I'm beginning to realize that the people of Bend, en masse really don't know what's about to hit them. What's sad is that we've had plenty of fair warning.
I thought for a long time that the real estate people were just using cynical ploys to squeeze one last bit of money out of the unwary. But I really think they believe what's happening in California and Florida isn't going to happen to us. The real news is in the paper every day, underneath the cheery headlines and booster features. Fair warning.
California has been having big troubles for a couple of years now, Florida troubles have been going on for a year, and maybe six months in Arizona. If we want to know what's going to happen to us, we need merely look at the Housing Bubble Blog and read what's happening in those states. Fair warning.
We really seem to believe it isn't going to happen to us, and we pick up any crumb or morsel of good news. We may possibly even get a bit of a dead cat bounce this spring. These little extinction bursts aren't a reason to dive in, but a fair warning.
One last, final chance to get prepared.
What I think I'm seeing is a negotiation phase -- in the sense that most of Bend business seem to believe they can talk the situation away. They can scare away the downturn with smoke and loud noises and sticking their fingers in their ears and closing their eyes tight, and repeating, nahahnhahnahanhahahanahahah. I had a good month in sales in February, but I don't take that as a sign that things are improving. I think that may have been one final burst of good business. Fair warning.
Reality is a rude bastard. He just comes up and slaps you in the face. He's just busy slapping other people first.
Downtown Bend is still in denial, and restaurants and stores are still going up in the Old Mill, and those places, but these are just latecomers to a dying party. But it seems like every time I drive home on Greenwood, yet another location goes up for sale or lease. Fair warning.
This happens in my business all the time, the central strong stores don't feel a thing and scoff at the smaller, less strong stores when they begin to struggle. Instead of seeing it as a warning, they see it as a sign of their superiority. But it's fair warning, as if the water is drying up on the edge of the pond. The big frogs just keep on partying. Fair warning.
I don't look to Portland and Seattle or the midwest, or the northeast, of even most of the country to see parallels to Bend. I look for places that saw the same sort of run up in prices, like California, the same sort of 'we're special' attitudes like Florida and Arizona, the same sort of overbuilding. We're lucky that it's happening to them first, because it gives us....fair warning.
Last spring I mentioned that there was still a period of grace. Sell your house now, don't be too demanding, and you might just get away with it. This spring, I'd say get your affairs in order, because by this time next year, there won't be much you can do. Fair warning.
Hey, if I'm wrong, you've squared yourself away for the next upswing. But if I'm right, you may just survive.
When I write one of these dire entries, I always feel like I need to add: I wouldn't mind in the slightest if I'm wrong. My pride can take it, and my pocketbook would love it. But fair warning means taking an extra coat; you can always take it off if it doesn't snow.
4 days ago