Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Marin IJ Article About This Blog

Well, this blog got written up in the Marin IJ. You can read the article here. It's a dubious honor at best. At least the article was fairly balanced and my words were not grossly misrepresented. So kudos to the IJ.

The reporter who wrote the article had contacted me by email because someone had informed her about my blog. I guess that proves that word-of-mouth works in the blogosphere.

I'm not sure how I should feel about being accused of having "Marin real estate flu" by Jack McLaughlin, Marin's RE cheerleader and counterpart (it seems to me) to David Lereah. I'm not even sure how to interpret that comment but it probably was not meant kindly. Well, I haven't been too nice to realtors either so I deserved it. I will choose to interpret it as in jest. But now I understand why he never responds to my email (LOL!). It's too bad that Jack McLaughlin is missing the point of this blog but then it would not be in his best interest to positively acknowledge it either.

Well, time will tell...

Please let me know what you think (either post a comment or email me). Thanks.

38 Comments:

Blogger David said...

"Clearly, this is a case of someone who has come up with an early case of Marin real estate flu," laughed Marin Association of Realtors President Jack McLaughlin, who was quoted in an Independent Journal article posted on the blog. "We don't have the vaccine for this guy.""

Laughter is classic way for dealing with hardships and pain. I bet knows what is coming for his industry.

Dec 6, 2005, 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite real estate misleading info site is:

http://www.westbayre.com/frame_main.htm

where SP/LP (sale price/listing price) is almost always in the high 90%'s or 100%'s. Of course, if you track any of the listings, you will see that "listing price" is always the final price they have put the house on the market for, i.e., if they have dropped the house $400k on a $1.5 million listing, that doesn't count in SP/LP.

There should be a law against misleading real estate broker info like this.

Dec 6, 2005, 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Anonymous -

So you noticed that too? West Bay Real Estate likes to brag about that SP/LP ratio especially when the overbidding was going on. But it is so meaningless for the reasons you point out -- LP is always the last price it was listed at and so does not reflect any of the price reductions. So it is always going to be about 1.0 (or greater during the bidding wars of past). Another reason for the Marin Pricing History thread.

Dec 6, 2005, 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger John Doe said...

"Clearly, this is a case of someone who has come up with an early case of Marin real estate flu," laughed Marin Association of Realtors President Jack McLaughlin, who was quoted in an Independent Journal article posted on the blog. "We don't have the vaccine for this guy."

What a prick. He reminds me of Gary Watts. "Rich people only buy here"

I hope these guys subsist on Top Ramen and vienna sausages in their 6000 sq. ft. McMansions.

Unfortunately, they can make fun of everyone else because they are rich. But, not the humble, thankful for all that life has given them rich people. Rather, the ones we love to hate who buy big houses and breast jobs for their wives with commissions, all the while, blocking free market movements by discount brokers willing to sell for less.

Glad to see you're in the paper!

Dec 6, 2005, 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cole Kenny said...

Congrats. I linked to it this morning.

Cole @ The Boy in the Big Housing Bubble

Dec 6, 2005, 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger hemorrhoidforhousing said...

I read the article also. The media is so dependant on the RE money do you really think they are going to tell the truth about the overvaluation of the market?

Way to get under their skin. I enjoy sending e-mails to the reporters and challengeing them on their points and the premise of the rosy outlook they continue to push

Keep up the good work, when they respond with sarcasm you have got to them!

Dec 6, 2005, 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

Jack Mc probably doesn't see the irony of his statement - his beloved Marin real estate market is about to catch the flu.

And there is no vaccine for it.

Kudos to the IJ for paying attention to a changing market.

Keep up the great work, Marinite. Your tables, graphs, comments and - not least of all - the "Marin POS" blog are greatly appreciated.

Dec 6, 2005, 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

I found the story somewhat dismissive and one sided. Ms Brenner doesn't miss a beat by including a realtor soundbite as retaliatory "expert" commentary. Of course, those quotes don't exactly put McLaughlin in a positive light either. The journalist also completely skirted the issue of affordability--why? These are objective reasons that bear discussion.

Also, the issue of the IJ trying to bust your cover..I'm not sure readers will view that approach favorably. Ms. Brenner, if you read this--take note. There are legitimate reasons for anynomity. I'm not about to publish my identity either.

Sure, there are jabs at your blog, but the irony is they've just raised it several big notches in terms of visibility. It should get interesting in the coming weeks.

