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I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Lots of turkey, stuffing, and pie. Hopefully not lentils or plums or Muesli.
My mom was an early health nut and lentils and plums and Muesli was my childhood reality, not just a nightmare. Looking back, Mom was a food genius. It’s probably why she survived an Esophageal cancer 13 years ago when the odds were not so great. However, to a 13 year old, plums, lentils and Muesli were growing boiling points as everyone else had hot dogs, and pizza. So, when Mom went to some fitness spa back when I was 13 in 1983, I seized the opportunity. Me and my sister begged our Dad for years for anything “artificial”. Finally, we had an opening and Dad obliged. We went to the grocery store and filled 2 carts with pure artificial flavors. Licorice, potato chips, and Coca Cola galore. I vividly remember seeing a $200 grocery bill which was unheard of. Dad was the best!
Dad said to find great hiding spots and zip the lips. I picked lower drawers in the kitchen that Mom never went into anyways. Mom came home. 5 minutes after I heard CARY!#$%@*!
The $200 candy frenzy should have been predictable to my mom. It was pent up demand. That same pent-up demand for real estate is a ticking time clock.
We are now 17 months since inflation was at 9.1 % and over 24 months since interest rates were lower than 3%. Those numbers have quasi reversed with inflation at 3.2% and interest rates falling to 7.29% this week. Not surprising home sales home sales activity nationwide is on pace for the lowest year since 1993 and cooled off locally ( I contributed to this article). Prices are still holding due to the estimated shortage of 4 million homes nationwide.
In Palm Beach County, single family homes remained steady. Closed sales were up in October by 3.5% and inventory dipped by 1.4%. Prices were up 9.3% compared to last year. However, cumulative inventory is up 11.4% when you take in townhomes/condos, inventory shot up 37.4% compared to last year and months of inventory is up 68% to a more traditional 4.2 months’ supply. Martin County saw a cumulative 32% inventory increase and St. Lucie 5.6% increase. All top heavy in the townhouse/condo marketplace. Much of that is due to the waiting on the new condo rules. However, watch for that to reverse itself considerably. All the condos have to have their milestone studies complete by the end of 2024 (13 months). Since every condo older than 30 years will now have forced reserved and validated inspections, cost certainty and more condos qualifying for a mortgage should have demand skyrocket.
One of my earliest friends, is a Tufts/Harvard/Cambridge graduate and a brilliant financial advisor. We talk real estate and the economy once a month. He told me a while back when interest rates hit 3% that the hard part is not the 9.1% to 3% but the 3% to 2%. That is proving to be the case but it’s slowly chipping away and the Fed must get there so the debt service doesn’t spiral.
Meanwhile, the supply side of new homes can’t increase on the east side in Palm Beach County due to no land left to build upon. Demand of people still are coming. Which brings me back to “candy” demand. Each day that goes by, first time homebuyers sit in their rental or parents’ home saving money. Buyers wait another day for prices going on. The pent-up demand gets a bit bigger every day that passes. No different then me sucking on a plum biding my time for some Ho Ho’s and Bugles.
One day like my Dad taking us to the grocery store, interest rates will drop as the Fed is clamoring to do. In the pandemic market, Buyers wanted prices to stabilize. They did. But then the interest rates jumped. Now, it’s wait until interest rates drop again. Remember that you can date the rate now and refinance later if that occurs. However, you aren’t going to be able to get the Seller to lower the prices once interest rates drop 2%. Demand from the pented-uppers will be through the roof we in our industry anticipate from everyone I collaborate with. My guess is it will cause a prices jump of 15-20% locally due to the lack of land if it happens all at once. Maybe more if it rates don’t drop this spring. It’s not an equal catch 22. Which in my opinion makes it a very good time to purchase. A Buyer has more choice and negotiation power during this “pause”.
Just because the candy man (the Fed) might satisfy all your interest rate wishes, it doesn’t mean the whole world (home prices), will taste good to Buyers.
Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet. Some publications he has been quoted in.
Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World – The Amazing Success of the PB&J Strategy – Available to Buy Now!
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