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Author: ilovepez Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 127262  
Subject: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 10:49 AM
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On the "Housing Bubble"

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=17704829

The post gives a short synopsis of the "problem" and links to two articles. The first is 20 pages and pretty in-depth.

Of course, as soon as I buy a house, the housing bubble will burst ;)

Becky
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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46100 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 12:49 PM
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Of course, as soon as I buy a house, the housing bubble will burst


OF course it will - Murphy's law and all that.

That's one of the problems with considering your primary residence to be an investment, rather than a depreciating asset.

IMHO, the solution is to minimize your risk:
1. Don't buy in a "bubble" market. You know the ones - the ones where multiple offer situations are common, and houses sell higher than list.

2. Don't invest more of your assets and income in a house than you can afford to "write off". In other words, buy only as much house as you really need, rather than what the bank tells you you can afford. If the housing market gets bad, the $300,000 houses will quickly become $150,000 houses, but the $100,000 houses will still be $90,000 houses, most likely. If it gets worse, eg Houston in the 1980's, nothing will be selling for more than $20K or so anyway. Of course, if you can stay employed and don't have to move to get a job, you may be able to wait it out.

3. Buy only houses in outstanding neighborhoods. You want the average time on market to be 1 week or less.

4. Buy a "fixer upper" in that neighborhood. Typically houses that require even minor repairs will sell at significantly lower prices and stay on market a long time, even in the good neighborhoods. Buy one of those cheap, fix it up, and you will have a "cushion" when (not if) the housing market declines in that area.

5. Keep at least a year's worth of living expenses in secure, liquid assets, like CDs, savings bonds, etc.

6. If you do the first 5 things, wait for the bubble to burst, buy your neighbors houses in foreclosure inexpensively, rent to your neighbors at reasonable rates, then sell their houses back to them when they get back on their feet. Kindness is its own rewar.



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Author: FoolStreet Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46102 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 1:10 PM
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1. don't buy in a "bubble" market w/ multiple offers

3. outstanding neighborhoods; 1 week or less on market

4. "fixer upper" in that neighborhood




bwaaa haaa haaaa haaaaa

whew! that was a good one. whew.

hey, tell me another one!

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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46103 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 1:14 PM
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whew! that was a good one. whew.

Like the link says, it takes work to build wealth.

Those houses are out there - I have bought several. It can take some effort to find them.

As an example, the house I live in now was on the market over a year - it needed interior painting. My neighbor's house, similar to mine, exept freshly painted, just sold in 2 days for 2.5 TIMES what I paid for mine two year ago. His sale price is in line with the norms for the neighborhood - I bought mine cheap because it needed interior painting.

Fiscal responsibility is no joke.


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Author: BuyLower Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46104 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 1:22 PM
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As an example, the house I live in now was on the market over a year - it needed interior painting. My neighbor's house, similar to mine, exept freshly painted, just sold in 2 days for 2.5 TIMES what I paid for mine two year ago. His sale price is in line with the norms for the neighborhood - I bought mine cheap because it needed interior painting.

Except that was TWO years ago that you bought it. Just because it has increased 2.5 times from what you bought it at doesn't necessarily mean you got a good deal. Most of that increase could just be appreciation.

What would be telling is how much of a discount to comps at the time you bought it. If it was just interior painting that shouldn't have warranted much of a discount. Heck most people repaint interiors when they move in whether it's fresh or not!


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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46105 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 1:36 PM
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That's one of the problems with considering your primary residence to be an investment, rather than a depreciating asset.

If real estate isn't an appreciating asset (they're not making any more of it and all that stuff), what is, IYHO?




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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46106 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 1:37 PM
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then sell their houses back to them when they get back on their feet.

For the same price you bought it for, right? You wouldn't want to gouge your neighbors, right?

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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46107 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 1:39 PM
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1. don't buy in a "bubble" market w/ multiple offers
3. outstanding neighborhoods; 1 week or less on market
4. "fixer upper" in that neighborhood


bwaaa haaa haaaa haaaaa
whew! that was a good one. whew.
hey, tell me another one!


My sentiments exactly. Talk about naive.


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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46109 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:37 PM
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What would be telling is how much of a discount to comps at the time you bought it.

According to the comps at the time, I bought it at about 70% of the selling prices of comparable houses that did not need paint.



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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46110 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:43 PM
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If real estate isn't an appreciating asset (they're not making any more of it and all that stuff), what is, IYHO?

