House Hunters Are Harbingers of Realty Spring

Article excerpt

Consumer confidence, as plotted by the Samson 100 Index, rebounded sharply in January after government furloughs and snow drove the previous month's index to its lowest point.

One-hundred percent of last month's respondents claim that the weather had an adverse effect on sales. The index is a survey of 170 of the top producing Realtors in the Washington metropolitan area, and measures consumer confidence in the local real estate market.

January's index came in at 36 (out of 100), which is 33 percent higher than the last month. The spring market usually begins when buyers come out in the middle to late January. This produces higher sales in early February and higher reported sales in March and April.

This year's market was slightly delayed but now appears to be showing signs of life. "Weather was a huge factor in weak sales in January," says Pat Richter of RE/MAX Elite in Burke. "February picked up as soon as the weather improved. Open houses were great the last two weeks."

Jeff Ocean, vice president with Ken Murphy and Associates, who markets new homes, claims the key to this market is "positioning." "Builders must have the right product for the market and deliver value to the buyer."

He continues, "I have a builder in Cascades who is surrounded by competitors but is doing well because of the type of home he builds."

This news may come too late for some though. Last year's weak market - which came as a surprise to everyone except the readers of this survey - and this year's slow start may be too much for some small undercapitalized builders to withstand.

Look for some of your favorite builders to disappear soon if there is not a dramatic turnaround.

See the adjoining charts for what the future holds in comparison to past years.

Samson 100 Index can now be seen on-line at http://www.clnet.com.

****CHART (COLOR) A

METROWIDE RESALES PREDICTION: FEBRUARY RESALES

1993: 3,021

1993: 3,181

1995: 2,674

1996: 3,100

Source: Samson 100 Index

****CHART (COLOR) B

METROWIDE RESALES PREDICTION: MARCH RESALES

1993: 4,242

1993: 3,120

1995: 3,525

1996: 2,700

Source: Samson 100 Index

****CHART (COLOR) C

METROWIDE RESALES PREDICTION: APRIL RESALES

1993: 4,486

1993: 4,933

1995: 3,650

1996: 3,000

Source: Samson 100 Index

****CHART (COLOR) D

METROWIDE RESALES PREDICTION: MAY RESALES

1993: 4,870

1993: 5,426

1995: 4,430

1996: 3,200

Source: Samson 100 Index

****CHART (COLOR) E

METROWIDE NEW HOME SALES PREDICTION: FEBRUARY NEW HOMES

1993: 3,060

1993: 2,732 1995: 1,747

1996: 1,250

Source: Samson 100 Index

****CHART (COLOR) F

METROWIDE NEW HOME SALES PREDICTION: MARCH NEW HOMES

1993: 3,316

1993: 3,120

1995: 2,150

1996: 1,650

Source: Samson 100 Index

****CHART (COLOR) G

METROWIDE NEW HOME SALES PREDICTION: APRIL NEW HOMES

1993: 3,158

1993: 2,870

1995: 1,787

1996: 1,850

Source: Samson 100 Index

****BOX

ABOUT THE CONSUMER-CONFIDENCE SURVEY AND SALES PREDICTIONS

The Samson 100 Index surveys brokers throughout the Washington metropolitan area and charts the results into a consumer-confidence figure. …