“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” ~ Steve Jobs
It is always fun to take stock of the previous year and review events in order to analyze market trends and goings on, as well as gather inklings for what those trends may mean for the coming months. The 2016 real estate market gives us some definitive clues for how we may interpret the tea leaves for the 2017 market, most especially with regard to demographics, Buyer preferences, and an intriguing market shift for a segment of Sellers.
As I review my Buyer clients who purchased property in 2016, there is a continuation and strengthening of a trend that began a few years ago: increasingly, I am seeing a younger demographic invest in the Highlands market. I estimate that at least half of the Buyers I represented last year were in their 30s and 40s. This group of investors without fail has done their homework. They are very astute and savvy in terms of market valuations, sales, design trends, and rental demand. These Buyers will continue to seek properties they can renovate to reflect their own tastes (and that of future renters and Buyers). Projects do not scare them; in fact, they embrace the challenge of renovating and possess a clear vision for what they want to achieve. Note: I predict this demographic will lead new construction starts in 2017, with a particular emphasis on buying improved properties close in to Main Street and either completely renovating them or tearing down existing structures and building anew from scratch.
I also see an interesting trend on the horizon for 2017 as it pertains to investors who have been on the sidelines since 2008-2010. As we all know, when the real estate market bottomed, Highlands was not immune to the effects. There were a multitude of Sellers who got caught with properties they could not sell either due to the dearth of Buyers, being completely upside down in the property, or both. Many of these folks took heavy losses not only financially, but also to their credit histories. Interestingly, as the adage goes, time heals all wounds; these folks are now going to be back in the market this year. With renewed enthusiasm, repaired credit scores, stable incomes, and a zeal to invest in these mountains they love so much, this group of Buyers will be looking for properties in the $400,000 and under range (to limit exposure). They will be looking for outlier properties, sleeper properties, and also affordable lots with great potential — all in an effort to find the diamond in the rough that gets them back in the game.
Let’s talk luxury, shall we? 2017 is going to be all about luxury! I predict a huge upswing in luxury real estate sales across all neighborhoods, country clubs, and home styles. Sellers, if you have been patiently waiting for your Buyer, this is your year! Take the winter months to get your home inspected and tend to all repairs and maintenance items. Clean up and declutter. Think immaculate, pristine spaces because the group of investors coming into the market this year expect/demand an even higher attention to detail and property condition must reflect that. They are willing to pay for the unique, the special, and the extraordinary. Get your house in order – literally.
Perhaps the most intriguing trend I see for 2017 is the shift toward being a total Seller’s market for those who are selling properties within a half mile of Main Street, as well as for Sellers of properties that have been renovated in accordance with market taste/style preferences, are situated on desirable lots, and are priced in line with market value. When I say a “total Seller’s market,” I mean just that. In 2017, I predict Sellers of these properties will have an average of 60 days on market and will command higher sales price to listing price percentages. Caution for Sellers: if your property is not priced in line with market value, this market won’t bite. Don’t miss your window – listen to your agent and price accordingly!
This year will be my 16th year in the real estate business in Highlands. I can honestly say I am more excited about the market this year than I have ever been. I see blue skies for both Sellers and Buyers, with strong activity, as well as a surge of property renovations and neighborhood renewal across all price points. This coming market feels fun, light, exciting, and busy! If you’ve been circling the idea of whether or not to buy or sell, I predict you’ll find the 2017 market to be one that offers the best in a fresh start.