5 “Grass Roots” Signs That the Economy is Improving

If you follow the news at all, you would think that our economy has collapsed entirely.  At best it seems to be limping along, day by day, grasping at any little crumb that drops…..

I am not an economist, nor do I play one on TV. In fact, I didn’t even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

But I do have eyes, and I see a lot.  And I have noticed some very encouraging things about the economy lately.

I like to call this a “grass-roots” study of the economy. It is non-scientific and won’t be filled with any sort of jargon.  It is based on my observations and is anecdotal, but very telling.

Here are those 5 I promised:

  1. Home sales are taking off. I happen to live in Belle Creek, and I do a fair amount of marketing in this neighborhood.  In the past week alone, I have seen 2 sales come to completion and 1 go under contract that I was personally involved with.  In addition, there have been 2 more sold homes and 2 more home that went under contract in Belle Creek alone.  For a neighborhood that has averaged about 19 homes sold per year over the past 3 years to have 4 sales in a 2 week period represents some pretty exciting news.  This is just a micro-cosm of our local real estate market.  I also work in Broomfield, Thornton, Westminster and Erie, and the home sales I have been involved with in these areas over the past 6 months have seen days on market averaging less than 4 weeks.
  2. Builders are getting back in the game.  There are 2 main things that keep me in the car a fair amount: first, I am the mother of an active 11 year-old; second, I am a fairly busy Realtor.  I have noticed a lot of earth moving around lately.  Foundations are being dug, roads are taking shape.  What’s more, houses are being built with “sold” signs already in front of them.  In addition, I happen to be intimately familiar with the builder world that happens in the very beginning stages.  To twist a phrase, the stage where the neighborhood in still “a sparkle in the developer’s eye”.  There’s a lot of “sparkling” going on, trust me.  The industry that helps developers’ sparkle go from idea to fully conceived product is insanely busy lately.  We are going to see a whole lot more earth moving soon.
  3. The mall parking lot. I had to go to the mall last week, which is something I don’t do very often.  (Working in the mall for about 11 years takes some of the fun out of going to the mall unless you absolutely have to.)  More than 1 week before Black Friday, in the middle of the afternoon, the mall parking lot was jam-packed.  I had a very difficult time finding parking at all.  I generally don’t park in the first 3 or 4 spaces because I figure I could use the exercise, but 20 spaces back, row after row, there were no spots to be found.  Once I did get inside, every store I went into was crowded, and people were spending money.  The stores were buzzing, and people had multiple large shopping bags in hand.  Which brings me to….
  4. “Help Wanted”. There were too many “help wanted” signs in the mall to count.  And I don’t just mean at McDonald’s and Orange Julius, although those were certainly there.  Nordstrom is hiring.  Hyde Park Fine Jewelers is hiring (for those of you unfamiliar with Hyde Park, John Elway and Tim Tebow shop there, among others).  Anne Taylor, Neiman Marcus, the Gap- the list goes on.  When people start spending more money, stores need more help.  As mentioned above, I worked in retail for many years.  It’s a pretty good job.  And I made pretty good money.  Enough to support my family on.  Just saying.
  5. Hair dressers and Salon owners and House cleaners. I tried to make an appointment with my hair dresser last week.  The first opening she had was in the middle of December.  I was able to finagle my way in through bribery and blackmail (kidding!).  While I was there, she told me that December has exploded in her salon, and they are seeing a huge increase in business over last year…  I tried to “drop in” to get my nails done, and guess what?  They had nothing available for walk-ins that day.  At all.   What’s more, I have a dear friend who owns a house cleaning business and she has had to turn business away.  She is looking to hire 3-4 new employees.  So what’s the point?  Well, all of these things are related because when times are tight, many people will cut out these services and just do it themselves to save money.  If all of these services are insanely busy all of the sudden… well, you do the math.

I realize that Denver may be ahead of other cities.  But even my California friends have been noticing the above trends.

Do your own homework.  I’d love to know what signs you are seeing that play into this!

Jennifer Prestwich is a REALTOR at Your Castle Real Estate, specializing in the Henderson, Thornton and Broomfield areas.

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