The housing market is cyclical - it goes up and down, at times seemingly on a predictable schedule. Look at the Virginia/Maryland/DC market - it peaks and bottoms on roughly 12 year cycles. Houses in Maryland are just now achieving the peaks they were at in 1990 when I sold my house in Maryland.

The only truly appreciating asset I know of is savings - CDs, bonds, etc. They have a known, guaranteed return. Everything else involves varying degrees of risk. More risk usually means better returns, but not always.

I'm not saying people shouldn't buy houses - I'm just suggesting it is unwise to put all your money into a house, expecting it to appreciate in value and price. There have been enough times when the housing markets in the US have declined, sometimes dramatically, that a house is a fairly high risk investment.

I prefer to look at housing as an expense. If you can buy a house for a net cost that is lower than renting, then you will lose nothing by buying a house, and may in fact gain.



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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46111 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:44 PM
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According to the comps at the time, I bought it at about 70% of the selling prices of comparable houses that did not need paint.

Sometimes, a less-than-perfect house, coupled with an owner who has his head up his butt, yields a find like this.

Realistically, however, you need to find a house reflecting even more distress than just needing paint to make a killing like this in real estate. They're out there. Keep looking.



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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46112 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:44 PM
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My sentiments exactly. Talk about naive.

You are entitled to your opinions. But I prefer to look at results, rather than talk. I listen a lot more carefully to Warren Buffet than Wade Cook.


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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46113 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:46 PM
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The only truly appreciating asset I know of is savings - CDs, bonds, etc.

Bonds?! You're kidding.


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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46114 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:47 PM
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I listen a lot more carefully to Warren Buffet than Wade Cook.

Who's Wade Cook? I listen only to investors whom I personally know who achieve results. Chances are, you've never heard of them, either.


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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46115 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:48 PM
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Sometimes, a less-than-perfect house, coupled with an owner who has his head up his butt, yields a find like this.

Realistically, however, you need to find a house reflecting even more distress than just needing paint to make a killing like this in real estate.


It has always surprised me how a few very minor, cosmetic, easily fixed "defects" will prevent a house from selling. One house I bought was just a little cluttered - but folks apparently couldn't see beyond the clutter.

I generally pay about 70% of market value for houses in great neighborhoods that require only minor, primarily cosmetic repairs. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to a month to find them, but they are definitely out there.

You are welcome not to accept that - leaves more bargains for me to buy. Hmm. Didn't I hear that argument recently? ;)

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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46116 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:49 PM
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Bonds?! You're kidding.

Nope. Probably should have clarified, though, that I meant government bonds, AAA paper, etc. In other words, bonds with a guaranteed return and essentially no risk of default.

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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46117 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:51 PM
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Who's Wade Cook?

He is a famous, internationally well known investing seminar leader

http://invest-faq.com/articles/warn-cook.html

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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46118 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:53 PM
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I generally pay about 70% of market value for houses in great neighborhoods that require only minor, primarily cosmetic repairs. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to a month to find them, but they are definitely out there.

That long? <smirk>

Actually, rsprang has pointed out an important aspect of successful real estate investing--that is, a belief system that expects to find bargains. He obviously approaches the task with a sense of certainty that he will find what he's looking for. This mindset cannot be underestimated as a critical component to success.

On the other hand, he advocates buying foreclosures and then selling them back to the unfortunate homeowners for the same price. Hmmm...how does he make money that way?

If he really wants to practice kindness, he'll pay full market value for properties, no matter who he buys them from. To do otherwise might be unethical, eh?


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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46120 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 2:55 PM
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In other words, [government] bonds with a guaranteed return and essentially no risk of default.

Provided, of course, that you hold them to maturity, during which time yield is eroded by inflation and other factors. Otherwise, all bonds are subject to market risk if you sell.



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Author: ToddTruby Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46128 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 5:54 PM
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expecting it to appreciate in value and price. There have been enough times when the housing markets in the US have declined, sometimes dramatically, that a house is a fairly high risk investment.



Just curious if you could provide some source of information or link that supports this. Yes, I know housing market can decline, but I (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that this was the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps only becsause every one I ever knew sold their house for much more than they paid for it.

Of course it is always big news when a market collapses from other economic pressure, but is this really the case more often than not?

tjt

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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46132 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 6:15 PM
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Yes, I know housing market can decline, but I (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that this was the exception rather than the rule.

You are correct--it is the exception, not the rule.


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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46134 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 6:39 PM
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Just curious if you could provide some source of information or link that supports this. Yes, I know housing market can decline, but I (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that this was the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps only becsause every one I ever knew sold their house for much more than they paid for it.

