I like to think I’m reasonably plugged in to economic news.
I listen to the business news channels daily, check the wires regularly for the latest data and talk with the staff here about what they are hearing and seeing.
And then I have my own private indicators.
Like the place around the corner.
For much of the mid-to-late ’00s, that home was a hub of industriousness. Every morning when I left my house to walk the dog I’d see a steady stream of construction vehicles and landscaping trucks pull up to take the occupants to their day jobs.
I couldn’t tell you how many people — or families — lived in the house. But I can tell you the folks were friendly and they took care of the place like it was the center of their American dream.
Watching them go about their business made me want to work harder.
Then the housing bust hit and I remember wondering how they might fair. After all, they moved in near the height of the bubble.
For a while, all seemed fine. I’d wave and somebody would wave back. But as the months passed, I noticed fewer trucks pulling up in the morning, and then fewer still.
That wasn’t a total surprise, given that most construction work had come to a stop. I assumed some folks had simply moved on.
And then, poof. Earlier this year, the house suddenly was vacant.
A “For Sale” sign went up. Fresh flower beds were dug. Painters came by. Open houses were held.
When the For Sale sign came down, I figured a buyer had been found.
But the weeks went by, and the grass grew longer. Someone from our community association said the house is one of several now in foreclosure. It could be a while for that process to play out.
In the meantime, someone mows the front every now and then but the rest of the yard, the sides and the back, are a tangle of high grass and weeds.
Each day, as I take my dog on her walk, I check for signs of life, waiting for my private housing indicator to show an uptick.