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Fear: what are you afraid of?

By Peter P follow Peter P   2007 Mar 17, 8:47am 21,977 views   231 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    

We the people are primarily driven by emotion. Fear, as the most powerful emotion has undoubtedly influenced major events and decided the course of history. Sometimes, I wish that we can be rational and spend more time thinking.

We should think before we act. Or will that be too late? Perhaps we should just act?

Are we being priced out of the Bay Area housing market as we contemplate? Or is the other side just being silly?

Is "global warming" a clear and present danger? Or is it simply creative environmentalism?

Will the housing bubble burst? Or will there be a soft landing?

Are the poles going to reverse in 2012? Or is that just fear-mongering.

If only we could live without fear, we would have achieved much more as a people.


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192   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 1:58pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

New thread: If you are a NINJA…

193   PAR   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:04pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I have a question for you engineers out there. I want to do kind of a mashup but I don't know if the data is easily accessible. Tell me if this is possible:

Grab current for sale price (from anywhere, MLS, Ziprealty, etc) and the previous sale price (Zillow). Ideally, you'd spit these results out on a map, but I'd settle for a list.

I'd like to identify all properties that qualify as "short". You could define short as purchase price > sale price, or if you wanted to get really technical you could figure selling costs into the equation to determine the approx. seller breakeven.

This data is available but not easily accessible. You can find it (one property at a time) on ziprealty. I poked around in the zillow api, but it's not built for this kind of extraction. Any ideas?

194   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:08pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

PAR, just make sure you watch out for acceptable use policies.

195   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:10pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Inflation is defined as growth in money supply, not price inflation as reported by the government.

Wrong! Inflation is defined by the constant 2%. :)

196   LowlySmartRenter   ignore (1)   2007 Mar 19, 2:12pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Thanks SpaceAge, for posting some support.

Overall, I think it's good news for the common, working engineer (and, after all, we're the preponderance of potential/future buyers in the BA RE market right?). Where IPO's previously landed us with riches, we now have stay-on bonuses to fund our personal fortunes whilst M&As (regardless of who is the 'A' or who is the 'M' company) churn on.... heck, I even made substantial gains on a company that ultimately went bankrupt. ;)

Does that mean I'm rushing out to spend 10X my income on a stucco ugly box? In the words of that real estate maven Whitney Houston: "Hells to the no!"

Thanks again,

197   FormerAptBroker   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:13pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

GC Says:

> A good — rich — dad beats good
> grades, talents and good looks.

Many people forget that there are a lot of kids with “rich dads” who actually get less money than the kids with poor dads (who will go in to debt to give their kids money). Giving kids a lot of money is a big mistake…

I dated a girl as an undergrad with a dad ten times richer than my dad. Her dad made her work even harder than I did and gave her even less money. Like me she worked to pay for school (and like me eventually paid her way through grad school).

A dumb, ugly guy with no talents who has a rich dad that gives him a lot of money will do fine, but for a dumb ugly girl with no talents a rich dad will just probably increase the chance of her becoming a bitter old cat lady…

198   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:14pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Many people forget that there are a lot of kids with “rich dads” who actually get less money than the kids with poor dads (who will go in to debt to give their kids money). Giving kids a lot of money is a big mistake…

It is all in the stars.

199   sfbubblebuyer   ignore (1)   2007 Mar 19, 2:19pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Space Ace, you can never be REALLY sure if there are multiple bids unless you're the person reading them. I'm sure there are many cases where the selling agent tries to 'talk you up' on your bid by hinting that there are many buyers.

The one property that I referred to, however, I was at on several occasions over one weekend, and heard at least 3 other buyers asking very 'serious' questions and making sure they knew when to get their bids in by, etc. Personally, I decided against bidding because I felt it was too much for what I would be getting anyway at the asking price, and basically walked away from the whole market for awhile.

Since it sold for 65k (9%ish) over asking, either the seller and his agent lied through his teeth and really suckered one buyer, or there really were a few people bidding on it.

I would never respond to a 'wanna raise your bid?' question. If they counteroffered, I would respond. But if they just say "Somebody else is bidding" to me, I'd walk.

200   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:30pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

BTW, I’m handwriting this using tablet PC. MSFT is great.

Which one do you have? Motion? HP? Toshiba?

