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Friday, September 24, 2010

What now? What's next?

Now that the recession is officially over (and actually has been for over a year without us knowing it), what happens next? I'm still seeing stories on a daily basis about how bad the real estate market is in Michigan and in the Detroit area in particular - down again last month year-over-year. Apparently not everyone go the memo that THE RECESSION IS OVER PEOPLE! It's time to star buying homes again.

I guess the fact that about 25% of our population doesn't have a job or are severely underemployed may still be acting as a damper to local real estate sales. Combine that with a mortgage market that, while sporting the lowest rates in decades, is still one of the toughest to qualify for ever and you have the formula for the continued swoon of our local real estate market. FUD reigns supreme in Michigan. There is still Fear of more job loses; Uncertainly about what will replace the lost automotive jobs; and Doubt about the leadership in Lansing having a clue about what to do.

As I talk to people who are working I get an ear full about how hard they are working, because they are now doing the jobs of 2-3 people who were laid off. Companies that are hiring are hiring part-timers, so that they don't have to pay benefits and to allow themselves to be flexible if another downturn occurs (the so-called "double-dip").

Every now and then you hear someone mention that they are in a "recession-proof industry." The health care industry comes to mind; although people also seem to be putting off health care due to lack of insurance and lack of jobs to pay for things. The back end of the health care industry - the funeral homes - may be the only truly recession proof industry. Even there people are opting for the cheapest funerals with rental of caskets for the viewing being hugely popular these days, along with cremation rather then internment.
So, maybe it's still too early to ask what's next. Maybe the better question is really, "When's next?" When are we finally going to get this recession behind us and get on with life. In Michigan that may still be a while. We are a state that has yet to deal with losing a big chunk of our population (their jobs went first and they followed). If Detroit has been characterized as a place with 1,2 Million homes for a population of 800,000, I hate to think what our excess housing overhang is at the state level, but we have to work our way through that inventory before much new building can take place. In the mean time, there are great bargains out there for the few people who are looking, so give me a call.

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