Turn and Face the Strange

Despite 40M Americans having lost their jobs, a U.S economy in historic peril, a government that has given up on its people, housing prices continue to rise.   Doesn’t “seem” right, does it?  With so much loss and suffering, the real estate industry is booming! 

In March, we predicted a slow summer.  Were we dead wrong!  In fact, last month our company had a record number of transactions for a single month.  That record will again be surpassed this month.  Still, talking about what great a time it is to be a realtor doesn’t seem right either.   But, the facts driving this market are hard to deny.  

Low inventory levels, crazy-low financing options, and a huge pent-up pandemic demand for buyer changes in housing will drive this market for years to come.   Additionally, the Pandemic has created an organic industry reset in terms of its workforce.  Gone, are the Boomer agents who dominated the industry for decades.   Gone too are their calendars, letter-openers, recipe cards and other streams of postal trash.   

Changes in real estate far exceed just the agent community.  Buyers are changing.  What people want and are demanding has in some cases totally flipped.  Remember “open architecture”?  You should.  Agents have been selling that feature for the last decade.   But, today’s agents need to know how to close it back up.  The discussion now is, where and how to add walls. 

Kitchens are changing.  They move to; “being the engine of the home, not the heart”.   Look in any kitchen, you will see school bags, toys, family mementos, a jacket or two.  All this, in the food prep area!  Today’s lens is much more focused on health.  Maybe we shouldn’t do everything where we cook?  While this attitude works outside the U.S., it’s hard to see us totally giving up on our $100K kitchen makeovers.

Air.  Outside of a possible vent cleaning, agents didn’t think much of air.  Today, hi-tech home filtration systems are now a heavily requested feature.  Our open floor plans have meant we’ve become accustom to whatever is being cooked in the kitchen permeating every room of the house for hours.  That doesn’t Pandemic well.

Natural light has always been in demand but, it’s absolutely necessary in today’s market.   People can’t quarantine without sunlight.  That doesn’t bode well for the thousands of suburban homes nestled in Atlanta’s canopy of trees. 

A front door!  This may be the single biggest change of them all.   Now, more than ever, people want to come and go from their home without having to use or go through publically shared spaces.  No more elevators!  High-rise condominium living presents concerns.  Sure, 1,200 square feet doesn’t seem that small when there is a gym, pool and club room to go to.  Close all that down, and 1,200 square feet is stifling.    Does every coming and going need to be a health risk? Can a condo ever be pandemic friendly? 

Yards are undergoing a redefinition.  There are endless articles on Millennials moving to the suburbs for want of a yard.  While to some degree true, don’t forget it’s a Millennial version of a yard they seek.  A little garden area, some flowers, a patch of grass.   Hardly the lets, “play ball” expanses of previous generations.   The Pandemic has done little to raise yard maintenance in buyer’s attitudes. 

Remember, as we slog through this very difficult time for our nation, the real estate industry isn’t really affected.  I know this sounds strange.  But, all of our clients, buyers and sellers, have 1 of 3 things in common: cash, a job, or equity.    You can have no job, but have equity, or vice versa.  Any one of these 3 things makes a real estate client.     

While the pandemic has been heartbreaking for many in our nation, it still represents a minority.  Many professionals have figured out ways to telecommute.  Older Americans are sitting on a mountain of equity.  White collar jobs in many industries like technology are hiring. 

So while the daily news has been soul crushing on so many fronts, there really is good news for real estate professionals.  It’s a very active market and everything should be viewed anew.   Yesterday is finally gone and the future is up in the air.   The new players in the Atlanta real estate market, 10 years from now, are making their moves today.

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