September 16, 2018

The Question Of How Well The Learning Stuck

A weekend topic starting with the News Tribune. “We don’t use the word ‘panic’ these days to describe widespread economic calamity. We use ‘great’ — as in Great Depression, Great Recession — or ‘crisis.’ Panic has been relegated to history books that hardly anyone pays attention to. That the term is considered anachronistic is partly because economic downturns look and play out differently than they did in the 19th century, which was littered with panics. The biggest difference is the role of the public sector as regulator, intervenor and safety-net provider, rather than bystander.”

“It’s also because the core financial causes and debates of those panics would seem to have little relevance today. The Panic of 1893 occurred against a backdrop of an issue — whether money should be backed by gold or silver — that would trigger befuddlement among most Americans today.”

“But it’s a mistake to overlook the significance and lessons of those downturns, 1893 in particular. Reminding us why is a recently published book, ‘The Panic of 1893: The Untold Story of Washington State’s First Depression’ (Caxton Press), by longtime business writer (and one-time colleague of this columnist at the late Seattle P-I) Bruce Ramsey.”

“The Panic of 1893 is relevant and timely in multiple ways, especially as we mark the 10th anniversary of news events that in accumulation launched the Great Recession. While the panic’s look, sound and feel might be unfamiliar to us, the factors that made it so painful are all too familiar and recent — too much debt, too much leverage, too much reliance on housing.”

“Housing — and the financing of same — played a role in both the Panic of 1893 and the Great Recession. Entire cities were platted and sold on the expectation of a population boom everyone was certain to come. Banks lent enthusiastically to finance that development. Governments borrowed with equal zeal. When the economy went sour — the people didn’t show up, commodity prices tumbled, someone else got the port or the railroad terminus — borrowers were stuck with debt they couldn’t repay, which meant lenders were stuck with worthless assets as well as debts of their own.”

“That was especially true of banks, which had lent depositors’ money for schemes that went bust. Banks failed in huge numbers during the Great Recession too, because of their exposure to the housing market. But in an era of no deposit insurance, the prospect of a bank closing without notice or likelihood of repaying its customers made the term ‘panic’ much more than an abstract concept, and helped deepen the downturn.”

“Ramsey’s book concludes with newspapers of the time noting that the panic did serve the purpose of reminding people of the hazards of debt. The Oregonian writes in 1897 that those who lived through the panic and the hard times that followed would retain a ‘horror of debt.’ Adds, Ramsey, ‘They will, of course, eventually unlearn it.’”

“Indeed they will. It took decades for the lessons of the Great Depression to wear off. The Great Recession taught people who had never learned those lessons in the first place some painful truths (incomes and housing prices don’t always go up, interest rates don’t always stay low, employment isn’t guaranteed). Now the question is how well that learning stuck.”

From Nine News. “When it comes to the rapidly cooling property market, I’m part of the problem. At the start of this year I was looking to buy a house in Sydney, despite most likely having to sell a kidney and ownership rights of my first born to do so.”

“We’ve all been told for so long you need to be on that you need to get on that property ladder sooner or later, and as house prices continued to soar to unprecedented levels, I figured I had better opt for sooner.”

“But after a couple of months after I began my search, I got an email from a real estate agent telling me that the owner of a property I’d taken an interest in was willing to accept offers of $250,000 below the asking price.”

“‘Sorry, do you mean $25,000?’ I replied, assuming that was some sort of typo. Nope, it was spot on – they were willing to cop a quarter of a million-dollar loss.”

“That to me said they were panicking, and in turn, it made me panic that this was definitely not a good time to be getting in to the market. And so I decided I was going to sit it out for a year or two and just see how far prices will fall.”

“Turns out I’m far from alone – clearance rates are now down significantly from the madness of a year or two ago, and the dip in property prices can so quickly become a crash when people like me lose confidence in the market. The million/trillion dollar question now is how far will prices fall.”

