The Conundrumming Circle

Welcome to the weekly conundrum-ing circle I call Real Estate of Mind. A small corner parcel lodged deep in the leaky brainpan of the collective psyche.  A place where everyone who is anyone is invited to wander in. Grab a spot on the spectrum of disbelief. Add their own crazy real estate conundrum to the growing mix of discord sounding out around us.

Ah, the cognitive dissonance of it all.  The crush of so many simultaneously conflicting ideas and experiences we are being asked to squeeze into our synapses without any foreseeable sense of resolution residing on the horizon.

Hoping against hope that the myriad contradictions won’t reach critical mass.   and explode our heads in another Big Bang. A giant aftershock following the Bursting Bubble that kicked this whole new parallel universe into existence in the first place.

But here we are.

We’ve got a real estate market where there are more people walking away from “home” than there are coming towards it.  More folks standing upside-down. Fewer sitting right side up.  A “subprime” phenomena climbing into the realm of higher demographics. Gain in equity getting flip-flopped into the dumping of debt.

The end of the recession getting pulled back to the summer of 2009 even as the bottom of the real estate market gets pushed forwards to 2012.  A double-dip in home prices  weaving its way into the notion of a real estate-less, job-less economy trying desperately to check itself into recovery.

Less low is the new high.  Less slow is the new fast. Cheaper is the new expensive.  Lose-lose is the new choice. Denial is the new crack. Perception unmakes the new reality. And kicking the can forward is the new dragging our
feet. There is no new normal. And the laws of physics from the “old” normal don’t apply.

And now that real estate is down, the piling on has started.  The former celebrity of Real Estate now the object of shame. Cover stories about the end of homeownership as we know it.  All the justifications about why renting is better than owning. The future of Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac in doubt. The great incentive of the Mortgage Interest Deduction up for debate.

And revisionist history says that it was our lofty dream of universal homeownership that went awry.  It was our very best intentions that morphed out of control and got co-opted by the money-changers right under the noses of all those sleeping regulators.

And we’ve got lots of sellers who feel like they are giving their homes away. And lots of buyers who aren’t seconding that emotion. They just aren’t buying in.

At the same time, we have lots of people who literally can’t give their homes away.  No matter how hard they try. No one answers the phone. There’s no way to reach the ghost running the machine. No one can actually figure out who owns the paper underlying all those homes that aren’t worth the amounts written on it.

And there’s a theory that consumer spending has increased because people who have stopped making their mortgage payments suddenly have thousands of dollars more a month to buy things with. And they’d rather have something to show for it than nothing.

And there’s no short in short sale. Not much closure in foreclosure.  And a whole lot of fault in those notices of default as the fickle finger of blame gets pointed willy-nilly in every direction.   The final consensus of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Is that it is everyone’s fault and no ones fault at the same time. We all drank the kool-ade.

So every Saturday, the conundrum-ing circle gathers in search of a few consistent patterns in the arrhythmic pulse of the marketplace. Beating the layers of information beneath the surface to thresh out some hint of meaning.  Trying to apply some semblance of rhyme and reason to an out of sync phenomenon that doesn’t want to yield up any of its own top secret algorithms.

As someone once said –  the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction needs to make sense.    Real estate?  Don’t hold your breath.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to start making sense any time soon.  My suggestion?  Better make up a good story for yourself.  Hunker down and stick to it.   “This” is going to take a lot longer than we thought.


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