Deeded Interest: Leaning into ‘pseudo normalcy’ |

Deeded Interest: Leaning into ‘pseudo normalcy’

Scott Bayens

The summer of freedom is underway! That’s how one national publication announced its arrival. Another declared this June, July and August the post-COVID miracle summer. Here in these parts, and around the county, it seems every single American is on the road, all having escaped the confines of home, after a year during which we were all told to stay put.

Of course, summer has always been the season of preference for families to pack up and go, leave the day-to-day mundane and experience something new. But this summer, the first after the last when we were all supposedly locked down, is simply over the top. As expected, we Americans are traveling in record numbers (by air and by car). National parks, beaches, and mountain communities like ours are packed, and in some cases turning the pilgrims away.

It’s more than ironic to see so many people in town, more than we’ve ever seen here before; crowding the streets, stores and restaurants, all mask-free, in the same month we experienced Aspen’s first “reverse parade.”

Just a year ago there was nothing, nada, zip. Remember that? Doctors’ offices, hospitals and the airlines still require nose and mouth be covered. What’s the latest protocol in the grocery? Yes, no, maybe? And is it two shots or will one do?

Point is, it’s confusing. And as the propaganda campaign surrounding the vaccine continues, the debate over election legitimacy digs in, and the delusional and ridiculous notion this pandemic is in the rear-view, this “pseudo-normalcy” remains. As this denial and collective avoidance behavior continues en masse, it’s hard to miss what’s happening all around us even as we try to turn a blind eye. By doing so, many remain distracted, off-balance and anxious.

And no wonder, as just since May, we’re taking fire from all sides; climate change, instability on Wall Street, challenges on Main Street, a widening political divide, issues in the cities and challenges for small towns, all seemingly super-sized. And let’s not forget we are amidst the most historical geographical migration, transfer of wealth and real property in the modern era.

And like all the constant stimulus and change in air, what’s going on now in the market can be confusing and frustrating for both buyer and seller. One new listing might be on the market for five minutes and see five offers, while another might sit for several weeks and require a price reduction. The pressure is on brokers to find the sweet spot. Price it too low, and you might leave six figures on the table. Price it too high, and you can bet your client will call day and night asking why it’s still sitting there when the home next door sold overnight.

From the buyer’s perspective, we brokers could joke how it might not be a bad idea to carry a supply of Prozac and Xanax if we strive to remain “full service” to our clients. With so much competition now, and multiple offers on many listings, buyers that strike out or even miss several deals in a row are often in need of mental help, a hug or a stiff drink.

Again, I’m taking some creative license here and trying to make light, but honestly can tell you my colleagues and I have spent more time than ever consoling prospective buyers and encouraging them to keep the faith. And those who ultimately decide to wait it out, knowing this may not just be a passing storm, but could even become more challenging in terms of attaining the dream of home ownership, have nevertheless decided it’s all just too stressful.

Those who were lucky enough to have secured a home here prior to the pandemic, very few I know plan to sell even as doing so could potentially fund their entire retirement. Heartbreaking, too, to watch friends and neighbors who may have waited to buy for one reason or another, priced out, not finding the right fit, or worse, kicked to the curb by a landlord who wants or needs to cash out. And make no mistake, these this unfortunate phenomenon ultimately affects all of us.

Yes, what a summer it’s been and continues to be! But as a witness to all of it from the front lines, I find it noteworthy how much effort we are exerting to return to normal when frankly the conversation should be how we lean into the reality of the age in which we are living, be honest about what happened and acknowledge what we’re seeing all around us now.

The sooner we recognize this new frontier for what it is, both a challenge and an opportunity, can we truly get on with our lives, and concentrate on what really matters.

Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a Realtor® with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him and view current listings at