August Showers


It’s the perfect storm. The final weeks of summer are always the slowest for us as real estate agents, yet our most frenzied time as human beings. (Contrary to conventional wisdom, agents are in fact human beings, in a loose sense, in that they mostly stand erect).

I have been accused in the past by my less fervent “fans” of being too pedestrian in my writing, both topically and stylistically, of mixing too much pleasure with business. I remember one comment on a now defunct Bubble-blog along the lines of, “I wish that stoopid agent would shut up about her family trips to Lake Arrowhead already”. I’m guilty as charged.

The fact is that successful agents (and by that, I mean, agents who for two consecutive tax years have had reason to actually file a return) begin to lose the ability to distinguish between their professional and personal lives. More simply stated, Real Estate becomes a lifestyle rather than an occupation. Myself, I spend as much or more time preoccupied with market trends, prevailing loan rates and local home sales activity than I do concerned about sorting the whites and colors in my overstuffed laundry hamper.

My own preoccupation with real estate may separate me from all of the people out there who are not trying to make a living in this business (four, last time I counted), but we have the laundry concerns in common. We are not really so different; we have bills to pay, groceries to buy, children to shuttle between activities, and leaking faucets to attend to. The difference is that by the age of six, my children had a complete grasp of the concept of “contingent in escrow”. While “normal children” (not my, Real Estate Orphan variety) entertain themselves on family road trips by playing the “license plate game”, mine count the Pending riders on yard signs. And, because the lines have become so hopelessly blurred, the difference is, I am almost unable to write about one without talking about the other.

The curious thing is that the smart money can get their market update fix just by reading the alleged off-topic drivel I tend to write, the stuff about my dog, and my cat, and my hamper runneth over. My life is seasonal, and so is the real estate market.

This morning, our local rag had the two requisite articles on real estate: One concerning declining home sales and the other on looming mortgage rate adjustments and increased foreclosures. Some morning in June, I would have been all over these contemporary topics like a hungry man to a cattle auction. In August, I have daughters who need back-to-school clothes and supplies, those final doctor, orthodontist and hair-cut appointments to make, and one more weekend to squeeze in some forced family fun before the games begin.

So do you, and so does the otherwise would-be buyer. At this time of year, when very few among us have time to stop and smell the left-overs, is it any mystery that your home for sale is not being shown? This is an August thing; it always has been and it will always be so.

This August is a little different, however. We entered the month in a downpour of bad news, and, for the media, nothing is more fun  than bad news. What started as merely a bad weather report has turned a collective storm warning calling for all-out market evacuation. By the time we reached the final approach to the end of summertime fun, with all of the attendant personal stuff we had to deal with, the rolling thunder had become deafening. The perfect storm.

As both a real estate agent and someone like you who has a life to deal with, there is another reason I am not inclined to talk about the real estate weather this morning. I’m growing weary of it. It’s been ugly outside for so long, that there’s nothing new to talk about. I suspect many, many buyers are beginning to feel this way as well. I feel it in my bones, and I see it in the faces of the people coming to our open houses.

I am not naive enough to suggest that our market won’t continue in decline mode for the next year or more, nor am I delusional enough to suggest that we have seen the worst of the fallout from past, shameful lending practices. What I do believe, however, is that as we become increasingly numb to the “news” and as we get back to our post-summer personal routines, buyers just may be ready to come in out of the rain.

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