Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Catch a Falling Knife

Falling Los Angeles home prices During the past year, the world has been upended by the financial crisis. Call it shock, awe, whatever you like, from every vantage point it's been a gut-wrenching time.

2008 was a year marked by declining property values, increases in "bid-ask" spreads (the chasm between sellers' and buyers' pricing of properties growing ever wider), the flooding of the market with bank-owned properties and short sales, and the dwindling of loan money directed at consumers.

Whether a buyer or a seller; a broker or a developer; in the residential or commercial sectors -- flux and uncertainty prevailed. The 'irrational exuberance' of the bubble era has been replaced by irrational pessimism which seems to know no bottom.

With 'creative destruction' running rampant throughout the economy, turbulence will continue for the foreseeable future.

But one day, this, too, shall pass. An end will come to this economic free fall. We will wake up to rising real estate values, increases in employment, and restaurants and retail spaces that are filled (the ones that survive, that is).

This 'buyer's market' will inevitably be superseded by a 'seller's market', with bidding wars and irrational optimism. From the current wreckage will emerge opportunities. One party's loss will contribute to another party's gain. While wealth is being destroyed, the seeds of tomorrow's equity are being created. The contrarians, who see the hope of tomorrow from the bleakness of today, will be the ones who will be rewarded.

So, think quickly, act decisively, keep yourself attuned to the upside, not the downside. Incredible opportunities present themselves every day (to those who aren't faint-hearted). Catch the falling knife.

Jamie Adner