Perma Bear gonna pull the trigger!!!


By mm   Follow   Tue, 13 Mar 2012, 8:32am   8,079 views   78 comments
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(Original post by mm, finally recovered by Patrick)

'm a long time real estate bear and reader of this blog. After years of waiting, I'm finally going to pull the trigger and would appreciate some feedback. Here are the facts:

- current rent: $2,000/mo
- price for new house: $470,000 (3,000 sq ft w/pool built 2000)
- down payment: 30%
- financing: 15year @ 3%
- P&I $2,272
- zip 91381

Any thoughts?

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  1. freak80


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    39   11:41am Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    What happens if we get a new real estate bull market and your home doubles in value?

    You mean yet another bubble? Yes, that's just what this nation needs.

  2. CrazyMan


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    40   11:42am Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    It's too bad you can't actually get a decent home in a reasonable area for 470K.

    Around here that doesn't buy anything. If I could get a nice 3/2 for 470, I'd buy as well.

  3. toothfairy


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    41   11:43am Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    If you're using a shapshot of todays numbers in the calculator

    interest rate = 4%
    house price inflation = -1%
    rent inflation = 10%

  4. rootvg


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    42   11:49am Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)   Protected  

    StoutFiles says

    iwog says

    Playing it safe is the worst way to live your life. You might regret some decisions, but the times you hit the jackpot will compensate.

    And Suzanne researched it, and this listing is special.

    What happens if rates go to 8% and home prices plummet? What happens when home values continue to slowly decrease? What happens when that job you thought you'd have forever vanishes?

    Playing it safe is a fine way to go through life. No one is saying you have to rent and hoard money forever, but don't over extend yourself buying the best house the bank will let you buy. A horrible way to go through life is keeping up with the Joneses.

    The old couple down the street (who taught us about business, real estate and life) were hoarders and read their electric and gas meters on a daily basis. They had money but seemed to be the most miserable people we knew.

    There's plenty of good advice here but bottom line, if you need a house in a nice area (Santa Clarita qualifies as a nice area except for Newhall) and you can afford it, I'd do it. I worked for a guy who lived up there on the hill and he liked it. We rented a newer house in Valencia and we liked it. It was even in a gated community.

  5. mm


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    43   11:56am Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    My personal views on the macro picture is what creates the hesitation. The situation, which I believe is part of a delevereging cycle in the developed world (e.g. US, Western Europe, Japan). Historically, deleveregings can be deflationary (US great depression, Japan) or inflationary (Weimar Repuplic). It boils down to whether the central banks print, too much(inflation), not enough(deflationary) or just right. All very complicated and the range of outcomes too difficult to predict. The delevereging is further complicated by structural fiscal deficits and being the reserve currency of the world can only help for so long. Eventually, it will hit the fan.

    There are pros and cons with each of these situations for housing. But, it's hard to wait when I have a family that is looking for me to make decisions.

  6. rootvg


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    44   11:57am Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)   Protected  

    wthrfrk80 says

    iwog says

    What happens if we get a new real estate bull market and your home doubles in value?

    You mean yet another bubble? Yes, that's just what this nation needs.

    The Bay Area seems to be one of the few places that's actually creating jobs. That, plus the Asians just keep coming. There's no end to them.

    This all contributes to why we did what we did. We know we're gonna be here because we work in tech, have about fifteen years experience each and my wife is public sector. There's no going back to Dallas for us.

  7. Katy Perry


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    45   12:00pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    wait one more year then.....?

  8. StoutFiles


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    46   12:09pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    mm says

    There are pros and cons with each of these situations for housing. But, it's hard to wait when I have a family that is looking for me to make decisions.

    You mean you have a wife that wants a big house to nest in.

    All I'm saying is 3000 sq. ft. is way too much space for 3 people, and if you're planning on more yet debating this decision then it's a bd one because you'll be financially pushed to the brink. Have you at least considered a house around 2000 sq. ft? it will be plenty of space and you won't be as house poor.

    rootvg says

    The old couple down the street (who taught us about business, real estate and life) were hoarders and read their electric and gas meters on a daily basis. They had money but seemed to be the most miserable people we knew.

