Some Observations: What We Know And What We Don't

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The uncertainty of the market has everyone confused about what to do next.

  • COVID-19 Cure. We don’t know when a COVID-19 cure will be available to the American population that will enable life to return to its normal rhythm.
  • Office Space. We know that some meaningful number of office workers will not be permanently tied to an office in the future.
  • Deficit Spending. We don’t know what the outcome of outsized deficit spending will be, not only in the U.S., but in the world. We don’t know yet whether it will cause huge inflation or lead to deflation.
  • Inventory Shortage. We know that the shortage of home inventory is soon to cause a slowdown of some sort in housing sales regardless of record low interest rates.
  • 2020 Election. We don’t know the outcome of the 2020 presidential election or Senate elections.
  • Technology. We know that real estate technology has had an impact on how we do business but not on who does it. There’s no evidence that the pursuit of all-encompassing tech platforms has shifted the balance of power away from agents and their relationships with consumers in any meaningful way.
  • Moving. We know from anecdotal information and actual sales that consumers are buying homes outside of core urban areas whether for primary or secondary purposes. The surge is pronounced in areas around New York, San Francisco and Atlanta, but reports indicate that it’s happening in virtually every major metro area.
  • Global Tourism. We don’t know with certainty what will happen to the global tourism business over the long term. Travel will be substantially lower in the next few years and online video conferencing will supplant a significant number of business trips.
  • Homeownership Rates. We know that homeownership rates for most categories, including minority families, have increased to record or near-record rates. We also know that the last time we had such an event, it led to a housing meltdown. However, the record homeownership levels were achieved with funny-money mortgages, which do not appear to be prevalent at this time.
  • 4th Quarter Housing Sales. We don’t know what the fourth quarter of housing sales will look like given the inventory shortage and the high unemployment rate. Nor can we forecast 2021 housing sales with any confidence given changes in attitudes among consumers that will occur based on the outcome of the fall elections.
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This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter. It is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends, Inc. Copyright © 2020. To read the rest of this issue & more, please visit our Real Trends page online.


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