Year in Review
2023 Letter

December 2023

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

It’s that time of year again where I take a moment to breathe and reflect on an unprecedented year in real estate. This marks my 2nd annual letter, and I’m compelled to delve into what made 2023 historic for all of us. Interest rates, hitting unprecedented highs, became nationwide headlines. Though they are now on a downward trend, much of the year was spent strategizing to guide our clients through this challenge. The market witnessed its lowest affordability in four decades, casting uncertainty for clients and colleagues alike. Education and navigation allowed us to thrive, and we extend our heartfelt thanks for your support, trust, and passion.

In 2023, Helen Oliveri Real Estate flourished. Surpassing half a billion dollars in career sales, closing almost 3,000 properties in 20 years, we upgraded technology and expanded our team. Despite market challenges, we closed numerous deals, expanded into the south suburban market, and represented exclusive new construction developments. Our territories now include Lake County, Cook County, and Grundy County, with more expansion on the horizon. New construction saw a significant resurgence amid resale inventory challenges. Featured in Chicago Agent Magazine and recognized on top real estate portals, our social media presence grew exponentially with almost 100,000 followers across platforms.

2023 posed unique challenges, including rising interest rates, inflation, a housing shortage crisis, natural disasters, and a global health crisis. Despite this, our experience guided us through, listing and selling homes amidst the uncertainty. As COVID-19 was declared over by the World Health Organization, we reflect on our accomplishments and look forward to the new year with resilience and fortitude, ready to rebuild and exponentially grow.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated and passionate about what they do.” ― Nelson Mandela

Can you believe it’s been 4 years since I launched Helen Oliveri Real Estate as an independent brokerage?  It was nerve wrecking, but I can say in good faith that I’m so blessed and humbled by the ongoing love support which has allowed us to thrive during market changes.  I remember launching in October of 2019 and within a couple of months the entire world was shut down from the pandemic.  Then we had the roaring market of 2021-2022 and then we had the down market of 2022-2023.  After all, what goes up, comes down but rarely stays down forever so this was all inevitable.  And we still have the inventory shortage, rates are still shaky but coming down and new construction is the name of the game right now.  It’s all ever changing, and it always will.  And now here we are in uncertain times again, but we are steadfast in doing whatever it takes to plunge ahead in this market as we owe it to ourselves, our clients and our partners to be the best we can be and move past it. 

“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know and more capable than you imagine.” ― Roy T. Benett

Market Madness…

Here we are in 2023 and as the interest rates rose steadily, this impacted the market and created a new level of conversation and panic.  Amid the constant fear mongering out there, the market remained a steady seller’s market because inventory is still historically low.  We still saw multiple offers, higher pricing, and bidding wars.  And then again, the interest rates abruptly rose to make the highest rate climb in almost 4 decades.  And that’s when in 2023, the market started to halt and stalled as buyers pulled back creating a new level of chaos.  

This year proved to be one of the slowest since the crash of 2008.  There were many national issues that affected the market, but we all know that none of the last 5 years have been typical or predictable, making it time to circle back to the basics with the most experienced professionals who can evaluate how to shift yet again, to navigate these new market challenges and to ultimately thrive and succeed. It was inevitable that rates would rise but unpredictable as to how high and how fast and while no one can predict the 2024 market, the telltale signs of more shifts are obvious and will fall upon us undoubtedly.

The Federal Reserve continued to raise interest rates multiple times this year to try to control inflation, which slowed the market because affordability goes down when rates go up.  If buyers aren’t buying, sellers are forced to correct their pricing to fuel activity, making home values decline. But that didn’t happen this year. With little supply, we still have great demand which has caused sellers to stand more firm.  We simply aren’t seeing dramatic price declines despite the high rates and less buyer activity. In fact, we are still seeing buyers who are purchasing homes and if a home is priced right, it will sell in a timely manner just because there is no competition out there.  The hovering fear that has crippled the real estate market much of 2023 is unnecessary.

There are always buyers and sellers out there, but we are seeing only serious ones who must move, make a move. There are no casual lookers in this market. Many sellers are staying in their homes because they have such low interest rates and affordability is outrageous to them. That said, the market will survive and there are many projections for interest rate declines on the horizon according to industry economists. The projections out there state it’s unlikely we will see rates below 6% and we can expect them to hover between 6%-7%. Will the real estate market be alright? Yes, we will be.  The real estate market will be alright, it always is. 

