Black Friday is always followed by Cyber Monday

Happy holidays from the Berg family!

OK, it’s not us, but this is all I have time for this year.

And if I never see another turkey it will be too soon.

With Daughter #1 safely back at school in the heartland (after spending the better part of her formative years in the airport yesterday) and with Daughter #2 off to another fun-filled day at Scripps Ranch High School, we are a couple of distractions lighter and bracing ourselves for the year-end mania. Fasten your seatbelts; it’s December.

Every year I write about it, “it” being the multitasking challenges of the season and the cruel irony of December being our second busiest month in real estate without fail. This year will be interesting because the past six months have seemed to buck all previous, well-established seasonal trends. My feet-on-the-ground market barometer, however, is telling me that this December in terms of buying activity will honor tradition.

Just like children have little embedded sensors which tell them you are about to receive a phone call (which in turn trigger their disruption mechanisms indicating it is time to fight with their sister, lose their favorite jeans or accidentally set fire to the dog), buyers sense that the season of competing demands is the time to kick it into home-search overdrive. It is kind of like Black Friday versus Cyber Monday.

In my ongoing campaign for the Mother of the Year title, I had the pleasure of attending my first Black Friday sale this year. Actually, it started on Thursday. A sign of the times, we didn’t just hit the mall but instead opted for the outlet mall — a “sale” sale. At 11:00 PM and in what Steve affectionately described as the moment we all completely lost our minds, we arrived at the outlet mall under the cover of darkness. This was shortly after approximately four thousand to the quintillionth power other crazed people had converged on Mecca. Oh, the humanity! And then we watched in amazement as the hoards stood in lines for up to an hour outside the stores, then up to two hours once inside, to exit with… a ten dollar T-shirt. This is because all of the early birds bought out the skinny jeans in their size.

People will go to great lengths in search of a deal, but when the deals continue to elude, they will eventually come to the realization that they are running out of time. This is where Cyber Monday comes in. For those who didn’t major in Shopping Technology, Cyber Monday is where everyone boots the computer, hungover, in search of the deals they missed. Aunt Marge still wants that cardigan, but now there are only three weeks left, so it’s time to get down to business.

Our real estate Black Friday has involved too many short-sales and foreclosure opportunities yet not enough to fill the demand. Virtually every home we are showing in the distressed sale category gets shipped to the bank for consideration with multiple offers. The latest offer we submitted for a client this weekend will be competing with five others. This means that five people will be leaving without so much as a cheap T-shirt. At some point, the serious buyers will tire of the crowds, and it will be time to get serious.

Although I think we will be late into 2009 before we see the crowds returning to the retail stores in earnest, I feel that our Cyber Monday is already beginning. Steve and I are working with more buyers right now than we ever have at one time. This is mostly because the lines have been longer and there hasn’t been any real sense of urgency. When that changes, the market will change.

In the meantime, we will be standing in line with them. This month, that means it will probably be to the detriment of our annual holiday card. Oh, I will manage to get one out on schedule (last year’s “schedule” was mid-January), but since I have failed miserably in my quest to get four little people camera ready for a single sitting, this time I fear the obligatory family photo will require enormous creativity on my part. I may finally resort to something with our Photoshopped likenesses — or a picture of some people who look sort of like us, at least in number and gender, commandeered from some unsuspecting stranger’s Flickr account. Thanks to Brian O’Donovan and the lovely O’Donovan family, I think I have found the solution to my little December dilemma.

Photo credit: Brian O’Donovan


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