Saturday, February 18, 2012

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me

I’ve always wanted to find a one-handed lawyer.  Not that I want a lawyer with only one-arm.  But whenever I ask my lawyer a question he answers me by saying, “well, Dane…on the one hand you could do this, and then on the other hand you could do that.”  I think if he only had one hand, I might get a straight answer.

And so it is that I find myself mimicking my lawyer, saying that on the one hand, the bad real estate market seems to be over. At least in Englewood and environs, the inventory of resale homes is shrinking and the inventory of new homes is growing. All the while rates are still low (albeit mortgages are hard to qualify for just now). 

While on the other hand prices remain low, lower, lowest.  And so while this is awful news for sellers—with no certain date of a recovery, it could not be better news for investors and new residents in the area, who are picking up nice homes for a song and finding honest to goodness mansions for something less than a symphony.

A great friend who is about to retire called the other day asking me to send her listings of homes for sale on a golf course, with a pool, for under $400,000.  She is a Realtor from Maine, wanting to retire here, and so she honestly understands residence value.  And so you will smile to hear that there are dozens of homes that would fulfill her list of “must-have” needs, but most are closer to $250,000 than to $400,000.  I told her, “on the one hand there are lots of homes you will like, but on the other hand you may not have to go all the way up to $400K.”

A new client of mine wants a house with every bell and whistle.  Saltwaterfront with a dock, plus a pool, plus high ceilings, plus granite, plus multiple garage stalls, plus, plus, plus.  The houses I first found all seemed to lack one or more of his “touchstones”.  Then I found among the expired batch of homes in the “once for sale for almost $2 million” group, one that looks now like it will be perfect for him and his family--and is for sale by a bank for about one fourth of the original asking.  So on the one hand these special houses are out there, but on the other hand, they’re hard to find.

In the good news column, I closed on two houses one day last week.  It seemed like old times again.  I had almost forgotten the excitement of bringing two contracts to the table the same day.  And since that day last week it has occurred to me that Richard Farina’s book title; Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up To Me. Applies to most of us in the real estate business.  To wit: any good news just seems spectacular, while bad news is expected.  Nonetheless, I am hearing more good news than bad right now, and hoping that the marginally good news regarding a general increase in employment will continue to boost the real estate market. 

On a sad note, Richard Farina, the author of Been Down So Long…never lived to experience his own wild literary success;  he fell off the back of a motorcycle on the way home from the publication party for this book, and was killed instantly.  So on the one hand, his life was just getting good, and on the other—well you get it.

Dane Hahn is a real estate professional practicing in Englewood, Florida.  You can reach him at or by phone at 941-681-0312.  See him on the web at

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