A climate of Change!
Off the Paved Road
by James Rogers
January 9, 2009
A new era dawns as the old calendar is thrown in the trash and a new one is put in its place. From my perspective the world that we are living in looks a little tougher than the past few years. Not tough as in impossible to make a living, nor tough as in "the sky is falling". What I am referring to is tough like what it was 5, 6, or maybe 7 years ago. It is the kind of tough that made us who we are here in Pinedale, Creative, Hard Working, Resilient, and Persistent. I really appreciated those "creative days" of thinking when people did not just slap down a bunch of cash and say "find me a house". Some of us, me included, have been the recipient of a few really good years. I have even been too busy "finding houses" to write articles and for the past several years have just tried to keep ahead of the train. Just as those times were a time of change I do believe we are coming into what I would classify as a more "normal" time, but nonetheless it is another time of change. So yes, we will adjust we will do because that is what people of Sublette County are good at.
My perspective for Real Estate is that we are back to those times when deals were not found under every sagebrush nor can we just sift through the phone calls and only return the ones that will produce an immediate profit. We are coming into a time when customer service really does matter. The relationships that have been created in the past will produce our best results and how we have prepared and diversified over the past few good years will pay huge dividends. Taking care of business is the name of the game and hustling up some work requires getting out of the easy chair and rekindling some of our old friendships. All of this said I still believe the future is very Bright for Sublette County. I believe we are going to continue to see some steady growth and through some of the current development projects I believe we have positioned ourselves very well to openly accept that growth. I believe this growth is going to continue for the simple fact that throughout this great country, Sublette County holds some of the best opportunities out there. I believe our growth will occur in a moderate and manageable type rather than a frantic reactive sort of way and I can honestly say that I am very thankful for the opportunity that this growth will provide for me, my family, my friends, colleges, and other business owners and community members of Sublette County.
As for the current real estate market we are seeing stagnant activity in most of the arenas. Some of this has to do with the time of year but it mostly has to do with our national economy. I am actually very appreciative of this slow down for the fact that we could not keep maintaining the pace of growth that all of us were experiencing. My projection for the next few months of 2009 is that the market will loosen back up but I believe we will see some adjustments in pricing before that occurs. Currently residential lots are in high supply and homes are readily available in most price ranges. We still lack an adequate supply of quality housing product under $300K but then again our lower end price range has always been shallow. Unique recreational properties will still draw substantial attention but these properties better be priced right to get them sold. Commercial real estate is still pretty strong with steady activity. So what does the future hold from my perspective?
I see 2009 as a year of opportunities. I still believe that with the heavy supply in certain segments of our market that we are going to see prices continue to soften. Some have already done so while others will have to follow to recapture their share of the action. I donít see us hanging on to current pricing in most areas, there is just too much supply. A few properties have adjusted according to this prediction and they have moved. I believe that a large segment of the market is going to have to follow. With home loan rates staying at historically low prices and home prices softening, not only in other parts of the country but right here at home, there are going to be some amazing opportunities for people in this community to get out of rentals. Just to give you an example: A brand new home in the Trails Creek Subdivision that is being built by one of Pinedale newest home builders, Meadow West Homes, can be purchased for around $1325 per month which is cheaper than most rentals. This home is a stick built on sight(not modular/manufactured) 1400 square foot 3 bedroom 2 bath house with an oversized 2 car completely finished and insulated garage. My payment is based on 10% down with a 5% interest rate which should be very doable with approved credit at a local banker. Check it out, www.meadowwesthomes.com.
There are other opportunities that we have not seen in awhile such as buyers approaching sellers for owner financing on raw land. This is a great way to begin to build equity into a property without sacrificing a bunch of financing costs with a bank. Those normal bank and appraisal fees can be put toward the down payment. Most of these deals will have a term of 3-5 years when the seller will want a balloon payment requiring you to refinance with a bank at that time. This is a great alternative with a piece of property that you would like to build a new home on in a few years. The better deal on the land in todayís market may afford you some substantial equity in a few years when you are ready to build so donít pass up the opportunity to take a run at the Seller with this proposal.
Another opportunity to look at during our current real estate climate is Renting to own. With the right seller this can be a win/win situation for all parties involved. Most Sellers are less negotiable on their price when they are maintaining ownership during these slower times but the terms of the deal can be structured in just about any way imaginable to give a buyer a good position to begin the adventure of home ownership. One strategy includes paying the seller above market rent with a portion of the rental payment being put toward the purchase price. This gives the Buyer the necessary discipline to save money while allowing the Seller to realize more cash than he would otherwise see from normal renting. Plus the Buyer usually has more "skin in the game" to take care of the home and the property.
In the past 8 years of real estate I have been involved in many different types of deal structures and I guess that is one thing that I really enjoy about the business. When the times get a little tougher I just like to get a little more creative. After all creativity is what has gotten me this far and creativity is what will get me further.
Remember that with any type of deal that you put together you will definitely want professional advice from a good real estate attorney and your local Realtor.
May God Bless you all in 2009 and may this coming year be filled with Opportunities!