Spring is in the air – especially for real estate markets. I’ve always felt like the personal stories and anecdotes I hear from agents who are on the ground and working with buyers and sellers say much more about the state of the market than statistics, which are often time lagging and misleading.
This spring, the agents I talk to are busy – beyond belief it seems. They’re seeing multiple offers, pre-recession inventory levels, and a general thirst for real estate from consumers.
But the stats aren’t too shabby either. Another great piece of news we saw come out recently was a look at the market for second homes and investment properties in 2011. Investment home sales surged 64.5% to 1.23 million in 2011 from 749,000 in 2010, while vacation home sales rose 7% to 502,000 in 2011 from 469,000 in 2010 (according to the National Association of Realtors’ annual survey).
Overall, vacation home purchases accounted for 11% of all transactions last year, up from 10% in 2010, while investment sales jumped to 27% last year from 17% the year before. The shift is good news for real estate markets because it shows the market is able to absorb the foreclosures hitting the market.
That’s what some of the stats are saying. What do the agents say?
As I mentioned, most that I talk to are super busy. They tell me that markets where jobs have been picking up and where inventory is at a healthy level are doing very well. However, the pockets of neighborhoods that were overdeveloped for the most part are still struggling to absorb inventory.
This all points to a good spring for buyers and sellers. The tech-heavy economies like ours in Silicon Valley are benefiting from extraordinary job markets in which big standout companies like Zynga and Facebook are growing like weeds, hiring and enjoying new IPOs.
Spring historically has always been a great season for real estate, but this one feels even better as we hear anecdotes and statistics working in the same direction. There’s a turning point happening. And although many still argue we’re in a mostly jobless recovery, those who are lucky enough to be in areas where the economy is picking up are doing just fine. (Don’t get me wrong, though – those who are in badly hit areas that aren’t recovering as easily are still struggling and we need to acknowledge that.)
Americans are back in the real estate frame of mind.