RECAP AND OUTLOOK: Q1 2014
By Mike Gain, President and CEO Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
I can’t believe the 1st quarter is already behind us and we are now into the spring selling season. April, May and June are typically our peak selling months of the year. Let’s take advantage of it. I hope you are all as ready and prepared for it as I am. I guess time flies when you are having fun and moving in a positive direction. Congratulations on an outstanding 2013 and 2014 will be prove to be even better.
Recently returning from the convention and receiving all of your awards for your production in 2013, I thought I would give a brief reflection on last year and what is happening today in real estate at our company and locally in real estate.
Our brand conversion from Prudential to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was successful and went even better than expected. I had no idea this brand change would be as good for us as it has already proven to be. It has exceeded my expectations of what a brand can add or just “What’s In A Name”.
I had no idea when we made the decision to convert to Berkshire Hathaway that Berkshire Hathaway would beat out Apple Inc. and Walt Disney Co. to top “Barron’s 2013 Most Respected Companies” in the world at # 1 or that Fortune Magazine would name Berkshire Hathaway the fourth most admired company in the world. Most recently the Harris Poll, a very reputable and respected poll just named Berkshire Hathaway the” #1 Real Estate Brand Of The Year”. All this recognition has affirmed my belief that we made the right decision, at the right time when we transitioned from Prudential to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. The strength of the new brand combined with the strength that our company has already attained is a winning combination that can’t be beaten. We have been gifted the use of an incredible name. Now it is up to us to leverage that gift.
A lot too changed in real estate in 2013. After over five years of declines and stagnation, home values skyrocketed in many markets, mortgage rates have risen from their bottom and negative equity fell at the fastest pace ever. Industry experts predict a continuation of this positive trend with prices to continue to rise at a solid pace through 2018.
The even better news is that Seattle and the surrounding areas are predicted to be one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. MSN just ranked Seattle #2 for the top cities to live in. Zillow predicted Seattle to be one of the hottest housing markets ranking it # 2 as well. Zillow also said Seattle is the nation’s fifth-best market for home sellers. Forbes magazine named Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and surrounding areas to be one of the top places to invest in housing in 2014. Seattle was Sunset Magazine’s runner-up for the best place to “live and work” and the “best place to launch a career”. Realtor magazine ranked Seattle the sixth healthiest housing markets. We are fortunate to have such a diverse and strong job market locally to help spur demand, which is currently being met with a very limited supply of homes for sale. Real estate has always been local, and this spring as the market continues to gain momentum, it is our time to make the most of it. The old adage location, location, location will only become more pronounced.
We are now on a clear and healthy path of recovery. The Case-Shiller index reported home prices in 20 of the largest metro areas, of which we are a part, was up 13.4% in 2013 and are expected to continue to rise in 2014. As a result they say that more are likely to commit to purchasing or selling homes in 2014.
Homeownership is very important to most people who still feel owning a home is part of the American Dream. People are once again seeking homes for all of the right reasons – to gain shelter, some security, a place to raise a family and to generate long term wealth. With the economy improving and the real estate market continuing its recovery more people are feeling positive about their personal situations. Many are wanting to take advantage of today’s low prices while they are still affordable and of interest rates that are still historically low.
With rents continuing to rise it makes buying a home today a very smart decision. When one rents, at the end of the year all one has is a pile of cancelled rent checks and worries about just what the rent increase will be. A homeowner on the other hand has a pile of cancelled mortgage checks and is building their equity. There are also many tax advantages to homeownership.
The majority of homeowners have experienced significant gains in their equity over the past couple of years. Many sellers who took their homes off the market in the down market can now get the prices they were wanting when they made the decision to rent them. Sellers who have been sitting on the sidelines for years should consider putting them on the market. The prices are back and their homes will sell if priced properly.
Always remember that real estate is a contact business. Contacts = Contracts = Success. Almost 80% of all real estate business is done by referral. 73% of consumers in America today believe now is a good time to buy real estate. No matter what was in your past your future is up to you. You are in complete control. Our management team and staff are here to help and support you. Give 100% of your time, energy and effort to accomplish your 2014 goals. Be the very best that you can be. Now is your time to shine and take advantage of this market that is finally moving in a very positive direction. Yes! J