Weekly Open Thread (2013-06-17)

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Here is your open thread for the week of June 17th, 2013. 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.

Be sure to also check out the forums, and get your word in the user-driven discussions there!

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.

55 comments:

  1. 1
    McGrath says:

    Well so much for living in your house for free and then walking away without consequences. (Note to Ray Pepper, who seems to think this is the way to operate).

    http://m.washingtonpost.com/investigations/lenders-seek-court-actions-against-homeowners-years-after-foreclosure/2013/06/15/3c6a04ce-96fc-11e2-b68f-dc5c4b47e519_story.html

  2. 2
    Erik says:

    RE: McGrath @ 1
    In washington state, they cannot come after the person strategically defaulting. They can only go after the property and not the owner. Washington state is a non-judicial state and I think the banks cannot come after you for not paying in non-judicial states. I would check with a lawyer though if you wanna strategically default and save yourself lots of money.

    http://www.kcmblog.com/2012/06/08/judicial-and-non-judicial-states/

  3. 3
    David Losh says:

    RE: Erik @ 2

    Wow!

    Legal, and tax advice!

    Now there’s a source for you.

  4. 4
    sin camisa says:

    A house closed last Thursday; is the final price already available to the public? if so, where can I find how much it went for?

    Thank you

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Blurtman says:

    NSA director says plot against Wall Street foiled

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/nsa-director-says-plot-against-152714399.html

    Wall Street is on our side, aren’t they? So this is a good thing, isn’t it?

    It is not like the NSA is violating our freedoms to protect scumbag criminals, right?

  7. 7
    Erik says:

    RE: David Losh @ 3
    I recently went through a short sale stupid. I consulted with a lawyer and things went perfectly. I am repeating what I learned from my consultation with a lawyer.

    It’s interesting how you have plenty of time to spout off, but you don’t have time to confirm facts.

  8. 8
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 6

    Wall Street is our friend.

    Where would all of this economic recovery be without Wall Street keeping that money moving into private reserves for investment?

  9. 9
    sin camisa says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 5

    I only have the address. Can I search by address? Thank you.

  10. 10
    Saulac says:

    By Erik @ 2:

    RE: McGrath @ 1
    Washington state is a non-judicial state and I think the banks cannot come after you for not paying in non-judicial states.

    I think judicial, as in judicial/non-judicial states/forceclosures, and recourse, as in recourse/non-recourse loans, are two different things. And one does not imply the other.
    Washington state is non-judicial state, so the banks does not need to go to course to foreclose. They use a trusty companies, instead.
    Banks can come after you if:
    – Your loan is a recourse loan (second morgate (?), HELOC (?), refin (?)…)
    – Foreclosure proceed does not cover the loan.
    – They feel they have a chance that you will pay. I.e., you have asset, credit …
    I am sure that I can use some correction here.

  11. 11
    Erik says:

    RE: Saulac @ 10
    In a judicial foreclosure, the lender sues the defaulting borrower in state court in order to auction the property to recoup unpaid debts. In non-judicial foreclosures, the lender auctions the property without having to go to court.

    http://www.diffen.com/difference/Judicial_Foreclosure_vs_Non-Judicial_Foreclosure

    I hired Ed Mcferran here in seattle to walk me through the process. He gave me some documents that I have not been able to find on the internet. Basically, in our state if you wanna walk away from the property or not pay your mortgage for a while you can, but you will lose your house. As a selfish utilitarian, I see no reason to stay in a house that is way under water other than fear of the unknown. There is nothing to fear though because we are in a non-judicial state.
    I short sold, but after reading some of Ray Pepper’s comments, I realized I should have foreclosed and not paid my mortgage for possibly years. That time frame has shrunk dramatically since then though.

  12. 12
    Blurtman says:

    Jail reckless bankers, standards commission urges

    The commission was highly critical of aspects of the banking industry Senior bankers guilty of reckless misconduct should be jailed, a long-awaited report on banking commissioned by the government has recommended.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22954586

    F**king Obama! What a pathetic, dissapointing, banking industry toadie.

  13. 13
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 12

    I don’t see why you would blame Obama for decades, or centuries of banking abuses.

    We all know the game. We take the parts, and pieces, that work for us, and do what we can to minimize our losses.

    The rules for banksters are there for all of us to use. We can be as abusive as we want, as long as it’s legal.

    What I like is when talking with criminals about criminal law they have all the angles worked out, or they go to jail.

