I love this time of year. No, I’m not talking about the sights and sounds of the season. That would be too obvious. What I’m referring to the seemingly endless stream of self-proclaimed prophets, prognosticators and analysts taking their look back at what happened in 2011 and forecasting what to expect going forward to 2012. Anybody and everybody with a keyboard and a few minutes to kill are using their airwaves and blogways to spout their “two-cents-worth” on whatever hot topic is blowing in the wind that day. What do they have to lose? They won’t be proven wrong for at least a few months, and by then, who’ll even remember? Or care?
For anyone hoping that this blog would be another one of those, you are out of luck. (What I probably hear are cheers coming from the peanut gallery.) Rest assured that trying to figure out the past and future of the real estate world is one pool into which I will not dip my toe. I have enough trouble figuring out what’s going on right now to even fake having a clue as to what will happen in the future.
Progress Measured In Inches Not Miles
Here is what I will say…. The past year in the real estate world seems to have been one long see-saw of starts and stops… one-step-forward, and two-steps-back… a CMBS issuance here and a foreclosure there. A few nice deals got done along the way, as did a bunch of bank failures. Every conference I attended had a lot of folks smiling and talking about the “great energy” that they were feeling, but the bottom line was that very little actually got added to the bottom line. Oh, there is definitely movement forward but the growth seems to be being measured in inches, rather than feet or miles.
As for the future, the real question keeping everyone stuck in limbo is the political landscape ahead. While trying to get a feeling for the future of the real estate market is hard enough, it’s darn near impossible when it’s indelibly tied to what is happening in the political arena. Many of the folks I’ve been speaking to are in a wait-and-see mode (or is it a deer-in-the-headlights look?), knowing that whichever way the presidential and congressional pendulum swings over the next year will cause markets to rise and fall with them. Until there is some direction as to what support, and more importantly, what barriers, Washington will add to the real estate arena, this general stagnation is bound to continue. (There… you just got a prediction.)
I have a feeling that a year from now, we’ll all be sitting here and much will look the same in terms of the mood and ups and downs of the market. If not, hey, no problem. Nobody will remember that I wrote this anyway.