Thursday, October 04, 2007

Don't Believe the Gloom and Doom!

You can't get away from them – the "experts" who are eager to declare the worst. Yesterday's Baltimore Sun included this charming statement from an economist: "The existing-homes market is now in free-fall." But I also saw an article that appeared in the online Ventura County Star in late September, and it has one of the best discussions I've seen of the immense gap between the stories of real estate market meltdown that seem to be everywhere, and the reality you see when you step back a bit and take a calm look.

The article talks about what they are seeing in Ventura County which is in Southern California along the coast between Santa Barbara County and Los Angeles County. But much of what is true there is true elsewhere in the country, including my area of Maryland.

The gist of it can be summed up in a paraphrasing of Mark Twain's famous quip: "Don't worry, reports of the industry's impending doom are highly exaggerated. Buyers are still buying and sellers are still selling."

Sure, the market isn’t what it was a few years ago, but there are many in the real estate business who believe the market was due for a correction, just as the stock market often drops when Wall Street believes that stocks are overvalued. The thing is, there are many positives in the market now. Mortgages are still available at historically low rates, and the economy is sound. There are still special programs for first-time buyers as well as safe and creative financing for other buyers.

Like averages (which we know are meaningless!), headlines tell only a small part of any story. Certainly getting a good price for your home in a sale is important, or getting a great deal if you are buying. As the article points out, "People need to look at their own housing needs and not listen to others. You don't buy a home to make money, you do it as a place to raise your family, to put down roots, to feel secure."

Housing markets go through cycles. The down markets follow up markets which follow down markets. People who have been in the industry long enough recognize they are as natural as the seasons. And the real estate professionals who have built their careers on service and value will find the ups just as exciting as everyone else, and the downs not nearly so deep.

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