    Why do you think civil law is any different?

  14. 14
    Plymster says:

    RE: sin camisa @ 9 – You can search by parcel number (a 10-digit number for the property). You can get the parcel number with an address search in The King County Parcel Viewer. It’s also the APN number (available in the “Public Records” section of the listing on Redfin, I’m not sure about other sites).

  15. 15
    The Tim says:

    RE: sin camisa @ 4 – I have published a couple of relevant how-to guides on these subjects:

    How To: Research Property & Loan Records

    How-To: Navigate and Understand Public Records

  16. 16
    sin camisa says:

    Thank you everyone.

  17. 17
    pfft says:

    if I lived in a red state I’d be afraid.

    Maine Governor Blacklists Newspapers After They Expose Administration’s Anti-Environment Commissioner
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/19/2179571/lepage-energy-criticism-newspapers/

  18. 18
    pfft says:

    in other news…

    Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/18/2176271/seattle-adopts-climate-action-plan/

    fantastic.

  19. 19
    David Losh says:

    Did anyone else watch the Rick Santelli rant yesterday against Bernanke?

    http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2013/06/19/rick-santelli-channels-howard-beale-in-epic-rant-about-bernanke/

    I don’t usually pay attention to him, but he made some great points about government interference in the markets. I noticed he left his banker buddies out of the rant, but still he made the point that when he started there weren’t all of these data points online that can manipulate a market by 200 points!!! based on the comments of a guy, in government.

    Along with this 200 point drop in the stock market oil, gold, and the Asian markets are all down to what might end up being bargain prices.

    I would relate this to housing as what it is, a hard asset class to sell. Real Estate is set up to be a long term hold. There’s no quick in, and out. I think that those investors who have cash tied up in properties will be missing opportunities in the broader market.

  20. 20
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: pfft @ 18

    Let me fix that for you:

    Seattle adopts plan to destroy local economy by using massive police state to suppress energy use in the name of religious dogma.

  21. 21
    Blurtman says:

    RE: No Name Guy @ 20 – And your point is? :>)

  22. 22
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: Erik @ 11

    Erik: Read The Tim’s post on the main page. Even though Washington has the OPTION for non-judicial foreclosure, that doesn’t mean lenders CAN’T choose to go through a judicial process and seek a deficiency judgement. Back in my title insurance days of 16+ years ago, the VA was noted for doing this on loans they’d insured that were defaulted on.

  23. 23
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 19 – Don’t worry, the market is nothing but transparent and free. And our smart bombs only kill the bad guys.

  24. 24
    Erik says:

    RE: No Name Guy @ 22
    Yeah, I only know about my situation and it was non-judicial. It seems like when all of these foreclosures happened, the banks took the non-judicial route here in washington state. That’s all I heard of, but I have no idea so correct me if i’m wrong. My guess is that the non-judicial route is faster and easier for the banks, so they chose that route in Washington state.

  25. 25
    Blurtman says:

    Commodity prices dropping signifcantly, presumably on the fears of Fed tapering. What does that tell you?

  26. 26
    pfft says:

    By No Name Guy @ 20:

    RE: pfft @ 18

    Let me fix that for you:

    Seattle adopts plan to destroy local economy by using massive police state to suppress energy use in the name of religious dogma.

    more pollution! pollution is good for the economy!

  27. 27
    Erik says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 25
    Yeah, I thought the same thing. They hint at cutting back the stimulus and the commodity prices drop. Not a good sign.

  28. 28
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ 25:

    Commodity prices dropping signifcantly, presumably on the fears of Fed tapering. What does that tell you?

    it’s not the Fed it’s China.

  29. 29
    David Losh says:

    RE: pfft @ 28

    The Hang Seng Index dropped 600 points, on top of previous losses. Nikkei is down 200 points.

    I think money will pour into those markets, but a recovery there might be a long time coming.

    I think investors are selling positions to buy into what could be a free ride to equity.

  30. 30
    Blurtman says:

    3% 10 year treasuries coming up? The fabled rotation out of equities into bonds is a current explanation for the drop in equities. This all seems like a transparent, free market economy.

  31. 31
    Jay says:

    RE: David Losh @ 29 – I hope you are right.

  32. 32
    JA says:

    RE: David Losh @ 29 – Where is a safe place to invest?

  33. 33
    Jay says:

    RE: David Losh @ 29
    I was talking to you earlier about how to approach the owner to sell his house. I think it is better to discuss this topic on the open thread here, and I hope Tim won’t mind me using his blog for advice! Tim, Thank you so much for letting me post questions here!

