As a perspective new home buyer – I’ve been sitting on the sidelines for about 2 years (well, saving up a good down payment anyway). The prices during the boom were ridiculous, and as things are crashing, I’m waiting to see if were at a bottom (most experts are saying not likely till end of next year – but they’ve said that for 2 years now). The latest national S&P Home price index keeps dropping but Portland has fared much better than most. Lately, however, it looks like we’re no longer immune. It reported that Portland average prices dropped a record 5% since last year.
Looking on forclosures.com and RLMS database the other night, I actually found several very nice condos and houses in my price range. It was actually amazing/frightening/sad how many pre-forclosures were in the works. And how many of those homes were in the 500k-1000k range (I thought rich people didn’t go bust?). I did the same search about 2 years ago and got nothing but run-down shacks in questionable neighborhoods on the edges of my desired region. Now I have 10 really good hits right where I was looking – one even had 2 garage spaces (kind of unheard of around here).
But when prices are dropping 5%/year -it definitely isn’t buying time. At -5% a year, you seriously jeopardize the value of investing in a home. The whole point of buying is to grow equity. But, for example, if you have a $200,000 loan who’s home is losing only 5% value in a year, that’s $10,000/year you’re losing in real value. If your mortgage payment is about $1200/mo, then you are just dumping about a years worth of money down a hole with nothing to show for it. And any conceivable tax benefit doesn’t really offset that kind of loss. Yes, if you really need a home, then you might jump on a good deal – but this is hardly a buyers market – even if the latest home stimulus package includes an incentive for first-time buyers (not very useful, it’s a $7500 tax credit that phases out based on income and you still have to pay back, just interest free).
So what to do? Look for good deals. Wait until we see some stability and/or growth. I get the feeling things will keep dropping for the foreseeable future. And so what if you miss the ‘bottom’? Well, it doesn’t matter if you catch prices at the same point on the way down or the way up. I’ll wait and keep saving a better down payment.
I was just reading a report in the Oregonian about the most important concerns to new college graduates. Talk about a difference from the dot-com attitudes I graduated with. Here’s their responses (according to the Oregonian)
51% of new college grads said they were going to jump right into the job market and not take time off
Order of importance when selecting a new job:
#3 = location
#2 = salary
and their #1 criteria when selecting a new job = the benefits package (quality of health care and 401k/retirement)
Another shocking statistic – around 30% of 18 year-olds in Oregon don’t even have a license and the trend of going later and later until getting one is growing (but that might be due to some newer/stricter licensing requirements). I guess when you’re a teen – $4/gallon gas isn’t affordable. Heck, at $0.99/gallon when I was a kid – it wasn’t cheap. No wonder kids now a days aren’t driving.
That’s about exactly the opposite of what it would have been when I graduated in the height of dot-com craziness a few years back. I would have put it at:
20% said they would start working – the rest were going to backpack Europe or travel to Tibet for enlightenment for a few years – or just smoke some hash.
Order of importance when selecting a job:
#1 – salary
#2 – salary/bonuses and stock options
#3 – living in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley/Somewhere cool (Pac. northwest)
#4 – salary – show me the money
Here is a nifty site. Ever listen to electronic music and hear those interesting little audio clips sampled by the DJ of voices/movies thrown in? As Strongbad would say: ‘the system is down‘? Ever want to know where they come from?
This site (http://s107.net/) is a compendium of all the strange audio clips, the actual text, and what movie/sources they came from. It helped me find a few strange references. Look them up by song or search by text string.
Now that’s the love:
Best Biscuits and Gravy in Portland
Looks like I have some resteraunts to go visit…
Wow oh wow do I love this book:
If you want to know what living in Portland is a lot like, read this book. Becuase if it doesn’t accurately describe half the people I know in Portland – I’ll quit. It’s pretty much a stinging satire of all things that Portland loves – but probably true for most major metropolitan centers. I’ve personally seen almost every one of these things on the list occur. It started as a website, but now is in book form. I picked one up for cheap at Powell’s today (another place/thing white people like!).
Here are some of my favorites:
#2 – Religions that their parents don’t belong too
#15 – Yoga
#16 – Gifted Children – favorite quote of the book:
Because if a white kid gets crappy grades and can’t seem to ever do anything right in school, they are still gifted! How you ask? They are just TOO smart for school. They are too creative, too advanced to care about the trivial minutiae of the day to day operations of school.
Eventually they will show their creativity in their elaborate constructions of bongs and intimate knowledge different kinds of mushrooms and hash.
#18 – Raising awareness – My favorite
#19 – Traveling Abroad – this one is so spot on in the book they have an actual form letter that a traveler can send to their friends that sounds almost exactly like letters I get from friends traveling abroad. Even the order they write it in is the same. Freaky
#27 – Marathons
#32 – Vegetarianism
#40 – Apple Products
#53 – Dogs
#61 – Bicycles
#75 – Threatening to move to Canada
#80 – The idea of Soccer
#82 – Hating corporations
#94 – Socialized Medical Care
Or, just read them all.
