Gregg the Realtor - "What me Worry?"
It's so easy to get preoccupied today. It easier for us to expend our attention on "the housing crisis" than to pay attention to how to sell OUR home. It is actually easier for us to worry about who will next president, or how big the foreclosure numbers will be next month, or whether or not the stock market will plunge, than concern ourselves about our own personal challenges.
Today we are lucky, there are so many huge preoccupations out there that we have less time to focus on our basic day to day challenges. The preoccupations become our main focus and it is difficult to remember what we can control and contribute to.
Like most of you I will never forget the tragedy of 9/11. I remember driving home from the office where I watched the horror unfold. I was going home to be with Gail so we could, well, be together in this crisis. As I drove home along Iona Road, I remember seeing gardeners working on trimming hedges. There were maybe a dozen of them working along one of the gated communities. My initial reaction was, "How could they continue to work when the nation was under attack?" I could not imagine doing the day to day tasks that needed to be done.
I spent the next days not being very productive, glued to the TV news, and worrying about something outside my influence.
Many of us suffer from this malaise today. And today we have a wider choice of things to be preoccupied about: The Financial Crisis, The Election, The War in Afghanistan, Global Warming etc.
I remember my father telling me the story about a husband and wife lying in bed one night. The husband kept tossing and turning and keeping his wife awake. Finally she turned on the light, turned to her husband and said,
"Honey, it's one o'clock in the morning, why cant you sleep?"
"Well, the mortgage payment is due tomorrow and I can't make the payment. We've know Fred at the bank for years. I just don't know what to do."
She turned to the nightstand, picked up the phone and started dialing.
"Fred? This is Susan Stockman. Yes I know its Late, but Jim and I are broke and can't make our payments to you." She hung up.
Jim, in total shock, exclaimed, "What the heck did you do that for?"
"Now it's HIS problem and HE and Martha won't sleep. Go to sleep honey"
Remember the Serenity Prayer that begins with:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Fort Myers is not Detroit.
Heck we are not even Des Moines. I don't want to give you empty platitudes about this market. I don't like them: "Oh, It will be okay," "You're strong, you will survive".
I can tell you with conviction that I am optimistic about Fort Myers recovery. Earlier this week I spoke at a European Chamber of Commerce luncheon. I was the one of three speakers and the second to speak. The topic was the current status of the local real estate market. A very experienced attorney was first to speak. He made some excellent points, but one thing he said was: he did not know what was going to happen with the local real estate market.
When my turn came to speak, I said, "Indeed I CAN tell you what is going to happen in the real estate market locally." I paused for effect. "It is going to recover. ( another pause) I just cannot tell you when."
"All real estate is local. It is affected by national events like the mortgage crisis, gas prices, Northern unemployment, and hurricanes in Galveston. But reading the headlines in the New York Times about housing sales and believing that they are talking about Lee County is a mistake.
Here are some local facts.
The number of pending sales on the MLS is the highest that is ever been. Ever.
Sales handled through a Realtor here in Lee County are, on average, 9% lower in price than one year ago. Some homes are selling at 50% what they were being offered at the peak of the market (August 2005)
You can buy a three bedroom house for under $100,000. A house on water for under $500,000, and rent office space for under $12/sf.
Banks are eager to loan money at good rates to qualified buyers.
Our market began it's down turn in August of 2005. It is beginning its upturn now.
My local Engel and Voelkers office sold more homes in the last four weeks than we have in the last previous three months. And we are not alone. Realtors are busy again.
Twenty percent of our offices sales are to Europeans.
Lee County population is growing. Detroit's is shrinking.
Bargains exist at every price level. On everything.
At current absorption (sales) rates, Lee County has only nine months of inventory.
Retail is overbuilt. Industrial building sit vacant.
You can now buy a home well below replacement cost.
Worry or Action?
The best thing to do when you are worried is to take action. The action that you take is not as important as the fact that any action at all leaves you less time to worry. Worrying is unproductive and drains you of energy. Action gives you a purpose.
Am I worried? Often. But I am able to pull things together by setting smaller goals, working to achieve them, ignoring the macro news and concentrating on the micro news. Lee County will recover faster than the nation, it always does. We don't have to rebuild an economic base, we just have to stick to our local market and our local advantages.
The reason we are selling so many houses today is that in addition to all the advantages of Florida living that we are so familiar with, those advantages that have sustained us for years, is that now Lee County housing is affordable again.
In many real estate offices I see agents that are so busy that they are talking about needing an assistant. Then I see agents that are moping around complaining; hoping and waiting for the turn around.
The agents that are taking action are making the turnaround happen.
Well; they worry me.