Welcome to Real Estate of Mind. Where sometimes the Map really is the Territory. And vice versa. Where it often feels like déjà vu all over again as in – Real Estate Held Hostage: Groundhog Day 347. And other times…it just feels like bushelfuls of erstwhile buyers and sellers have decided to take voluntary furloughs from the mirage of a marketplace.
Meanwhile …more and more real estate agents are seceding from the arbitrary union of supply and demand. Electing to re-inflate their egos by selling a lot more properties in Farmville. Purportedly there is robust activity there. No pending signs of an “enthusiasm gap” in that neck of the virtual woods.
Yep. Another installment and another banner week with more news than any of us could possibly use. As someone somewhere said not long ago: “getting information in the age of the internet is like getting a drink of water from a fire hose.”
The President of the National Association of Realtors had a very quotable quote bouncing around the Country this week. Speaking about even tougher lending standards coming from mortgage industry giants like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, Ron Phipps said: “We’ve gone from silly to stupid.”
Any of you small fish in the great big sea who have gone through the loan process recently are probably wondering why he understated the situation so badly. Is there some other expression that magnifies dumb and dumber to the right degree? Or measures the true exponential growth of the system’s decay? We’ve gone from SNAFU to FUBAR?
People used to worry about “bait and switch” tactics popping up with an occasional lender here and there. Dangling a carrot and then pulling it back once they were sucked in. Now, we’re enmeshed in the biggest bait and switch bunco scam in history.
Borrowers, we’ve got good news and bad news for you. First, the good news. Rates are about as low as they’re ever going to go. The bad news? You only get them if you survive the water-boarding process euphemistically known as qualifying.
In other words…loans aren’t for everyone. Just as the notion of home ownership for everyone is being radically revised in the Americanized version of the cultural revolution. The pendulum has swung on our Manifestering Destiny. The cult of homeownership is being rehabilitated. Time Magazine says it is time.
And so the Monopoly Game keeps getting shorter. The bank wins long before anyone else starts rolling the dice or lands on chance. Not to worry though. Our own Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, has stepped up to the plate with a plan to stimulate the economy by buying $600 billion in treasuries. This of course, after economists back-dated the end of the recession to July of 2009. Isn’t it only fitting that the timeline for stimulus be moved further backward too. Or is that forward?
Soft recovery? Saw toothed recovery? Jobless recovery? Heck, I don’t know.
Anyway the Feds’ plan to fluff the aura of the economy is called “quantitative easing”. Another name for pumping more bucks into the system. How about a little more “qualitative easing” while they’re at it?
(By the way, is anyone else out there a little freaked out by the fact that the Feds hold regular meetings at a place called Jeckyll Island? Do you think they also have secret picnics in Hyde Park?)
But speaking of more bucks in the system. It’s probably a good thing. A world without enough new bucks gets stuck passing the same old bucks around too long. And those bucks have to stop somewhere, sometime.
The Real Estate of Mind Book Club recommends All The Devils Are Here by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. The premise? Systemic Culpability. We all took part. We all made choices. It all happened right under all of our noses. It wasn’t just an autistic computer savant sitting in a darkened room dreaming up credit default swaps who was to blame.
If we’re not all going to own houses anymore at least maybe we can all own up to our individual responsibility for the real estate of affairs we’re in.