“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” ~ Plato
More and more, we are attracting intensely passionate, curious, and studious real estate investors into our market. I may be biased, but I’ve always felt Highlands attracted investors who were a cut above the average bear; the reason being – these folks do their homework well in advance of their visit. They know what is selling, what is not, and what the market stats are in great detail. All good!
This season, though, I’ve been thrilled to see this intellectual curiosity ramp up to a new level. Well beyond gathering mere facts and data, these folks are digging into underlying trends, sophisticated forecasting, and getting real market intel, as well as weaving same into all of their decision making. They remind me of the best combination of an analyst, an anthropologist, and an expert spreadsheet maker! My tribe!
So, of course, it is incredibly fun when folks arrange appointments with me to sit down together and learn the market through my eyes. We talk history, cycles, market influences, resort market vagaries (generally), Highlands market vagaries (specifically), sales, opportunities, demographic silos and preferences, and just about everything else that could impact our market.
It occurred to me the other day that I could be having this conversation on a much larger scale! Therefore, I’d like to encourage you to email me (susie@WhiteOakRG.com) your questions about the Highlands-Cashiers real estate market, and I will select one to answer in depth in an upcoming column. Fire away!
For today, let’s review a wonderful question an investor just asked me a few days ago. It points to how our market can, at times, be very confusing to the uninitiated who are looking at data points and trying to make sense of conflicting information. His question was this: “It appears that everything is for sale here – signs are everywhere and the real estate guide is packed with listings – yet, when I look at the sales numbers, the figures look strong. What is going on here?”
Excellent question, no?
To arrive at the answer, we need to go back in time to the depths of the downturn in the market (2008-2012). Of course, during this time, we had Sellers of all stripes trying to sell their properties. Some Sellers were in major financial duress and were selling short or were in foreclosure. Others looked around and decided to pass on trying to sell in such a challenging environment (and pulled their properties off the market). And still other Sellers were happy to “go fish” in whatever climate at prices that the market could not sustain as they were in the enviable position to not have to sell.
As the market improved, folks became more courageous in listing. With each year since 2012, as conditions strengthened for Sellers, more and more Sellers jumped in and listed their homes. Inventory continued to climb; while the market had improved, we simply did not have the sales volume to make a dent in the inventory levels.
Fast forward to August of 2016. Sales are strong! The market is healthy (and is continuing to get stronger with each passing week). Yet, inventory levels (e.g., competition for Sellers) remain high. As of yet, we have not cycled through the backlog of properties for sale that was built over the course of many years. Remember that Seller who was happy to “go fish” because he didn’t have to sell? He is still very much a part of this market (and will continue to be). As a resort market, we will always in some regard have that Seller. As a result, our inventory, even in the most active of seasons, will tend to run higher than primary home markets.
So, yes, there are real estate signs everywhere, and the real estate guide is packed to the gills with listings. It is also true that we are enjoying a resounding recovery in our market and are seeing terrific sales activity. Investing wisely requires more than a sharp eye and dedicated focus on precisely where to place your bets – it relies upon a holistic and comprehensive understanding of what created today’s market and where it is heading.