ARE YOU IN HIS GRIP

ARE YOU IN THE GRIP OF THE LANDLORD OCTOPUS?!?

I love this real estate ad that appeared in the The Seattle Star newspaper in 1905, spotted by Reddit user GrvsAngl in /r/SeattleWA:

ARE YOU IN HIS GRIP

So many great quotes here.

These Men Have Bid the Landlord Goodbye

200 Families in SOUTHEAST SEATTLE

Are Saving $28,800 Per Year

Each family saves on an average $144 rent money; most of them have a few chickens, the fresh eggs and one or two chickens a week to eat downs the grocery bill $5 or $6 per month.

These men would be pleased to have you call on them for any information, if you wish to buy a home with your rent money. Some of the citizens have a dozen or more chickens and have planted a few fruit trees. They are saving $6 to $10 per month on the grocery bill with the chickens and in two years will have more fruit than they can use. Remember

Remember… what? What are we supposed to remember? Because whoever wrote this ad couldn’t even seem to remember from one sentence to the next whether chickens save you $5-$6 or $6-$10 per month on groceries. Or how to complete a sentence, apparently. I’d also love to know where the rest of that $28,800 per year comes from, because the $144 in rent savings only comes out to $1,728 per year. And the most they’re saving with the chickens is about $520 it seems.

It would seem that suspicious math in real estate advertisements it not a new invention.

ARE YOU IN HIS GRIP

The Rent Payer Can Escape His Clutches Only By The Easy Payment Plan
If You Let Others Do Your Thinking You Will Soon Be in Their Clutches No Man In Seattle Paying Rent Need Be Poor in Ten Years
Wake Up
Savings Banks Pay 4 Per Cent.
Landlords Pay 7 Per Cent.
You Pay 15 Per Cent. In the Form of Rent

Those evil landlords, trying to profit off their investments! What jerks!

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

There are hundreds of workingmen who never received more than $3.00 per day in Seattle who are worth from $5,000 to $50,000 because they have kept one or two lots they purchased fifteen or twenty years ago.

You Can Do the Same– You Can Make More on Two Lots

In Southeast Seattle in ten years than you can save in twenty out of $3 or $4 per day wages.

You Havs (sic) a Better Opportunity Now

All the natural resources here twenty-five years ago are not one-tenth developed. These natural resources and advantages, which have caused Seattle to grow in 25 years from 3,500 to 160,000 people, are here now, plus the millions invested by the great capitalists of the world, the men that have done more in building up Chicago, New York, Boston and all of the great cities of the United States. Jim Hill, Harriman, Morgan and Rockefeller are here with us, with unlimited capital and the greatest brains. They have put in millions and are putting in millions more. Factories, steamships, railroads and mammoth office buildings are being constructed.

Wait, so now the capitalists are “great” and “have the greatest brains”? What do you think the landlord is if not also a capitalist? And how do you propose to make money from an investment in land without also charging rent?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


About 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.

44 comments:

  1. 1
    Brian says:

    I’d also love to know where the rest of that $28,800 per year comes from, because the $144 in rent savings only comes out to $1,728 per year. And the most they’re saving with the chickens is about $520 it seems.

    I think they’re saying each family saves $144/year on rent. 200 families x $144 = a combined savings of $28,800/year. But it is written in a confusing/misleading way.

    Anyway, very amusing article. I like the announcement “FREE BARBECUE DINNER FOR 2000 PEOPLE. COME SUDAY, JUNE 4.”

  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    RE: Brian @ 1 – Oh, you’re right that math makes sense. $28,800 total across all 200 families. Super meaningful number right there. /sarc

    Using this inflation calculator, that $144 annual savings in 1905 is like an annual savings of about $3,900, or $325 per month today.

    I wonder when it flipped in the Seattle area from paying a mortgage vs. paying rent being a monthly savings to a huge monthly cost increase.

  3. 3
    Blurtman says:

    Blood-sucking parasites!

  4. 4
    Brian says:

    By The Tim @ 2:

    I wonder when it flipped in the Seattle area from paying a mortgage vs. paying rent being a monthly savings to a huge monthly cost increase.

    Maybe when the automobile/highways really came around and people could commute to work in downtown from southeast Seattle and didn’t need to rent from high-priced, limited selection in downtown.

  5. 5

    I wish I could go back in time an buy real estate in 1905. ;-)

  6. 6
    ess says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 5:

    I wish I could go back in time an buy real estate in 1905. ;-)

    Think they will say the same thing 112 years from now?

