How is the market, really?
Whether in the office or at a cocktail party, I am often asked, “how is the market?” Of course, beginning in 2009 to about 2011 it wasn’t an overly pleasant question to field, if you’re like me and can’t help but being honest. Yes, I do wear my heart on my sleeve, as they say.
The difficult part, however, wasn’t because of some of the realities we faced in the market downturn, but more because the market is complex, fluid, indigenous. What’s happening in Virginia Beach may be different than the Maine coast, and what’s happening on the coast could be different than the western Maine Mountains. And in our case, what’s happening in the primary market could be different than the second home market.
I have felt fortunate to be in this market because although we experienced a downturn, it was never quite as severe as other locations where sale prices were extraordinarily inflated. That way, when pricing began to slide for Sellers, the drop wasn’t as sharp. What I did find was that Sellers were slow to adapt to the new market reality, and Buyers were holding firm on seeking the ultimate deal, a real sense of entitlement, if you will. What the Buyers didn’t realize is that when people own second home properties, the motivation may be less, and what Seller’s didn’t realize is that Buyers in a second home market don’t need to buy right away. The can rent! This caused a stalemate in numerous transactions. Slowly, though, Sellers relented on pricing and Buyers responded. Over time, the market strengthened and there became more of a middle ground—not the huge gaps between the list price and the sale price that we saw in the very depths of the downturn.
Today, we are experiencing a bit of a mishmash in our area. Certain pockets of the market are good, others are not as strong. Sometimes it feels the market is coming back full force before it goes through a period of stagnancy.
And one common thread I have found in eight years of listing and selling homes here is that it is cyclical—in one season there may be 12 two-bedroom slopeside condos sold and the next only three but there is a run on Locke Mountain or log-sided chalets priced in the $300s. Sometimes it seems there is a slew of properties in Bethel Village to sell in one year, and in other years, Sellers wait months and months to sell their homes. This past season, waterfront properties were quiet, while in previous years they sell well.
I often tell my clients that with our region, weather can play as much a role in real estate as the economy. Great snow year? The second home market for slopeside and within the access road is excellent. Rainy summer? No one seems interested in waterfront, they’ll wait another year.
So how’s the market really? It’s good. And it’s complex, fluid and indigenous.