Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Polite Conversation?

As Cymst aptly noted in an earlier comment, real estate is one of the few safe conversation topics most adults can relate to. However it be a mine field if you aren't careful.

I should preface this by noting how my conversations about real estate have evolved over the last nine months. Previously people looked at me like I was crazy when I told them we sold our house and were waiting for RE prices to come back down to earth. Now things are different. You have to be living under a rock, if you haven't heard that residential real estate is experiencing troubles (there are a surpising number of clueless people out there).

I enjoy hearing people's reaction to our situation. In my recent travels I strike up conversations with people and consider their response a barometer for public sentiment. I never mention my secret obsession. I simply state that we recently moved to Sacramento and are renting until we find something we like. I then listen intently to their advise and nod no matter what.

July was definitely a major breakthrough on the public sentiment side....it has finally sunk in to the national consciousness that housing is not infallible.

However the conversation I am not very good at navigating, when I delve into the subject with people I know..... is where it comes out that I am actually hoping housing prices will drop so we can find something affordable. Trouble is, I am typically talking to a homeowner (who acknowledges that homes aren't affordable), but doesn't want values to go down, because it would mean THEIR house is worth less. Only recently did I have this discussion where the owner actually made the connection that all values would be going down (i.e. all boats rise and fall with the tide) so it wasn't a bad thing.


semloh said...

It's funny that you post this today because I was just thinking about this yesterday. I found out more and more often that I have to keep to myself my interest in the crumbling of the housing market.
The truth is that it's almost impossible to have a rational discussion with somebody when the only logic outcome is linked to a lowering of their wealth or income. Soon enough the exchange will become too emotional to remain logical.

Gwynster said...

I generally tell people that I'm looking to be a first time home buyer and that although I have been saving since 99, nothing is affordable so I'm waiting. That typically gets an interesting look.

My close friends who know I'm a housing bear do not bring up the topic. We're all very wasp about it.

G Spot1 said...

For some real fun, try revealing your position to a realtor. It's one thing for your best interests to have the effect of someone's unrealized (and hopefully untapped) wealth drying up. It's quite another for it to be destroying their entire livelihood....

Patient Renter said...

This is a conversation we're all had as we all know many FBs. In most conversations, I let it be known I'm waiting for the right time to buy, without giving much detail about when I think that is. The person on the other side of the conversation usually thinks I should buy ASAP (misery loves company, I suppose), and they usually point out that while things aren't so good now, they're expecting things to get back "to normal" very soon, with prices rising again. Often this wisdom is cited from a REALTOR friend or someone similarly biased and/or unreliable. No matter what though, I've found it does nobody any good to rain on their parade with real hard facts and information about how bad things are and how bad things will remain. If they're screwed, they're screwed. I'd rather them not hate me for pointing it out. They'll figure it out eventually.

The one time I will speak strongly on the current situation is when I have a friend or aquaintance who is considering buying. To date, I've "saved" ZERO people, and to date, most of them have acknowledged that they made a mistake, though they usually don't say so directly. Still, all of these people are hopeful that prices will start rising again tomorrow. I can't say I blame them, but we know this is not meant to be.

semloh said...

I have a friend who is trying to sell a house right now. He has been paying 2 mortgages since May.

I have been trying to help him realize how bad the situation is out there and that it's not going to get better any time soon but still I can't get through a web of denial.

mr big said...

Well I'm still here in the az desert watching the housing market crumble. I see new houses down the road from the 130's now for a brand new smaller house.

I have noticed credit card companies are noticeing the pain of homebuyers and raising their interest rates. I was going to transfer a balance and now they want a 3% fee with no cap.Awhile back I could transfer an unlimited balance for 50 bucks.They smell blood in the water too.

john holmes said...

How about the plunge in the market today? Where is goldilocks? Time to party on wayne.

Gwynster said...

The best part of today's plunge was the huge headline on CNNMoney "DON'T PANIC". I laughed myself hoarse.

Cmyst said...

I discovered several months ago the interesting and all too human phenomenon of "everyone's house is over-priced, except mine". It kind of dovetails with the "it's different here" attitude towards regional REI problems.

Be that as it may, I have taken it upon myself to speak very gentle and diplomatic truth about the fundamentals that support buying vs. renting. I do this in the probably faint hope that with the information that we have available nowadays, vs the last two bubbles, maybe reason will prevail sooner rather than later. I have given several people information on this blog, Lander's blog, FIT, HBB, etc. so that they can inform themselves.

Gwynster said...


I think you are onto something. So much of what is happening is inter-related and trying to explain it Joe or Jane Average Citizen can be a bit daunting.

I think what I will do is begin loading a series of images on my Treo of graphs, spreadsheets etc so that when I get asked why I haven't bought yet, I can just provide the visual and let them come to the data on their own.

I am now inspired. I stayed up until 2 am combing public data and developing graphs. Thanks Buyer and Cmyst for getting me moving in that direction.

semloh said...

right on the money: