My Inner-Contrarian and True Oppositivism

Damn that real estate data trying to torpedo us.  Full speed ahead I say. Even if we are running in place let’s dial it up a notch on the treadmill.   We have to find some way to get exercised enough to exorcise our demons. We gotta stay in shape if we’re going to achieve escape velocity in this, our most audacious  of  “Sputnik Moments.”

There we were just getting settled into another brave new year. New resolutons. Great new expectations. .  Busy negotiating favorable new lease-option agreements with life.

And suddenly…the local stats for December appeared in the Sentinel on Tuesday.  Quel bum-err.  Median price down. Teetering near $500k.  Number of sales lackluster (128) .  Distress inventory swallowing a larger slice of the shrunken pie  (39% of single-family homes and 58% of the condo market).

On the same day, the New York Times was foisting the latest installment of the Case Shiller Index on us. Reporting significant price declines in most of the nation’s metropolitan real estate markets in October and November. Some hitting their lowest  levels since the bubble blew itself up in 2006/07.

The latest news will certainly spark public debate about a possible double-dip in home prices.  And undoubtedly the usual suspects  – optimistic spinmeisters and pro-economic-life pundits – are already rounding themselves up to log and blog more overtime hours promoting the positive signs of recovery floating on the ether.

Me? I’ve decided this is the moment to reach into the deepest recesses of my own real estate of mind to access the inner-most of inner contrarians that resides there.  That special voice inside my head that takes immense pleasure in contradicting even my own normal contrary nature. After all, one of the hardest habits to break is the habit of being oneself.

I recognize that I’m constitutionally hardwired to oppose anything and everything that smacks of false positivism.  I’ll probably always be one of the first guys to step up and draw a mustache on whatever smiley-face button my industry tries to pin on the marketplace.  But just the same, when the negative nattering reaches a fever-pitch it begins to sound just as boring and uninspiring as its Siamese twin does .

In response, I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m done putting down false positivism. I’m now a dyed-in-the-wool, born-again advocate for true oppositivism.  At least for now.  No guarantees about next week.

So I’m here to remind you in no uncertain terms that bad real estate statistics are trailing indicators too – just like good ones are.  The real market is always ahead of us no matter how hard we try to keep up. If the numbers were down for October and November and December, isn’t that a good sign?  The last dregs of the downturn?

Yes,  I know that the number of foreclosures is up and projected to be higher in 2011. But isn’t that good news?  Doesn’t that mean that the huge pig in the python, all those once and future dreaded mortgage defaults, are finally working their way through the system? Heading towards resolution rather than an eternity in limbo?

Here’s what the pulse of the market and my own apocryphal glimpses into the crystal ball are telling me:

There’s more enthusiasm in the job market over the hill.  The very thing that drove the real estate market out of its doldrums in the early 90’s.  Sent it skyrocketing into the late 90’s.

There’s more cash showing up in the market daily.  Some of that cash is buying primary residences.  More of it is speculative cash buying foreclosures, rental properties. 2nd  homes and long-desired vacation properties.  Yeah, part of the reason is that prices have come down, but it also means that people are actually pulling the trigger. They only do that when they sense it is time.

So many buyers have been holding back, chomping at the bit, itching to get going.  Time after time they’ve gotten all the way to the edge of actually doing something only to back down in the end.   Sooner or later there’s going to be a mad scramble as tons of these same wanna-be buyers grow suddenly fearful that the window of opportunity is closing. Pay attention folks.  That realization may come sooner than you think.

How about if we end by cheering the market on with a few choice phrases of true oppositivism? ” It’s always darkest before the dawn.”  And: “The farther away it feels the closer you really are.”  And: “You have to get lost first before you can find your way home. ”

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