Economic analysis

According to Bankrate’s Chief Financial Economist Greg McBride, “As long as the economy continues to motor along, the new normal of higher rates is here to stay.” He also states, A sharp economic slowdown would bring mortgage rates materially lower – but be careful what you wis for.” He alludes to the fact that if rates go down, there will be a swarm of buyer activity and with the pent up demand for housing it’s likely going to be a situation where we see the frenzy of 2021-2022 where we have multiple offers, appraisal gap waivers, inspection waivers, as is sales and more competitive bidding wars which would again escalate pricing to abnormal values.  It would be a chaotic market especially with inventory shortages.  The key housing stats from 2023 gives us clues as to where we are today with todays hovering higher rates.  Should those rates change in 2024 we are likely to see mass change in our industry yet again.  Take a look at some key housing market stats to support this thought process.

Key housing market stats

  • The median home-sale price as of November 2023 was $387,600, up 4 percent from one year ago, according to NAR data.
  • The nation had a 3.5-month supply of housing inventory as of November, per NAR, which is low enough to be considered a seller’s market.
  • Home-price growth rose by 3.9 percent in September 2023, marking the eighth consecutive month of increases, according to S&P CoreLogic’s latest Case-Shiller Index.
  • Bankrate’s latest national survey of large lenders shows the average rate on a 30-year mortgage was 6.88 percent as of December 20, 2023.
  • The U.S. inflation rate as of November 2023 was 3.1 percent — still a bit higher than the Fed’s stated goal of 2 percent.

Projections

Will housing sales decline? According to the Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, Laurence Yun predicts they will not despite the fact that inventory is so low. “Retreating mortgage rates will bring more buyers and sellers to the market and get Americans moving again.”  He states this as the NAR conference in November.  He predicts sales will rise by as much as 15%.

Can we expect a housing market decline? Even though housing prices held firm, the number of transactions softened greatly this year.  Home sales declined for over 5 months straight before they rose just a little in November. According to the housing snapshot below by NAR, in November they were at 3.82 million according to NAR. That said and year over year, it represents a 7.3% decline, however, if mortgage rates drop, we could very well see an uptick in sales nationwide.  We could see great demand as pent up buyer demand may unleash. And with less inventory values will be driven upward again potentially creating appraisal issues, financing issues and more.  It remains to be seen.

And what about the inventory crisis?  Will inventory increase? Housing supply for 2023 was exceptionally low.  The overall number of homes on the market for sale as of November was 1.13 million units, which is about the same as last year.  That is only a 3.5-month supply, and we need a 5–6-month supply to see a balanced market.  We could literally double the inventory at this time, and it would pose no threat to the market.

Furthermore, Housing Wire quotes Lauren Yun from the National Association of Realtors where he states he believes rates have likely crested.

“Fed funds rates, 30-year mortgage rates have likely crested. I believe we’ve already reached the peak in terms of interest rates,” Yun told the audience. “The question is when are rates going to come down?”

“The 10-year Treasury yield is at 4.4%, which historically means mortgage rates could be at 6.4%, but they are much higher,” Yun said. “The bond market is forcing the Fed to pivot.”

According to Yun’s forecast, mortgage rates will fall to between 6% and 7% by spring 2024. He also expects more sellers to enter the market, as they adapt to prolonged higher rates.

Meanwhile, he counts on home builders to ramp up new construction, as the existing-home inventory shortage lifts demand for new homes. In 2023, new-home sales are up 5% year to date, Yun said.

Predictions, Expectations and Anticipation…

According to the National Association of Realtors the November data was promising with 4.09 million sales and a month over month increase of 7.7% and a year over year of 35.4%.  The inventory was at 3.3 months which is up from November of 2021 where it was 2.1 months. As you can see, there is a slower growth rate  and probably a result of the interest rates rising as much as they did in this fall season.  Finally, the median sale price was $370,700 which year over year is up 3.5% and that is a direct result of the low inventory that drove up sales prices.  As you can see, the market is moving and will continue to do so.

As we examine Realtor.com data below and current trends it is obvious that buyer are frustrated as they have weathered a lot of storms in the market.  Rising rates, lack of inventory and other global influences like inflation etc. are causing a lack of confidence in buyer activity.  Many buyers are finding alternative means for housing or simply staying where they are because affordability and inventory shortage is causing a lack of urgency.  The home prices below indicate that consumer frustration.

