Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Who Would Have Thought It?

If someone had told us twenty years ago that the center city's residential properties would be holding value better than those in the suburbs--better even than direct waterfront--we probably would have scoffed. It's clear right now that the hot market is New Haven--the closer to downtown, the better.

This isn't by accident. President Levin of Yale, who has been in office for fifteen years, lived in New Haven for many years before he became Yale's leader (and, in fact, has continued to live in his own home, rather than the one that Yale provides). He has made it clear that he would be happy if every new hire lived there as well. The last time that I heard, 47% of Yale's senior faculty lived within the city limits. In today's New Haven Advocate, the stated equivalents of New Haven's municipal police and firefighters were 13% and 17%. Yale's showing clearly represents the payoff of a long-term strategy.

There is another factor at work, however. Current demographics favor the central city, although this is a change from earlier generations. Young professionals have always preferred urban life, but now, increasingly, so do empty nesters. The arts, the dining, the conveniences, and the lack of commuting time have all contributed to make New Haven a popular housing choice. Even those with school-age children, if those children attend one of the city's prestigious private schools, have been moving into the city neighborhoods.

And that's all good news for the region, since a vibrant city makes for healthier suburbs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Independent Realtors

The rise of so many national real estate franchises has led some people to believe that only national companies get business from out -of- towners moving in, and that only national companies can expose your property to a wide range of people. That turns out not to be true.

H. Pearce belongs to Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, an organization of high-quality independent firms. This group sells more real estate than any franchise company. It also has comparable statistics for productivity and earnings.

That shouldn't be surprising news for owners and buyers. After all, is McDonald's the best restaurant in any town? And does your favorite breakfast food get sold through a few franchises, or through a plethora of mom-and-pop eateries?

As with other industries, the trend is clear: Big firms gobble up smaller ones, until there is a perceived need for personal service and distinctive work. At that time, new firms spring up to fill the demand. It's true in banking, retailing, and a host of other fields. We're no different, and we're glad that the evidence bears out the quality and competence of the locally-owned real estate company. Go local--have your dollars stay here!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Where the Money Is

I've been reminding agents this week that most, if not all, of the money people make investing in real estate comes during the run-up in prices after a downturn ends. While it can be somewhat equivalent to trying to be a market timer in the stock market, it's a little easier to judge in real estate.

We know that prices and units have both been flat or declining since the beginning of 2006. We also know that there is a lot of pent-up demand, as people have been sitting on the fence for some time now. As soon as demand picks up, there's a good likelihood that prices will follow. Those who act now, and get in on the ground floor (no pun intended) will reap the biggest rewards.

Of course, that applies as well to investment property. There is a fairly good selection now of rental and other property. This might be the time to take money out of that 1% (or less) money market account, and buy some real estate.