This is the world’s first billion dollar home. Yes, that’s $1,000,000,000 smackers.
Not the silly UK Billion which is really just a million.
That’s a pretty big chunk of change for a home sweet home. I don’t mean to offend the designer or anything, but I think I might ask to trade this in for, say a THOUSAND million dollar homes. Think about it. This, or you could have an average of about 8 great million dollar homes in every single country in the world. Or you could live nicely and then give away nine-hundred-ninety-nine ONE Million dollar homes to needy rich people. OR, you could have a pretty decent 99,900,000 dollar home and a cool Tesla roadster and then pocket nine hundred million for the gas you won’t need to drive your electric car.
Today CSPAN had the congressional hearings with Mozilo, who has a 40 year tenure with Countrywide as founder and CEO. He presided over Countrywide’s meteoric rise and much of the meteoric fall. I hope people hurry up and wake up to the significance of the events underway in housing right now. The mortgage meltdown is likely to become the greatest loss of wealth in human history. CEO pay is a mostly trivial aspect of this situation.I think we’ll see another 10-20% loss from current values and I think we are already down some 4 *trillion* 2+ trillion in housing value (need to check this, but the number is staggering). A discussion of the amount is HERE. Housing is a major depository of American wealth and prosperity, and the recent boom in values has led to various forms of reckless spending by individuals as well as the usual wild, stupid, and reckless spending suspect: the Government. This is especially true of our unconscionable and totally indefensible levels of mililtary spending. Note that you *cannot* be a fiscal conservative and support the current military budget. $550,000,000,000 to the military and fiscal conservatism are mutually exclusive positions.The impact of the meltdown and the reckless spending will be felt forever because in addition to direct housing problems that we are only starting to feel, I think all this will to depress our economy for several years and thus accelerate the shift of business to China. This last notion is speculative, but I think it is now pretty clear that the Fed will keep rates low for many years in an effort to fend off an even more disastrous housing and credit situation. This means China will be buying less of our debt, but I think will switch to investing more*directly* in US companies, and thus owning more and more of the American empire. Russia’s leader and architect of communism Vladimir Lenin is famous for saying “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” But he was dead wrong. The “Communists”, to the extent that term has meaning anymore, have no intention of destroying the USA. In fact they want to keep us in good shape for as long as needed. Now it is China who is making the rope, buying the rope, and learning the capitalistic ropes so they can slowly and gradually replace us as the empire of choice on the global landscape. A few things I noted during the Countrywide questions and testimony:
* Probably Mozilo was just a high powered opportunistic guy and probably was pretty much within the law with his trades and pay, however he must have known things were poised to melt down to some degree.
* Our congressional system is failing to produce people who are worthy of ruling the amazing American empire. I don’t think there is much corruption but these guys sure are uninspired. The congress-as-corrupt view is a “naivety of the skeptic” idea that is not based on a study of the money flow, personalities, and history of public servants who for the most part are bright, helpful people. However they are mostly lacking in the key skill sets required for innovation and smart reform. In short: American politics selects for the wrong skill sets. To wit:
* Republicans can’t see past Ayn Rand’s ass. They understand the virtues of capitalism, but simply refuse to focus any attention on the key topic of how our brilliant capitalisic experiment has *failed* in many ways to deliver enough products to the neediest folks and how many capitalists are mostly focused on the creation of opportunistic business structures that are exploitable by the clever and the wealthy to the detriment of the greater society. .
* Democratic congresspeople are overwhelmed by math and economics. They concentrate on people, “good vs bad”, “rich vs poor”. * People want to find bad guys rather than find the obvious. In the case of mortgages the system as a whole incentified unwise practicies. Reminds one of the savings and loan debacle although I think government regulations (loan guarantees) were clearly at fault with S&Ls were the mortgage crisis cannot be blamed mostly on the government.
* Is there a simple legal remedy for all the CEO pay and stock manipulation issues? I propose a “Captains go down with the ship” law. If a company you founded fails you lose everything you made from that company except some modest monthly stipend. This would incentify stability over pump and dump strategies. I don’t think it would inhibit founding quality companies. What unintended consequences would this law bring to the business landscape?
Wow, I’m doing some research for an Oregon retirement website and just learned that according to recent survey the 2004 book called “Retirement Places Rated” out of hundreds of retirement areas in the USA two of the top ten places to retire in the USA are right in my back yard – one of them actually includes my back yard because it’s the Medford / Ashland area here in Southern Oregon. The other is Florence, Oregon – number one in the survey of over 300 places. I travel there often and personally prefer this area due to much better weather and our abundant big-city amenities in a small city, but Florence Oregon is a really nice place too and it’s the home of Oregon Coast Magazine and our Online Highways websites including this great Oregon Travel section in case you are planning a trip to Oregon. Our Travel Blog is here and I’ve posted a few good Oregon travel references as a warmup to the big blog I’m starting this month that will cover the entire state of Oregon. More on that later.
Locals call this the “Rogue Valley” and historically our wonderful region does very well in national “best places to retire” and “best places to live” surveys. I’ve lived in the East, Midwest, several California cities, and here in the Rogue Valley and it’s hard to imagine a better place to raise a family or retire. The houses are relatively expensive and the economics for a wage earner are the most challenging aspect here which may be why the population remains modest, though growth in some of our areas has been dramatic.
