GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Beware of the Endless Roller Coaster

Richard Haggerty | May 19, 2021

From left: Crystal Hawkins-Syska, HGAR President; Bill Dedman, Newsday Investigative Reporter, "Long Island Divided"

As a kid I was not a big fan of roller coasters. They were scary and unpredictable, so they had no allure for me. As an adult I started to appreciate them a little more. The drama of the slow ascent that gradually reaches the peak and starts the downward plunge with increasing speed usually throwing in some sudden sharp and unexpected curves and every once and a while a loop de loop.

The current real estate market is reminding me of a roller coaster ride, albeit one that is a bit unusual. At this time last year, we were ever so slowly creeping to the top of the precipice, during the peak of the COVID-19 shut down, straining to see the crest and the decent. That happened in June of last year, when agents could once again show properties in person and we started the downward push, building more and more speed with very few curves to break the momentum.

When we closed out our 2020 sales statistics for HGAR, I observed how remarkable it was that 2020 exceeded 2019 numbers, even though for all intents and purposes real estate showings had been shut down for three months! When we published our first quarter 2021 sales report, I remarked that the numbers were staggering compared to the previous year—like nothing I had ever seen before. We now have April under our belt, and I can report that the market acceleration continues at breakneck speed both in terms of number of transactions and prices.

So, when are we going to see some curves or plateaus to slow down this red-hot market? I have to believe that our critical inventory shortage will have an impact, as will the potential of rising interest rates if inflationary pressure starts to mount. However, I also think this market will continue at a whirlwind pace for the balance of the year and that has me nervous.

Why should I be nervous about a strong market? Because there has been no break for agents for almost a year. With real roller coasters the ride comes to an end and your wobbly legs get used to solid ground and your stomach has time to settle. That’s not been the case with this market. Agents must contend with buyers who continually lose out in bidding wars and sellers who get upset when their property sells for over asking—but still less than they expected. The stress level just keeps building.

Top Row L to R: Dorothy Botsoe, Robin White, LaShaun McCalla. Bottom Row L to R: Adriana Calderon, Tana McGuire, Lynette Browne

I’m also concerned that we lose sight of our legal and ethical obligations during such a stressful period. We cannot allow that to happen. We cannot afford to lose our focus during these challenging times.

The HGAR Fair Housing Committee, chaired by Tana McGuire and Lynette Browne, put together a wonderful Fair Housing Summit at the end of April, featuring Richard Rothstein, author of the “Color of Law,” HGAR Past President Dorothy Botsoe moderating a terrific panel on source of income discrimination, and Bill Dedman, one of the authors of the Newsday “Long Island Divided” article, published in late 2019, which exposed widespread steering in the real estate community. As HGAR President Crystal Hawkins Syska said when interviewing Bill Dedman, this is not just a Long Island problem, this could happen anywhere.

We are in the process of breaking down the recording of the Fair Housing Summit into three segments and will post them on hgar.com. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Summit live, please make every effort to watch the recordings. Take the time for a refresher ethics class. Recognize that adherence to fair housing laws and ethical principles are the cornerstones of our industry, regardless of market conditions.

Also, recognize that in a super charged market, you still have the power to take a break from the roller coaster. Take some time off. Enjoy the warmer weather. Hang out with family and friends. Mark sure you recharge and retool before you hop back on what continues to be a wild ride!

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO