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Dream home architecture

By Peter P follow Peter P   2006 Jun 12, 5:59am 16,183 views   203 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    

Let's take a break and dream for a while.

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164   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 4:14am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      


No matter how often you bash Portland, I'll never lose my romanticised image of the PNW. But if Portland-bashing helps to scare away greedy flipper asshats from CA (who are f--king up prices there too), then I'm all for it. Bash away...

165   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 4:30am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      


Hey thanks! There really is no particular agenda on my part to bash PDX. It's just depression and the "tease" of having a few nice days and winding up back in "solitary" so to speak. For the most part flipper mania has been concentrated in Bend, OR and the surrounding areas but any time I hear Oregonians blame Californians my eyes involuntarily role into the back of my head! I've heard that same schpeel for so long I now finish the diatribe for them just so I don't have to hear it from somebody else.

Most of the places that still have that "Old NW Charm" are still there so don't let me spoil that for you. It's just that with all of the "in-fill" construction they are now a more difficult commute but tolerable by national standards.

166   Joe Schmoe   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 4:35am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Peter P,

I used to think that those 50-ish guys who build huge model railroads in their basements were eccentric and a little weird. I was looking for some airplane glue in order to fix one of my older son's toys last weekend. I went to a model railroad shop in Pasadena and didn't leave for like 30 minutes. I was visualizing all sorts of monster setups in my mind.

167   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 4:49am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

I used to think that those 50-ish guys who build huge model railroads in their basements were eccentric and a little weird. I was looking for some airplane glue in order to fix one of my older son’s toys last weekend. I went to a model railroad shop in Pasadena and didn’t leave for like 30 minutes. I was visualizing all sorts of monster setups in my mind.

Only 30 minutes? :)

168   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:01am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

They had a piece done on them that was actually okay and spun in a positive way.

How so?

I still do not think that boycotting housing is the right way. It violates the spirit of free market. And it will NOT work. Think virginity pledge.

169   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:12am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

That was the longest post I have ever seen…

It makes some terrrific points, too. My only complaint is I wish Robert would remove all the carriage returns before posting.

170   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:17am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Robert Cote'

I really wish you would call into Lars Larson on 750 AM on First Amendment Friday! He has been trying to shout from the roof tops for ages on this very topic for years gaining very little traction I might add. It's frustrating not only for you but Oregonians at large (that do not benefit) from this "experiment". Namely everyone that isn't a Multnomah County resident. Yes our school system is imploding as we speak! I shudder to think what it would look like if it were not for the likes of guys like Phil Knight (Nike founder). I worked at 5th and Columbia (major Tri-Met transit mall) for several years utterly amazed at just how few passengers they actually move. Any politician that speaks out against the incredible waste is promptly tarred, feathered and run out of town. The "experiment" is our 3rd rail.

171   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:21am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Robert Cote'

I realize that it probably doesn't get much press in SoCal but Multnomah County (Portland) initiated a 1% "temporary" income tax several years back to "augment" school funding. Please to notice that city and county employees were exempt from paying the tax! What a friggin mess. There's a reason I have always lived in Clackamas or Marion counties (even though I worked downtown) which makes me the biggest low life in most Portlanders' eyes.

172   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:26am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

FAB, you only get overtime in the SFPD if you are senior enough, or so I hear. The newer guys have to "get by" on $65k a year, plus very generous benefits, including full retirement at age 50. If you have a college degree they start you at $80k/yr! Over time is offered out on a seniority basis and the guys with 10+ years get most of it. But it gives you a reason to stick around, at least.

I don't know any firefighters making $200k/yr, but plenty make over $100k.

A firefighter and a nurse can still do very well in San Francisco. In fact, I have one couple just like that living on my block, they own their own home, have two kids in private school and appear to doing very well for themselves.

I think that delaying gratification and saving for the future is an important part of being successful in life, no matter how you define success: academically, personally or financially. But I think you also need to be able to take enough risks to get that success. And even more importantly is learning how to be happy with the blessings that have come your way. So many here complain that they can't have it all: children at a young age, time with their families, a successful career and a big house on a large lot in one of the most desirable places in the nation. It is strange to me that people even think that is possible, but I guess most of them grew up in very different circumstances than me.

This will be my last post for a while: my paternity leave is over and I don't expect to have time to post or even read once I am back to work full time. Good luck all of you in your dreams. You really can find a nice place in Charlotte for $80,000!

And I want to thank you all for helping me to keep my nerve in my TOL put, which is up 300% so far. I promise to take you all out for free sushi when I finally close the position, in Jan 07.

