Mid-Week Open Thread (2012-10-03)

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Here is your open thread for the mid-week on October 3rd, 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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NOTICE: If you have comments to make about politics or economics that do not somehow directly relate to Seattle-area real estate, they may be posted in the current Politics & Economics Open Thread. If you post such comments here, they will be moved there.

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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.

16 comments:

  1. 1
    ricklind says:

    Here is some only slightly old news that may have slipped by some here over the weekend.

    Zillow, “Z,” got a bad report card on business model and valuation. It took a small dump, then recovered mostly, and now has taken another small dump on the news that the SEC is investigating how it listed revenue.

    It is interesting because it illustrates how the real estate business models continue to change, and illustrates how challenging those changes are. It also illustrates how adjusting the books will get you caught, unless you are too big to fail.

    Here is a nice summary from Seeking Alpha:
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/897541-loyal-zillow-investors-missing-the-big-picture-of-its-valuation

    And the original scathing report from Cintron:
    http://www.citronresearch.com/

    Bloomberg on the SEC investigation:
    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-02/zillow-shares-drop-as-sec-questions-revenue-disclosures

    Disclosure: I have a short position in Z with a target in the high to mid teens.

    Rick

  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    By ricklind @ 1:

    It is interesting because it illustrates how the real estate business models continue to change, and illustrates how challenging those changes are.

    I would argue that Z’s business model is less about “real estate” and more about advertising.

    P.S. – (I moved a bunch of politics comments over to the Politics & Economics Open Thread.)

  3. 3
    ricklind says:

    By The Tim @ 2:

    By ricklind @ 1:

    It is interesting because it illustrates how the real estate business models continue to change, and illustrates how challenging those changes are.

    I would argue that Z’s business model is less about “real estate” and more about advertising.

    Agreed.

  4. 4
    David Losh says:

    RE: The Tim @ 2

    I’d say Zillow has always been about lead generation for mortgages.

  5. 5
    Natalia Orinko says:

    RE: David Losh @ 4

    I’m not a real estate professional, but I rarely go to Zillow. I spend a lot of time at Trulia and Redfin however. Both seem to provide first rate and current information to the consumer. I don’t get the same feeling with Zillow however.

  6. 6
    Tatiana Kalashnikov says:

    I don’t think taking a political stance here is productive, so I won’t. But the President looks weak when he just keeps looking down, in a submissive sort of way. I know he will be coached and he’ll probably fix this next time around. But Romney will expect it and come at him in a totally different way. It’s too bad that in American elections hinge on things like debates. The European way is obviously so much better. The election season lasts about two months, then it’s over. A week later the new guy takes over. In America the campaigning never ends. It drives me crazy!

  7. 7
    pfft says:

    By Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 6:

    It’s too bad that in American elections hinge on things like debates.

    they don’t hinge on the debates. debates have little influence.

  8. 8
    ChrisM says:

    Well, given any opportunity I’ll happily bash Zillow. Their perpetually inaccurate listings make me suspect that only truly epic idiotic buyers spend any time there.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 6 – How about a boxing match? We could throw in Putin, to decide who rules the world.

  11. 11

    Q: Why does the current electrical code require the circuit breaker box be grounded to metal plumbing?

    Do they want to make sure you have a really good circuit if you grab a hot wire and your sink faucet at the same time? It seems less safe, not more safe.

  12. 12
    redmondjp says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 11:

    Q: Why does the current electrical code require the circuit breaker box be grounded to metal plumbing?

    Do they want to make sure you have a really good circuit if you grab a hot wire and your sink faucet at the same time? It seems less safe, not more safe.

    Short answer: because Article 250 of the National Electric Code (NEC) says so.

    The assumption being made (which is in general no longer true for new construction) is that there is a metallic underground pipe (the water main) present that is in direct contact with the earth for a minimum distance of 10 feet, and the NEC defines this as a ground electrode.

    There has been controversy about this requirement for the last century, as the utilities don’t want any electrical current flowing through their buried piping as it may contribute to corrosion. But as I alluded to above, this is becoming more and more of a moot point as buried utility piping feeding residences is almost all plastic now.

  13. 13

    RE: redmondjp @ 12 – But doesn’t code also require two grounding rods also connected to the breaker box? That seemingly would be sufficient, which makes me wonder what they think they’re accomplishing with the water pipe.

    I think the run to the house may have typically been plastic longer than the code to ground to pipe has existed!

  14. 14
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 13 – The code requires that all objects considered to be grounding electrodes must be bonded together, such that no electrical potential differences exist between any of them. This can be especially important if/when lightning hits the structure or the systems within.

    Asking ‘why’ about some code-required items could be likened to a similar exercise in the legal arena when the answer is the product of decades or centuries of case law. There often isn’t a simple answer or it isn’t readily apparent (the ‘why’ isn’t included in the code although the handbook version does sometimes answer this question). And if you want to change something, get on one of the code-making panels who provide input for revisions – the NEC is revised every three years, with the latest edition released in 2011.

  15. 15

    By redmondjp @ 14:

    Asking ‘why’ about some code-required items could be likened to a similar exercise in the legal arena when the answer is the product of decades or centuries of case law.

    I knew about the bonding thing, but the difference between the electrical code and the law is the law usually makes some sense! ;-)

    To me it would make more sense to have these things insulated/isolated. Perhaps have a plastic spacer at the gas meter and where the water pipe exits the house, and around any pipe going through concrete. I had not, however, considered the possibility of lightning. Maybe this is one advantage of plastic supply pipe to the various fixtures.

  16. 16
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15 – The good news is that if you grab a hot wire while holding the faucet on the sink simultaneously it won’t matter whether the circuit breaker box is grounded to metal plumbing or not. You will be jolted back into reality….hey….maybe you should try it to see if I am right? Prove me wrong Kary for once in your life! LMK how it went.

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