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.