News & Research Archive

Pulse Of The Market (Pulse 72 - It's About the Story)

Oct 22, 2009

In casting about for a Pulse topic this month, I kept coming back to this video about the impact of social networking, and trying to figure out what it has to do with San Francisco real estate.

You have to see this!

This video grabs me – and hopefully you too. It communicates a lot of information quickly with very few words and meaningful images. It tells a story!

Facts + the right words & images = impactful story

I know there is an equally powerful story about real estate in San Francisco that needs to be told too. Listen to my tale and conjure up your images for now. Interest rates are bumping along at historic alltime lows and the prices of San Francisco residential real estate have been dialed back to where they were 3-4+ years ago. There's inexpensive money and discounted prices on some of the best real estate in the world. A pretty good time to buy, no?

Despite this very compelling story, many people – though not all – are still afraid to buy. The best I can gather from speaking with lots of folks is that many are afraid to make a mistake, or they want to squeeze the seller as much as they can so they feel that they have realized an absolute bargain.

The Media and Us

Yes, the Dow hit 10,000 last week and Wall Street is all bubbly, but the media continues to focus on the 10% unemployment rate and the slowness of the eventual recovery.

I am not sure about this, but I would be willing to bet that the American media are the best at what they do. One of the things they do so very well is disseminate stories worldwide very quickly. Maybe there are parts of the world that have not gotten the full picture of the dire economic story. Maybe some people are just living their own lives and not living the way the media suggests; perhaps they prefer to embrace the motto: Damn the Torpedoes and Full Steam Ahead.

That's an attitude that maybe a prerequisite for buying residential real estate amidst the constant negative drumbeat of the media.

The San Francisco Story

So the real story, in my humble opinion, is that there are those who choose to live the life they want and those who live the life that others suggest for them. Given the drama and the economic inconsistencies that pass for news these days, it takes guts to pull the proverbial trigger and enter into a contract to purchase a home, particularly for first-time buyers. And it's a gutsy move to pull the trigger when there is so much economic uncertainty all around us. Yes, you and I may have a good job today, but when we read about 10%+ unemployment, we naturally pause, even when we are among the 90% who are working.

The San Francisco story is really a composite of 10,000+ life stories. By the end of 2009, a total of some 5,000 single-family/condominium transactions will have taken place, each with a buyer side and a seller side; therefore, there will be at least 10,000 mini-stories.

Each transaction involves an emotionally charged dance between buyer and seller. In most cases, they come together and make a contract only after the seller reduces his/her expectations and the buyer extends himself/herself. And, in a few cases, the seller and/or buyer realize more than the expected outcome.

While the majority on the sidelines think they are watching the story play out, waiting for the game to change, thousands of others are writing their own stories. First-time buyers are owning homes years before they thought they ever would. Buyers who were hoping to afford that dream house one day are now finding it more affordable than they ever imagined. Sellers who have owned their own home for a while are still able to sell at a profit and are able to scoop up a bargain when they buy a replacement. Even sellers forced to sell at a loss are able to offset that loss with a potential gain on the buy side.

It's more than figuring out how to make the numbers work. We are talking about people's homes and lives, not pork bellies or stocks and bonds. We are talking about choosing where and how you want to live life, and then living it. So I will end my story with a quote from Bucky:

"The minute you choose to do what you really want to do it's a different kind of life."

-Buckminster Fuller, Inventor and Philosopher

See you at and on Twitter and Facebook.

Written by: Malcolm E.A. Kaufman


Starboard TCN is posting this article on its website and blog with Malcolm E.A. Kaufman's approval.

Malcolm E.A. Kaufman is Founder of PulseFactors™ LLC. He refers you to his website,, where you can see recent issues of Pulse of the Market© and learn more about him. He invites your comments, suggestions, and questions.

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