Monday, June 01, 2009

Summertime and the Livin' Seems Somewhat Easier

The economy is all local, as the saying goes. We often talk about the national economy, but we mostly think about how economic issues impact us personally. A recession, the joke goes, is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours.

As of Saturday, our neighborhood has no vacant homes for the first time in about two years. A family moved into a very nice home that had been well cared for. Its previous owners (who were the initial owners) moved out last summer when the husband took a better job in Denver.

A real estate management firm hired by the man’s new employer took over the home, which had already been on the market for a couple of months. Even after they dropped the price, I thought they were asking too much. The lovely home remained vacant month after month until Saturday. I have no idea what the new owners ended up paying for the place, but it’s good to see owners in it.

Earlier this year, a home whose previous partying owners had been evicted due to foreclosure was bought by a nice family. They spent many weeks working nights and weekends doing extensive renovations to roll back the toll that partying had exacted on the house before they moved in.

Another home that had been vacant for a year and a half finally sold to a family in early spring. The previous owners had moved to California to take advantage of a job opportunity. The home was in fine shape.

Prior to that, another home had been vacant for months after its owner took a job in the Northwest. He had rented out the home to a couple of different families for a couple of years. Eventually he was unable to find a renter and decided to sell the home. This process left the home vacant for months. We didn’t think much about having one home vacant back then, but when three homes in the neighborhood were simultaneously vacant for many months, it certainly seemed like times were tough.

We currently have two homes for sale in the neighborhood. One went on the market last autumn. The owners want a bigger chunk of real estate to enable the storage of all of the recreational toys they own. It’s a decent property on a quiet street, but it hasn’t attracted a buyer.

The other home that is for sale has literally been on the market for years. The home has been poorly cared for and has seen a number of years of hard living, as the owner has had a nearly continuous stream of his deadbeat adult children living with him along with their offspring. The fact is that the owner has never really been serious about selling the place until quite recently when the last of the deadbeats moved out. The owner does not have a realtor, but he says that he suddenly found some seriously interested parties after listing the home on We’ll have to watch to see how that turns out.

From the perspective of our little neighborhood, the tough times seem to be easing a bit. Everyone still grouses about their 401k balances that evaporated precipitously last year. Gas prices are up from their incredible low earlier this year, but they’re still $2/gallon less than last summer. Nobody is claiming that these are the best of times, but in general, people around here seem to be breathing a bit easier these days.

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