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Recovering From the Recession

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Three Categories

In the current economy, there are three types of wallets: those that are okay, those that are hurting, and those in despair. Even the wealthiest people I know right now aren’t wiping with c-notes anymore and some people that used to be in great shape are no longer going out to dinner. Recently, Linsey wrote here about the impermanence of any situation, especially wealth and today, Forbes released a list of the 10 cities most poorly poised for an economic recovery.

Below is a video of a Coldplay song and if you close your eyes and listen, imagine the faces of the newly homeless, of those selling their worldly possessions just to pay the electricity so their children don’t suffocate in the heat, imagine the areas of your hometown deteriorating as homes are boarded up, imagine someone a year before retirement walking into work to their desk packed up and a pink slip, imagine spouses divorcing because of the undue stress of finances, picture someone coming out of their office after work and their car being towed away and repossessed, imagine dogs becoming strays because owners can no longer afford to pay for their care and people resorting to crimes to feed their children.

We can do this

Our country is hurting right now and while it can’t compare to the desolation of third world nations abroad, it doesn’t mean our family, friends and even people reading and writing here aren’t hurting or crying as they sleep for a few hours before heading to their new second job. If you’re in the first category of “okay,” please take time to reach out to those in despair- we don’t need the government to do it for us, we can make it through this together.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Linsey

    June 15, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I had a conversation with a client today. We were talking about how in the initial stages of this economic change, people held tightly to their pride. Rarely did people speak of their own personal challenges with the changing economy.

    Then friends began to open up to one another and discovered they weren’t alone. Friends that were struggling no longer felt such shame in calling me to advise them about their home and discuss their financial struggles. The ego and pride took a backseat.

    It’s actually refreshing to see a reality check in Orange County where BMW’s, McMansions, and Chanel have abounded.

    And now, I can hardly find a family member or friend who remains untouched by the realities of this economy with layoffs, paycuts, delayed promotions… We are in it together.

    Great piece Lani!!

  2. Barry Cunningham

    June 16, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Lani,

    I understand your concern and compassion…BUT (isn’t there always a but) I believe firmly that it is up to an individual to do what is necessary to prosper. I firmly believe that there are tremendous opportunities for profit both in and out of the real estate industry and if one knows the roadmap to prosperity they will prevail.

    Reliance and dependence are cancerous. I noticed you started running ads…I applaud you. Too many fail to see opportunity and fewer know how to capture it.

    I believe that some have to lose. It’s a natural process. It separates those who know how to win from those who don’t.

    Why would you ask people to concentrate on the downtrodden and have people close their eyes to a sad song and imagine failure and despair.

    I say just the opposite. Put on a song that kicks you in the rear…something like Springsteen’s “Born In The USA”…or Gloria Gaynor’s “I will Survive”(actually the Cake version rocks!!!!)…or if you’re like me…something ..ANYTHING…from Leonard Cohen!!

    I’m a big advocate for natural selection. Some win and some lose, and it’s up to an individual to keep themselves on the winning side.

    I’m not cold or void of compassion but I doubt Kobe woke up this morning worrying about how Dwight Howard felt. Accordingly, while it is obvious there are many who aren’t in the greatest of situations right now…my focus is on making the most of my opportunities…not looking in the rear view mirror wondering who wrecked on turn 3.

    I’ll say a prayer and move forward. I hear Leonard Cohen singing that familiar refrain…Hallelujah!

  3. Linsey

    June 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Barry – I think your attitude is great in some ways. As an Ayn Rand fan, a lover of Atlas Shrugged, I get where you are coming from. However, I think it fails to take into account some of the complexities.

    For example, my father was laid off after being a leader in his company and his industry for 20 years. He’s 63 years old.

    You stated, ‘I believe that some have to lose. It’s a natural process. It separates those who know how to win from those who don’t.’

    My father has been ‘winning’, but certainly couldn’t have anticipated the far reaching nature of this. Financially, he’ll be fine, but he certainly didn’t have plans to retire at this age.

    Is this ‘natural selection’? Hardly. For so many that have lost their businesses, their livelihood, we aren’t talking about winners or losers here. These are friends, family, neighbors at all income levels and all social sectors of our economy.

