During our year-end meeting this past week, we did our annual “look back to what we learned” exercise. We are so glad that many in this market have been protected from the economic downtown that has caused so much destruction across our country. However, the most poignant lesson from 2012 is that there is now a new reality of the real estate market. This year was marked by many tough but honest discussions with our homeowners about the reality of home values. They are indeed improving but they are never as high as most sellers hope to have.

Recognizing that several of our clients this year were choosing to leave behind their larger family home for something more suitable for their new age and lifestyle, it was necessary to have truthful discussions with longtime owners about what it takes to sell a home. De-cluttering and de-personalizing was key to making a prospective buyer imagine what their new life would be like in the home. Putting away family heirlooms and updating paint colors was hard to swallow for many, but was necessary for making a home market ready. While sometimes feelings were hurt, we did our best to show them that making the home ready for the new buyer is in their best interests.

Buyers, too, have had a dose or two of reality lately. Great homes that are well priced always sell and often there are competing offers. While many of our buyer clients were leaving their smaller condo or townhome for a larger space to accommodate growing families, we had to remind them that the days of bargain basement prices are over. Our goal with many of our buyers was to help them realize that sometimes offering full price on a property that is in good shape is better than getting a “deal” on something that needs a lot of work.

After reading this many of you may be thinking that you don’t like this new reality and you will wait until things begin to change again. That is the wrong philosophy. Instead, face this new reality and find ways to be successful through it. The year 2012 was a fantastic year for our buyers and sellers in this market. With many of our listings selling quickly and close to full price coupled with our buyer clients finding their next dream home, we at The Goodhart Group were able to surpass our goal and had our best year ever at a record breaking $67 million sold.

Through all of this, the overarching lesson that we learned from this past year is gratitude.  Gratitude for our continued success; gratitude for our families, friends, and coworkers; and gratitude for our clients who continue to choose us as they experience the life changes all of us will at some day face. That is what our real estate business is about; not the banner ads, not the publicity, or the name recognition, but the uncanny opportunity we have to guide others through some of the most integral moments of their life. For this and so much more we leave 2012 as a happy Goodhart Group and look forward to all that 2013 will bring.

We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

Sue Goodhart is the top-producing agent at McEnearney Associates in Alexandria and is licensed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. She can be reached at 202-507-7800 or sue@ suegoodhart.com.