The classic example is the Houston collapse of the 1980s - formerly $300,000 houses not selling at $20,000. That's the exception rather than the rule, though.

A more typical example is the Virginia/Maryland/DC market. I bought a house in 1983, sold it in 1990 for twice what I paid for it. In 1993, the market value of the house was about what I paid in 1983. In 2002, the market value has rebounded to almost what I sold it for in 1990.

I have seen charts of housing prices that show the cycles, but am not having any luck finding them at the moment. The links in the posts on the Hathaway board may prove helpful. I will also keep digging to see what I can find.


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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46136 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 6:45 PM
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Yes, I know housing market can decline, but I (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that this was the exception rather than the rule.



I would agree that dramatic declines ala' Houston are the exception. However, the housing market is cyclical in nature, like most economic cycles, so the decline of the housing market is not an exception, but the rule. However, we are talking about smaller declines in most cases - perhaps 20% to 30% over a 10 year period. If you can stay put and ride it out, you can probably break even or show a profit. It's primarily the people who lose their jobs in the inevitable layoffs and have to relocate that lose their money.

So, no, unfortunately declines in the housing market are the rule, not the exception. It's basic economics, unfortunately.


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Author: montecfo Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46137 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 6:50 PM
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Over a long period of time, housing prices nationwide have tended to rise, at a rate approximately equal to 1% over inflation. This is the general rule not the exception. But if it happens to be YOUR house that declined, it does matter whether if is the rule or the exception. So considering these issues is important.

I own my home. So I am for home ownership. However, I consider it to be a lifestyle decision primarily, with investment overtones. I do not consider it primarily as an investment.

I do not think we are in a "housing bubble" which may burst and crash as the NASDAQ did. Housing is a very different type of purchase than a stock, and so the comparison is at best flawed.

However, there is a clear risk that housing prices in the market in which any of us lives could decline, and I consider that risk to be very real.

The large risk is driven by affordability. Interest rates cannot drop much further, unless we get into a deflationary invironment. So one of the key drivers of housing prices i.e., declining interest rates, is fading as a future driver. Given how leveraged the US consumer is, this is significant.

So these questions as well-asked, and the realities are not easily shrugged off.

Or so it seems from here.





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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46138 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 6:53 PM
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rsprang: "The classic example is the Houston collapse of the 1980s -formerly $300,000 houses not selling at $20,000. That's the exception rather than the rule, though."

I lived throught the Houston of the 80s and it was never as bad as the stated.

Regards, JAFO



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Author: synchronicity Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46139 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/19/2002 9:02 PM
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<< There have been enough times when the housing markets in the US have declined, sometimes dramatically, that a house is a fairly high risk investment. >>

Just curious if you could provide some source of information or link that supports this.


I don't know if one should think of a house as a "high risk" investment, but one can obtain a LOT of data on historical house prices in different areas here: http://www.freddiemac.com/finance/cmhpi/

Of special interest to me is the spreadsheet showing house price indices by MSA. Here's a direct link to the most recent one, if you want to download it (it's an excel workbook): http://www.freddiemac.com/finance/cmhpi/current/excel/msas.xls

To take one example that's been mentioned here, look at Houston in the 1980's. The Home price index (for all MSA's, 1st q of '87 is the baseline at 100.0) in Houston peaked at 129.27 in 2q of 1982, and bottomed at 92.55 in the 4th quarter of 1987. That's about a 28% drop overall, over a 5 year period.

Of course, this is just an index for an entire metro area. Certain neighborhoods within that city may fare far better or worse.

Anyway, the data is fascinating if you're interested in that sort of thing.

FWIW, the data goes back to 1975, and does seem to reflect a rule of thumb of long term housing prices increasing about 1% above the rate of inflation.

-synchronicity

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Author: eudaimon6 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46153 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/20/2002 8:03 AM
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in the market where i live, the median selling price of all homes hovers between 100 and 110k. but no new homes are being built in that price range-nearly all new construction, including townhomes and condos, starts around 140. if you consider only single family detached homes, most new construction is 200k+. i have no idea whether that is typical of all market-is new construction typically 40-100% higher than most existing housing?

what will happen to the market for those homes should interest rates rise from 5 to 9 percent?

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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46158 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/20/2002 9:56 AM
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The classic example is the Houston collapse of the 1980s -formerly $300,000 houses not selling at $20,000. That's the exception rather than the rule, though

I lived throught the Houston of the 80s and it was never as bad as the stated.


