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Doubting Thomas

Posted by Rona Fischman March 19, 2009 02:34 PM

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Christians know about the apostle, Thomas. He would not accept that Jesus was resurrected when he was told of the miracle by fellow apostles. He needed to see Jesus for himself. It is blessed to believe without needing to see, but not all of us can. We are human.

The Gospels describe a very human way to make decisions about what is true. Some people need to see to believe in big-picture matters that are beyond our senses. For mere intellectual matters, like looking at the real estate economy, this is not such a bad thing. In this regard, I stick to Thomas-like doubt in statistics and projections.

I give you two views of the Boston economy.
The first, the facts from Forbes, Inc. Forbes.com notes that Boston has increased its unemployment rate by only 1 percent since October 2007. That makes us Number 3, nationally, with a 4.4 percent unemployment rate.
Forbes states:

Boston is another bright spot. The area's hospitals, research institutions and universities together drive the city's economy. They also provide a ready-made highly educated workforce, which draws a growing number of biotech, software and clean technology companies to the city.

Update: (US Labor Dept says the preliminary unemployment rate for the Boston area in January was 7.2%, not 4.4%.)

Second, a doubting Thomas; in this case it’s Sam Schneiderman. He told me that he doubts this report. Why? Because he’s on Route 9 in rush hour every morning. With his own eyes, he sees a decrease in traffic. Sam is a natural optimist, but the truth of his own experience on that road makes him expect the next local employment report not to look so rosy. Seeing is knowing.

I’m Thomas on real estate in our area. The national statistics say, “Depression. It’s a buyer’s market.” The state-wide statistics say, “Depression. It’s a buyer’s market.” My own “doubting Thomas” eyes say, “National depression, there is still more demand than there is supply here.”

Buyers need to be extra careful. The experts are tracking the trends. Not all of what they say matches what I see. Buyers, which do you trust: the big-name researchers, or your own two eyes? For me, I read what the reports say, but I believe what I see every day.

If you are house-hunting this spring, what are you seeing? Tell the doubters. Maybe they will go see for themselves.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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