201   losstotheworld   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:31pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Its so good to be a renter.
1) I can move to as many places as i want and not worry about any particular place.
2) my downpayment money is safely in the bank and can be easily moved anywhere i want to go
3) when shtf and gangs roam the street along with armed militia like they are in iraq a heavy investment like a house is a liability. You might have difficult choices such as being alive and homeless or may be killed because of emotional attachment to your house/neighbourhood.
4) Why take life seriously and constantly work to keep up with the jones?
5) If your job gets outsourced no problem, move wherever.
6) If after all this you still want to buy a house, use your 401k money and retirement money as downpayment and dont pay more than what you would pay as rent every month. If shtf your 401k money will go caput.

202   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:39pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

So it is an HP then. :)

203   FormerAptBroker   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:43pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

LowlySmartRenter/LSR Says:

> Question for FAB: In your experience, have apartment
> management companies been able to pull off a 10%+
> increase on current residents? I have not seen that succeed
> myself (i.e. lots of empty units appear suddenly) but given
> the crazy RE economics of our last 5 years or so, I
> suppose anything is possible.

The only time I have ever seen an across the board double digit rent increase is when a new (or in rare cases current) owner wants a lot of people to leave so they can start a renovation project to reposition a property (This is in the past 30 years since Angelo Sangiacomo did raise rents more than 10% in the 70’s but he pissed off so many people that we ended up with rent control in SF)…

> I’m particularly interested in the large management firms,
> as they have the foot hold in most residential areas, still.

If you are a good tenant (landlords define a “good tenant” as someone who pays their rent on time and is not a pain in the ass) you can usually make a deal with a large management firm when you get a rent increase letter. The first step is to do your homework and “shop the property” and try and get a better deal on the phone. If they are giving a free ½ month rent or $100 to a current resident as a referral you are in luck. You will also want to shop the competition to see what other apartments in the area are offering. Even if the new units are renting (net of concessions) for more than your unit you may still be able to make a deal. Try and get to a decision maker and do some research to find out who he reports to (if you are renting from a REIT you can get a lot of information from the annual report). A friend in the San Ramon Valley said that his manager couldn’t believe it when (based info I gave him) he told the guy that he was going to write the CEO of the REIT (with a cc: to the Directors) and explain how “instructing a manager to push good tenants out for $50 a month to get a market rent that net of concessions was lower was not the way to increase FFO and shareholder value”…

P.S. You will have even better luck with a fee manager than a REIT manager if you talk about writing the owner of the property to discuss the upside of your rent increase vs. the cost of renting it to someone else…

204   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:45pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

You can say that. But I believe the case still has Compaq’s name on it.

Did you have that for a while? The new tc4400 is pretty nice. It even has a keyboard just in case you are sick of scribbling. :)

205   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:52pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Any recommendation on text-to-speech software? I want one with AT&T natural voice. They even have one with British accent. :)

I need a computer voice that does not put me to sleep.

206   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:57pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Thanks for your input. I have spoken to sellers. Of the 3, 2 told me they only rec'd one offer and the offer was 10% asking.. Shaking my head.. how would anyone overbid themself. As many older homeowners tell me .. Your offer should always be under asking.. actual price is somewhere in between. This could screw up the comparables if it hasnt already.

Im my world, Accounting/Finance especial due to SOX rules anyone using that kind of practice would get fired. Reminds me of the $500 hammer spending by Pentgon.

I do believe we need more visibility in the buying process. SOX type legislation would be good candidate for this kind of transaction. After all it would be tax neutral inpact. No taxpayer money involved.

LowlySmartRenter - Im double cursed since I have seen prices normally at 3-4x med. salary. Rather hard to shake off history trends of booms and busts.

207   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 2:59pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

"text-to-speech software? I want one with AT&T"

Att is suing the pants off microsoft for patent infringment. Shame on you Mr Bill-ionaire Gates.

208   Randy H   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:09pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


Randy H, calm down…As I said before, I should really make sure that I never get stuck in an elevator with you, because I can feel the love :-)

Oh, I don't know. There could be worse things besides being stuck on an elevator with you.

By the way, the "green line" isn't mine. Thanks for the compliment though, just as when you complimented me earlier for thinking I was smart enough to come up with the HSBC model.

I hope you come to our upcoming Marin Brewing Company get together.

209   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:09pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


I forgot to add, we actually are back to what normal SV would be. I would say today is far more like from early 1980s to mid 1990s before the IPO mania. There was no such thing as IPO shares before 1995. Its was only VC and founders that got that. Corporate offiecers typically didnt get this much in shares. That is why we had no accounting scandels back then.

There is some shaking out left we need but the more painful RIFs and Salary cuts are behinds us.

210   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:16pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Really, can someone workout a better solution B extend the battery life?


211   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:17pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I hope you come to our upcoming Marin Brewing Company get together.


