Is it “better” or is it the “weather”?

People are always asking “Is the Market any better?”  Nationally and locally we’re starting to hear positive economic reports.  So people wonder, “Is it true” and “Is it going to improve OUR local real estate Market”? Lately, we’ve certainly had welcome economic indicators: unemployment has decreased five months in a row (but we’re still above 9%, which is still not so good).  And, it’s been BUSY out there! Ask any REALTOR® and they’ll tell you the Market has DEFINITELY been busy lately (with “real” Buyers making “real” purchases).  The BIG QUESTION is this: “Is it just because the WEATHER has been nice, and Buyers are starting EARLIER than they normally do —OR— is this really the surge of pent up Buyer Demand we’ve all been waiting for?” I hate to be the Party Pooper; but I’m always honest.  So, I will remind you that economic reports are ALWAYS optimistic in January; if you look at the reports from previous Januarys you’ll see that they all predicted that “THIS will be the year [when the recovery begins]”.  So far, they’ve been wrong several years in a row.  And we HAVE had a very MILD Winter, meaning that people are out and about (long before Spring, when they would normally come out of hibernation).  So, is there “increased Buyer activity out there OR has it just MOVED UP earlier in the timeline, because the weather has been mild”?  Remember when the government’s First Time Home Buyer Credit expired, or when the Cash for Clunkers Auto program expired?  Home and Auto sales surged (at least temporarily) but then the month after they expired Car Dealers complained that they couldn’t sell a single car that month – because Buyers had accelerated their purchase decisions, and when the “program” was over so too was the euphoria.  Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure what’s happening here (until May).  But, at least we have some “good news” to wonder about.