There are still challenges, but the US economy and property market are definitely in a “better place” than they were a year ago, and that bodes well for real estate elsewhere in the world.
That’s the positive message to emerge from a recent meeting in San Diego of Sotheby’s International Realty directors and managers from around the world, who took note of a US National Association of Realtors report that sales of single family homes had shown a year-on-year increase of 16,3% in March to 5,3m units, while the median home price had risen 0,4%. Consequently, says Sandy Geffen, a director of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA, the overall atmosphere at the global meeting was one of “cautious optimism” and a determination to make the most of the new opportunities that are beginning to emerge in property markets around the world.
“We were able to report, for example, a 46% year-on-year increase in sales volume and a 42% increase in turnover for Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa. “And the shared experience from many different countries was that the value buyer is back in the market, and must be understood as a patient and long-term investor. At the top end of the market, luxury is now synonymous with quality, and lavish spending is also a thing of the past.” The Sotheby’s International Realty point of view, she says, is that real estate remains one of the best available investments and that demand will continue to grow, albeit slowly or hesitantly at this stage.
“We went into the recession with housing and we will exit through a housing market revival as employment numbers start to pick up and the number of home foreclosures or repossessions steadily drop.” In line with this, the organisation continues to improve and expand its global network of more than 500 offices in 39 countries. It recently concluded a new licensing agreement with Countrywide, the UK’s biggest estate agency group, and also opened new outlets in Egypt, Oman, Estonia and Lithuania. Plans for this year include more outlets in Japan, Hong Kong and the Baltics. In addition, says Geffen, Sotheby’s International Realty has been quick to capitalise on the marketing opportunities presented by new technologies and social media. “We are now able to reach clients through the mobile office on a smart phone instead of a desktop or laptop, and manage our brand across social media networks. “But above all, we are retaining our focus on quality, as the custodians of the brand which is the Sotheby’s legacy, by working to attract and retain the top people in the global real estate industry.”