212   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:23pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

LOL! im using Linux Xandros which also runs MS Apps... virus free

213   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:30pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I am under the impression that Windows is more secure than Linux. It is just that virus writers do not like Microsoft. :(

214   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 3:44pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I type with confidence... between virus hackers and the crashs.. i switched
and didnt look back.. office is free browser is free OS is around $75 vs MSFT
at $350... what the heck OS is OS...

215   LowlySmartRenter   ignore (1)   2007 Mar 19, 3:53pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


Sound advice. In fact I did some of what you recommended about six months ago when the management tried to put the squeeze on me. First, I went month-to-month (which tacked on an extra $150/mo.). Next, I gathered comps. Lastly, met with the manager and explained that his asking price was comparable to the apartments in the area, BUT, they are all brand new buildings, built literally within the last year. So why would I pay the same price for a 1980's apartment? He relented, I got a rebate, and we signed a 1-year lease for a more reasonable rate.

It remains to be seen what I'll face when the lease expires next year. I've copied your suggestions to my own file and will certainly have them handy.


216   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 4:06pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Microsoft is junk. It was never seriously built as a multi-tasking operating system and never built with the idea that it would be on a network with potentially hostile other computers.

Finally, after years of being the worst public menace on the Internet, XP came out with some half-hearted attempt to rectify these problems. Then, they added a few bolt-on fixes in SP2.

99% of your spam comes from hacked Windows servers, I can guarantee.

The really sad part is that these problems were all solved in the Unix world 20 years ago.

Linux isn't much better, as it is really a hobbyist O/S that has been adopted for business use.

If you want security, run Apple or Solaris or some other real Unix O/S that has been built and designed correctly.

217   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 4:10pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

but not $350 on good software that’ll last many years.

Oh the fun times I had back in DOS days not to mention Windows 3.1
But I also used Macs and very earlier CPM... aside from Linux I use BeOS
on a MultiBoot Laptop. ... My Dell im using now...

Lets see Windows 95 and 98 didnt last long in corporations due to high maint.
IT dept migrated to NT ASAP... compatibily issues with our ERP system.

As always there are alternatives out there!

218   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 4:12pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Very true Jimbo.

219   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 4:34pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

GC .. sorry to say W95 didnt work well with Corporate ERP systems like Oracle and SAP... bugs...
Sorry not Engineer.. Im Accounting/Finance.. more hobbist.

220   DaBoss   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 19, 4:54pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

True GC ... Macs are good stuff... too bad OS2 died out.. it did look promising.

221   astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 1:46am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


While a rich daddy can make the kids' life easy, I don't think that necessarily mean more success. Plenty just become rich trustfunders who make nothing with their life.

...though there's nothing wrong with that. If someone offered me a lifetime of raving my nights in nightclubs and my days skiing in the Alps, I'm not going to say no.

222   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 2:01am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

It might be fun for a while, but I personally would get bored with it eventually.

223   astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 2:48am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Then I would take up dressage, marry a Belgian industrialist and breed orchids...and visit the kids' nursery twice a week with a photographer (I assume this is how the other 0.00005% of the population lives)

224   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 2:49am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Looks like one of the major home builders is just about ready to go belly up.

"In an SEC filing Monday, Technical Olympic said it has been advised by one of its lenders, Deutsche Bank Trust, that it’s in “multiple potential defaults” on $675 million in debt associated with an unconsolidated joint-venture created a year ago August through the purchase of Transeastern Properties. According to the filing, the bank wants Technical Olympic to pay “all” of the joint- venture’s outstanding obligations."

The contagion is spreading.

225   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 2:51am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Actually here is the original blog post:


It is an interesting question as to whether Deutsche Bank can push the debt back onto TOA. But the market is sure acting like it can. The stock has been plummeting all day.

226   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 2:53am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Yes, raving all night until you get bored with it, then settling down and having kids sounds like fun.

But you hardly need to be born wealthy to have that life!

227   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 3:18am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

BTW, what is that “something” that successful people do that Warants your admiration?

The drive to do good. Just look at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

228   astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 4:45am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      


Gigantic orchid cloning labs and horse stables don't come cheap. Nor entrance into good clubs (esp. if you have Barbara Bush the Younger's face). Ditto competent childcare and soft lighting.

229   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 5:01am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

BillG is a great man. There are exceptions like him. We are fortunate. I am fortunate.

I agree. I have been worshipping him since 1990.

230   Peter P   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 5:25am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

You have foresight (or vision).

I do not have enough self-faith to take profit on my vision though.

231   astrid   ignore (0)   2007 Mar 20, 5:28am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I wasn't suggesting gigantic horse stables, though even modest size stables are probably not cheap.

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