Finding The Silver Lining In A Climate Of Fear

Best-selling author Jane Bryant Quinn, who is also the financial columnist for Newsweek and Bloomberg.com, hit the nail squarely on the head the other night when she described in an evening news segment what smart investors should (and should not) do when markets turn sour amid tumultuous times in their cycles. In the segment, Ms. Quinn was speaking to the climate of fear that has been all but thumpingly palpable following the huge drop in stock prices that has plagued Wall Street in recent weeks.

“What worries me,” Quinn said, “is that there will be a tendency, as people get scared, to do exactly the wrong thing; to pull out just when the bargains are there and to go back in when buoyancy is at its height.” In other words, Quinn was trumpeting the golden rule of prudent investing that advises would-be Warren Buffets to buy low and sell high; while puzzling at those investors who pull out of the market during sell-offs and then sit idle, waiting for re-escalating prices to confirm that stocks are worth buying again. By then, of course, they’ve handicapped their ability to score the best possible return on their investment.

On the news program, Quinn was speaking to the present-day realities of a depressed stock market and the fear that prevents many people from exploiting moments exactly like this in order to make the shrewdest possible investments. What was striking about her words is that she could just as easily have been addressing the fear and paralysis that have prevented so many qualified homebuyers from taking advantage of the incredible values that exist in today’s real estate market. Bolstering her point in an analogy that anyone could relate to, Quinn went on to say: “If a winter coat was on sale somewhere at 15 percent off, you’d flock to the store and buy it. And you’d think you had a great deal.”

Real estate in Sarasota-Bradenton is in the midst of just such a sale. While no one can say for sure whether we’ve experienced the absolute final mark-down, by most accounts we already have—or will—within the first six months of 2008.

Despite all of the debate raging as to whether we’ve hit bottom—or not—hindsight is the only way to know for sure. By which time the lowest prices will have already disappeared into the rearview mirror. We much prefer the kind of foresight that Quinn believes separates shrewd investors from “wannabes.” If you can comfortably invest over the long term—three years or more—there’s never been a better time than right now to buy low on a home in Southwest Florida.

John Tucillo, once the Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, has plenty of experience translating hindsight gathered from past real estate corrections into educated foresight about what is likely happen next in this one. To an assembled group of local Realtors, Tuccillo had this to say: “Florida has led the nation in recession and should be coming out sooner than the rest of the country. And while migration into the state is down, it still is a significant factor. People will still come to Florida with a demand for jobs and housing. The present overbuilding will be taken off the market.”

For our part, we just love what Tucillo had to say when one of them asked if Sarasota would ever bounce back from its present-day slump. In words that echo how we’ve answered the same question amid every real estate correction of the past 30 years, Tucillo replied. “Stand up. Turn around and look outside. There’s your answer. Of course Sarasota will come back.”


  • User Gravatar Ron Holland
    February 11th, 2008

    I believe Merrill Lynch is correct about the arrival of recession in the United States. The housing downturn is negatively impacting property sales in second home communities in Florida. This is also slowing sales in NC mountain resorts that depend on Florida buyers.

    Still the downturn in prices and building of inventories is starting to attract second home buyers from Florida looking for cool temperatures in our mountains. Also the dramatic decline in the dollar combined with weakness in American real estate markets are beginning to interest some bargain hunting European investors.

    Ron Holland, Broker/Realtor with Wolf’s Crossing Realty. See http://www.ronaldholland.com Ron markets resale mountain and ski resort properties in NC in Wolf Laurel and The Preserve at Wolf Laurel.

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