No one in the real estate business – – whether a broker, attorney, developer or contractor – – can engage in any conversation with someone in or out of the business without being asked “when will the recovery begin?” And, as everyone knows, there is no assuredly correct answer.


Predictions and prognosticators, however, are bountiful. They are often wrong or – – at a minimum – contradicted by the next real estate Nostradamus.


In May 2009, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke predicted that the U.S. economy would begin to “turn up later this year [2009].” By January 2010, Time magazine reported that foreclosures and home price declines would continue “through at least the first half of 2010.”


But the first half of 2010 has come and gone without a noticeable change in the real estate market. Last month, HousingWire (which provides financial news for the mortgage market) reported that commercial real estate prices, in August, hit their “lowest point since the beginning of the downturn.” 


Finally, just last Friday, November 5, the Real Estate Roundtable, noting a $1 trillion equity gap in commercial real estate, pointed to “a long, slow recovery in commercial real estate markets amid persistently high unemployment, ongoing concern over government policy, uneven availability of capital for refinancing, and other factors dampening market activity.”


Fits and starts of hopeful optimism mixed with continuing reports of discouraging economic indices, makes it difficult – if not down right impossible – to predict an end to the real estate downturn.


But, as when Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, I have seen the true sign that we have hit rock bottom. On ebay no less! There it was – – on sale through November 11 at a minimum bid of $2.99 plus $1.99 shipping – – a used Ulmer & Berne logo golf ball. Since these are only given away, the seller either found it (probably in the woods off my slice) or got it free. Based on the logo design, the ball is at least five years old.  Do things get any lower than this??