173   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Robert Cote'

What makes Portland more unlivable by the day is every time a problem or complaint arises (as they do most every where) the City jumps smack dab in the middle of it and turns it into a "revenue stream". Residents up in now trendy NW (formerly a dump) complained that folks would drive in from the burbs then park in NW, ALL DAY and THEN use light rail. Well, the residents there may or may not have had a legit complaint but by this time the matter was closed. They (the City) discovered there was a new revenue stream! Whoo hoo! In a week there were parking meters all over the place and they were raking in coin on the meters AND the tickets!

Bottom line? Can folks up in NW still park in front of their own homes? Oh hell no! But the city saw a trend and exploited to the full. Truthfully this is a minor matter but it exemplifies just how these people operate and why so many people no longer go to city hall and try to resolve things on a more local level. Sad.

174   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 5:37am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      


Yikes! My wife would have probably shot me if I had tried that. I took a week off work right after the baby was born, then she was home alone for two months. Then I got six weeks off with Ava, our baby. The new California Family Rights Act has certainly helped me make the case, since I got 55% (less really) of my regular salary while I was on leave. In your husband's defence, that law was only passed in 2004.

175   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:01am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Car usage is subsidized much more than transit in this country Robert. If urbanites stopped massively subsidizing suburban sprawl, it would go away, or at least be reduced.

The automobile is the experiment in human mobility that has failed, we just haven't realized it yet.

176   OO   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:13am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Some parents are very irresponsible and selfish. I have seen some parents who absolutely deserve to be left in public elderly facility to die by themselves.

My sister-in-law has such boomer parents, totally careless in financial planning. Her dad was making $100K+ back in the 80s as an executive in a tech firm, but amazingly they had NO savings! They bought a home, but kept withdrawing equity for their lifestyle so when they retired, they had to get my brother and sister-in-law to move in to help pay the mortgage, because their pension is not nearly enough to pay the mortgage and support their lifestyle at the same time. Get this, after paying nearly 30 years of mortgage, they still end up with only 35% home equity.

Then, both of them don't watch their diet, do whatever they wish to pursue instant gratification of senses, and deservingly end up with bad health, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and one of them had a stroke which left her half paralysed. Based on the way she pigs out, she is the poster child of a stroke patient. Now my brother and her wife have to be on call all the time attending to their caring needs, about three times a month, one of them needs to be sent to emergency room in the middle of the night. It is extremely hard on my brother who also has a couple of kids to raise. My brother says if this goes on for another year or so, either he will have a nervous breakdown, or he will have to drop them off at a senior facility against their will.

Parents like that end up with miserable financial and health situation entirely due to their own irresponsibility and stupidity.

177   skibum   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:13am     ↓ dislike (2)   quote   flag      

Ray W Says:

Totally off subject but did anyone else see the KRON news at nine last night to see the couple who setup boycotthousing.com interviewed?

They had a piece done on them that was actually okay and spun in a positive way.

I did see this piece. It was generally okay, although I thought (a) the couple seemed a bit clueless, and (b) the spirit of the piece was more or less that the BA market is SO insane that people have to resort to boycotting home buying to try to effect a change towards normalcy. True, but it shouldn't take drastic and unusual measures, if it is truly a free market going through its usual cycles.

178   skibum   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:19am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Your brother's situation is tragic, but it does point out my HUGE pet peeve, which is how people in the US fail to take responsibility for their actions. It's fine if people choose to live unhealthy lifestyles and get horrific diseases. However, our society should not allow them to get away with paying only their nominal share into the healthcare system and expect to utilize a vast majority of healthcare resources. As recent reports on boomers' retirement savings (or lack thereof) show, this problem is particularly bad in their generation. Unfortunately, they expect our generation (X) and beyond to foot the bill. Damn them.

Sorry about morphing this into another anti-boomer rant.

179   skibum   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:24am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

the market has turned maniacal and the only way to slow it down is for people to stop buying and take some of the pressure off.

Of course this couple has the right to try and boycott the housing market. I didn't imply they were portrayed as lunatics, merely that I perceived the portrayal as a demonstration that desperate times call for desperate measures. Also, my own particular viewpoint is that yes, this may accelerate the correction process, but I expect that the correction will happen "on its own" as the market collapses on its own weight.

180   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:26am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I guess my question is the housing market a free market? I don’t think so. There is a monopoly to some extent held by the Real Estate industry through the laws and licensing process. As far as I’m concerned RE Agents and Realtors(r) collude to fix prices and disseminate mis-information.

I do not think so. My point is that the bubble will collapse on its own weight. It is still a free market, just a little bit slow and sticky.

Of course, people are free to join the boycott. But soon enough the participants will start to try outsmarting each other.

181   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:26am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Sorry to hit and run Robert, but the day is sunny and I want to take one of my last days of freedom to go walk around St. Francis Wood and Forest Hill, to take a look at my deam homes. So at least I posted once on topic.

This one is nice. Too bad it is about $1M more than I can dream of affording:


This one is pretty much ideal. Too bad I will never get my wife to agree to live someplace foggier than Noe Valley!


