Happy 4th of July!

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It’s 4th of July once again, and it looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty nice day in Santa Cruz. My blog has been languishing this past little bit. I have been crushingly busy – and that’s a good thing, considering how many Realtors are suffering the fate of the Maytag repair man.

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It’s actually been kind of slow on the news front, though. Don’t get me wrong, I have no shortage of anecdotes. Actually, here’s a good one from just last night. I took some clients up to see a rural property. The listing agent had told me OK to show, just go on over any time, someone is always home. And indeed, someone was home. There were at least a dozen cars parked in the driveway. Don’t worry, it was a big driveway – the house is on about two acres.

I go and present my card to a guy standing by the front door. He didn’t talk to me. A little kid about 7 years old or so took my card, went inside, came back after a minute, and said, “Pass”. You’re thinking, maybe, that’s a strange thing to say – but in Spanish, you’d say “pase” – which basically means come in. So we did.

It was kind of surreal. In case you don’t know, I speak Spanish fluently. I mean, fluently-fluently. My-wife-is-from-Peru-fluently. So I talk to the people who are living there, and nobody talks back. Nobody said a single word. Not one. They just gawked at me. My clients wrote to me this morning and said, … [we] thought we had found our way into a Coen brothers movie.”

Yah. Anyway, we got out of there after just a couple of minutes looking around, it wasn’t the most hospitable home showing I’ve had, and I don’t think my clients felt very comfortable. I was OK with it – I’m used to feeling kind of like an interloper, inserting myself into people’s homes like I do pretty much on a daily basis.

But as for news – that hard-hitting, insightful news that I know you’re dying to hear – pffft. Not much. There is basically a great unease in the market. To be honest, nobody knows what is going on, really. The optimists in the crowd say that the turn around is right around the corner. Prime real estate isn’t taking too much of a hit in values (true, actually). Others say that it’s going to get worse before it gets better (always possible, just look at the unemployment figures, gas prices, and the consumer confidence index).

There are people buying up a storm, though. Those foreclosures go quick-quick-quick. There’s a reason for that – and it’s not because they are beauty queens. It’s because they’re cheap. It’s because their price points are back down to 2001, 2002 levels – and much of the rest of the market has retreated only to about late 2004, early 2005. It’s because with some of these places, the cost of owning is, truly, just a tad higher than renting the same property, and there’s big upside potential.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, really. Things could get worse, or once Barack Obama becomes president, things could get lots better. Or they could get lots worse – come on, let’s face it, Barack is kind of a wild card. But property prices are getting to the point where they are affordable to a great many more people than in recent years – and while prices may continue to drop, I say, if you find a deal on a house you love at a price you can truly afford, then there’s probably no time like the present to buy it.

Anyway, I hope you have a safe and sane 4th of July!

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