Tag Archives: economy

Who’s buying Houses?

12 Jun

With housing moving as slow as molasses, many families are building their own energy efficient, affordable homes,, in lieu of trying to arm-wrestle a bank for a shot at an affordable foreclosure.

Where I currently reside, there’s a foreclosure on almost every street in town.

While this is happening to our neighborhoods…

… some realtors are sending me “hate mail” telling me that “I need to shut up because housing is doing better than ever”.

So I have to ask;

“Yeah? Who’s buying these homes?”

Nick answered the question for me.

Foreigners Snap Up Properties in the U.S.

BY NICK TIMIRAOS

The six-year slide in U.S. home prices and the dollar’s weakness against some currencies are driving a property-buying binge by Asians, Canadians, Europeans and Latin Americans eager to own a piece of America.

Plowing money into real estate may sound like a risky venture to many Americans. But to growing numbers of foreigners, U.S. housing has never seemed a smarter investment.

International buyers accounted for $82.5 billion, or 8.9%, of the $928 billion spent on residential real estate in the 12-month period that ended in March, according a survey released Monday by the National Association of Realtors…

(Click the headline to read more…)

What do we make of this?

Who was it that said; “There’s a sucker born every minute”?

IMHO – These “investors” are in for hard ride.  US  properties will continue to decline in value.

What’s that? I hear Realtors gnashing their teeth and wailing at my decree…

I say this because sooner or later…

…the fed is going to be forced to end their “near zero percent interest rate policy” – which was enabled to prop up the Wall St capitalists as well as the failed housing sector –  in the next 2 years or LESS.

When this happens, you can expect up to a 20-30 percent price drop in real estate when even fewer “buyers/suckers” will qualify for a mortgage due to the rapidly rising interest rates.

Okay, gotta go now. My “Hate Mail inbox” is filling up… 🙂

 

Is it just me? Whatever happened to ENGLISH?

22 Nov

Or: If they’re trying to sell me stuff… Why don’t I understand what they’re talking about?

Well, It’s 3am and I’m sitting on the couch holding the boy (the damned neighbors woke him up again) and reading a trade magazine aloud. I know, “quality time with the kid” isn’t supposed to include “work,” but he doesn’t know the difference between Professional Builder, and the Brothers Grimm yet! LOL!

third_pig_builds_a_house

Joshua still “coos and awes” in all the right places, and tries to eat the pages. And as I read the articles to him, I wonder if I understand them any better than he does!

Although I’m not a professional builder (anymore) I really try to keep abreast of “the new technology.”

I’ve evolved into an “Architectural Designer/Consultant,” working for myself. In other words, I’m just an average guy struggling to build my family an “alternative house” that is lean, GREEN, and “fueled by caffeine.” Our new house is going to be built out of Shipping Containers, salvage steel (from old aircraft hangars) and whatever else I can find to plug the holes…

But reading the trades is enlightening and reminds me that, once upon a time, I built “castles in the sand,” and watched the sun set in strange exotic places, with a glass of wine in my hand as the sun set. Those were the days!

sunset-wine

And, although reading the trades isn’t a daily necessity anymore, it’s fun to remember how life used to be, while seeing where it’s going. After all, some of those ideas can trickle down to find their way into my “alternative house,” and make it easier to live in.

Let’s face it. The economy sucks, and the building sector is taking an awful beating. Construction layoffs are at an all-time high, and projects starts are as scarce as dodo bird eggs.

And since the architects and builders aren’t out in the field, they’re at their desks trying to entice new contracts. In trying times, you advertise, right? The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they try to differentiate themselves from everyone else, in the search for projects and profits…

I guess that makes sense to me, but at some point, they all seem to take a left turn into “the twilight zone,” a strange and dark universe where English gets abandoned, and “techno-babble” becomes the language of the land.

I’m not sure if this is on the advise of advertising execs, or that companies just get tied up in their own “Olympian Egos,” and forget that to just about everyone else, they sound like complete idiots.

Here’s an example; (from a rather well-known Architectural Design House)

“Our work product will include developing a better understanding of established metrics, identifying their predictive capacities, and enhancing customer and prospect intelligence to improve a “go-to-market” strategy.”

