Uncategorized

Tired Stereotypes About Renters

You’ve heard these stereotypes about renting, circulated by people and organizations with a financial interest in selling you a mortgage:

  • Renting is for poor people.
    and,
  • Renters don’t get involved in their community.

Here’s a specific example of these arguments, courtesy of the NAR:

Low- and moderate-income families, as well as minorities, are the groups that homeownership eludes the most.

Homeowners are motivated to stay abreast of local issues to protect their investment.

In turn, involvement in community quality-of-life issues helps prevent crime, improve childhood education and support neighborhood upkeep.

– NAR, Homeownership Talking Points

I mention these because a semi-related story in today’s Seattle Times caught my attention. In the first three paragraphs it gives a strong counterpoint to these talking points we often hear repeated by those in the home sales business. (emphasis mine)

On the 40th floor of a Seattle skyscraper, in a nondescript hearing room, a young Queen Anne couple sat on one side of a long table. On the other side sat their opponents — lawyers defending a city permit to tear down an old church next door to the couple’s rented house.On this particular day, the Queen Anne couple, Tyler Crone and Jorge Barón, looked far less like the working parents of a 3-year-old daughter and 15-month-old son and more like who they also happen to be: Yale-educated attorneys, one with a master’s in public health, both on a mission. There the couple sat, confident, attired in suits, with briefcases of exhibits — and armed with witnesses who pounded home a single, emotional message: Don’t poison our children with a toxic cloud of lead dust.

Bill Merkle, a real-estate broker involved in the deal to develop the church property, watched the spectacle with frustration, having never before seen such formidable neighborhood resistance to a demolition.

Surely there was a typo. That doesn’t sound like renters at all.

Or maybe it’s time to rethink the view that renters are somehow inherently unfortunate, lazy, ignorant, and/or stupid.

(Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times, 05.17.2007)

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

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. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.

29 comments:

  1. 1
    MisterBubble says:

    Bah. Losers!

    It’s only a matter of time before they’re cookin’ up a heap o’ bathtub meth in their second bathroom.

    Besides, as Meshugy has pointed out, all of the rentals are either next to frat houses, strip clubs or highways. Who are these people kidding?

  2. 2
    Madrona says:

    I think we all agree renters are ghetto… Here is another interesting article. Subprime, bubbles, and market crashes, oh my!

  3. 3
    mariner says:

    Anyone get an “invite” or hear the radio ads about the Downtown Seattle Condo expo this weekend? $10 tickets to listen to realtors chime on about the wisdom of paying $1000 – $2000/sf for premium downtown condos while the rest of the country goes bust. Imagine that….

  4. 4
    Grivetti says:

    Dirty… dirty… dirty renters

    Good thing they’re outlawed in Ballard.

  5. 5
    MisterBubble says:

    They’re allowed to live next to the Sands, grivetti.

  6. 6
    UrbanAsh says:

    WOW! Don’t be so quick to judge “renters.” On a daily basis, I represent plenty of outstanding individuals who rent purely for convenience. Some have recently sold their homes in surrounding neighborhoods, some are being relocated to Seattle and are not ready to commit, and others are not sure of our market.

    Also, I think that the article is referring to them as being the owner’s of a rented home…possibly landlords.

  7. 7
    Mike says:

    Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m fresh out of prison and can’t find a job. I have no bank account, a fico score in the low double digits and I dropped out of second grade to join the circus.

    I did manage to pre-qualify for a mortgage back in February, but for some reason it fell out of escrow when the loan didn’t fund.

    Guess I’m stuck renting for a while.

  8. 8
    The Tim says:

    Also, I think that the article is referring to them as being the owner’s of a rented home…possibly landlords.

    I don’t think so. Look at the caption of the second picture:

    Windows around the family’s kitchen, where Isabella and Joaquin Baron are having their supper, give a view of the neighboring church, that’s scheduled for demolition.

  9. 9
    wreckingbull says:

    Nothing screams ‘credit bubble’ more than the notion of someone who could not qualify to rent a 1K/month apartment qualifying for a 105% LTV jumbo.

    Hey Mr. Bubble & Grivetti: I got myself a shootin’ car in my front yard. Why don’t you both come on over on Saturday and we’ll drink some tallboys and do a little target practice.

  10. 10
    Shawn says:

    Everyone who has made disparaging remarks about renters should be ashamed. Why, even some of my best friends are renters.

  11. 11
    optioned unarmed says:

    It is my understanding that some of the country’s most upstanding homeowners were actually once renters themselves.

  12. 12
    EconE says:

    I woke up this morning.

    Realized I had rented a condo in Seattle.

    I looked in the mirror.

    I’m such a loser.

    Now I just have to make use of that rented luxury condo.

    Is it sunny up there yet?

  13. 13
    Mike says:

    option unarmed

    It is my understanding that some of the country’s most upstanding homeowners were actually once renters themselves.

