The past six years in the real estate industry have certainly been unlike any other period in time. As someone affected by it very personally (with both my husband and myself employed in real estate related fields when the recession hit in 2007), it has been a time of soul searching, regeneration, reinvention and survival. Long-standing companies, from builders and suppliers to brokerage firms and banks, either met their demise or had to change their business models or scale back drastically on staff just to stay viable. As we hit the mid-year mark in 2013, the tides have certainly changed. While it’s not all great news in the market, it’s certainly a huge improvement from where we stood a year or two ago.
I attended an Atlanta real estate summit a couple of weeks ago presented by ViaSearch. As I looked around the conference facility, I would equate the scene to Rip Van Winkle waking up after a very long sleep. The room was packed – with probably 300+ people who have a vested interest in the state of real estate in metro Atlanta. After a very dismal six years, there was almost a palpable anticipation and energy in the room – a welcomed sense of hope and positive energy. And in fact, the outlook looks good. Current housing inventories in metro Atlanta are the lowest they have been in years; in fact, too low to begin to meet demand (with both new homes and resales). What this means for those in the real estate industry is work – getting back to what they are passionate about doing – whether that is development, home building, sales, marketing or mortgage finance. But, there’s also a hesitation. Like Rip Van Winkle after that long sleep, we’re not waking up to the same world. It’s a changed landscape, with adjustments that had to be made and recovery that still needs to happen. We’re still battling the effects of widespread home foreclosures, with Georgia consistently in the “Top Ten” for home foreclosures. A recent Bankrate.com report listed Georgia as number seven as of May 2013, with the foreclosure ratio of 1:693. The bad news is that new home sales, and even resales, have to compete with these foreclosures. The good news is that the ‘really good deals’ in the foreclosure market are nearly gone – having been snapped up by investors and eager buyers. Also, good news for the Atlanta market verses some states that were more heavily hit is that our economy is diverse and the job market is rebounding.
It seems the key in this uncertain new world of real estate is to make smart decisions. It’s not a ‘build it and they will come’ scenario. Buyers are more apprehensive and more selective. Banks are more stringent, as they should be, about approving loans. It’s time for a rebirth and a smart, strategic restart. For those of us in the real estate marketing industry, it’s exciting to see the advertising and new community openings start to come back. It’s a long way from the boom years of real estate in Atlanta in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, but that’s OK. All signs are leading to the positive, and from what I saw at the conference, the industry is ready – ready to get back to work. Back to the business of building, marketing and selling homes.