April 13th, 2007

Today’s News

Global affecting local?
South Florida housing market getting unpleasant
Flipping Condos: Perspective
Lawmakers Want To Help Homeowners Who Can’t Make The Payments
Consumer Sentiment Falls on Gas & Housing
Bankruptcy may not save home
Mr. Worst-Case Scenario
Countrywide Foreclosures Up

OK, enough already. Read my blog, then jump off the roof. Ack.

My M.O. is to read everything, everything possible from all reputable (sometimes disreputable) sources. Let it sit, ferment a little. Then see what bubbles to the surface, see if I can sort fact from fear, fantasy, and fiction. I use the resulting conclusions to make a plan for MY future, and to help buyer and seller customers make informed decisions for theirs.

Here’s the problem:

The future is unknowable. That’s a fact, and it’s true for everyone. Even for Warren Buffett. For all real estate buyers and sellers. And developers. Even for the Santa Maria developers, for Panama developers, for all developers everywhere. Developers don’t start mongo projects expecting a correction. They believe they are creating a win/win for everyone.  Now that projects are falling short, some are certainly using less than ethical solutions to mitigate their losses. Some are taking the money and slipping out the back door. Some continued selling a project their accountants said was doomed for lack of funds a year before.

But all of us in the real estate biz aren’t bad. In my experience, there are at least as many good apples as bad ones, including builders, contractors, developers, brokers, lenders and lawyers. Some are intentionally bad, some just incompetent. And, oy vey, God help you if you work with one who is both.

Over the last year or two, many people suspected we were in for a correction. NOBODY knew the day, the month, the year. Just like nobody knows how long it will last. When we will hit bottom. IF we’ve hit bottom. How long it will take to get back where we are now. IF we will. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of predictions waving all kinds of graphs. And more people than that, like me, who are struggling to make sense of the wealth of information out there.

Part of the puzzle is that we are in a time unlike any before. The proliferation of easy credit has hurt us. We are a global economy, One Human Family banking together. You can borrow money in New York to buy a house in New Delhi. Al Gore’s internet made the world attainable, knowable. Just not the future. I’m sure someone is working on that software. Hopefully, they will offer a good affiliate program.

Till then, I’m reading everything. So far, I think Key West has softening to go. I base this on the fact that we went up SO high SO fast, that’s bubble criteria. Markets tend to be symmetrical, so we are likely to fall as long and as deep as we went up. Maybe not as deep: a lot depends on the health of the mortgage market, particularly subprime, but prime, too. And fear factor with buyers.

Here’s the piece of the puzzle I can’t figure out: how will baby boomers play into this? What is the real story with them? Will they pull us out? When they start retiring with their pensions and SS$, buy big and spend lavishly? Here in Costa Rica, investors are sure of it. I don’t know. It’s not rational. But the world (except for my husband and three blog readers) say baby boomers are gonna do it for us. Do they know something I don’t? Where is that information because I need to read it.

We read to know, to understand, to control. It’s comforting. And it’s going to have to do until that software comes out.

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