Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Greedy Investors Who Have Taken Hostage the Prices of American Homes for the Average American Family"

I found this quote in the comment section of this blog:
It occurs to me that the U.S. should put similar restrictions in place as China and South Korea [to prevent foreign investment in US houses].

Not only do such restrictions help avoid bubbles that are troublesome to the economy, but they keep at bay greedy investors who have taken hostage the prices of American homes for the average American family.

How many American families are dangerously in debt, bankrupt, or cramped in apartments, all because of an artificially high-priced home market, thanks to greedy real estate investors? Meanwhile, countless of homes in Phoenix, and around the country, sit empty….

I for one will not shed a single tear for those real estate “investors”, those that have chosen to buy a second, third, fourth home and helped inflate prices artificially (to the detriment of the average American family)… I will not shed a tear for those that lose their shirts in the coming bubble meltdown. They deserve it.
It strikes at the crux of the matter for me. The phrase "greedy investors who have taken hostage the prices of American homes for the average American family" sums it up pretty well. Yes, how many American families who normally could have afforded a house to raise their children in are now forced to live in an apartment because of the actions of greedy housing "investors" who have purchased two or more houses that they don't really need?

The only solution that I can see is to prevent speculation in housing or at least make it extremely difficult. There are certain asset classes that should be exempt from speculation and housing is one.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BZZZZZ. Wrong!

The speculators are going to lose big and after the bubble pop, housing prices will be LESS than they would have been had things been orderly.

The patient families can look forward to tearing the eviction notice off their new McMansions, close to work, after the suckers who bought high lose everything.

Aug 20, 2006, 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Dukes said...

The restriction that you speak of was there in reality. Back even 15 years or so ago if you bought a house you really had to sweat and prove your ability to pay - in the past 5 years those requirements were thrown out the window because of the 'geniuses' in the creative finance world.

If we get back to 'normal' underwriting criteria for loans this scenario won't play out again. I have a feeling that lending institution are the key to all of this, when they feel the pain, they will tighten, downsize, foreclose, or be gobbled up by larger more stable lenders.

Moral of the story: we had restrictions, but they were tossed overboard for greed and a lack of fear in a bubble mentality society. This is ALWAYS a recipe for a period of severe nastiness.

Aug 20, 2006, 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger sf jack said...

I agree in part with anon #877,512 above, for it seems to me that a reversion to the mean (and likely "beyond" in many locales) could provide opportunities to those with patience.

Perhaps even in Marin.

Aug 20, 2006, 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own three houses, my primary in Fremont, Ca (Niles District) was purchased NEW in 1988 for $169,995.00
it's now worth $715,000.00,our model is the smallest in the tract, We are surrounded by other homes, and tracts with prices reaching well over the million dollar mark. We also bought a new house in the North Eastern Turlock area back in 2002, for $195,000.00, this house has always paid for itself, thanks to the students at CSUS! And we bought our final Beautiful Retirement home in Denair, Ca. in 2004 for $335,000.00, it's 2800 sq. ft three car garage,plus RV parking, on a 8200 sq. ft. lot.Presently our three home mortgages add up to a NOMINAL AMOUNT of $602,000.00 TOTAL! My wife's retired in 2004 with a pension, we pulled in $120,000.00 last year, I retiring at age 50 in 2009, LIFE IS GREAT!!! everything is going according to our retirement plan, that we planned out twenty FRIGGIN YEARS ago, SOMETHING these NONBABYBOOMER'S X, Y AND Z'ers don't do. A Special thank you to JOHNATHAN POND THE GREATEST FINANCIAL ADVISER THAT EVER LIVED! ALL YOU DOOM AND GLOOMERS WITH YOU NEGATIVE REMARKS SUCK!, YOU DIDN'T PLAN FOR THE BIG PICTURE.....HAPPY RETIREMENT SUCKERS!

