Property Grunt

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oh Maria, full of Grace

Get it together Hunt Honey.

Dear Maria,

This morning on the Today show you were interviewed about the huge housing crisis that is now impacting Wall Street. When Matt Lauer inquired about what buyers are sellers should do, you rattled off the following response.

Well the first thing is that you have to make sure you can afford a home. When in fact when you want to buy a home. But y’know Matt I always come out on the side that you don’t want to time this market when you buy a home, sure if you find a home and you love a home and, and, and, you find your dream house you want to be doing that, you want to make sure you can afford it and not look at this unrealistically, if it looks unrealistic no money down, no interest for several months, it probably is but you don’t want to time this market, when buying or selling a home, this is an investment you make for a long time, if you find something you love you want to be buying it at this point. Don’t time the housing market.

When I first heard you say these words, my initial reaction was “What the hell has she been smoking?” and then my next thought was “Whatever it is she better stop soon.”

I want to get something very clear. I think very highly of you. Not only because of your beauty but the fact that you fought your way through the mean streets of Brooklyn to get where you are. No matter how many Jimmy Choo shoes you collect and no matter how many Prada suits you acquire, you will always be considered a girl from the neighborhood. So whether you believe it or not. I am going to be restraining myself.

That being said, I believe that a refresher course in real estate is in order. That closing statement of yours reeked of ignorance and was just about as convincing as Lindsay Lohan’s being sober in Vegas.

I noticed two main themes in your response to Matt Lauer. The first is timing. You repeated constantly like a rabid hyena going through withdrawal that the public should not time this market.

Timing plays a key role not only in real estate but also in finance in general. For example, remember those dot com millionaires? They managed to get stock options and when their dot coms went public, everybody became rich. The smart ones cashed out at the height of the market realizing the timing was right and there was no place to go but down. If they took your advice and not time the market, they would be surviving on bologna from a 99 cents store and fighting for a share in a rent stabilized one bedroom in Rego Park.

Like all markets, the real estate market is cyclical and it is broken down into the following phases consisting of Recovery, Expansion, Balance and Decline.

We are now in the declining phase, which is the worst time or best time to buy real estate depending on who you are. If you are looking for a first home with your spouse it might be best to wait it out for the market to stabilize in order to find a good deal. If you are a real estate investor or a real estate developer, you might be throwing wads of cash at distressed markets and take advantage of the situation before your competitors jump in. Or you may wait it out until it bottoms out in order to get the best value for their money. But for both parties, it is critical to be aware of the state of the market.

The second theme that I noticed in your statement was love. You encouraged the viewers that if they were in love with a home that they should buy it, albeit you warned them not to be unrealistic with their financing. However, you still rallied them to let their emotions guide them rather than their financial statements.

Do the words Irrational Exuberance mean anything to you? This is the type of emotional hijacking that got us into this mess in the first place. People weren’t doing the numbers and they did not or did not want to understand the downside of their actions. And now they are suffering the consequences. And yet here you are still pontificating this irrational exuberance to the masses.

Maria, I empathize that you are doing your job. As a news producer you have to either stir things up or tone them down. I respect that. But I can’t let what said on the Today Show pass.

I know that you, like your financial brethren, are scared. You just got out of a recession and things were starting to get better. The stock market was becoming sexy again and now you are back to the days of the dot com meltdown where people treated the stock market as a pariah. It is as if the economy turned into a Britney Spears photo shoot for OK magazine.

Now is not the time to put our heads in the sand. What we need to do is take stock in what we have and what we have lost. We have to figure out a new game plan to get ourselves out of this mess. Simply following our hearts will not help. It will require spreadsheets, P&L statements and jettisoning of anything that is a financial drain on our lives.

Maria, please stop preaching the party line. Everyone knows how this movie ends and making contradicting statements and batting your eyelashes won’t change a thing. You need to alert the masses of what how dire the situation is, you need to get them ready for the storm that is consuming this market. You need to get people off the beach before the Tsunami hits.