The real estate market is the bright spot in the economy; houses are selling like hotcakes in some locales; interest rates have dipped to record lows; and a multitude of mortgage options exist for buyers. So what’s to worry about?
Bubbles burst, booms bust and tides turn. And while an informal Inman News survey found no foretelling of utter doom and gloom, there were some issues dogging some people’s consciences. There is an upcoming national election; average buyers are being priced out of the real estate market; low inventory is an issue in some sellers’ markets; credit is being dealt out fast and loose; the labyrinth of Web sites and competing technologies is becoming more difficult to navigate; and low-commission enterprises are gaining market share in some areas.
But staying with the basics, realty salespeople say, can lead them to weather any storm.
Richard “Dick” Jeans, a salesperson with Century21 Advantage in Wichita, Kan., said good service will never go out of style.
“Probably today the agent is more important than (he or she) has ever been. I’m not worried,” said Jeans, who entered the business about a year ago.
Though we live in an increasingly tech-savvy society, the extensive array of home-buying and home-selling tools available online can be “almost paralyzing” to consumers, he said.
“They’re overloaded with information. The vast majority of people are going to rely on good competent assistance to show them how to get to where they want. You always have to have someone who holds people’s hands and does some interpreting,” he said.
“How you manage the toys you have today is really what makes or breaks (your business),” he added.
Carol Onder, a Realtor at Realty Executives in Phoenix, Ariz., said technology is valuable but cannot replace knowledge and experience.
“The bottom line is for you to know the inventory. You have to go to the real estate meetings and you have to do the tours.”
Technology seems to have a positive role in the industry, as buyers are generally more educated these days, she said. There is a swelling population of Realtors, but this growing competition is not daunting to Onder.
“If you’re doing what you really enjoy, you can’t help but succeed,” she said.
Onder said she is a bit worried about the impact of the upcoming election on the real estate market, though she expects the boom to continue at least until then.
Anne-Jeanette Rankin of Guarantee Real Estate in Fresno, Calif., said the real estate market is experiencing a bubble in California’s Central Valley, and scarce inventory and competition from low-commission businesses are unavoidable issues.
“Buyers are forced to make purchases at the maximum of what they can afford,” she said, and sellers can afford to be inflexible when it comes to negotiating repairs. She cited a case in which a buyer backed out of a purchase because of a repair issue, and the seller turned around and found another buyer willing to pay $10,000 more for the home as is.
Teri Pacitto, estates director for RE/MAX Olson & Associates of Westlake Village in southern California, also noted limited inventory and rising home prices.
One trend that worries Jim Lee of Realty Executives Associates in Knoxville, Tenn., is the encroachment of what he called “third-party interlopers” between Realtors and prospective buyers and sellers. Some of these newcomers seem to demand ever-increasing fees for little contribution to the transaction, he said.
Lee, who has been in the real estate business since 1978, said he is least worried by the growing dependence on new technologies.
“I was one of the early adopters and feel very comfortable with computers, the Internet, and all of the other gadgets and doodads we have the pleasure of using in our business,” he said.
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