Here are a couple of links for those interested in the 1980's Houston collapse:

http://www.neosoft.com/~sgriffin/houstonhistory/decades/history5r.htm

http://www.homestore.com/Finance/Barr/Commentary/Comment10-03-2001.asp


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Author: montecfo Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46160 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/20/2002 10:16 AM
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despite an aggregate decline of "only" 29%, some areas were much harder hit. I lived in Dallas at the time and I do remember reading about formerly $100K houses going begging at $20K in some areas which were hard hit.

But certainly, over a long period of time houses appreaciate in most areas.

Just don't be in the wrong market, or the right market for the wrong period of time.

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Author: rsprang Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46163 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/20/2002 10:33 AM
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In other words, [government] bonds with a guaranteed return and essentially no risk of default.

Provided, of course, that you hold them to maturity, during which time yield is eroded by inflation and other factors. Otherwise, all bonds are subject to market risk if you sell.


If you are concerned about inflation affecting the bond yield, you can buy inflation indexed government bonds, which yield a guaranteed return above the inflation rate:
http://www.savingsbond.gov/sav/sbirate2.htm

Here is a link that explains the benefits of government bonds:
http://www.savingsbond.gov/sav/savbene.htm

You do not need to hold the bonds to maturity, and there is essentially no market risk for savings bonds.

Treasury bonds do fluctuate in price on the resale market, as all bonds do, but it isn't really a risk of losing principal. The price of a government bond is determined by it's yield, in a fairly well defined and predictable manner. Essentially, the resale price of the bond is set so that the bond yield will match the currently available yield. So, a 10% bond you purchased 10 years ago, and for which you have collected 10 years worth of interest payments, would sell at a premium (higher than face value) because today's yield is lower. The price will be such that your net proceeds on a bond held to maturity would be the same as the proceeds from a bond issued today. Alternatively, if you bought a bond today, and sold it 10 years from now on the resale market, assuming interest rates are higher in 10 years the bond would sell at a discount, but still at a price where you would have netted the returns for the period you owned the bond.

Personally, I think it makes more sense (and is certainly easier for most folks to understand) to buy the bonds from the treasury and hold them to maturity. You can achieve higher liquidity by laddering the maturity dates. That avoids the market risk, which is really only an issue if you are buying and selling the same bonds more than once.



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Author: synchronicity Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46187 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/20/2002 1:31 PM
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One other quick note: the San Francisco Bay Area was probably the closest we've seen to a housing bubble recently. I wrote some comments about that (and about fears of an overal housing price bubble and the possible impact it could have) over a year ago:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=15474080

"Buying a home within 12-18 months" has now become within 6 months, so we're roughly on schedule.

Anyway, a lot of those same thoughts I had have been echoed with increasing volume in other places, although I still don't hear much about the change in the nature of credit markets to package debt and therefore diffuse the risk throughout the system. However, this doesn't make the risk go away, and I think some lenders were acting as if it did.

FWIW, I view buying a house as buying a home first, and an investment a distant second. I try and pay attention to general trends and such to have an idea how it might impact our financial situation overall, but a house is always (to me) a home before anything else.

-synchronicity

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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46191 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/20/2002 2:08 PM
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although I still don't hear much about the change in the nature of credit markets to package debt and therefore diffuse the risk throughout the system.

Some lenders have reduced LTVs by 5% on CA properties in certain counties; overall, lenders have a price adjustment for CA properties of about .125-.250 to FEE (not rate) to compensate themselves for the perceived additional risk of lending on CA homes.

Catherine Coy
Mortgage Broker


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Author: webwide Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46218 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 8/21/2002 9:44 AM
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One other quick note: the San Francisco Bay Area was probably the closest we've seen to a housing bubble recently.

You say that in the past tense, but this article indicates that prices there have risen 9.2% since you wrote that post...

:o)

http://list.realestate.yahoo.com/re/story.html?s=n/inman/realestate/20020820/200208201101

"The median price paid for a Bay Area home was $417,000 last month, a new record, according to DataQuick. That was up 0.2 percent from $416,000 in June, and up 9.2 percent from $382,000 for July last year."

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Author: bankingintern Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46711 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 9/4/2002 1:33 AM
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Germany and italy after the plauges. Whole towns disapeared and people didn't live in them for up to two centuries latter. Total loss of value.

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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 46714 of 127262
Subject: Re: Thread on Berkshire Hathaway Board Date: 9/4/2002 1:40 AM
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Germany and italy after the plagues.

What plagues? When was this? What does that have to do with buying or selling a home in the United States?

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