  7. 7
    Sam Zell says:

    No ess. The government will be paying for housing, healthcare, and education and offer a universal income well before then for most people.

  8. 8
    jon says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 5:

    I wish I could go back in time an buy real estate in 1905. ;-)

    That would be a bad investment. The ad is selling lots for $500. Let’s say the average price for a lot today is $300,000. Over 110 years, that is a 6% return, and that does not account for property taxes. That compares to a 10% average return on the stock market. After 110 years, that would be $17 million.

  9. 9
    ess says:

    By Sam Zell @ 7:

    No ess. The government will be paying for housing, healthcare, and education and offer a universal income well before then for most people.

    Hope you are wrong – but you may be more on target than not. More and more people think the big government mommy and daddy should take care of all their needs. For a preview of the future as you describe it – observe Seattle city council meetings.

  10. 10
    Eastsider says:

    RE: ess @ 9 – No worry. We human species will not survive another 112 years…

  11. 11

    By Sam Zell @ 7:

    No ess. The government will be paying for housing, healthcare, and education and offer a universal income well before then for most people.

    With more and more automation, universal income will probably be a necessity. There won’t be much for the average person to do.

  12. 12
    sleepless says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    By Sam Zell @ 7:

    No ess. The government will be paying for housing, healthcare, and education and offer a universal income well before then for most people.

    With more and more automation, universal income will probably be a necessity. There won’t be much for the average person to do.

    Automation has been talking jobs for over 100 of years, nevertheless, we are still here and most willing to work find jobs. Humanity will always have opportunities in other areas that automation will create.

  13. 13
    sleepless says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    By Sam Zell @ 7:

    No ess. The government will be paying for housing, healthcare, and education and offer a universal income well before then for most people.

    With more and more automation, universal income will probably be a necessity. There won’t be much for the average person to do.

    It is not the automation that destroys jobs, it is the government with taxes and regulations.

  14. 14

    By sleepless @ 12:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    By Sam Zell @ 7:

    No ess. The government will be paying for housing, healthcare, and education and offer a universal income well before then for most people.

    With more and more automation, universal income will probably be a necessity. There won’t be much for the average person to do.

    Automation has been talking jobs for over 100 of years, nevertheless, we are still here and most willing to work find jobs. Humanity will always have opportunities in other areas that automation will create.

    To some extent yes, but it’s getting to the point where automation can soon do almost everything, so there will be nothing to move onto. What are truck/taxi/Uber drivers going to do when self-driving cars take over? What are McDonald workers going to do when automation can cook and deliver a requested meal?

    In the past automation has made people more productive, which did mean fewer people necessary. But it’s getting to the point where it can totally replace people.

    The bright side is the automation can make goods and services, so you just need an economic model that gets those items to the people while at the same time giving the owners of the automation incentive.

  15. 15
    Som says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14 – Well if automation can do everything and the country is self sustainable, maybe we will have a utopia some day. No one has to work and everything will be abundantly produced by automation.

    VR willreplace you-know-what and automation will step up to take over human reproduction tasks. Everyone will be beautiful and just hang out at parks all day doing nothing. HG Wells was right after all.

  16. 16
    jon says:

    Computers can do repetitive tasks, but they are nowhere near doing tasks that require problem solving. As long as there are tasks to do that can’t be explicitly programmed, or automatically determined by showing lots of examples, there will be jobs that people will be needed to perform.

    Since number of jobs that require problem solving will be a minority, it will be interesting to see how the politics work out to determine how much the workers are paid. It may well be that there is not enough incentive to continue improving technology, since that will require huge investments, risk, and complex design work.

  17. 17
    Alex says:

    On a tangent… reminded me of the old price to rent ratio articles. Doesn’t look like there has been one since August 2015. I’d be curious to see how the octopi are making out these days :P

  18. 18

    By Som @ 15:

    Everyone will be beautiful and just hang out at parks all day doing nothing. HG Wells was right after all.

    Or do things they enjoy. Probably bad news for fish and the average quality of art.

  19. 19
    justme says:

    Rapidly increasing amounts of SFH purchases are failing to close across the country. Seattle has not made it into the top 10 list yet, but we do have fortress San Jose,CA in 7th place and fortress Portland,WA in 9th place in terms of percentage contracts-failing-to-close.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-11/suddenly-home-sale-agreements-are-falling-apart-across-the-u-s

    The underlying data is from

    https://www.trulia.com/blog/trends/sale-fail/

    Coming soon to a city near you. Time for the petit rentiers to step up and rationalize. Seattle is different!

