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2021 was a year unlike any other. Some businesses did well after being closed during the early days of the pandemic. Others, like the restaurant and service industries continue to struggle to find workers. Families resumed normal activities such as recreational sports, vacations and family get togethers. Air travel resumed and, in my case, conventions were back on for the first time in over a year. This month I will highlight some of the biggest changes of a year that still broke many sales records.

Homes for Sale

The lifeblood of the real estate business is to have homes to sell. It’s the crucial piece of the economic law of supply and demand. Little or no supply translates instantly to high demand. 2021 experienced its lowest inventory levels in at least the last 20 years. The highest number of homes for sale on a given date this year was 2,304 in October. The low was 1,643 in May. And those numbers included new construction inventory. Many of which were proposed construction, meaning that they were nothing more than bare ground listings.

Low Supply—High Demand

There is no better visual of what a low supply– high demand market looks like than the Inverted Market graphic. In March of 2020, Covid 19 made its presence known. After about a month pause, the real estate industry realized it had a crucial role to play in the economy as people quickly discovered that they would be working from home for an extended and unknown period. Schools were closed and transitioned to at home remote learning. Suddenly the home that was the right size prior to Covid became much smaller as family members claimed their spot to begin working and going to school from.

This was the catalyst for demand that continues through today. A combination of record low mortgage interest rates added fuel to the fire allowing homebuyers the ability afford higher priced homes without breaking the budget. Prior to Covid-19, there had always been more homes available for sale than there were buyers. In June of 2020, that changed and the new normal began.

Sale Pendings Surge

By the end of 2020, it looked like the Inverted Market was going to correct itself, however in January of this year, it proved to be only a pause and buyers were out the door going under contract at every opportunity. The highest count of homes under contract had been around 3,600 in 2020. 2021 effectively said “Hold my beer” and we ended up recording just short of 4,600 homes at one point in June. This unheard-of record high taxed the entire real estate closing industry from appraisers to underwriters and closers as everyone scrambled to meeting contract deadlines.

Days on Market

The time a home spent on the market from listing date to offer acceptance was one of the end results of low supply and high demand. Since April, the median days on market was a week or less. It was common for a home to go live in the MLS at 9am and have multiple offers by noon. Several Realtors began employing the process of delayed offer presentations to allow more homebuyers into properties. Some argued that this simply drove the prices up by creating even more multiple offers, however the benefit was that home sellers ultimately ended up being able to choose a buyer with better financing terms or negotiated possession dates, which allowed the home seller the chance to find their next home.

Closed Sales and Higher Prices

The full effects of this kind of market will not be realized until we return to some state of normalcy —if that will ever happen. However, one thing is for sure and that is that we are experiencing record high numbers of homes sold in 2021 and along with that, record high home sale prices. We will end up closing very close to 18,000 home sales this year compared to 16,500 in 2021 which is a 9% increase.

Sale prices are where the biggest change occurred. With a Median Sale Price consistently $20,000 over 2020 prices, we are set to end the year at $250,000. Much of the rise in pricing was due to new construction sales and higher material costs.

With mortgage interest rates predicted to climb in 2022, we may have peaked on pricing this year, but buyer demand remains strong, even as we move closer to the Christmas and New Year holidays. My best advice to home buyers in 2022? Be ready to go as soon as you see that perfect home hit the market. Buyer demand should be pretty similar to the last 2 years.

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As you know, 2021 was full of challenges. We were still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chains shut down and inflation heated up. So, if you’re like many people, you might not be sorry to see the year come to a close. But now it’s time to look ahead to a brighter 2022. And on a personal level, you may want to set some New Year’s resolutions. You might resolve to improve your health and diet, and possibly learn some new skills, but why not make some financial resolutions, too?

