The Harmonic Convergence of Dissonance

Sometimes Real Estate of Mind is like a reflection of the unlikely residential neighborhoods I wander through on a daily basis while  “doing” real estate. Or…when real estate is “getting done” to me.

Odd juxtapositions of eclectic streets, pockets of ambiance, micro-climates of weather and demographics are stitched together in a diverse fabric that flows with abandon  through the Reservation we all know as Santa Cruz.  Here, the good, the bad and the funky co-exist in a harmonic convergence of dissonance.  Or as I recently heard one disgruntled couple call it when they were looking at “cheap,” half million dollar, fixer-uppers – “Shanty Cruz.”

>From beach blanket bungalows to stucco boxes to mock English cottages  to ego monsters to redeeming eco homes it’s easy to jump from thing to thing to thing when traveling through the outer and inner landscapes of real estate.   So, step up to the tapas bar folks.  Put your bibs on for a few bytes.  We’re just driving down the smorgasborg of  the real life that feeds my head.

The good news? There’s a pulse!  There are actual living, breathing, qualified buyers fogging a few mirrors out there. Logging a few sales.  Which is to say, it suddenly feels a whole lot better than it did just a few short weeks ago when we were still suffering a hangover from the June Swoon. This is one of those welcome release points where, for reasons we could probably speculate about forever, a number of wanna-be buyers have decided to get their collective behinds off the fence and jump into the flux with their bucks.

Well, not completely with their own bucks. There’s usually a lender involved. Is it getting any better in terms of the credit crunch – which is just a fancy term for banks looking for any excuse not to lend anyone any money? Nah.  It’s one of those perfect paradoxes. A parable for our times that continues to leave everyone scratching their brains and wanting to scratch their own eyes out when they see the list of absurd loan conditions lunatic underwriters keep coming up with. We’ve got incredible interest rates as long as borrowers are willing to submit to a mild form of water-boarding to access them.

And speaking of odd and interesting paradoxes and strange pickles wrapped in riddles inside of enigmas…isn’t this the exact right juncture for “organic” sellers to get their properties on the market asap?  Here’s my fractured logic: Enough bargain-hunting (some say bottom-feeding) buyers have experienced the down side of short sales by now. They’ve figured out that short sales aren’t really sales at all unless they actually happen. A reasonable percentage of them must realize that properties that can actually be counted on to close on time with some contractual assurance – i.e. – those owned by real “organic” people – have extra value.

Right Buyers? Bird in the hand? What do you want to do? Wait for another six months while the first lender beats the crap out of the second lender and tries to force a short sale? Or even longer because they are all busy scouring the planet to figure out who actually holds the paper in the first place?  Or…would you rather end your holdover in the emotional purgatory of a never-ending escrow, take  advantage of the rates and be one of those buyers moving forward in their lives? Your choice. I’m just asking.

Yes, I know HAFA  is going to reform the short sale process one of these years and a tsunami of successful loan modifications are right around the corner and banks are going to release their shadow inventory momentarily but I’m not ready to believe that the checks and balances are actually in the mail yet or that the process is really ready to respect me in the morning.

And … what are the Feds going to do as we approach the new September 30th deadline for Buyer Tax Credits and they realize that a ton of those transactions which didn’t close by June 30th  still aren’t going to close three months later? Are we looking at another extension of the extension that was already extended?

And…in a County where the median price is over $500k, can we really blame the expiration of Tax Credits for the dip in sales figures we saw in June? Maybe $8,000 means a whole lot in Iowa where homes are selling for $100k. But when savvy Buyers sat back and saw prices fall in chunks of $25k over the last nine months, why would they scramble to get in under an arbitrary deadline to save so much less?

That’s it for this Saturday folks. Just a few random thoughts for a seemingly  random real estate market.  If you have a few thoughts of your own, don’t hesitate to share…

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