  20. 20

    RE: justme @ 19 – I wouldn’t trust Trulia for data like that because they don’t even know when a house goes pending! 10% being a bad rate doesn’t seem that bad if they’re including sales flipping based on inspection.

    Ignoring that though, a fourth reason for sales to fall apart would be more and more inexperienced lenders are getting into the business and also maybe more buyers are picking their lender based on advertising. Here’s a tool you can use to determine just how experienced your lender (or your prospective buyer’s lender) is.

    http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/

  21. 21
    Screenname345 says:

    Bezos is going to add 100,000 jobs at least. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-inc-jobs-idUSKBN14W21G

    It’s safe to assume many of the high paying positions will be in Seattle.

    I keep thinking prices here can’t go up for more than another year or two but if Amazon keeps hiring like this not sure what would stop appreciation.

  22. 22
    justme says:

    RE: Screenname345 @ 21

    I was waiting for some Amazon cheerleading today. Forbes points out that each warehouse job kills more than one retail job.

    Of Course Amazon Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates, That’s The Whole Darn Point

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/01/12/of-course-amazon-destroys-more-jobs-than-it-creates-thats-the-whole-darn-point/

    How many of these 100k McWarehouse jobs are in Seattle? Kent? Eastside? How many are going to be automated away soon?

  23. 23
    jon says:

    Every job that gets destroyed is destroyed because another approach with higher productivity is developed. The saved money is then freed up to be spent on something more rewarding than just the basics, and that means new jobs. That’s how the standard of living for society goes up. Of course that is painful for the people losing their jobs, which is why Trump is heading to the White House. Not sure what he is going to do to actually help, since he is mostly focused on making sure the jobs are lost elsewhere instead of the US, which is a futile approach in the long run. Hopefully he and his supporters will be satisfied with some flashy headlines while the problem sorts itself out.

  24. 24
    Screenname345 says:

    @Justme how can you bash this move by AMZN? It’s clearly a win for tech heavy Seattle. You are so blatently sad and misguided in your thinking. It’s not funny but really sad.

  25. 25

    RE: justme @ 22 – I can’t access Forbes due to their blocking ad-blocking. Do they account for the additional delivery jobs (UPS, FedEX, etc.)?

    As to why I don’t just white-list them?

    http://www.networkworld.com/article/3021113/security/forbes-malware-ad-blocker-advertisements.html

  26. 26

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 20

    The author was previously an Economist with HUD. He wouldn’t have anything to do with whether a house goes pending or not. In fact many of the properties that are actually for sale are put in manually by the listing agent and the listing agent would be the one to move it to Pending…or not. Not sure if Zillow buying Trulia gave Trulia access to the mls feeds that Zillow arranges. I don’t think so. They seem to still be operating separately.

  27. 27

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 26 – The data he’s using is Trulia’s, so it would have all the issues of Trulia data. GIGO.

  28. 28
    GoHawks says:

    RE: justme @ 19 – 3.9% of sales are flipping, oh the horror!

  29. 29
    uwp says:

    It would be at least a semi-useful data point if they had historical data other than the last 2 years.

    What was the failure rate in 2004? 2007? 2012? Were we at all time lows. Are we now at the 20 year average?

    Context?!?!?

  30. 30
    Brian says:

    I’m sure the sale failure increase is almost purely due to the rise of mortgage rates. Which is ironic because the Trulia article and every article written based on it talks nothing about mortgage rates. If you went pending around Nov 8 (election), both you and the pre-approval process were expecting an interest rate of 3.5%. 30 days later, it’s time to close, and you find out the rate is 4.125%. Because you were cutting your affordability so close (because your eyes are bigger than your wallet), your financing falls through and the deal fails. Simple as that.

    Mortgage rates appear to be headed back down a bit. Supposedly Trump’s deficit spending infrastructure plan doesn’t seem to be as big as once expected, even though Mexico paying for that wall is seeming less likely by the day.

  31. 31

    RE: Brian @ 30 – If someone was that close to qualifying or not they would likely lock their rate. So I doubt that’s a huge factor.

    I’m still just skeptical of the numbers–including the low numbers they started with.

