Too Late for Early Housing

While we’re in the midst of our first weekend content lull, it seems as good a time as any to republish a vlog post of mine from January 2003 (mostly so it’ll be in the archives here). In the surrounding weeks, I made a few short blog-like videos, but the time it took to make them became too costly for the payoff in viewers. It is, however, something that I’d love to take up again if the fruits of blogging begin to cover the expense in hours.


This time around, the vlog goes on the road… literally. (And the vlogger realizes that, if he’s going to make these things on a regular basis, he’s going to have to begin getting his hair cut more than once a season — like he did when he was single and didn’t work at home.) I’ve used some new tricks, so please feel at liberty to let me know what you thought and to offer suggestions.
Click the picture for the interactive RealMedia version that makes my head look wide (for which you’ll need the free RealOne player available on the right side of this page). Click here for the plain ol’ high-bandwidth, thin-headed Windows Media file, and here for the low-bandwidth Windows Media file.

Transcript

I don’t know if this holds true for others at the tail end of Generation X, but it seems as if I’ve frequently been just a bit too late or a bit too early. And I mean more than being born just in time to model plaid bellbottoms for the family photo album.
In grade school, renovations were just beginning while traditional activities were being canceled. In high school, dances and proms had become shadows of the glory days pictured in teenybopper movies. The University of Rhode Island, when I attended, was in the process of shedding its party-school image but had barely begun its efforts to improve its academic reputation.
Out in the “real world,” the economic boom began to contract just as I entered the job market, and the teacher shortage that promised to land my wife a job has yet to materialize. Now, we’re beginning to look into buying a house just as rising property taxes are forcing residents of our income level to sell, while the healthy real estate market has kept the prices out of our reach.
Mackey Ervin of Midland, Texas, recently made news by trying to sell a $100,000, four-bedroom house once inhabited by the Presidents Bush on eBay for $250,000. Within the past few years, real estate in my neighborhood has jumped that much even for cramped homes with no presidential history: $200,000… $269,000… $325,000… $449,000.

And I live on the less-expensive side of town. I don’t even want to know how much these houses go for. Back in New Jersey, we used to call such areas “yuppie developments.” They always remind me of the firstPoltergeist movie.
But that’s midtown. The jaw-droppers are in Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s neighborhood. Combining prices in the multiple millions for these houses and the fact that I can’t even afford to live on the “wrong” side of the tracks, a natural impulse is to cry foul. Somebody of Kennedy’s ideology might feel the need to “do something” about it.
Maybe it’s a result of conditioning, but I can accept that this is just the way it goes. The rich have a right to raise the level of the municipality. Personally, I’d prefer to see property taxes arranged in such a way that locals wouldn’t be thanked for helping to build the community by being forced to leave town. But that wouldn’t help me; I came too late to grab a plot of land back when prices were in the five digits.
People in my position will have to do what we’ve always had to do: forge on. We can rent sheds with plumbing and enjoy the waterfront… only below the mean high-tide line. Or maybe we should move across the river, where the land is more reasonable, and build communities there, perhaps one day to sell our houses for many times our investment.
The world changes, often cyclically. Just as nature reclaims abandoned land, perhaps this town will once again be accessible to new families and regular folk. Change always brings as well as takes, so maybe you’re never too late. As for being chronically early, the remedy is as simple as having patience.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
16 years ago

As a tailend Gen X’er, you probably don’t remember the real estate debacle of the late 80’s. I can recall houses losing 50% of their “value”.
Since there is no real economic engine behind the current run up, I would accumulate cash and wiat.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

Warrington,
Thanks for the tip. However, since I made this video, we actually managed to buy a house. (Considerations other than financial made it advisable.)
I’m hoping that, in the long term, a turn-around in Rhode Island government will make the investment more secure. I know, I know… but there’s always hope.

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