As I work with clients on a regular basis, it is very easy to get caught up in the crisis of the moment but a couple of experiences I have had recently put most of it in perspective. We as a Americans, have viewed the recent economy as a major obstacle in our lives. Many of us, including me, have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and pushed our retirement well into the future. Despite this, I think it is a good idea to put these obstacles into historical perspective. How many of you remember the stories of our parents about how hard they had things and probably downplayed it in our minds. They were right! Despite the recent financial difficulties experienced by this generation, most of us really have not had it that hard (even though it seems hopeless when you lose a job or take a pay cut), I will share just a few of the hardships my parents survived. My father survived the Great Depression and was severely injured in World War II. Once he healed, I don’t think he missed more than 10 days of work from 1947 to now more than 66 years. My mom picked cotton in the west and east valley and was living in a tent in South Avondale (formerly Coldwater) when the river flooded the entire area near Dysart and Buckeye Rd.
They both felt the trials and benefits of emerging medicine. My mom lost her sister to diphtheria (unheard of now) to a kill or cure inoculation while my dad survived his injuries primarily due to the introduction of penicillin.
From all that trepidation, they kept trying, kept pursuing the American dream. It is very easy to lose sight of that American dream when the economy is poor, the housing market is fluctuating all over the place, jobs are hard or impossible to find and the news is littered with violence and depravity but that dream is still very much alive. Hard work and perseverance still payoff in our society and it is important not to take our society as rough as it may be for granted.
I spent a week recently living on a ranch in Mexico where is was 60 miles of dirt road to gas, medical attention, and a refrigerator where power was only available for 4 hours a day. Meat was preserved by making jerky out of it on a clothes line and the dogs sole function was to work cows and most travel was accomplished by horseback. This may seem like an extraordinarily hard life but the cowboys were happy and cheerful and greeted each day with a positive outlook. Not the life most Americans would design but although they lacked many modern conveniences, they didn't dwell on how hard their life was.
The second recent experience that helped put things in perspective was the reaction the audience had to the movie “Lone Survivor”.
Now you may or may not agree with our presence in this war or the reasons and politics behind it, but at the conclusion of the movie, a very unique thing happened in the audience when during the credits, biographies of the fallen were displayed along with actual pictures of them and their families. First the audience did not leave during the credits and then slowly but surely applause began to grow for the fallen members of military. Now, after thinking about this phenomenon, it may be because the people that choose to go see that movie tend to be more supportive of that cause and the military in general but not a single person left the theatre until all of the bios of the fallen had been displayed. This was very inspiring (more than the movie) and demonstrates that the American Way of hard work, sacrifice and service to others is still very much alive and well.. It truly was an unexpected result of the movie.
You may ask yourself, “What does this have to do with buying and selling real estate?” I believe that a very important part of the decision to own a home is the belief in the American Dream. Some of our society’s confidence in that Dream have been eroded by the financial disasters of recent years. I believe we are on the path to a continued rebound in our market but right now, the market is in flux. It is a great time to sell a home or buy a home. Those two time rarely coincide with each other. Markets are way up from even a year ago but not so out of sight that a first time or repeat buyer cannot afford to purchase. Although, my short term prediction is that the market is undecided, the long term prediction is a return to normal and steady appreciation in perfect alignment with the American Dream!