Real estate. Or is it un-real estate? Carson City, Reno, Dayton, Minden-Gardnerville, Fernley, Silver Springs - all areas with real estate values shot from an erect cannon aimed at the sky.
But wait! Is that sound of cannon thunder a boom? Or is it a bust?
Probably not a bust. But maybe not a boom. The question is, has the cannon fired its last shot?
There are those who say, "Yes." Some say, "No way." I wonder if the ones saying, "No way" are those who have piled most of their money in real estate?
Is it denial? Whatever it is, I hope it's not a bust. For that matter, I hope it's not even a small pop in the bubble.
People, like me, don't look at housing or land appreciation as simply making money on the investment. I'm not of that class who doesn't have to be concerned about just making a gain of some size. I've gotten screwed so many times on houses we've owned in the past that I want maximum dollar for the one we have now. What matters is how the money we may make on this house stacks up to the highest possible point of appreciation. Not just making a gain. I'm talking about a BIG gain! Jack 'n' the Beanstalk appreciation! Past the clouds.
For instance, in fictitious terms, if the house we bought three years ago cost $150,000, and reaches a high point of appreciation of, say, $300,000, that's what I expect to get. If by chance, we would actually get $225,000 for it, I would see it as a loss. If this were to be the case when we do sell, it's not that we would actually lose money. But I would see it as losing since its highest potential would not be realized in our sale. So it wouldn't be a matter of gaining $75,000; it would be a matter of losing $150,000. After all, it would be our once-in-a lifetime chance to make a few bucks on a home instead of getting screwed. Same thing goes for me with stocks.
I was talking with a friend (and client) of mine a few weeks ago. A real ace at real estate sales (a nice guy too). He mentioned a home in Carson City that he just recently listed that dropped $80,000 from the appraisal conducted only five weeks before. Grrrr went my stomach. I felt sick. A whole belly full of sick. He told me how tough it was to give the interested party the news. All of a sudden, he became the villain in their eyes - a carrier of a disease called "bad news." But it was the truth. A truth that could not be denied.
Then the conversation came up that the city's real estate prices have built a stone wall around the city, warding off the intentions of newcomers wanting to affordably live here. Now, as a newspaper publisher and a sound advocate of our community, I could rally a campaign that proclaims the need for real estate values to become more realistic. I could. But I'm not that stupid. Don't judge me by my picture. I'm really not that stupid. No way do I want the value of my home to go down. Not even a by $100.
People like me really can't be blamed for thinking that way. I'm not an estate lord.
When I look at the smallness of our "estate" versus the largeness of the cost of living, I may cry out, "Oh Lord!" but that's about it. Forget that I'm a publisher. I'm just an ordinary person who likes the idea of maybe seeing a small pot o' gold at the end of the real estate rainbow. For once.
The very thought that real estate appreciation has reached the top of the roller coaster track, paused, and are now on a downward rail makes me feel kinda ill. Very ill. You know ... Like what happens at the end of a wild roller coaster ride on an uneasy stomach. But in truth, our home is where we live. And our house is our home. When we moved here, we didn't buy a house as an investment. We never had before, so why would this be any different? I won't bore you with the amount of money we lost trying to sell our house in Maryland in a down market and during a down economy. But everybody has their own things to deal with. That part of life is inescapable. Life is a sum of many parts.
The sacrifices we make and balances we seek are requirements to make life comfortable. And they are entirely up to us. I mean, we chose to live here. No one told us to live here. And we love it. Very much so. This is our home now. But, man, do I hope the value on this house takes an escalator to Jupiter rather than a submersible vessel to the ocean floor.
- John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.