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Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 06:45:56

Sea of Red – What is the Future of Australian Property 2019 and Beyond
Economy Times
Published on Sep 15, 2018
“Stupidity continues, it is everywhere! You won’t believe what people do and expect with their properties. It is staggering to say the least – has to be seen to be believed.”

Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 07:41:05

So the main FB in this video has three kids and two shacks. From the last post:

‘Their monthly house payment almost tripled from $890 to $2,400. They had to walk away. And when the house was auctioned off one Christmas Day it went for $58,000. ‘When you’re 50 years old and you’re watching everything go down the toilet, it’s not conducive to a happy marriage’

OK, so here’s where you “buy the dippers” can chime in and tell these people just hold on, the big bonanza is sure to come! Just cut back on the kids, make the payments even if you have to sacrifice. It’ll all come roaring back, right?

You don’t really know. Fact is, this shack he’s walking around in just might not be worth 1.2 million Australian pesos.

Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 07:10:29

26 February 2008

US Fed must put floor under home prices

“Housing prices in the US must not be permitted to continue falling, says the chief investment officer of a fund with $US750 billion of fixed-income assets under management.”

“The outlooks for Australia and the US are at two different extremes, said Bill Gross, chief investment officer for US fixed interest funds management giant PIMCO.”

“The US economy was financial asset-based while the Australian economy was driven by commodity exports, he told funds management professionals in Sydney through an international video hook-up.”

“And so Australia is doing well, the US is not, really because of the nature of the economies themselves” he said.”

“He said the US economy has had “a long wonderful secular run”. “Ever since 1981 lower interest rates and in effect accelerating asset prices, whether they’re stocks, bonds or real estate/housing, have led to the continued success of consumption, and indeed over-consumption, in this finance-based economy.”

“But this has come unravelled. He said the current situation had not been seen since at least the 1980s and probably since the 1930s. “For the first time in decades the totality of US finance-based assets - stocks, bonds, real estate - are going down in price, are deflating,” he said.”

‘When looking at bonds, Mr Gross includes not just government bonds, whose prices have been firm, but also corporate and mortgage-backed bonds, whose prices have fallen after the sub-prime loans crisis that emerged after the US housing boom fizzled out.”

“It means simply that this finance asset-based economy, which is so dependent on rising asset prices is now beginning to experience a lengthy period of time, over two years in fact, when these asset prices are declining.”

“He said the US Federal Reserve had tried to reverse the outgoing tide by reducing interest rates but without success. “It’s not working,” Mr Gross said,”

“He said bank loan and other market rates are much higher than they were before the Fed starting cutting official interest rates last year. ‘The totality of private credit is higher in yield, lower in price since the Fed began to cut interest rates.’”

“It was “paramount” for the Federal Reserve through fiscal policy measures “to in effect put a floor under housing prices in order to stop the deterioration in this asset-based economy”, he said.”

“He said it was a “very dangerous situation at the moment”. He said the “shadow banking system”, the array of non-bank financing structures multiplying the flow of credit in the economy, was contracting.”

“He said all of these financial conduits were suspect in their ability to generate future lending, which was having a substantial effect on all asset prices.”

“This would create a negative environment for the US economy and asset prices until either monetary policy or fiscal policy, or a combination of both, put a floor under US home prices. He said home prices in the US were declining at an annual rate of seven to nine per cent.”

“This is something that truly cannot be permitted to continue if in fact the US economy is to stay above the line as opposed to below the line,” he said.”

Comment by Larry Littlefield
2018-09-16 07:35:07

“Housing prices in the US must not be permitted to continue falling, says the chief investment officer of a fund with $US750 billion of fixed-income assets under management.”

Generation Greed — redistributing future income from less well off later-born generations of Americans to themselves since the 1980s.

So maybe this guy’s bonus would fall to the lower seven figures, and older home sellers would get to take fewer cruises after moving to Florida. Better that than have my children pay 50 percent of their income for debt service for the rest of their lives.