Furthermore,  Realtor.com states that “after pandemic-driven market, existing home sales faced a setback in the latter half of 2022 due to a spike in mortgage rates, peaking at over 7%. Although a temporary dip to around 6% in early 2023 boosted sales, the subsequent rise in mortgage rates has once again hampered them. Compounding the challenge is the higher-than-usual number of recent homebuyers, many of whom express contentment despite initial pandemic-related concerns. Realtor.com visitors report that the primary reason for not selling is the lack of necessity, with concerns about losing a low-rate mortgage being the top financial worry. Projected 2023 home sales stand at just over 4 million, marking a 19% drop from the 2022 total of 5 million.”

So with all of these issues into play going into 2024, the housing slowdown will continue with sales expected to remain unchanged at over 4 million. Even though mortgage rates are expected to ease up during 2024, the high costs out there means many homesellers may choose to stay in place rather than move so that means there will still be less inventory out there.  Only the serious sellers that have to move will be the ones on the market.  Moves that are out of state, job related, family scenarios, downsizing to affordable markets are most likely going to be what we see in 2024.

The chart below shows us some great data from Realtor.com supporting the thought that buyers find even fewer homes for sale but builders are gaining some ground.  Pre-pandemic, housing inventory declined due to insufficient construction, creating a tight market that struggled to keep up with household formation. Homeowner and rental vacancy rates stayed below historical averages. Despite a sluggish existing home market, builders have made progress, maintaining construction near pre-pandemic levels for single-family homes and achieving record highs for multi-family dwellings.

And finally, despite a shortage of homes for sale, existing home inventory has decreased. Anticipated low home sales and mortgage rates exceeding 6.5% contribute to a persistent lock-in effect. That’s the gap between mortgage rates and the rates current owners have will persist.  About two-thirds of outstanding mortgages have rates below 4%, with over 90% below 6%. That said, home sales continue at a slower pace and the number of unsold homes is expected to stay low for 2024.

Let’s talk local numbers….Lake County MARKET UPDATE

In real estate the numbers always tell the story and to know the numbers is to know the market.  Analyzing the market is what I do. Lake County statistics for November 2022-2023 and year to date sum up the year very clearly. Look at this chart from Illinois Realtors showing the statistics for housing to determine the health of the market. The median sales price from 2022 to 2023 is + 9.3.1% which shows an incredible growth in closed sales price. That means sellers got almost double what they did the year prior year.  Inventory went down -21.4% from 2022 to 2023 and the number of closed homes in 2022 was 682 vs. 2023 was 600 and the percent change was -12%. 

Clearly sales went down substantially showing a huge lack in inventory in Lake County, yet pricing for closed sales for those that sold went up and really the greatest challenge we see in our County is a lack of homes for sale.  Once we have more inventory the market and if the rates do not rise, we may see a more balanced market on the way.  The majority of homes sold are single family homes with 600 homes closing in November of 2023 and the average median price is $340,000. However, the median sales price for all homes was $350,000 year to date.  And finally, the year over year chart below shows the needle has been rising since 2018 showing consistent growth.

Cook County MARKET UPDATE

Cook County statistics for November 2022-2023 and year to date give us a picture of how much the market struggled. Look at this chart from Illinois Realtors showing the statistics for housing to determine the health of the market. The median sales price from 2022 to 2023 is +7.6% which shows a lot of growth in closed sales price. That means sellers got a little more they did the year prior year.  Inventory went down -26.8% from 2022 to 2023 and the number of closed homes in 2022 was 3,700 vs. 2023 which was 3,297 and the percent change was -10.9%. 

Obviously, sales went down in Cook County, yet pricing for closed sales for those that sold went up and really the greatest challenge we see in Cook County is a lack of homes for sale.  The majority of homes sold are single family homes with 3,297 homes closing in November of 2023 and the average median price is $306,500. However, the median sales price for all homes was $310,000 year to date.  And finally, the year over year chart below shows the needle has been moving up and down sharply since 2018 showing signs of a challenging market.

