Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher
 

Housing Problem Solved: Call in the Witches

As a resident of Massachusetts, I admit we do things a little different up here. Yes, we’re the colony that launched the first tea parties. We recently revived them to remind government that we haven’t forgotten our Founding principles . But it looks like the Massachusetts time-machine is going way, way back – at least in the housing industry: The latest REALTOR education class makes one wonder whether Salem Witches will be making a comeback?

Look, I get it: Times are tough in the housing industry. The market fell more than 17% in December and an era of free Federal money is coming to a close. Even with a vote to curtail inflationary spending by big government, Massachusetts still leads the nation in housing inflation. Case-Shiller’s latest report puts Boston housing at 153 on the scale – meaning homes are up 53% from the 2000 baseline. Nobody can possibly believe that’s a realistic level of appreciation, even if liberally applied.

But just how far will the real estate industry go to turn things around? Will they start by keeping overpriced homes on the market? Will they try finding buyers with more than 3.5% down? Might they even stop shilling for the government’s tax credit program, which merely transfers dollars from one part of Massachusetts’ economy and to another? All of these seem like good places to start – but to try any of them, would have to agree that markets are ruled by the laws of supply and demand.

Not the stars and planets.

Enter the witches. Forget economics! Massachusetts real estate agents are getting serious about turning around the market. They are calling upon powerful forces – on broomsticks no less – to descend from the heavens and restore balance to the housing market. Relax everyone: The housing problem is about to be solved.

Back by popular demand: The “all new” Feng Shui class at the local Association of REALTORS. (I am purposely omitting the hyperlink to the actual class, for fear of creating a negative psychic link between the class and my blog.)

Now, I admit I’m not a very superstitious person. I think it’s bad luck to be superstitious. Plus, I went to a school where we read books – you know, those things that teach you ideas like the principles of economics, marketing concepts, reasoning and trifling other things to help mere mortals cope with the modern world.

Apparently, however, I missed all the really good classes. I’m going to call my old college advisor and find out why he didn’t sign me up for a potions class. And defense against the dark arts – I would have enjoyed a class with Professor Snape. Herbology with Professor Sprout might have come in handy with all the headaches these days. And who wouldn’t have enjoyed a few semesters of transfigurations with Professor McGonagle, turning buyers into closings?

Funny thing, though: my invitation to the newest Feng Shui skill-builder came to me by email. I would have thought I’d have received a scroll by owl. Or at least had a premonition that the class was coming up. I must have missed the divinations class, too.

No matter! I can make up for it all now as a Professional Real Estate Witch or Wizard! Years of wasted time learning about things like supply-and-demand be damned: All I had to do was burn some incense and cleanse the bad spirits from the marketplace to increase my referrals. My personal success would have been assured by now, if I’d only used the right colors on my business card, with a few carefully inscribed success symbols. Just how many points are there on the pentacle? No wonder I failed geometry – I should have been taking neuromancy!

I assume if I take the class that I’m going to become powerful enough to help others, too. I should be able to call up the forces of the four winds,  the earth and the sun – and restore the entire housing market with a wave of the wand. Maybe my compass can tell me how to realign and balance the entire economy!

Of course, signing up for the class is not as easy as I thought. No, I can’t register online. Nor could I register by email. I actually have to call the Association to reserve a seat. You know, make a call on a device of science, which operates by the laws of physics and makes possible affordable communications according to the laws of economics. Seems a bit ironic, but I’ve tried to conjur up a reservation through telepathy for almost an hour and all I got was a headache.

Maybe there’s a Feng Shui incantation that eliminates headaches along with bad housing markets?

  • Wow….Matt I dont know what to say in response to this except it is definitely one of the most funny stories I think you have posted I was actually laughing at my desk loudly , thx

  • Wow….Matt I dont know what to say in response to this except it is definitely one of the most funny stories I think you have posted I was actually laughing at my desk loudly , thx

  • Now I can’ t stop whistling the theme to bewitched!

  • Now I can’ t stop whistling the theme to bewitched!

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Thanks! Glad I made you laugh; of course, it should probably make our customers cry, don’t you think! LOL!

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Ha ha – I was thinking more like the Adams Family….

