President’s Blog: A Winning Season May Be Just Around the Corner

Rusty MacLachlan“I’m just ready for all of this to be over.” Those words of pain have been uttered by many loyal St. Louis Cardinals fans recently. It’s become pretty obvious that our beloved team has given up. A quick look at the league standings only drive the point home. The team’s season is about to slide into the record books as officially over.

It can be a good thing, though, when the stats point to a negative season being officially finished. For example, our housing market slide appears to be over, as well. The internationally renowned financial magazine, Forbes, lists none other than Springfield, MO, as one of its top 10 housing markets for investors. We have made a list of front runners that includes Indianapolis, Denver, Colorado Springs, Nashville, and Austin, among others.

Forbes contends that real estate investment is gaining momentum. Overall, the housing slide has stabilized in some respects and those markets that were least volatile (prices never gained too quickly, and hence have not tumbled so severely,) are the markets Forbes finds are the safest bets for home investors. And let’s face it – all home buyers are essentially home investors.

The Forbes piece generated a fair amount of press around here this weekend. It is comforting validation from a credible source. But it shouldn’t shock those of us who have been carefully following the MarketGraphics reports and construction forecasts the HBA has offered during the last two years from data gurus like Joe Zanola and Edsel Charles. These guys have been studying housing stats for a long time. That’s why the HBA partnered with them in the first place: knowledge is power. MarketGraphics provides meaningful market data and analysis, the likes of which our area has never before seen. By bringing it to our market, the HBA is helping builders, developers and investors make better informed and ultimately more profitable decisions.

So, what has MarketGraphics analysis taught us along the way? While our market certainly has had its share of hard times, there are meaningful underlying advantages we have over most other markets. And that’s not just cheerleading. It is quantifiable. Those underlying advantages have led us to work through our once overbuilt new homes inventory more quickly, while most other markets still struggle with a glut of new (and now not-so-new) unsold homes. In fact, since May, we have actually experienced new home shortages in many price points throughout the Ozarks!

The Forbes article references many of those advantages in our market. But if you’ve been a part of our HBA/MarketGraphics forecasts and updates, they shouldn’t greatly surprise you: Markets with a stable job mix and population growth before the bust, and growing populations in the immediate future are factors that Forbes looked for in compiling their Top 10 list. Landing at #9 Springfield experienced 8% population growth from 2000 – 2005 and we expect another 7% growth over the next 5 years. Combine that with rising housing values, relatively low inventories, a growing job market (a study showed the fastest-growing county in Springfield’s Metro Area, Christian County, was ranked 12th in the nation among top counties for job growth,) and a low cost of living, (a recent CNBC special report “America’s Top States for Business 2010” ranked Missouri fifth in the nation for the cost of doing business.) And, as we all know, this is a beautiful and safe place to live. The Springfield area is one of the nation’s “sweet spots.”

Now, if someone would just tell the investors and lenders what a great opportunity there is here…wait…I think someone just did! Thank you!

The Cardinals season may be coming to a close, but it looks like a new winning season for us is just around the corner. Let’s “Play Ball”. Keeping the Faith!

God Bless

Rusty MacLachlan