I’m a big fan of buzzwords and slang. They provide a colorful snapshot of a given time and place, even though their inevitable overuse becomes highly annoying (and an occupational hazard).
For instance, during the recession, the word “distress” gave a lot of multifamily players hope. Many industry vets hoped against hope for a Resolution Trust Corp.–like scenario, with the government auctioning off the loans and assets of failed banks at rock-bottom prices, à la the Savings and Loan Crisis.
And though the “extend and pretend” dynamic that followed helped to shepherd both borrowers and lenders through dark times, there were still plenty of “distress” opportunities to be had.
After “distress” and “extend and pretend,” the most popular phrase during the Great Recession was “catch a falling knife.” Investors were afraid of capturing a distressed asset before it bottomed out in value—nobody wants to “catch a falling knife” until it has well and truly fallen. Investment, just like juggling knives, is all about timing.
Conversely, those with the foresight (or just plain luck) to sell off their portfolios in 2007 reaped a bountiful harvest. There were calculations, of course—the spread between the yield on the 10-year Treasury and cap rates stopped making sense at the height of the last go-go market. And then there was gut feeling—many old-timers could just sense the market overheating, like a trick leg that swells up just before a storm.
Now, we find ourselves on the opposite end of that market cycle—many well-heeled owners are planning to become net sellers next year, given the run-up in pricing, as you’ll see in Les Shaver’s excellent cover story, starting on page 24. And many others are deliberating, believing that the peak hasn’t yet been reached but may come in another year or two.
Predicting the top of a market with any kind of precision is every bit as tricky (or impossible) as predicting the bottom. That’s way above my pay grade.
But as an editor, words are my currency. So, let me take a stab at the next “falling knife” and offer a linguistic forecast of our industry’s fortunes. Here are a few buzzwords you’ll probably grow sick of by this time next year (if not sooner):
• Big data—Many other industries are already tired of this phrase, but we’re just getting started.
• Taper—as in, to what degree will the Federal Reserve taper off of its stimulus?
• Chasing yield—as in, “Never mind Miami; check out Jacksonville.” A perennial favorite.
•???SoLoMo—for social-local-mobile. The convergence of GPS-enabled smart phones and social media has given search engines a more localized way of looking at things—and a new kind of platform for apartment marketers.
• Peak pricing—as in, strike while the iron’s hot.
Who knows exactly what awaits our industry. As Jared Kushner points out, you have to constantly re-evaluate your assumptions. You also have to constantly re-evaluate your language—the Oxford English Dictionary will probably add “twerk” and “selfie” this year.
So, what buzzwords or phrases do you believe will encapsulate 2014? What bits of industry lingo drive you up a wall? Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let the jargoneering begin.