    I think you’ve simplified it a bit too much Barry. Rocky’s Theme Song is playing in the background. Back to work.

  4. Lani Rosales

    June 16, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I support the theory of “survival of the fittest,” I do. I get the ups and downs of an economy, but my point in having people take pause was to offer a sign of solidarity for those in our midst who feel beaten down.

    Scolding businesses for failing is far different than scolding individuals for having to pay their spouse’s bills when cancer strikes or experiencing layoffs despite having a handicapped child- they didn’t make business choices that caused them to eat dirt, it was their circumstances.

    Regardless of condemnation, I ask people to take pause and reach out a helping hand because I don’t believe it’s the government who will get us out of this mess- it’s the people. If my neighbor is laid off, I’ll offer to make his next car payment and if my family member’s test results today indicate cancer, I’ll help with some of the groceries or some medical payments as money is tight for everyone.

    Barry, you’re number one, we get that- you’re fit, smart and savvy, but even you would agree that if someone you knew was hurting, they deserve help no matter how they got in the situation, because I believe that people are inherently generous and kind and good at their core, no matter if they agree or not on how this collapse came to be.

  5. Barry Cunningham

    June 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Linsey you leave me in a no win situation. As much as people think I am too harsh..I would never speak ill of one’s Dad. So I can not comment on your father’s predicament. I wish him well.

    There is no reason anyone should have lost their “businesses or their livelihood” in this economy. One must continually adapt to that around them and to look hard at forecasts and other indicative data.

    Let’s just look at the real estate industry. To this very day there are literally legions of real estate agents who don’t know how to properly educate a short sale, nor care to learn.

    There are legions of agents who don’t know how to use the Internet to enhance their business yet having ample support data and time to get their act togehter. For these people natural selcetion is MORE than appropriate. In fact the faster the herd thins out the better. The faster they evaporate from the industry the quicke its return to normalcy.

    I say don’t cry for them, cheer their exit! Why do I say this? Because they had no one to blame but themselves. It’s not the econmoy, it’s not the Sellers, it’s not the Buyers, it’s the agents themselves who have no idea how to compete in today’s market.

    So no, I don’t want to listen to Coldplay and think about them not being able to eat or pay bills. I had to adapt and learn and anyone else who is successful had to adapt and learn.

    I have compassion for those who were a true victim of circumstances, but I’m not shedding a tear for those who saw the Cat 5 hurricane looming off the coast and decided not to do something about it.

  6. Benn Rosales

    June 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Barry, from a business perspective, you, Lani and I, and Linsey probably agree- where there is competition, it really is survival of the fittest. I read your comment last night before bed and I couldn’t help but contemplate our two very different models. You’re about the product, where you make value plays probably on a daily basis, it’s how you survive, and those products are (right now anyway) likely a result of the economy we’re in. You took a situation, in a rough economy, and you made a success of it.

    Where we are on our side (even though we are dealing with a product) we’re often at the beginning of that same cycle, we’re often dealing with those that lost or could lose for whatever reason.

    When you hear this drumbeat every single day, this same sad story but a different face, it really is a killer to the heart. I know where Lani was going with this post and that song, but if you read these lyrics, it’s not a sad song at all, it’s not a losers song, it’s where you are when you realize I’ll live, learn, and survive, I’m not lost.

    I don’t think you’re a monster for your comment, in fact, I just snatched a copy of Talking Heads greatest hits, it isn’t a Springsteen, but it does jazz me- rock on.

    Coldplay – Lost Lyrics

    Just because I’m losing
    Doesn’t mean I’m lost
    Doesn’t mean I’ll stop
    Doesn’t mean I will cross

    Just because I’m hurting
    Doesn’t mean I’m hurt
    Doesn’t mean I didn’t get what I deserve
    No better and no worse

    I just got lost
    Every river that I’ve tried to cross
    And every door I ever tried was locked
    Ooh-Oh, And I’m just waiting till the shine wears off…

    You might be a big fish
    In a little pond
    Doesn’t mean you’ve won
    ‘Cause along may come
    A bigger one
    And you’ll be lost

    Every river that you tried to cross
    Every gun you ever held went off
    Ooh-Oh, And I’m just waiting till the firing starts
    Ooh-Oh, And I’m just waiting till the shine wears off
    Ooh-Oh, And I’m just waiting till the shine wears off
    Ooh-Oh, And I’m just waiting till the shine wears off…

    ————————

    I think even coldplay agrees with you .