How does having multiple generations that deep in debt effect future consumer spending — when they have children, and in retirement? All while public service are being cut and taxes increased to pay for Generation Greed’s pensions.

Ah well, they can pay for their own private schools, save for their own future old age retirement and health care after the federal government goes bankrupt (overpaying for overpriced stocks and locking in a 2% return), and may many many times their income for our houses.

It’s really offensive.

Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 07:43:20

‘It means simply that this finance asset-based economy…’

I think we may have found the problem.

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 08:00:43

How does having multiple generations that deep in debt effect future consumer spending — when they have children, and in retirement?

I think we are starting to see at least one outcome. I’ve posted numerous articles where many millennials are delaying having children and having fewer children. The US is starting to look like China in its family planning. Localities that have the highest run-up in housing prices are having the biggest baby bust.

As far as the young vs. old debate goes, I think there is going to be a stand-off at some point. If enough millennials balk at paying these outrageous prices and the older generation ages out and needs to trade down, there might be some price cutting and it could even be drastic. Most of the baby boomer’s retirement is in their homes. But if millennials choose not to take on debt to lock in the sale price, then the gig is up. I think this first scenario is more unlikely. But what I think is more likely is that new buyers are simply too overloaded with debt (student and credit card) and have low earning potential and in the scenario of rising interest rates, financial institutions are no longer to lend at absurd debt-to-income ratios or with little down payment or at ridiculous loan-to-value ratio.

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Comment by Albuquerquedan
2018-09-16 09:00:15

If enough millennials balk at paying these outrageous prices and the older generation ages out and needs to trade down, there might be some price cutting and it could even be drastic.

But the problem is that housing is a basic need just like food. This is precisely why the use of housing to create a wealth effect is so vile. It is easy not to buy stocks. But unless people do want to live in a RV, they are stuck. Parents to children are in a particularly difficult situation. If you want that yard for your eight year old so you can put in a swing can you really wait ten years until he or she is eighteen? If you are dealing with stocks the buyer really can have patience, it is harder with houses and that is precisely why the PTB have strived hard to take control of housing. Right down securitization and buying up houses to rent them.

Comment by rms
2018-09-16 09:28:32

The Scorpion and the Frog…

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 12:42:09

If you want that yard for your eight year old so you can put in a swing can you really wait ten years until he or she is eighteen?

You are exactly right Dan, and this explains why many millennials are committing financial suicide even while many are also giving up and sitting on the sidelines. The allure of what a white picket fence means and a good cul-de-sac and quaint neighborhoods of yore is powerful along with all the HGTV nonsense that is thrown out there. For two biggest counties in Utah, Salt Lake County and Utah County, a starter home is a 3 bedroom, two bathroom condo. Forget the swing and the back yard. If I were to buy, that is what I would go with. Besides, public parks are top notch in Washington County, probably some of the best in the country.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2018-09-16 09:18:27

Last time around the US economy was financial based and Australia was commodity driven. However, this time it appears to be the reverse. This time it is the shale oil and NG boom and not housing that is driving the US economy while Australia is much more driven by housing and financial based speculation. However, Canada and New Zealand seem to be in the far worse shape. This time the U.S seems to be an average player in the housing bubble based on income and rents ratios:

Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 10:00:29

‘Last time around’

What if it’s all been one event?

‘It took decades for the lessons of the Great Depression to wear off’

The main reason I think it’s one mania is that many market participants jumped right back into speculating. If it’s true that this is one bubble, “last time” won’t have much relevance to what happens in the future.

Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 10:04:59

February 07, 2005

Fannie/Freddie Regulator Preps For Bankruptcy

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight is pushing legislation through congress that prepares for the insolvency of the mortgage giants. Patrick Lawler, OFHEO chief economist told a forum “Receivership is a valuable thing”.

None of this is reported on the official website of the regulator. Also mentioned in this story was this tidbit;”..a coalition of 37 federal, state, and local groups urged the federal government and Congress to cut ties with Fannie and Freddie Thursday. Warning that Americans are threatened by a potential taxpayer bailout of the two companies”.

