THE ROAD

Welcome to  real estate circa 2010.  I think.  I hope.   It’s January 30th  and we are already a month into it. Time sure flies when you are having…. having…

What is this market we are having?  Do we know?  Is this the market that’s going to preside over the waning debacle of the last decade? Or are we already past that? Is this a different market now?  The new and (un) improved one? Stripped of its heavy baggage? Ready to kick start the beginning of the next ten year cycle?

Has anyone found a pulse strong enough to make a  prognosis or a diagnosis yet?  Has anyone gotten a good read? A glimpse behind the curtain?  Is there someone out there who feels confident enough to stand up in front of  the class and venture a guess – let alone suck up a long deep cleansing breath and tell us in 25 words or less where this is all going, in no uncertain terms?

What to say?  Where to begin? How to know? And in the absence of any real, clear cut answers, how long do we wait around before we pack our bags and  decide that we have to just set out in one direction or another, headed for parts that can only be referred to as unknown?  I don’t think it is a coincidence that Vigo Mortensen and Denzel Washington have recently been summoned up to star in a spate of post-apocalyptic tales like The Road and The Book of Eli. It’s just us projecting onto the big screen so we can look into our own existential mirrors.

Is this the right time to Buy? Sell? Hold? Fold?  Yes. Or no. Or maybe. To some or all of the above.

The worst thing in real estate is uncertainty. The place of not knowing anything even remotely for sure. Real estate revolves around transactions. If no one transacts, nothing moves. Nothing flows. There’s no money available to oil all the parts of the machine sitting idly by.  Escrow Companies, Mortgage Brokers. Real Estate Agents. Everyone is dressed up waiting for those addresses to get going.  Until then, it isn’t much of a party.

In order for the average person to get out of bed,  venture forth, enter into agreement and conclude any kind of business engagement involving something as huge and as  personal as home is,  they have to feel like they know where they stand in relation to the larger world (or market) that surrounds them.

They need reference points.  More of them. Or less of them.  But at least enough of them to instill faith that there really is a right direction to choose.  If  there are no stars visible enough in the night sky or if  the constellations of data being spun are so confusing and so contradictory that it is difficult to discern any recognizable shape or pattern, folks simply stop dead in their tracks. They don’t go forward. They don’t go backward.  They don’t navigate in any direction because they don’t have a map.

Do we want more of the same old that we’ve had?  No, I suspect there aren’t many buyers, sellers, Agents or other constituents that comprise the cast of usual real estate suspects that are lobbying for Door #1. Even if we are hard-pressed to find exact words to describe the vagaries of the no man’s market we’ve been wandering around in for the last year,  or two. or three., we can at least say that we don’t want to go back there for more of the exquisite torture that comes from sitting in the eye of unsettled silence waiting to see if the dreaded dull thud of the other shoe dropping is going to materialize.

What do you think?  Feel free to weigh in with whatever version of realty you’ve managed to make your peace and your resolutions with for the coming New Year.  All plausible explanations are encouraged. Any reasonable plans or strategies for bailing ourselves out of the remains of the great bailout will be thoroughly entertained. Carefully vetted. Stress tested and fully digested. The best of the best or the least of the worse will be culled out and unabashedly shared with other members of our live studio audience in future columns.

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