I think I might start a Portland version of this very thing – since the bicycle situation in Portland isn’t quite the same as his version. In fact, in the book, he mentions Portland specifically several times…
Got to go to The Police reuinion tour concert last Friday. That was awesome. Had planned to go with some friends – but that all feel apart at the last minute. Fortunately we didn’t buy tickets, so I popped online to get one off trusty craigslist. Which I lined one up, but when I got to the gate, couldn’t find the guy. By then, I could hear The Police were getting introduced (I came late to skip the opener). What? A concert actually starting on time? That’s wierd. Anyway, I found a guy that was kind of desperate looking and sold me a 10th row seat right in front of Sting for $80. We ran in just in time for the second song. Amazing seats. I later found out those tickets were $400. Even though it was sold out, none of the tickets on craigslist were selling at even face value – seems it wasn’t quite as popular as some folks thought. Anyway, we ran right up front and I was close enough to the stage I could have walked about 10 steps up and jumped up myself. Never been that close to stage at a big concert like this – and on top of that it was Sting who was right in front of me:
(I stole this from the Oregonian, but the photographer was literally taking shots right in front of me. The guitar looked old enough to be one of the originals he used. Along with the police badge on the guitar strap – nice touch. More photos the photographer took here)
It was a great concert, but not very long. The guys only played about an one hour thirty minutes, and put on a good show – even if it felt a bit mechanical at times. They started on time, but ‘finished’ almost exactly an hour in. The first and second oncore took it another 30 minutes. It felt really short because of that. It was obviously still almost a completely Sting-lead show. They methodically played all their classics: Walking on the Moon, Don’t Stand so Close to Me, Every Breath you Take, etc. They were really close to the original versions and they churned one after the other with little embelishments and modifications. Even after all these years, he’s still got an amazing voice; but you could tell a few things had changed with time. One – he’s porting a beard now – which is odd. The whole band was greying and age was certainly creeping into the wrinkles. Sting was drinking from a coffee cup the whole time (yep, I was close enough to tell – but not if it was really coffee). They were kind of no-nonsense. Do the tunes, play and sing well, and then be done. Sting made a big point to keep pointing out the band members – which was a nice show of comradery.
I definitely got the sense of a much older, wiser and more collegial atmosphere. Gone were heady 20-something angsty in-fighting of their earlier years. You could tell they were doing this for each other. Overall, great experience and I’m super-happy I went. Even happier that I scored 10th row tickets for $80.
I’m going to show some libertarian roots here – even though I’m not a libertarian by profession/nature.
While I haven’t found a candidate I’m happy with in this latest presidential election, I have been looking to hear some of the right things come out of the mouths of these babes. But unlike our founding fathers who were brilliantly educated in philosophy and politics, our current generation of politicians make me sad. Mostly because our founding forefathers had actual jobs, were inventors, ran businesses, etc – while our current crop of ‘career politicians’ don’t seem to have much in the way of practical sense or classical understandings of what was really meant by words like ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ (hint: it’s not the ‘right’ to do anything you want – think more towards the good and nobility of all).
But anyway, I am giving the supreme court and Federal judge Thomas F. Hogan a huge hurrah. First, they indicated that the government’s detainees do have habius corpus rights (they do have a right to a trial and in general – have a right not to be locked up indefinitely without recourse – something I think is mentioned in one of those pesky Bill of Rights articles). Then, yesterday, the judge said that the government had had long enough to present the cases against the detainees – and their statement that they ‘needed more time to prepare their case’ fell on the rightfully deaf ears of the judge who pointed out some of them had been being detained for 6 years now. Exactly how much more time could one need? But we’re understaffed they said, and the judge said basically – tough. Drop all your other cases – these come first.
List of what I’d like to see our next president do:
- Investigate the Bush administrations destruction of the liberties of the citizenry – and figure out exactly how much damage he did with all these wartime acts.
- Repeal the blanket pardons Bush has been handing out to those doing the detention/’interrogations’ of prisoners, telecom wiretapping, and God only knows what else they did while running rough-shod over the constitution. Politicians on both sides of the isle as of late have had an all too comfortable ability of pardoning and shoveling things under the rug. This is one thing that wrong things that crosses the aisle – since neither side wants the other to hold them accountable to the people – because one never knows when they’ll need their back scratched when they mess up.
- Prosecute or release our ‘war prisoners’ in Guatanamo and other hidden locations- come *completely* clean to the world about what we did, and make a public commitment to the world that such desecration of life and liberty will not be stood for again. Enact the stiffest legislation or a new amendment to this course curtailing the president/congress/military authority in this realm. The world has long looked to us for our neutrality and good treatment of prisoners – work earned in the last 50 years during WWII has now been nearly destroyed in one presidency. Oh yes, we stand and fight for liberty and freedom – unless we don’t like you – in which case we’ll hold you forever without charging you or giving you redress. A right granted since the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. Yep – that’s the land of the free I know and love.
- I’m willing to get back my freedoms and risk a little terrorism. There WILL be other terrorists attacks in the future – but I doubt seriously that the department of homeland beauracracy will stop most of them with the shoe removing and mostly-for-show activities they currently use. And boy are we pouring money into those sorts of worthless things.
I know why they are doing it – because people are running around scared and crying “Oh why doesn’t our government save us!” “They should have known better”. The reality is that life is not safe – never was – never will be. I’m willing to take the risk a bit more and not go running around pointing fingers when the inevitable does happen to get some of my freedoms back: and the dignity to keep my shoes and belt on when going through an airport, and the joy of meeting and being met at the gate by those I’m flying to see.
“Those that are willing to trade their liberty for security deserve neither”
Dreamworks switches over to using all Intel for it’s render farms:
I had been holding my tongue for some time about this since one of the cool side benefits was this deal was won by our division. As a bonus prize, we had gotten to see Wall-e in a rented out theater about 2 weeks before everyone else did – even before they screened it in Hollywood. It was a really nice perk.
Wow – can you imagine what various civil liberties groups would have a field day with this here in the states? After all, it couldn’t possibly be your fault or the results of your decisions that you’re overweight…
Japan measures your waist at work
If you fail, your company receives a healthy fine until you get back to the right size. My favorite quote:
“Those exceeding government limits – 33 1/2 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women – and suffering from a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.”
“Re-education” sounds pretty awesome to me. Wonder how that works…