I was in a sporting goods store
in Delavan a couple weeks ago, trying to find a “snowboard” for my son Thomas. Not a Burton – we’re tackling the face at the Mountain Top with our shred sleds – more along the lines of a flat piece of plastic with two loops for your boots and a $29.99 price tag. He’s 5. Burton will have to wait. While I was shuffling through the store, I heard a woman in the adjacent aisle proclaim “Now’s the time to buy, before the prices shoot up again”. What? I was dumbfounded. I didn’t recognize the lady, so she’s probably new to the game. She gets an A for reciting her talking points, but an F for lacking any real analysis. I shook my head, grabbed the sweet $30 snowboard, and walked away.
Such is life these days. Realtors are beating their drums, and fanning out in search of buyers with their familiar “buy now” jargon. Brokers are assembling teams of sales agents to inundate blog sites with buy now themed “content”. Lakefront market? Hot! Buy now! Geneva National? Hot! Buy now! Consumers must wonder what world we’re living in when we act like that. There are myriad websites that gloat at the end of the housing “bubble”, and just as many that proclaim this to be the greatest buying opportunity of our lifetime. That annoying Warren Buffet quote is everywhere “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful”. Realtors love throwing that one around as proof positive that the oracle from Omaha wants YOU to buy real estate now. I’ve written over the past couple weeks that Sam Zell and Jim Cramer think this is finally the time to start buying. I’ve written recently that I believe January is going to be the best month in quite some time to negotiate a terrific deal, and even this bear is turning a little bullish.
Who to believe? What to do? Simple advice, don’t buy blind. Buy location, buy scarcity, buy what you need, buy what love. Buy what you’ve been wanting to buy for a decade. Buy what will make you happy. Buy for the right reasons. Buy because you want your children to grow up knowing what bluegills are. Buy because you want them to know that sunfish are fish indeed, but a sunfish is also a sailboat. Buy because you want your parents to be able to visit you and brag to their friends about what a great son they have. Buy because you need an escape. Buy for whatever your reason, but buy smart. There are opportunities everywhere right now, some pronounced, some subtle. Lake Geneva is a difficult market to peg, and we have Realtors with widely varying opinions as to where value lies. Buyers need to be vigiliant, and they need to align themselves with an agent who understands this market. An agent with experience and a discerning eye. They don’t need to fall in line with the largest brokerages, they need to identify an agent with a the intelligence and experience to identify value. Remember, the firm you’re working with is only as good as the individual agent serving your interests. There are oportunities in this market, but they are not widespread. Geneva lakefront is stable, but is every home on the lake a good buy? Absolutely not. Geneva National is stagnant, but is Geneva National to be avoided at all costs? No. Should you attach yourself to a fabulous agent to show you any old fabulous real estate? Please don’t.
Value can be difficult to identify in this market, and that fact makes it even more important for a home buyer to find the right Realtor. Yes, I’m the right Realtor. You figured me out. I’m not only able to identify value, I’m prepared to back up my opinions with statistical proof. In 2009, I’d love to help you find the right property, at the right price. If I ever bump my head and start spewing irresponsible buy now, buy anywhere, rhetoric, please contact my next of kin.