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Prepare for the unexpected. If you haven’t already created an emergency fund, now may be a good time to start. Ideally, you’d like to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses in this fund, with the money kept in a low-risk, liquid account. (If you’re retired, you may want your emergency fund to contain up to a year’s worth of living expenses.) Once you’ve got this fund established, you may be able to avoid dipping into long-term investments to pay for short-term needs, such as costly home or auto repairs or large medical bills.
  • Boost your retirement savings. The pandemic caused many us to reevaluate our ability to eventually enjoy the retirement lifestyles we’ve envisioned. In fact, 33% of those planning to retire soon said they started to contribute even more to their retirement savings during the pandemic, according to a study from Age Wave and Edward Jones. This year, if you can afford it, increase your contributions to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  • Reduce your debt load. The less debt you carry, the more money you’ll have available to support your lifestyle today and save and invest for tomorrow. So, this year, resolve to cut down on your existing debts and avoid taking on new ones whenever possible. You can motivate yourself by measuring your progress—at the beginning of 2022, record your total debts and then compare this figure to your debt load at the start of 2023. If the numbers have dropped, you’ll know you were making the right moves.
  • Don’t overreact to the headlines. A lot can happen during a year. Consider inflation—it shot up in 2021, but it may well subside in 2022. If you changed your investment strategy last year to accommodate the rise in inflation, would you then have to modify it again when prices fall? And inflation is just one event. What about changes in interest rates? How about new legislation coming out of Washington? And don’t forget extreme weather events, such as wildfires and floods. Any or all of these occurrences can affect the financial markets in the short term, but it just doesn’t make sense for you to keep changing the way you invest in response to the news of the day. Instead, stick with a strategy that’s appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. You may need to adjust this strategy over time, in response to changes in your own life, but don’t let your decisions be dictated by external events.

These aren’t the only financial resolutions you can make—but following them may help you develop positive habits that can help you face the future with confidence.

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Online reputation management strategies focus on creating and maintaining an excellent reputation. They will include social media, PR tools, and advertising. Managing the voice of the consumer is vital to the success of reputation management. The main objective of online reputation management strategies is to combat negative claims and build trust with customers. The goal is to create a positive brand image. To accomplish this, companies should create a website and encourage earned media. This includes blog posts, news stories, and other positive mentions.

Responding to negative reviews and feedback is an essential part of online reputation management. If a customer leaves a bad review, do not delete it immediately. This will only make the customer angry and they will move on to leave another review. While you may feel that this is unnecessary, it is better to be polite and respectful than to ignore the comment. Also, don’t make it personal—avoid appearing too petty or boastful.

Developing a strategy for online reputation management is vital to the success of any business. The first page of Google search results is crucial, as only 1% of people look past the first page. It’s important to be prepared to respond to any negative comments or reviews in a professional way. Even if the review is negative, responding in a timely fashion will be beneficial. You’ll be glad you did. If you don’t have an online presence, hire a company that has a solid digital presence.

An effective online reputation management strategy should include the use of an SEO-based crisis management guide. This is an effective strategy to deal with a crisis quickly and protect your reputation. If you have a reputation-management guide, you can respond effectively and efficiently. It’s essential for every large company to have a crisis plan. It helps you deal with difficult situations and stay ahead of the competition. It’s important to understand the importance of transparency and being transparent. Then you’ll be well-equipped to handle online conversations.

An online reputation management strategy should be a part of your overall marketing strategy. It should be proactive. It’s imperative to respond to negative content and respond to all complaints, as this is likely to reflect poorly on your business. If you’re not responsive, the negative content you uncover on the web will damage your brand’s reputation, and your competitors’. It’s critical to ensure that your brand gets the attention it deserves.

An online reputation management strategy is an essential element of business marketing. Using social media is an important part of any successful online reputation management strategy. It’s important to respond quickly to negative sentiments and to keep up with updates on your industry’s competition. Moreover, an effective online reputation campaign is essential for your business. An excellent online reputation management strategy will increase your brand’s awareness and customer trust. If you don’t want to be found out by a negative review, you should be responsive and respond professionally.

An online reputation management strategy is essential for the growth of any business. It can protect a business from negative statements and can help it maintain a good reputation online. Regardless of the size of your business, online reputation management will prevent negative statements from spreading across the Internet. It’s important to know what you’re up against, and to address problems quickly. This is an essential part of growth strategy. A strong reputation management strategy is essential for the future of your business.

Social media is a crucial part of online reputation management. These channels will allow you to monitor and respond to negative posts and comments. In addition, you’ll also want to check out any reviews of your products or services. Keeping an eye on these sites is the best way to maintain a positive reputation. It’s also crucial for your business to be active in social media. In addition to reviewing the feedback of your customers, your business will also receive feedback from customers on the strength of its services and products.