  32. 32
    Brian says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 31

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be a financing contingency failure, either. It could be early December, and you reach mutual acceptance on a place, and shortly thereafter find out mortgage rates have increased and you don’t want to buy the place anymore. Either you don’t think it’s the right time to buy anymore or it’s out of your desired budget range. You can use your inspection contingency to get out.

  33. 33
    justme says:

    RE: Screenname345 @ 24

    Sheesh. It is not a “move” by Amazon. It is an announcement. An announcement that Amazon is planning to kill more than 100k retail jobs by 2019. How can you cheer that? So sad.

  34. 34
    justme says:

    RE: GoHawks @ 28

    The sales are flopping, not flipping.

  35. 35

    By justme @ 33:

    RE: Screenname345 @ 24

    Sheesh. It is not a “move” by Amazon. It is an announcement. An announcement that Amazon is planning to kill more than 100k retail jobs by 2019. How can you cheer that? So sad.

    Part of it might be new retail jobs, like the Amazon grocery store in Ballard and the rumored one on Capitol Hill.

  36. 36
    justme says:

    Another China-related fraudster bites the dust. Stolen money, visa fraud, lots of good crime in there. And this case goes back as far as 2012. How many more fraud cases in the federal pipeline, one might ask?

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/chinese-immigrant-who-bought-eastside-home-with-laundered-money-pleads-guilty-to-eb-5-visa-fraud/

    QUOTES:

    “An immigrant from China who had been living in King County has pleaded guilty to visa-fraud charges after federal authorities charged her with using stolen money from overseas to purchase a house on the Eastside. Shilan Zhao, 53, submitted false documents to federal immigration authorities and will forfeit her $900,000 house in Newcastle and give up properties worth tens of millions of dollars in California and New York, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said. She also will spend up to five years in federal prison.”

    “The indictment says she used funds from fraudulent transactions from a grain storehouse in China to buy a four-bedroom house on 113th Avenue Southeast in Newcastle for $525,000 in 2012. Her ex-husband, 53-year-old former Chinese government official Jianjun Qiao, was a director at the grain business in Zhoukou.”

  37. 37
    Eastsider says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 35:

    By justme @ 33:

    RE: Screenname345 @ 24

    Sheesh. It is not a “move” by Amazon. It is an announcement. An announcement that Amazon is planning to kill more than 100k retail jobs by 2019. How can you cheer that? So sad.

    Part of it might be new retail jobs, like the Amazon grocery store in Ballard and the rumored one on Capitol Hill.

    Am I the only one seeing the irony? /sarc

  38. 38

    RE: Eastsider @ 37 – Well it’s not really ironic–just one competitor moving in on another. It also though won’t mean every job is a new job because Amazon’s competitors will cut back hours/positions.

  39. 39
    Brian says:

    I foresee a dwindling of brick and mortar to a breaking point where prices and demand equalize with Amazon (in my opinion, they already have), and then people will feel nostalgic about in-person shopping and rather do that again, leading to a partial comeback of brick and mortar.

  40. 40
    GetOffMyLawn says:

    RE: Brian @ 39

    Seems hard to believe that there will be enough nostalgia to overcome the added costs of B&M and the convenience of online shopping to have a substantial comeback.

  41. 41
    Brian says:

    RE: GetOffMyLawn @ 40

    The costs are definitely evening out. I actually did most of my Christmas shopping locally this year because Amazon couldn’t beat the prices. Online stores got a huge boost in the tax-free era, but now that so many places charge a sales tax, they’re not really much cheaper, if at all.

  42. 42
    Anonymous Coward says:

    RE: Brian @ 39 – Brick and Mortar will never be able to compete with online when it comes to selection. I’m starting to order more and more online just because I hate going to the store to buy something seemingly obvious only for them not to have it. Just this weekend I ordered my lightbulbs from Amazon while at Home Depot because Home Depot didn’t have any 3000K dimmable LED bulbs with an equivalent output >60W. Amazon had quite a selection.

  43. 43

    RE: Anonymous Coward @ 42 – Not to mention, Amazon sells its returns as such, where Lowes and HD just put the stuff back on the shelf without letting you know it’s been used. So using Amazon saves you two trips!

  44. 44
    justme says:

    RE: Brian @ 41

    Good point. Without being able to do sales tax arbitrage (meaning: avoidance), Amazon (and Ebay) may never have been able to get off the ground. In the beginning, online shopping was all about big ticket items, like getting an $800 LCD monitor in year 2000. At that point, not having to pay sales tax AND getting a decent price was a big deal.

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