T'is the season, the famed yuletide story says, when nothing was stirring in the house but a mouse.

But in '87 t'was plenty astirring when one spoke of a house.

For many it was the year the move to make,

To stop the hemming and hawing and a first mortgage take.

By spring, interest rates had dipped to single digits;

For many, it was not the time for the fidgets,

Houses they bought with their hard-earned bucks,

After fighting their way through financing mucks.

But some would-be buyers leaned back on their heels,

Looking ahead for still better deals;

T'was a pity they did, instead of slaking their thirst,

For the rates -- up they rose -- not so quickly at first,

But by summer and fall, their digits were doubled,

And those who missed buying found themselves troubled.

Now the rates are too high, and so are the costs.

They're at hundreds of thousands, and the timid are lost.

The bargains are few, the luxuries cost plenty, the payments steep,

Buying a home cannot be done on the cheap.

Well, maybe next year -- but there still is a fear,

That another Black Monday will suddenly appear,

When the stocks that were hung by the mantle with care,

Were all gobbled up by the bad Wall Street bear,

And good deals for houses all suddenly weren't there.

While investors were gleeful to see interest rates fall,

And hoping that they had made the right call

To put their bucks in the right state -- perhaps real estate?

Has anyone tried a crystal ball?

That's even the feeling in Congress's hall

Where there'd been much stress on the housing bill,

With delays aplenty, before passing the Hill.

For seven long years, housing bills languished,

Leaving the critics chagrined and anguished.

Now policy is drifting, an election is near,

Which means much will fall on a very deaf ear.

Let the new regime, whoever it may be,

Establish the theme, whatever it might be.

The issues won't leave, the debate will continue:

The homeless, public housing, loan programs, mortgage insurance are only a few,

But even in Washington, there's lots of the old and more of the new.

Offices sprout north, east, south and west, in and out of the Beltway:

In Fairfax, voters said no "Moore" to Herrity, who was surprised they felt that way.

And Rte. 28's wide open spaces have developers dreaming,

But commuters are gridlocked, and vocally screaming.

Loudoun folks see the start of a similar scene,

And it's one that they wish they had never seen.

'What price development?' is the hue and the cry.

Boom times are nice, but they make people sigh,

For the quiet and good will that may have passed us by.

Without much further ado, there's surely one chorus many will sing:

Pray tell '88, what will you bring?