You just never know who you'll run into at the Starbucks in Carmel, Indiana.

As I walked across the parking lot to my car, I vaguely recognized the figure standing about 20 feet away. While he was slouched and shaking a bit from his illness, Muhammed Ali was as pleasant and approachable as any public person could be. Having no shame about interrupting his day, I walked up and introduced myself. He smiled and graciously agreed to a picture. His wife was inside getting coffee as they traveled from their home in Michigan to Lousiville on a family matter. We took several photos of which this is the only one that I actually look reasonable enough to post (scary thought). Muhammed playfully put his fist to my chin and smiled for the first one, then realizing I had the 'you've just met an international icon' stupid grin on my face, I retreated to a very basic side by side. As we did this a bus load of High School students stopped nearby and began to pile out. Several of the teen agers recongized him and came over as to visit. As he began the first of numerous new photo ops while being hugged by the cute 17 year old females, he looked at me and in a whisper said "Can't disappoint my fans." His huge grin told the rest of the story. I laughed out loud, thanked him again, and backed away. Even though his body is failing him...his mind is still there in full force.

Random thoughts actually pertaining to the real estate business......

1) Interest rates are coming down. Look for the Fed Chief Bernacke to lower rates at least a quarter discount point next week and maybe as much as a half to combat the national housing market problems. Between the rates falling and the lower demand/increasing inventory, there are great buys to be made in the housing market right now.

2) Two critical questions every home seller must ask themselves in order to successfully navigate the market. First do you NEED to sell? If you don't have the stomach the adjust your price to meet the sliding market, you should give serious thought to postponing your move. Having said that, if you're a move up buyer, the timing is still good. If your current home is worth 3% less than a year ago but you'll buy something else up the price ladder at a less value also, you will still be pleased with your decision over the long haul. That's what real estate is now....a long term investment. Flippers had best be following the CYA strategy in this market because it's tricky.

Secondly, as a seller do you have the equity to sell? If you bought a home a year ago with little down, you probably don't have the position to sell in this market. Reconsider your timing or the possibility of leasing the home if the risk is acceptable.

We have acutally had to decline certain potential homes to sell with people who wanted to list with us because they were simply not in a postion to recognize a sale in our current market. If someone bought two years ago at the peak of the market and has their home mortgaged above what they actually paid for it, we probably can't help them and yes, you cannot believe how often this occurs.

On that note, a recent title company survey on the closings they conducted across the USA in 2006 revealed some startling data. Of all of the closings, over 38% were done with ZERO money down by the purchasers. That means that most of those buyers were upside down in the equity in their homes from the day they closed. Is there any wonder why we have the delinquency rates we do right now relative to mortagages? Is it any surprise that lending criteria will get tighter as the next 12 to 18 months rolls by?