    There is a middle ground between miserable hoarder and keeping up with the Joneses. I'm suggesting a smaller, more affordable house, not a 1000 sq ft rusted shack. If he has to ask if this is a good decision then he's likely pushing his budget buying this place.

  9. bubblesitter


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    47   12:10pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    This could easily happen with inflation while his costs remain fixed regardless of easy money.

    Inflation without corresponding rise in income? Is it possible? yeah sure. In that case price of everything goes up but NOT houses - again banks should be willing to approve that overburdened mortgage or buyer should have that much cash. Inflation? my a$$.

  10. iwog


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    48   12:16pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    bubblesitter says

    Inflation without corresponding rise in income? Is it possible? yeah sure. In that case price of everything goes up but NOT houses

    What support are you willing to offer that agrees with this scenario?

  11. bubblesitter


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    49   12:26pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    What support are you willing to offer that agrees with this scenario?

    Unless you have an understanding problem. Without rise in income there may be rise in day to day commodities - people need to buy those,for e.g. gas. You don't need to buy a place to live - you need to have borrowed money to buy a piece of RE. You may be correct if you are counting on Chinese to take over all our problems.

  12. freak80


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    50   12:28pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    mm says

    Historically, deleveregings can be deflationary (US great depression, Japan) or inflationary (Weimar Repuplic). It boils down to whether the central banks print, too much(inflation), not enough(deflationary) or just right. All very complicated and the range of outcomes too difficult to predict.

    Yup. The Fed holds the cards in this game...

  13. gregpfielding


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    51   1:16pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    mm says

    Very sorry I mangled the original post here. Author said mm was planning to "pull the trigger" and buy a place costing $470K to replace a rent of $2,000 month.

    It's a reasonable buy. Your new monthly costs, adjusted for taxes, are probably about the same as your rent. And now you are paying down principal as well.

    Even with a 30-year loan, after 10 years you'll have paid down 100K or so worth of debt. Even if nominal home prices in 10 years are exactly where they are today, you'll be ahead.

    The real issue for you isn't if this is a reasonable buy. It's whether or not you can realistically see yourself living there long enough to benefit. If your horizon is only a few years, then keep renting. But if this is a place you'll be happy for 10 years or more, then buying isn't a bad idea.

    But you have to be honest with yourself about how unhappy you might be if that $470,000 declines to $370,000 over the next few years, which could easily happen.

  14. mm


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    52   1:20pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Thanks to all for your comments, they are very much appreciated and help me tremendously. Always good stuff here. I'll let you know whether I end up pulling the trigger or not.

  15. mm


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    53   1:29pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    If I could switch gears and discuss the possiblity of further downside using the specifics of this scenario.

    I also think that there is potential for further downside given high levels of unemployment, stagant wages and structural issues facing the state of california.

    Some numbers: Average price per square foot of recent solds in stevenson ranch is about $200 sq/ft. This of course does not factor in the differences in houses (i.e. pool, view, etc) but is a starting benchmark. The house i'm looking at is about $150 sq/ft. Looking at other reasonable comps that recently sold, the average price is about $175-$190 sq/ft (larger homes). I figure that this may be an adequate "margin of safety" (Benjamin Graham) to help me against further declines in real estate prices. It may not be enough, but it's a bit of a cushion.

  16. gregpfielding


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    54   1:55pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    mm says

    The house i'm looking at is about $150 sq/ft. Looking at other reasonable comps that recently sold, the average price is about $175-$190 sq/ft (larger homes).

    Just curious... is this house a private deal? Or with family? Why is it that you are able to buy it at a 20% discount?

    If it is actually on the MLS and publicly for sale where nobody else has bought it, it probably isn't as good of a deal as you think.

    Or else, it's a 3,000 ft house in a neighborhood of 2,000 ft homes, in which case you can't put much stock in a price/foot analysis.

  17. rootvg


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    55   1:55pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    It seemed to me when I lived there that the extent to which you are likely to rise or fall REALLY depends on who you know and what business you're in.

    If you're in technology, Los Angeles isn't the place. It makes more sense to get with someone up here. It's not a tech town and it's not a thinking town. It's the only place I've lived where thinking was discouraged.