Aug 20, 2006, 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own three houses, my primary in Fremont, Ca (Niles District) was purchased NEW in 1988 for $169,995.00
it's now worth $715,000.00,our model is the smallest in the tract, We are surrounded by other homes, and tracts with prices reaching well over the million dollar mark. We also bought a new house in the North Eastern Turlock area back in 2002, for $195,000.00, this house has always paid for itself, thanks to the students at CSUS! And we bought our final Beautiful Retirement home in Denair, Ca. in 2004 for $335,000.00, it's 2800 sq. ft three car garage,plus RV parking, on a 8200 sq. ft. lot.Presently our three home mortgages add up to a NOMINAL AMOUNT of $602,000.00 TOTAL! My wife's retired in 2004 with a pension, we pulled in $120,000.00 last year, I'm retiring at age 50 in 2009, LIFE IS FRIGGIN GREAT!!! everything is going according to our retirement plan, that we planned out twenty FRIGGIN YEARS ago, SOMETHING these NONBABYBOOMER'S X, Y AND Z'ers don't do. A Special thank you to JOHNATHAN POND THE GREATEST FINANCIAL ADVISER THAT EVER LIVED! ALL YOU DOOM AND GLOOMERS WITH YOUR NEGATIVE REMARKS SUCK!, YOU DIDN'T PLAN FOR THE BIG PICTURE..YOU FRIGGIN TUNNEL VISIONISTS...HAPPY RETIREMENT SUCKERS!

Aug 20, 2006, 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain what real estate appreciating to unrealistic levels over the past few years and then reverting back to mean over the next few has to do with planning for retirement? I'm failing to really see the connection? If you planned for retirement now and assumed you needed $500,000 to buy a median priced home in 20 years but then come 20 years later a median priced home that cost $500K jumped to $1.5 million in 3 years just before you retired does that mean you planned poorly??? Some people are so dumb I don't know how they remember to breathe...

Aug 20, 2006, 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm or your side, but "curbing speculation" is either (a) meaningless, or (b) counterproductive. I suggest examining the cause of the rampant speculation. "Flipping" and speculation are results, not causes.

I'll grant your point if you can give me any example in history where gov't curtailment of demand for a particular good or service resulted in a decrease in price for same.

Aug 20, 2006, 1:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the west slope of the Cascades, Oakridge, Ore., is an hour from Eugene. A shack is all that remains at a former lumber mill site. More Photos »
Into the 1980’s, people joked that poverty meant you didn’t have an RV or a boat. A high school degree was not necessary to earn a living through logging or mill work, with wages roughly equal to $20 or $30 an hour in today’s terms.
But by 1990 the last mill had closed, a result of shifting markets and a dwindling supply of logs because of depletion and tighter environmental rules. Oakridge was wrenched through the rural version of deindustrialization, sending its population of 4,000 reeling in ways that are still playing out.
Residents now live with lowered expectations, and a share of them have felt the sharp pinch of rural poverty. The town is an acute example of a national trend, the widening gap in pay between workers in urban areas and those in rural locales, where much of any job growth has been in low-end retailing and services.
Most parents here, said Shelley Miller, who heads the family resource center at the public schools, are “juggling paycheck to paycheck.”
Ms. Miller included herself. She makes $20,000 a year, and when she and her 16-year-old daughter make the hourlong drive to Eugene, she said, “It’s a treat.” They go to Subway for dinner, then to Wal-Mart to shop at far lower prices than they could at Oakridge’s single supermarket.
Expressed in 2005 dollars, the average pay for a full-time worker in rural Oregon fell to $27,600 in 2005 from $34,200 in 1976. Over the same period, average pay in urban counties in Oregon climbed to $37,800, putting the rural-urban gap at $10,200 and rising, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
About 700 Oakridge residents, from a population of about 4,500 in Oakridge and the surrounding area, visit a charity food pantry each month to pick up boxes of groceries worth $100 apiece. Two-thirds of public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, meaning their families are near the poverty line or below it. About 260 of the town’s 1,200 housing units are single-width trailers.
“Every fall we discover that a few families have lost it over the summer and are camping out in the woods,” Ms. Miller said. “So we help them find some kind of housing in town.”
Above the fog line and below the snow line, with herds of elk in the surrounding hills, the town offers a peaceful beauty, and residents say it is a perfect place to live, except for the lack of jobs.
Today, a latte-serving cafe caters to mountain bikers and travelers on their way to a ski slope or parts farther west. A few new fast-food outlets are interspersed with graying motels and empty storefronts. Former workers fondly recall how the town’s 10 bars were mobbed every payday; now, a few old-timers gather in one of three tired bars and a dingy Moose Lodge, needing little prompting to carp about the Forest Service and environmentalists.
Oakridge has struggled to find a new economic base. On the edge of town, where the old Pope and Talbot mill burned down in 1991, an industrial park was created, but it is covered largely with weeds.
The town has authorized water and sewer services for up to 200 prime home sites in the hills above, and it hopes to attract retirees and commuters from the Eugene area, said Don Hampton, a City Council member.
Along with a growing trade in outdoor recreation, becoming a distant bedroom and retirement community may be the town’s best hope, bringing tax revenue and service jobs, though it is not clear how much opportunity this will offer ambitious young people.
“There’s no substitute for having a payroll,” said Dan Rehwalt, 77, who worked for decades as a machinist with lumber mills and the railroad.
When the logging and mill jobs dried up, many of the more enterprising families left. Some fathers commuted for nine months at a time to log in Alaska. Others found jobs an hour or two away in Eugene and other towns, but almost always at lower wages.
Karen Kephart, 63, who has five great-grandchildren, was one of the first women to work alongside men at the giant Pope and Talbot mill. When she was laid off in 1989, she was running a saw for $13 an hour, equal to $21 in 2005 dollars. Her husband tried other mill work in the region, then retired. To make ends meet, Mrs. Kephart turned to caring for the elderly in Eugene, sometimes for $7 an hour.
Rural Oregon Town Feels Pinch of Poverty