This was before prices had started falling. Multi-trillion dollar companies and they were broke.

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Comment by Ben Jones
2018-09-16 10:06:08

May 25, 2018

“In his corner of American finance, where hard selling meets hard luck, Angelo Christian is a star. Each time Christian sells a home loan, the company he works for, American Financial Network Inc., takes as much as 5 percent. Many of Christian’s customers have no savings, poor credit, or low income—sometimes all three. Some are like Joseph Taylor, a corrections officer who saw Christian’s roadside billboard touting zero-down mortgages. Taylor had recently filed for bankruptcy because of his $25,000 in credit card debt. But he just bought his first home for $120,000 with a zero-down loan from Christian’s company. Monthly debt payments now eat up half his take-home pay. ‘If he can help me, he can help anyone,’ Taylor says. ‘My credit history was just horrible.’”

“Christian can do this kind of deal because he is, in effect, making the loan on behalf of the federal government through its most important affordable housing program. It’s a sweet deal: He gets his nearly risk-free commission. Taylor puts no money down. If things go south, the government ultimately bears the risk. Many borrowers ‘are living paycheck to paycheck and, if they lose their jobs, they go into default immediately,’ says John Burns, a housing consultant.”

Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 10:06:33

I think we can agree that the Fed’s intervention served to revitalize and sustain the mania to an unprecedented duration, spanning nearly an entire investing life cycle. The bust can be expected to last for a similarly long period when it finally arrives.

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Comment by Post-Structuralist
2018-09-16 11:55:32

I read an article somewhere that made a convincing case tracing the bubble back to the late 70s and then Greenspan’s intervention in ‘87, arguing that the valuation mismatches (both in the markets and in everyday life) that got out of hand in the 80s junk bond/M&A bubble were never allowed to correct, and subsequent “bubbles” (really cycles within one big bubble) have only amplified that original insanity.

It would make sense to call it the central banking bubble, or the intervention bubble, or the end-of-business-cycles bubble, or the 40 years’ bubble.

Comment by Post-Structuralist
2018-09-16 12:19:20

As an example of it all being one huge 40 years’ bubble, I recently saw the price history of a house that sold for $7,500 in 1979 that sold for $750k this year, a 9,900% increase. Looking into the neighborhood comps (similar, small, middle-class, 1200 sq ft houses all built in the ’50s), here is the general price trajectory (an amalgamation of very similar houses in same development, rounded to whole numbers):

1979: $7500
1980: $20,000
Late 1980s: $180,000
Late 1990s: $140,000
Mid-2000s: $600,000
Early 2010s: $400,000
Late 2010s: $700,000

So my point is that the prices never got close to correcting to the 1980 price, which never got close to correcting to the 1979 price. And that *original* increase from the late 70s to late 80s was a far more dramatic change (+2300%) than from the late 80s to today (+316%).

So if it’s all the same bubble, the craziest increase was actually a *long* time ago at the beginning of the bubble, and subsequent increases have been (by comparison) smaller interventions to prop it up - or correct the corrections, so to speak.

It’s also interesting to note that, for this area, the median family income was around $23,000 per person in 1980. Today it is $70,000, or up +204%. To match the rise in (small, middle class) housing prices in the same amount of time (1980 to now, +3650%) median family income today would have to be around $850,000 per year.

Comment by Post-Structuralist
2018-09-16 16:59:06

To add to the above numbers, waiting for the inevitable “yeah but interest rates were at 17% in 1980!” response, some back of the napkin math with Google’s mortgage calculator:

1980 - $20k at 17% interest = $3402 per year, or 14.9% median family yearly income.
Total loan amount: $102k, or 443% median family yearly income

Now - $750k at 3.92% interest = $42,552 per year, or 60.8% median family yearly income.
Total loan amount: 1,276,000, or 1822% median family yearly income.

