Editor’s note: No one knows the local real estate market better than Realtors. In this two-part series, Inman News sought out local insights on what’s happening on the ground and what agents think is in store for 2007. (Read Part 1.)

David Elya
Broker/owner
Realty Executives Group
Shelby Township, Mich.

How is your market?

“It’s a great time to buy right now. There’s ample inventory to choose from. A lot of buyers are moving up, finally getting the home that they wanted — a bigger, better home at a better price. It’s just taking a little time sometimes to sell their own homes and get those priced fairly.”

What’s happening with prices?

“Prices for the most part, over the last year, have probably declined slightly as far as average sale price. It’s all relative because the next home that people buy will be a good value as well, so it’s really a good time right now to buy a home.”

What do you anticipate the market will be like next year?

“Well, from what I hear about interest rates coming down, and the amount of inventory available, I think it’s a good time for a lot of first-time home buyers to purchase their first home.”

What industry issues are you following?

“There’s a lot of issues that are coming down the pipeline. A lot of them have to do with the Internet, and how the Internet is used by today’s consumers. There’s regulatory issues especially now with the whole change in Congress, and the House; there are some things we’re unsure of as far as … the Realtor-friendly policies and which way the wind is going to blow. On the state level there are a lot of issues especially when it comes down to jobs, and the lack of jobs, and how people can afford homes if they stay in the state of Michigan.

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry next year?

“I would think affordability of homes, and the fact that a lot of sellers may not have the equity in their homes that they thought they had at one time, because the ample supply of homes tended to bring prices down a little bit. So they might not be able to sell for what they owe.”

Do you plan to invest in new technology in 2007?

“Yeah, I’m kind of a techie guy. I’m always looking for different avenues. I just purchased a new camera at the show I’m going to play around with, and do some things, uploading some things on the Web. There’s a lot of things Internet-wise that today’s buyers are looking for and I feel like I’m on the cutting edge as far as helping the buyer, as well as assisting the seller get top dollar for their home.

“I have over 100 Web domains myself right now. I have a lot of Internet Web sites geared specifically for neighborhoods or even counties. Home searches — I have Web sites that help people look for condos versus look for homes, I have community-related ones, for cities, so that and when I do get a new listing, I have a URL for the homes, each one has an individual site. I have a way to host all my Web sites at relatively low cost. For the last 10 years I’ve been doing it, I feel I’m a little bit ahead of the curve, maybe.”

Dani Gilchrist
Realtor
Windermere Real Estate/Tri Cities
President-elect, Tri-City Association of Realtors
Kennewick, Wash.

How is your market? 

“My market is fantastic. It’s a balanced market — we never had the highs, we never had the lows. We have an excellent economy and the market is just doing great. Inventory is a little higher than it had been, but we sold 10.3 houses a day last year; this year we’re selling 9.9, so it’s down slightly but not bad. “

What’s happening with prices?

“Our median price is about $174,000, which is very affordable, and so the prices have not gone up or down — they pretty much stayed the same. Excellent market. We have buyers. We’re in a desert, in eastern Washington, which has 300 days of sunshine a year and warm, hot weather like Las Vegas. A lot of California buyers are moving in because they can golf year round and buy a big house for a lot less than they could in California. We are seeing second homes. We have a phenomena in our market where you come to visit, whether it’s a relative or a friend, and you come back and live there because the job market is so good. “

What do you anticipate the market will be like next year?

“I anticipate they will stay the same or be better. We are in a market where they are doing a government project that will last until the year 2026. So the market is very good in our area. (The project is) glassification, or vitrification, turning spent plutonium into glass cubes, glass tubes. We are where the Manhattan project was in the ’40s. Yucca Mountain woke up, Las Vegas woke up, and they won’t take it. We probably are going to end up storing it right there in our own backyard. It is a positive thing. There’s 26 miles of the Columbia River that’s never been touched, and with this project the government is actually going to turn it into a park. They’re containing the radiation, and I think the outcome is going to be fantastic. We also have the second-largest wine industry in the U.S. and may take over Napa Valley.”

What industry issues are you following?

“We don’t have any. We hear so much doom and gloom in the national news, and we don’t have that. So my job as president (of the Realtors Association) is to be sure — because the national news is telling the buyers and sellers that (the market is down), and they believe it. And we have to convince them that’s not true in every market.”

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry next year?