    Think of it more like the Indian caste system. Owners belong to one of the 4 varnas, based on whether any of their ancestors ever rented, whether their parents owned a home when they were born, and whether they themselves ever rented before buying.

    Outside this caste system are the “untouchables”, or as we call them here “renters that believe there is a housing bubble”.

    It is import that any owners that come into contact with one of these casteless serfs wash thoroughly afterwards as if they do not, it will have a negative impact on their standing within the caste system.

  14. 14
    Comrade Chairman Greenspan says:

    I’d be seriously alarmed if most of society didn’t think I was inherently unfortunate, lazy, ignorant, and/or stupid.

  15. 15
    B says:

    If you touch a renter, your Blessed Equity decreases. Beware!

  16. 16
    RecklessRenter says:

    Like the people the in story I’m a lawyer and I also rent.

    Why? Because I’m renting a home that is “worth” over 500,000 and paying only 1600 a month.

    People now a days never seem to think about cash flow. When I explain this to “homeowners” (those who “rent” from the bank that is) they seem shocked!

    “YOu mean you can take the money you save by renting and put it towards other things?”

    LIQUIDITY is where it is. A well diversified portofolio beats the pants off of home appreciation. Especially if you have friends who work on wall street.

    But then again I guess I’m just too stupid to think for myself.

  17. 17
    Deejayoh says:

    But then again I guess I’m just too stupid to think for myself.

    Perhaps JD@Preview will come over from the forums and school you. He seems to be a very well fed troll though, so it might take a really juicy comment to lure him over here.

  18. 18
    Grivetti says:

    Like the people the in story I’m a lawyer and I also rent.

    Sorry… this can’t be true. If you become a renter, you’re automatically disbarred from the state of Washington. You’re practicing illegally, dude.

    Hopefully you’ve registered as a renter at the local police station. I just got my local Phinney Ridge flyer and mugshots of neighborhood renters. Its a good thing too, I have children and small pets.

    Luckily for Ballard, renters are subject to immediate eviction and there’s no problem.

    BTW, the ‘Sands’ showgirls in Ballard is nothing but a front for the Knights Templar, its well known and even logged in Zillow. How else do you think property values can sustain around the ‘Shug’s digs?

  19. 19
    Shawn says:

    ox·y·mo·ron
    Pronunciation[ok-si-mawr-on]
    –noun, plural -mo·ra
    Rhetoric. a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “I’m a lawyer and I also rent.”

  20. 20
    arroyogrande says:

    * If you rent, your home owner neighbors will avoid you.
    * If you rent, you won’t be invited to dinner parties.
    * If you rent, your parents and siblings will think that you haven’t grown up, and are a loser.
    * If you rent, people will think that you have a low paying job.
    * If you rent and have a high paying job, when people find out, they will get a strange look on their face, as if you had just uttered complete gibberish.
    * If you rent, and are not considering buying a house for a while, you are a “bitter renter”
    * If you rent, you are throwing your money away on rent, while home owners are ‘investing’ in their ‘equity’, even with no money down and an ARM.
    * If you rent and try to explain to people that you will not throw money away on mortgage interest for a depreciating asset, but will instead save or invest the the money saved by renting, they will get a strange look on their face, as if you had just uttered complete gibberish.
    * If you rent, you are missing out on the mortgage interest deduction.
    * If you rent and try to explain to people that the standard deduction, the ATM, and the cap for high wage earners really REALLY lessens the advantage of the mortgage interest deduction, they will get a strange look on their face, as if you had just uttered complete gibberish.

  21. 21
    mydquin says:

    I rented 2 places when I first moved to Seattle. I was a good tenant by any standard at both locations.

    However, my first landlord decided he wanted the property for other uses. At the first, the landlord jacked my rent up $6000/year when it came time to renew my lease. That didn’t motivate me enough to move because the money was not really worth the time and hassle. When that didn’t work, the landlord started calling, emailing and generally hassling me. It really wasn’t worth my time to take this jerk to court so I finally moved.

    My next landlord was actually a very respectful, decent guy. Unfortunately, when the rains came in the fall, my basement office flooded. I am lucky the flood didn’t short out my computer… or worse, get me electricuted.

    The bottom line is that I don’t have the time or energy to deal with hassles like that. I now gladly pay my premium to own.

  22. 22
    Deejayoh says:

    mydquin said…
    I now gladly pay my premium to own.

    a point not everyone understands

  23. 23
    EconE says:

    “I rented 2 places when I first moved to Seattle. I was a good tenant by any standard at both locations.”

    ok…cool. Being a good tenant is a plus for all parties involved.

    “However, my first landlord decided he wanted the property for other uses.”

    Other uses? What other uses would a landlord have other than selling it?

    “At the first, the landlord jacked my rent up $6000/year when it came time to renew my lease.”

    percentage wise…that is one MAMMOTH increase. It must have been something that was both very nice (waterfront home rental perhaps?) and high $ already to warrant such an increase.

    “That didn’t motivate me enough to move because the money was not really worth the time and hassle.”

    really? then should I assume that you had a “needle in the haystack” special kind of rental or that you just have a huge income?

