Monday, June 21, 2010

This IS the new normal.

I have seen the future and the future is here. Welcome to uncertainty! In my travels I hear various expert speakers as well as friends and neighbors talk about "when things get back to normal". I have to admit I used to think along these lines too but I have come to the realization that we are living in the new version of what we will look back on as normal. Normal is all about expectations.

When I look back over the last decade I see historically low unemployment, low interest rates and a zooming real estate industry. Was that really what we should expect as normal going forward? There will always be pockets and places with local distinctions that deviate from the majority. What is normal for these isolated places is not what we collectively know as normal.
In the 70's Alaska had the pipeline and jobs were plentiful when most of the lower 48 did not experience such abundance.

The point here is not to sound gloomy and say this is as good as it is going to get. The point is rather to understand there is no point in waiting to be happy. The future is here and we must learn to live with it. While unemployment is higher than I can ever remember there is still opportunity, we just need to keep our eyes open so that we recognize it when it appears. Most everywhere I look real estate is experiencing a price "reset" that will shape the future. An overpriced retail center near where I live was recently sold at a price where it can be rented at rates a start-up business can afford. While the reset for the previous owner was no doubt a terrible experience, the flip side is now there is opportunity to rent the commercial space at affordable rates to sustainable businesses.

In an ideal market system there would be no losers, just winners and future winners. In a balanced market there would be a winner for every loser. In our current market, it appears as though we have multiple losers for every winner. The borrower loses, the lender loses and maybe even the new owner loses if they have not done their homework or are just plain not lucky enough to time the market just right. I get that. And that part is not what we have come to know as normal, but it is the new normal for the next few years. Part of what is so annoying about this time we are living in is the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. When you are stuck in a rut at least you know that tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today. What is so scary right now is we don't know if tomorrow will be better or worse than today.

In my business I work very hard to be good at what I do and give the best advice to my clients. I am grateful for the work I have but I will be honest with you, we could do so much more. I like to control my own destiny but in today's environment I have zero control. I cannot make someone want to use our services. The only thing I can control is me. While we are adjusting to this new period of normal, let's all try to keep the important things in mind namely our family and friends. We will all get through this together. Just maybe together we can create a new normal over time that gives us the predictability we crave so much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hm... Today's world is so impossible to predict. who knows.. I mean literally...