Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Review of the Real Estate Agent Junk Mail I Received Yesterday

     While dining al fresco with Tom last evening, I had the sincere pleasure of opening up this letter. We had carried an armful of unread mail over to the restaurant with us. We sipped minty cocktails and we ate neat rows of handmade pickle spears and we poured over val-packs and condo board audited financial statements. That's how we roll.
     Then my world comes to screeching halt as I study The Suit, the centerpiece of this print out of a Word document letter I received. The Suit screams bespoke and fresh from the cleaners. I wish I could catch a glimpse of the jacket lining. Undoubtedly, I think, the silk pattern would be something unexpected. Something dashing but ironic and cavalier. Like little watermelons or grenades on a royal purple background.
     I wonder who the random dude in The Suit might be. To my great delight, the letter clears that mystery right up, while unleashing upon the world a treatise as press-perfect as his suit. This will be good, I know it immediately.
I skim the letter and light upon the following paragraph first:

     Two Ivies and a half-decent other school. In my chair, I jitter with the anticipation of reading more. Tom's forehead wrinkles in the iPhone glow of a Tour de France recap video. Although he doesn't ask, I can tell he is desperate for a thorough report. His eyes had flickered over the letter on the table between us. He had spotted what I had seen earlier. Economic charts and graphs. Which one of us loves to stare at for hours.
     I go back to the beginning of the letter, eager to absorb the full weight of what the Suit can teach me. He launches with a provocative question: What do you do if you have stocks that increase 24%? (Why, you sell them of course.) So what do you do when your home value increases 24% You sell and take the profit. Obviously. There is no difference between stocks and homes, even though you live in one of them.
     Then The Suit brings out the big dogs. He writes that he owns JWF Capital, which owns JWF Reality, making him not only a real estate mogul but also a man of the Street. It takes some serious cred to run down to the courthouse and fill out the form for a sole proprietorship with the word "Capital" in the DBA. 
     Holy Crow, I am bowled over by the authority that rings from these Times Roman 12 point words. My hands begin to perspire and I have to order another drink.

Chart One

     I'll admit, it takes me a while to cotton onto the depth of intellect displayed by this chart. I like a  stylish boxy pattern as much as the next average citizen however, so I study the diagram intently while I half eavesdrop on a skinny guy at the next table impressing his date with commentary on why a Bald Eagle can ultimately fly further than Superman. 
     Let me cut to the chase. Chart One says you should sell everything. There is no sector left to buy, except perhaps Energy and Consumer Discretionary. Everything else, withering in your gaberdine pocket. Especially real estate. 
     This is because my apartment is in the same equity category as "financials/home builders" as well as the "utilities" stocks. Ok, got it. Everybody knows that when financial/home builders and utility stocks go up or down, housing prices across the country do too. I sit back in my chair in awe and accidentally hear the skinny guy on the date incorporate the words, "lament," "acutely aware," and "misogynist" in one sentence and I am momentarily, but deeply, impressed.
     My attention quickly reverts to the letter. The letter states without a shadow of any tenuous supposition: "The small orange block indicates where … home-owners should be looking to sell." And there is a SMALL ORANGE BLOCK that is somewhere on or about 2014.
     Because I'm not as smart as The Suit, I'm a little confused by the horizontal axis, which seems to accelerate as the present unfolds. We go from 2010 to 2016 in a sort of horizontal tesseract, so it is unclear what year the SELL needs to happen, except URGENTLY.
     As the Suit writes after a quick Great Depression recap: "Not selling [RIGHT THE FUCK NOW] certainly entails a great amount of risk for investors of all types, especially those investing in real estate."
     The TALE CONTINUES. Holy shit.
After listening to my play-by-play unraveling of Chart 1, Tom hands me the second page of the letter and says, "Maybe this will clear things up."

Prepare Yourself for Chart 2

     Only the smartest of the smart could understand this Chart 2. And by smartest of the smart I mean people who didn't sleep through the first day of microeconomics. My husband, a proud graduate of a Top 50 Party School, is able to comprehend this amazing bit of economic wizardry while paying mostly no attention to me prattle on endlessly about how this is the best attempt I have ever seen to make the simplest supply and demand chart look as complicated as possible.
     What does this have to do with the SELL SELL SELL conclusion from Chart one? 
     As best I can cobble together, The Suit invokes Adam Smith to explain that housing prices will rise, and then they will fall. There is an equilibrium point which is noted but you can disregard. It is a decorative element.
     The step-by-step logic is so compelling!
     Not only does the Great Depression linger around the corner, but prices are high because of STARTLING MICROECONOMIC EVIDENCE. I had previously thought housing prices were some kind of conspiracy but now I see the social science behind it all. Such heady stuff.

The dark side. Ironically depicted in sunny yellow. 

     When the housing market tanks, as it will any minute now (see the CHART 1), prices will tumble! Egads. "A recessionary market will… lead to a drastic fall in the price of the home that you own (as indicated by "P").
     I wipe my brow, dig into my Monkfish and regale Tom with my LEARNINGS. Thank God for people like the Suit who so selflessly take the time to educate the rest of us.

     Tom and I are going to sell everything we own and we will live like Bedouins in the forest. Every day, we will long for a bespoke Suit, just like The Suit's. A jacket, a crisp pocket square, a beautiful tie and tailored Smarty Pants with a hand-sewn and massive codpiece.
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