Rockland Real Estate Perspective

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Life Doesn't Stop for a Slow Economy

My grandmother came of age in Elmira, New York during the Great Depression. Frugality was a cornerstone of her life; a habit that remained after the scarcity of those tough years was long behind them.

As a child in the 1970s, I thought my grandmother's economies were hilarious. Why would she wash a piece of aluminum foil to save it for another use? There was more foil just in the cupboard!

Now an adult with two kids to feed, clothe and educate, I'm facing the specter of an economic depression that could be as severe as the depression of my grandmother's girlhood. From where I sit now, Mamie seems incredibly savvy.

As a real estate agent working in Rockland County, NY, I've watched the number of sales of single-family homes decrease by 28.5% since last year, and the average sale price decline by 7.7%. While I've had a successful year in which my listings have sold quickly and for over 97% of list price, future income feels tenuous indeed. To find comfort and direction, I have been looking to the past to divine the future.

I see a Great Depression, World War II, an oil crisis, a Savings and Loan meltdown and interest rates at 18%. I also see that these events all have spurred creative thinking and decisive action that have overcome the obstacle, and made the economy stronger. Look at all the products and services that have emerged since the 1970s. In college we didn't have personal computers, cell phones or ATM cards! I can barely remember what life was like without them. (And that is not just a function of age related memory loss...)

Certainly, solutions to our current economic problems will be painful and bring hard times for many people. But life doesn't stop when the economy slows down. People still have babies, get new jobs, and retire. They still need to move up and move on. People still need to buy and sell homes.

I am intently watching the news out of Washington about the Wall Street bailout, although it will be months or years before it's clear how well this plan will work. I am going back to basics, carefully studying the trends in the local real estate market in Rockland County, talking to lots of people, trying to creatively get deals done for my clients while pushing my business forward.

I'm following my grandmother's example of living frugally, making a game of how I can economize to still get what I want. (Greatest budget buddies: www.freecycle.org, thrift stores, swapping kids clothes and toys with friends, Internet rather than print advertising, vendor discounts negotiated by the company.)

I choose to believe the case history has made for optimism. The slowed economy has not stopped my life from moving forward. Head up, shoulders back, I am pushing forward toward a brighter future.

jennifer mallory | associate broker  |  "real integrity in real estate"
keller williams hudson valley realty | 18 laurel rd, new city ny 10956  
845.639.0300 x.119 |  845.323.6247 mobile  |  www.jennifermallory.com

Comment balloon 10 commentsJennifer Mallory • September 28 2008 08:41AM

Comments

Jennifer...  Nice post!  Life doesn't stop when the economy is slow!  This is a powerful statement...and yet true, true, true!!!  It is the example of our grandmother's and grandfather's that we pass on to the younger generation who will be our leaders...questions is will they listen?

Cheron Lange

Posted by Michael and Cheron Lange, Associate Broker, GRI (Solutions Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Hi, Cheron:

Thanks for your comment...I've been thinking about that a lot as I raise my own kids. I think I'm raising them with values, yet their attitude about a broken toy is "we'll get another one." I was shocked when I heard that from my two year old, and even more shocked when he told me to "get money because he wanted something." Obviously, I'm not doing a good enough job passing along the lessons from my grandparents, which leads me to question how well I learned those lessons in the first place!

Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer Mallory, Nyack NY Real Estate Broker Associate (Keller Williams Hudson Valley Realty) about 10 years ago

Jennifer,

Isn't it amazing how we would hear our grandparents talk and just kinda blow them off as, "that is their generation".  Now we are starting to get a taste of it.  Pretty scary, great blog!

Brooke

Posted by Brooke Shepherd, Speak With Honesty~Act with Integrity (Keller Williams Partners) about 10 years ago

Hi Jennifer... Great attitude and perspective!  It's those things that will continue to carry each of us forward in trying times.  I remember my grandmother saving wrapping paper off of gifts and wondering about why she felt the need.  As an adult we gain a perspective on their behaviors that as a child seemed to make no sense.

Posted by Steve Shatsky about 10 years ago

Jennifer - I want to thank you for your post about your Grandmother, it's great and so true. Americans have become to spoiled and we need to get rid of some of our Adult toys, big trucks, fancy cars, boats, etc and start living with only what we can afford to buy. Not what the bank will borrow us to buy. This Country has gone through some worse times then what may be around the corner.

Posted by Robert Vegas Bob Swetz, Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale (Realty ONE Group) about 10 years ago

Hi Jennifer!  I think all of this is a wake up call for all of us!  I like your positive attitude!

Posted by Renee about 10 years ago

True, True story.  My grandmother (also from NY) said many, many things that I couldn't fathom & now hear her words ringing true.

Posted by Kristin Moran, San Antonio,TX - Real Estate - 210-313-7397 (Owner - RE/MAX Access - KristinMoran@Remax.net) about 10 years ago

You and I are thinking in the same vein, I always have, the good thing is that my husband is being forced to economize ( finally)  at the grocery store it's not been pop and candy along with all the good food, it's just been staples and good for us food.  He's been more careful with driving as well, I think this is good,and I too have been looking to save where I had not.  Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Anna Matsunaga, Seller specialist, Certified Negotiation Expert (Team Momentum Keller Williams Realty Tacoma) about 10 years ago

I remember my grandmother saved and washed any plastic containers she bought (like margarine tubs, etc.) and packed us leftovers in them.  She could cook something in a pot to bring to a sick relative and keep it hot for an hour long car ride by wrapping it in brown paper bags she had saved, held together with a rubber band...and her food was always delicious, although she'd buy the "store brand" of certain things.  The trick there is to know that certain grocery stores have their own brand of something that is just as good as the name brand, but certain other products may not be nearly as good as the name brand.  I am testing this theory out, and have my kids keeping track on a chart of what generic brands we like and those we don't.  I think over the long run we'll save money!

Posted by Elena Malfi (Behind Every Agent) about 10 years ago

Jennifer, this is a great post.  Good luck with everything.
I have been economizing (being more careful??) for quite some time.  The unplanned reno at my house, didn't help matters.... however, there is always something we can do to cut back, if we must.

While we wait for better days, we have to be careful, and ensure we have enough money to pay the mortgage/housing costs and groceries, and put off buying unnecessary things for a while.
If I don't have to, I don't even take the car out, or I'll save all errands for the same day.
It's a good thing I've never liked shopping, so for me, it has not been too difficult to cut back.

Posted by Sylvie Conde, Broker, Toronto Real Estate (Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 10 years ago

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