    We are not investors, and we don’t have cash up front! But I don’t want to be too pushy, then he might think his house is worth a lot of money! That neighborhood is very nice! Well maintained houses there are very expensive, which we can’t afford! Plus they are so dated, I don’t know why anyone would pay so much money for an old original house. I am willing to wait till we can get a bargain in that neighborhood and do renovation! Should we wait a few weeks before talking to him again?

    What is the best strategy for approaching the owner? We are flexible, and willing to negotiate with him, so that he can stay there as long as possible! Like you said, we buy according to market conditions. If next year is more favorable to buyers, then next year might be a better time than now! Should we hire an agent to do this? Or are agents sick of doing long closing time and complicated sale? Is it best that we have to keep trying ourselves, and not use an agent? Even if he wants to sell, it is probably going to take a long time.

    Thanks a lot!

  34. 34
    David Losh says:

    RE: Jay @ 33RE: Blurtman @ 30

    We know this isn’t a free market, but there is money to be made.

    This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Now, because of some comment constraints, I’ll talk about approaching home owners, because this is a great time, there may be some panic in the air.

    Most potential sellers know the market they are in. They may play dumb, but they keep track, especially when the Dow is big news, again.

    Just keep that in mind.

    I talked with my neighbor who did buy directly from the seller. They saw him working on the place, it was vacant, and they asked if he wanted to sell. She just walked up to him while he was working. He wasn’t ready to sell so they leased the place from him for a couple of years. Over time he warmed up to the idea of selling, and they did a owner contract sale. The original owner passed after about five years, and the son is now wanting to get them to cash out the Note. Maybe not the best timing for the son.

    We haven’t bought anything in the past six years, but when we did, I would get out of the car whenever I saw something of interest, or some one working on a property that looks like it will be going on the market. We like dirty disgusting properties, some are rentals, some are owner occupied.

    After the first contact I look up the tax records for the property, to see if it’s really something we want.

    It all depends on the equity position, how long they have owned it, and if there are any transfers in the title. I make my own best guesses about the condition, and start doing numbers on a sheet of paper.

    The last house we bought was actually a cleaning client of ours who had run up a hefty bill, and the place needed much more than cleaning. People freak out about rot, or things that make no sense to worry about, like windows, roof, or foundation. The foundation I threw in there because some people refer to foundation issues that aren’t really a problem. That’s a discussion for another time.

    The problem with Real Estate agents is that they want quick easy deals. They don’t want to work for you. You can give a list of potential listings to an agent who will contact them for you, but you would need to be an in control individual. You need to be a qualified buyer, very serious about price, very willing to close, and no nonsense.

    I would use WaLaw if it were just me.

    I’d pick the property, establish a relationship with the seller, work the numbers, and be serious about buying that home.

    As a couple of tips, it’s best to be positive about the property you are buying from the seller. It took me a long time to learn not to run down a property I’m interested in to the seller. They have a certain pride of ownership, so you should play to that. I don’t do the letters with the kids, I keep it professional, talk about the numbers, and am realistic about what the property needs.

    When the seller says it’s worth one thing I can say “yes,” but it needs a roof, or windows, or a complete over haul. I stick with the numbers of what I have to spend to make the property worth what the seller says.

    I know I’m just skimming the surface here, but I’ll just throw that much out there.

  35. 35
    Jay says:

    RE: David Losh @ 34RE: David Losh @ 34 – Thanks for your encouragement! We are preapproved by 3 different major lenders last week. Two of the lenders offer renovation loans! But we can’t find a house that we like, and we don’t want to get involved in bidding wars! We lost 4 bidding wars in the last few months, and I feel VERY LUCKY that we didn’t win them, because they are not good choices for us long term. If we see something we like and someone is willing to sell at our price range, then we are definitely ready to make an offer.
    There are two preforeclosures in that neighborhood. If we have to wait for them to become REOs, we will wait. My spouse is not comfortable with buying at the auctions. Is it risky if there are other unknown leans and debt? I attended a Vestus’s meeting, and they said that they would all the checks. Do they do a thorough checks on all the leans?
    We are thinking that our whole family (including the kids) will show up at this old guy’s house, and talk to him more about the possibility of selling his house to us. Also, like you said before, we want to tour his house if possible!
    Well maintained houses on his street are sold at $650,000 to $850,000 recently. But his house has very bad siding, a huge rotten deck, no garage, the carport is under the rotten deck. So how do I price his house? According to King County Parcel, the land is worth $270,000, the house is worth $70,000.
    Thank you so much! Your advice is very valuable, and I appreciate it that you take so much time to respond to my questions! Have a nice day.

