Real estate commentary seemed to dwell on language this week: what they say and what they read into what others say. Matrix readers attempt to clarify the hurricane of terminology and still not get wet.

Trying to bridge the buyer-seller gap, here’s a few notable comments from the Matrix Zeppelin:

  • I use the term house when talking to a seller, and the term home when talking to a buyer…

  • I agree that there is a difference between “house” and “home” in terms of the underlying meaning they imply. I think “house” (or “apartment” in NYC) refers more to the property, while “home” is a warmer and much more emotional term to describe the place you live. The difference is most obvious when you compare a family looking to buy primary residence with an investor looking for property to flip or rent out. As a real estate broker, I would use the word “home” for the first, and “house” (or “apartment”) for the latter (not due to marketing concerns, but because I believe purchasing primary residence is the most personal and emotional transaction of one’s lifetime, and should be addressed appropriately).

  • Aren’t there some stats that do only track single-family residences, i.e. “houses”, which if you’re getting into median or average prices, makes a BIG difference in NYC, where only the highest-end real estate falls into that category, as most “homes” are much smaller, cheaper apartments?

  • I use the term house when talking to a seller, and the term home when talking to a buyer…

  • The only thing that could turn the media coverage right now would be if hurricane JonBennet were to devastate Miami.

  • The spike in media coverage reflects an overall anxed about the economy – and housing is an easy way to contextualize things. Housing experienced an amazing growth that nobody can really explain, and is expected to experience a significant reduction that nobody can really size. The economy is in a similar state. All indicators say that we’ve got harder times coming, but nobody really knows how much harder and for how long. In many markets, there’s currently such a wide gap between buyers and seller that there really is NO housing market to speak of; and that standstill is seen as a bellweather for the rest of the economy. It’s like watching a showdown: where housing goes (trend wise) the economy will follow.

  • If they are still on the sidelines, they either have the nerves of successful poker players or the naiveté of buyers who tell their seller’s agents how much they can afford to spend.

  • Unfortunately (for sellers, and for real estate agents on commission), I don’t see this improvement as bringing in many more buyers. Which is both obvious and strange. As prices go down, potential buyers will be afraid that prices will drop more, and that 1) they are paying too much and 2) they won’t be able to sell their home, further down the line. Therefore, they’ll continue to wait on the sidelines until … well, until I don’t know when.

  • But I don’t buy the junk bond analogy, at least as applied to Manhattan coop or condo purchases. Seems to me that the junk bond abuse was about issuing high rate debt to finance the purchase of an entity whose operating cash could not support the debt service, so (formerly healthy) entity cratered.


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