Lemon County - 'Un' Real Estate...
Lemon, Lemon, Lemon...
The timeworn statement, location, location, location, is nowhere truer than in Lemon County. The majority of Lemon County residents are in fact qualified as realtors, and the buying and selling of homes accounts for something like 99% of all commercial transactions. Or it did. It would appear that over the past few years, people have been playing 'chicken' with homes and loans.
Now, I am eminently qualified to discuss this as I watch all the home selling shows on HGTV, live in a house, and, I have a friend who is a realtor.
My friend, lets call him Bob, because that is his name, has been in the business of selling houses for many years. He has also been in the business of not selling houses for a couple of years. Thus he is very experienced, and after a couple of vodkas will wax lyrical on the state of the planet from a realtor's point of view. And I have been taking notes.
The first thing I have made a note of is how utterly money crazy the entire world of realty-ing is. Land is incredibly valuable. It is so valuable you can not let crops suck the value out of it. Land has to be maximized value wise by having stuff put on it. There are three things that are allowed in Lemon County, buildings, parking lots, or roads. Specially watered green bits are wrapped around the former three, but only if you can't actually put a building, road or parking lot on it. There are some legally protected green bits, such as golf courses, as they are necessary for the builders, developers, bankers, and realtors to knock little white balls around on, and do their bidness.
I have noticed that when a piece of raw land (I prefer mine medium rare) is slated for development, the first thing that happens is that a hole is dug. Quite literally, the land is scooped up and sent away in an army of trucks. This is due to genius developers figuring out how to upgrade the monetization of the lot (their words) by putting parking under the building. Put a garden on the roof and from a satellite it looks like there is still "land" - brilliant!
I have mentioned in an earlier hub, that I have taken up walking for my health and entertainment. My daily walk is along the beach, which, by sheer coincidence is along the very last little section of coastline without buildings on it. Yet. The space has been graded, divided into miniscule lots and had a fringe of green stuff planted around each lot. The ones directly on the beach have an asking price of about seven million dollars, pause, gasp, yes I said seven million.
Several wealthy owners, and a couple of very courageous developers have bought a few of the nearly 100 lots. They have dug holes for the garages, and built mini and not so mini mansions on top of them. I am reliably informed by Bob, when he was somewhere between vodka two and three, that these homes are for sale in the seventeen to twenty million dollar range.
So, not exactly tract homes...
This gives me pause to do a little math. Mortgage payment, plus HOA fees for the green fringes and guard gated community guards to guard the gate, plus property taxes, plus a mysterious tax called Smello-Dues, which no one can quite figure out, equals, well, a shit load of money.
Added to the twenty cents a day I earn through google adsense, that would mean I would have to sell a kidney every five minutes to have that kind of income. So, not going to happen, having only the two kidneys to sell.
And building is happening. Even in this nobody-has-any-money economy. I strongly suspect that while 95% of the working stiffs in America are plunging ever deeper into third world-dom, there is a small group that has as much money as China.
And they live here. Drive unbelievably nice cars up and down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and buy some of the most expensive land on the planet.
Great motivator, being reminded that the American dream is only for "special people".
Now, truth be told, a few years ago, we were all rich. Our homes, which had been purchased for two or three hundred thousand, were now worth over a million.
Naturally, the obvious thing to do was to mortgage your home to the hilt and use the equity to buy all the stuff you had dreamed of. It didn't matter if you couldn't actually pay that big a mortgage, your house would be earning the money for you.
The advertise-y people (and many of your so-called friends) were busy telling you that you deserved a better car, mohair carpets and a membership to the upgrade-your-kitchen-once-a-month club.
I was not allowed to partake in this madness due to She-who-is-adored being a math teacher and way too smart and clever to be tricked by the trickery, plus it was her house.
Then came the giant oops. Your house was only worth as much as people would pay for it. Which was not very much at all anymore. The banks suddenly got mean, and wanted all their money back, to pay themselves their smug-as-hell bonuses. After laughing at the stupidity of people borrowing more than they could ever afford to pay back, they strong-armed the gubment into borrowing more from China so that they could pay themselves gazillion dollar bonuses, and throw millions of regular folks out of their homes, just because they could.
Thus the economy of Lemon County tanked. No one was buying or selling houses. The houses were no longer earning more than the occupants and that left no money for the luxessities (Luxury necessities), like cars, shoes and kitchen remodels.
And Bob couldn't sell houses.
So he walks with me, looking at the mansions being built, and we dream of finding a job that will help us to help our better halves pay the mortgage...
Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?
I sensed some, no way, he's making this stuff up, so, to assist in understanding my people, the Lemonillos, here are photos (taken today March 22, 2011) of the lower section of this development...
Seriously, it is not possible to make this up...
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