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 18:31:16

I like how you calculate the lifetime cost of the loan. So few people these days seem to actually do this. I suppose they are the “howmuchamonth” crowd.

Comment by BlueSkye
2018-09-17 10:54:38

if it’s all the same bubble

Indeed. The credit bubble began to take off in the early 80s. Biggest expansion of credit in history.

Comment by rms
2018-09-17 17:05:32

“The credit bubble began to take off in the early 80s.”

Thanks to Ronald “Mommy?!” Reagan liberalizing credit. Congress passed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act. It removed restrictions on loan-to-value ratios for savings and loan banks.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2018-09-16 10:22:17

Actually, I agree the massive intervention in 2009, had largely stabilized housing by early 2010. People did not truly learn from the housing crash because only the really greedy and stupid ended up “loosing”their houses. Yes many were seriously underwater for years but the intervention made it work out for them. Now housing owners are sitting on record equity. Housing continues to be the way that the PTB get people to go massively in debt to fuel the World wide Keynesian economy. Ironically I think even Keynes would be appalled, such measures were to fight down turns not to create bubbles.

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Comment by Post-Structuralist
2018-09-16 12:21:30

“fight down turns not to create bubbles”

Fighting downturns and creating bubbles are the same thing.

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2018-09-16 09:48:54

“US Fed must put floor under home prices”

But it didn’t work. Prices fell 40%+ anyways.

Castroville, CA Housing Prices Crater 9% YOY As California Depopulation Accelerates

Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 09:58:11

Until it did. Since 2013, the Fed’s intervention has restored prices to mania levels.

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2018-09-16 10:01:30

…. and not a buyer in sight. Keep in mind housing demand is at 21 year lows and falling.

Coronado, CA Housing Prices Crater 11% YOY As Double Digit Price Declines Envelop California

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Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 09:53:46

So-called bond king Gross has been ‘wrong and wrong badly,’ his boss at Janus says
By Mark DeCambre
Published: Aug 14, 2018 4:12 p.m. ET
Bill Gross of Janus hasn’t lost faith in his fundamental view of bonds, Richard Weil says
The Bond King?

Is Bill Gross still the bond king? Maybe not. The quondam fixed-income royalty—at least by the recent reckoning of his current employer—got less than a ringing endorsement from his own boss, Janus Henderson CEO, Richard Weil, on Thursday.

The less-than-flattering statements about the 74-year market maven, made by Weil during an early morning interview on CNBC, comes as investors have pulled money out of Gross’s Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond for a fifth straight month, according to a Bloomberg News report. The report indicates that Gross’s signature fund has seen $200 million in redemptions just last month, rapidly shrinking the assets that he manages to $1.25 billion from $2.24 billion.

Oddly enough, to folks who have followed Gross, those losses emanate from bets he made on U.S. Treasurys (TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.84%) and German government bonds, known as bunds (TMBMKDE-10Y, +5.03%) expecting that the gap between the pair of sovereign debt rates would converge. They haven’t.

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 08:11:35

A few evenings ago I decided to look at the FRED data. I looked at trough to now and calculated the increase in household income. I think it was something like a 12.5% increase from 2012 until now. We are now at $61,400. If you look at the Case Shiller 20-city index from the same time period, it shows that home prices are up a whopping 55% over the same time period.

In other words, home prices have been rising at more than 4x the median income for the past 6 years (12.5% income rise vs 55% home price rise). This is clearly a bubble and is unsustainable. Does anyone think that the next 6 years will see median household income rise 55% and median home prices rise only 12.5% to get us back to something that was closer to affordable? This seems extremely unlikely. This is why I see a major correction in housing prices. Or, flat price movement for a decade or more while wages squirm up. In either case, the home price to income threshold is way out of whack, and dramatically so in many coastal cities.

Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 09:37:01

Good for you to check the data. Funny, isn’t it, how the “no bubble here” people never feel the need to back their claims up with data analysis.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2018-09-16 09:44:43

try reading the IMF data which I am attempting to post. Very current. It shows what I have been saying which is many countries have bubbles as large as the 2007 housing bubble but the US is not as bad nationwide but we do have some major bubble cities.

Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 10:02:54

Sounds right. My view is jaundiced by living on the west coast, where almost every city of any size is bubbly.

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Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 13:21:34

The IMF data looks about right. From the link you posted, it looks like house price-to-rent and house price-to-income is up about 15% from 2010 levels. But 2010 wasn’t the trough for household income or home prices in the US, 2012 was. So the data will look different depending on which time horizon you select.

In any event, the result is the same: home prices have vastly exceeded income growth for quite a few years. But even saying that doesn’t really paint an accurate picture because the rise from 2012 was starting from a base that already above the historical 2x to 3x median income in the first place.

For instance, in my state (Utah), the median household income is $66k, but the median household is $314k, so that 4.75x income-to-price multiplier. This is about double the historical rate. If you take any given house and lop off about 40%-50% of the asking price, that gets you back to fair value. Not that anyone selling will accept this or believe it, but it’s historically accurate.

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Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 13:22:54

By the way, here is the median household income chart:

And the S&P/Case-Shiller chart:

Just in case anyone wants to check my math! :)

Comment by Mafia Blocks
2018-09-16 14:43:37

Looks like prices are 4x income which is 200% higher than long term trend.


Seatac, WA Housing Prices Crater 16% YOY As Amazon And Microsoft Layoffs Unemployment Rate Escalate

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 08:17:04

Rent vs buy seems like the binary choice. But as I look out from the downtown Salt Lake City apartment I’m in, I keep seeing these RVs parking along side streets. If it ever becomes viable and socially acceptable to select “none of the above” and skip the rent vs buy dilemma completely, that is when the real shake up in housing will take place. When it is feasible to just walk away from the mania altogether, that is when a reckoning will come in earnest. These urban campers may be in the vanguard. I’m leasing to people who are paying 30%, 40%, 50% plus of their monthly income to the REIC. What if they didn’t have to do that and instead could just save that money or even spend it on themselves on whatever they wanted. That’s the true game changer. It’s the Atlas Shrugged strike that would drive another nail in the coffin of housing mania.

Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 09:38:33

Thought you were in St George. Did you move north?

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 13:26:27

Still in St. George, but commuting 3 days a week to work in SLC. I took a part-time gig leasing apartments. Still working as an RN in southern Utah. Plus my wife loves teaching where she is at, so we’re going to try this new super commuting thing out for the next year, or until the snow makes me throw in the towel!

The gig is a custom arrangement: our housing up north and down south is being paid for in addition to my salary, which is modest. But it all adds up to decent household income and pretty good lifestyle, for now. The drive 2x a week is annoying though, but I do listen to lots of Economist articles and podcasts, so that’s nice.

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 13:40:42

Should clarify, I stay in SLC for 3 days. I don’t commute every day.

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Comment by MGSpiffy
2018-09-16 12:13:53

I’m pretty sure the current ‘urban camper’ phenomenon in HCOL areas has not reached its peak. How cities and locals will react in the future I am unsure.

Long term living in a large RV or 5th wheeler is actually viable in a number of situations as long as people are willing to limit their relationship with “stuff”. The biggest issue there is hookups for water/power/sewage. In those cases, people are usually back to renting a spot in a park or campground that has hookups, which winds up being similar to trailer parks, but with less permanence.

If I had the $$$, I would consider buying/building RV parks as I see more and more people turning to full time living in them the future.

Here’s a 5th wheeler that my wife and I looked at with the idea of working remotely out of for 2-3-4 months at a time. Winter insulation package, surprisingly nice, comes furnished, and has a separate room with a shutable door that can serve as an office. And it’s $60K brand new.

If I was a millennial or just staring out, and able to land a space at a place close in like the Trailer Inns RV park in Bellevue, it would make a very compelling alternative to just about everything else.

