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forrest_gumpIt’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since Forrest Gump appeared on Hollywood’s big screen, sharing his interpretation on some of life’s most complex issues.  No matter what the circumstances, whether it be war, politics, or  love, Forrest had a pronounced ability to see things differently than most of us and then put them into perspective.

But even Hollywood’s Forrest Gump couldn’t find a bright spot in one of the worst economic and housing market crises in the history of the United States, or could he?

The movie, “Forrest Gump” was based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom and was a smash box office hit, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1994.  The film and novel tell the story of Forrest Gump, played by academy award winning actor Tom Hanks, and his journey through life and how he navigated the complex issues he encountered, such as the Vietnam war and the death of his wife.  Despite Forrest’s intellectual limitations, he had an uncanny ability to always see things from a positive perspective and distill even the most complex issues down to a single sentence.  Three of Forrest’s most well-known colloquialisms can be still applied to just about everything in life, including a real estate market on the brink of collapse.

Real Estate is Like a Box of Chocolates

Perhaps Forrest’s most well-known and repeated expression he learned from his mother, who told him, “‘Life was like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Nothing could also be more true than in real estate today.  Gone are the steady annual increases in property value, eager to lend banks, and the certainty of the American dream.  Instead, we’re all left wondering, “What’s next?” The truth is, Forrest Gump was right, we aren’t going to know what “we’re gonna get” anytime soon.

Stupid is as Stupid Does

There’s been a lot of finger-pointing as to who is responsible for the housing crash.  Was it real estate investors / flippers, builders, buyers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, zero down loans, or the banks?  Fair enough.  Articulate cases have been made accusing just about everyone involved in the real estate industry, including homeowners.  But who would Forrest blame for the collapse?  My guess is he’d likely say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  Finger-pointing isn’t going to solve the crises.  Instead, we all need to learn from the housing collapse, check our greed at the door, and correct these mistakes so they don’t happen in the future.  To do otherwise is, well, just plain stupid.

Put the Past Behind Us and Move On

It’s easier said than done, but at some point we’re all going to have to take Forrest’s advice and, “put the past behind us before we can move on.”  For many, that’s simply not possible with with foreclosures continuing to pile up and the unemployment rate still climbing.  But let’s also remember that there’s a rainbow after every storm, dawn comes after even the darkest night, and that good can come from even really bad things.  Nevertheless, we all need to work together to get through this.  That includes politicians, buyers, sellers, Realtors, and banks just to name a few.  Only then will the real estate crises become a distant reflection in the rear-view mirror.


The past two years have been difficult for everyone touched by the real estate industry, including millions of families and homeowners.  We could all learn a thing or two from Forrest’s life perspectives, but even he admittedly didn’t have all of the answers.  As Forrest exclaimed,  “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it’s both.”  Maybe he’s right.  The real estate crisis will either get the best of us all, or it will be yet one of many defining moments in our American history.  I’d like to think that latter is more true.  And that we have some say in how we get through this.

Dr. John McMillen, Owner

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