Posted by: The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

150 responses to “Reader Rant: Seattle Home Prices Still “Make No Sense””

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  1. softwarengineer

    RE: MichaelB @ 98

    Supporting Public Schools

    If your kid is the top 5% of acheivers and doesn’t need a teacher much, public schools can work fine…..its just the mainstream kids are square blocks in round holes….

    You’ll know by highschool if you need CBT instead. Some public schools put all the graded homework on the web for parents to complete, those would be good choices too.

    You notice I didn’t have the parent tudor the kid who’s working fulltime, cheating by the parent is the only option [the parent/child can't stay up unti 2AM tudoring] or pay the piper [if you're really rich] and get the kid a private tudor. Send the kid to a Comunity College while in highschool for math and science?….but its drawbacks are like the private school, excessive costs and how do you arrange transportation and work fulltime too??? A magic wand, or make sure the kid has his/her own car/insurance….that’s an additional arm and a leg in costs today too. Just get them a real diploma, then the college tests for highschool classes to redo like the rest of the highschool graduates; its the easiest option.

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  2. bd

    By Scotsman @ 97:

    My point is that home schooling is very, very effecient as it does a better job of meeting individual needs, even when taught by very ordinary people. If we had it to do over again we would probably home school at least until high school through a co-op situation.

    I agree it can be significantly more effective. I have doubts about its overall efficiency though.

    DIsperse a class of 28 kids to their homes to receive individually tailored instruction each under the supervision of a separate adult and it’s no surprise they cover more material in a shorter amount of time. The costs for each of those families are significantly higher though, particularly if you compare it to free public educaiton.

    I, by no means, am saying people shouldn’t home school, I’m just saying that you can’t say, in many cases, that you can save loads of money by buying a house where there are crappy schools just by home schooling your kid.

    The economics totally change, of course, if you have someone who isn’t going to be much of an earner anyway who can supervise the home schooling.

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  3. softwarengineer

    RE: Blurtman @ 96

    Perhaps We Really Need a Prohibition Against Tobacco?

    “…While no association between marijuana smoking and cancer was found, the study findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society International Conference this week, did find a 20-fold increase in lung cancer among people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.

    The study was limited to people younger than 60 because those older than that were generally not exposed to marijuana in their youth, when it is most often tried….”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html

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  4. kfhoz

    By Scotsman @ 97:

    RE: bd @ 90


    My point is that home schooling is very, very effecient as it does a better job of meeting individual needs, even when taught by very ordinary people. …

    Average ordinary people do not possess anywhere near the level of literary skill that you show on this site.

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  5. MichaelB

    RE: softwarengineer @ 100

    Maybe in the basement of the CYO…

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  6. MichaelB

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1

    I believe “Tudoring” is only required for a real estate license.

    By grade four, it can be accurately predicted whether a child will attend University or not. Therefore, waiting until high school may be a bit late…

    Are you “high”?

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  7. Kary L. Krismer

    By Scotsman @ 89:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 87

    Your supposed point is total nonsense. You compare people who were known to have smoked with people who were known not to have smoked. That’s where the comparison comes in, not to some larger unknown.

    Go have another cup of coffee before approaching the computer.

    Apparently statistics is not your strong suit. To Losh this up a bit:

    10 black people get traffic tickets.
    20 white people get traffic tickets.

    If that’s all you know, you can’t say that members of one group is twice as likely as the other to get a ticket. You would need to know the percentage of the population that is black and white in that area.

    Getting back to the example, they have zero information on how many people are driving sober, on alcohol and on marijuana, so they can’t say one group is twice as likely to be involved in an accident.

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  8. whee

    I don’t know why anyone would spend 30 years paying off debt. Even a 15 year mortgage seems a bit risky.

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  9. Kary L. Krismer

    By whee @ 108:

    I don’t know why anyone would spend 30 years paying off debt. Even a 15 year mortgage seems a bit risky.

    You can typically pay either off early!

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  10. Scotsman

    RE: MichaelB @ 98

    ” Umm, homeschooling is a very expensive proposition.”

    What are kids worth? What are YOUR kids worth?

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  11. Scotsman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 107

    Losh it up?!

    OK, blacks are 13% of the population, but you have them getting 33% of the tickets.

    Racist! Everybody knows Asians are the worst drivers. ;-)

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  12. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: The Tim @ 111 – A form of buyer’s remorse?

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  13. Scotsman

    RE: The Tim @ 111

    Agreed. Besides, they’re expensive enough as it is without adding in nannies, daycare, etc. AND the cost of un-doing all that they do- that you didn’t want done.

    I used to argue with people who thought that kids weren’t worth the struggles, etc., saying they were one of the high points of my life. Now I tend to just agree with them- if you don’t really want kids, and aren’t ready to make them a priority please don’t have any. Leave it to those of us who are willing to put in the required effort/expense and go on your merry way. I’ve known too many messed up kids whose parents had plenty of money, but no time to care for and connect with what they almost considered not much more than required accessories for some concept of success. Sad, and expensive for society as a whole.

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  14. Kary L. Krismer

    By Scotsman @ 112:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 107

    Losh it up?!

    OK, blacks are 13% of the population, but you have them getting 33% of the tickets.

    Racist! Everybody knows Asians are the worst drivers. ;-)

    Silly. You’re forgetting the impact of the racist cops! ;-)

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  15. Scotsman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 115

    You, sir, are correct. My bad, bro.

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  16. Kary L. Krismer

    By Scotsman @ 114:

    I used to argue with people who thought that kids weren’t worth the struggles, etc., saying they were one of the high points of my life. Now I tend to just agree with them- .

    Where I ended that, I wasn’t really sure what direction you were going to go. ;-)

    I like where it went.

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  17. bd

    By Scotsman @ 114:

    RE: The Tim @ 11

    Agreed. Besides, they’re expensive enough as it is without adding in nannies, daycare, etc. AND the cost of un-doing all that they do- that you didn’t want done.

    Wow. I didn’t realize you guys were stay at home, home schooling dads. Well done!

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  18. whee

    Yeah but nobody is calculating a 30 year on the premise that they’ll pay it off early, or at all in some cases. The whole metric is just a way to purchase wealth effect. If people actually only bought what they could pay off at their current income in 10 years or less, home loans would be structured pretty differently, although probably the interest rates wouldn’t be much different ultimately.

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  19. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: The Tim @ 120 – My last car loan was a 60 month which I started paying on a 36 month schedule and finished in 30.

    Our prior house loan we were paying off ahead of schedule too, but I don’t know what that worked out to as far as when it would have been paid off it we had kept going.

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  20. Blurtman

    RE: softwarengineer @ 103 – I don’t know too many people except Kary who would smoke the equivalent of two packs of joints a day, so perhaps the data is a bit apples to oranges. ;>) Always struck me as as odd that the gubberment could throw someone in jail for smoking the buds of a plant that God put on this earth.

    With regards to smokers, I have no problems with them as long as when in public, they keep the inhaled smoke inside their lungs. No one has any right to give someone else cancer, and that goes for diesel smoke belching trucks.

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  21. Kary L. Krismer

    By Blurtman @ 122:

    Always struck me as as odd that the gubberment could throw someone in jail for smoking the buds of a plant that God put on this earth.

    What part of government do you find to be logical and rational? ;-)

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  22. Macro Investor

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 23:

    By Blurtman @ 122:
    Always struck me as as odd that the gubberment could throw someone in jail for smoking the buds of a plant that God put on this earth.

    What part of government do you find to be logical and rational? ;-)

    But at least they usually agree on the important things almost unanimously… like each time they vote to take away our rights.

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  23. Macro Investor

    By Scotsman @ 12:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 107

    Losh it up?!

    OK, blacks are 13% of the population, but you have them getting 33% of the tickets.

    Racist! Everybody knows Asians are the worst drivers. ;-)

    What are you h8ers implying about Obama’s driving? He’s half black, half Asian.

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  24. MichaelB

    By Scotsman @ 110:

    RE: MichaelB @ 98

    ” Umm, homeschooling is a very expensive proposition.”

    What are kids worth? What are YOUR kids worth?

    The schooling method selected does not show that you value you kids more than others. Home schooling is great!…for some families, some kids,….but not most and not ALL.

    The whole point is that while homeschooling and private schools are great solutions for individual families, they are very expensive – prohibitively expensive for the general population. If public schools were spending $30k/year per student, I believe most parents would be satisfied with the results. At any rate, all kids should be “home schooled” even if it is only after school, as learning at home is the key to success.

    Our son attended Terrace Park in Mountlake Terrace. An excellent school with a gifted and talented program. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. Edmonds High School has an IB program – an excellent education is also possible there. Bellevue School District is one of the finest in the country…. UW is one of the top universities in the world. Lot’s of great public schools and public school teachers.

    The point is – proximity to quality public schools matters in house values. That’s why the Tim is either going to have to home school or send his kids to a private school. people should consider that in valuing a home…

    Home schooling is great (FOR YOU)- however, it does not necessarily reflect how much you value your kids…It’s just your choice among many alternatives as to how to educate them.

    You emphasize the importance of education, but not neighborhood quality?

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  25. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: Blurtman @ 122
    Just the idea of Kary smoking 40 joints a day cracks me up. Even in my pothead days of 35 years ago I never approached more than 1/10th that number. But Kary’s tough. Bong hits before breakfast. Bong hits before law school classes. The dude was unstoppable.

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  26. Jonness

    By Hugh Dominic @ 61:

    Please post the source so we know whether your post is fictitious or not.

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  27. Jonness

    By AxlRose @ 85:

    RE: Jonness @ 51 – Well there’s some different calculations going on here. Your chart uses 3x salary as a guide for affordable.

    No it doesn’t. It shows the historic line of PRICE in Seattle is 3x. As I pointed out previously when you claimed Seattle house prices are in line with wages, no they aren’t. You are confusing affordability due to historic low rates amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression with “low prices.” Prices in Seattle are not low. They are high. In fact, prices in the Metro area as a whole are about 25% too high.

    Go ahead and buy in at 4.3x. I’m not here to stop you. But before you do, you should probably ask yourself how affordable is that house going to be when you lose $100K on it and have to move for work-related reasons?

    As I’ve pointed out, the unemployment rate is a leading indicator of house prices. But that’s not the end of the story. The unemployment rate won’t go down in a meaningful manner until the banks start lending again. The entire Kahuna is riding on MV=PQ where M=MB/R. Until the banks begin to lend in earnest, this economy is stuck. While the economy is stuck, Seattle prices will continue to adjust toward their historic norm of 3x median household income.

    Nobody knows where the bottom is. The best that can be done is to keep an eye on the leading indicators, as they reveal the direction of the overall trend.

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  28. Jonness

    By Scotsman @ 86:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 83
    We home schooled for one year. It was a lot of work, but even at only half a day it produced superior results. First child in Stanford. Second child wait listed at Harvard, wouldn’t have accepted, went to small liberal arts (Bowdoin). We know many parents who home schooled. Very average parents got very superior results almost every time.

    A good friend of mine I met while getting a CS degree was home schooled through the 8th grade. His parents decided to send him to public school when he got to high school age. To make a long story short, he had to massively dumb himself down to fit in. The other kids couldn’t understand a word he said, because his vocabulary was far too advanced. And to watch this guy solve extraordinarily difficult engineering problems is to die for.

    Public K12 schools are mostly very low quality education mills. I know because I went to public school. It was more a joke to me than anything else where control sick people simply wanted power over my thoughts, actions, and emotions. It represented the opposite of using my mind.

    It’s a great way to breed a society majority of stupid sheep who vote for further mind control though. Like I said, I went to K12 public school (prior to testing out). Just tell me what box to check on the ballet, as I can’t figure it out for myself.

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  29. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 30:

    By Scotsman @ 86:
    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 83
    We home schooled for one year. It was a lot of work, but even at only half a day it produced superior results. First child in Stanford. Second child wait listed at Harvard, wouldn’t have accepted, went to small liberal arts (Bowdoin). We know many parents who home schooled. Very average parents got very superior results almost every time.

    A good friend of mine I met while getting a CS degree was home schooled through the 8th grade. His parents decided to send him to public school when he got to high school age. To make a long story short, he had to massively dumb himself down to fit in. The other kids couldn’t understand a word he said, because his vocabulary was far too advanced. And to watch this guy solve extraordinarily difficult engineering problems is to die for. .

    Totally ignoring the lack of value of this type of story of proving anything, what it does show is that the person was not properly socialized. Smart educated people know how to communicate with others.

    Also, you don’t know that he wouldn’t have been just as good in engineering if educated elsewhere.

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  30. AxlRose

    RE: Jonness @ 129 – The green line is 3x income, giving an implication that is the affordable mark. Most buyers will have mortgages so the affordability is the relevant measure, not price. Yes I know this makes me a monthly payment shopper and I understand why that is bad (for instance I wouldn’t buy a car this way), but since houses are much more expensive, it’s the only option if one wants to buy without the cash. And actually, it’s not quite the same as buying a car. In that case, the trap is getting screwed if the dealer is controlling both the sale price and the rate, (and the trade in value, if applicable) so he may give on one but get you on the other, if you are a montly payment shopper. Not so when house shopping. I understand what you are saying though, yes if that happened I could be screwed. Nothing wrong with renting in that case and starting over!

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  31. AxlRose

    One could argue the prices are already adjusted up due to low rates so the car analogy is happening anyway, but that is not a given and has even been disputed by typically bearish sites posted here.

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  32. Blurtman

    RE: AxlRose @ 132 – 3X income perhaps, but you should also factor in the expected duration of employment, or odds of interrupted employment, and also consider the size of a sensible savings cushion.

    What is missing is the ability of homeowners to hedge their long exposure. I am surprised that an enterprising financial engineer has not developed such a product, which would undoubtedly fail to perform when under stress.

    One contrary viewpoint which will engender some flack is that folks can sometimes outperform when under pressure. But would you want to bet that you are one of those who can?

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  33. Jonness

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 131:

    Totally ignoring the lack of value of this type of story of proving anything, what it does show is that the person was not properly socialized. Smart educated people know how to communicate with others. Thus, my friend excels at giving presentations on complex subject matter.

    You are confusing mindless bragging on yourself while in public with intellect. Pretending to dumb oneself down to the level of the mindless brainwashed Nazi’s of our society isn’t nearly as difficult a task as you imagine.

    Also, you don’t know that he wouldn’t have been just as good in engineering if educated elsewhere.

    Actually, there’s something to be said about having teachers who implore you, before the age of puberty, to get involved in projects such as designing electronic devices that use software to allow you beat the house as opposed to just mindlessly saluting the flag and talking about your favorite TV show with your friends.

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  34. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 135:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 131:

    Totally ignoring the lack of value of this type of story of proving anything, what it does show is that the person was not properly socialized. Smart educated people know how to communicate with others.

    Also, you don’t know that he wouldn’t have been just as good in engineering if educated elsewhere.

    Don’t flatter yourself when it comes to your intellectual prowess. You are confusing mindless bragging on yourself while in public with intellect.
    My friend graduated from UW computer science, so I guess he was properly educated to your standards. But seriously, he never cracked a single book open while going through the course but was among the best problem solvers and test takers in the program.

    Kary, you lack the intellectual ability to even get in UW CS, let alone graduate from the program.

    Ignore things much (the highlighted material)? Merely repeating the same story about the same guy doesn’t change that.

    BTW, I really don’t care what you think of me, but to pass it back, I really don’t think much of you either. Seriously, i do wonder how you manage to function in the world being so completely misguided. Not really sure what that proves, but you seem to think it’s somehow important.

    Finally, how do you think the quoted material is flattering myself? Also, why do you think you know squat about my abilities to either get into or graduate CS? Talk about flattering yourself! Again, you don’t know squat. This exchange proves you’re barely literate.

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  35. Jonness

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 36:

    BTW, I really don’t care what you think of me, but to pass it back, I really don’t think much of you either. Seriously, i do wonder how you manage to function in the world being so completely misguided. Not really sure what that proves, but you seem to think it’s somehow important.

    The only one around here who is misguided is the mindless idiot realtor who ran out and overpaid for his house in 2007 while claiming it’s impossible to know whether house prices will go up or down in the future.

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  36. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 137:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 36:

    BTW, I really don’t care what you think of me, but to pass it back, I really don’t think much of you either. Seriously, i do wonder how you manage to function in the world being so completely misguided. Not really sure what that proves, but you seem to think it’s somehow important.

    The only one around here who is misguided is the mindless idiot realtor who ran out and overpaid for his house in 2007 while claiming it’s impossible to know whether house prices will go up or down in the future.

    More proof you’re illiterate in that you don’t understand my explanation of what I did.

    But again, when I was assessing what to do I wrote one of the disadvantages as being: “Prices are high right now–downside risk.” Is that language too high of a grade level for you to understand that?

    I’ve also noted our old house probably went down as much or even more than the new house, and that renting is not an option. Is that too intellectually complex for you to understand?

    I’ve also noted that the new house has provided the equivalent of over $90,000 of after tax income in the form of free rent. Again, I’m sure that’s over your limited ability to understand.

    Finally, the use of the term “over-paid” is laughable. You don’t know how to determine value. How could you possibly determine I over-paid?

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  37. Jonness

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 38:

    Proof you’re illiterate in that you don’t understand my explanation of what I did.

    The only thing it’s proof of Kary is that you are incapable of admitting when you are wrong, and your way of coping with this is to remain in serious denial throughout the remainder of your life.

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  38. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Jonness @ 139 – Again, further proof you’re illiterate. How could I have been “wrong” when I recognized the downside risk? It was a risk I was willing to take, and I still would have made the same decision even today. The only thing I’d change in hindsight is how quickly we got the old house ready for sale. There we lost about $20k.

    You’re just so focused on one factor you can’t even make a valid decision. Another reason I have no respect for your opinion. You’re incompetent.

