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Francis Vayalumkal
Finance | Financial advice

By Francis Vayalumkal

The real estate market buzz across the country these days revolves around the anticipated and much feared “bubble.” The implication is that once burst, prices will spiral downward taking with them the major assets of those who to buy at a time when disaster looms large. It could happen.

However, it would take a major cataclysm in the underlying financial underpinnings of the global economy. Granted, any significant blow to world confidence in the fundamentals of the U.S. economy could easily check the flow of overseas investment into the long-term securities markets. The result would likely be a sudden spike in mortgage interest rates. This most likely would spell the end of the present bull market in real estate.

The profits of doom, meanwhile predict just such a meltdown, citing the trade deficit, the national debt and the debt future generations will owe to Entitlement, to name a few. This too could happen. No one knows for sure.

But what if it happens? In the worst-case scenario, assets such as real estate would be the last resource to vanish — not the first — largely because of widespread laws to prevent foreclosure except in extreme cases. Most likely, we would simply have reached another top in the normal real estate cycle, not unlike any of the 21 cycles that have occurred since 1978.

Busts do not usually follow booms. In only 17 percent of the cycles noted above did a real estate downturn follow on the heels of a boom — and these typically in areas that had experienced significant distresses to the local economy.

“Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics,” as Mark Twain said. Nowhere is this more evident than the real estate market. Statistics that are used to show loss of value mostly show reductions in the number of sales. Let me explain: while the mean average or the medium sales price of all homes sold in a given period fairly accurately represent rises in home prices in a seller’s market, they do not, paradoxically, reflect the apparent drop in prices experienced in a buyer’s market.

The unassailable law of Supply and Demand states that as prices rise fewer and fewer people can afford to buy. This creates a market glut. When a glut occurs, sellers must contend with greater competition from other sellers. Those who lower their price sell. Those who do not or cannot must stay.

The result on market statistics, however, is that the dollar amount of those homes that do sell by lowering their price effect a statistical drop in the apparent overall market prices.

The news that prices appear to be falling further exasperates the situation as buyers feel the need to protect themselves from the perceived downward trend by only investing in properties that are seen as solid bargains. Again, only those who choose to sell or must sell make up the ever downward statistical spiral. What is not figured in the averages are the majority of homes that do not sell because their owners are not desperate enough to take what they can get. Their value remains intact.

What falls is not value but volume. Especially in today’s market where 100 percent or greater loans are common, few homeowners will choose to bring money to the closing to table to make up the shortfall between what they owe and what they can sell for at that point in the cycle — in essence paying someone to take their home. And though this scenario may cause hardship, it also has the effect of limiting the number of homes on the market, which acts as a downward buffer to the bottom actually falling out, though statistics may even indicate a continued downward trend.

Those who buy wisely and who can choose the point in the natural cycle to sell are far more likely to make money than in most other forms of investment. In addition, they will benefit from major tax advantages and the eventual equity value of their home, which will not always rise astronomically but will always go up in the long run.

Francis Vayalumkal is a loan officer at Market Street Mortgage and can be reached at (813) 971-7555 or via e-mail at

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