Friday, June 6, 2008

The Housing Markets Silver Lining

I’m not an ostrich and I definitely don’t like picking sand out of my teeth. So before you accuse me of burying my head, here’s the disclaimer. My job is financing real estate. I’m exposed to at least the same number of housing market reports as you are. And just this morning I read reports about the increasing jobless market numbers. I’m not an ostrich and I’m also not blindly optimistic.

Just this week the Jackson family (not their real name) signed a contract on a home and we signed paper work for 95% financing. I’ve also spoken with several Realtors who are in negotiations with sellers to sign purchase contracts and other Realtors who are very busy showing buyer’s lots of listings.

I have marketing signs out all over the metro area with a toll-free phone number that plays a pre-recorded message about homes for sale. Every day I receive several email messages that report who and when someone called for information. Realtors are glad when I give them the name and phone number of these prospective buyers.

Title companies are still busy researching abstracts and updating title reports for closings. Home inspectors are still climbing all over homes and writing reports. Pest inspectors are still busy inspecting for pests. Appraisers are still taking measurements and pictures. Real
Estate Agents are still holding open houses and sending buyers lists of potential homes to buy. And the sign companies are still making “For Sale” signs that will soon be stuck in someone’s front yard.

Lenders still have plenty of money to loan for new home purchases as well as refinances; and interest rates remain relatively low. The criteria for qualifying to get this money have changed quite a bit, but many still qualify.

Oklahoma property owners have retained most if not all their property values and in some cases have actually seen a modest increase. The number of home sales is about on par for the same time last year as is the average purchase price.

Gas prices are up…okay, they’re ridiculous. It costs more to go to the grocery store, the drug store, and our favorite restaurants. At the same time, utility rates are about the same, property insurance rates are good, and we’ve dodged several severe weather bullets that could have caused wide spread damage to homes and businesses.

There are new home starts all over northwest and northeast Edmond. Several new neighborhood developments have sprung up in recent months and in my new neighborhood new homes are being bought faster than they can be built.

My point is simple. Life is a balancing act. We have to balance work and family, responsibilities with play time, and the money coming in with the money going out. But the most important balancing act any of us have centers on our attitude. It is true, attitude is everything. And make no mistake, each of us chooses our own attitude.

The unfortunate reality is that we are barraged with a daily overdose of negative news. Headlines announce the instability of the stock market, the effects the rising costs of fossil fuel has on all consumables, while self-proclaimed experts give chase to the perfect storm in the housing industry which they claim is the worst anyone has ever seen.

We may have never experienced all of these exact conditions in their precise proportions, but we are not in totally unexplored surroundings. Our economy is not broken it’s simply flexing. And like a rubber band that has been stretched it will flex a bit and while it will never return to its original shape in all likelihood it will rebound.

What we are experiencing is change. And not many of us truly like it. But the best way I have found to tolerate change is to maintain perspective. And that’s what I’ve tried to help you do in this brief article. The Oklahoma economy is still thriving. Our housing market is strong. It’s our attitude that needs some adjusting. So I challenge you to join me and celebrate the silver lining when the only thing someone else points out is the cloud.