Dec 6, 2005, 3:47:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

Oh, btw--since the journalist did not provide contact info to comment on her story, I'll provide it myself:

Keri Brenner
kbrenner@marinij.com

Dec 6, 2005, 4:03:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Also, the issue of the IJ trying to bust your cover...There are legitimate reasons for anynomity

Yes, there are legitimate reasons (and I expressed some of them to her) and I am rather miffed about their trying to "bust my cover" as you say. A wise reporter would not have admitted to trying to do that and especially not at failing at it.

they've just raised it several big notches in terms of visibility

No kidding! My hit rate as of noon today was what it is normally for the whole week! Holy all-eyes-turned-on-you Batman. My Marin PoS blog hit rate as of about 3 PM today was 5x its normal daily rate.

The journalist also completely skirted the issue of affordability--why? These are objective reasons that bear discussion.

THAT, my friend, is the real story which the IJ has yet to do justice to. That and its social consequences.

That whole "Marin flu" comment is rather ironic really or will be. I plan to make good use of it in the future.

Everyone might want to consider writing to Ms. Brenner and tell her what you think. Maybe then the real story will be written in the IJ.

Dec 6, 2005, 4:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van Housing Blogger said...

On anonymity:

Here's a whole bunch of reasons to blog anonymously.

VHB

Dec 6, 2005, 5:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Husband and I have been trying to buy a house in our native Marin for over three years now and are finally coming to our senses and relocating to Austin, Texas. The housing market is good, job pay is not bad either and the communities are welcoming. And to think we almost bought a house in Novato last August. Of course I use house loosely as it was 630 square feet. It recently sold after over a year on the market for $500k. What is this county coming too!

Dec 6, 2005, 6:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Marin IJ has noticed the affordablity issue. They love pushing stories about the need for more affordable housing in Marin. What they really want, however, is more subscribers. Build more affordable housing, get more subscribers. This goes hand-in-hand with the IJ's constant pushing of stories about the need to expand Marin's economic base. What they really want is more commercial development so they can sell more advertising and pick up a few more subscriptions.

BTW, a trend in the dead-tree media is to somehow latch onto the booming readership of blogs in an effort to stem the long-term decline of newspaper readership. My guess is that the IJ's article on the Marin Real Esate Bubble was part of this effort.

Dec 6, 2005, 9:15:00 PM  
Blogger ocrenter said...

good job on getting featured on Marin IJ.

in total agreement in regard to the issue of anonymity. honestly, how would the clients of socalmtgguy feel being featured as another f@cked borrower? same with you and I. This whole thing about getting an army of cyber geeks to try to blow your cover is frankly unethical and unprofessional. I would be filing a complaint against the author if I were you.

keep up the good work.

Dec 6, 2005, 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

It's true that the IJ article was dismissive, but I was anticipating worse. The IJ has done more good by increasing this blog's exposure than I could have hoped for. I have been inundated with email from supportive readers (thanks!!!); the sheer volume of "grass roots" support for the message of this blog is way beyond anything that I previously imagined. The amount of pent up frustration and anger among Marin residents is really an eye-opener to me.

This whole thing about getting an army of cyber geeks to try to blow your cover is frankly unethical and unprofessional. I would be filing a complaint against the author if I were you.

I am not so sure that the reporter's attemp to finger my indentity is unethical or unprofessinal (that's what investigative reporters do). However, it is an invasion of my privacy to probe like that after I declined her requests for personal information. Since the reporter told me that the article could not be published without my name or other identifying and verifiable information (to which I declined), the aticle should not have been published and that should have been the end of it. If it goes beyond her abortive attempt, then I will do more than just complain. But for now I will let it go.

Given the amount of grass roots support for this blog, I encourage you all to exercise your Constitutional rights and express yourself by writing letters/email to whoever you think will best have effect. E.g., if you think the reporter "crossed the line", then say so. If you think something is "broken" in Marin and that it should be the focus of an in-depth IJ article, then say so.

Dec 7, 2005, 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger hemorrhoidforhousing said...

The media both print and broadcast are beholden to the real estate industry. R/E is a major source of revenue for the media's and they don't want to bite one of the hands that feeds them.

Unless there is grassroots pressure they will continue to be nothing more than Real Estate Cheerleaders.

As far as anonimity is concerned I feel people need to stand up and be heard. It is one thing to yell from behind a rock comparer to standing up and saying "Take your best shot!"

