Editor’s note: The following is a roundup of news tidbits from the Real Estate Connect conference.
SAN FRANCISCO — It may be the traditionally slow spot on the real estate calendar, but National Association of Realtors CEO Dale Stinton says he’s looking forward to fall.
Stinton, appearing on a panel Thursday at the Real Estate Connect conference, said he agrees with NAR economist Lawrence Yun that the sales drop-off after the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit will endure for a couple more months, then purchases will regain some traction in autumn.
"He thinks the job market is going to pick up and we’ll finish the year in an ‘average’ state, with 5.5 million sales," he said.
Stinton said the job growth will come as a "deferred effect" of federal economic stimulus actions; in addition, he said he believes the down-cycle has run its course.
Regional rebound reported
If there’s one regional market that’s looking up, it may be San Diego-La Jolla, Calif., said Bud Clark, executive vice president and Managing Broker at Willis Allen Real Estate in La Jolla, who attended the conference.
"We’re in a rarified part of the market, of course," he said. "The rest of the country seems to hurting."
Nonetheless, he said, the pricy and even the ultra-pricey properties typical of the area — up to $15 million — are selling, often with all-cash deals, he said.
"Year over year, we’re up very dramatically," he said. "We’re in the black."
Sellers — those who aren’t feeling intense pressure to sell, anyway — have finally embraced the local sales data that agents are presenting them and pricing rationally, he said.
Counting the tech pennies
The economy is forcing more deliberative, studied purchases of real estate technology, and it’s about time, said Frederic Guitton, whose Orlando-based company, ActivSalesAgent, provides concierge-type services to brokerages to handle their sales-lead calls.
"People are questioning their business models and stopping stupid purchases that don’t make them money," he said.
Guitton, an engineer by training, said he’s relieved to note that whim is out and empirical study is in.
"Companies are now making fact-based decisions," he said. "Five or six years ago, they would say, ‘Let’s try it out and see what happens.’ "
Bringing back private lending
For years, private lending has had a slightly unsavory reputation, but the climate is right for it now, according to Eric Wohl, who attended the Real Estate Connect conference representing NoteFlo, a two-week old startup that he described as a "Lending Tree for private lending." The company seeks to match consumers with nontraditional, private sources of funding.
"Money is so hard to get from banks, and I don’t see it getting better," he said.
There’s a price for access to that capital, though: Wohl said interest rates for the private mortgages it facilitates currently start at 7 percent, depending on risk factors, and can go up as high as 12 percent.
Mary Umberger is a freelance writer in Chicago.