  36. 36
    David Losh says:

    RE: Jay @ 35

    It’s because you have a defined plan of action.

    Leave the kids out of it, they can hurt, as much as they can help a deal.

    The deck, siding, and garage are fixed costs that you can take bids for. As long as you are doing the siding you would want to do the windows, and doors. I call it peeling the house like it’s a grape to rebuild. That’s a huge expense, but it is all outside, except for the windows.

    My girl friends, and wives have all complained because I can leave projects for years, literally years. I’ve had neighbors complain, and Real Estate agents tell me the listing they have can’t sell because of the condition of my house. It all gets done eventually, but usually just before it sells. I’m just saying that you can take your time on a project house, do the interior, and let the neighbors worry about how your house looks outside.

    What has worked for me is to be honest with people. I like, love, houses. I want the house to be something eventually and play to that as I talk with the seller. “you have a great house here, and we’re going to restore it.” That’s my selling point.

    My first project was a house a gentleman started building with his son. His son abandoned the project with a lot of ill will. It had sat for decades unfinished. When the gentleman agreed to sell to us, the son came down from Alaska to threaten me. He wanted the house, and lot to stay in the guys estate. It was a bad move for the son. The gentleman, I think, originally wanted some attention, but once he saw the son, and the way the son was about the house, he made concessions to us we didn’t ask for.

    When we finished the house, and he saw it, he cried. He was very happy with what we had done.

    The thing for me was to stick with the numbers. Leave the gimmicks behind, be professional, and know what needs to be done, what it will cost, stick with that, and focus on the marketability of the property in the future. Will this property be so desirable when you are done that it will have broader appeal, to the largest segment of the market place, so that the value will climb?

  37. 37
    Blurtman says:

    Thank goodness we are not on the hook for these losses.

    Bernanke – fail. Obama – fail.

    Insight: Losses loom for investors enmeshed in mortgage chaos

    A review of loan documents, property records and the monthly reports made available to investors show that mortgage servicers are reporting individual houses are still in foreclosure long after they have been sold to new buyers or the underlying mortgages have been paid off.

    These delays enable banks and other mortgage servicers to continue to charge monthly fees to investors in these mortgage-backed securities, the banks’ investor reports show. It means that investors are buying mortgage bonds that may have billions of dollars of undisclosed losses that will become apparent only at a later stage. It could also lead to a new round of litigation for banks just when some appeared to have been putting their mortgage problems behind them.

    The review, conducted by foreclosure investigator Lisa Epstein, found hundreds of instances across the United States where information about the status of individual home loans was incorrect. The information about the mortgages is sent from the mortgage servicer, which handles tasks such as collecting monthly mortgage payments and handling foreclosures, to the trustee of the mortgage bonds, which administers monthly reports and makes sure investors get paid.

    In 2009, Epstein helped uncover the robo signing scandal, in which she discovered that banks had hired low-level workers to pose as executives, signing hundreds of legal affidavits a day without verifying a single word, as is required by law. The reporting lag issues she identified in mortgage bonds involved many of the same mortgage servicers who engaged in robo signing.

    “This is all part and parcel of having servicers who are unable to keep the documentation straight,” said Linda Allen, a banking professor at Baruch College, who specializes in mortgage servicing. She said Epstein’s methodology was sound.

    Mortgage experts estimate these reporting delays could mean that billions of dollars in losses may still be hidden in these bonds. Mortgage servicers may have also been charging late fees, property inspection fees, legal fees and other penalties against these loans long after they have been paid off, inflating the losses, they said.

    “The losses are building up inside these deals, and this is going to happen all over the place,” said William Frey, founder of Greenwich Financial Services, which specializes in securitization.

    Frey said his team analyzed about 500 mortgage-backed securities originated by every major bank and that he has yet to find a single bond where the accounting adds up as it should.

    In one case, Reuters found that Bank of America Corp had been collecting a monthly servicing fee of $50.73 from investors on a loan that had been paid off nearly two years ago, investor reports show.

    Bank of America filed a document at a local county office on July 22, 2011 showing that the $162,400 loan on a cream-colored duplex in Greenacres, Florida, owned by a drywall hanger named Roman Pino, had been satisfied and “cancelled.” But investors in Pino’s loan and more than 6,700 other similar mortgages that are bundled together in a subprime mortgage bond still have not been informed that the loan no longer exists, according to the last investor report in May.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/21/us-mortgages-paperwork-insight-idUSBRE95K06Z20130621

  38. 38
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: pfft @ 26

    CO2 isn’t pollution. It’s a vital trace gas to the cycle of life (you sure blow a lot of it there pfft, with all the hot air you spew forth). In fact, part of the greening of the deserts is due to the higher current CO2 content. It improves plant water efficiency. If you’d get outside of eco nut case blog-o-sphere, you’d know that, so I leave it to you to find your own darn link since you’re too intellectually vapid with your parroting of the party line. It’s also aerial fertilizer, increasing plant growth at higher CO2 concentrations.

    Oh, and here’s something for you from those of us who don’t drink the climate Kool Aid: Climate has, does, and always will “change”. We’re not so arrogant to think we know what the “right” climate is nor that we have the power to manipulate it to our whim. Those of us who think and evaluate evidence know it’ll always change. We also know that its far easier to adapt to changing circumstances when we’re rich and prosperous, rather than being poor. We also know that it’s a pointless waste of effort & resources to try and control that which we can’t – namely the climate. Energy use is directly correlated with wealth and prosperity – energy is what allows one person with a backhoe to do the work of 20 with picks and shovels, to give one example. Restricting energy use makes us poor,which makes us vulnerable. The implementation of energy restrictions would also take a police state of horrific proportions. Lets see….poor, under a jack boot, or rich and free? I know what I’ll take, thank you very much.

    Recall the little ice age of just a couple hundred years ago, before industrial society – we started coming out of it in the mid 1800’s, again, before industrialization really took off. Recall the Medieval Climate Optimum before that (you know, where Greenland was actually green and habitable, unlike the ice covered wasteland that it is today). Then there was the cooling period during the Dark Ages. And before that, the Roman Warm Period. Hmmmm….let’s see….warm times = good for humanity (Roman Warm Period = boom of civilization, Medieval Climate Optimum = rebirth of civilization and culture and gasp, grapes and wine production in England of all places, current times = bumper agriculture) and cold times = bad for humanity (the cooling down of the dark ages….dark ages good? Nope. Little ice age = massive crop failures in Europe, some of which led to the French Revolution, black death, pestilence and disease).

  39. 39
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 37

    I read the entire article, and don’t get the concern you are having about Obama, or Bernanke for that matter.

    Mortgage banking went out of whack in 1998. You could blame Clinton, and Bush, but by the time Obama got here the damage was already done.

    I posted the Rick Santelli rant here, where he makes the excellent point that these are investor issues. No one guaranteed you a safe return. It was up to these investors, greedy investors, to do the research into the mechanisms they bought.

    Housing as an investment, other than a family home, or rental market, and I mean apartment complexes, high rises, or office buildings, is a long term position with very little upside. That’s why we have this forced savings chatter about housing units, that’s why we have this hedge against inflation talk about housing. People buy housing units so they aren’t paying rent.

    Well, housing tanked, big time, and is set to tank again. Rentals will also tank in pricing because we allowed over building, new codes, and we have new economic dynamics because the price of housing got so far out of any reality.

    It’s only $300 Billion in projected losses? Give it a rest, let’s get back to some real economy before things like these petty, inconsequential, losses become significant.

  40. 40
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 39 – Bernanke is buying and buying MBS. Their ratings are fraudulent. If the central bank loses money, that is a loss for the Treasury. I would assume that in spite of the underlying RE risk, pension funds, state investment funds, etc. would at least expect the servicers and banks to act in a responsbile and legal manner. I suppose you could argue that they should not have expected even that. Then you would be arguing that investors should realize that this is a fradulent system, I suppose, and the written word is meaningless.

  41. 41
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: David Losh @ 36

    Thank you. The only useful advice I’ve seen on this blog for years. It would be nice if others could share, instead of just shilling for their own situation.

  42. 42
    David Losh says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 40

    You’re right, and I hadn’t thought of that.

    The Bernanke purchases are something I haven’t really paid attention to. They were just something he was doing in a vacuum.

    I’d be interested in more specifics about Bernanke, but Obama I don’t get as the fall guy here.

  43. 43
    Jay says:

    RE: David Losh @ 36 – I can’t really leave the kids at home. One is a baby, the other is a young toddler, and they can’t stay home alone.

    This house is a split entry, and I plan to modernize it. I plan to do exactly what you said. I want to have concrete fiber board siding, ceiling to floor windows, bi-folding glass doors. I also want to build a 2 car garage, and a bedroom/den on top of the garage. If there is popcorn ceiling, I will get rid of it too. Updating the bathrooms probably doesn’t need to be done right away! But the kitchen will need to be opened up and modernized.

    I do worry about resale value. Modern houses are very popular in Seattle! How sellable do you think a modern house is in the Eastside?

    Thank you! Have a nice weekend!

  44. 44
    David Losh says:

    RE: Jay @ 43

    Splits aren’t my favorite. They were built with the expressed purpose of being a cheap production model. They are a lot of usable square footage, but you don’t know what went on behind the walls until you take it apart. There is a reason why T1-11 siding was used, a lot, on this style of house.

    In terms of the kids, then you would be the one doing all the preliminary work on the approach to the owner. Leave the kids at home with the wife.

    You want to be able to listen to the seller rather than paying attention to the needs of the kids. You need to spend the time. That bond may be all you get. Paying attention to the seller is essential. You are there to meet the needs, or desires of the seller. The seller is your main focus. You want as much of that one, on one time as you can get up front.

    Later you can bring the wife, and kids.

    There is a successful remodel that I saw in split, and it had to do with the back yard which became the focus of the house. It’s a beautiful garden, and both the upper, and lower levels look onto it. If I were them I’d get rid of the back deck, and put in a catwalk with stairs to the lower level outside. Maybe just enough space for a bar be que that ran the whole distance of the back of the house.

    For them if they are having an outdoor area it should be the yard.

    Long story short is that you won’t be able to get away from the style of a split. No one will be fooled by windows, and siding. If you like the location, and it can work for you, great, but the upside you have is limited with the style of a split.

  45. 45
    pfft says:

    By No Name Guy @ 38:

    RE: pfft @ 26

    CO2 isn’t pollution. It’s a vital trace gas to the cycle of life (you sure blow a lot of it there pfft, with all the hot air you spew forth). In fact, part of the greening of the deserts is due to the higher current CO2 content. It improves plant water efficiency. If you’d get outside of eco nut case blog-o-sphere, you’d know that, so I leave it to you to find your own darn link since you’re too intellectually vapid with your parroting of the party line. It’s also aerial fertilizer, increasing plant growth at higher CO2 concentrations.

    Oh, and here’s something for you from those of us who don’t drink the climate Kool Aid: Climate has, does, and always will “change”. We’re not so arrogant to think we know what the “right” climate is nor that we have the power to manipulate it to our whim. Those of us who think and evaluate evidence know it’ll always change. We also know that its far easier to adapt to changing circumstances when we’re rich and prosperous, rather than being poor. We also know that it’s a pointless waste of effort & resources to try and control that which we can’t – namely the climate. Energy use is directly correlated with wealth and prosperity – energy is what allows one person with a backhoe to do the work of 20 with picks and shovels, to give one example. Restricting energy use makes us poor,which makes us vulnerable. The implementation of energy restrictions would also take a police state of horrific proportions. Lets see….poor, under a jack boot, or rich and free? I know what I’ll take, thank you very much.

    Recall the little ice age of just a couple hundred years ago, before industrial society – we started coming out of it in the mid 1800’s, again, before industrialization really took off. Recall the Medieval Climate Optimum before that (you know, where Greenland was actually green and habitable, unlike the ice covered wasteland that it is today). Then there was the cooling period during the Dark Ages. And before that, the Roman Warm Period. Hmmmm….let’s see….warm times = good for humanity (Roman Warm Period = boom of civilization, Medieval Climate Optimum = rebirth of civilization and culture and gasp, grapes and wine production in England of all places, current times = bumper agriculture) and cold times = bad for humanity (the cooling down of the dark ages….dark ages good? Nope. Little ice age = massive crop failures in Europe, some of which led to the French Revolution, black death, pestilence and disease).

    just unbelievable.

    “If you’d get outside of eco nut case blog-o-sphere”

    Climate warming since 1995 is now statistically significant, according to Phil Jones, the UK scientist targeted in the “ClimateGate” affair.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13719510

    more later!

  46. 46
    Jay says:

    RE: David Losh @ 44 – What is your favorite type of house to renovate? I don’t like basement either, but most old houses in Bellevue are split entry. The basement space is not usable, and is mostly for storage, laundry and guests. I think split entry is better than split level, at least split entry has a flat yard.

    What is the cost estimate for a whole house renovation (new siding, insulation, kitchen, windows, doors, bathrooms, roof)? Do you know any good contractors in the Seattle and Bellevue areas?

    I know what you meant when the owner’s grown up children are involved. I was driving around, and asked the old lady if she was going to sell her house. She said that eventually, because she doesn’t need a big house. Then her son was there, he was annoyed and said no. I guess it can be very complicated dealing with owners directly.

  47. 47
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Jay @ 46

    I’d love to see David write a few articles on this subject. This is exactly what I’d like to learn more about from this site.

    Jay, it seems like you might be too anxious to buy something. You got into some bidding wars, and luckily realized that was a mistake. Buying and renovating is a business. The people who do it well, have years of experience in building/construction in all the trades. They know how to get things done cheaply and efficiently. Even so, they make mistakes and lose sometimes. A regular person has no chance to compete. If you just get bids from contractors you will spend much more than the property is worth. Unless you really know what you are doing, it’s better to buy something that only needs cosmetic fixes.

    East side/Seattle is very expensive because of the vibrant job market. IMHO, you will not find anything reasonable within commuter distance. Tons of inexpensive houses exist in places where there are no jobs. That is the choice we all face. Pay ridiculous prices in Seattle, rent, or live where there are fewer jobs.

  48. 48
    David Losh says:

    RE: Jay @ 46

    We use Lau Construction, but he does mostly roofs:
    NIHAO CONSTRUCTION, INC.
    13323 ½ Lake City Way NE Tel: (206) 417-0368
    Seattle, WA 98125 Cell: (206) 650-8828
    License # NIHAOCI915DS Fax: (206) 417-0398
    E-mail: nihaoconstruction@gmail.com

    Now, we use Andrew Derr as a contractor, but supply our own casual labor. He’s a Real Estate agent, and past flipper. He has a great eye, charges me a reasonable price per hour, and keeps detailed notes on time, and materials.

    The thing is that we can do most anything with casual labor. If you find the right guys, if you find people who want a long term temporary job, say through the winter months, you can get some good people.

    In terms of style, I go by years of construction. The late 1950s were good years until about 1960 to 1964 when we had the World’s Fair. 1964 to 1972 were OK, and early 1980s. The 1940s was kind of a bust, and before that you needed to be between 1890 to 1932. For some reason the 1920s were good years for construction in Seattle.

    I like mid century modern with modifications, and have always wanted to add a second story to one of those big beam vaulted ceiling kinds of styles.

    The thing about the kids not wanting to sell the family home is because they always think the thing will go up in value. Once they get confronted with the cost of deferred maintenance they get more, and more pliable. They are a part of the bonding process, don’t be discouraged.

    Right now though you might have better luck with Real Estate agents. Some of those quick deals aren’t moving as quick, especially for houses that need work. You may get an agent who needs to make that BMW payment who will play ball with you.

    Look in July, and maybe buy in August, or September. If you don’t find something wait until November, and December, and ask to look at expired, or cancelled listings at the same time, from an agent.

  49. 49
    Jay says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 47 – I’m a bit impatient sometimes! But I’ve been seriously house hunting for 2 years. Sometimes I regretted that we didn’t buy in 2011. Well, that is life!

    We might have to wait a few more years when our children are older and in elementary school. With two full time incomes, we should be able to afford something nice.

    RE: David Losh @ 48 – Where can I find such a real estate agent? I contacted one Windermere agent whom was recommended by my loan officer. But he keeps e-mailing me listings that are WAY over my price range. Now I can see why loan officers love him.

    Thank you very much! You guys have given me so much useful information!

  50. 50
    David Losh says:

    RE: Jay @ 49

    Finding a Real Estate agent is very hard. It’s gotten harder with the internet. Most Real Estate agents spend way too much time in front of the computer. What they are doing is lead generation, or the company is doing lead generation. People contact companies, or agents through internet presence.

    I prefer to go to open houses, and meet Real Estate agents. It can be unpleasant, but you need to find some one who is working in the neighborhood you want.

    I go to both Sunday open houses, and Broker’s Open houses in the area I’m interested in. You find out what the day, and time is of the Broker’s opens, and start going to those, if your schedule allows it. You’ll see the same agents week, after week, if they are touring. If agents aren’t touring Broker’s opens then I don’t see much of a use for them.