I have been dogging the city of Pleasanton about the imbalance of it's housing plan. I don't mind being out in the open. I have been called a fool, that I suffer from mortgage envy and many other things. I really don't care at this point. What have I got to lose. I stand for my beliefs, foolish or not.

But I do understand why others would be concerned about their privacy.

Dec 7, 2005, 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved to Marin County for 2 years in 2002. The following items are experiences that stuck on my mind. The real pity of Marin is what it has converted itself into, arrogant phonies that are always in a hurry. Here is what greedy landlords and new money do to a county. I realize the posting are about the million dollar homes that are really worth 250,000.00, but this post will let readers that are planning on moving there realize what they get with it….

HOUSING:
The house (900 square feet) we rented for 2750 per month did not include a dishwasher or garage door. Mind you that the garage seemed to be in a 20 degree incline.
We paid to have both of them installed.

ENVIRONMENT:
The landlord prohibited us from using a pesticide company? It was not long before we had ants all over the kitchen.
Thank god for ant repellant spray.

RECYCLING:
There was no recycling bins, and the garbage was picked up from your backyard as the garbage person where instructed to open the gate to your backyard and dump everything onto one large bin.
This is still the method of picking up garbage in Tiburon.

RESPECT FOR THE ELDERLY:
One day I kept the door ajar to the Starbucks entrance since I realized an elderly couple was behind me. Much to my surprise, they tried to cut in line in front of me telling me I was on my phone.
I was actually checking my received call numbers and never put the phone to my ear.

PARKS:
Took my kids to the park in Corte Madera and was surprised that a brand new park was closed off due to a pending lawsuit because a girl broke her ankle playing. The park was equipped with the soft mats that would probably soften the landing of an egg if dropped on the ground from 5 feet.
Her dad (a lawyer) was suing the city. This is the typical Marin arrogance.

DUMB & RIGHTEOUS:
One day I noticed a convertible Rolls Royce parked with ½ a dozen elderly people sticking signs in the car? The next day I realized it was a bunch of elderly people protesting the war.
I never thought of Marin as a Republican base where these types of protest would be effective?

MOMS ?:
A high percentage of Marin County children are being raised my nannies. The mothers are out shopping and exercising trying to keep up with the Jones.
SOCCER MOMS are now JONES MOMS.

TRAFFIC:
If you live anywhere north of Tiburon, plan on spending an extra hour each way

Dec 7, 2005, 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

A recent article in the San Francisco magazine had an article entitled, "Where Have All the Children Gone?" It's a familiar refrain all over the bay area. Young families are leaving in droves, either because they can't afford to live there, or because they've realized they can cash out and set themselves up for a lifetime of financial security.

Over the course of the last year, the small parochial school that our children were attending has lost 20 families. We were the third family to leave. Our former community's demographics are changing dramatically, and this will have profound consequences for decades.

We need to sound the alarms! This is huge problem. Thank you for shining the spotlight on it. Keep up the good work.

Dec 7, 2005, 1:29:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

We need to sound the alarms! This is huge problem.

Yes, this is absolutely a huge problem. It is at the core of what I find most troubling about this bubble. When things get this out of whack, it is a huge problem.

The only way that there is going to be so much as a prayer of doing something about it is if people in local communities stand up, exercise their Constitutional rights, and make some noise.

Dec 7, 2005, 2:54:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

"I moved to Marin County for 2 years in 2002. The following items are experiences that stuck on my mind.... "

Very entertaining.

I don't live in Marin presently, though at one time I did. I think the "Respect For The Elderly" bit is an experience I've had myself.

If you're a traditional male, it's also hard to miss the "Jones Moms" phenomena, especially at the gym.

Dec 7, 2005, 4:16:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

If you're a traditional male, it's also hard to miss the "Jones Moms" phenomena, especially at the gym.

Yeah, no kidding! Every morning, I see this demographic rowing by my home in their color-coordinated outfits and sculls.

Dec 7, 2005, 4:47:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

In the year before my husband and I cashed out, we saw many troubling things. Elementary schools were closing and private schools were struggling. Major employers were pulling out because the cost of housing prevented them from attracting qualified employees to the area. Homes in very nice neighborhoods were going without routine maintenance and starting to look worn. Churches and charities were having trouble meeting budgets because of decreased giving.

It was obvious to us that the quality of life we had come to love was in decline. And yet, when we put our house on the market, we had four offers in 24 hours, all well over list. It was a windfall tinged with sadness, though, because we knew that we were profiting at others' expense.

