Friday, February 23, 2007

What About the Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts?

by Tom Bozzo

Toll Brothers 1Q Profit Falls 67 Percent.

We hope the Toll brothers really love opera.

Now that we've been in the "new" house for 2-1/2 years, I'm just about spending a rational amount of time looking at real estate listings (which is to say, very little). A casual glance suggests that our little corner of the existing-house market is looking like a microcosm of overpriced markets elsewhere and has a long way (down) to go. MLS inventories in our zones roughly quadrupled from the maximum-price-increase period to the peak, and have since come down about 25%. But the apparent rate of inventory turnover doesn't look like it's improved much. Then there are the empty houses...

As we sometimes say, Good Luck Chairman Ben. Whereas Barney Frank gave him an earful for the Fed being too concerned over inflation vs. full employment, I've thought the Fed actually having has been a bit soft on inflation given their stated targets, and they've been engaging in some wishful thinking that slower economic growth will do its thing on inflation without flushing them out into a position that leads to interest rate increases that really send the housing sector down the drain.

(The problem, from this microeconomist's perspective, is that the macroeconomy isn't macro — we have interest rate-sensitive sectors in more-or-less sharp declines while others are doing better. The monetary policymakers appear to be short of at least one lever to pull.)

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For the first time in about twenty years, I am again in the housing market -- not that I can afford anything with my dangerously expensive travel habits, but still, I keep thinking that my l.l. should not be doing well at my expense.

What a shocker it is to buy now! I looked at pretty much everything between 150,000 (where I ought to be) and 300,000 (where I dare not tread). People should be ashamed for charging so much for such crap. Your neighborhood is, overall, better at pricing itself well. Others? Cut the prices in half. Really.

No wonder that people in my price range are buying outlier condos. They're poor investments, they wobble on their flimsy posts, but at least they're fresh and clean. For working people who haven't the time to fix things every free moment of their lives, these dated, musty Madison homes are about as attractive as last week's fried fish. Ugh.
People should be ashamed...

I've had that feeling, too, usually at the point of maximum despair in the housing seearches. Main thing is, in the present market, I'd drive a hard bargain -- especially with any condo seller. There's such a ridiculous amount of inventory on the market (300 units between you and the Capitol, for instance) that some seller will blink.

In the middle west, it's a shame that the Weston Place tower is so wildly overpriced -- being next door to Whole Foods wouldn't be bad, plus we saw a sign at Hilldale to the effect that a second Muramoto location will be moving in there.
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