If the housing market were human, it would look like it just wrestled a few alligators, after running an obstacle course through a snake pit.
The market is beaten and bruised, but still trying to emerge from the recession, which is why Greg Rand, a 20-year real estate veteran and author of Crash Boom (www.crashboom.com) from Career Press, wants people to know about five new trends that could help them beat the housing blues.
"One of the key elements of a free market is chaos," Rand said. "Chaos is how the markets figure out how to move forward. The important thing to realize in the midst of all these people talking about 'the housing market' is that the market isn't some nameless, faceless thing that lumbers around aimlessly as if it has a life of its own. The market is made up of buyers and sellers. People, just like you and me, who are trying to figure out how to buy low and sell high. It doesn't matter if you're a homeowner or an investor. The secret to making sure your real estate doesn't turn into a money pit is to watch the trends so you can predict where the prices will rise and where they won't."
Rand's five trends to watch include:
Short-Term Pain - Show me a market where home prices are back to 2002 levels, and I will show you a market that is overcorrecting.
Overdevelopment - One of the reasons the market is overcorrecting is overdevelopment and speculation, as is the case in Florida. Another reason is that the job base has eroded, like in Detroit. Isolated, explainable, short term distress is the secret. Find your Florida.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs - Track employment trends to see where companies are moving, and you will see a harbinger for long term housing demand.
Lifestyle - Nothing drives migration patterns long term more that the pursuit of happiness. Look at climate (the Carolinas), leisure trends (Colorado) and cost of living (Texas) for triggers on where the market may shift.
Responsible Government - Look at the state government. Does the state and city in question reward or punish risk-takers? Are you likely to suffer if you succeed there? If so, find somewhere that appreciates entrepreneurs. There's nothing worse than putting your money on the table, only to have it redistributed.
"It comes down to the idea that no matter how the markets change, no matter which way the winds shift, people will always need a place to live," Rand added. "That's been true of America since the first log cabin. If you plug into that concept, and leave fear in a box on the shelf, you can be ahead of the curve and ride the wave of the trends that matter."