Seventeen other families in our circle have also gotten out.
The families who've left are highly educated and employable. They have children, so they supported the schools, and they were active in our community. Their loss is a tragedy with long-reaching consequences.

Those who would say that this is not a big problem are deluding themselves. The bay area is losing its talent & brains class, those who keep the economy humming. If college-educated people with well-paying jobs cannot afford safe, adequate housing, everyone suffers.

Dec 7, 2005, 7:17:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

This was sent to me by a reader. I am quoting with permission. I totally sympathise with it and have personally witnessed more instances of what is described in the quote than I think anywhere else that I have lived. I think the character of Marin has changed and that it is due in no small measure to the rampant rise in the cost of living and the resultant increase in the 'haves vs. have nots'. Just my opinion.:

"We moved back to Marin in 2003 on a job transfer (and a hopeless dream) renting a 2/1 POS in Tiburon (for the best elementary school). The Marin I remember is gone. In the past, it was unthinkable to pass a total stranger in downtown Mill Valley without smiling or saying hello. During the recent year we lived in Tiburon I was shocked to find a county of the rudest, most inconsiderate, demanding, spoiled, self-absorbed, vain people I have yet to find anywhere (and I have lived in many cities). I witnessed many instances of unbelievable employee abuse at the grocery store, hardware store, etc. by heartless, self-important, customers."

Dec 7, 2005, 7:40:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Absolutely true! Marin is now inhabited by narcissists. Unfortunately, narcissism tends to be contagious, and I'm sure it won't be long before people in my beloved Sonoma county are infected, too.

Dec 7, 2005, 7:50:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

find a county of the rudest, most inconsiderate, demanding, spoiled, self-absorbed, vain people I have yet to find anywhere

Personally, I've found this true for the SF Bay in general, particularly areas populated by the status-seeking. The local tone has definitely changed, as more people came here with aspirations for wealth bring unhealthy attitudes with them.

However, there are many good people around. And, if the local economies suffer to an exodus of business, it may take the money grubbers with them. Let's hope so.

Dec 7, 2005, 8:32:00 PM  
Anonymous caddis said...

Has anyone else tapped into our 15% afforability index as a state? And does this information seem to matter to anyone. Because it should. No one even seems to care...just a bunch of stewing frogs...Great Site!

Dec 7, 2005, 9:21:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

reskeptic

"And, if the local economies suffer to an exodus of business, it may take the money grubbers with them. Let's hope so."

Despite my earlier snarky comment,
I don't believe that it's that simple. When Sonoma county started hemorrhaging businesses a couple of years ago, the kind of people who lost their jobs were not money-grubbers. They were people who worked long, hard hours as engineers, project managers, and system analysts. They drove mini-vans and older Hondas, not BMW's. They attended church & synagogue, gave to charities, and volunteered on the school boards. They shopped at local stores, hosted backyard barbeques, and kept their homes in good condition.

Sure, some of the turkeys will leave when businesses pull out, but so will these people. It's already started.

One of the unfortunate side effects of this exodus is that we are unintentionally infecting other parts of the country. When we come in with our huge re profits, we push up values in otherwise affordable communities. And, we feel quilty about leaving others holding the bag. I don't feel good about selling a house I know was over-valued to a family that is risking financial ruin to afford it.

We may joke about this stuff and make degrading comments about greedy agents & brokers, stupid borrowers and the like, but this is a huge problem that needs regulation.

Dec 8, 2005, 6:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karen,
I understand your point. But it's not regulation we need rather a decrease of human population. Face it. We built this system
( capitalism ) and we have to live with the good and the bad of it. This place would turn to trash if it wasn't for appreciation in the RE market.
~caddis

Dec 8, 2005, 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

What place would turn to trash without re appreciation? The Bay Area? The country as a whole?

Please elaborate.

Dec 8, 2005, 7:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Caddis said...

Karen,
( I'm thinking generally on this ) But I think that our environment in the northbay is more sophistcated, educated and has a greater pride of ownership than some areas in ours and our state and country. I own a few homes, some are really nice and one sucks. Well the one that sucks is in Vallejo and in a run down neighborhood. It hasn't appreciated as well as my others. I think, it's because the tennants can barley afford to live there. They spend too much time working their four jobs ( 2 parents ) to keep up with their kids needs, the house needs and to take pride in where they live.
~caddis

Dec 8, 2005, 7:33:00 AM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

One of the unfortunate side effects of this exodus is that we are unintentionally infecting other parts of the country. When we come in with our huge re profits, we push up values in otherwise affordable communities.

