Matrix Blog

Humor or Whimsy

Judging A Book By Its Cover: David Lereah Changes Titles

February 23, 2006 | 12:06 am | Public |

According to Bubblemeter, David Lereah, the Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is changing the title of his real estate book (as seen on Amazon) from:

Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom? to _Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust._

Notice how the word BOOM is the same size and the graphics are identical? The Walk-through’s Old Fish In A New Wrapper says the content is the same – Damon Darlin’s post provided a pretty good chuckle.

I had the chance to meet David Lereah in the green room before the taping of CNBC’s Town Hall: Real Estate Boom last year. It was me, Suze Orman, Robert Shiller and David Lereah. Surreal to say the least. All very nice I might add. I only had a small appearance – these people were the main characters in this production.

Mr. Lereah has provided a tremendous amount of fodder for the blogosphere, myself included. Up until now, its been the use of language which would seem to be misleading. Now its book titles. This sort of stuff might have worked 5 years ago but not today. People have access to information almost immediately.

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That Sinking Feeling May Affect Your Return

February 20, 2006 | 12:01 am |

In Vivian Marino’s Venturing Out on the Deep Blue Sea to Learn More About Land[NYT] she talks about cruise patrons, instead of tossing back Bahama Mamas while observing hairy-chest contests or ice-carving demonstrations poolside with the other passengers, they are ensconced in conference rooms, hearing about Section 1031 exchanges, landlord techniques and residential rehabbing.

I have heard of many specialty cruises, in fact I was momentarily temped by a MacMania Geek Cruise a while back but then I remembered, although I am a Mac nut, I easily get motion sickness and, oh yes, I have a life.

But real estate cruises? Don’t you have to factor in the cost of the cruise to your return?

If you are looking for a sign that the real estate economy is overheated, then this may be it.

Architects With Free Reign, Clients With Very Open Minds

February 20, 2006 | 12:01 am |

A tip ‘o the hat to Big Picture for this one. The Many Unusual Looking Buildings On Earth [uniquedaily] has a series of buildings that seem to belong in Disney World (no offense to Michael Graves intended)

Walken Provides Insight On Building A House

February 16, 2006 | 12:01 am |

I ran across this site Walken 2008 – Official Website and then someone confirmed it was actually a hoax.

But it had an insightful quote about housing:

If you want to learn to build a house, build a house.

Don’t ask anybody, just build a house.


An of course, More Cowbell! [Washington Post]

Super Bowl Housing Correlations (Well, Not Really) and The Super Ball

February 6, 2006 | 12:06 am | |

As we enter the post-Superbowl housing market, here’s a few items of interest (well, at least to me). Actually, I never thought of the Superbowl as a milestone for the housing market, but some people apparently have.

But what few folks may know is the fact that the Super Ball ended up becoming the idea for the term “Super Bowl.” The first two contests between the NFL and the AFL were labeled the “World Championship Game.” After the second such contest, the owners were sitting around trying to come up with a snappier name when Lamar Hunt, the guiding light of the American Football League, and the owner of the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, remembered watching his daughter play with a high-bouncing Super Ball a few days earlier and ‘ball’ morphed into ‘bowl.’ Voila…Super Bowl!

The Super Bowl Indicator predicts a good year for the stock market if a team from the old NFC wins and a bad year when a team from the AFC wins. Then again the Super Bowl Indicator has lost some of its magic in recent years. Maybe we should switch to political indicators, which would suggest big gains in stocks during an election year.

But is the stock market truly showing signs of prosperity, or is it just BS?

I would like to suggest the latter and that it might not be a good time for you to obtain a home equity loan to invest in hot tech stocks. We are going through a housing bubble, and stock valuations as measured by stock price-to-earnings (PE) ratios are at bubble levels. The buy low, sell high philosophy would lead you to sell stocks now, not buy them.

In the ever-escalating battle to turn the Super Bowl, the premier U.S. sporting event, into a defining metaphor of American life, Merrill Lynch & Co.’s chief economist for North America, David Rosenberg, has broken new ground.

He says the economic numbers favor the Seattle Seahawks over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League’s title game, which often turns into a tongue-in-cheek referendum on the competing cities. Las Vegas oddsmakers favor the Steelers over the Seahawks today by 4 points.

“If the Seahawks match up to the city’s relative economic and market performance, then the oddsmakers may have the wrong team,” Rosenberg wrote in a Feb. 2 report after reading a sports column titled: “Give Me a Good Reason to Root for the Seahawks.”

Take job growth, for instance. That goes to Seattle, with 3 percent in 2005 to Pittsburgh’s 0.2 percent, according to Rosenberg. There’s unemployment: Seattle edges Pittsburgh, 4.6 percent to 5 percent. And Seattle home prices jumped 13 percent last year compared with 4 percent in Pittsburgh, Rosenberg wrote.

Well, Pittsburgh won decisively, so the moral of the story is: there is no correlation between the Superbowl and the housing market, as much as we would like there to be.


