Wednesday, March 4, 2009

House Hunting

I sense a new phenomenon in Key West- the possibility of home ownership. It is made real for me by my colleague who has settled on a price, $250,000 and has an approved loan, and is ready to make offers. So far most of the homes she has looked at have been above her price range, and those few homes below her range were snapped up faster than she could get inside to see them. She is very organized, unfortunately her realtor is a dud and I think she is slowly coming to accept that. We offered her the use of ours, a man who has taken other work but loves the trade and is very very good at it, but we got the usual indifferent stare. I hate offering advice, it's not worth the hassle.
.
She is getting worried now because the stock market is plummeting and her down payment is shrinking with it. I was horrified when she said she still had her money in stocks, and this isn't someone who plans to be in the market in ten or twenty years, she's keeping her cash in stocks prior to cashing out when she gets and offer accepted...perhaps later this year?
.
The housing market in Key West is still crap in the under half million dollar range and her tales of ghastly homes, trashed homes, bizarre homes offered at $400,000 makes me cringe. I mutter to myself that if she waits for a year she will find tons of bargains as house prices seem bound to plummet but naturally the advice is free and is worth less than it's cost. Still you'd think that a homeowner with a mortgage like me who is prepared to consider a further 25 percent drop in the value of his home would be worth at least considering. Part of her obsessive behavior is following through mercilessly on the arranged plan, no matter what other information may come to light along the way.
.
I find it interesting that someone with a government job is ready to commit to home ownership in Key West, and its quite a turn around from the lost decade of spiraling costs and general hopelessness. I find it even more stunning that there are people who think the stock market is a good place to park one's money. When I suggest there is no end in sight (free advice!) my friends look at me as though I am crazy. Recessions have always ended and in a turn around, eventually have always come. Never mind we face a lost decade as Japan did in the 1990's. Never mind nation states around the world (The rest of the world? Where's that? Why do I care?) are imploding. Nothing here is any different than the recessions that hit periodically during the last thirty years.
.
Climate change hasn't gone away and people who see extra cold winters as disproving the global warming theory are fooling themselves. Part of the global warming computer predictions indicate more violent climate swings in both directions as the climate balance shifts. Peak Oil is in abeyance at the moment because world oil demand has dropped. The problem there is that research is slipping away in the face of oil priced at $40 a barrel and if demand ever does pick up there won't be fresh sources on hand to supply anything like the demand. In any event credit for exploration of new commodities of any type has shrivelled up. Need copper? Too bad if current sources are insufficient to meet your present or future demand.
.
When my friends roll their eyes and accuse me of being a pessimist I ask them for something to hang the happy hat on, an indicator of something positive to come. They have none, they shrug and change the subject. If they tried to articulate their feelings it would presumably be something along the lines of "we've survived similar problems in the past and we will in the future." Then I say to myself, that's not good enough.
.
I see my colleague at work thinking along those lines and as long as it is she and I arguing the toss who cares? My really underlying fear is when I see people at the top, the experts, the leaders, who can offer no real reason for hope then I feel justified in being pessimistic. And if my friends don't want to reason with me, I am left to reason with myself. Here.

No comments: