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Arlo and Janis offer incisive commentary on the owner-side of the housing boom and how little it should matter to those who are already in a house, particularly one with a locked-in low-interest 30-year mortgage.

This is an excellent time for them to stay put and do nothing.

As he notes, they’d be unlikely to swap into a better place, not just because of higher prices but because, by the time they fixed their house up to sell and then paid the various closing costs, commissions and moving costs, they’d have to take a major step down the ladder.

And keep your hands off that equity, because there’s a lot of pixie dust in it, and, should you borrow against it and then see the bubble burst, you could find yourself upside down, with a debt greater than the recalibrated market value of your house.

Here’s an early Halloween horror story:

Back in the 80s, when I was writing for a real estate magazine in Colorado Springs, mortgage rates climbed into double digits, and lenders began offering what they called a 3-2-1 buydown, which meant that, for the first year, your payments were calculated at 3 points lower than the actual rate on your mortgage. The next year, it would be 2 percent lower, then 1 percent, and, in the fourth year, payments would be at the actual rate.

Later, as mortgage rates continued to rise, they switched to a 5-3-1 buydown, which sounded good, though, of course, the actual cost of those discounts was baked into the purchase price.

Which was popular in a military town, because, wotthehell, in three years you’d have a new assignment anyway, so you could sell your place and move on.

Except that the town was overbuilt, so that, when you tried to sell your condo, there were brand new unsold units at the other end of the building, and, thanks to all those discounted payments, you were underwater in your existing loan.

People had no choice but to trash their credit and walk away, and the HUD Repo listings went from magazine to phone book size.

We’re not there yet, but you can see it from here.

Listen to Arlo. Hunker down and stay put.

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Kal Kallaugher)

 

(Ben Jennings)

This is something of a good news/bad news thing, because, while we should probably be happy that the dollar is doing well, its strength, as Kal notes in a cartoon for the British magazine, the Economist, comes at the expense of world markets, as demonstrated by Ben Jennings, and how do you like having your face on that, Charlie?

Someone joked the other day that, since I’m retired, she was surprised I wasn’t living on some Greek island, and, if everything were stable, I’d buy the idea. But cost of living isn’t stable, and, just as Arlo and Janis need to stay put, so do we all.

It’s like that old joke about the fellow who awakens from a decades-long coma and calls his bank to learn how his savings have grown, only to have the operator interrupt and ask him to deposit $2,000 for the next three minutes. And I realize younger readers won’t understand how savings could grow or the concept of a pay phone, but trust me.

And, as long as we’re contemplating the British pound, I mentioned the shellacking Liz Truss is getting from cartoonists, but here she is getting pummeled by a columnist instead and don’t you wish our newspapers had that kind of cojones?

 

To segue to the topic of media, David Horsey tops this cartoon with a solid column on how broadcast media has become obsessed with over-covering a single story at a time.

He’s right, and I miss the old Headline News that would give you the top-of-the-news every half hour, rather than drop coverage of everything else to endlessly rehash their chosen Story of the Day.

People have asked why reporters stand out in the hurricane, but it’s their job, and there is value in letting viewers see how serious a storm is, just as there is value in having reporters at the front in wars, so long as they are reporting and not just showing off.

Journalism is serious business and the Reliable Sources newsletter included a good interview the other day on the topic of reporter safety in hurricanes.

 

Juxtaposition of the Day (Sports Division)

(Bill Bramhall)

(Dr. Macleod)

Football viewers were treated to a horror show this past week, as Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained a serious injury in Sunday’s game against Buffalo, staggering and falling on the field, but was then allowed back into that game.

Eight days later, he suffered another head injury that left him unable to leave the field under his own power, and he is not expected to play this weekend.

 

Arizona Cardinals Defensive End JJ Watt, who has delivered more than his share of hits on quarterbacks, spoke, as you can see, for thousands of fans in begging the TV network (Amazon Prime) to quit replaying Tagovailoa’s injury in that Monday night game, and Bramhall echoes his condemnation of the Roman Coliseum aspect of the coverage.

The NFL has instituted several rule changes, equipment innovations and injury protocols to reduce the head injuries that too often result in serious, permanent and fatal brain damage, but, as Dr. Macleod suggests, there are still ratings to consider and the dregs of the old school “Get out there and shake it off” tough guy attitude.

The players union has taken the lead, firing the “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant” who, under league rules and the collective bargaining agreement, is tasked with evaluating concussions on the sideline.

There certainly needs to be more response. As that NBC story reported, Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh was horrified by the fact the Tagovailoa was allowed to return to the first game, never mind being cleared to play in the next:

It’s a story as old as the game, but Watt and Harbaugh — two of the more thoughtful men in the league — believe the game can be played with a modicum of safety, if ethics and rules are respected.

The question is, does the League Office believe it?

Or this?

 

Community Comments

#1 Andréa Denninger
October/2/2022
@ 11:55 am

Just to prove your point: According to Zillow, our house ‘value’ doubled since 2017, but then, so has everyone else’s house value, so there was no point even thinking of selling, not with a 2.75% mortgage rate, either.

Houses in our subdivision were being snapped up at higher-than-asked-for prices; I’m sure those folks are having buyers’ remorse right now.

The Zillow evaluation has decreased somewhat, but nowhere near to our original purchase price. What influence the damage and aftermath of Hurricane Ian will have on our house values, only time will tell; we are located north of Tampa and had no damage whatsoever.

#2 mark allen johnson
October/2/2022
@ 12:32 pm

Wow,what a corny video! When the heck year was this from?
Hard to judge Lawrence Welk shows because they were appealing to our grandparents in the mid 60’s , not necessarliy even our parents. Still , some of this sentiment was there in our ND years although it only resonated with some of the girls and definitely not some others

#3 Mike Peterson
October/2/2022
@ 3:42 pm

Mark, I never understood Domers who claimed to not like football. I felt it meant — wit all doo respeck to Mayor Pete — five days a year when being in South Bend didn’t totally suck.

But I’ve often pondered the fact that I was also accepted at Boston College, where my understanding is that the local town isn’t reliant on football for its overall appeal.

#4 Mary C McNeil
October/2/2022
@ 4:27 pm

Too bad someone with a Sharpie couldn’t direct Ian over Mar-a-Loco.

#5 Neal Skrenes
October/2/2022
@ 4:37 pm

Major homeowner fallacy: “…but because, by the time they fixed their house up to sell …”

Don’t wait until you’re ready to sell to fix whatever it is you feel your house needed all the time you were living in it. When you notice you have an issue or a need address, and then you’ll get the advantage of that improvement, you spent money on not some stranger, who may not have the exact taste or agreeing that whatever improvement you made adding value.

#6 Steven Rowe
October/2/2022
@ 7:34 pm

The hit verson of the song was recorded in 1935 by Ben Bernie. Other recordings exist from that era. No idea if the song was intended seriously,probably not, but yes by the time of the Welk show it would have been almost two generations back.

#7 Lonny Groseed
October/2/2022
@ 8:10 pm

I think the Lawrence Welk bit shown was probably from the early 1970s. It was my a favorite show of my grandmother (b. 1880s) and parents (b circa 1920). We had only one TV and I usually caught the end of the show, which aired in the early evening, because one of my shows came on right after it and I had to beat my siblings to the TV.

There were other versions of the song in the 1930s, with bawdy (for the time) lyrics. search for Cliff Edwards (later the voice of Jiminy Cricket) version — I’m A Bear In A Ladies’ Boudoir.

#8 Brian Fies
October/2/2022
@ 8:31 pm

The Lawrence Welk video’s YouTube descriptions says it’s from 1974. Looks about right to me.

Some young people (mid 30s is young to me) in my family recently made the big leap into home ownership, terrified of all the ways it could go wrong. We advised them that as long as they can stick around a while, and can afford the mortgage (which is comparable to the rent they were paying anyway) and occasional home repair, they’d be all right. Doesn’t matter if the market roller-coasters if you can ride it out and pay the bank.

They were also horrified when I told them the interest on our first home loan was 10.5%. Ah, the good old days.

#9 Andréa Denninger
October/3/2022
@ 8:01 am

I find LW painful to watch, to say the least.

#10 Bob Crittenden
October/3/2022
@ 12:41 pm

Bought my first house in the mid-80s in CT when fixed rate mortgages were in double digits. I don’t think “buy-downs” were an option, but I gambled on an 8% ARM with 2%/yr and 6%/life of loan caps. The rate actually decreased slightly after the first year, and due to a 40% down payment and very advantageous job situation, I didn’t have to worry about a second adjustment.

#11 Mike Peterson
October/3/2022
@ 2:52 pm

My real estate reporting was mostly for a magazine specializing in insider information for the new home market, and I suspect the buydowns were exclusively coming from the builders, not the resale market.

As for fixing up your house for resale, if you want to invite VA loans, you need to pass one of their inspections, which can be (appropriately) picky. I had to fix a dodgy garage door and a non-functional light switch to qualify my house.

OTOH, I’ve heard from a lot of Realtors in the resale market who say that people fix up their homes for resale and then realize how much they like the place and take it off the market.

YMMindeedV.

#12 Mike Peterson
October/3/2022
@ 2:55 pm

Meanwhile, maybe the Lawrence Welk video isn’t from 1974, but, rather, the people in it are an average age of 74.

Good Lord, never mind “Mother Is A Freshman” (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041659/ ). Grandma is a freshman.

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