    “When that didn’t work, the landlord started calling, emailing and generally hassling me. It really wasn’t worth my time to take this jerk to court so I finally moved.”

    now this just dumbfounds me…you pay $500 more a month to get harassed and seem pretty complacent about it.

    “My next landlord was actually a very respectful, decent guy. Unfortunately, when the rains came in the fall, my basement office flooded. I am lucky the flood didn’t short out my computer… or worse, get me electricuted.”

    Well…thank goodness you were renting so rather than you having to deal with an insurance claim and repairs the responsibility fell upon the landlord.

    Oh…and even if you owned the place…there would still have been a chance of your computer shorting out or you getting electrocuted.

    “The bottom line is that I don’t have the time or energy to deal with hassles like that. I now gladly pay my premium to own.”

    now that you own…you get to be the one to spend the time and energy (and $$$’s) to deal with all the hassles that you talk about…don’t you?

  24. 24
    SLTO Troll says:

    Interestingly, for some people it does make sense to pay the premium for the stability of not having to move until you need or want to…

    some of us have really high stress, busy, but equally high paying jobs… and buying a house within traditional guidelines (20% PITI of gross monthly household) makes reasonable sense, unfortunately that is the exception and a lot of people pay the premium when they cannot afford it, or don’t even need the extra stability… furthermore, if you suicide your loan, you’re more likely to be made to move by foreclosure than not…

    So don’t be quick to judge when somebody decides they’ve made a conscious decision to pay extra…

    500 a month to some people doesn’t even show up on the radar… and I can see how he decided to stay and bite that bullet… figure you make 10K a month, if you move you lose 2 weeks of free time househunting and moving your stuff, rearranging things, what not… that’s 5K of income/vacation lost just to move… and forget the stress…

    but again, it should be a conscious decision by a financially aware individual…

    it’s always a good time to buy when you are financially stable and buying makes sense… the question becomes how big you go… and in this bubble for me it’s as small and cheap as I can foresee living in for the next 7 years (when my 30yr amortized ARM resets)…

  25. 25
    j says:

    understand that you just switched, so you’re probably playing catch-up, but i can’t wait for the all of the analysis on the gems of info in the times this weekend and the expo of all expos!! hahaha. the economist presenting there sounded eerily familiar to our good friend formerly at the NAR

  26. 26
    VernW says:

    I recently sold my home in Norway and am now renting. I’ve been a home owner most of my adult life so I’m not used to being treated like a second class citizen, but here I am…

    I’ve owned income properties when I lived in Seattle, and all rental owner can tell you renter stories.

    My landlord here in Norway thinks I’m stupid. He provided me with a riding lawnmower to cut the grass which was part of the rental agreement, and when I tried to use the mower two weeks ago I found it was broken. He sent it to the repair shop and sent me the bill!

    It states in the rental contract that I am responsible for maintenance. I took that to be tune-up, oil change and cleaning.

    The rental agency representative contacted us and said the owner would like us to sign an additional contract binding us to fix any future damage that might occur and send the machine in for a standard overhaul at the end of our tenancy here. I said I will stand with our original agreement and will not sign and additional one. She threatened to have the riding mower removed and a push mower delivered in it’s place. It was a threat, it’s a big lawn!

    After reviewing my rental agreement I found that there was no part of the contract stating that I was to mow the lawn. She said she simply forgot to include it, but that I was still obligated and I would be held to that obligation.

    It seems that the landlord is free to interpret the meaning of maintenance to suit his needs forcing us to pay for damage done before we moved in, but we are not free to exercise our rights when it comes to the language of our contract. Sure it is partly a Norwegian thing but you don’t get this kind of guff if you own your property here. I think the bias against renters is universal, we must be stupid or why would we rent.

    By the way, the housing market has begun to slide her after five years of record breaking gains. You can probably guess why I sold in January and am now renting. My landlord can’t.

    http://bloggersbubble.blogspot.com/

  27. 27
    Hal says:

    So let me get this straight, renters are poor? Actually more and more wealthy people are wise enough to know that Christmas doesn’t come every month:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de1lQZjJkkc
    (first part)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B5kw-rmvBQ
    (second part)

  28. 28
    cb says:

    I’m a CEO and my wife teaches at the UW. We’ve been renting on Queen Anne for 10 years, two different comfortable condos. We pay less than half of what the payment would be with HO dues, we don’t have to cut the grass or fix the appliances, we live where we want to and save with both hands, and if we ever want to move it will be hassle-free. I’m just a little afraid that the word about renting will get around and competition will ruin a great deal.

  29. 29
    Hal says:

    To anyone contemplating buying at the TOP I offer:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/business/2007_BUYRENT_GRAPHIC.html

    Don’t overpay and lose the flexibility of renting for the so called American Dream. It could just be a nightmare!

Leave a Reply

Use your email address to sign up with Gravatar for a custom avatar.
Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please read the rules before posting a comment.