11.22.2008

PLANNING FOR THE NEXT BOOM

It is human nature to want to buy high and sell low: when times are good in the market is when we feel good about investing, and when times are bad is when we want to wash our hands of the whole thing. There's a similar phenomenon in real estate: boom times bring forth big plans for big buildings, but by the time they actually get built, demand may have cooled considerably; and bust times deter many people from adding new supply, except that that may be the best time to prepare for the next boom in demand.

And so it is with a little trepidation that I am following the plans for the Oakland A's new stadium and adjoining ballpark village. This is, after all, where I'm going to spend my retirement years, puttering around as a groundskeeper and enjoying the mixed-use environment of retail and entertainment all at my doorstep.

Except that the current financial meltdown and real estate slowdown are putting development plans in jeopardy. Say it ain't so, Lew; anticipate that people like me will want to buy in by the time these things actually get built. Besides, you're a multimillionaire, so having your own cash is a huge advantage in these cash-strapped times. So reasonable debt-equity ratios be damned; swing for the fences, says this irrational lifelong A's fan and future resident.
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