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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Do, Don't Believe

Do believe that Hezbollah will not be disarmed, and that the UN deal is a fraud:
The president of Lebanon ruled out disarming Hizbollah yesterday, rejecting a central element of the United Nations plan for peace on the frontier with Israel. Disarming the guerrilla group is required under UN Resolution 1701, which was passed last Friday.

Lebanon's army, aided by an expanded UN peacekeeping mission, was supposed to accomplish this task. But President Emile Lahoud, a Christian, fiercely criticised the proposal in a statement from Beirut. "It is disgraceful to demand the disarmament of the national resistance while the blood of martyrs is still warm," he said.
Do believe that US doctors are in for a hard time:
...Mr. Garrett is a pioneer of sorts.

He is a test case for his company, Blue Ridge Paper Products, Inc., in North Carolina, which is set to provide a health benefit plan that allows its employees and their dependents to obtain medical care overseas beginning in 2007.
His two operations could cost $100,000 in the US; they'll run about $20,000 in India.
It sounds wonderful until you realize that when you need emergency medical care, you are unlikely to be able to book a flight to India. Emergency room visits could become incredibly costly if this takes hold.

Don't believe that house prices are still rising in Miami, per this rather odd USA Today article:
The most expensive areas, including Miami, San Francisco and Chicago, saw modest price gains last quarter, though the rate of increase has slowed, and a few costly cities have seen prices dip.
The HousingTracker site shows median asking prices for a number of cities. Take a look at these figures for Miami:
75th percentile:
8/14/2005-$700,000; 8/14/2006-$595,000 (-15%)
50th percentile:
8/14/2005-$425,000; 8/14/2006-$384,888 (-9.4%)
25th percentile:
8/14/2005-$289,000; 8/14/2006-$269,000 (-6.9%)
Since this is largely an affordability-generated downturn, jobs aren't driving most of the nation's markets. Unemployment never helps housing markets, but at a certain point one must realize that the average employed person can't buy even a modest home, unless they have sold a house and realized large gains from it which can be rolled into another. I urge you to glance through the cities listed on the housing tracker site before buying anything, anywhere. Texas is showing signs of weakness now. NJ is going down hard in the two years. Oregon and Washington state are going to be badly impacted by losses elsewhere. The reason homebuilders are suddenly so pessimistic is that their homes are available primarily to buyers who have to sell their first home, or buyers who can qualify for their homes only by using funny-money loans. The numbers in both categories are dropping fast.

NJ is going down hard because of its fiscal woes. In many areas property taxes alone force sales. Who the heck wants to pay $185 a week in property taxes on a home that would sell for no more than $210,000? (Those are real figures, quoted to me this month.) That's insane, especially for a retiree.

Btw, I was talking to a Florida escapee this week. He and his family decided to move last year. His mother-in-law put her house on sale in June. It sold in less than a month for over $210,000. It was a 1200 sq foot on a small lot. He put his on sale in November, and after 4 months finally cut the price to $160,000 to get out. He had a 1600 sq foot on a very large lot, and he had completely redone the interior. It should have sold for at least $230,000, even in a quiet market.

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