When someone asks you how you are, how do you respond? If you’re like a lot of people, you probably say something like, “I’m fine.” Or, perhaps you’re more apt to say, “Busy, but good.” Even when things are going badly, “I’m good,” may be your reply. Why is that?
How Are You, Really?
According to Psychology Today, saying “I’m fine” when you aren’t can be a way to deny painful feelings. Or, perhaps you just want to avoid conflicts or pretend that you don’t have problems. Of course, there may be times when you answer, “I’m fine” because there’s really not much to talk about or you’re just too busy to go down that path. Or, maybe you just don’t want to be seen as weak, complaining or burdensome. It might even be a trust issue — do you trust the person you’re talking to enough to share your vulnerabilities? And maybe, just maybe, you aren’t even really sure how you are, at least in that moment.
There are lots of reasons why we may not share how we really are when asked. We’re busy people. Often, guarded and self-protective people. Complex people.
Human beings are complex and they are composites — composites of good and bad, highs and lows, altruism and selfishness, and so much more. And guess what? Just like people, the housing market is a composite — a composite of sub-markets, diverse peoples and products, external influences, trends, and a whole lot more.
You’re smart enough and honest enough to know that when you answer the question, “How are you?” with a simple “I’m fine,” your answer is incomplete, even if it is mostly true. So, the next time you ask your real estate agent how the market is, if you get answers like busy, slow, strong, soft, balanced or robust, just know that you are getting incomplete answers. Very incomplete answers.
In all your humanness, your answer to the question, “How are you?” really depends on a myriad of factors, including internal and external factors at play in your life. The same holds true for the real estate market.
What’s Your Local Market Actually Like?
What are the demographics in any one area? Age, income and regional preferences impact buying decisions. What are the interest rates? Lower rates bring in more buyers, but also expand the demand for real estate, which drives up prices. What government policies or legislation are at play that may boost demand for real estate? Hinder it? What about the economic cycle? Is it expanding, contracting? Factors such as GDP, total employment, and consumer spending all determine the current stage of the economic cycle and the real estate market. Yep, just like human beings, the real estate market is complex.
Why draw a parallel between your answer to, “How are you?” to an answer you might receive when you ask, “How’s the market?” Primarily, to help you understand that there is no simple answer to the question. And, to encourage you to dig deeper. Broad-stroke answers only describe main or general points. They do not provide finer points and exact details. And, when it comes to your biggest asset, don’t you want the finer points? The details?
If you really want to know what’s happening in the market (your market), maybe it’s time to reframe the question. Simply reframing a question can shift perspectives and change the resulting conversation. So, rather than ask about the real estate market in general, be specific and ask about your home, your neighborhood, your market. Ask for specific details on recently sold properties, current inventory, months remaining inventory, market absorption, local and external factors, and market trends in your area. Context and nuance matter and the better questions you ask and the deeper and narrower you go, the more you will learn. Hmmm, sounds a lot like what we need to do when we sincerely want to know someone and how they are really doing.
Ask the Right Questions for the Right Answers
Asking the right questions is key to gaining intimate knowledge about people and about the market. When you ask the right questions, you’ll get more complete answers. And, isn’t that what you want when it comes to your decisions about real estate and your relationships?
I’d love for you to reach out and let me know how you are doing. Really doing. And, I’ll let you know how the market (your market) is doing. Really.