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Thanks! Glad I made you laugh; of course, it should probably make our customers cry, don’t you think! LOL!

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Ha ha – I was thinking more like the Adams Family….

  • jason

    that is a great post! I guess we’ll try anything to avoid logic and reason, I am ordering up my top hat and wand tomorrow!

  • jason

    that is a great post! I guess we’ll try anything to avoid logic and reason, I am ordering up my top hat and wand tomorrow!

  • Matthew
    Really enjoy and admire your perspective. Two things about your post:
    1. 53% increase in housing costs equals 5.3% average per year. Higher than average rate of inflation and GDP growth but not really that far off.
    2. CNN headlines on the Case Schiller report was “Home prices: First drop in 7 months” with the tag -line “The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index recorded a non-seasonally adjusted decline of 0.2% from October. Prices were down 5.3% compared with 12 months ago” While NPR reported “Home Prices Up For Sixth Month In A Row ” with the tagline “Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted reading of 145.49. The index was off 5.3 percent from November last year, nearly matching analyst’s estimates that it would fall by 5.1 percent.”
    Note the “Seasonaly vs non-Seasonaly adjusted”. Statistics never lie – its all in the presentation.

  • Matthew
    Really enjoy and admire your perspective. Two things about your post:
    1. 53% increase in housing costs equals 5.3% average per year. Higher than average rate of inflation and GDP growth but not really that far off.
    2. CNN headlines on the Case Schiller report was “Home prices: First drop in 7 months” with the tag -line “The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index recorded a non-seasonally adjusted decline of 0.2% from October. Prices were down 5.3% compared with 12 months ago” While NPR reported “Home Prices Up For Sixth Month In A Row ” with the tagline “Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted reading of 145.49. The index was off 5.3 percent from November last year, nearly matching analyst’s estimates that it would fall by 5.1 percent.”
    Note the “Seasonaly vs non-Seasonaly adjusted”. Statistics never lie – its all in the presentation.

  • I’ve been sick the last few days so please excuse me if the codeine takes over the conversation.

    The title of your blog caught my attention…I kept thinking, this has got to be a misprint or something! So glad I read it!

    Your points are well articulated tho it does make me sad that our own local boards will do anything to generate money.

    I’m waiting for the boards to actually start selling St. Christopher statues next to the “just reduced” riders. If we as agents would take a moment to let our boards know what classes we would benefit from, vs letting them decide that, I feel we would all be better off.
    Supply/Demand Interest rates etc…we should focus on that.

    A Feng Shui class would interest me if I worked within an Asian community and then only to serve to help ME understand THEM.

  • I’ve been sick the last few days so please excuse me if the codeine takes over the conversation.

    The title of your blog caught my attention…I kept thinking, this has got to be a misprint or something! So glad I read it!

    Your points are well articulated tho it does make me sad that our own local boards will do anything to generate money.

    I’m waiting for the boards to actually start selling St. Christopher statues next to the “just reduced” riders. If we as agents would take a moment to let our boards know what classes we would benefit from, vs letting them decide that, I feel we would all be better off.
    Supply/Demand Interest rates etc…we should focus on that.

    A Feng Shui class would interest me if I worked within an Asian community and then only to serve to help ME understand THEM.

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Don’t forget some religious statues to bury in strategic points of the compass in the backyard, too!

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Don’t forget some religious statues to bury in strategic points of the compass in the backyard, too!

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Tim: The ironic thing is that no matter how they spin the statistics, the bottom line is the bottom keeps dropping; and homeowners know this well. It’s really unfortunate that the media doesn’t understand that this affects people’s real lives. Just like saying ‘unemployment fell “less” than expected” – but it STILL fell. For anyone who has lost their job, unemployment is 100% – right?

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Tim: The ironic thing is that no matter how they spin the statistics, the bottom line is the bottom keeps dropping; and homeowners know this well. It’s really unfortunate that the media doesn’t understand that this affects people’s real lives. Just like saying ‘unemployment fell “less” than expected” – but it STILL fell. For anyone who has lost their job, unemployment is 100% – right?

