Editorial | Buying and selling

The turmoil in the financial markets has left no one untouched, including the people of Mercer Island. In matters of real estate, there have been foreclosures, failed transactions and, in many cases, the loss of a lifetime of equity. The trickle-down effect goes beyond the realtor’s signs that linger in the front lawn or cluster at street corners. In this issue of the Reporter, we look a bit closer at the tumbling real estate market and see its effects on people who planned to use the funds from the sale of their homes for retirement. More than a few people who signed up to live in the retirement communities and are unable to sell their homes are left in limbo. In turn, the local economy takes another hit — vacancy rates rise, tax receipts paid to the city from the sale of real estate falls, sellers don’t hire movers or buy new furnishings, consumers sit back and wait and spend less, delaying purchases, holidays or other plans. What does increase is stress.

As the Web and its use in our everyday lives expands at a nearly exponential rate, no one is immune from finding themselves within it. In the world of real estate, the Web has proven to be an important tool for both buyers and sellers in the marketing of properties. Yet now both buyers and sellers may find personal information about themselves online along with the particulars of a property listed for sale.

Several years ago, the Puget Sound Business Journal began publishing a list of King County real estate transactions that met or exceeded a certain price threshold. The list included names and addresses of both parties to the sale. At the time, the PSBJ was not online and did not include maps or information about where anyone worked or had gone to school. It was merely information and was not there to sell anything more than the newspaper. It was a popular feature. It was something that was checked every week in my household. It was a useful gauge to see what our home in Seattle was worth and what we might expect to find in other neighborhoods.

It was all great fun until our names appeared.

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