February 2024 Monthly Note.

This month: timing the market, super-short market insight, contracts, boomers, specificity matters.

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Happy nearly-March!

This month: timing the market, super-short market insight, contracts, boomers, specificity matters.

Quick market look

Sales down, listings down, prices up. I’m comparing 2019 to 2024 as 2019 is the most recent “normal-ish” real estate market.

Questions about the market, or want to check in on your home’s value? Just ask.

And a happy reminder to you real estate folks reading: this note is not for you. But if you feel like referring business to me, please read on.


One of the benefits of being back in the office

Conversations with other agents.

Another agent asked, “How do you answer this question?”

Buyer asks, “What should we do? Should we buy now, or wait for more inventory?”

Buy when you’re ready — financially, emotionally, psychologically — and when you’re confident in your life stability. Timing the market is a fool’s game. Rates might go down, prices might go up or down. But when you’re ready, you’re ready. Get to “good enough” and be at peace with your decision. (and stop looking at Zillow after you go under contract!)

 

I wrote this in 2014, and it remains relevant

These are perhaps the most difficult questions posed to me by my clients, more challenging than “What should we offer?” or “Are there kids in this neighborhood?” or “What’s going to happen to that parcel of land across the street?” “Are we making a good decision?” means “Will we be happy here? and “Will we lose or make money when we sell?”

Note: This is not directed at any single one of my clients, because many, if not most, of them have asked me one of these questions. ?

“Should we do this?” My honest answer is “I don’t know, but …” I usually answer this question by asking questions that lead my clients to come to the decisions themselves. I’m not the one writing the mortgage, and for a decision this massive, I truly want my clients to be comfortable and confident not just in their ultimate decisions but also in the process by which they arrive at that decision. Often, the decision is to not make an offer or to walk away during the home inspection timeframe. More often, the decision is to move forward with the purchase. But the process matters. The discussion matters.

More often than I’d like, this market (2024 update: yep, we’ve been here for a long time!) presents multiple offer situations, and I do my damnedest to encourage my clients to make decisions in a vacuum. Ignore that there is another offer and focus on whether this home is the one in which you want to be living in in 17 months. And three years. And 10 years. And maybe longer. Selling a house is a hell of a lot harder and more expensive than terminating a lease.

Many times I’ve told my clients with kids that my concern and focus is obviously on helping them make good decisions, and I recognize that the advice and guidance I provide is going to impact their lives – and their kids’ lives – likely forever. What I do is not something I take lightly, and I try to convey the gravity of the decision to my clients … and then help them work to make good decisions.

Cold morning, hot coffee, and the sunrise. There’s a reason for the hashtag, #BikeTherapy

Writing Contracts

Writing contracts is a skill and one that takes practice, practice, practice, and constant evaluation. (a skill not ever explicitly taught) I use addenda now that I didn’t have a few years ago, and I have one that I use solely as a conversation piece with my clients, even though we don’t actually submit it.

We’re in an era where reading contracts is more critical than ever, as agents are seeing more, and more different, contracts floating around. This wasn’t taught in real estate school, unfortunately.

 

“Boomer Mentality”

Have you listened yet to “Forever Renters” on NPR’s marketplace? It’s worth the listen.

“Increasingly, the cost of buying a home has led more Americans to prepare to rent forever.”

If “driving to qualify” is not an option, renting forever might feel like the next best option.

In conversation with a client, she mentioned that she was trying to convince her kid (nearly the same age as my older daughter) to buy a house. His response — “Mom, that’s boomer thinking.”

He’s kind of right. A lot of today’s people — not just Americans — either don’t see themselves ever being able to purchase due to costs (in addition to healthcare, childcare, adult care, transportation costs, etc.). Many today seem to value mobility — of job and of life.

The point of the story? Understanding and empathy for today’s buyers and sellers.

Read this whole thing. I am a millennial. I don’t use napkins (paper towels only), I love to travel, and I have kids (well, one kid, with another due in July). I also do not own a home, and I would like to talk about why.

Also related, from February 2005: “.. laments that the seemingly endless surges in housing prices have doomed him to forever be a renter.” And from Ireland this year: “Young people shut out of housing market could turn to authoritarianism.

 

What does 12am mean?

An email I sent once when I was reviewing an offer that had a 12am deadline. If we were reviewing on June 30 at 5pm, and the offer expired June 30 at 12am, specificity is important.

The way I read it is:

11:59 pm is the 11th
12:00 am is the 12th.
12:01 am is the 12th.

When do you say “Happy New Year?” or when does the date change on your phone?


Serenity

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s something else. The Serenity Prayer takes on more meaning as I get older. Some things I can change, some things I can’t, and life experience is teaching me how to tell the difference.

More, everyone has something going on that is affecting them.

Related: Let it Go by the Infamous Stringdusters.

Communication.

I wrote a bit last month about communication. This month, during a week of training, communication came up. I texted this sketch to a friend in the class who said he’d been telling the person next to him about it. I beat him to the text. 🙂

This (profanity-laden) sketch is a perfect example of why I will often text my clients, “Have a minute for a call? Everything is fine.”

 

What I’m Reading

What I’m Listening To

Traveling is good. Walker and I went to Copenhagen. I always look at the real estate flyers.

 

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