At the ULI Fall Conference last week there was a lot of talk about things like, "when will it come back?" or "when will it return/recover to what was?".
Understandable questions for so many who spend their time and lives creating communities and building real estate. I think this question though is a moot point. The premise behind it is the real estate business is cyclical, beholden to the ebbs and flows of the economy, the political economy, job creation/retraction. So we are all wondering when these conditions will improve. In my humble opinion, that is the right question. But wondering when it will "come back" and the American consumer will go back to consuming like before is not as relevant as spending our time trying to understand how this American consumer will fulfill the belief in personal attainment, and opportunity, in a world that has forever changed.
The convergence of a number of factors - technological, environmental, demographic, gender roles, and global economics - have all dramatically changed our culture and our society, and forever altered the way we live, relate, consume and express ourselves. I think if we stop looking backwards and look at what is we would mostly all agree with that. AND, what has not changed is the American consumers' belief in opportunity, and their ability to create a future of their own making. The two are not mutually exclusive. I think more can be learned and gained about looking forward to the cues and signs from this new reality than worrying about the loss of old.
It's an exciting and motivating time to be alive!