IF YOU want to know where the real estate market is at the moment, pay close attention.

Berman wanted to buy Shaw's house. This was okay with Shaw because he wanted to buy a Victorian home in Glencoe owned by the Katz family. Before Berman cold buy Shaw's house, he had to sell his. Once Berman paid Shaw, then Shaw could buy the Victorian home from the Katz estate (Mrs. Katz died at the age of 90 and none of her children wanted it.)

Berman put an advertisement in the newspaper saying his house was for sale. He heard from every real estate agent in the area. They all wanted to represent him in making the deal. One said she had a buyer -- a Mr. Hardy.

Hardy came out to the house and said he would like to buy Berman's home, but in order to do so Hardy would have to sell his own house in Silver Lake. He put it on the market and the Glucksterns, who were about to have another child, thought the Silver Lake place would do just fine.

Gluckstern did now own a house -- he rented. This seemed to solve the problem of Gluckstern having to find a buyer for his house first. Gluckstern told Hardy he would get a loan from the bank. Hardy called Berman and told him not to sell his house because he had a buyer for the Hardy home. Berman immediately called up Shaw and said, "I think I can swing the deal."

Shaw got so excited he called the Katz family lawyer and told him to draw up the papers.

Everyone sat around kitchen tables talking about how they were going to fix up their new houses.

Then the Glucksterns went to their bank and asked for a mortgage for the Hardy house.

The bank officer said, "We don't have any mortgage money."

"What kind of money do you have?"

"We don't have any money at all. If you'd like to open an account with us, we'll give you a toaster for your new house."

"Why would we need a toaster for our new house when we can't borrow the money to buy it?"

"It's not my fault. It's people like Landsberg who are responsible."

"Who's Landsberg?"

"He had an account here. But he withdrew all his money and put it in Treasury bonds. He told us that when we pay as much interest as the U.S. government does, he'll put his funds back in."

Gluckstern went to see Landsberg and said, "I can't buy Hardy's house because of you."

"Who told you that?" Landsberg said.

"Atwood, at the bank. He said you took all your money out and now he can't make any real estate loans."

"Atwood has plenty of money," Landsberg said. "He just doesn't want to tie it up in long-term mortgages. Ask him for a 90-day loan at 18 percent and he'll give it to you in a minute."

Gluckstern was not mollified. "How would you like it if someone took all his money out of the bank and prevented you from buying a house?"

"I have a house and a 5 percent mortgage. Don't complain to me. Go tell your story to the U.S. Treasury. They're the ones who are paying the high interest rates."

Gluckstern went to see the man at the Treasury who deals in bonds. "How come you're paying higher interest rates to Landsberg than the bank does?"

The Treasury bond man said, "Because the governent needs the money."

"What does the government need the money for?"

"Well, for one thing, to help people find housing. Whether you know it or not, Americans are having a tough time these days buying a new home."