  18. drtor


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    56   2:38pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    bubblesitter says

    This could easily happen with inflation while his costs remain fixed regardless of easy money.
    Inflation without corresponding rise in income? Is it possible? yeah sure. In that case price of everything goes up but NOT houses

    I can see a scenario where there is not a lot of money printing, gas and some natural resources go up in price a bit (driven by global supply and demand), wages stay flat, and rents and house prices also stay flat or decline a little. I wouldn't call this "inflation", but I digress. In this scenario renting looks better.

    I really struggle to see a scenario with significant money printing but in which wages, house prices and rents stay completely flat in nominal terms Suppose money supply increases 10% year so we have about 10% inflation like thirty years ago. Historically also pretty common scenario for heavily indebted nations like ours. Now sure, wages and house prices may go up by less than 10% in this case, but to assume they would go up by 0% is pretty extraordinary. 0-10% = -10% real income loss per year is *very* unusual, if it goes on for 30 years we are talking about a 95% real income loss, nuclear war, back to the stone age type of situation.

    I would submit a more realistic scenario, of 5-10% inflation, but wages, rents and house prices going up by "only" 4-9% per year in nominal terms, for a -1% annual real change. Also this seems very depressing as it results in a ~25% loss of real wages in 30 years. But let's assume that for the sake of the argument. The point is that in this scenario one would do very well indeed getting a 4% loan and buying a house.

  19. EastCoastBubbleBoy


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    57   4:01pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    like with any other investment, it depends on your time horizon. If you plan on living somewhere long enough - at some point it makes financial sense to buy.

    But... the longer your time horizon - the more tenuous your assumptions.

  20. Mobi


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    58   7:08pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    Thoughts: Buy it.

    Playing it safe is the worst way to live your life. You might regret some decisions, but the times you hit the jackpot will compensate.

    What happens if rates go to 8% and you're sitting pretty on your 3% mortgage? What happens if we get a new real estate bull market and your home doubles in value? It may not happen that way and housing may be stuck in the mud for a decade, but is that so horrible?

    8% interest rate will destroy the housing price (just to think how much more interest people need to pay and can they afford the current price level with that?) and I will regret to death for my 3% purchase if I lose my job.

  21. thomas.wong1986


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    59   7:35pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    mm says

    Very sorry I mangled the original post here. Author said mm was planning to "pull the trigger" and buy a place costing $470K to replace a rent of $2,000 month

    How much was the home, or similar homes before the bubble and what is it today... if its 30-35% higher.. nothing wrong with it. ..

  22. Austinhousingbubble


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    60   7:55pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    mm says

    Very sorry I mangled the original post here. Author said mm was planning to "pull the trigger" and buy a place costing $470K to replace a rent of $2,000 month.

    Granted, I haven't seen either place, but both of those numbers seem crazy. I think it's an example of the movement in the baseline of what is perceived as an acceptable price for a rental or SFHs following the bubble. There was definitely a distortion in perceived values that remains to this day.

  23. Austinhousingbubble


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    61   7:56pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    thomas.wong1986 says

    if its 30-35% higher.. nothing wrong with it. ..

    Have household incomes moved up by the same percentage since the bubble?

  24. thomas.wong1986


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    62   7:59pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Austinhousingbubble says

    Have household incomes moved up by the same percentage since the bubble?

    That too is a critical question to ask.

  25. rootvg


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    63   8:03pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    Austinhousingbubble says

    thomas.wong1986 says

    if its 30-35% higher.. nothing wrong with it. ..

    Have household incomes moved up by the same percentage since the bubble?

    It wouldn't matter either way.

    Here again, we're back to the same old stuff.

    It's expensive here, really expensive in the better suburbs. I'll bet Atherton and Hillsborough are every bit as pricey as Mclean and Chevy Chase.

    There's a lot of money here. There's a lot of money held by people who never earned it...and that's a PROBLEM for anyone wanting to work and raise a family. There are a lot of people here who were raised upper middle class and think everyone should live that way and when they find out that isn't the case, they flip their collective lids. That's why this area elects the people it does to represent them in Congress and Sacramento...and it's why the whole country laughs at us.

