Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Waiting For.........What?

Narma Delores Mayfield

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I read Waiting For Godot, a play by Samuel Becket. The play is the story of two old mean awaiting the arrival of a mutual acquaintance who never appears. The old men hardly know this person, Godot, and admit that they would not recognize him even if they saw him. One of the continuing threads of the play is the idea that “nothing” is a thing that has to be done and the characters will spend the remainder of the play doing just that – while they await Godot.
There are three themes in the play that I find intriguing: waiting, lack of recognition, and doing nothing. The following is a brief discussion of the three themes as they relate to the real estate industry in today’s market. Certainly, I will relate these three to my recent experiences in the industry.
As a real estate agent and mortgage broker, I have had the opportunity to speak with many people in many areas of the real estate market: real estate professionals (title companies, loan processors, sales agents, loan brokers, lenders, buyers, and sellers). Their perspectives on the market have varied. Some, professionals, buyers, and sellers, have dropped out of the real estate and mortgage market. Some professionals have augmented their real estate income, or lack thereof, with income from outside the industry. Sellers have taken their properties off the market, after lowering their asking prices unbearably, homeowners have walked away from homes they cannot pay for, and buyers have put a hold on buying. Most are admittedly waiting – and doing nothing while they wait.
Waiting for what? They are waiting for the market to change. They are waiting for prices to bottom out. They are waiting for the best interest rates. They are waiting for the ‘right deal.’ Sellers - who still have the option to sell – are waiting for the right offer. Many, who have held their homes for a long time, are experiencing a reversal no one ever expected would happen in real estate: property values, instead of appreciating, are decreasing. Others who may not have had their properties quite so long, but who paid a competitive price for them in the previous market, are finding that they now owe more on their properties than the property is currently worth. Who ever heard of properties going upside down?
This market is, in some ways, like Godot. It is unknown, unfamiliar. Prices are dropping, but for how long? Interest rates are creeping down, but at what unforeseen consequence? The market is glutted with unwanted properties, but builders are still building new homes in some areas. The media paint horror stories, warning potential buyers to proceed with caution while industry people say ‘now is the time to buy, the potential for great deals has never been better.
Still they wait. Like the two old men waiting for Godot, potential buyers await the magic moment when the ‘good deal’ they want will arrive. In the meantime, they actively ‘do nothing.’ There are a couple questions that need to be addressed, however. 1. What does that ‘good deal’ look like? 2. How/Will the buyer recognize the ‘good deal’ when it finally comes along? I don’t know, but it seems to me that deals in any market are not the result of ‘doing nothing.’ In fact, they are structured through negotiation between the principals – the buyer and her agent and the seller and his. It seems to me that most deals don’t just arrive on the scene. There is work for all to do that must be done. It has always been my experience that the potential for a ‘good deal’ may be staring a person in the face, but if that person does not rise to the occasion and take some action, there is no ‘good deal.’
It would seem to me that, like the old men waiting for Godot, the potential buyers waiting for a ‘good deal’ would take some preliminary action. The old men needed to at least know what Godot looked like in order to know if and when he arrived. He might have arrived and gone unnoticed because they had no idea what he looked like. The same is true with ‘good deals’ in real estate – or for that matter, any other market. If a buyer doesn’t know what she is looking for, how can she know when she has found it? If she hasn’t taken some preliminary steps – identifying a real estate agent and mortgage broker with whom she can work; determining how much house she can buy or how much she can invest; gotten pre-approved for a loan or finding out what she needs to do in order to get pre-approved – and do it – before beginning the search for property, at the least, it’s unlikely she will be able to take advantage of a ‘good deal’ if one should come her way.
At the end of the play, Godot still had not arrived, though the old men did pass the time in conversation that may have been thought provoking for a viewer, doing nothing. Who knows, perhaps that was all the old men really wanted; but for those waiting for a ‘good deal,’ unless the wait is all they really want, there is a need to be proactive, to do something. In that way, at the end of the day, they may be able to say that they achieved their objectives. If you are looking for a ‘good deal,’ are a first time home buyer or investor, I specialize in discounted, bank-owned properties, 100% risk free! Please call me if I can be of any assistance. You can contact me at 510/638.6600, by cell at@ 408/439.0723, or by email @