    The trick is you need an agent to give you a list of Broker’s opens, and you want to see all of them, not just what’s in your price range.

    The agent is your choice. You want some one who is helpful, and knows the area. Go out today, see some open houses, all the open houses in your area, and start checking out agents. Most people spend so much time searching for houses they never have time to find a good agent.

  51. 51
    Dirty Renter in Banjo Country says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 40
    I think Uncle Ben is only buying Agency MBS, so no credit risk. Duration risk…well, Uncle Ben himself is the biggest risk there…ha.
    I’m not following you wrt the Treasury being at risk for a loss? I realize the Fed sends them excess profits, but isn’t the Fed an assembly of private banks?

  52. 52
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Dirty Renter in Banjo Country @ 51 – I believe you are correct as far as I can tell about the Fed buying only agency MBS, which are guaranteed by the agencies. So I may have been incorrect, and the losses to taxpayers were not under shell number three, but under shell number 2. Fannie Mae is owned primarily by taxpayers, and so the losses caused by bankster malfeasance described in post 40 above, are incurred by Fannie Mae. Also, by pension funds, state investments funds and other entities. And then there are the tangible losses to taxpayers caused by the low interest rate environment which benefits the banksters.

    A few tidbits:

    I know Fannie Mare posted a recent profit. It remains to be seen if taxpayers recoup the money they gave to Fannie Mae.

    “Fannie has received $112.6 billion so far from the Treasury Department, the most expensive bailout of a single company.” – November 8, 2011, BTW.

    http://news.yahoo.com/fannie-mae-loss-widens-asks-taxpayers-7-8b-221752510.html

    “On Oct 21, 2010 FHFA estimates revealed that the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will likely cost taxpayers $224–360 billion in total, with over $150 billion already provided.”

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2010-10-21-fannie-mae-freddie-mac-bailout_N.htm

  53. 53
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: pfft @ 45

    Unbelievable since it doesn’t fit your “people are bad” dogma.

    Phil Jones – Mr. “Hide the Decline” himself, yeah, there’s a reliable source.

    Oh, and since you’re not getting anything in your echo chamber, hint, hint, there pfft, temps haven’t changed in 15+ years, despite CO2 concentrations going up, up, up. If CO2 was THE driver, as the kool-aid crowd would have us believe, ahem, explain this disconnect.

    Or, as Occam’s Razor would probably indicate, the simplest explanation, natural variability, is what’s responsible for any actual changes in temps.

    All add that there is amazing arrogance and hubris on the part of the climate crowd to think they actually can understand in such a short time and then control a coupled, non-linear, feedback filled system by tweaking one bit part. Such people who think they can understand and control the climate in today’s world are dangerously deluded.

  54. 54
    pfft says:

    By No Name Guy @ 53:

    RE: pfft @ 45

    Unbelievable since it doesn’t fit your “people are bad” dogma.

    Phil Jones – Mr. “Hide the Decline” himself, yeah, there’s a reliable source.

    he was totally vindicated. we’ve talked about this before on here.

    I like how think the hundreds probably thousands of scientists haven’t thought of natural variability. they must have missed that right? LOL. maybe you should email them? you’ll probably win a nobel! maybe it’s the record amount of carbon we’ve put into the atmosphere the last hundreds years or so?

    99 One-Liners Rebutting Denier Talking Points — With Links To The Full Climate Science
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/07/1972581/99-one-liners-rebutting-denier-talking-points-with-links-to-the-full-climate-science/?mobile=nc

  55. 55
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Dirty Renter in Banjo Country @ 51 – To answer your other question, yes, the Fed remits its profits to the Treasury. And no, I do not know how much the member banks skim for their God’s work. And yes, rising rates will crimp the Fed’s earnings. The CBO projects that the Fed will be in the Red in 2018.

    Fed Won’t Have Profit to Send to Treasury in 2018, CBO Projects.

    “The Fed’s remittances to the Treasury have climbed from about 0.2% of gross domestic product in 2009 to about 0.5% this year, CBO said, and will climb further to about 0.6% of GDP in 2014 and 2015. Then they are projected to decline as the Fed takes losses on its bond portfolio and raises the interest rate it pays on bank reserves held at the Fed, dropping to zero between 2018 and 2020. The Fed would resume payments to the Treasury in 2021 under the CBO scenario.”

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/02/05/fed-wont-have-profit-to-send-to-treasury-in-2018-cbo-projects/

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