Aug 20, 2006, 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than ever, top-dollar real estate looks like the home next door
By Eve Mitchell I Business Writer


REALTOR Erich Sonnberger is selling this three-story, three bedroom, 2.5 bath house in the San Carlos hills for $1 million. The 1,900- square-foot house was built in 1979. (Ron Lewis - Staff)
TEN YEARS AGO, the Internet was just beginning to catch on, cells phones were more a novelty than a necessity and a million dollars would buy a nice, spacious house — a new, custom-built, five-bedroom, three and a half-bath, 4,500-square-foot house in the coveted Mission area of Fremont, for example.

What will $1 million buy today? In central Fremont, a downsized dream such as a 45-year-old, four-bedroom, two-bath, 1,585-square-foot tract home.

"Prices essentially went up 70 to 100 percent depending on the neighborhood in the last five years. Homes that were $500,000 to $600,000 five or six years ago are now in the million-dollar (range)," said Scott Kucirek, Northern California general sales manager for Prudential California Realty.

"It's shocking what you don't get for a million," compared with a decade ago, Kucirek said. "A million-dollar home in the Bay Area ... is kind of a middle-class home. ... The biggest issue is who can afford these homes. That's the issue that's going to hit all these communities."

Homes selling for $1 million or more are starting to become as common as a dime-a-dozen in the Bay Area's high-priced housing market.

In the last few years, soaring appreciation levels, along with pricey new developments, have pushed more and more home sales in middle-class suburbs into that once-vaulted territory found only in wealthy communities.

The housing market has been slowing down this year. But with the median price for an existing single-family home now approaching $800,000, a $1 million median sales price is not that far away, observers say. Not only that, but look to get less for a million-dollar home than just a few years ago. Ouch.

In 2002, about 4.1 percent of Bay Area sales of new and resale houses and condominiums were priced at $1 million or more. Last year, that number reached 10.5 percent, according to a survey released earlier this year from DataQuick Information Systems, which tracks the residential real estate market.

The growth is happening across the region. In Alameda County, the percentage of homes selling for at least $1 million increased from 2.3 percent in 2002 to 7 percent last year. In Contra Costa County, the rate tripled during that period to 9.3 percent.

In San Joaquin County, the growth in million-dollar home sales is even more dramatic, going from 0.03 percent of all homes sold in 2002 to 0.41 percent last year.

In San Mateo County, about 1 out of 5 homes sold last year went for at least $1 million, more than double the rate in 2002.

By comparison, about 1 in 13 California homes sold for $1 million or more last year, according to the DataQuick survey. Nationally, the rate is much lower.

The size of the house and what you get for one million bucks, or just a little over a million as the case may be, varies significantly from city to city and even more in different parts of the country. (See examples.)

In Oakland's Crocker Highlands neighborhood, a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, 2,026-square-foot house built in 1920 was priced at $1,049,000 in August. But over in Hayward, you will get a bigger and newer house in that price range. A four-bedroom, three-bath house built in 2000 with 2,874 square feet was priced at $1,038,000.

Want something bigger? Skip on over to Tracy, and a 4,427-square-foot house built in 1981 with four bedrooms and four and a half baths is yours for $999,999.

