Thursday, March 08, 2007

Econ 101:: There Were Signs

In the last 3 years real estate agents, well meaning strangers, and countless others have let me know in every conceivable manner that this day would never come. I've been laughed at, corrected, admonished, lectured, snubbed and pitied, because I dared to speculate that the *Hot Housing Market* was a hot air bubble and not an irreversible trend. I wasn’t making a lucky guess. I countered every attempt to convert me with irrefutable evidence: There have been housing bubbles before and when people over pay and over-finance, then the cycle is doomed to repeat itself. And still people scoffed, and said, “This is different,” and “This is unprecedented,” and “You must be joking, housing will never go down in California.”

Geoff and I have withstood the jeers and pressures of a crazed market, rabid realtors and loan wielding sharks. It has been humbling, frustrating, depressing and scary. Now it’s their turn. And I am not happily pronouncing any kind of Victory for our side, because I don’t think it’s going to be at all pleasant in the next year, or longer, to see more and more people struggle and even fail to make their mortgage payments and to see homes in foreclosure. Houses were being bought and traded like commodities and for many they were unaffordable as homes, safe havens to raise families. And maybe we are wrong. Maybe our government will rescue the system again, refute that there is real inflation, and manipulate interest rates to protect the status quo, an economy that is based less and less on productivity. It would be a sad and dangerous course.

I like looking for my own economic indicators, little signs that realtors are ready to be nice to me. For instance, I was invited to a housewarming party for a new neighbor. His selling agent gave invitations to everyone in a 30 block radius to come meet “Larry,” followed by lots of personal details about how great Larry is and how great Century 21 is. Oh, and it also said, “There will be pizza, soda, beer and juice for children who need it.”

Panda eats, shoots, and leaves.

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