Wow, Coldwell Banker is reporting these stats on the most expensive vs cheapest USA markets for a comparable 4 BR house. I’ve been wondering about this for some time and this indicates clearly the truth of the old maxim in real estate “location, location, location”Looks like here in southern Oregon we are near the national average of about 410k for a 4BR house.
Wow, Talent is for sale these days as hundreds of houses go onto the market at prices that appear to be coming down, down and I predict down more now that the winter doldrums are approaching. Under normal real estate circumstances people would be pulling houses off the market now, but the sub prime mortgage fiascos have put a lot of folks in the terrible position of “having” to sell their house or lose it. I’m not clear when we’ll hit the bottom but I think this winter will be a great time to buy and a bad one to sell.
Matt Ingram, in the wonderfully titled “Is Zillow Building a Ghost Town?” is skeptical of Zillow’s new community pages, noting the failure of BackFence. I’m also skeptical of Zillow’s prospects for online community building but I think for different reasons, and both of us are premature to call this so early. Zillow is a big player in the “city information” space and therefore should certainly look for ways to enhance social networking at the site.
I’ll waste a few electrons to duplicate what I wrote over there:
I’m also skeptical but this is no Backfence – here Zillow will not pay to have the content developed so if communities do sprout up they’ll be gravy to the Zillow bottom line which should only have to pay a modest amount to ramp up and keep this going alongside their core competency, RE listings.
However the *idea* of local voices is excellent, in fact I’m hoping to create a more tourism focused approach with local bloggers rather than contributors to a community in which they have little stake. Hyperlocal *news* will keep failing but hyperlocal *blogging* has only begun to flourish, and IMHO could become the dominant form of human communication. (insert trumpet fanfare here)
Wow, lots of work on the old house this past 10 days without a lot to show for it but I think the “turning point” is near where things will start to feel more like the big progress I was hoping for.
The little back porch is completed with some 3/4″ cedar boards that are really pretty and I got at a great discount of .50 per foot. This wood is somewhat thin for a porch though ~3/4 fir was the most common porch board historically around here so it looks correct.
I’ll seal it with special stain today (Red Cedar transparent deck stain) and it should look super nice that way, though I may eventually have to paint this to be consistent with the house exterior paint job. Historically the (clear and gorgeous) woods used in construction were stained dark or painted.
A bottleneck has been the proper removal / disposal of the asbestos sheet flooring that was in kitchen and popcorn ceiling in living room (which may contain asbestos). You can pay a small fortune to have this work done or do it yourself as owner, so I’m doing it. Like so many environmental “evils”, the story of asbestos is really interesting and confusing. The more I know about the many issues (which is quite a bit now), the less I seem to understand. Here’s a neat asbestos identification guide from NY.
Asbestos went from wonder material used in millions of houses and thousands of schools and buildings to despised cancer-causing nightmare material requiring very special disposal procedures. There is a substantial bureaucracy in place via the DEQ to give advice about removal procedures but they won’t help identify the materials. For that you need lab analysis at $20 per sample. I’m treating the ceiling popcorn stuff as contaminated but should have had it sampled because it’s messy and if it’s *not* asbestos I could do this work faster, but it’s almost done now. The ceiling stuff scraped off smoothly after wetting using a sheetrock taping blade. I covered the floor with the 6 mil plastic required for disposal (2 layers of 6 mil plastic, both layers sealed with duct tape for most of the disposal wrapping though I can also use a cardboard box, sealed with duct tape and then wrapped with 6 mil).
Tomorrow we’ll finish roofing the section that needed repairs. The strand board had some warping but it flattened out nicely with screws.
The website HammerZone.com is a great resource for this type of old house remodelling. Lots of 1-2-3 step by steps with pictures.
Today was nice weather-wise but on the roof I was baking my butt so we quit early and will start tomorrow morning earlier than usual to get this done in the cool of the morning.
An Ashland friend has convinced me I should add a staircase up to the very large attic space so this becomes a more valuable feature of the house and I think he’s right, but finding the right place for the stairs is a challenge. The risers can only be about 9″ maximum height and the height to the next floor is about 9 feet 6″, so I need about 13 feet along a wall for the stairs. Also, attic is only high enough to stand near the middle so there are only a few appropriate places for the stairs unless I put in a roof dormer and I’d like to avoid that for now.
Update: Roofing done. I am SO sore. How do people do this stuff all year long?
I’d really like to buy some real estate this winter if the price gets right, but it’s a nervous time since prices appear to be on the way down for at least another several months and as I see it could fall or stay low for the next few years, even indefinitely if global tensions and US spending continue at the current levels. This article suggests some really good deals in housing, though I think I’ll stick to the local market I know a lot better than these.
When I agreed to help Star Properties with their new website I thought it would be easy to make them appear first at Google for “Talent Oregon Real Estate“. Why? They are easily the most relevant site for that search being the (only?), first, and best Real Estate office here in Talent.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from Google, but what seems to be happening is that my blog posts are rising to the top for this term rather than Star Properties’ (more appropriate) Talent Oregon real estate site.
It’s somewhat reasonable for Google to wait until a site is verified as “non spam” before they rise to the top for highly targeted searches, though it is also a search defect as it keeps the best sites from appearing for that waiting period, sometimes called “sandboxing” by SEO peeps.
I think what this indicates is how significant blogs are becoming to the search experience. Google correctly assumes a blog is fresher and more relevant than most sites.
Note that under the local listings there is a “Star Properties” but it links to the wrong site – one that just mentions them but has incorrect email and old website info. Google does have a procedure to correct this bad listing.