Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Are You Reading The Signs?

By M. Anthony Carr

I’m in the middle of jury duty. As you approach the courthouse entrance there is obviously a very long line to check in. In a post 9/11 world, those of us in the Washington, D.C. area have become accustom to security forces rifling through our bags, computers and the like for entrance into any public place, including courthouses and ball games. It’s just a matter of life, these days. Yesterday, there were hundreds of us answering the cattle call from the district court. We had to walk through the metal detectors. You know the drill…open your bags, empty your pockets, remove your belt, turn on your computer-pda-cell phone.

As we came through the check-in, there were hundreds of us in line. We passed by signs in various languages directing those with cell phones that have cameras to turn them in to a sheriff’s deputy for safekeeping. No phones with cameras allowed. Period. So by the time anyone got up to the metal detector you have read the signs and there have been plenty of verbal instructions from the security team that phones with cameras must be turned in. The security team was also directing people who were not potential jurors that they may not need to be in the long line, but could use another, shorter entrance to get to court.

So let me set the stage – signs – about 3 x 5 feet big – were hanging in the hallway; deputies (2 – 3 at a time) were constantly giving verbal direction to us all of these instructions. However, you would have been amazed at how many people were “surprised” when they were turned back from the metal detector to the cell-phone station or had their phones confiscated because they didn’t read the signs about the limitations of camera phones. Were they illiterate? No, couldn’t be – otherwise how would they be there with the Juror Summons in their hands? Could they not understand the instructions because of a language barrier – not with what I could observe. Were they just tuning out anything that they had no interest in? Ahhh – that’s what it was. They weren’t paying attention.

The same is happening with those on the side lines of the real estate market.

Let me ask you something – as a buyer or seller are you doing the same thing when it comes to the state of the real estate market? Are you ignoring the signs that are there screaming that now is the time to buy?

Fact: The number of existing homes sold rose 0.4 percent nationally in November. (buyers are out there)

Fact: Month-to-Month prices have stabilized in most markets across the country. (Yes, they are down if you look year to year, but when you want to buy, you want to know when prices have hit bottom, not how much less they’re selling for than last year.)

Fact: Job growth continues (meaning more wealth)

Fact: Population is still growing (more need)

Fact: Interest rates are still at historic lows (cheap money)

Fact: Inventory is dropping steadily across the country (Houses are selling, sellers are taking them off the market, builders aren’t building as many houses)

Fact: Seller are providing buyers with closing costs so that buyers can move in with little or no money down (This is a temporary situation!)

Now let me ask the agents: Are YOU ignoring the signs? Do you see more buyers coming out to opens; more calls at the front desk; discussion coming up in social events…but are you armed to respond? Do you know the message? Do you know where you stand in your market? Can you answer immediately the condition of your individual market? Sales are down 11 percent for the year, but prices are at the same level? Can you say that? If not, you’re not the agent of change necessary to help buyers get the best deal they’re going to get in the next decade.

For more information on real estate investing, resources and news, check out my Commonsense Real Estate Blog at

1 comment:

Linda said...

Interesting article. Very insightful. Hopefully people start buying soon.

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