"I've got a guest pass for you," my friend Carol emailed me. "join me at my hip-hop class this evening. It starts at 6:00 and I'll meet you there a few minutes before we begin."
I had become fast friends with Carol after helping her and her husband, Larry, sell their Piedmont home last year. Both now retired, Larry plays competitive tennis on the senior circuit and Carol is learning Spanish, skis regularly, practices yoga, takes pilates, and dances! (I want Carol's life - she's a woman after my own heart.)
Digging out my sweats and dusty jazz shoes, I headed over to the Oakland Hills Tennis Club and decided to give it a try. Sure, it had been more than 25 years since my last real dance class, but if Carol could do it, why couldn't I?
"One, two and three and four, tap, tap, jump and clap!" our perky dance instructor shouted out. "Pivot, pivot, step-ball-change, turn, touch, turn, kick!" I took a position at the BACK of the room and tried to follow the other 15 women and the two brave men who compromise the class as they gleefully gyrated through the routines - each one more difficult than the last. With respect to "hip-hop," I was quickly coming to the realization that I was more "hop" than "hip" (an observation my boys have long held, much to my dismay).
Over the last few years, the real estate market has become decidedly, less "hip" as well - as buyers "hop" from one home to the next, while tentatively remaining on the sidelines - in spite of incredibly favorable interest rates, rising affordability indexes and improving economic indicators that should be spurring them comfortably forward; a mystery many REALTORS are struggling to comprehend (including me.) Isn't this the market you BUYERS have been waiting for ???
Listening to an interview on NPR last week, a financial expert (and now author of a best-selling book about investing) explained the disconcerting, but all too human, disconnect. "We all know the old adage, 'buy low and sell high,' he said. "But in practice, market trends record exactly the opposite, time and time again!"
He went on to explain (now I'm paraphrasing) that when markets are strong - indicating high consumer confidence - money pours in. When markets are in decline - indicating low consumer confidence - money flows out. As a result, almost ALL investors (whether it's stocks, real estate or some other form of investment) buy HIGH and sell LOW! (Ah, that makes sense - if not good "cents.")
Although counter intuitive, investors tend to chase the market as opposed to taking advantage of it, while waiting for others to jump in first and validate their choices.When emotions, instead of facts, run our decisions, the outcome is decidedly more "hop" than "hip."
"And five and six and seven and eight, shoulder, shoulder, hip, hip!" Okay, I was starting to get it (at least, I was no longer bumping into the other women in class). With some more practice, I might just be able to figure this out as long as I kept moving in time with the beat.
I have confidence that you'll figure it out as well. Just don't wait too long. Today's opportunities are actually very "hip!" (I'd hate for you to miss out.)
"And one and two and three and four. . ."
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.