On the Peninsula, look to spend $1,050,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,510-square-foot San Mateo home built in 1955.

Leave California and it's a whole different story. In Nashville, Tenn., there is a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath, 5,900-square-foot home built in 2003 on the market for $1,039,000. And in Houston, you can buy a five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath, 6,413-square-foot home built in 2005 for $1,025,000.

Ten years ago in the Bay Area, $1 million would buy a spacious home with lots of amenities in traditional high-end enclaves such as Woodside, Portola Valley, Hillsborough, Piedmont, Orinda and Danville. "And there were not that many of them in those communities," Kucirek said.

But since then, demand has been strong and supply limited in the Bay Area, and prices have climbed.

Now, three- four- and five-bedroom homes in the 1,500- to 3,500-square-foot range are going for $1 million in middle-class suburbs like San Carlos, Redwood City, San Mateo, Fremont, Livermore, San Ramon, Hayward and Union City. Million-dollar homes are also showing up in Stockton and Tracy, especially in areas where homes are being built. Almost every community in the Bay Area has some homes priced at $1 million or more, Kucirek said.

That million-dollar price tag could soon be the norm for what a house goes for in the Bay Area, where fewer and fewer people are able to buy a home compared to years past.

Only 12 percent of Bay Area households could afford to buy an existing single-family house with a median price of $712,940 in December, according to the most recent affordability index from the California Association of Realtors. Since then, the median price has risen to $760,930.

That median isn't all that far off from $1 million, noted Ginny Cain-McMurtrie, vice president and director of marketing at Saratoga-based Alain Pinel Realtors, which specializes in high-end home sales in the Bay Area.

Last year, the average sales price for homes sold through Alain Pinel reached a record $1.14 million.

"Appreciation is driving it, and the old location, location, location," she said.

But what drives appreciation of million-dollar homes, or other places for that matter, is not just the house, it's size and amenities.

"If you are in a spot where you do not have more land to build out, it's going to be more expensive. If you're in a

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spot that has great schools, it might be more expensive," said Cain-McMurtrie. "It might be more expensive if it's near a big job hub in the Silicon Valley."

Both Cain-McMurtrie and Kucirek believe that if interest rates continue to rise, it could get harder for middle-class buyers to swing the mortgage on a million-dollar home.

"If interest rates continue to rise, the ability of people to purchase those million-dollar homes will get more challenging," Kucirek said. "Every dollar counts for them."

The number of homes valued at $1 million or more is rising in other parts of the country — but not at the pace of the Bay Area, according to a study released two years ago by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Of cities with a population with 100,000 or more, three in the Bay Area were in the top 10, percentage-wise, for homes valued at $1 million or more: San Francisco (No. 2 with 7 percent), Berkeley (No. 6 with 3.2 percent) and Fremont (No. 10 with 2.6 percent). Cambridge, Mass., ranked first with 11.6 percent of homes valued at $1 million, according to U.S. census figures for 2000 cited in the report. Nationwide, 0.6 percent of all homes cracked the million-dollar level.

While appreciation has pushed many Bay Area homes into seven figures the last few years, don't look for a $1 million home to reach $2 million in the next five years, said Zhu Xiao Di, who wrote the Harvard study.

"That is not going to happen," he said. "Looking forward, you have that the whole housing market is cooling down and the appreciation for most areas is still going up — but with a very low speed."

Some of the reasons for million-dollar homes in Fremont are the city's excellent school district, access to freeways for commuting, low crime rate and lots of parks and open space, said Steve Dhillon, a Realtor with Fremont-based ERA Associates, The Property Professionals.

"Really,

NASHVILLE, Tenn.: $1,039,000 Bedrooms: 4 Baths: 4.5 Sq. ft.: 5,900 Year built: 2003
the schools are the biggest draw. The younger affluent buyers, they want a good school district. We have clients that want to move to the Mission (area of Fremont) and they do so primarily because of the test scores. It's happening everywhere," said Dhillon, adding that good school districts also lead to higher home prices in Palo Alto, Piedmont and Cupertino, among other areas.

"Where there are strong schools, there is a healthy market," he said.

Erich Sonnberger, a Realtor with the San Carlos office of Intero Real Estate Services, grew up in a three-bedroom Belmont house his father bought for about $40,000 in 1966. Now Sonnberger is selling a three-bedroom, three-story home in the San Carlos hills for $1 million.

