It occurs to me, that in terms of the housing market, today is a day to celebrate! For today is June 30, last day of the first half of 2008.
Oh yes, you should have heard all the experts in the last six weeks of 2007, the economists, the analysts, the consultants to the home builders, peering into their crystal balls about the new year. They said 2008 would be difficult, a time of falling home values and rising foreclosures, a time when the much-wished-for bottom would remain elusive.
They said the first half would be the worst.
After the first half things might - repeat, might - start to show some signs of improvement.
Even the third quarter might be bad, but it was always possible that during the second half of 2008 we might start to see that the worst was behind us now.
So today let us bid farewell to the first half of 2008! It was a bell ringer, all right.
Out in the suburbs we all saw our home values fall like no tomorrow. During the first half we we endured not one, but two discouraging free falls in the stock market - and who knows what today will bring. We saw the bailout of Bear Stearns. Foreclosures reached historic highs with no signs of peaking. Banks and lenders grabbed a 51 percent market share of home sales in the capital region. Builders laid off more staff and several went into bankruptcy.
Of course, that's only bad news to people who own or are selling houses. The first half of 2008 proved a party for buyers. Investors rushed back in. First-timers found deals. Year over year sales finally rose again in the region for the first time in three years. And there are some who believe we're already at some kind of bottom here in terms of sales.
No one know what the future holds. But the immediate past was just as the experts, analysts and consultants predicted. I say put out the champagne. We've arrived at the end, just hours away now. The first half is history!
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