By Steve Brown, First Vice President, National Association of REALTORS®
Winston Churchill once said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
I’d like to add another word to that list—home.
Throughout the ages, though the shape and fashion of home has taken many forms, it is a place all of humankind can relate to. In fact, the ever present hope of home has inspired us as a country and civilization since the founding of our nation. But the idea of home is not just an American value. The importance of home has driven nations throughout the centuries to both defend their lands and to liberate other lands so all could find a place to live securely.
Practically speaking, home provides one of the basic needs of all living beings, that is, it is a place of shelter. Still few would argue that it is far more than just a shelter. It is the stage, the set if you would, for each person to play out their life and all that comes with life, both the joys and the sadness. Truly the walls of home become a sacred place.
And so the Christmas story comes to mind, two soon to be parents seeking shelter find their home for a time in a stable that they shared with the animals. And then there was a star above them providing perhaps both hope and light.
Well, today we too need to look up a bit to see some of the stars—to see a few glimmers of light regarding homes in today’s fragile economy.
Existing-home sales rose 1.4 percent in October. They are 13.5 percent above the level of where we were last year.
In November, unemployment sunk to its lowest rate in nearly three years—8.6 percent. The decline was better than the experts predicted.
On the Friday after Thanksgiving—known as Black Friday and almost always the biggest shopping day of the year—a record 226 million shoppers flocked to stores and to the Internet, spending 6.6 percent more than last year.
And this month, spending on Christmas trees is projected to rise 3.1 percent this year. According to one research firm, Americans will spend $3.4 billion on Christmas trees alone. This would be the highest number since before the recession.
There are some real indications that the economy and home sales may indeed improve this coming year. Positive economic “lights” lead to a more stable residential market and an increase in home sales.
As Realtors, never let us forget how important our job is in helping others find their home. And as we face the year ahead, let us do so not with hype, but with genuine hope.
Happy Holidays to you all.