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 13:46:14

So, my father has recently purchased a couple of RV parks in the past decade for precisely the trends you are noticing. There are tons of 55+ who have serious money and who cruise the US in 250K or even $1 mil COWs (condos on wheels). Personally I think this is insane. The range of RV inhabitants are as vast. On the one hand you have the uber wealthy and then you RVers who are essentially homeless. It’s a weird mix.

Truth be told, a lot of RV hook up parks are not that cheap, at least that is my experience of it. The urban campers I see are not parking the RVs in lots. They are parking on the side of the road so they don’t have to pay a monthly fee, which might be the same amount as paying to rent a room in an apartment. These are the homeless RV campers who shower at the YMCA and figure out how to dispose of their waste in “creative” ways.

Comment by MGSpiffy
2018-09-16 14:12:17

Yeah, I think we’re seeing the same makeup of RV’ers and long term trends at work.

The urban camper thing seems born our of desperation and we’re going to see more and more of it in areas like the west coast cities where too many people are completely priced out of traditional homes. I’m expecting to see a backlash and more attempts to address the homeless RV situations which is where having a legit place to park them could be a profitable situation.

Even with rents for a space + hookups running many hundreds a month in a lot of places, it’s still potentially a better deal than apartment or other rental living. If something knocked me out of being able to work today, I could live that way successfully on just my SS benefits (granted I’m at the very max) and it would probably be a great reduction in stress.

I’ve been researching RVs for the last couple of years and it’s interesting the range of options. Where it gets interesting is as an option for the middle class - both for retiring/downsizing and just as an alternative to traditional housing. And then there’s the whole idea of a life with less ’stuff’ and being beholden to it, that’s mighty attractive along with the added mobility. And the quality & amenities you can get with a 5th wheeler or class A these days is surprisingly good.

So yeah, I have some ideas for an RV park as an investment opportunity/business. I’m convinced it’s a trend that will grow over the next couple decades.

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Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 18:59:10

I have a running/triathlon friend who “opted out” of the housing game for about a year and a half and went the RV route. It wasn’t for financial reasons per se, but more about a family experience to travel the country and live a unique triathlon lifestyle. I talk to her frequently about it and she raves about it. What strikes me as highly unique is that she had high school age kids and a toddler. The high schoolers did online high school. She says it was one of the best things her family has ever done. They moved back into a traditional house this past year to give them a more traditional high school experience for the last 2 years of high school. I think it would take a special family to make that RV situation work, but I give tons of points for creativity.

There is a former Tesla worker that I’ve been corresponding with who lives out of his Model X. I think that is more interesting than a 5th wheel or RV, but that is just personal opinion. The reason I say this is because you can literally go anywhere without drawing any undue attention to yourself. Granted, it’s not really giving you any real comfortable living quarters that a true RV would, but more of a mobile nomad thing. That is just fine for me because I am more of an outdoor person (run, bike, hike, swim, etc.). I don’t really like to spend much of my time in a place anyway. I would rather hang out at a sports bar, library, park, or a coffee shop. I’m an edge case though. Having spent a lot of time at my father’s RV resort, there are lots of people who are living the retired life you cite and just following the weather. Lifestyle is very, very good.

Comment by MGSpiffy
2018-09-16 20:52:38

I’ve followed some interesting reading about the van lifestyle (r/vanlife or r/vandwellers over on reddit is a good source), and while I see how it works, it’s just too small for me as a married man (our kids don’t live with us).

We’ve looked into renting a class B or B+ size RVs for the DMB weekend at the gorge or maybe some other getaways, but it seems like we’d hit our limits at couple weeks max, or if we were working remotely while on the road. Still, it’s something I expect we will try next year.

