Getting Personal – Miss Understood and The Basket Lady

Kristn.jpgThis morning, a beautiful gift basket was delivered to our door. It is actually a gift basket for one of our clients who just closed escrow on her new home. Imagine the audacity of purchasing a home in this market! What was she thinking? Didn’t she heed the warnings of all of the passionate folks talking ad nauseum about the real estate bubble? Does she know that this decision to purchase brought her one step closer to financial ruin? For shame. The gift basket, by the way, is beautiful. The basket lady does a fabulous job. This time last year, she was very busy. Unfortunately, as the market has slowed, so have the orders.

Now, I am bracing myself for a dozen comments to this concering gift baskets. Funny how that goes. Back in September, I wrote a nice little piece thanking an agent/mortgage broker for a smooth transaction. The 23 resulting comments dealt with option ARM financing. Earlier this month, Steve had a moment of reflection in which he was enjoying the San Diego weather which generated 32 comments on the impending crash of the real estate market. And in November, I wrote about anticipated December market activity, which of course resulted in 12 comments all pertaining to… rabbits.

I recently wrote a post for the Bloodhound which I’ll call my group therapy. I will admit that one catalyst for my post was a rather hateful little remark (personal attack) that was made here, but the article itself was intended to suggest that not all (or even most) real estate decisions are based solely on the financial bottom line but on more personal considerations. I wrote that home buyers and sellers define “return on investment” in different ways, and it is not always defined in terms of dollars. Case in point, in the past month Steve and I have seen our clients make their decisions to buy or sell based on divorce, need to accommodate a growing family, downsizing for impending retirement, downsizing in response to the last child leaving the nest, relocation both to and from San Diego, and simply a desire to purchase a larger home. In not one of these cases did the state of the market drive these decisions, nor was it a major consideration.

What my remarks were really about was this: Real estate is personal. Our business involves real people making real, emotional decisions. While many choose to see real estate as a purely financial investment (and this is obviously true of those that hold income property as a part of their investment portfolio), real estate to the masses represents a home, a life style, a life, and there is nothing impersonal about this. Be the market good or bad, people will continue to buy and sell for a variety of reasons and, while these reasons may not seem financially sound to the bubble bathers who do indeed seem to revel in the bad news, they are absolutely valid from the personal perspectives of my clients.

So, of course, my post quickly morphed into a perceived public service announcement promoting homeownership, with the comment thread evolving yet again into a realtor-bashing party in which those “passionate” about the market changes we are seeing questioned the ethics of agents and mortgage brokers, the intelligence of anyone who would purchase today, and even Jeff Brown’s earnings.

Which brings me to the basket lady. In the Bloodhound post, I stated the following (perhaps, a little too testy) in reference to the bubble babies:

I am finding this recent proliferation of to-hell-in-a-hand-basket reporting nothing more than childish, ambulance chasing tripe of which I have grown weary. Get a hobby, read a book, play with your children, but stop taking perverse pleasure in the misfortune of others. Grow up and stop blaming your personal unrest on NAR, economists, real estate agents, mortgage lending practices and everything and everybody in between.

Now, I admit that was a little harsh, but I really am fed up with the venomous animosity being spouted by many against an entire industry, the energy they spend on espousing their sense of impending industry doom, and the seeming thrill they derive from the same.

One commenter wrote:

Your industry has hyped this market and it has worked for your personal benefit. You should not feel offended when someone makes a comment against the industry that you are a part of.

For the record, I am not offended, but I do take it personally. I have no issues with those who are more bearish than I on the future of home prices or even those that despise real estate agents. I appreciate and respect their opinions, but would appreciate more thoughtful balance in the message and more compassion in the delivery. The clients I work with are not poor saps that have been swindled by an industry run amok, and they are not misinformed little lambs heading straight for the slaughter due to industry hype. They are real people making real decisions regarding a very real need – Housing. And to those that revel in the down market and use the opportunity to portray industry professionals as overfed, money grubbers who are finally getting their just desserts, loathe agents and mortgage brokers if you must, but don’t detest an entire industry. Take a moment to consider the basket lady. I feel sorry for her. While we are at it, let’s consider the printer who prints our property flyers, the carpet cleaner who shampoos the rugs prior to closing, the handyman who performs the buyer’s requested repairs, all of the many, many others who provide support services to the industry, and, of course, the three past clients of mine who called this week about buying and selling due to divorce. For them, real estate is very personal.

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