182   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:27am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Of course, deep in my heart I really want other people to join the boycott - when it is time to buy... less competition. :)

183   skibum   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:30am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


I totally agree that the housing market is absolutely NOT a free market. It's an industry that monopolizes information that its consumers need to make purchasing/selling decisions (MLS listings), and it blatantly manipulates that information to the realtors' benefit (days on market, probably monthly sales data). I won't even get started on the mortgage industry as well. On a very slightly positive note, did you see in today's WSJ that the Treasury dept. is threatening to put the clamps on Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae? There's clearly a little political pressure to regulate the industry better. I'm not expecting any positive results, though.

184   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:31am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

When confronted with this type of market maybe a boycott should be one of the tools used to break-up the monopoly.

Just try to approach this from another angle. Ask yourself if the monopoly is sustainable on its own.

If it is truly sustainable, buycotting will not help. You should seek to join the monopoly yourself. Do not fight it. Join it.

If it is not, nothing needs to be done. It will happen.

185   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:36am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Wow! I bet somebody is going to jump at the opportunity to save themselves $12.00.

It is not the reduction of $12. It is the addition of two 8's that is attractive! Expect a bidding war among Chinese buyers soon! :)

186   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Peter P,

"Buyers strikes" don't need clubs, presidents, memberships or dues. They just kind of organize of their own accord. Besides wouldn't a boycott have made more sense in like uh...... 2001?

187   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:40am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Besides wouldn’t a boycott have made more sense in like uh…… 2001?


“Buyers strikes” don’t need clubs, presidents, memberships or dues. They just kind of organize of their own accord.

I agree. Should we call it "free market boycott"?

Prime rate is now a lot higher than last year. Anyone buying with less than 20% down (first time buyers? need 80/20 HELOC?) will be seeing significant difficulties.

188   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:42am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I don’t normally join boycotts but I did joing this one in my own way two years ago after several failed attempts to buy.

I look only if a home has been on the market for a while. Be greedy only when others are fearful.

189   FormerAptBroker   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:47am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Jimbo Says:

> FAB, you only get overtime in the SFPD if you are senior
> enough, or so I hear. The newer guys have to “get by” on
> $65k a year, plus very generous benefits, including full
> retirement at age 50. If you have a college degree they
> start you at $80k/yr

As a SF native (of Irish decent) I know quite a few SF cops and all seemed to get overtime from day one and I was just talking to a young kid at a wedding (SI & SFSU Grad) who is in the SF police academy and planning on making $100K from year one. Quite a bit of SF Police overtime may be considered “unofficial” since the city does not pay it but there is always a SF cop with a gun at the Getty house (and the homes of many other high net worth SF families) and cops are paid overtime by movie studios and concert promoters to work on their shoots and at their concerts.

> I don’t know any firefighters making $200k/yr, but plenty
> make over $100k.

Lets say a firefighter “only makes $100K” for a standard 10 day a month 24 hour shift that is $833 a day. If he works one overtime day a month at time and a half he makes almost an extra $15K. If he works 12 days a month he is up to $130K. When a captain or chief is making over $150K a year base the extra 2 days a month of over time will push them over $200K. Every firefighter I know has another job and most are in construction. In the past few years my firefighter friends my age are making so much money on their second jobs that they have been working less than 10 days a month and giving the younger guys more overtime…

190   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:47am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Robert Cote'

"Portland -was - a noble experiment" LOL!

I do hear you though Robert! It's a big part of the reason I never involved myself in "Rose City" politics! (I STILL sound like a Chicagoan) and am typically rejected before I've finished a sentence. But "someone" needs to tell them their experiement has failed! Otherwise they'll keep insisting that either the leaches were applied incorrectly or that they need MORE leaches! I'm sorry but it's just become laughable.

191   FormerAptBroker   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:53am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Robert Coté Says:

> Portland’s Urban and Transit planners advocate:
> Higher residential densities, just like LA.
> Higher transit usage, just like LA.
> Fewer roads per capita, just like LA.
> Greater public dedications, just like LA.
> Higher carpooling, just like LA.
> New subways, just like LA.

Portland also has:
A high percentage of fat out of shape people unlike LA
Way more tree hugging hippies than LA
Women with short fat hairy legs vs. long tan legs in LA
Way less convertibles than LA
More car hating liberals than LA
More pot smoking hard drinking Canadians than LA
More people who say they are “Large and in Charge” than LA

192   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:53am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Peter P,

All I meant to say was why bother w/ a boycott now? Prices have more than doubled in under 5 years. With today's housing prices (and the loans you'd need to afford one) it's like saying I'm boycotting hepatitis.

193   DinOR   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 6:55am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


What can I say? When you're right you're right!