There a lot you can pick up for a decent price in terms of a used late-model luxury Class A RV - depreciation is a killer on those. But then you are more limited as to where you can park those things. Our thoughts have drifted more to the 5th wheelers, and spending the entire summer on the road, but that’s all just an idea at the moment as circumstances seem likely to interfere. Purchasing a class B+ (Diesel / Sprinter chassis ) and spending a week or more a month somewhere in the PNW all summer seems a more likely outcome. Either way, the goal is to step away from the rat race a bit.

Comment by OneAgainstMany
2018-09-16 21:25:05

I like it. I’m actually really excited about VW’s reboot of their bus as an electric vehicle. What I discovered about those who sleep in the back of their Tesla is that they like how they can set the temp and it doesn’t take all that much battery. Things would be much more feasible in an electric bus with more clearance and room to move. It would be more like a sprinter van, but if you could turn on camper mode then the actual sleeping experience is pretty decent with a good mattress setup.

The funniest thing I would read on the Tesla camper forums was about the CPAP machine plugins! I realized that these people who are camping in the back of their Teslas aren’t always young bucks!

Comment by MGSpiffy
2018-09-16 22:58:19

Unfortunately, I’m fast becoming one of those old farts. As attractive as such an existence is at times (and I’m being quite serious about its appeal), one thing I wouldn’t want to give up is a modern bathroom I didn’t have to share. And given that I would be traveling with my wife, I think something in the b+/24-26′ size is as small as we’d go without complaint.

Now I’ll admit that I am also drawn to the unusual and different and would happily take several of these -

Comment by Carl Morris
2018-09-17 09:13:55

The funniest thing I would read on the Tesla camper forums was about the CPAP machine plugins!

Yeah, I had no idea that was a big deal until I was looking at battery powered bass guitar amplifiers that used battery laptop charger setups, and all the reviews for the battery systems were written by people trying to camp with CPAP machines.

Comment by Boo Randy
2018-09-16 08:55:58

It took decades for the lessons of the Great Depression to wear off.

The repeal of Glass-Steagall by the Clinton Administration, at the behest of his Treasury Secretary who like all Treasury Secretaries in living memory was a stooge of the Wall Street investment banks, set the stage for banks to engage in the kind of reckless speculative behavior and yield-seeking that had been barred, for good reason, following the Great Depression. Now once again policymakers, especially the Fed, have set the stage for a financial crisis that could dwarf every previous crisis and lead to serious societal unrest.

Comment by MGSpiffy
2018-09-16 12:15:14

Thanks for posting the tabbi link the other day!

Comment by Boo Randy
2018-09-16 09:21:02

But…but…how can subprime mortgages be back when every REIC tout and shill tells us lending standards have tightened since 2008 and “it’s different this time”?

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2018-09-16 09:36:00

Overstates when it claims that the bad loans have vanished but the overall story is consistent with the IMF figures:

Comment by Mortgage Watch
2018-09-16 09:44:28

Frisco, TX Housing Prices Crater 7% YOY As Dallas Area Personal Bankruptcies Skyrocket

Comment by Professor Bear
2018-09-16 09:45:32

“We don’t use the word ‘panic’ these days to describe widespread economic calamity. We use ‘great’ — as in Great Depression, Great Recession — or ‘crisis.’ Panic has been relegated to history books that hardly anyone pays attention to. That the term is considered anachronistic is partly because economic downturns look and play out differently than they did in the 19th century, which was littered with panics. The biggest difference is the role of the public sector as regulator, intervenor and safety-net provider, rather than bystander.”

There certainly was plenty of panic to go around in the Fall of 2008, with the GSE failure, Lehman Brothers collapse, etc. The MSM can’t identify panics in real time for fear of scaring the kiddies, but I’m guessing the historians may correct the record.

On another note, I once looked up some old newspaper clippings (Wall Street Journal and similar publications) from the months following the 1929 Great Crash. It seems nobody at the time had a clue of how bad things would get over the ensuing years.

Comment by Mortgage Watch
2018-09-16 10:03:09

Charlotte, NC Housing Prices Crater 5% YOY On Failing Stated Income Mortgages

*Select price from dropdown menu on first chart

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