Karen, I'm basically siding with your assessment of the situation, and I agree it's a complex problem. I see this partly due to current social/business mores, lack of govt. oversight, and of course the current speculative climate in RE. If we're due for a correction in RE, and possible economic downturn, that might also lead many people into saner lifestyles as well.

Dec 8, 2005, 7:43:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Exactly. But what you're seeing is not limited to run-down neighborhoods in Vallejo. As I noted in a previous post, $750k homes in my nice Sonoma County neighborhood were going without routine maintenance.

A couple of years ago, I started looking carefully at these houses on my morning walks. I saw unkempt lawns and peeling paint. Nothing huge, but signs, nonetheless, of over-extended homeowners, who were working too much to do this kind of work themselves and not making enough to pay other people to do it for them. These were not people who drove Hummers. They were engineers driving used Hondas, who pulled down close to six-figure salaries. Their wives often worked, too.

The real estate appreciation isn't saving these people, it's destroying them and the community, too. They are the community's producers, and they (and their children) are vitally essential to the bay area's economy. When they finally give up and leave, there will be no getting them back.

Dec 8, 2005, 7:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Caddis said...

Karen,
I see your point. My point was that regulating values would go against our ability as capatilists to grow. We want it. Now, as an investor, I look to where these people are going and buy there. Then when it looks good over here again, I'll buy here again. Cattle herding.

Dec 8, 2005, 9:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lived in Marin for nearly 6 years as a renter, seeing the boom and bust of the rental market and the slow slide now of the housing market. To me, to over simplify, this goes back to supply and demand, and that demand not being based on sound economic principals and fueled by very loose lending standards. People will get bit. Happens all the time in different markets.

On the talk about narcissism. Marin for the last 20 years really has made the slow change to this. My wife doesn't want to live in Marin for several reasons, primarily of course the rip-off pricing of homes, and the attitudes of it's occupants. In Mill Valley, I have never been in a "small" community of apparently wealthy educated people who are so insecure and rude to each other and strangers, saying this I grew up in another small wealthy community in the east bay.

Some people are outright weirded out when I smile at them or hold a door at the grocery store. The kids are seriously deluded due to their economic isolation. It's not where we want to plant our roots.

Dec 8, 2005, 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

caddis,

I'm not suggesting regulating values, but tightening lending standards would be a good start. And, maybe cracking down on crooked appraisers would help, too.

anonymous,

Marin is a toxic environment in which to raise a family. Your wife is right. Look elsewhere, before it's too late.

Dec 8, 2005, 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

In Mill Valley, I have never been in a "small" community of apparently wealthy educated people who are so insecure and rude to each other and strangers

Seems a lot is said about Mill Valley's attitude, and perhaps it's true. I've also met a few who seem to need public validation, of whatever success they've made for themselves. One client in that town, who considers herself a local celebrity, threatened to "ruin" me over a rather a small disagreement. Sigh. I encounter these cold, verticaly-oriented personality types more often in towns like MV, Tiburon, Ross etc. Outside of a few social anomalies, I still find wonderful people, such as my neighbors.

I guess my point is--it's up to everyone to make their community; you can either build or destroy. Your return is equal to your investment in others.
Obvious, I suppose.

Dec 8, 2005, 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

I referred earlier to the changing quality of life I sensed in Sonoma county. I saw it in a much more developed form in Marin.

When homeowners are no longer invested in the community because they are focused on turning a quick buck, they unwittingly destroy what initially made the community so attractive. Why should anyone put time and effort into community issues if they plan to take their money and run as soon as possible?

Are we all in agreement that public schools in California are a disgrace? Now that I'm in the position to compare what public education is like outside the golden state, I can tell you unequivocably that your schools are a disaster.

Is there any possibility of a change for the better? Probably not. It takes more than money to fix those kinds of problems. It takes people who are committed to the long term health of the community. When re speculation is rampant, nobody has the incentive to put in the effort.

Just my two cents. Take it however you want it.

BTW, marinite, we've taken this discussion away from it's original intent. Sorry. Perhaps it's a topic for a new post?

Dec 8, 2005, 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

BTW, marinite, we've taken this discussion away from it's original intent. Sorry. Perhaps it's a topic for a new post?

I've thought about a new post. But I don't want people to feel like they have to restate what they've already said. So just keep going on as you are until the thread stops on its own.

Dec 8, 2005, 2:56:00 PM  

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