194   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 7:00am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

The idea of organizing a boycott of absurdly high housing prices sounds great, populistic et al, but there is basically no way this is going to happen. You'd have to convince a very high % of the target (buyers) that this is (a) a good idea, and (b) to stay the course long enough to have a significant impact on regional prices. That also means capturing the loyalties of a sizeable chunk of the population for an extended period, including all those new "genius" flippers and the 60% or so of people who STILL haven't even heard that a housing bubble exists. Good luck with that.

I believe that this and similar blogs are already promoting an informal market data and reason-driven form of housing "boycott". As in, don't buy unless it pencils out for you. I really think that --plus the slow-mo freefall crash we're just starting to see happen before our very eyes-- will be enough.

Of course, long-term structural reforms are still needed on the NAR/MLS monopoly, cheap-money policy Fed, GSE/MBS taxpayer "implicit gurantee", cap-gains/interest tax deduction "24-month club", etc., etc... If people really want to organize a grass-roots movement for meaninful change, those areas would be a much better place to start.

195   skibum   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 7:13am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

RE: the BA housing boycott site, here's the link if you're curious. It seems pretty darn benign, actually. I like the layout, though.


196   skibum   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 7:14am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Completely off topic, but related to this housing boycott story on KRON. I haven't watched the local news in a while - does anyone else think that Gary Radnich has gone off the deep end into some nonsensical ranting version of his former self? Entertaining, but odd.

198   HARM   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 7:59am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

New thread: "Wells Fargo considers entering the option-ARM business"

199   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 11:11am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

I’d like a 2000sqft house on an acre. Pool/spa all for 200k.

Construction alone costs more than 200K for a 2000sqft house in CA.

200   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 12:55pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Jimbo Says:
Car usage is subsidized much more than transit in this country Robert.

This is pure idiot talk. I don’t neven have an answer for insane people that think these things.

What percentage of the land in San Francisco is set aside for automobiles? 25% 50% 75% How much is that land worth? At a pretty conservative value of $5M/acre at 25% of the total land set aside for roads and parking, that comes out to a whopping $44B worth of land set aside mostly for parking. At a discount rate of 5%, that is a susidy of $2B/yr just in San Francisco alone.

Here is a good analysis of some of the other costs to society of car ownership that everyone has to pay, not just care owners:


"This subsidy has been estimated to amount to
about $2,750 per vehicle per year in direct quantifiable
public subsidy (CRD Task Group on Atmospheric Change,
Victoria, B.C., 1992), not counting long term effects and
indirect costs like environmental and social costs."

The cost today would have to be at least double that. And we aren't even starting to talk about some of the true cost of automobiles, which is the amazing number of people injured and killed on the roads every year. That alone is estimated to cost America $200B/yr.


Transit is much, much cheaper. For example, MUNI's budget last year was $380M. 1/2M people use Muni every day. That comes out to $760 per person per year, a laughably small amount compared to just the subsidized cost of automobile usage.

Then the owners spend an average of about $5000/yr on their car to boot. So the total cost, direct and indirect to transport someone by autmobile, including the indirect cost of all the land set aside and all the injuries caused by car crashes, is well over $10,000 per person per year.

No transit system in the country comes anywhere near costing that and I challange you to demonstrate otherwise.

The reason you have no answer for "insane people" like me is because there is no answer. Transit is so obviously, overwhelmingly cheaper, that your only hope to "win" an argument on the topic is to not argue at all.

201   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 14, 1:37pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

And since this is the housing bubble blog afterall, I will tie into the overall cost of housing.

The main reason housing is so expensive in the Bay Area is because land is scarce. Land is scarce for many reasons, but the primary one is that so much it has been tied up in the inefficient and archiac method of transportation we use, namely automobiles. How much cheaper would housing be in the Bay Area if we did not dedicate so much land to parking, roads, freeways and the like dedicated to automobile users?

Worse yet, our slavish devotion to the automobile causes our cities to be spread out more than they need to be, aggravating the effect. A spread out city not only requires more land dedicated to the automobile, the effect feeds on itself because spread out cities lead to people taking longer trips, which lead to more congestion, which leads to more freeway building, which leads to being spread out more.

Hey, if you hate planning and you love long trips by automobile, just move to one of the cities that have decided to go that path like Houston or Atlanta and enjoy your time in traffic.

202   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 15, 12:09am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Of course, deep in my heart I really want other people to join the boycott - when it is time to buy… less competition.

this would become like game theory... all the 'boycotters' would be sneaking out to buy property, and it would be game on again... not to mention the specuvestors harvesting the windfall of slightly cheaper properties and 'keeping the dream alive'... aka the tragedy of the commons... whatever... where's randy?

203   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Jun 15, 3:13am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

this would become like game theory…

Exactly. Either that or I am evil. :twisted:

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