Since I am seeing so many buyers actively in the market, and I am seeing so much economic activity in New York City , I know how I want to answer the question: “So how’s the market?”
We can see it at our open houses, with 19 people coming- a high number that has been highly unusual.
People are asking me, and telling me that they hear it’s bad. This is the regular conversation, and since I mostly disagree, I do my utmost to inject the surprise optimism into the mix.
Instead of just talking about the market, which anyone can do, I want to spend a little time thinking about the actual problems of the market, the levers that can move the market up or down.
The normal and obvious answers would be (1) Mortgage rates, (2) Stock market levels, and (3) Job Market. Perhaps you can add (4) Housing Prices, (5) The Trump Administration, which can be pretty distracting, (6) Oversupply of new development properties over $5mm (even that isn’t universally true). I just did a facebook live post about tech and what people are trying to solve for in this laggard of a “space” for startups. I have a ball speaking to tech developers. They live into a dream of how buyers and sellers can operate. And for that, I applaud them.
But then recently, I was listening to a podcast talking about solving for the “invisible problems,” the ones that people don’t know that they have.
And it struck me. That while there are lots of obvious structural reasons why the market isn’t moving as quickly as it could, the efficiencies of real estate tech aren’t going to necessarily impact the velocity of sales. Better broker/buyer or broker/seller communication will certainly take away some pain points. But, it is the invisible problems that are making this slump continue.
If some of this tech is inherently solving for both the obvious AND the invisible problems, then they will win. We could call these blind spots, too.
Either way, let’s see if we can put our finger on a few of these.
No one is saying that the typical buyer in New York is simply too distracted to pay attention. The shorter attention span of the buyer, and the sheer volume of noise in the marketplace is absurd. So, if an app is created that is shiny enough and engaging enough to really ask for continued attention- this could help greatly. Maybe good tech can overcome distraction. But someone has to stay still enough and present enough to take in a property, and not hop on Twitter before they are out of the door. This is your LIFE, people! Take a second to smell the roses.
People work too hard
I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for hard work. Lord knows that I get up at 5:30am every day for a reason. But it also seems that people are working longer and longer. It makes finding an apartment pretty hard, to say the least. Tech isn’t necessary taking people out of their head that they must work as hard as they do. Never mind that it’s harder to save these days, or so I am told. Not sure I believe it or not, but for sure if you’re looking to buy in Brooklyn, and the only time you can get there is Sundays, the process to buyer may be agonizingly slow.
People are simply afraid to make a decision right now. No app can give people confidence to make a purchase. There is so much noise right now that people fear looking dumb and buying before the market goes further down. Instagram photos of trips seem so much more instantly appealing than fixing up a run-down house or apartment. The herd is not buying right now, and the news in general is so incredibly negative, that unless you solve for an utterly distracted and unhappy media spreading its nastiness across all media platforms, how do people find home? A quandary.
What are the other invisible problems. Let’s not layer on cool efficiencies on top of invisible problems!