Monday, November 24, 2014

New from New Orleans

Recently, I went for the first time in many, many years to the National Association of Realtors Convention, held this year in New Orleans.  Aside from sampling some great food, and looking at some lovely real estate in the French Quarter, I heard a lot about what's on the minds of Realtors around the United States.  In no particular order:

--Trulia and Zillow, while getting lots of attention, are no panacea--they are wildly inaccurate in many cases.  Although we know that their values are not too accurate, and consumers know that too, consumers don't seem to realize how many listings appear there when they are unavailable, or even sold.  Consumers do a lot of searches that turn up listings not matching our Realtor.com results.

--Technology for our industry is abundant, but often comes with a steep learning curve, or is incompatible with other programs we already use.  The Jetson-like devices I have been waiting to see are still not here.

--While the market is pretty flat for the year in most parts of the country, other places have largely said goodbye to short sales and foreclosures.  Hurry up, Connecticut!

--We have as much in the way of politics in our industry as you could ever imagine. I couldn't bring myself to get interested enough to get outraged about much of it!

--People come to New Orleans to eat.  And eat.  And eat.  And I thought New Haven was a foodie city.  It is, but it doesn't get the same tourism.  And I had no idea how many people take cruises out of the Port of New Orleans.  I guess that means I'm pretty sheltered, up here in New England!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why New Haven is a Destination for Entrepreneurs and Startups


Article written by Matthew Storeygard / Senior Investment Associate / Connecticut Innovations

Four reasons for entrepreneurs to be excited about where the Elm City is headed
 

1. New Haven’s residents are educated

Companies are finding a strong base of talent across industries. The city demonstrated the 5th highest growth rate in college degree attainment between 2000 and 2010. The talent pool includes many graduates from Yale University, as well as other colleges and universities in the region.

The high number of well-educated residents also means a stronger economy. Those with advanced degrees earn more money, on average, and can afford to spend more locally. New Haven has been seeing this trend for several years now.


2. New Haven has culture

New Haven offers more food, art, and culture that most cities of similar sizes, making it an attractive place to run a business. It has the best pizza in the country (I’m partial to Frank Pepe’s – try the bacon and clam), is home to the world’s first hamburger, the Yale Art Gallery, which is completely free to the public, and the Peabody Museum. Combine this with exciting nightlife and beautiful scenery, and you’ll understand why the city has been getting a lot of attention for its culture in recent years:


3. The region has a diverse industry base

Not dependent upon one large employer or industry, the region’s sectoral diversity has helped it weather economic and social changes. It was even named one of the country’s 20 recession-proof cities during the recent economic downturn. While education and medicine represent New Haven’s core strengths, the city also has a base of talent in finance, IT, manufacturing, and other industries.


4. New Haven’s relationship with Yale has improved dramatically

Perhaps most import of all, Yale and the City of New Haven are working together to move the city forward. The divide between town and gown was previously a wide chasm, with a baseline of antipathy that occasionally erupted into larger demonstrations of tension and differences. By the time I came to New Haven, the leaders of both New Haven and Yale had recognized the symbiotic relationship, and have fostered a much closer partnership. A good example is the New Haven Homebuyer Program in which Yale provides financial incentives to employees and faculty to purchase homes within designated areas of New Haven.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CoreLogic: Conn. Ranks 49th In September Home Price Appreciation

The following article is from the commercial record, please click here to go to the commercial record and read their articles

Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 5.6 percent in September 2014 compared with September 2013, according to a new report from real estate analytics firm CoreLogic. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, were nearly flat, inching down 0.1 percent in September 2014 compared with August 2014.

At the state level, including distressed sales, all 50 states and the district of Columbia posted year-over-year price increases in September. Five states posted new all-time high prices.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices nationally increased 5.2 percent in September 2014 compared with September 2013 and 0.1 percent month-over-month compared with August 2014. Also excluding distressed sales, only Mississippi showed year-over-year home price depreciation in September, with prices there dipping 0.9 percent. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

CoreLogic predicts that home prices, including distressed sales, will increase 0.1 percent month over month from September 2014 to October 2014 and, on a year-over-year basis, by 5 percent from September 2014 to September 2015. Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to rise 0.1 percent month-over-month from September 2014 to October 2014 and by 4.6 percent year-over-year from September 2014 to September 2015.

"There has been a clear bifurcation in home price growth for lower-end versus upper-end properties in 2014," Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, said in a statement. "As of December 2013, both lower-end and upper-end property prices were up 9.7 percent on a year over year basis. As of September, lower-end prices were up 9.4 percent but upper-end prices were up only 4.5 percent."

Including distressed sales, Connecticut ranked 49th among all states for home price appreciation in September, with Nutmeg State prices rising 1.2 percent, according to CoreLogic. The five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (10.3 percent), Montana (10 percent), Maine (9.6 percent), Massachusetts (8.8 percent) and California (8.5 percent).

Excluding distressed sales, Connecticut prices were up 2 percent. The five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Maine (10.4 percent), Massachusetts (9.7 percent), California (7.6 percent), Texas (7.4 percent) and Michigan (7.2 percent).

Ninety-six of the country's top 100 largest population centers, according to the U.S. Census, showed year-over-year increases in September 2014. Two of the four that did not were in Connecticut: the New Haven-Milford area and Hartford metropolitan area. Rochester, N.Y. and Little Rock, Ark. were the others.

Including distressed transactions, U.S. home prices remain 12.6 below their peak in April 2006. Connecticut prices remain 19.9 percent below their peak.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

News from Augusta, Georgia

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time, you know that twice a year I go to some other part of the country, to meet at another large independent real estate company, and consult for them on best business practices, with a group of other independent broker owners.  Last week, we were in sunny Augusta, Georgia, where the weather, and the golf, were both excellent.

Most of the brokers surveyed there thought that the national market for real estate was flat, and would remain so for the rest of the year, and most had experienced a slowdown in the late summer.  In some markets, although sadly not ours, it has picked back up again since.  Most also saw prices close to flat.  Some had units up and prices down, and some the reverse.  It's more or less the same story we've seen for the past few years:  two steps forward; one step back.

Many of those present had the same concerns, including wondering when the millennial generation will buy houses.  Is it student debt, lack of roots, later marriages, or something else, that's causing the delay?  Most markets were seeing big numbers of renters, often outstripping the supply of rental housing.  People accepting jobs are regularly leaving their families at the old location, so there would be two households instead of one created.

Still, there were trends about which we were optimistic.  Commissions for agents are up, independent companies are bucking the trend of decline in many of the large franchise firms, and consumer confidence has risen.  All in all, a good week.
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