  26. Austinhousingbubble


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    64   8:06pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    rootvg says

    Here again, we're back to the same old stuff.

    Yes, the same old fallacy of thinking it's different here;this time, etc.

  27. thomas.wong1986


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    65   8:17pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    rootvg says

    It wouldn't matter either way.
    Here again, we're back to the same old stuff.
    It's expensive here, really expensive in the better suburbs. I'll bet Atherton and Hillsborough are every bit as pricey as Mclean and Chevy Chase.

    That fine, if some big shot wants to live in Atheton or Hillsborough.. but you will find in past decades many were very happy with living in Fremont, South SJ, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, etc.

    If you want to impress, lets visit Marin...

  28. thomas.wong1986


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    66   8:19pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    rootvg says

    There are a lot of people here who were raised upper middle class and think everyone should live that way and when they find out that isn't the case, they flip their collective lids.

    Dont mistake real Californians with migrants from the east coast, who call themself Californians. The two are different.

  29. thomas.wong1986


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    67   8:25pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    rootvg says

    That's why this area elects the people it does to represent them in Congress and Sacramento...and it's why the whole country laughs at us.

    more recently .. yes. But that was not the same when we were at our best, and didnt have bubbles and life was more rational.

  30. rootvg


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    68   10:01pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    thomas.wong1986 says

    rootvg says

    That's why this area elects the people it does to represent them in Congress and Sacramento...and it's why the whole country laughs at us.

    more recently .. yes. But that was not the same when we were at our best, and didnt have bubbles and life was more rational.

    Completely and totally agree.

    So, how do we get it back? Protect our markets? Throw a blanket over people in the Rust Belt so they're competitive again?

    How do we do that to the Chinese when we owe them trillions of Dollars? I can't wait to hear THAT answer.

    The people who were in charge before Bubble Guy (Greenspan, then Bernanke) were from the World War II generation. Most of those people are gone. I have to tell you, I don't think the will is there anymore.

  31. rootvg


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    69   10:03pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike   Protected  

    thomas.wong1986 says

    rootvg says

    There are a lot of people here who were raised upper middle class and think everyone should live that way and when they find out that isn't the case, they flip their collective lids.

    Dont mistake real Californians with migrants from the east coast, who call themself Californians. The two are different.

    Real Californians are those like my soon-to-be former landlord. He grew up in Stockton, worked his way through Cal Poly, busted his ass all the way...and he owns a ton of real estate and he's never been a snot to us or to anyone we know.

  32. Robber Baron Elite Scum


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    70   10:12pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    but the times you hit the jackpot will compensate.

    If that was the case, then every casino that ever existed would have been bankrupt by now.

  33. swebb


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    71   11:11pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    mm says

    My personal views on the macro picture is what creates the hesitation.
    ...

    Your situation is similar to mine, in many ways, and I'm struggling with the same sort of decision. I haven't found an "ideal" house, or something that gets us too excited yet, though.

    1. You can continue to live in a rental with young kids, even if they end up sharing a room for a few years. I promise.
    2. I admire your commitment to the 15 year loan and fat down payment, but I question whether it is the best call. Rates are fucking low right now. I'd probably tend toward the 20% down 30 year loan, keeping the other 10% as a buffer (along with the difference in monthly payment). If interest rates increase, you can likely make more % on your "extra" money through investments than you are paying in interest...Especially if it allows you to more fully fund your retirement accounts. Stick it in a Roth...If in several yearsd things still look like crap and rates/returns are still low, you can always convert to a 15 year loan....(and if you need your other 10% back, you can always pull it back out of the Roth penalty free)
    3. 3000 square feet seems pretty big to me. Especially as I look toward the future with the same "macro concerns" that you seem to have. I would say that a family of 4 can pretty comfortably fit in a 1300 square foot house if it has a basement (at least for laundry and storage)...otherwise you may need another several hundred square feet. Of course this is all a personal choice, but my opinion is that 3000 sf is far in excess of what you need...I would say the marginal 1000 square feet would be worth 1/2 or less of the first 2000.
    4. Try to be sure you aren't overpaying (either buying something you don't need, or paying above market)...if not, and the house is what you want, then go for it. Life is short. The worst of the drop is probably over..you can't eliminate all uncertainties.

