Phoenix Real Estate Lessons from Carnival Goldfish

This story begins with a pair of goldfish, Sparkles and 007, the latter cleverly named by an 11-year-old because he has golden eyes.

Truth be told, neither of these fish should have names. Neither should have survived long enough for a child to notice the color of their eyes nor the sparkles not to form enough of an attachment to give the fish names.

You see, Sparkles and 007 both were fish “won” at an elementary school carnival – won, in this case, being a euphamism for being given away at night’s end to any child anywhere in the area lest the teachers running the goldfish booth go home with three dozen fish.

As almost everyone knows, carnival goldfish have a life expectancy only somewhat greater than most of the musical acts appearing on Saturday Night Live the past two seasons. Much time was spent explaining to the 11-year-old that should these fish not make it to the end of that first weekend, much less the first week, not to be too broken-hearted as this is simply part of the circle of life and the bowl of flushing.

These conversations took place last April, when Sparkles and 007 came home to a rather small fishbowl, an utter lack of food and a total lack of water clarifying drops. Only when they made it to Saturday afternoon did the investment in the last two items make sense.

About three months ago, the two were moved from their smallish fish bowl into a larger tank. It’s still your basic goldfish bowl – glass, two fish, water, nada else – but they seem to be quite happy there. So happy, in fact, that they’re still very much alive nine months out from the carnival and eight months and 27 days longer than they ought to have been.

These fish are rather interesting. The 11-year-old has complained that she has been awoken by the fish tapping on the glass to be fed, a begging instinct that must have been learned from the beagles. It seemed far-fetched until I ventured into the room today and they both were staring at me, mouths moving as if in some fishy threat if I failed to leave some food on the way out the door.

From flushy fodder to aquine arrogance in the span of nine months. (And yes, I do know aquine’s not a word but as I look at it, I think that it ought to be.) All because no one happened to inform the fish of a basic fact – they shouldn’t be alive anymore.

Much the same can be said for the Phoenix real estate market, which has been the focus of proclamations of doom for several years – in fact, for so long it’s become far easier to ignore what the experts might say. One such self-proclaimed soul asked if we as agents had told our clients of the impending “double dip” – a second drop in prices, never realizing that the Phoenix market hasn’t rebounded from the initial dip.

Hope seems to take hold not in appreciation but in lessened depreciation. One client of mine was asking for information on a home in San Tan Valley (nee Queen Creek) bought back in June 2009 when it was almost impossible to purchase a bank owned home without fighting a half-dozen other folks for the honor. Unfortunately, the home has decreased in value but it has done so by about 10% in an area where the past year has seen declines two to three times that.

It’s still not good news but it’s better bad news, such that it is.

Across the Phoenix area, average values have fallen more than 50 percent from the highs of late 2005 and early 2006. Some areas have fared better, some have fared worse. Most of us are underwater on our homes, which only really matters if we want or need to sell. For the vast majority of us, the kind of folks who viewed a home as a place to live, to raise one’s family, to adopt beagles and some stubborn goldfish, it’s a paper loss only.

No, the Phoenix market isn’t dead yet contrary to what the national media may say ought to have happened to us. We are not a ghost town – far from it, as evidenced by the client I had this week who has decided to stay back in Illinois rather than face the traffic here.

Through it all, we just keep on swimming. Much like Sparkles and 007.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at

Real Time Web Analytics

Send this to a friend