Let The Market Decide

We often hear that mantra from free-traders and staunch capitalists, but sometimes the situation isn’t that simple.  Take this example in the exquisitely-beautiful town of St. Ives, in Cornwall, Britishland:

Landlords and businesses have been buying up properties in the area and converting them into summer homes, meaning there is nowhere left for locals to rent.
Jasmin cannot find a new place to rent and her tenancy is due to end on May 10.  She has exhausted letting agents and spare room sites, and fears in three weeks she will be sleeping rough.

And from the local council:

“The boom in house prices and the demand for holiday accommodation is causing a significant reduction in the availability of homes to rent.  It matched sudden escalation in rental costs.
“Private landlords have been moving away from long-term letting and instead moving towards the short-term holiday market.”

Read the whole thing.

I know that many towns in rural counties Over Here have had the same problems — transplanted Californians, ’nuff said — to where locals with jobs in those towns have to find a place to live in further-off towns, sometimes as much as an hour’s drive (or more) away.

Jackson Hole in Wyoming, when I first drove through there back in 1987, was a one-horse town that had nothing to recommend it other than proximity to Yellowstone and a couple of ski runs;  now, it’s the place to find Hollywood types and other California scum in their vacation homes, with all the foul side-effects:  expensive housing, expensive eateries, empty streets out of season, and so on.

I don’t have any solutions — at least, not free-market solutions — so maybe it’s up to the local governments to step in;  although getting government involved usually if not always seems just to exacerbate the problem.

I welcome discussion on the topic, in Comments.

Spendy Property

We’re all accustomed to stories of how expensive real estate has become in the world’s major cities.  Here’s one in London that caught my eye recently:

A Notting Hill flat that is so small  [254 sq.ft] that there only appears to be a sofa available to sleep on has gone on sale on Rightmove for £350,000.

That works out to $1,872 / sq.ft [pause for recovery time]  but it does raise an interesting question.

Is it actually uninhabitable?  Well, it depends.  If a single person (forget a couple, that’s insane) bought the place as a full-time residence, it would be tight — but not impossible.  And honestly — I know the neighborhood — the kitchen would only be used in emergencies, because that area has about a jillion pubs, restaurants and takeout places pretty much within a few blocks of the place in any direction.

Its purpose, in fact, is that of a corporate flophouse;  where an executive (e.g. Mr. Free Market) has a family house / estate far outside London, but spends Monday- to Thursday nights in the city.  In these circumstances, all he needs is a bed and a bathroom, with the rest being more or less superfluous.

And the flat is quite pleasing to the eye withal, despite its shortage of area:

I could live there, by myself.  But only because it’s in London.  Anywhere else, and I’d feel like this:

Filthy Rich

I’m not afflicted with wealth envy, because I’m not a Communist.  I do get upset, however, when the rich leverage their wealth to become still richer (as opposed to creating more wealth through productivity), or when people such as the late Senator Harry Reid become wealthy by abuse of their position, or by fraud (like this asshole, this asshole and this tart).

I’m also not envious of people who become rich by pure luck:  lottery winners, or people like the Sultan of Brunei, whose country just happens to be sitting on an ocean of oil and natural gas — and who went and created a $5 billion (with-a-B) collection of cars, supercars, bespoke supercars and so on, as discussed here.  I’m not upset that most of the cars have never been driven, or that they’re falling apart and becoming unrecoverable.  Rich people do stupid shit, and that’s the way of the world.

As is the case with people who spend over $100 million to own apartments in New Yawk fucking City that they’ll never visit.

The difference between them and the idiotic Sultan is that their spending is an investment, whereas the Sultan’s spending is just money thrown away, as befits so much of this kind of thing in the Third World.  The latter is similar to inheriting ten million bucks from Aunt Ethel, spending $1,000 on handmade chocolate bars, and never eating any of them.  That kind of spending is actually symptomatic of a psychological defect — but still, I don’t care.

The point about those real estate buyers is that if the real estate market crashes, and it will, the value of their investment will plummet — and they still won’t care too much, because they have that much money.  And remember the truism:  in five generations (or less), all fortunes, no matter how vast, are dissipated.

Which brings me back to my opening statement:  I really don’t care how much money people have, nor how it’s spent.

What does get up my nose is when governments do the same kind of thing as the Sultan of Brunei does:  only with our money and not their own.

Room With A View

For those who want to get away from it all, there’s always this place:

I can just see the listing description:

Adorable cottage with unbeatable Alpine view needs only a little TLC to make a perfect retreat from the bustle of city life.  No-maintenance garden and limitless recreational activities await its next loving owner.  Property adjoins national park, so no neighbors will spoil your view or solitude.  Only the screams of the many falling climbers  soaring eagles disturb the silence, and winter snows turn the area into a picture-postcard life.  Main road  path only steps away.  One of a kind value!

Uh huh.

Bloody Fool

Good grief.  Try this idiot on for size:

A woman who bought THREE of Italy’s €1 houses has warned of the real price of renovating the bargain-priced properties.
Solar consultant and business owner, Rubia Daniels, took up the fantastic offer in Mussomeli, Sicily – but quickly realised that it would total a MASSIVE €60,000.

No doubt she thought that the houses were going to be in pristine Islington-style condition, and that she could just move in and start enjoying the bargain.  (She bought the other two for her children, by the way.)

 

Of course, what she got for her $3.90 were three houses that were in a state of disrepair approaching write-off — hence the low price — in a dying village without, say, a Home Depot (US) or Homebase (UK) outlet anywhere nearby.

And frankly, even if the whole tripartite reno does cost €60,000 she’ll still have three houses that cost €20,001 each, in this place:

…which quite frankly looks like any shithole town in Sicily where even €1 is too much to pay.

Shelter

And then we have this plaudit, following the Chinkvirus lockdown(s):

Shelter in place has us focused on the characteristics of a home that makes us happy. What makes us happy in a home has not changed, but since we are spending more time in a home than ever, we are focused on what makes us happy in a home. Neighborhoods become more important during shelter in place. Here is a home that exudes the elements of a home we enjoy when we shelter in place. Architect Max Levy designed this home that is immersed in nature, enjoys the shared greenways of the neighborhood, and is surrounded by vibrancy.

And this “immersion in nature” looks like this:

You know where this is going, right?  Let’s look at the interior:

It would not surprise me if the cushion coverings were hiding concrete blocks.

This excrescence is part of a series of five houses which inspire us to shelter in place, and only one of the five does not inspire me to load up the Molotov cocktails and go for a little drive down some “shared greenways”.  Here it is:

…and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, this house was designed IN 1939.

All the above are located in Dallas (not renowned for anything classical, architecture least of all), but I do know the real estate market around here quite well, and I can truthfully say that the only houses I’d consider buying in the city would be the few still standing which were built before WWII.

All the rest are either foul beyond words (“mid-century modern” aaargh ) or else ultra-modern carbuncles like the ones above.  The newly-built ones, by the way, all look like they’re owned by Russian oil oligarchs, retired Cowboys footballers, Arab oil sheiks or Colombian druglords.  (And that’s not just my opinion, by the way:  Mr. Free Market, who has been on several tours of the area conducted by Yours Truly, has even worse things to say.)

Here’s one in Plano which exemplifies the type:

At least it looks like something a little classical.  But the supercars parked oh-so casually in the driveway give the game away.

It makes me not want to buy lottery tickets, if that’s all that obscene amounts of money could buy me.