  7. Barry Cunningham

    June 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hey Lani..I’m far from fit..too much credit there…need to shed about 50 lbs but I’ll keep trying…nonetheless, I have helped many and would continue to do so. However, what do you consider to be help?

    Giving someone a buck at the traffic light so they can be back at the liquor store in a minute buying a 40 oz, or telling the guy to jump in the back of the truck and go mow the lawn on my rental so he can EARN his way out of his problem?

    I agree with you, standing in line for the government handout is prepsoterous. Just as preposterous as paying someone’s car payment is.

    I look deeper when I help My question is what can I do to help you get through this so you’ll never have to go through it again? Let’s analyze that and come up with a plan. That’s true help!

    Hey Ms Agent, I see you are having a tough go at it, let’s help you get back on your feet. Much more than buying you groceries, let’s look at why you can’t buy them yourself and figure out THAT solution because THAT is truly the problem that needs to be fixed.

    If I simply give you money, you’ll be back in 30 days if we don’t fix the real problem!

    I feel that’s how one helps. And yes, that’s how I offer help and funny thing…here’s what usually happens.

    A. the problem gets fixed and they return to some degree of normalcy; or

    B. they really don’t want to put forth the effort to change and just want the handout

    So my question to you is this….you offer and other contributors here offer coaching…why don’t you guys offer free coaching to some down and trodden agents and help them learn how to be better fishermen so you don’t have to hand out fish?

    Then you’ll see for yourself what exactly I mean. The ones who truly want help will salivate for the opportunity to change their situation while the others will simply end up as victims of a much needed natural selection.

  8. Barry Cunningham

    June 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Benn…you are right. I HAVE to make constant value plays. In fact, as you will soon see, we’re making a HUGE value play base dupon the data we see before us and by looking at various economic indicators…it is going to be quite bold but something we must do in order not to be a part of the same natural selection I speak of. One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is the flexibility you are afforded and the immediate implementation of new ideas that would take larger companies possibly years to make happen.

    What I write I actually do. I can’t look at what exit I am on as I travel, I have to keep my eyes open on where the road is going and what lies up ahead. Sorry to be so metaphorical but doing so has allowed me to prosper and survive. I went through a real bad time in my life when my first marriage crumbled 20 years ago. I thought it was the end, asked everyone for help but my life didn’t change until I made the necessary changes.

    I understand that Lani feels for her friends. She wouldn’t be human if she didn’t. But business isn’t all roses and all I am saying is that as unfortunately painful as it is..some do have to lose.

    I remember playing a football game championship in college and losing and one of my teammates was absolutey crushed because he fumbled. A reporter was standing a few feet away snapping pictures of my friend and teammate who was in inconsoleable tears. I rushed the reporter in all my hulking steroided rage and was ready to rip his face off when he looked at me and simply said, “losing is part of the game”.

    Some 30 years later that statement chills me now as much as it stopped me in my tracks then. As horrible as it is, as painful of a reality it may be, losing IS part of the game.

    The difference is who is going to lose and stay a loser and who is going to dust themslves off and come back stronger next week?

    By the way…sorry I didn’t listen to the Coldplay song. Hey Benn…”you know I know you’re….” LOL!!

  9. Benn Rosales

    June 16, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    “One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is the flexibility you are afforded and the immediate implementation of new ideas”

    Dood since when did you start speaking ‘bennese?’ Looking forward to what you’re up to.

  10. Barry Cunningham

    June 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    “Bennese”..lol…if that’s the name of this language then that’s what I’m speaking. That’s why we have been so quiet lately. I’ll drop you an email when we launch next week

  11. Barry Cunningham

    June 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Hey benn…the move’s been made. You told me to let you know…Cya!

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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