By Louise Bolger
Transitioning to a buyers market
SUN STAFF WRITER
I recently came back from a long car trip through the northeast
and north into Quebec. Typically when I travel, local real
estate books and real estate sections of newspapers become
part of my daily reading, and this year was no different.
Only this year it seemed that the listing prices on the properties
were going down in direct proportion to the mileage on my
car going up.
The state of Connecticut seemed like a bargain compared to
southwest Florida, and even waterfront outside of Boston was
substantially less than the last time I was there. Resort
areas like Block Island, R.I., were still pricey, but somehow
not as steep as I would have expected. The best buy, however,
was Vermont, where property size is defined in terms of acreage,
and if you dont mind the snow, moose and bears you can
buy a lot of woods for less than a one bedroom condo would
cost on Anna Maria.
What does this all mean? It apparently means that in spite
of everyone saying prices wouldnt go down, including
me, they have. Is it time to panic? No, not unless you bought
in February and want to sell in September. Do we need to wait
until our buying season starts? Absolutely. We dont
really know what the market will be like until the serious
buyers start arriving near the end of the year.
Right now, buyers and sellers appear to be in a stalemate.
Property owners are reluctant to cut prices and buyers are
watching from the sidelines hoping for a fire sale. The market
is definitely transitioning from a sellers to a buyers
market, and the psychology of the new environment hasnt
caught up with everyone yet.
There are, however, signs out there that we may need to lower
our expectations and that the incredible run weve had
during the past five years may be over. The St. Joe Company,
which is currently marketing and plans to build Seven Shores
on Perico Island, recently announced it will be leaving the
Florida homebuilding market.
Makes you wonder what their marketing and demographics researchers
know that we dont. In addition, the national economy
is starting to feel the affects of a slow down in the real
estate market. Remember, the perception of wealth keeps people
buying those big-ticket items, and if you perceive that your
home is worth less now than it was six months ago, theres
a good chance your buying habits will be impacted.
Also, brokers and sellers are starting to attach incentives
to their marketing plans. Everything from free trips to new
cars and boats are starting to show up in advertising.
Builders have been doing this for a while offering upgrades,
closing costs and condo fees, as well as cash incentives.
Dont be surprised to see more of this as sellers and
builders continue to feel the pinch.
Hopefully when the cool weather starts to blow in off the
Gulf, so will the buyers and their checkbooks. In the meantime,
perhaps a cartoon I recently saw will put everything in perspective.
It goes something like this: Dad says, "You sold your
tree house for $299,000." His son replies, "Cmon
dad Dont make me feel bad. I had to cut the price 50
Lets all hope 50 grand is the most we have to reduce
our tree houses.