Bernanke’s First Full Day Is Groundhog Day: Will He See Greenspan’s Shadow?

February 2, 2006 | 12:11 am |

On Wednesday, Bernanke was sworn in as the 14th Fed Chairman so his first full day is…you guessed it…Groundhog Day

According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

translated really means

If Bernanke does not want to see Greenspan’s shadow, then he has got to keep the housing market in tact as a lynchpin to the overall health of the economy. If he is successful at implementing his inflation-targeting strategy, then he won’t see Greenspan’s shadow and the housing market would likely see a soft-landing.

Source: AP

After all, Bernanke’s got much better credentials then Punxsutawney Phil.

[Webmaster’s apology: Sorry, it was a late night post.]

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Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day 2006

January 30, 2006 | 12:04 am |

Lets not be serious for a moment…

Well, its that time of year again, and all this talk about bubbles has got me yearning for a good piece of bubble-wrap to pop. After all, today is Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day.

Mud Spelled Backwards: Business 2.0’s List Of Dumbest Moments In Real Estate

January 26, 2006 | 6:56 pm | |

On the light and subjective side, here’s the real estate portion of Business 2.0’s 101 dumbest moments in business: Real estate. The year in shenanigans, skulduggery, and just plain stupidity in the world of housing [CNN/Money].

Of these real estate items, I think the most notable are:

Most Ironic
* Vail Board of Realtors can’t afford to be located in Vail: Unable to buy office space in a community where the average home price recently headed north of $4 million, the Aspen Board of Realtors heads north too — to Basalt, Colo., a town of 3,000 residents 20 miles away.

No Reason To Be On The List
* In November, New York developers William and Arthur Zeckendorf agree to pay $37 million for the air rights above a church and an 88-year-old private club. The Zeckendorfs’ purchase, part of a plan to build a 35-story apartment building that would tower over its neighbors on East 60th Street, comes out to a whopping $430 per square foot — two to four times the going rate for the skies above Manhattan. This seemed to shock only people outside of New York.

Most Amazing
* In May an Experian-Gallup national survey finds that 65 percent of Americans haven’t heard anything about a possible “housing bubble.” Another 12 percent have heard “only a little.” Indeed, 70 percent expect home prices to keep rising, while only 5 percent think they’ll slip. However, when the facets of a housing bubble are described to them, about 40 percent go on to say that the scenario is likely to occur in their area in the next three years.

Q: Why won’t we see a “List Of Smartest Moments In Real Estate?”

A: Because NO ONE is interested in seeing someone else succeed (aka boring) OR we simply enjoy seeing people screw up.

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Mouse In The House

January 10, 2006 | 12:03 am |

Ok, I figured that if the story is good enough for CNN, its good enough for me. In the article Vengeful mouse sets house ablaze [CNN] it seems like the mouse was inaccurately portrayed as the bad guy. However, at Matrix, we just report the “news,” you decide.

“I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire, and the mouse was on fire and ran back at the house,” Mares said from a motel room Saturday.”

“No one was hurt inside, but the home and everything in it was destroyed.”

“I’ve seen numerous house fires,” village Fire Department Capt. Jim Lyssy said, “but nothing as unique as this one.”

Not a creature was stiring, not even a…

Like Goldfish, Americans Are Growing To Fit Their Environment

January 9, 2006 | 12:05 am |

In this humorous, non-scientific post Americans Grow To Fit Their Environment [Alchemic Spot] the average square footage of a US house is trended against the average US obesity rate (via Seth Godin’s Blog)

The conclusion?

Larger houses influence weight increases (larger kitchen, larger refrigerator, takes longer to get outside to exercise, etc.)

Lesson learned.

If you buy a smaller house, you can fit into that outfit you could wear before the holidays.

Source: Alchemic Spot

Gifts and Eggnog Outpace Housing Bubble

December 27, 2005 | 12:03 am |

Warning: Use of sarcasm may go undetected if this post is not read carefully.

The use of the the words gifts eggnog reached parity with housing bubble in blog posts in early December seeing significant gains over the past three days. This unique insight into the relationship between the housing market and the holidays was made possible by BlogPulse.

Northpole Bound: Who Says There’s Global Warming?

December 23, 2005 | 9:40 am |

Its time for a break from real estate for a few days. Wishing everyone the best for the holidays. We’ll be back on Tuesday, a few pounds heavier (with commentary on the real estate market.)

Source: NYT

“Newport aquarium is usually host to all manner of fish species, including sharks. Each Christmas for the past three years visitors have been able to see Santa scubadiving in the aquarium with the sharks [NYT]

Calvin Freeman, age 4, has a question for Scuba Santa. “Do you only have nice sharks in there?” Calvin asks, pointing to a toothy, 270-pound tiger shark swishing past Santa’s underwater sleigh. “Because some sharks chew people’s legs off. They’re bad sharks.” “Ho-ho-ho!” Scuba Santa laughs, then sucks a low, bubbly breath of air from his tank. “Ooh, yes, these are all very nice sharks!””