Housing sales up. Housing sales down. Home prices up. Home prices down. Mortgage rates higher. Mortgage rates lower. It's a wonder the entire country isn't suffering from motion sickness by now!
Since the fiscal mess began, we have been "treated" to seemingly non-stop reporting giving us monthly and often daily temperature readings of the nation's economic state. Sometimes we feel reassured. Sometimes we feel like we've been hit over the head with a sledgehammer.
The truth is, no one set of figures does a trend make, and we shouldn't get too up or too down by any one particular set of reports.
For example, according to a Reuters report, some experts think that tomorrow's (Tuesday) report on the sales of existing homes last month, " will show the biggest percentage gain since 1983."
But this does not mean we are really out of the woods, not by a long shot. Many are taking advantage of the now extended government home buyer's tax credit; while others -- those who still have jobs and good credit -- have been taking advantage of lower home prices on "distressed " properties, which is a polite way of saying homes in foreclosure.
With unemployment still high, despite a very slight dip in recent figures, and foreclosures still mounting --- not to mention the end in the spring of the government tax credit -- there is more reason than not to believe times ahead will be rougher than the periodic reporting of "good" news might otherwise indicate. We, of course, hope that will not be the case, but one must look reality in the eye and not blink.
It is important to keep your eye on the fact that, in the end, it all boils down to what you can afford or not afford to do! Regardless of what "trends" seem to be developing, what counts is whether you are employed, whether you have good credit, and whether you are in a position to turn national economic lemons into personal economic lemonade.
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle."
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