Homes, Apples and Opportunities
So over the last years I have to say that due to the influence of many (thanks to SJ and CM), I've become quite the Apple Computer junkie. Having a computer that you can plug in and have it just "work" right out the box seems like a no-brainer, but until I experienced it firsthand, I had no idea how much simpler life could be, once the little Apple shaped beacon starts gleaming from the roof. So, having sent my son off to school with his laptop and desktop, bought a few iPods, and naturally having my own, I thought that logically this was a stock that had nowhere to go but up. Problem was, it was trading at a 52-week high of close to $200/share, and even though I knew the company was just amazing, it seemed pricey. I resolved to keep my eye on it, and if it dipped below 175/share, I'd grab as much as I possibly could and just watch it rise. After all, I was looking at it as a long-term investment, so short-term fluctuations weren't a big deal.
Well of course, come January, Apple stock, along with everything else, saw a huge correction, and before I new it, it was hovering right around $175. I was ready, my broker was ready, and the market was ready. It was everything I wanted in a stock, and finally was approaching my target. Suddenly, some bad economic news, markets closed for MLK day, and some downward guidance from Apple, and next thing I knew we'd blown well through the 175/share price, and were actually down to $125! Four long calls to my broker that morning. He's going on about how it's better than I could ever have aske d for, and tried to reassure me that the sky was not, in fact, falling, and that these times when sentiment seems at its worst were the times to act. Naturally, I knew he was right, but I was frozen like a deer in the headlights. Finally, it bounced off $119, and yet still I failed to pull the trigger.
Not really a happy ending to this story, so if you're waiting for the punch line, it will be a long wait. I failed to act, petrified that the market would go down further, and oblivious to all I rationally knew about long-term investment planning. Within two weeks, word began to leak out about the new 3G Apple iPhone, and the stock was back around $160/ share. My opportunity was gone, and here I sit to this day hoping and praying for some bad news from the company to give me a little dip to buy on. Personally, I think I'm out of luck.
So, where am I going with all this rhetoric? Well, surprisingly enough, and way, way under the radar screen, the real estate market has gone CRAZY the past two weeks. Suddenly we're seeing inventory shortages across the board. I've been in several multiple-offer situations this week, in everything from simple 3BR split entries, to homes over well over $1 million. Sellers, wary that the spring market is right around the corner, have started sticking to their guns, are unwilling to listen to the low-ball offers that had been coming in. Better still, they were not only holding out for their price, but actually getting it. Of course, those prices had come down from where we were at the peak, but relative to the comps in the surrounding areas, we seem to be on the verge of a little spike that will likely take us through the spring market nicely, clear out all the excess inventory, and begin the recovery process at last.
In the last two weeks, I managed to close or sell eight properties, across a wide range of towns, styles and price ranges … and this is just the little blip in the market that many were hoping for. Rates are again approaching all-time record lows, and realistically there hasn't been a confluence of low prices and low rates like this in quite some time.
It's not a matter of whether or not the opportunity is knocking, but whether you have the courage to pull the trigger, or will you be like I was with my Apple stock … knowing the time is right, but paralyzed with fear that things will go down later.
To those who have the strength of will to boldly go where so many have gone before, the long-term rewards could make it a once in a lifetime chance to get into the real estate market before things head back to the stratospheric 2005 numbers. How many of us looked around at the values then and said to themselves, "Boy, if I could ever get that home for under 400k, I'd move on it in a second." Well, here's that chance … but it's slipping by quickly and those who fail to act now will undoubtedly be kicking themselves later wishing they had.
To quote Dale Carnegie, "Take a chance! All life is a chance. The person who goes the furthest in life is the one who is willing to do or dare."
Steve Levine is the President of Steve Levine Inc., and an agent for REMAX First Choice. He has been ranked as the Top REMAX Agent in New England for the last 9 years, and is the 2008 recipient of the REMAX Community Service Award, and the 2007 Massachusetts Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Award. He can be reached at 508-735-4663, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit us on the web at www.stevelevine.com.
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