August 8, 2022

Information vs Insight: It Matters in Real Estate and Beyond

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written to you, and that’s relevant because of the reason (at least one of the reasons; life and work have also been busy!) why, and it’s why this piece is about what it’s about. Bear with me and I’ll explain why this should matter to you..

Last evening I had the pleasure of joining some friends at a benefit in Old Chatham, NY, to raise awareness and funds for the Shaker Museum. I learned a bit about Shaker culture, which fascinated me. An offshoot of Quakers, the Shakers, though they believed in celibacy, were revolutionary for their belief in communal-owned property and equal rights and status among all people. The term “shaker” came from their belief that God’s gifts are to be used, not neglected, and that the whole of one’s body should be dedicated to the praise of God, so they were known for their ecstatic dancing. At the event, nearly everyone I crossed paths with who knows I’m a real estate broker asked me in a hushed, anxious tone “what’s happening in the market?” or “is the market crashing?” or “it’s bad, or about to get bad, right?”

In our universe at the dawn of the 2020’s, we don’t shake much. We look at our devices a lot though. Digital media is our God. We see (rather than read) snippets of information - “a little bit of everything all of the time,” as the comedian Bo Burham put it. Smartphones brought the internet everywhere, “colonizing moments I never imagined I’d fill .” (Ezra Klein). (sorry, but like on the toilet)

Our short little spans of attention are both the cause and result of competing bits of information captivating our attention for a nano-second at a time, until we’re moving on, hungry for more. We are not in control, rather, we are controlled by a media force hungry for clicks and ratings, preying on our fears, anger, pain and need to be validated.

I do read certain real estate blogs religiously, for example, Leonard Steinberg’s, who notably strays from trigger happy fear mongering. His nuanced insights don’t induce a reaction; but they are balanced and REAL.

I’ve realized tonight, after considering such a vastly different culture (the Shakers) and after reading Ezra Klein’s brilliant piece in today’s NY Times, that I’ve been stuck in my writing because I refuse to join in what instinctively feels wrong, but which I know will get noticed. I’ve decided that I prefer to bring a balanced, nuanced perspective to my people, but it feels like I’m saying, well, just about nothing, compared to all of the dire warnings I see flashing across my various and sundry screens. Now that I have resolved my writer's block, I can tell you that the market has shifted some from the exuberance of 2021 when pent up demand dominated our real estate landscape, which I, among others, predicted. We are back to a more normalized, corrective market. For all the talk about rising interest rates, they are still HISTORICALLY LOW. I remember getting a mortgage some 20 years ago at a 6% rate and feeling lucky indeed. This may not be titillating, but it’s honest. We will continue to have ebbs and flows, as everything is cyclical, which is my overriding perspective whenever people are sucked into freaking out about missing opportunities of both the highs and the lows. I assure you that your chance will come around again.

My bigger point is, if there’s one piece of advice I can impart, try to get closer to mastering your time on screens, your reactivity, and your hunger for more tidbits of emotion inducing drama in posts. Even a little bit of heightened self-awareness goes a long way. Look around at your actual world a little more. Notice how the early evening light feels when it hits your face or the early morning sun shining through the window looks on your partner’s face. These are precious moments in life. Pick up a good book for a whole hour once in a while. At least read an in-depth article or two about something that interests you, or that ignites your curiosity and passion. Fishing for dopamine hits from tidbits of information all the time teaches you nothing, nor does it enhance your life. Quite the opposite; it leads to polarized thinking, often even panic, in a world that truly needs that vicious cycle to be broken. At the very least, shake it up, make some music, and dance like the Shakers did! Meditation helps, too. Try it. It changed my life and I’m certain I wouldn’t be bringing you these insights without it.

For more on this topic, check out this article published in the NY Times by Ezra Klein:

I love hearing from you, so please reach out with your thoughts if you’d like, if you’ve made it this far. Until next time!

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