  34. Austinhousingbubble


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    72   11:41pm Tue 13 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    iwog says

    How? Now you are bullish beyond NAR standards. That could happen only if there is return of completely lax lending again. It seems like you have not analyzed causes of last bubble.

    This could easily happen with inflation while his costs remain fixed regardless of easy money.

    Only if there is a massive wage/salary spike for the American middle class baked in. Considering the long term income trend for the American middle class, it sure doesn't look likely. Maybe if we can get back to to funny money games on a retail level, but that also doesn't look very likely, despite some flashbacks to bubble-era mentalities here and there.

    http://middleclasspoliticaleconomist.blogspot.com/2012/03/basics-real-wages-remain-below-their.html

  35. iwog


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    73   12:07am Wed 14 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    Robber Baron Elite Scum says

    If that was the case, then every casino that ever existed would have been bankrupt by now.

    Purchasing real estate is not like putting money in a slot machine nor are the odds related whatsoever.

  36. thomas.wong1986


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    74   12:09am Wed 14 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    rootvg says

    So, how do we get it back? Protect our markets? Throw a blanket over people in the Rust Belt so they're competitive again?
    How do we do that to the Chinese when we owe them trillions of Dollars? I can't wait to hear THAT answer.

    Pull back ALL mfg out of China, and plow it back into US soil.

    Frankly we should invest into the rust belt as the new hub of US Mfg from traditional products to high tech products. Funding coming from foreign corporate accounts pooled into investments (and favorable tax treatment instruments).

    Why ? IP (product and process), Economic growth & wealth creation, and natonal security(very big reason).

    How ? one way... once its back buy only "Made in USA*". You would be very surprised to see long back in early 80s, Europeans were rather more economically sensitive in selecting products that were nationally built goods.

    * Beer is exempt from all this.. Gotta have my occasional Molson, Beck or Fosters!

    Another way ... FTC can monitor, for product dumping on US markets. Monitor product pricing in the US compared to source country product pricing. For example, back in the 80s and 90s, you would have found Japanese consumers paying far far more for same product compared to US prices. Why ? Japanese, with the assistance of Japanese Govt and Labor were dumping products well below their own costs to take market share from US mfg. Not what I call free markets. The Koreans were recently busted doing the same in the NAND Semi Business.
    Get caught get penalties...

    Some in the media talk about cheap labor costs, which I believe to be exaggarted to some extent. Yet, you will find US can compete on Material and Process costing.

    Suarez Corporation Industries to move 200 jobs to North Canton from China

    Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 5:10 PM

    NORTH CANTON, Ohio -- He's already brought space heater production back to Ohio from China, and if Ben Suarez has his way, vacuum cleaners will once again come off the assembly lines at Hoover's former plant here.

    The chief executive of Suarez Corporation Industries on Tuesday announced plans to move its small appliance production from China to North Canton's former Hoover site and trumpet its Made in the USA label.

    So far, the company has brought about 300 jobs to the U.S. by shifting heater production here. It expects to add another 200 by the end of the summer as it increases production of EdenPure heaters and starts making EdenPure vacuum cleaners

  37. freak80


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    75   12:28am Wed 14 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    rootvg says

    It's the only place I've lived where thinking was discouraged.

    Have you ever lived in Rural America?

  38. Robber Baron Elite Scum


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    76   12:31am Wed 14 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    iwog says

    Purchasing real estate is not like putting money in a slot machine nor are the odds related whatsoever.

    Actually it is. The real estate market is manipulated by banks and the National Association of Realtors to profit them.

    The odds are against the majority of buyers. They are the house & you are the player in most cases. House always wins in the long run.

    They only way to beat the house is to not play by their rules or drink their kool aid.

  39. freak80


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    77   12:42am Wed 14 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    StoutFiles says

    mm says

    There are pros and cons with each of these situations for housing. But, it's hard to wait when I have a family that is looking for me to make decisions.

    You mean you have a wife that wants a big house to nest in.

    Love it! +1.

  40. KILLERJANE


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    78   7:05am Wed 14 Mar 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Could you rent it and make even a small profit? Always have a backup plan.

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