Stockberger: Spring brings share of real estate surprises — and most have been good ones

May 04, 2020

As our “new normal” continues to bring all the ultra-freshness of rapid adaptation, wanted or not, we are being blessed with spring.

The absence of cold and snow we have been accustomed to in late April was wildly pleasant. For me, 2019 was – at the time – the strangest year I had ever sold real estate. I call the real estate market a “she.” She ebbs and flows, and does what she wants. Nobody can predict her every move, but she has common seasonalities for the most part, and I price and pivot within her parameters at the current time.

Well, 2019 was her year to break almost all of her common seasonalities, and I believe they were mainly weather-related. Our 2019 spring market was slow to start; it was cold and wet for a long time.

The month of July typically is slower for under-contract sales, with people trying to get all they can out of the last days of summer before school ramps up, but we put 25 percent more under contract in July 2019 than we did in July 2018. I told more clients than I can count, “She is a little unpredictable this year.”

Enter 2020. She is ready to party, people. If you listen to the national news, you would assume her prices would be going down. Not the case. The National Association of Realtors’® release of the latest Economic Pulse Flash Survey shows that people selling their houses today are holding strong on prices. Its data reveals that 74 percent of real estate agents noted that sellers are not dropping listing prices to attract more buyers.

We have seen more multiple offers this year to date than last year by far. There is a shortage of homes and a surplus of buyers. My brokerage is up over 32 percent for March 2019 to March 2020 and over 25 percent for April year-to-year. Housing is essential. Period.

With interest rates hovering in the low 3 percent range, buyers are taking advantage of buying more home for less money. Renters are moving into homeownership for smaller monthly payments. We created our Lease Buyout Assistance Program last month to help buyers take advantage of this fabulous rate. Goldman Sachs is predicting the biggest uptick the U.S. has ever seen in the third quarter. As quickly as we saw the interest rate drop, we will see it go back up. Timing is essential.

Housing inventory is in a shortage by close to 20 percent. With the shift to making the entire process virtual from beginning to end, the results have remained the same, connecting buyers and sellers. A shortage of cold weather has helped too.

What we haven’t experienced though is a shortage of goodwill. Buying and selling a home is a big financial decision, often full of emotion on both sides. This, at times, can lead to emotion-fueled behaviors. We have seen none of that this spring. In fact, more than ever, we have seen goodness extended in heaps. Just last week, one of our Home Support Team partners, Love Our Roof, Xcel Roofing put on a new roof for free for one of our clients. Its outreach assists veterans and truly was such a blessing.

Moral of the story: A recession does not equal a housing crisis, a housing shortage does not equal a shortage of goodwill. And, a little bit of sun always helps.

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