Your reputation is important to you and your business. Your online presence can improve or harm your brand. It will be an effective marketing tool for your business. Moreover, it will improve your brand image on Google Searches. By monitoring your online presence, you’ll be able to identify any negative reviews and keep them at bay. Your customer’s experience is crucial in building a brand. You can easily manage the quality of your customers’ feedback and enhance your reputation online.

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We are well into the last two months of 2021 and by all accounts, it’s been a year to remember. The Central Iowa real estate market is predicted to sell 18,000 homes this year. At the height of the home buying season this past May, only 1,600 homes were for sale.

To give perspective, one year ago May, there were 3,200 homes on the market. How did we go from losing half of our for-sale inventory during the past year and not have a seriously compromised real estate market?

We all know that since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the value of owning a home became paramount. Both from the monetary worth of home ownership AND the beneficial worth by having that safe place to call home. This month we will look at where the market was most active, including the number of sales as well as pricing and days on market.

New Purchase Strategies Employed by Homebuyers In 2021

Unless you were living under a rock, you most probably heard about some of the crazy actions going on with listings this past summer. At the height of the market activity, it was common to see a home hit the market in the morning and be under contract by that same afternoon. Some Realtors arranged for extended showing periods to allow more homebuyers through the front door over the period of a couple of days.

That would often result in multiple offers at or above the listed price. Something fairly new to our market was the use of escalation clauses. This buying strategy allowed a homebuyer to include contract language that automatically increased their offer over competing offers up to a specified maximum purchase price. Coupled with record low mortgage interest rates, this was the catalyst for homeowners that allowed them to sell their homes well above the listing price. It also proved to be a double-edged sword however as many potential homeowners decided to stay put because of the fear of not being able to find the next home with all the buyer competition.

Most Active Areas in the Metro

Of the Single-Family Resale homes that sold at or above list price during the first 10 months of this year, the area called Des Moines Northwest (think Beaverdale & Merle Hay neighborhoods) recorded 587 sales with Ankeny following close behind at 579, then rounding out the top 5 were Des Moines Northeast, West Des Moines, and Urbandale.

Metro Days on Market

At the height of the buying frenzy, Days on Market could have been described as hours in many cases. Year-to-date numbers showed an average of 6 days on the market for homes selling at or above list price compared to 40 days market time for homes selling below the listed price. This is certainly where the argument could be made for proper pricing in such an active market.

Pricing

This category is a little harder to analyze because different areas of the market each drive a different price point. Cumming, Iowa for example is almost always going to lead the way in average sale price just because it offers homes with larger lots and a more rural setting and is highly driven by new construction. The data used in this month’s analytics are based primarily off of Single-Family Resale properties and I have purposely removed new construction and condo/townhomes from the mix.

The Covid pandemic allowed so many people to work from home. And with less commuting required and social distancing so important, the perceived value of homes rose. As a result, the farther away you got from the core of the city of Des Moines, the higher the average sale prices were regardless of whether a home sold above or below list price.

Areas like Polk City with its close proximity to Saylorville Lake and Clive with its great walking nature trails offered a way for people to social distance yet be able to enjoy outdoor activities. In fact, except for Des Moines’ Northwest area the bulk of the actual Des Moines areas came in at the lowest average sale price in both categories of homes sold above and homes sold below list price. People were willing and able to pay higher home prices to live in the suburbs surrounding Des Moines.

Months of Inventory

In simplest of terms, Months of Inventory describes how long it would take to sell all the homes that are currently for sale assuming no new properties enter the market. For years, the standard of measure to describe a real estate market is by labeling it as a Seller’s Market (less than 4 months inventory), a Balanced Market (between 4–6 months inventory) and a Buyer’s Market (more than 6 months inventory).

At the most recent real estate conference this past month held by the National Association of Realtors, NAR’s chief economist, Dr Lawrence Yun was asked whether the current definition of Months of Inventory still applied with such high sustained buyer activity. He said that the defining brackets are much lower in today’s real estate market and that the current Seller’s Market would be defined as less than 2.5 months of inventory and a Balanced Market between 2.5 to 5 months, and more than 5 months would be a Buyer’s Market. I will expand on what this looks like in upcoming articles and analysis.

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