Real estate is all over the map these days – literally and figuratively. Terra firma here. And terra-a-lot-less-firma there. Or, as Groucho Marx said: “You can get wood. You can get brick. You can get stucco. Boy, can you get stucco.”
Talk to an Agent who just closed a couple of escrows and the world is perfect. The market is back. Everything is coming up roses. Talk to another Agent short sale-ing his own upside-down beach house and the whole dream has suddenly been dragged under by the inexorable undertow of a rude awakening. Just because we hype it, that doesn’t make it so. We can kick the can down the road but we’re all still going to have to kick the bucket in one of the great reckonings that lies ahead. Maybe switching over to the Mayan Calendar isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Read about those local folks who thought they were getting an “amazing foreclosure deal” like the one’s late night infomercials have weaned us on and it lends another perspective. Amazing indeed. They ended up buying a worthless Wachovia 2nd on the courthouse steps, putting in another $25,000 worth of worthless improvements, only to find out that parent company, Wells Fargo, was still holding the first.
Methinks the right hand knew exactly what the left hand was doing in this case. The slight of the hands worked because they weren’t required by law to disclose the rules of the game to unwitting people. Buyers beware and buyers be aware. A little due diligence is always worth your while.
But then, the great fix is in anyway, right? The Financial Reform Bill was just signed into law as I write this, a mere 8 minutes ago. Once again, we’ve come to another intersection on the road to recovery or the other one leading to eternal damnation. That mythical place on the flawed GPS System where Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street are all supposed to meet in magical confluence.
Forgive me, if I’m not overly-optimistic. We’re already suffering the “new and unimproved” of HAMP, HAFA, HVCC, HERA-MDIA and a whole hullabaloo of other H-ish acronyms. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing but hassle. Business as usual made even harder than usual. Sort of like rooting out the cancer by killing the patient.
Not that we should trust Alan Greenspan anymore – the man who knew too much who became the man who fell to earth by being the man who was the last to see it all coming, even when impending disaster was trick-or-treating through every neighborhood in America, but… the former sage of finance cryptically says this about the new reform legislation: “There are unintended consequences in every page” of this 2,000 page bill.
And speaking of unintended consequences…how about our own little piece of pending local legislation relating to the regulation of rentals. What happens if some unhinged landlord gets angry enough to set off a neutron bomb? It would be easy to drive around town, log the addresses of hundreds of funky, illegal garage conversions and report them for code violations.
Forty years of growth by default rather than appropriate planning – all coming home to roost in the over-crowded nests of small property owners who need that extra income to make their mortgage payments. C’mon! Every Mayor and ex-Mayor living on the lower Westside has seen the extra units with the built-up bathroom floors to allow plumbing pipes to get to the sewer mains, electric feeds hanging precariously ten feet above ground waiting for unsuspecting kids to hit ’em with sticks and gnarly carpet-seconds thrown over bare concrete slabs in the middle of an incredibly high water table?
But take heart. Santa Cruz was just named one of the 25 best cities for the rich and the single by Money Magazine. Apparently, we are the place where “surf culture meets tech geek.” We’re going on a scavenger hunt next Friday night, to look for some of those rich and single people hiding in our midst. The winner will receive a free Keep Santa Cruz Weirdly Rich and Single bumper sticker.