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Amanda – VERY funny! In 20 years in this business I have NEVER seen a class on supply-demand, basic economics 101 or commodity pricing offered by a REALTOR association. Yet less than 19% of all people who become agents have ANY background in finance or economics. But I’ve seen PLENTY of snake-oil sessions every week/month/year. Awful, huh?

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Amanda – VERY funny! In 20 years in this business I have NEVER seen a class on supply-demand, basic economics 101 or commodity pricing offered by a REALTOR association. Yet less than 19% of all people who become agents have ANY background in finance or economics. But I’ve seen PLENTY of snake-oil sessions every week/month/year. Awful, huh?

  • Robert

    Greetings from California!

    You’ve disabused me of the idea that we and Washington, DC, have a corner on the market for lunacy. I’m so sorry.

    The feng shui classes are old hat out here. And they’re not so bad if you think of them as insight into design and decorating principles and ignore the mumbo jumbo.

    Perhaps you have to have sellers disclose if someone died in a house? We do. Wouldn’t want buyers to be surprised by a spirit, you know.

    At least the spirits don’t have to pay our 9.75% sales tax. Or $3 for a gallon of regular gas.

    But I sometimes miss Boston where I went to school. On the other hand, I can suffer here where it’s 60 degrees at the end of December.

    Cheers from Kali-vor-ni-ja!

  • Robert

    Greetings from California!

    You’ve disabused me of the idea that we and Washington, DC, have a corner on the market for lunacy. I’m so sorry.

    The feng shui classes are old hat out here. And they’re not so bad if you think of them as insight into design and decorating principles and ignore the mumbo jumbo.

    Perhaps you have to have sellers disclose if someone died in a house? We do. Wouldn’t want buyers to be surprised by a spirit, you know.

    At least the spirits don’t have to pay our 9.75% sales tax. Or $3 for a gallon of regular gas.

    But I sometimes miss Boston where I went to school. On the other hand, I can suffer here where it’s 60 degrees at the end of December.

    Cheers from Kali-vor-ni-ja!

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Thanks for the comments – very funny!! I am certain we can find Real Estate Exorcism Skills Class somewhere…

  • Matthew Ferrara

    Thanks for the comments – very funny!! I am certain we can find Real Estate Exorcism Skills Class somewhere…

  • The Salem witch trials in 1692 took care of the problem, but only temporarily. Now the witches are in charge. Be careful Matthew. They’ll put a hex on you, and future generations of Ferraras.

  • The Salem witch trials in 1692 took care of the problem, but only temporarily. Now the witches are in charge. Be careful Matthew. They’ll put a hex on you, and future generations of Ferraras.

  • Matthew Ferrara

    I will have to carry a statue around with me to ward off the hexes… :>

  • Matthew Ferrara

    I will have to carry a statue around with me to ward off the hexes… :>

  • Very funny article Matthew! I am a Native American(Lakota) Realtor in the Fort Myers, FL area and one of the things that I offer my customers is a traditional native american house blessing. In my culture, we have been doing this for centuries and believe that it clears out any negativity and allows the buyers a fresh start in their new home. This allows me to share a bit of my culture with the home buyers and it is a gift from me to share with them. Now, I don’t see this as a substitute for knowledge and experience in real estate, but in this economy, everything little thing we do to give personal attention to our customers surely can’t hurt. Plus, with all of the foreclosures out there with no disclosures, who knows what negativity went on within the home. Now I can’t foresee anytime soon that I will be seeing classes on this offered through our board. If I did, I think I would have to put up “a stink”!

  • Very funny article Matthew! I am a Native American(Lakota) Realtor in the Fort Myers, FL area and one of the things that I offer my customers is a traditional native american house blessing. In my culture, we have been doing this for centuries and believe that it clears out any negativity and allows the buyers a fresh start in their new home. This allows me to share a bit of my culture with the home buyers and it is a gift from me to share with them. Now, I don’t see this as a substitute for knowledge and experience in real estate, but in this economy, everything little thing we do to give personal attention to our customers surely can’t hurt. Plus, with all of the foreclosures out there with no disclosures, who knows what negativity went on within the home. Now I can’t foresee anytime soon that I will be seeing classes on this offered through our board. If I did, I think I would have to put up “a stink”!