Vol 7 No. 36 - May 30, 2007

Are you suffering from a loss of ‘mental equity?’
By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

Are you feeling like a mental case? Even though we didn’t have any hurricanes last season to damage our homes, our spirits or our pocketbooks, you may still be feeling slightly out of sorts.

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but for some reason the sticker price on new cars seem more outrageous than in previous years, you find yourself passing up the Pouilly-Fuisse and going with the Bolla, and your milestone birthday trip went from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the one in Orlando. If any of this sounds even remotely familiar, you could be suffering from a loss of "mental equity."

As most homeowners know and real estate professionals are quick to point out, mental equity is just that — mental. It’s in your mind or listed as part of your net assets, but until your property sells and the money is in the bank, it’s not really yours. When property values decrease because of a change of course in the real estate market, people start feeling less wealthy.

Even though they may still have substantial equity in their homes, if their perception is that they don’t have as much as two years ago, their spending habits are influenced. Like all things mental, you need to get adjusted to the new reality, especially if you’re thinking about selling.

There is, however, some good news to give your mental equity a boost. As previously reported, the number of properties under contract and sold on the Island has increased recently.

In fact, if you read the real estate transaction listing in this paper last week, you couldn’t help but notice that the number of sales more than doubled from the previous month.

The other interesting piece of real estate information last week was the report that the SevenShores project being constructed on Perico Island has stopped pre-construction sales. Whether or not this means the entire project is being scrapped indefinitely, is still to be determined, but for many Island residents, this must be very good news.

As far as your mental equity is concerned, the slowdown at Perico can either mean less competition for Anna Maria and Bradenton condo sellers, a good thing, or that St. Joe’s research is telling it to stay away from the area — not so good.

And with the hurricane season upon us, your mental state may be even more compromised than it was just a few months ago when all you had to worry about was the value of your home. The hurricane soothsayers are predicting a very active hurricane season with a possible 17 named storms between June 1 and Nov. 30. They predict that seven to 10 will become hurricanes, with up to five of them major and a 74 percent chance of one of them making landfall.

Of course, we could always hope for another El Nino to protect us like it did last year, but chances are that won’t happen, so you better get your physical and your mental house in order fast.

It’s reality check time. If you’re committed to your metal equity from 2005, you’ll never move forward. If you think El Nino will save you this year, you may be moving out of your home faster than you think. Before Barry or Chantal or, God forbid ,Wendy comes rolling into the Gulf, get your mental state and the state of your house in order. Remember that old saying, "Denial is a river in Egypt."

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