Recovered from last week’s celebration yet? Did you finally manage to squeeze the last of the fear out of your veins? I’m talking about Halloween of course. The official post-mortem dedicated to the wages of fright. The ritual orgy that pays homage to our worst nightmares. The mass exorcism that targets the insidious bogeymen residing in the closet of our collective psyches.
On Halloween we reach inside and summon our fears instead of hiding them. We conjure up our demons instead of stuffing them down. We put them all front and center on colorful display while howling at the moon and dancing with delirious abandon.
On Halloween we try to scare the crap out of ourselves on purpose! And hopefully…in the process…we somehow manage to scare ourselves silly in a great cathartic flip that purges the very thing we’ve been binging on – wiping the slate clean for yet another year to come.
Naturally I attended the big Real Estate Halloween Party that took place on a spooky cul-de-sac lined with foreclosures out in the middle of nowhere. Darkened windows and doorways resembled the missing teeth and vacant stares of carved-up, hollowed-out pumpkins, ceremoniously emptied for the occasion. Huge cobwebs hung like Spanish moss over For Sale Signs that were leaning at odd angles in precarious neglect. Buzzards circled above homes that had recently fallen into default – designating them as “addressed for distress” and making them easy prey for all the ominous land sharks prowling around the neighborhood.
There we all were, partying down like it was 1992. Crazy conga lines of buyers and sellers were snaking through the crowd accompanied by the wild strains of apocalypso music. Loan brokers in Alan Greenspan masks were handing out big Nestle Credit Crunch trick or treat candy with the same fervor that they had handed out subprime loans four or five years ago. Everywhere people were chewing on huge wads of Real Estate Bubble Gum, inflating giant bubbles with hot air, popping them loudly when they grew bigger than their own heads.
Someone disguised as Naked Greed was streaking through the crowd chased by another character dressed in a skimpy Real Estate Rally Thong. There were plenty of Monster Houses milling about, strutting their stuff. Someone else was dressed up as The Great Unknown moving through the masses surrounded by a Greek chorus of little gremlins calling themselves the What-Ifs. They eagerly whispered fearful thoughts into everyone’s ears with high-pitched, banshee-like voices.
Escrow officers were wandering around in wigs made to look like their hair was on fire. Many of them wore paper-chains wrapped around their bodies fashioned out of loan documents issued by the Government Office of Cosmic Redundancy. One even came decked out as a mummified HUD statement. I saw a couple of Blind Appraisers searching for comps. Groups of Swarming Termites. Sellers dressed up like Statues of St Joseph. Looky-Loos masquerading as Interested Partiers.
There were Underwriters who had morphed into Undertakers busy trying to bury the market, declaring that mortgages really did originate from the French words for “death tax.” Prophets of Doom and Gloom roamed the cul-de-sac. Zombie Buyers haunted the homes of the growing Legion of Unsolds. The American Dream was dressed in a black robe and carried a scythe.
There was The Grinch That Stole the Economy lugging a bag full of gifts labeled Credit Default Swaps and Derivatives, Someone was dressed up like a Doctor, running around trying to find the Market’s Pulse. Several others covered themselves in those big blue Tarps and painted dollar signs on the side. A few came as Toxic Assets paired with CEOs dressed in Armani HazMat Suits. The Gordon Gekko mask made a big comeback this year.
Freddie Kruger made an appearance waving a Deed of Trust securing a new movie installment called “Nightmare on Main Street.” But he was almost eclipsed by a giant swathe of darkness calling itself the Shadow Inventory.
Wow. What a party. Say what you want about real estate…we do fear well. In fact, this whole year has been one long, ongoing fear fest. Lots of tearing of hair. Biting of nails. Gnashing of teeth. Silent and not-so-silent screams of frustration, disappointment and dawning realization. Plenty of lost souls out there wandering around with grave faces on. Gives me goose bumps just to think about it.
If fear never sleeps here in real estate land and just stays simmering in the cauldron 365 days a year.. what the hell…we might as well celebrate and see if we can at least tire it out in one long nights journey into day. Maybe we can get to a place where we can finally say goodbye to the Ghost of Markets Past.