Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Social Ills of this Housing Bubble

Some people who read this blog wonder why I even started it. Afterall, what's wrong with people making money from their houses? And I say and have said time and again "nothing, there's nothing wrong with making money from your house"...until it gets too extreme. I have said before on this blog and I will say it again that the distortions in the Marin real estate market have become so acute as to be destructive in a socially fundamental way. That's why I care.

This comment, left on another blog in response to a post regarding this article, sums it up pretty well. It refers to the Long Island (LI) housing market which is out of whack in a manner very similar to that of Marin; I would almost say "identical". And like Marin the general attitude among the folks who own property is "I don't care; I've got mine":
"LI born and bred. There is almost no renting, and there is almost no chance of first time buyers being able to afford a home in many towns. I can't go back.

I grew up in a well to do town in Nassau County where very few of my young married friends live anymore because they can no longer afford the homes. The prices have chased out the children of families who have lived in the town since the early 1900s. Those who stay are being helped by mom and dad (we're not old enough to be rich on our own for the most part). There are a TON of baby boomers who want to downsize but can't, because the smaller homes are so overpriced that it makes little sense - they will have hardly any money left over from the sale of the larger house. There are few townhouses or condos either. And all of the "luxury" homes have been sitting for ages (and by "luxury" I mean something that down South or in the midwest would cost you about 350K now priced over 1 million here).

It's changing our lives more than we realize - for example, I can't really afford a home in my town, so my potential future offspring can't live near their grandparents. Scratch that extended family off the list. I will have to move to a town where I don't know anyone and have no support network and likely schools that aren't as good. I don't know, I find this whole housing run up more upsetting for what it's doing to us more than just the money it's costing."
And then there is this which we have already seen in Marin for some time now:
"Aside from housing everything else in this part of the country is extremely expensive. Making finding new teachers, fireman, policeman etc. who can live anywhere near where they work a problem for towns all over the NYC metro area.
You can follow the thread here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marin has at least a 1200 units of "below-market" housing. It's my understanding that local government employees get preference whenever one comes on the market.

Nov 9, 2005, 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

If Marin continues with this unrealistic, hypervalulation of their real estate, they'll simply price themselves out of the market. Actually, this is already happening.

Let's say the bust happens, and Marin somehow holds "value", that is--sellers refuse to reduce their prices. Perhaps some fool will always pay $1M+ for a marginal home, but I suspect most buyers are smarter than that. So these buyers will look elsewhere, purchasing outside Marin, and driving down local demand further.

Marin realtors, who survive the first wave of the bust, will now realize they must get aggresive to ensure some income. Ironically, they'll help to dispell our local RE myth, by pushing down prices to sell. So real estate does indeed go down in Marin--and it will be with the realtor's help!

Nov 9, 2005, 1:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"below-market" in Marin means that instead of spending $1mill for a your average Marin shitbox, you pay $800K or so.

OT: Remember when Marin had housing "lotteries"? That was a low day for Marin; it's so shameful.

Nov 9, 2005, 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger Marin_Native said...

The comment written by the person in Long Island could have been written by me. Housing prices here have effectively destroyed my extended family.

My mother's side of the family arrived in Marin in 1870, and we've been here since. But not for much longer. Starting in the early 1980's, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins started leaving. All for the same reason - housing costs. There is only one family member left in Marin now - an elderly aunt who was lucky enough to have bought her home in the early '60s.

Today, the members of this family only gather together when there's a wedding or a funeral, because they are now spread out all over the country. My children view their relatives as almost complete strangers, because they're rarely able to meet them.

The government encourages home ownership because it supposedly creates social stability. But an entire family has been uprooted out of Marin after having been here for over 130 years, all because of the greed and stupidity fostered by that system. Ironic, isn't it.

Nov 9, 2005, 7:33:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

I have said this before, and I'll say it again. Smart people buy homes to live in, not to make money.

Dude! what do you mean I cant mountain bike my entire life and still live here? Totally not cool man.

The LI and marin post/article is funny. Why doesn't anyone point at the ancestors for not preparing their offspring for things like this? Inheritance? Education? Family business?

The reality is, you are not entitled to anything, and saying communities are being destroyed because of a RE market is a matter of perspective.

Maybe 150 years from now my ancestors will be posting the same thing, and if so, it will be my fault.

Nov 10, 2005, 9:10:00 AM  
Blogger Marin_Native said...


After reading your post, I immediately went to the family gravesite, and spit on my parent's grave.

How utterly stupid of them. Why, anybody with half a brain could have foreseen that a plain tract home in Marin that any hard-working blue collar worker could have easily purchased in the 60's would be unaffordable to all but the rich in 2005. It's really terrible to think that I am related to such stupid people.

I look forward to reading more of your cogent and thoughful analysis. Keep up the good work.

Nov 10, 2005, 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

Ya I know this all happened overnight, and even now there is nothing you can do about....

You keep crying how you are the victim of the system, and I'll keep posting cogent and thoughful analysis.

Nov 10, 2005, 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Marin_Native said...

Yeah, nice try buddy.


Nov 11, 2005, 7:00:00 AM  

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