On This Day Pre-Y2K

Confused by any of the jargon you see below? Check the Y2K Glossary!

April 26, 1999 Permalink

I’ve been reading about Y2K for a year now, almost everything I could find and certainly everything I had time for. I’ve come to choose my Y2K reading as I do most of my other reading, by the writer. Most who read a steady diet of this stuff know who they are: Gary North, Ed Yourdon, Ed Yardeni, Larry Sanger, Rick Cowles, Roleigh Martin, Cory Hamasaki. There are more, Drew Parkhill, Michael Hyatt, Douglas Carmichael... the list goes on. Often I don’t care for the message, even if I agree, but I almost always enjoy the writing.

The result of my reading has been that I’ve felt compelled to try to do something, anything that will allow me to express my fear for the future in a constructive way. I know about it, so I have to do something! I’ve spoken to friends and family, business associates and others. Their reactions shouldn’t have been a surprise. People scoffed, told me everything will be fixed and fine. A woman friend of my wife actually patted me on the hand and told me “Don’t worry, everything will be ok.” Like some of you, perhaps, I gave up for awhile.

My wife and I have prepared as best we can, knowing that if the problems are serious and widespread, anything we’ve done will not be enough. We’ve decided that friends and family will be welcome in our home if it’s necessary, even those who laughed. But that still doesn’t relieve the feeling that persists, there must be something useful I can do. “Ah ha! I know what I’ll do,” I thought, “I’ll write my politicians, local utilities, local and national media and the major Canadian banks. I’ll be logical and convincing. I’ll pester them. They’ll listen!” I won’t trouble you with the details of their responses.

But what of work, earning a living, real life? Y2K interferes in those things too. I sell residential real estate. I help motivate buyers to plunk down most or all of their life savings to buy a home—a home that may have little value next year if our economies take the hit that’s expected by many. Not my problem? What if there’s only a 5% chance of a depression? No big deal? Well, what if every time I drove my car there was one chance in twenty that I’d have a very serious accident? Each time I left my family there would be a one-in-twenty chance that I wouldn’t return home. How often would you use your car? I might give up driving, I’m not sure. So, is it my fault that people could lose their jobs next year? No, of course not. Is it my responsibility if they make a choice to put their life savings into a home that they may not be able to pay for because they may lose their jobs due to a Y2K induced depression? No, of course not. They can always sell if it becomes necessary, can’t they? But if we do have a depression there will be many, many homes for sale by people who can no longer afford them, people desperate to sell at almost any price just to get any part of their equity out of it. Prices will plummet and some people will lose everything. It’s the free market at it’s best. Lots of supply, little demand, low, low prices. That’s how it works. Their savings will be gone. Not my problem?

I sell about 25 to 30 homes a year. I’m not a big shooter but, if I do it right, I earn the respect and often the friendship of my clients and a decent living besides. These people depend on me to help them through what is probably the single largest financial transaction in their lives. They depend on me.

I haven’t sold any homes this year. So far this year I am not making a living. The real estate market is slow but I’m even slower. Working for people selling their homes would be ok with me. Any family selling their home now may improve their chances of dealing with Y2K successfully. But I’m finding it tough to even think about working with buyers. I’ve suggested to my own son that he wait until next year to buy a home. “Wait and see how Y2K shakes out,” I suggested.

—Bob Greenhalgh, Time Bomb 2000 Forums (LUSENET), 04/26/99

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