levels appearing all over the continuum from very nervous on one end to supremely confident on the other.
Let’s take a look at some of the profiles of today’s Buyer.
The Investor. This Buyer has a very firm grasp of what it is he or she wants to have happen with his or her investing. He or she follows the market very carefully and possesses deep knowledge about area sales, price comparables, and time on market. This Buyer typically has a short-term and long-term plan for building a portfolio of properties that will provide passive income and a high return over the years. Never dissuaded by nervous chatter in the market, he or she has a “no fuss, no muss” persona and zeros right in on buying opportunities.
The Renovator. This Buyer has the ability to see what is not there and loves the opportunity to transform an ugly duckling, fixer upper into a sparkling swan. He or she understands (and loves) the building process and has no fear of taking on the challenge of renovating a property from top to bottom. This Buyer scans the market for the “diamond in the rough” property located in the best areas. Seeing all upside potential, The Renovator chooses wisely and strategically and works quickly immediately after closing to complete the renovation process.
The Bargain Hunter. This Buyer is all about the deal at the best price. Many times, The Bargain Hunter is attracted to short sales and foreclosures first and foremost. He or she inhales data on distressed properties and has a general rule of thumb or formula for how to make offers on same (based upon listing price to sale price ratios data over the course of the last 12 months of market history). The Bargain Hunter’s interest in a property is piqued more when he or she sees the potential for “a steal,” rather than something that appeals to him or her emotionally.
The Retiree. This Buyer has chosen the Highlands area as their desired location for spending their later years. He or she is passionate about the mountains and our warm and welcoming community. Often times, this Buyer already has ties here, through friends and or family, and is eager to spend more time enjoying life in our exquisite resort community. He or she eyes property that is easy to maintain, convenient to desired locations (shopping, church, golf, other friends/family), and has ample room for guests (especially grandchildren!).
The Builder. While this Buyer was very much a part of the surging market last decade, he or she has taken a step back to reevaluate and wait and see how market conditions play out. This Buyer has reemerged, slowly, within the last year and is considering development buys, larger tracts, and choice building lots. As building becomes higher on the list of Buyer preferences, The Builder will similarly regain his or her once prominent footing.
The Quality of Life Seeker. This Buyer comes to me with a bit of a dimmed light in his or her eyes. He or she is weary of the pressures of life elsewhere (perhaps he or she is living in a large, metropolitan area or a location that experiences soaring heat in the summer, or both). Many times he or she has become disconnected from him or herself and/or his or her loved ones from too much work and too little play. This Buyer wants a change and is no longer willing to put off living his or her best life. He or she enlists my help to paint out a dream/vision; we then work together to make that dream a reality. This Buyer visits me exceedingly often after closing. Renewed and reenergized, these Buyers stop in my office with wide grins and happy hearts, expressing deep gratitude for helping to change their lives.
Of course, there are mixtures of each of these Buyer profiles, with some characteristics blending into hybrid categories. Each Buyer, regardless of profile, shares the dream of finding and/or creating a “home” in the mountains, not just a house. In fact, my Buyers often remark that with their purchase in Highlands, they at last feel they have found “home.” And it is this wide and pervasive appeal of life in our spectacular mountains that will forever drive the health of sales and full steam market recovery.