Hip Hip Hurray!
by Len Foy
Hip hip hooray for a real estate market that is filling everybody’s rice bowl these days! Buyers and sellers, and the real estate professionals they employ to assist them with their transactions, certainly can have no complaints as we look back upon a year in real estate that was both bountiful and dynamic. Turning the page is never easy, especially the page that was 2021 in the United States of America – but turn the page we must, so let’s proceed.
As amazed as I am about the year in review, I’m tantalized by the possibilities that lie ahead for all of us in 2022. And so it is time to make a few not-so-bold predictions about the year to come, specifically what can we expect from the real estate market in 2022.
1. More, more, more
No, this isn’t just an iconic disco beat from the 1970s, it is my basic assessment of what awaits real estate agents, loan officers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, appraisers, underwriters, contractors – and the cast of thousands that make up our real estate orchestra. 2022 will see more transactions, more competition for homes, more new construction, more newcomers to the above-identified industries, which means more agents, loan officers and real estate lawyers vying for clients. We’re also likely to see more inflation, more pandemic-related disruption, more polarization with our political elites (think, election year) and more consumers responding to these trends accordingly. I try to keep things positive but only a fool would deny that we are also likely to see more divorce, more people cracking under the strain of the pandemic, more dislocation and more social ills which will catch our attention. In other words, 2022 is likely to be 2021 squared, whatever you witnessed in 2021 expect all of that and then some in 2022.
2. Millennials in Ascendency
I’ll get a little anecdotal here: when I purchased my first home on December 18, 1997, at the age of 29, my father couldn’t help but to “give me the business.” What took me so long, he quipped. My father was 27 when he purchased his first home and by then he had already served his country and he had one child and another on the way. All I had to show for myself at the age of 29 was an education and my law degree. It seems that each generation opts for a more relaxed approach to “getting things done” than the last, probably the result of prosperity permeating the American society and that “fire in the belly” dwindling, at least a bit. The much maligned millennials have taken that concept to its outer limits, as many of them have struggled with student loans, higher prices, cynicism, and what has struck me as a generational “identity crisis.” Well, that was then and this is now. Nearly all of my closings feature millennials buying homes and “buying in” to the American way of life, which I believe is rooted in the tradition of home ownership. This is such a welcome development. We need this generation inside the
tent … well you know how that old saying goes. But seriously, this is an exciting and youthful and well-educated demographic, maybe not the hardest working bunch that ever came down the pike (think, “work-life balance” – as if!), but this generation is powering our real estate market and they are likely to do so for another 25 years. The millennials are literally and figuratively in the house, at last!
3. Keep it together, keep it real and keep going!
I’d like to close my “crystal ball routine” with a little editorial commentary, hopefully constructive and well-received. 2021 wasn’t all touchdowns and celebrations in the end
zone – I witnessed a little bid of bad behavior, what we used to call high anxiety, and what I consider the death knell of a healthy real estate market: greed.
First, as for the bad behavior, folks, let’s keep things as real as possible. The real estate market is really just the “people business,” and we use homes, loans and closings as a medium of exchange. Let’s continue to recognize the human worth in all of us and behave ourselves, remember the people we kick on our way up will be there to greet us with open harms (and clenched fists) on the way down. And let’s avoid “the greed factor” like the plague – it has no place in our industry. Adopt what Stephen Covey referred to as the “abundance mentality,” which is to say there is more than enough for all of us to succeed and live well, none of us should stoop to engaging in unethical practices whether directed at clients or at our colleagues.
Second, there is just so much anxiety out there. I have been handling real estate transactions since becoming a young associate at a large law firm in Northern California in 1995. I remember well the demeanor and disposition of buyers and sellers of real estate: poised, sensible and composed. I don’t recall anyone ever “losing it” over the annoying and frustrating subplots of the transaction. There was always that “bigger picture” to remain focused on. In 2021 there were times and transactions where I wondered if the real estate being purchased hadn’t fallen to the bottom of the list, replaced by an outsized focus on personalities, minute transactional details and one-upmanship. And when these sublots were in collision, watch out! Fireworks! So let’s collectively keep it together and not put any unnecessary strains on the transaction, nothing dooms a real estate transaction like misplaced priorities. Keep your eye on the prize!
Third, and finally, keep going! There are fortunes to be made in real estate, and so many people in need of our services. Things haven’t changed all that much: we have buyers and we have sellers. As real estate professionals let’s bring these parties together in a way that would make our parents (and our kids) proud of us! 2021 was as I like to say “my favorite year,” but 2022 will be even better. But the coming year will only be better if we are better. So here’s to getting better. Happy New Year!