Since the beginning of the year, 76 of the 161 homes sold in San Carlos have gone for $1 million or more, he said.

"There are homes priced under a million that will commandeer over a million just because they are in a nice area. You get multiple offers on the property," said Sonnberger, adding that most buyers of million-dollar homes tend to be move-up buyers.

As with Fremont, having a good school district in San Carlos also helps drive up home prices, he said.

In addition to San Carlos, homes in Redwood City and Belmont are also selling in the million-dollar range, Sonnberger said.

While sales of homes priced at $1 million or more in San Joaquin make up only a tiny percentage of home sales, they are starting to gain traction, going from just three in 2002 to 64 last year.

The million-dollar homes are located primarily in Stockton and Tracy, especially in newer developments, said Ricardo Sanchez, a broker with Excellence Realty in Stockton.

"Price increases have caused the prices to go up, and we tend to see more homes for a million," he said. "Newer parts of Stockton are the most expensive. Many professionals are moving here from the Bay Area. People want more housing for their money — and in the (San Joaquin) Valley, they actually get more square footage," said Sanchez, who has a four-bedroom, 3.5 bath Tracy home on the market selling for $1,025,000.

Sonnberger and Dhillon don't see the market slowing for million-dollar homes, despite a general cooling in the housing market.

"You see people taking longer to make a decision to buy a home," Sonnberger said. He noted that it's become more about finding the right house that is in excellent shape and the right location. "It's hard to justify (a bathroom or kitchen that needs updating) when you're spending that much money."

"I don't see it slowing down," said Dhillon. "I just see now that it's a good opportunity for buyers to further negotiate and take their time. More lenders are taking steps to make loans more attractive. Historically, the interest rates are still very, very good."

But while appreciation is pushing more homes into seven figures, the flip side is people are getting less square footage.

"Two million is the new one million," Kucirek said.

Aug 20, 2006, 1:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That million-dollar price tag could soon be the norm for what a house goes for in the Bay Area, where fewer and fewer people are able to buy a home..." Until it becomes a shanty town like Oakridge, Oregon? Or better yet an unihabited ghost town! Riiiiiiight, prices are going to come down, PERIOD.

Aug 20, 2006, 3:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I own three houses, my primary in Fremont, Ca (Niles District) was purchased NEW in 1988 for $169,995.00
it's now worth $715,000.00,our model is the smallest in the tract, We are surrounded by other homes, and tracts with prices reaching well over the million dollar mark. We also bought a new house in the North Eastern Turlock area back in 2002, for $195,000.00, this house has always paid for itself, thanks to the students at CSUS! And we bought our final Beautiful Retirement home in Denair, Ca. in 2004 for $335,000.00, it's 2800 sq. ft three car garage,plus RV parking, on a 8200 sq. ft. lot.Presently our three home mortgages add up to a NOMINAL AMOUNT of $602,000.00 TOTAL! My wife's retired in 2004 with a pension, we pulled in $120,000.00 last year, I retiring at age 50 in 2009, LIFE IS GREAT!!! everything is going according to our retirement plan, that we planned out twenty FRIGGIN YEARS ago, SOMETHING these NONBABYBOOMER'S X, Y AND Z'ers don't do. A Special thank you to JOHNATHAN POND THE GREATEST FINANCIAL ADVISER THAT EVER LIVED! ALL YOU DOOM AND GLOOMERS WITH YOU NEGATIVE REMARKS SUCK!, YOU DIDN'T PLAN FOR THE BIG PICTURE.....HAPPY RETIREMENT SUCKERS!"

Yeah, so why are you so bitter then? Life's great and you're hanging out at real estate bubble forums? Could it be that your retirement plan might not work out as expected as your houses lose value over the next few years just when you were going to cash out? Maybe you're just bitter because you just wasted 20 years in that dump you call fremont when you could have rented for cheaper in somewhere nice like SF or Marin. Have fun being put out to pasture in a few years.

Aug 20, 2006, 5:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey bitter anon with the "brilliant" retirement plan...why didn't you just save your money instead of buying a lot of houses thus being part of the problem? Oh, that's right, saving money and not spending it on gratuitous "toys" is not a wise investment plan.

Aug 20, 2006, 6:17:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...


I'll grant your point if you can give me any example in history where gov't curtailment of demand for a particular good or service resulted in a decrease in price for same.