Or how about this one: (from a Metal Roofing Manufacturer)

“We specialize in scientific translations that lead to the creation of cross-border indicators, which allow the deployment of cross-disciplinary and environmental technical executions, that provide products with an increasing focus on sustainable building practices.”

Huh?

wtf

Whatever happened to ENGLISH?

Hell, I can’t even get my Engineer to talk to my welder! How in the world do I get “multiple systems to talk to each other?” I mean, I got me an “edjemication,” and everything!  I got me a sheepskin! (Boy, was that sheep pissed off!) Now, I gotta hire guys that can communicate with me, without making my head hurt!!

Wouldn’t it be easier to just say:

“When building a house, you have all these different systems that do different things. It’s a lot of work to get all these systems to talk to each other, but we pay smart people to do really good work. Why? Because we won’t try to baffle you with BS. We’re just good at our jobs.”

So, trade lackeys and copywriters, here’s a challenge for you:

Teach me what you need me to know, so you can sell me on your services and products. BUT, do it using that most notable of rules, handed down through the ages;

“Keep It Simple, Stupid!”

If you do, I’ll pay attention, and I’ll probably even make it through your brochure or technical paper.

However, if you insist on using “techno-babble” to impress your peers (and lose me in the bargain), I’m gonna throw your publication right into my hamster powered paper shredder to be sliced up and spit out as insulation.

hamster-powered-paper-shredder

Just because you smarty-pants can throw around a few “techno-phrases” that make you sound like you fart roses, doesn’t mean that you’re gonna confuse me into signing a contract. Remember that “real genius” means being able to teach (or, gasp… sell!) anyone anything at any time, without losing them along the way.

And, you aren’t gonna get any of my money, or my work contracts, by sounding like an idiot. Capish?

Stay Tuned…

The Renaissance Ronin

Ronin’s Top Ten Ways to Survive the Failing Economy!

16 Nov

Most of you who have been following along…

Already know that my family is building a new home, to replace the one we lost during Hurricane Katrina. It’s taken time, effort, and a lot of heartache and tears to get to this point. We gambled on an insurance company that put stockholders ahead of clients, and we’re paying the price, still. The lawyers tell us that someday, some way, we’ll get our pound of flesh. But until that day, we’re on our own.

We aren’t rich, by any definition of the word, sans one.

We still have each other, and the sun rises and sets with our new son, Joshua. Beyond that, our world is a pretty scary place. I’ve talked about the challenges we face (and my wife’s illness) in previous posts, so I’m not going to repeat them here, again. Suffice to say, I feel like Atlas struggling up that damn mountain, pretty much every day.

So, we had to figure out another way to start over again. And we needed to be able to do it, in some pretty difficult circumstances. That means that each day, you get up and take a deep breath, and wait to see what the day brings.

As I make my plans to build our “Container Casa,” I have to figure out how to pay for it. I’m sure that many of you contemplating a new home are thinking the same things that we are, here in Southern Mississippi.

(And I’m not talking about deciding if you want some cheese grits with your scrambled eggs. Don’t get me started! Ew!)

It’s hard not to get discouraged after watching TV or reading the newspaper. Now, I’m not one to “sugar coat” anything, so I’m just gonna say it; “The economy sucks!” I can’t watch the news without getting barraged by the foreclosure rates, the economic despairity, and the gloom that face American families.

That “whooshing sound” that you’re hearing is the air being sucked out of the “economic bubble” we’ve all been living in. And with it, we’re watching our expectations evaporate like rain on a hot metal roof! What a huge impact the financial collapse has made!

I’m tired of hearing about “the bailout.” I don’t understand how we can reward a greedy, self-serving industry that only cared about lining their own pockets, by handing them $700 BILLION dollars, as a band-aid. And, it enrages me to hear that some of the released money is already being used for extravagant (multimillion dollar) parties and huge bonuses paid out to “captains” who ran their ships aground, out of greed…

What part of this smacks of “right?” How can creating a debt for my son’s sons, possibly be a good thing? Am I just too stupid to see the logic in giving an un-supervised and un-policed industry that has already sold us into slavery, more capital to continue doing it with?


Is it just me? Oy Vay… I feel like I just left the Proctologists office…

proctoon

For the last five or six years, it feels like we’ve all been fooling ourselves into believing that we are infallible, and living in the reverie of a false sense of security.

However, I think that reality has finally set in. It’s fallout time, and the sky is falling like lava from Mt St Helens. I’m a firm believer in the entrepreneurial nature of man, and our resiliency. But folks, it’s trial time…

We have weathered many economic downturns, and we’re looking at the end of the “boom.” So, it’s time to prepare for the times to come, because no matter how good things are for you in this moment, it can all change in a heartbeat.

So how do we get prepared, to brace for the oncoming storm? Well, here’s a few suggestions;

Number One: Do Not Panic!

In any emergency, the last thing you need to do, is lose your bearings.  A calm response to crisis can help any bad situation substantially. Start by using your analytical abilities to measure the damage. Figure out what you do best (in my case, it’s screaming like a little girl…LOL!) and then do it.

Wait, lemme’ rephrase that. IF what you do best will help your situation, then do it. IF what you do best will only make your ship take on more water, either do it (and blame someone else for the mess you make – that’s what I always do! LOL!) or… don’t hesitate to ask for help, if you need it. Search for people who have weathered similar storms, and ask them how they steered past all the obstacles.

Second: Focus on your strengths.

After analysing your situation, make a plan based on the current circumstances. Remember the rule of thumb:”Action-Reaction!” Consider doing some surgery to cut your losses. What’s going to define you here, is your reaction to the situation you face.

Third: Examine your credit, and then manage your cashflow carefully.

Since the financial economy is failing, credit is going to be hard to come by. Look for banks that understand you, and what you’re trying to achieve.

If you have a relationship with your local bank, by all means, exploit it. Nurture that relationship like it was a child! It will give you a much better chance of getting any assistance you need. If you have outstanding debts (who doesn’t?) find creative ways (besides counterfeiting!) to pay them down.

Fourth: Forget about big ticket expenditures!

That new furniture or that cool car you’ve been lusting after, may end up being a boat anchor around your neck, if you aren’t careful!  Now is NOT the time! Nobody knows how this is gonna work out, and the last thing you need is more debt, right now. It’s like carrying a bucket filled with gas to a bonfire!

Fifth: In troubled times, corporations ALWAYS protect the top floors.

And that means that companies are going to start downsizing like crazy, and jobs are gonna get really, really scarce! Good pay, and steady work are an illusion in this day and age. Working for a large company, having a powerful union, or having years of tenure over everyone else doesn’t guarantee you job security!

So, pursue your work with ferocity! Try hard to set yourself off from your co-workers! Think about going to your boss with a request for feedback about your job performance. One of the cardinal rules of business is to use “downtime and downturns” to strategically prepare for the return of good times. Make sure that you’ll be a part of it!

(Sure, your co-corkers may give you some grief… But they don’t feed your family, you do! G_d gave you a middle finger for a reason. Don’t be afraid to use it. LOL!)

Sixth: It’s all about how you sell yourself.

It’s “Go Time,” folks. Now is the time to start marketing yourself like you were the next best thing since sliced bread. People who make sure to invest in their potential survive where others fail. Now is the time to make new relationships, with people who can help you through the troubled times to come!

(And as a quick insight into “The World According to Ronin,” I’ve carefully scrutinized my family’s checkbooks, and I’ve proudly proclaimed myself “too huge to fail!” But, due to “unforeseen  liabilities tied to stagnation and a weakened dollar, I need a “bailout,” too! I expect the funds from the US Treasury to be wired into my checking account, any day now… about a million dollars should do it! Okay?)

Now, I know that I promised you ten ways to get thru all this madness, but frankly, I lied. If I was that smart, I wouldn’t be sitting in a lousy “falling down around my ears” apartment in “Lower Mississippi” trying to figure out how to save my own family, right?

(Plus, I can only count to six.)

So, take it from here, and write yourself some rules to round out this list.

And, if you come up with any good ones, that don’t involve “anatomical impossibilities,” drop me a note. I’ll pass them on!

Stay tuned!
The Renaissance Ronin