Real Estate Consumer Confidence in Rutherford County

J. Harmon Home Team
Below are the results of the very first J. Harmon Home Team Consumer Confidence Survey. It was pretty interesting. Here are a few things that stood out to me.

1) Respondents were pretty evenly divided on what they think will happen with home prices and interest rates over the next year. This could indicate a lack of education/understanding, a lack of attention, or a lack of concern. Either way, it is not something that the average person plugs into. This indicates an even greater need for an expert that does pay attention, studies and plugs into market data and understands and applies it to a prediction of the future of the local market (short and long term). It also indicates a need to communicate this prediction and analysis. In other words, it really is important for me to keep up with this data and inform my people of what is happening and why it is important to THEM.

2) Overall, people are optimistic about the real estate market, especially here in our hyper-local market. People believe that Rutherford County is in great shape and is a good investment. As long as this sentiment holds, our market will stay strong and prices will stay up. Interestingly, the further you get from our hyper local market, the less optimistic people are. In other words, we believe in ourselves, but not in the state as much and definitely not in the country as a whole. To me that speaks of our fierce independence as a community. Is this good, bad or indifferent? Not sure. Just good to know it exists.

3) Even though people are optimistic, they are NOT considering a move. This tells me that optimism is rooted in comfort in their current situation. Interestingly, the vast majority of the respondents were homeowners. The few non-homeowners were very pessimistic. This makes complete sense as it is a bit daunting to consider buying your first home or first home in a while, right now. Reasons to not consider moving were extremely varied. The only responses that came multiple times were “comfortable where we are” and “we feel priced out of a move right now.”

One thing that came up several times that I found very interesting, and I didn’t have a question to quantify this. So it is more of an anecdote. Inevitably this conversation almost always led to a conversation about current interest rates. A certain demographic of respondents (age range) made comments that they didn’t understand the fuss about “high rates” being in the 7s when their first home was financed in the 10+% range. I completely understand this perspective. What they might not think about is that it is not just rates that are the issue. The issue is more complex. In the last 4ish years, a couple of things happened simultaneously. 

1) rates were kept artificially low to stimulate the economy. This led to activity that far exceeded “normal” and price increases that aggregated to 80-100% or even more in very local sub-markets. 2) then, in the last year, interest rates effectively doubled-tripled. This made money MUCH more expensive and overall affordability plummet. 3) simultaneously, wages stayed pretty close to the same and prices of pretty much everything went way up.

So basically, it was a perfect storm of things that have made affording a home purchase much more difficult. So, yes, rates only would have been something we could handle. All those things at once, much more difficult. 

I would love some feedback on these results. I would also love some help/guidance on the next survey. I think this is something worth doing on a regular basis. I am DEFINITELY not a statistician or economist. Just a concerned guy with a little insight. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa.
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