I don't know financial history well enough to answer that. I hope another reader can. But we've discussed this proposal (to make speculation in RE at least very difficult) on this blog a few times and I don't really want to regurgitate that all over again. But in brief...I think for a start it would be a good idea to remove the tax incentive for buying a house. I think we should get rid of the no recourse clause in primary loans for states like CA. We should revamp Prop 13 (applies to CA). Simply stipulating that you have to live in the residence for a minimum of five years or else pay a penalty would go far; for those who want to buy to rent then make it 10 years of continuous ownership or something like that. We should apply the same regulation and oversight to the real estate industry as is applied to brokers etc of securities etc. Callusion, manipulation, mirepresentation, falsification and other forms of RE fraud that we've been hearing about lately should be aggressively prosecuted and in the future anti-RE-fraud laws should be diligently enforced. You know, basically leveling the playing field again so that there can be fair market competition to set prices.

Aug 20, 2006, 6:43:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

"everything is going according to our retirement plan, that we planned out twenty FRIGGIN YEARS ago, SOMETHING these NONBABYBOOMER'S X, Y AND Z'ers don't do"

Has the anon heard of the grey ceiling? I work with lazy boomers that are 50+, and should be looking forward to retirement, when actually they are more paranoid about losing their jobs to the younger(better)people in the company. I guess it all makes sense when all the boomers talk about is their vacation house(s) on the lake with a boat and wave runners etc...

The fact is boomers are largely responsible for all of this, either through their own greed or through their inability to explain to their children how important it is to learn about finance.

Aug 20, 2006, 8:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALL YOU DOOM AND GLOOMERS WITH YOU NEGATIVE REMARKS SUCK!, YOU DIDN'T PLAN FOR THE BIG PICTURE.....HAPPY RETIREMENT SUCKERS!

They have a RETIREMENT Plan they are going to rob people like u with all that money.

Aug 20, 2006, 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

I was in Mill Valley today and tonight and the "Open House" signs are sprouting like I've never seen up there in God's Country (tm). Some corners had a half dozen of them.

No, I didn't have our camera with me. And as I've mentioned before, I'm not "cool enough" to have a camera-phone.

One of these weekends, hopefully, I'll remember the camera. Then again, maybe there's no need to be in a hurry, for perhaps there's going to be a lot of those signs for many years to come.

And hmmm... I wonder how many "Open House" signs there are in Fremont, near CSUS or wherever anon #345,454 is going to retire to at 50 - good for him and his wife!

Aug 20, 2006, 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous car lover said...

Hey anon anon #345,454...
I'm happy for you.
I'm happy that you have what you want.

Denair CA is not where I want to end my journey, but hey, they probably have a good hospital and hospice nearby.
No insult intended.
Denair seems like a great zone for RV parking.
No insult intended.

We are all on the glide path to eternity.
What are we leaving behind?

Your message seemed to say FY to all of us.

Is that what you meant?

Aug 21, 2006, 12:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this blog. Its a daily read..

A few things. Anon and his houses. He did say one has paid for itself from day one. That in my mind is a good investment and good planning. Positive cash flow and all that.

Another he owned for 18 years and has increased in value at an average 8%. Again nothing too crazy there. Removing the bubble value might take it back down to 6% average.

And finally the retirement home. Not too expensive given their income. So I dont see anything wrong and I dont see anything particularly clever about what he did. Everyone should have along term savings/investment plan.

Greedy flipping is something else, but we need to remember there are a lot of greedy owners out there. I mean greedy for a house they cant afford. Happy to be convinced by the lenders that they can own a $1 mill house on a $30k income etc.

phil

Marin Mobile Home owner ;-)

Aug 21, 2006, 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous SF Mechanist said...

No, no, no...

It is easy and copious credit originating from the central banks- and not greedy speculators- who blew the dream of home ownership right up in our faces. C'mon Marinite, I know you read Mish. Easy credit created the speculative run up. People simply acted according to their natures given the situation placed before them (and many if not most of these sheeple and FBs will pay for it dearly).

I would not place blame upon buyers or sellers who are free to act as they choose in a (more or less) free market economy. Rather, this is the fault of a broken banking system that turned certain cranks and pulled various levers to create this situation, and I suspect knew full well what was to happen.

Aug 21, 2006, 1:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

notice how the author of this article has to blame "foreign" speculation: it couldn't be good Americans doing this to each other, could it? ooooooh--scary foreigners! a kind of xenophobia that's typical of this moment, unfortunately...