    BTW, as long as you’re going back to 2007, about the only one I know who was right about the downturn for the right reason was Eleua. Others were focused on nonsense, the worst of it being Seattle is 18 months behind Seattle, or comparing median house prices to median income. Being right for the wrong reason doesn’t really mean much.

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  39. Scotsman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 131

    “what it does show is that the person was not properly socialized”

    Sorry, Kary- a complete miss on your part. I’ll assume you haven’t been around a lot of home schooled kids. One thing that sets them apart, and is instantly recognizable, is their social skills, especially around adults. Since they spend a good deal of time interacting with adults, both their parents and others they come in contact with on field trips, special outings, etc. they are very comfortable in those situations. What they don’t get, or more likely have less/little tolerance for is the drama and immaturity of other kids in their teens.

    The lack of proper socialization argument is one of the oldest and least effective (take the time to do some research) those who doubt or oppose home schooling bring up. It is patently false. A very large majority of home schoolers will run circles around publicly educated kids, especially out in the real world- that [art of humanity that doesn’t exist in a high school hallway.

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  40. Ross

    RE: The Tim @ 111 – Mostly because the local population of aunts and grannies has disappeared. Humans have historically been most successful when raising children was a community activity. If you want that kind of community these days for little kids, you need to pay to send your kid to day care or preschool. When they’re a little older, it’s a bit easier* to find like-minded parents and make a co-op, which IMHO is really the ideal we should be aiming for.

    Still not easy, though. You have to do a lot of searching and networking online to find or found a co-op that suits. Since we’re not religious believers, there’s less support for us.

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  41. Mike S

    RE: Jonness @ 135

    Its too bad you don’t share the education that the person you were writing about does.

    I think that was the worst run on sentence I have ever seen.

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  42. Mike S

    RE: Scotsman @ 41

    Your whole post should be followed by *Citation needed

    Home schooled kids from what I have seen teaching my college classes, actually lack very important skills that general educated students have.
    Social skills being one of them.

    So where are you getting your information?

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  43. One Eyed Man

    By Scotsman @ 110:

    RE: MichaelB @ 98

    ” Umm, homeschooling is a very expensive proposition.”

    What are kids worth? What are YOUR kids worth?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvZgwtpPmLY

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  44. One Eyed Man

    RE: Mike S @ 144

    My guess is that Scotsman’s sampling of home schoolers is strictly upper crust (and therefore biased) even if a few of them came from just south of I-90.

    I know a home schooler too. He’s brilliant and an over achiever to boot. But he doesn’t have the same set of experiences that other kids have. He never played sports and can’t skip a rock. That may sound insignificant but I like sports and rocks and its an indicator of other potential missing experiences (kind of like the canary in the coal mine).

    IMO his family has alot to do with his level of achievement. His grandfather was a former chair of the Metro Council before Metro was dissolved.

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  45. Pegasus

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 146 – If you home school children you can still get your children active in sports in most parts of the country. If you need for the children to become experts in throwing rocks have them move in next door to Kary.

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  46. ChrisM

    RE: Mike S @ 143 – You haven’t read the Harvard reading list, then. Numerous books that have sentences that go on for more than one page.

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  47. Axion

    Love this thread. The originating post rang so true with me. In fact, today I was running errands in my neighborhood and I was depressed looking at all of the dumpy $400K + houses that would be worth maybe $200K in in some mid-sized midwest city. My wife and I have been renting in Seattle for over 10 years (much of it in a nice apartment and recently in a nice house). Our rent over the years has been very cheap and it continues to be so. We could have bought at any time, but we saw the bubble. Our annual income is over $100K. We have two young kids, so the desire is there to settle down. However, we are still waiting for the right time. Our goal is to find something on the east side because we want our kids to attend good schools. But I don’t see any rush to buy something right now given: 1) prices are flat and maybe still declining, 2) inventory stinks, and 3) there is still uncertainty in the economy. So we wait, pay cheap rent, and save.

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  48. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 30:

    BA good friend of mine I met while getting a CS degree was home schooled through the 8th grade. His parents decided to send him to public school when he got to high school age. To make a long story short, he had to massively dumb himself down to fit in. The other kids couldn’t understand a word he said, because his vocabulary was far too advanced.

    By Mike S @ 44:

    <Home schooled kids from what I have seen teaching my college classes, actually lack very important skills that general educated students have.
    Social skills being one of them.

    It’s very possible, if not likely, it wasn’t advanced vocabulary causing problems, but lack of socialization, and vocabulary was only the perceived issue.

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