Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Surreal Estate

The housing market is said to finally be making that correction that everyone predicted. In most places anyway. We bought our West Valley home in 1997 for 200k and when we refi-ed near the end of last year it appraised at 670k. Today, according to the good people at it's worth 631k. Even with the correction, it's a 300% increase in value over 10 years. If I could get my retirement fund to do that, well, I'd retire today and spend my hours rolling naked on a pile of cash, snorting cocaine like it was Nasonex.

I've got to admit that I've been weirdly lucky with money. I grew up kind of poor (as disadvantaged as a white kid in Santa Cruz could get, I guess) but in the early nineties a rich relative I had never heard of died, leaving me some money. First of all, who the hell has rich relatives they had never heard of? This guy, whom I am named after, was apparently a bit anti-social.

Oh hell, here's the story. He was my grandfather. In the thirties he had attempted to sell my dad, a baby at the time, for a keg of beer. This prompted my grandmother to divorce him and the family never spoke of him after. And remember my grandmother was a strict catholic. Anyway, he probably wasn't going to drink the beer (though given my gene pool's substance abuse problems, it's possible) but instead trade it for something else at a profit. Grandaddy died in Arizona, an ostracized millionaire, with a nurse as his only company. And of course no will.

Anyway, as a direct heir I picked up a nice little bundle of cash from the hateful bastard, and invested a lot of it in mutual funds. In the early nineties. Furthermore I took most of it back out in the late nineties to make the down payment on the house, just a couple of years before the stock market crashed. By the time that ship sank I was already on my own houseboat.

So lucky, yes? I'm not rich of course but there is an awfully big yard between my door and the wolf, who is sniffing around outside the gate. I don't normally go in for big yards, but this one isn't so bad. And considering how little money I make at my job, this is quite a nice buffer to have. Screw the wolf!

That last sentence is an example of the kind of thing I'd be wise not to say. My financial security is based, as you can see, entirely on the winds of fate. All it will take is one good tremor and I'm back to sleeping in an open field, surrounded by wolves. Good wolf. Stay.

Oh man, I'm sorry I brought it up. I got NOTHIN'. I'm doomed. I might as well just sell my wardrobe now so there is more room in the abandoned shopping cart for my iMac. I see me eating Chap-Stic stubs by the end of next week.

THIS is why I don't usually write about money.


Skot said...

"THIS is why I don't usually write about money."

Hear hear. Dude, you've got so much equity available you really don't have ANYTHING to worry about. Your house could lose half it's current market value and you'd still make out. Even if a 747 augers into it and you'd come out financially sound. Unless you're home at the time.

Take me, for instance. Bought a house in South San Francisco near the top of the market. It's worth more now, but only incrementally so. If it devalues more than 15%, we're into negative financing.

The issue is really the wolf metaphor. They ain't that bad, trust me. You can train 'em to to tricks!


Danielk said...

I wish you hadn't brought up a 747 augering into a house... the same subject came up with I was talking to a 7-foot-tall rabbit with sharp metal teeth, and I've been uneasy ever since.