2008 – Lessons from a Tough Year

Is it OK to say that 2008 has generally been a depressing year for Real Estate? By now you have probably heard more than you ever wanted to about the subprime mortgage crisis but we can’t review 2008 without talking about it and actually not all the news is doom and gloom. We will also talk about news from iHOUSE as well as predictions for the 2009 market. After all, the whole point of studying the past is to prevent us from repeating it.

The Subprime Mortgage Crisis

Real estate news in 2008 was dominated by foreclosures caused by adjustable rate mortgages going into default. By some accounts there are nearly 10 million homes currently upside down. (Inman 10/08) This will likely remain the big story into most of next year as more mortgages reset to a higher rate through 2009. In other news the Federal government has unveiled a plan to renegotiate loans held by Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac which are at the highest risk of foreclosure. U.S. unveils mortgage plan (CNNMoney.com 11/08) Most people would describe Real Estate as a cyclical business and currently the buyers market has created some valuable opportunities for people with the money to act on them. The Urban Land Institute recently released their “Emerging Trends” report with advice on investing in a “post-boom environment.” Investor Report: Best Opportunities Ahead (Realty Times 10/08) Was that too much of a downer? No one expects these issues to go away overnight, but we hope you agree that looking at the situation straight on is the best way to accept it and work toward a resolution. Experienced agents will tell you that this isn’t the first or the last time we have been here.

News from iHOUSE in 2008

Despite tough times for real estate in general, iHOUSE has been able to keep busy in 2008 with interesting developments and big product upgrades. Our biggest news in 2008 was a series of major upgrades for our IDXPro MLS Search. The upgrade included features such as Google Map Search, LeadTracker™, and more recently mobile technology for searching the MLS from an iPhone or Blackberry. Early this year we became an Approved Benefits Supplier for the Texas Association of REALTORS®. Texas REALTORS get their entire start up fee waived on all of our products. We have gotten a lot out of this relationship and we are always looking for more States, MLSs and Associations to partner with. 2008 also saw the release of our new iHOUSE Pay-Per-Click service, which guarantees traffic to a special version of IDX that is optimized for collecting leads. This is brand new territory for us but results so far have been great!

Predictions for the Real Estate Market of 2009

Let’s get down to the task of making predictions about the upcoming year. In April of this year a very popular article from the Wall Street Journal said that the worst is in fact already over. While we agree that seems too good to be true they do make some interesting points. The Housing Crisis is Over (Wall Street Journal 05/08) [Link broken] NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had some interesting things to say about the rising number of home sales in September. While it is still early to say so, the market may in fact be starting to shift. Economist’s Commentary: October 24, 2008 (Realtor.org 10/08) [Link broken] Finally, we have the top 10 real estate predictions for 2009 from About.com. Top 10 Real Estate Predictions for 2009 (About.com 11/08)

Wrapping up 2008

Some people say we are going into a recession and this seems more likely to be true as time goes on. While things will eventually improve, for now it’s best to focus on what to do till then. One interesting study says that, historically, if you invest more in marketing during down times it can actually pay bigger dividends. How brands thrived during the Great Depression (imediaconnection.com 10/08) We still believe that every market has opportunities for those who keep up with changing trends and technologies. Let’s end our review of 2008 on a sentiment we have been hearing a lot recently, “If you were able to make it this far then you must be doing something right!”