Mid-Week Open Thread (2012-08-08)

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Here is your open thread for the mid-week on August 8th, 2012. You may post random links and off-topic discussions here. Also, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like to see covered in an article, please make it known.

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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.


  1. 1

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 10:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9
    Yes, it’s odd. Congress has a pitiful approval rating, something like 18%, yet very few incumbents get tossed out of office.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Senators get re-elected based on their hair–even if it’s obviously fake. There’s a reason John Edwards paid $500 for haircuts.

  2. 2

    Over Growth Planning Means Less State Tax Revenue

    “…The hearings board ruled last month against amendments for Orton Junction, putting that project in limbo. It faulted Pierce County’s decision to loosen protections on nearly 200 acres of rural and agriculture land. It also found the county action was not fully supported by state code, nor did it fully comply with the county’s own planning requirements.

    Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/08/07/2246255/pierce-county-found-out-of-compliance.html#storylink=cpy

  3. 3

    I attended a Continuing Education Course for attorneys yesterday, and one thing that came up was the National Mortgage Settlement.


    That’s the one where six loan servicers have to pay $20B over the next few years to make up for their sins. Well apparently the servicers are sending out offers to reduce the principal of loans by up to $100,000, but getting a poor response rate. People are ignoring it, perhaps thinking it’s a scam??? But the big news was that some are just adjusting the amount of the debt without asking the borrower.

    The Chair for the course asked about the tax consequences of doing that. The response was “We’re working with the IRS on that.” Imagine having your lender reduce your debt by $100,000 and then getting a 1099 for $100,000 of income you don’t have an exclusion available to avoid recognition of the income! The IRS is going to want their money on 4/15/2013. Seems like the servicer should at least ask if you want the reduction.

    The question I asked was is there any requirement this actually benefit the consumer? The scenario I raised was a $100,000 reduction followed a year later by a foreclosure. The response was that reduction might allow them to sell the property, which is true, but I was addressing the situation where it was foreclosed. Seemingly there no one benefits, except maybe the bank if the servicer was not also the lender.

    Connecting the two up, imagine having a $20,000 tax bill and then losing your house to foreclosure. If no reduction had been done it’s possible you’d have had no tax bill, depending on how the foreclosure gets reported on your return.

  4. 4

    Here’s an interesting use of statistics–a claim that Apple and Samsung made 108% of the profits on smart phones.


    The claim is based on the fact that all other companies making smart phones lost money. Still, I would say they only made 100% of the profits.

  5. 5

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 4

    Yes Kary

    We used to build all our cars and everything in our house in America, with half the population and workers we have now….now, smart phones are the “cat’s meow”, import almost everything and smartphones are our economy’s only hope? Better keep the debt presses running until bankruptcy, soon at a theater near you.

    I asked my sister what her monthly fee on her smart phone was and she said $100….told me I should get one too….I told her I’d rather spend it on cable TV, at least I get a big screen and surround sound.

  6. 6

    RE: softwarengineer @ 5 – For some a smartphone might replace Internet access.

  7. 7

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 6

    For Most Its a Double Bill Though

    Besides, internet access costs have come way down [even high speed], so replacing a $19.95/mo Century Link Access for your laptop [with a full data sized screen] is a puny savings and doesn’t justify higher user fee smartphones.

    Besides Kary, why would I want to give up my landline phones that ring in every room [I don’t miss calls], have a speaker and microphone that’s clear [not garbled], doesn’t drop calls, don’t run on batteries that go dead and don’t break down twice a year because ya dropped it or lost it.

  8. 8

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 6

    Don’t Get Me Wrong Though

    I do have a cell phone, but use a rugged old 2002 Nokia that still has its original battery, I can drop it and get it wet without damaging it, no 911 chip tracking me like a spy novel, no contract [ can switch to a Go Phone ina blink of an eye] and I have the flexibility of cell calls on a 300 min plan for like $25/mo plus fees.

  9. 9

    Your sister might want to consider switching to one of the lower cost networks, like Sprint or Virgin. Also, the new shared plans of Verizon and ATT are cheaper.

  10. 10

    By softwarengineer @ 8:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 6

    Don’t Get Me Wrong Though

    I do have a cell phone, but use a rugged old 2002 Nokia that still has its original battery, I can drop it and get it wet without damaging it, no 911 chip tracking me like a spy novel, no contract [ can switch to a Go Phone ina blink of an eye] and I have the flexibility of cell calls on a 300 min plan for like $25/mo plus fees.

    I have a smart phone because it’s something of an occupational necessity, but for years I had an old Nokia that was toughly built. I dropped it into the toilet once after taking a dump, scrubbed it thoroughly, and after letting it dry out a little, it kept on working for several years after that. And it’s Nokia that’s on the verge of going out of business. The Ipads and the Androids might be able to find the nearest place for a Microbrew, or be able to let you watch some jumping kitties in a Youtube video, but I doubt very much they could survive sitting in a crap filled toilet.

  11. 11

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 10 – Right now we’re still in the stage computers were in maybe 10-15 years ago, where smartphones become obsolete less than 2 years after they’re introduced. In the case of the last iPhone, they were obsolete four months before they were introduced (3G). So durability isn’t that huge of a factor, especially with the way cell phone pricing works (subsidized as part of the bill).

    The thing about Moore’s Law is it also applies to power consumption, and that’s very important on a mobile device.

  12. 12
    MacroInvestor says:

    I’ll be happy when the fascination with smart phones dies out. It seems you can’t find a group of people talking about anything else these days. It’s even infected Seattle bubble. Who cares about your lousy phone and what a “great” deal you got? Get a fricking life.

  13. 13

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 10

    A Friend’s Smartphone

    Was so unreliable, she was replacing it several times a year….when she puts it on speaker phone I hear my voice [loud BTW] echo a second or so later, totally irritating and almost impossible to communicate with your voice yelling back as you talk.

    BTW, she uses only Magic Jack free [almost] long distance landlines now….enough was enough.

  14. 14
    S-crow says:

    Leaving office last night and drummed up conversation with seasoned old appraiser who shares our building……says getting really difficult to justify prices again due to multiple offers & low inventory creating potential for false bottom (ie, still not a ‘normal’ market).

    What say you Zillow & Redfin who are calling it a bottom all over the intertubes and Twitter? Are you still calling it a bottom when we have continued pace of foreclosures and continued steady pace of short sales? Does that justify a normal market/ bottom or are 3.125-3.5% fixed rates manipulating the purchase market? The market Realtors don’t see but we do….refi’s are off the charts right now.

    – S-crow

  15. 15
    David Losh says:

    RE: S-crow @ 14

    I was on tour in Wallingford yesterday because we were shining up a place that has sold for an obscene amount of money. It needs at least $100K to fix the remodeling that has been done in the past seven years, and that doesn’t adress the basement or foundation that was never touched.

    All I saw was over priced property that had been remodeled, but still needed hundreds of thousands of dollars of work.

    One of the listing agents told me that every listing she has had this year got an offer from a redfin agent. She was just kind of musing about that, but to me it makes perfect sense.

    You are correct, the forums on internet Real Estate sites are loaded with sales hype, and most of it is from buyers egging each other on. It’s a hoot except I think a lot of these buyers will be disappointed next year, and especially in 2014.

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