Category Archives: The Future of Real Estate

Through The Glass Darkly: Real Estate for 2012

What’s ahead for real estate in 2012? Tough question. Gazing into the old crystal ball feels more like the looking through glass shards darkly these days.

But here goes… I picked up one of those old cans we’ve been kicking down the road and converted it into a homemade collide-a-scope. I’ve got it pointed forward towards the light and here’s what my own colorful, mosaic view of the future looks like:

– More big banks will convert their shadow inventories of foreclosed homes into long term rental properties offering attractive new incentives to subprime renters – like low 3 month teaser rate rents and negatively amortizing rent-to-own programs.

– Disenchanted Agents will join the Occupy movement. Calling themselves Doc-cupy Real Estate they’ll begin camping out at Bank of America branches until underwriters agree to approve loans and generate loan documents for well-qualified borrowers already in their queue.

– As more Americans adjust to simpler lifestyles in the wake of economic recession a dramatic increase in the number of Near Life Experiences will be reported.

– More Sellers will purchase Do-It-Yourself Home Cryogenics Kits – vowing to dig in even deeper for the long haul waiting for prices to return to 2005 levels.

– Sweeping new legislation designed to protect future homeowners will require builders to install Air Bags in all new homes.

– In a desperate move to counteract tanking sales, a local Real Estate Brokerage will substitute Nitrous Oxide for Helium in all Open House Balloons.

– Realtors will expand efforts to lure Gen X home buyers with cutting edge branding techniques like company tattoos and personal marketing piercings.

– A large pharmaceutical firm will begin clinical trials of a mourning after pill designed to relieve symptoms of Buyers Remorse.

– When Baby Boomers universally declare that old age doesn’t start until 75, defiant members of the Boomerang Generation will immediately proclaim that adulthood does not begin until the age of 35.

– Agents holding Open Houses will begin handing out insulated booties to encourage more buyers with cold feet.

– The Letterman Show will feature an ongoing series of bits called Stupid Lender Tricks.

– A new pest control franchise called The Termite Whisperer will promise to rid houses of termites without the use of toxic chemicals – by convincing them to leave voluntarily and move on to neighboring houses.

– When neuro-scientists discover that consumer brains respond most directly to smells rather than sights and sounds, Aromatherapists will be in great demand as Home Stagers. Sell the Smell will become a common catchphrase..

– More frustrated home buyers will turn to online Virtual Dream Homes in the coming year, where their Avatars can easily move into custom comfort. California will also begin exploring a Virtual Property Tax.

– In a massive effort to transform societal stigmas about the homeless, self-styled Homeless Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen will invite tens of thousands of homeless families to hotel-hop and couch-surf with him at 5 Star Resorts.

– EXTREME MORTGAGE: HOME EDITION will make its debut on Realty TV this year. First time buyers will compete for loan approval while a panel of celebrity underwriters comes up with a new set of performance anxieties each week.

– Remote Viewing will be just one of the innovative new forms of Psychic Marketing that begins to replace old fashioned, web-based, virtual tours in the coming year.

– A prestigious group of spin-doctors will accuse the National Association of Realtors of implanting false market memories in the minds of vulnerable and unsuspecting members.

– The Conversation Pit will make a comeback in American homes. More and more of them will be located in lead-lined safe rooms, where no electromagnetic television or cell phone frequencies can penetrate.

– Al Gore will once again rise to national prominence with a new film exploring global financial weirding and the meltdown of the international monetary system – called An Incoherent Truth.


Predictions or Predilictions?

There I was driving home on Highway 1 the other night, ruminating about the future of real estate, when I came to a grinding halt in bumper-to-bumper traffic. As I sat there unmoving, I glanced up at the Caltans billboard near 41st Avenue and noticed a string of strange flashing lights and random words running across the electronic screen.

Suddenly my cell phone rang and an eerie mechanical voice on the other end said: “Pay attention and write.” I was so shocked I grabbed my laptop and for the next three hours a series of messages channeled through the traffic board as I feverishly tried to keep up with my meager typing skills.

What follows is only a small part of all I was shown and told. Predictions for the future courtesy of some Century 23 Agent traveling back in time? Who knows? Fact or fantasy? You be the judge. I’m just the instrument of some higher power with a heck of a cell phone bill.

•    A missing Escrow Officer will be found alive under a massive avalanche of paper after surviving 6 days without food, water or a sanity check.

•    Increasing numbers of Sellers will enroll in Mime School attempting to look more convincing while going through the motions.

•    A study by the National Association of Realtors will conclude that making more Pocket Calls does not result in a larger inventory of Pocket Listings.

•    The entire UC Merced campus will be shut down and leased out as a training facility for Real Estate Foreclosure Specialists.  It will be unceremoniously nicknamed F.U. by the media.

•    A blue ribbon panel of psychologists will declare a national epidemic of  “buyer’s remorse” and the Surgeon General will require all forms of retail therapy to display prominent warning labels.

•    Home Ownership will officially be declared an alienable right of the American Dream.

•    An entire Cabrillo College class in Abnormal Psychology will apprentice at a local Real Estate Company for a year of in-depth field study.

•    A rising number of mortgage defaults in Northern California will be linked to the plummeting value of home-grown marijuana on neighborhood streets.

•    Practitioners of Transcendental Meditation will be paid 100 million dollars to meditate on the recovery of the National Housing Market in a stimulus program dubbed “Om for Home.”

•    In a joint venture with PG&E, several large financial institutions will attempt to install Smart Meters on Consumer Bank Accounts.

•    Pest Control Companies faced with lagging revenues in a slow real estate market will begin offering Bed Bug Extermination Service to 5 star resorts and hotels.

•    Mass outbreaks of St. Vitus  dancing will  be traced to the hallucinogenic effects of a new strain of toxic mold found growing in vacant foreclosures across the country.

•    Organic Sellers will attempt to secede from the market by forming a separate MLS where bank-owned properties are prevented from being listed for sale.

•    Disenchanted Appraisers unhappy with new legislation will quit the business and flock to an evangelical end-of-days cult called Appraise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.

•    New legislation to slow the mounting tide of foreclosures will require troubled properties to first be labeled Afault, Befault and Cefault before being allowed to go to Default.

•    In November a local real estate agent will give birth to a 14 pound escrow file and be prominently featured on the cover of the National Enquirer.

•    A local psychiatrist-turned-real-estate-agent will lose both of his licenses after he is discovered marketing pre-pre-pre-foreclosure properties on Craigslist using confidential client information.

•    As the shadow inventory of homes held off market by the nation’s largest banks grows to record numbers Foreclosures will be re-named Noclosures.  Lamont Cranston the Sixth will be appointed to get the bottom of it all.

•    A radical cult of new age economists will flock to Sedona, Arizona to celebrate the advent of the Un-harmonic Convergence, otherwise known as deflation.

•    New Fair Housing laws will require Short Sales to be called Chronologically-Challenged Sales in all real estate advertising

•    Local Real Estate experts will issue a forecast guaranteeing that the market will be much better in 2011.  When pressed for specifics a terse one page release will be issued explaining that “better” really means “less bad.”

In a related story, a record number of homeowners will burn their mortgages and declare their freedom in a series of  celebrations modeled on the “tea party” movement. Freedom will be identified as “just another word for nothing left to lose. ”