All We Have to Fear…Is the Wrong Kind of Fear

I haven’t been a very positive role model lately, have I?  More of a brooding cynic than a buoyant cheerleader for the market.  Maybe I’m just contrarian by nature. Or maybe the medication I’m taking to curb my Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) has stopped working.  Or maybe I’m a hopeless misanthrope and will never feel entirely comfortable joining the rest of the herd on anything.  Whatever the lame excuse…mea culpa…I’m sorry.

I promise to get more in touch with my irrational exuberance. Stoke my own upbeat, unbridled belief in a brighter future. I’m going fluff my aura and get with the program before they revoke my license, strip my Realtor lapel pin, confiscate all my sales awards and throw me off the real estate bandwagon for good. I pledge to hold weekly pep rallies and start pumping up the volume on all that positive real estate news out there –  even if I have to manufacture some  of it myself.

Is it shameless boosterism to inflate my own optimism for the greater good?  Am I guilty of selling smoke and mirrors if my underlying motives are pure? So what if I happen to commit a few small sins of omission or manipulate a few aggregate statistics while trying to foist a little blue sky on people who desperately need it?  There’s a lot at stake. Like a whole slew of lost shares in the American Dream that are up for grabs. And the fragile recovery of an economy that could use an infusion of down home spending.

So, here we go folks! Step right up. I’m here to tell you that today is your lucky day!  But then, all you brilliant investors, smart-money savants and cutting-edge entrepreneurs already knew that, didn’t you?  How could real estate get any better than it is right here, right now?

How perfect is this storm?  Let me count the ways:  Low prices. (Remember when there wasn’t a house out there livable under $700k?)   Low interest rates. (Close to historic, hovering just above 5%.)  Lot’s of juicy distress sales to sink your teeth and your claws into.(Somewhere around 70% of properties in escrow are short sales or REOs.)   And…even if you missed the Federal Tax Credit for first time buyers, the debt-strapped State of California has generously stepped up to offer its own set of steak knives with almost every purchase.

How cool is that? Getting paid to buy something? Better than green stamps or bonus miles! Shoppers, if there ever was a blue light special happening in middle of a housing market, this is it!  Heed the call. Stampede your way towards the home improvement aisles of Santa Cruz County before all the best deals are gone!  Stragglers are going to kick themselves, if they miss this golden opportunity.

Bear with me. I’m a little dense but I think I’ve got this shameless boosterism thing figured out.  We just have to find a way to recycle our negative fears into more positive and productive fears.   Perhaps we could issue a series of “fear of default swaps” and encourage people to bet against the worst case scenarios that they seem to have such a huge appetite for.  Instead of letting them buy into the fear of losing everything, in a way that keeps them paralyzed on the sidelines, we can hedge that position with a much healthier fear  –  one that makes people feel absolutely petrified they are going to miss out on the gobs of money there is to be made if they get up off their asses and start moving again.

It’s simple: We just need to appeal to the greedier side of people’s fear.  We need to provide more of the hair of the dog that bit them in the first place – before the bubble burst.  I feel a Gordon Gekko moment coming on. Ready? …”Greed is Good!”  Now that felt scary-good didn’t it?

So here’s one thing we can do.  Take some of those Buyers worrying themselves sick that prices will fall further if they actually buy something and convince them that the market has already hit bottom and that prices are going up fast. Their fear of buying will be transformed into the fear of not getting a house fast enough.

We can quote the right statistics in just the right way. “Sales in March were up 16% from March of last year. This was the 19th consecutive month that the demand for sales increased from the same month in the previous year!” Who cares what that actually means? Who cares how low the numbers actually were 19 months ago? The market must be booming. It’s good news. And it’s time to buy!

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