Bridging Bardo

bardo-pond-set-and-settingWhen the going gets weird and the path suddenly isn’t lined with bright lights and beacons to illuminate the future anymore, what choice do we have, but to reach into our secret stash and try to coax a little clarity out of all that sage advice we’ve been hoarding?

My opening gambit on this week’s chessboard, is to invoke the simple Wisdom of the Bard.  “All the World’s a Stage. And the men and women are merely players.”

It sets the tone for this moment in history. An experiential “aha” moment that brings a fuller appreciation for the proverbial old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

And I’m  adding a little Wisdom of the Bardo to the mix as well.  Bardo refers to the Tibetan realm of the afterlife. The transitional state that lies between two different incarnations.  Not surprisingly the Wisdom of the Bardo  is exactly the same as that of the Bard:  “All the World’s a Stage.”    This place, this market, this time are all just a stage we are moving through.  Or as  George Malley put it after his flash of inspiration in the movie Phenomenon:  “Everything is on its way to somewhere.”

So we continue our lay-over between real estate lifetimes. Our intermezzo. The interesting interlude after the end of the third act.  Hopefully,  we’ll use the opportunity to assess the karmic debt we’ve accrued and make good choices about how we are going to pay it down when real estate finally gets to wherever it is going.

But in the meantime, in the slow here and now of  Bardo, I admit, I’ve been a sorry soul – much too sad and much too troubled. Even though I know in my heart of hearts that this too shall pass.  I finally figured out why I’ve been in such a deep funk lately. It is simple:  I miss the people.  I miss the players.

I miss the Appraisers who are dropping out of the business. The one’s who remember what properties sold for 10, 20, 30 years ago. The one’s who know the difference between 3 blocks to the beach and 6 blocks to the beach. The one’s who intrinsically understand why Meder Street and Cherryvale Avenue have always been greatly appreciated. The one’s who are at home in this marketplace – rather than in San Jose or Hollister.

I miss all the Title People downsized into the efficiency compartments on corporate cube farms.  Parceled out of  Santa Cruz.  Nominally, still there, but tucked under that invisible cloaking device called a voice mail system.  Available by e mail but who might just as well be sending us google earth maps from Mumbai. Software upgrades just can’t explain a set of complicated easements to a real buyer with real questions about real, real estate.

I miss the helping hands of the cadre of caring local escrow officers.  I hate to see them being co-opted on a regular basis by their distant Southern California cousins who have no business doing business here  simply because they have offices close to so many of the troubled financial institutions peddling their toxic assets in Santa Cruz.  Yes, in theory, escrow officers should all be perfectly interchangeable. One size should fit all situations. But escrow-speak in SoCal is a different business dialect than we speak here in NorCal and no one can convince me that clients are getting the same quality of service and a “neutral” fair shake from escrow personnel who don’t have any real stake in our community.

I miss a market that used to revolve around organic sellers – the euphemism that’s now used to describe real people going through real transitions with real-life concerns motivating them and informing their decisions. I miss a market that should by all rights be rife with opportunities for excited first time and move-up, organic buyers.  Instead they are getting bludgeoned into submission by the mind-numbing machinations and jackass pranks of institutions that control both the selling side and lending side of so many would-be, could-be, should-be transactions.

I miss my local Realtor colleagues who in so many cases have given way to a strange and motley cast of nameless characters who don’t seem to be able to return a phone call or muster up a hint of concern about others.  Temporal apparitions who have ridden into town on the coattails of  REO clunkers and who will soon disappear back into the outlying woodwork whenever the foreclosure inventory finally sunsets.

Yes, I miss the people.   All those warm dedicated souls biding their time in limbo right now, waiting in Bardo for rebirth.  witnessing  the last gasps of a dying market paradigm  being run into the ground by the ghosts  in the machine.



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