Have you ever had to argue for a cause that you did not quite believe in? How about defend a good friend that you knew was wrong? This is usually not the most comfortable situation to be in. I know that I have never, ever won a discussion with my wife so I have started to take her side before she can even get her talking points together. This has helped my sanity and our relationship greatly. It has also helped when trying to look through the eyes of my customers. The view through our buyer’s eyes is not as rosy some of our sellers believe. Since most who read this own property in Charlotte County, that they may be selling right now or wish to sell in five years, it is always good to look at the market through the eyes of your potential buyer.
Currently, the real estate market is not as strong as it was two years ago. Properties are not selling as quickly and in most cases, not for as much money as they would have 18 months ago. To some, this is bad news and to some this is GREAT news. Again, it depends on whether the market is viewed from a buyer’s or seller’s perspective.
Most sellers think that buyers are in a great position. I have heard the phrase “I wish that I was buying real estate right now” many times while on listing appointments or while just talking to friends. Sellers and the general public see buyers as being lucky or fortunate due to the recent market slowdown. However, I think that they would be quite surprised by what our current buyers think of the situation.
I can safely say that almost all of our current prospective buyers and recent purchasers are excited that they may be able to buy a property for less than they would have paid 18 months ago. I can also safely say that they are happy that they may be able to negotiate a little more with the seller. I can also say that it is probably a more stressful buying situation for the buyer today when the market is down than when it was a strong sellers market.
Our current buyers are worried. Most are from up north where the real estate markets are also slow. They may have their house on the market for sale up there or may have already sold it. In the case of the ones that need to sell up north, their confidence level of selling has dwindled so seeing a great deal down here can be a tough problem. If they fall in love with a house down here which will complete their dream of living in warm weather on or near the water, they have to make the choice of buying now and carrying two homes until the northern home sells or racing to sell their current home before their southern dream home sells. Racing is not a fun situation because that northern buyer knows that everyday they could see a Pending sign in front of their dream home.
Even in the case of the buyer who has sold their home up north or simply does not need to, it can be a stressful situation. Again, they may get a better deal than they got 18 months ago but it is very tough to drive down a street where the number of “For Sale” signs compete with the number of mailboxes. It does not build confidence to read national publications that say the real estate bubble is bursting or leaking or exhaling or whatever other term is used. Many of our buyers see the market as declining further. They are faced with questions as to whether to buy now into a market where everyone is selling and the so-called experts say that it is not going to get better soon or to wait. However, if they wait and the so-called experts are wrong, they may miss the bottom and have to buy in an ascending market again. It was much easier for our buyers to pull the trigger 18 months ago when “everyone was doing it”. Buyers were buying because the potential appreciation was incredible and every neighbor or friend was buying. After hesitating 2-3 times when told that they had better buy a house that they liked and then watching it sell in a week, it became easy to move quickly and buy. Now, our buyers see many for sale signs, read doom-and-gloom prognostications, and worry that although they may get a good deal, it may not look so good in six months.
I believe that this market resembles a good company that’s stock has been recently beaten up. No one wants to buy it because the analysts are saying “Sell” and all of your friends are selling. There will be a time, however, when the stock turns and starts it’s climb. During the climb, the analysts and your friends will jump back on the bandwagon but the ones who bought at the bottom or even just before it hit bottom will be the ones smiling the widest. Southwest Florida is a dream destination for so many people up north that when those real estate markets break, we will again have tremendous buyer activity. We only need a sliver of the sellers from Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, etc...to make our For Sale signs become a rare commodity again. When those northern markets pick up again is the question of the day. If you are reading about the pick up in the national publications then the best deals down here will already be gone as the early arrivers will have already swept them up.
Long term, I fully believe that Charlotte County offers so many positive aspects that we have many days of a “sellers market” ahead. The commercial growth surrounding the area, the universal appeal of the harbor and canals and our people make this a great place to live. As a long time resident, we are a definitely a good company that has been beaten up a little recently. At some point in the future, we will look back at this market as a great buying opportunity and I will again here “I wish that I had bought that lot next to me” four times a day. I look forward to that day.
By the way, if you take your wife’s side before the discussion even begins, it makes the discussion very short.