Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cash Flow

"So everyone's clients have the same wish list," I puzzled, sitting around a table with a handful of real estate agents, as each ticked off buyer profiles and pursuits, or listing details, between dice rolls of the investment board game Cash Flow.
"Family of four seeking a 3+2 in Culver City for $600K; Single guy looking in Hancock Park up to two mill; a couple with 400 to spend, trying to stay North of Sunset or North of Venice, or West of Centinela, coveting at least 2000 square feet."

"Hey you're the niche guy," they responded, "what've you got, buyer wants old house with septic tank and original sanitary tissue?"
"A mix," I responded dryly, "What I see is a big divide in strategy. Some buyers (mainly yours) are trying to stretch, throwing every last penny at what they consider to be the very best neighborhood, holding out for the collapse of West Los Angeles prices, confused that a lower median doesn't translate to give-a-ways on Lookout Mountain."
"As opposed to what," they challenged.
"Well, I've a few clients who are moving down or downsizing, selling large houses for smaller ones, leaving A neighborhoods for B neighborhoods. Pursuing fail-safe strategies. Let's be honest, if prices in Castellmare or wherever hit $800,000 or whatever, then the larger economy is wrecked, in a post Katrina kind of way.
"So do you think people shouldn't buy then," came the edgy retort.
"No," I responded honestly and reassuringly, "I think for many it's a great time to buy, but nobody's invulnerable, and the myth of recession proof neighborhoods is proving to be just that. Values aren't built from the top down, they're built from the bottom up."
"So what's your point muckraker?"
"I'm not sure it's intellectually prudent to root for chaos, yet assume personal stasis. That's my point. Now pass the dice."



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