It’s Halloween in Santa Cruz
It’s Halloween in Santa Cruz. Get your game- faces on. Button up your costumed alter-egos. Here on the reservation, we embrace this night with particular passion. I’m heading to the big Real Estate Halloween Party you probably don’t even know about. Think Burning Man – but just for Realtors. It always ends at midnight when they crank up the David Byrne song and torch a giant effigy of a suburban tract house.
It started 13 years ago, back in the dark days of the Great Recession, when it felt like real estate was going to hell. Fear was running rampant through the marketplace and I’ll never forget that first one… It took place on a spooky dystopian cul-de-sac filled with foreclosures, boarded-up windows and darkened doorways that resembled the missing teeth and vacant stares of hollowed- out pumpkins.
Cobwebs hung like Spanish moss from For Sale signs leaning at odd angles. Buzzards circled homes in default – marking them as easy prey for land sharks prowling the neighborhood. Crazy conga lines of buyers and sellers were snaking through the streets. Loan brokers in Alan Greenspan masks were handing out Nestle “Credit” Crunch Bars. Others were handing out Real Estate “Bubble” Gum.
Someone disguised as Naked Greed was streaking through the crowd chased by another character dressed in a skimpy Real Estate Rally Thong. There were Monster Houses milling everywhere and a roaming chorus of gremlins called “The What-Ifs” was whispering fearful thoughts into people’s ears with high-pitched, banshee-like voices.
I saw a couple of Blind Appraisers searching for comps. Groups of Swarming Termites. Sellers dressed up like Statues of St Joseph. And Underwriters morphing into Undertakers trying to bury the market, declaring that the word “mortgage” really did originate from the French word for “death tax.”
Prophets of Doom and Gloom roamed the cul-de-sac chased by Zombie Buyers, while a growing Legion of Unsolds hid inside their houses. The American Dream was dressed in a black robe and carried a scythe The Grinch That Stole the Economy was lugging a bag full of treats labeled Credit Default Swaps while someone else dressed like a Doctor, was trying to find the market’s pulse!
A few people came as Toxic Assets and the Gordon Gekko mask made a big comeback. Freddie Kruger also made a special guest appearance promoting his new movie – “Nightmare on Main Street.” But he was almost eclipsed by a giant swathe of darkness called the Shadow Inventory.
Wow. What a party. Say what you want about real estate…we do fear well. There are always plenty of lost souls out there wandering around with grave faces on. Gives me goosebumps just to think about it.