“Obviously we’d like to keep banks out of the real estate industry, but outside of that, nothing specific. Hopefully the interest rates will stay down, and not continue to go up. I think that will help the industry a lot.”

Do you plan to invest in new technology in 2007?

“We, our board, we have our own Web site. We are giving ZipForms to all our agents, free. The board bought them for them. I have my own Web site; my company has its own Web site. And you know what? Those buyers use those Web sites religiously, but when they get ready to buy they call an agent. “

Jhonson Napoleon
Broker/owner
Napoleon Real Estate Group
Miami, Fla.

How is your market?

It’s kind of slow. Inventory is high — very, very high right now, actually. (I’m) Hoping pretty soon (it will) go down, because no hurricane came through this year.”  

What’s happening with prices?

“Prices still the same, actually. Prices, the owners don’t want to budge. I think we need more good press. The press doesn’t help at all. You guys need to start talking much more good things.”

What do you anticipate the market will be like next year?

“My anticipation would be back to 2004 levels. If it does it would be very, very good for us.”

What industry issues are you following?

“Of course interest rates. If interest rates would go lower, of course buyers would want to buy. (The) job market is good, but in a fragmented market like Miami, foreign immigrants’ income is not to par with housing prices. If those people can get papers to be legal to work, the market would go back again and they would work and make money.”

Do you plan to invest in new technology in 2007?

“Not right now. Basically I have all there is available in the market. I’ve been using the Internet since 1992 in my practice so it’s very heavy. Mass e-mail, Web sites, generating leads.”

Kevin Goedker
Broker
C-21 Brainerd Realty
President, Greater Lakes Multiple Listing Service
Brainerd, Minn.

How is your market? 

“Our real estate market is seeing some adjustment from the past few years, but it’s still a good market. I’ve been involved in real estate myself for 13 years, and (my family was) involved in the market back in the ’80s, so I’m familiar with all kinds of markets. There’s still activity going on this time of year. In Minnesota, it usually slows down naturally because of the winter. So we’re actually seeing typical activity right now during the winter. Again, it all depends on what price range and what type of property. There’s some properties that we’re selling in a matter of days, investment type of property, but then there’s other properties that are sitting on the market a little longer because of so much more inventory. There’s almost $2 billion worth of real estate on the market in my market right now. It’s $1.7 billion worth of real estate right now.

What’s happening with prices?

“I wouldn’t say that anything’s values are going down. I would say they have slowed from what they were. As an example, one particular area in the town I’m in has experienced a pretty regular 10 (percent) to 12 percent increase in values for the last five years. At this point, I would say it’s probably half that. In some parts of that, the higher-end area, (there’s) probably zero appreciation. But some of the lower values in that area are probably still experiencing 10, 15, 20 percent appreciation because of demand. It all comes back to supply and demand.”

What do you anticipate the market will be like next year?

“There’s buyers out there. Again, it depends on what kind of property but there’s definitely a lot of buyers out there. I think some of them are hesitant, they’re looking for that perfect place, and right now there’s so much to choose from that I think in some ways that affects their making a decision as quick as they have in the past.”

“Our economy where I’m at is very good. We have an area where people are moving to (in order) to retire. It’s probably one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. It’s central Minnesota. It’s expected to almost double in size in the next 15 to 20 years. … A lot of retirement people are moving to that area, a lot of people buying second homes in that area because we’ve got lake homes, and a lot of retirement things, medical facilities, so it’s a nice place to not only have a second home but also retire at. So we still have people moving to that area, which means that there needs to be jobs of all ranges to address the influx of people.

“There’s a base of people that live in Minnesota that maybe don’t have a lot of money to retire to Florida or something like that. They’re retiring to my particular area because there’s hospitals there, there’s growth there, that way they’re able to be close to those facilities. Right now they might live in a more rural area. The city I’m in is only about 13,000, 14,000 people.”

Do you plan to invest in new technology in 2007?

“That’s one of the things I always look forward to at the (National Association of Realtors) convention — to get different ideas. And being an e-Pro, an Internet-certified Realtor, I understand that the Internet is very important. We’re seeing a large push to move from paper advertising to more Internet advertising. I already do a lot of Internet advertising, but expect to be investing more in not only my Web site but in some other lead-generation tools on the Internet. Not only in site optimization, but lead-generation tools.”

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to matt@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 150.

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