Grundy County MARKET UPDATE

Grundy County statistics for November 2022-2023 and year to date give us a picture of how much the market struggled due to lack of inventory. Look at this chart from Illinois Realtors showing the statistics for housing to determine the health of the market. The median sales price from 2022 to 2023 is -22.2% which shows a lack of growth in closed sales price. That means sellers sold for less they did the year prior year.  Inventory went down -16% from 2022 to 2023 and the number of closed homes in 2022 was 46 vs. 2023 which was 44 and the percent change was -4.3%. 

Sales went down in Grundy County and pricing decreased for closed sales as well.  The lack of inventory did not help in Grundy County and longer days on market also affected these numbers being -44.1%.   The majority of homes sold are single family homes with 44 homes closing in November of 2023 and the average median price is $233,500. However, the median sales price for all homes was $275,000 year to date.  And finally, the year over year chart below shows the needle has been trending downward since 2018 showing signs of a challenging market.

Where Helen Oliveri Real Estate is today

Embracing the boundless opportunities that 2024 brings, our resolute focus lies on unprecedented growth, expansion, and the pursuit of elevated standards. The strategic restructuring of our business has positioned us as trailblazers in the industry, aligning seamlessly with emerging trends and propelling us towards an exciting trajectory of progress.

Over the years, meticulous efforts have been dedicated to crafting advanced systems and tools that not only keep us ahead of the curve but also set new benchmarks in technological excellence. Each member of our team brings a wealth of experience, with brokers undergoing extensive training, ensuring they possess the talent and expertise to thrive in an environment free from the financial strains commonly associated with traditional brokerage models. This unique approach not only streamlines processes for listings and transaction management but also fosters an environment where brokers flourish, ultimately providing clients with an unparalleled experience.

Looking forward, the vitality of our future hinges on the relationships we cultivate. I invite you to envision your participation in our dynamic real estate landscape, where Helen Oliveri Real Estate stands as a beacon of opportunity. With enthusiasm, I declare our commitment to assist you in making Your Best Move, in our dedication to service as we navigate uncharted territories.

Anticipating the journey ahead, let’s underscore three core values that will propel us through 2024, resonating within our organization and radiating in our interactions with clients:

  1. Nurturing Success for Everyone: Success is a collective journey, and we are devoted to surpassing your real estate needs. Our services are meticulously tailored to create an exceptional and memorable experience, whether you are a buyer, seller, or broker. With a tech-savvy, mobile, and accessible team, we go above and beyond, grounded in ethical advocacy, trustworthiness, and integrity.
  1. Exponential Growth in Every Way: Our aspiration is to be the unequivocal broker of choice. As a hands-on managing broker owner, I personally guide and hold every team member accountable to our high standards. With plans to add internal support staff and brokers, our commitment to exponential growth is unwavering, ensuring that we can handle all requests without compromising service or satisfaction.
  1. Future Forward; Best in Class: To be the best in class demands a special mindset that propels us forward through chaos. Our goals of expansion, market dominance, communication upgrades, and world-class marketing reflect our unapologetic commitment to disrupting the market and establishing our name as a household brand.

As we leap into this exciting future, we are poised to redefine the standards of excellence in real estate, eager to navigate uncharted waters and continue to make our mark in the industry.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning” ―Benjamin Franklin

As another year goes by, I am grateful for my family.  My children are growing into wonderful people and I am so proud of all they have accomplished.  It is both for them as well as with their support that I have been able to continue reaching and striving for success.  My hope is to teach them through my example how to be great leaders with care and compassion for everyone and I am thankful they are with me on every step of my journey. 

As we approach the dawn of a new year, gratitude fills my heart. Reflecting on the journey, I’m thankful for the shared triumphs and challenges. As we embark on this New Year, I am fueled by fresh aspirations, confident that they can be realized with your steadfast support.

Our collective success is nurtured through care. Despite the real estate roller coaster, hope abounds for the future. I extend heartfelt thanks from my family and the team at Helen Oliveri Real Estate. For 2024, I wish you joy, well-being, and prosperity. Let’s embrace our goals, supporting each other on the path to success. Your authenticity and journey with us evoke deep gratitude. Cheers to a new year of possibilities.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Best regards,

Helen Oliveri
Designated Managing Broker Owner
Helen Oliveri Real Estate
101 W. Gilmer Road
Hawthorn Woods IL 60047
847.967.0022

December 28, 2023

Helen OliveriYear in Review – 2023 Letter