Recession-What is it Good For?
Making Lemonade out of Lemons
This is my first impactful recession and frankly, I’ll be glad when it is over! Having worked in real estate for twelve years, I have seen normal housing markets, insanely wild housing markets and now a depressed market. A home that I sold in 1999 for $150,000 sold for $389,000 five years later. Nothing had been done to the home, but housing prices had gone up that quickly. Prices were artificially high and loans were available to those who had not qualified previously. The bidding wars were unbelievable and for the first time in my life as a real estate professional, I wrote escalation addendums (offering more than the next highest bidder, not to exceed a certain price). Appraisals were based on those sales, so home values kept rising. Adjustable rate mortgages were dirt cheap and the rules around home buying were loose.
Then the market changed. New home construction started to slow down in the summer of 2005 and it went downhill from there. In 2007, I could feel the metaphorical brakes burning from the sudden shift in the housing market. Homes, even with low interest rates, were no longer affordable. The three year adjustable rate mortgages of 4% rose to 8% or higher, and many people did not have enough, if any, equity in their homes to refinance. Short sales and foreclosures became a big part of our reality.
Many of us have been caught up in this nightmare ever since with people losing their homes, their jobs, their retirement and their savings. I have lived through every minute of this pain and know it has been incredibly heart breaking for many, many people. In real estate, greed took over the whole industry and we are still paying the price for that mistake. It’s going to take time to work our way out of this recession for there is no magic bullet.
Now to make lemonade out of lemons…While earning far less money, I have learned to live much more frugally, and have realized that a good friendship is far more valuable that an expensive toy. I spend out of necessity only, look for sales, try to help others in need and save every penny. My life is more peaceful and I appreciate the most modest of pleasures. Don’t get me wrong, I have to figure out a way to earn more money and a lack of funds is stressful, but overall, I find the lack of complexity a pleasure.
One consistent remark I have heard in the many interviews of various people over the years and around the country, is that we need to come back together as people helping each other and become less selfish. It seems Americans know what is fundamentally wrong, and it is not something a politician can fix. It is our value system. For some reason, humans usually have to suffer before getting the lesson. My hope is if we align our personal priorities to a simpler, kinder and less selfish way of living, it will flow up, for individuals run corporations and governments. I have heard it called a shift in consciousness, but whatever name we put on it, I hope we make a fundamental change for the betterment of mankind...and soon!