Fleeing Wall Street for Main Street; investors find confidence in real estate

COMMENTARY | A long time ago I left Wall Street for Main Street. It is a decision that I have never regretted. Both of the law firms I worked for, before my wife and I founded our own law firm, banked on the success of Wall Street's largest banks.

Even back in the late '80s, when Wall Street still had a certain level of prestige, I felt increasingly uncomfortable hitching my future success on that wagon.

Wall Street may have been an exciting place for a young lawyer, but leaving it allowed me to have the life that I was looking for and have a clear conscience at the same time.

And those feelings, which drove me to set up permanent residence on Main Street U.S.A, are no longer mine alone.

And that's a good thing for our economy and our housing market. Because it is Main Street that will lead our economy back to greatness.

Confidence in Wall Street is eroding at a rapid pace, and distrust in the big banks isn't just the domain of Occupy protestors or liberal politicians anymore.

The truth is that it is impossible to read the business section of any major newspaper or website without finding another glaring example of hubris or incompetence.

Jamie Dimon wishes that JP Morgan's recent trading loss was only $2 billion. The Libor bid-rigging scandal just claimed the chairman of Barclays, and now several U.S. banks are being investigated for similar manipulation of interest rates.

The debacle that was the Facebook IPO has been well documented. You may not have followed these scandals closely, but what you need to know is that confidence in Wall Street has been decimated.

But on the flip side, more and more housing analysts see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are many different indexes, from the Case-Shiller Index to the Zillow Home Value Index, all of which study the housing market.

Lately they are increasingly saying the exact same thing: that housing prices are going up and that the real estate market is finally, after years of decline, beginning to stabilize. Even home builders are getting back in the game.

These two trends are not coincidences. They may seem to have little in common, but in fact that could not be further from the truth. Why?

The fact is that it is the investors who have grown as fed up with the banks as I am, and they are not just sitting idly by as Wall Street devours itself. They are the ones challenging Jamie Dimon face to face at shareholders' meetings; they are the ones suing NASDAQ, the Wall Street underwriters, and Facebook.

And more importantly they are the ones pulling their money out of Wall Street and back into something tangible and far more secure.

Real estate!

These investors no longer fear the housing market bottoming out, because they found mounting evidence that it has, and slowly but surely, they are leading the charge to revive the housing market.

That's why you are seeing scores of international investors turning to real estate to make their money. It is increasingly becoming their best and more secure option.

Wall Street simply no longer offers that kind of security. It's no wonder they call real estate "real."

If you're Joe Average homebuyer, these Wall Street scandals may not resonate with you. And they don't have to. But they do matter.

Because they prove that I made the right decision by leaving Wall Street behind. And because so many more are joining me these days, I think we will see the housing market not only survive, but endure.

Real estate attorney Roy Oppenheim is the co-founder of Oppenheim Law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Weston Title. He is also creator of the South Florida Law Blog, where he frequently provides "In the Trenches" commentaries.

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