Housing Headlines

Within the last two weeks we’ve heard from a variety of sources on the ongoing real estate/housing market saga.  The Federal Reserve, Harvard University, and Long & Foster, the largest privately-owned real estate company in the U.S., all weighed in on the current state of the market.

The Federal Reserve Beige Book, June 8th, for the Philadelphia District, says:

“Looking ahead, residential real estate agents expect sales for this year as a whole to be level with last year. An agent who remarked that “we are off the bottom, but it’s going to be a slow comeback” expressed a common opinion.” http://www.federalreserve.gov/fomc/beigebook/2011/20110608/3.htm

On June 10th, the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies released their annual “State of the Nation’s Housing 2011” report.  The headings in the executive summary tell the story:  “The Rocky Road To Recovery,” “Uncertainty in the Homeowner Market,” “Rental Rebound,” and “Affordability Problems Creeping Up the Income Scale.”

The Harvard studies includes lots of demographics–all of which are negative indicators for the homeowner market, which has declined 2% in the last seven years.  Immigration is lower, family formation is lower, utility costs are eliminating some potential home buyers, income is lagging.  Cheerful stuff. http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/markets/son2011/index.htm

And then there’s the news from Long & Foster.  The Philadelphia Region, headed by Vice President Art Herling, a Blazing Systems client, reported a 12% increase in unit sales in May compared to last year.

“Quite a few of our offices have experienced not only an increase in units this May, but also their sales volume jumped as compared to May 2010.” Herling went on to cite rises in prices in April and May, as a positive sign of recovery.

“Since the year 2000, the median price of a home in the Philadelphia metropolitan area has risen 70%, and has dropped only 7% from the peak year of 2007,” added Art.

Long & Foster attributed some of their success to the use of technology.  (Long & Foster news release, 06/10/11).  Art Herling’s website, http://www.phlfp.com/, designed, developed, and hosted by Blazing Systems, features the company’s leading map search IDX system for lead generation, and a quick search and rotating featured properties on the Home Page.

****What can we learn from all this?

Effective use of technology can provide competitive advantage, even in the most extreme of market conditions.