Aug 21, 2006, 2:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mikhail said...

Don't "blame" the speculators for the real-estate bubble. Everyone needs to share the blame for this debacle. I have numerous friends who have been bragging about the piles of cash they've been making out of their home, and playing the game of selling and "moving up" to an even more ridiculous mortgage on the theory that the more expense the home, the more the appreciation.

Even more importantly, I think it would be extremely counter-productive to implement rules, or regulation, to reduce real-estate speculation. In the same way that rent controls create disincentives for the creation of more housing, restricting speculation would also slow down the natural process of new house construction in the future.

Yes, housing prices have risen to incredibly high levels right now. But don't forget that there has also been an amazing construction boom occuring over the last few years that will ultimately result in creating HIGHLY affordable housing.

If anything, we should be thanking all those "speculators" for creating a housing glut, which will provide cheap places to live for decades.

Aug 21, 2006, 6:28:00 AM  
Blogger mktmakr said...

marinite,
I agree with your thoughts that the special tax advantages of RE ownership should be removed, prop 13 adjusted etc. Why should someone making $300,000 on his house pay no taxes and why should a speculator be able to roll profits tax free into another property? Great loophole for the industry.

But look, these have all long been priced into the market. The bubble was created by a number of other factors not the least of which was the psychology of the public(see Christopher Thornberg). The market in the end will solve this problem as it always does. The speculators holding properties will be punished.

Also, a distinction should definitely be made between true investors and speculators. Investors are good for the market, creating liquidity for sellers when pricing get to cheap and for buyers when too high. Speculators are buyers without regard for fundamentals. Speculators will always be net losers in the end. Let the market punish these people. Getting the government involved will only screw things up worse.

Aug 21, 2006, 8:38:00 AM  
Blogger rejunkie said...

Marinite-

I won't repeat the other (valid) points that cheap money and slack rules definitely make it easier to buy 2nd and 3rd homes (and 1st). And 1031's. You are all absolutely correct. But there are giveaways for owner-occupiers too such as the interest write-off and Prop 13 limits -- do you want to give that up, too? There are lot of factors in the bubble as has been argued many times before. I don't think choking off investors will make much of a dent. Also foreign investment, while big in Pac Heights, is hardly the driving factor behind PoS pricing in Marin.

As one of those "greedy investors who have taken hostage the prices of American Homes for the Average American Family", I will repeat a point that I have made numerous times on this blog in the past: Renters gotta live somewhere too.

And in the current market, rather than looking at how expensive buying a home is, look at how cheap renting is: One of my condo's was renting for $1800/month in 2001 and rents for the same today. In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, that is a 14% decline in rents.


So perhaps, rather than looking at investors as evil family-wreckers, look at the flip side of the equation: the artificial supply of rentals has kept rents down, just like the artifical demand of purchases has driven prices up. There used to be a Section 8 waiting list in Marin a mile long - in fact at one point they would not accept any more qualified families to the waiting list.

Now when I advertise "section 8 welcome" I don't get many takers. In 1999, when I started my landlording career, I was bombarded with phone calls from desperate section 8 participants -- in fact , I rented to several of them, largely because the County virtually guaranteed payment. Now? Crickets.

At least when prices skyrocket and rents decline, families do have a choice of renting -- no shame in that. When rents skyrocket, you have no choice but to move to something smaller and more remote. And, BTW, that will start happening soon as all that demand sloshes back into the rental marketplace.

I should start a "marinrentalbargain" blog and impress upon everyone how important this inflection point is and how to lock in your 5 year leases NOW!

;-)

Aug 21, 2006, 9:56:00 AM  
Anonymous pothead said...

Don't forget that tax incentives for buying a house hit all income levels, not just the folks you're accustomed to seeing in Marin. Take a step back and think of what eliminating those incentives would do for most of the people in California, not just the priveledged few in the coastal communities. This is one of the main ways that "they" can create a significant change in their net worth.

Aug 21, 2006, 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Presently our three home mortgages add up to a NOMINAL AMOUNT of $602,000.00 TOTAL! My wife's retired in 2004 with a pension, we pulled in $120,000.00 last year, I retiring at age 50 in 2009...."

In what delusional world are you in good financial shape when you are carting $600K in notes on $120K in income????

Aug 21, 2006, 1:20:00 PM  

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