Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Anger Phase

The above graph is largely lifted from Hofstra University's "Psychology of a Housing Bubble" (click to enlarge). It's posted because, last week, I learned that the local housing market is edging out of The Denial Phase and into The Anger Phase.

As y'all know, I've been doing guest posts over at L.A. Land. Some posts I think will generate a lot of feedback and other posts I think will go without much notice. My last post was about some features that I like in a house (a porch, a deck and newer electrical/plumbing/roof) and figured there wouldn't be very many comments. I couldn't have been more wrong. People flipped the hell out (and by "people" I mean "real estate agents" and "home owners"). They left over 80 comments so far but only two or three are about house features. To spare you the chore of sifting through them all, I've harvested the angry gems.

One guy accused me of being a transvestite -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- I just can't see how wanting a front porch brings somebody's gender identity into question. He wrote:

"I feel like you're scamming me. You sound like a middle-aged male Realtor in drag. Why not fess-up and stop the pathetic story of deception! At least come up with a new photo....


Just a little advice. You're living in fantasy land. Most people trying to get in this market would take a Maytag box on 3000 sq ft lot just to get in.

"...So before you start with the 'I'll pay extra so I don't have to deal with the problems.' Why don't you ask 'Mr. Kate' how many extra hours he wants to work per week so you can have your perfect cabinets, typical spoiled brat.

AnnS, who elsewhere states she is a retired attorney and currently a commercial broker, draws the conclusion that I do not like fixers (which y'all know I love) and goes on to call me: a bore, a nitwit, spoiled, and a shallow, unrealistic brat. Again, this is all because I want a porch, a deck, and a credit for dead tree removal. You will note that she is very focused on interior decor, something I made no mention of in the post. Behold:

"I want this, I want that, I want simply everything..... and god forbid I would have to lift a paintbrush to get it, I might break a nail."

What a crashing bore 'Kate' is.

Anyone without such an overblown grandiose sense of entitlement would know that interior decor is something which you just assume you will change...

This little nitwit was throwing a fit a few weeks ago about how she could't [sic] get the cotract [sic] restructured to show a lower purchase price to save on real estate taxes by paying the realtors [sic] seperately [sic].

... this spoiled shallow and unrealistic brat wants it flawless"

Frankly, I suspect there's a bit more in her coffee than just cream and sugar, if you know what I mean. AnnS goes on to tell a charming tale about how she threatened to kill a potential buyer in the course of closing one of her own deals:

"She reminds me of a buyer in a commercial real estate transaction we handled were we represented seller. It was a turnkey retail business in full operation and was being sold to an employee. After running through 3 loan offers (all of which he got in succession, all wonderful deals with financing at 125% of asset value...) because he 'could do better', it finally got to closing. Buyer then started hemming and hawing about finishing up the transaction because when he had been to the facility that AM, a light bulb had been burned out in a storage room. It had been over 8 hours trying to close it - and the title company was stunned at how much time it was taking. I threw the $1 at him for a light bulb and roared 'Sign the damn documents or I will personally break you neck after I grab your hand and make you sign it! ENOUGH!! You work there so you know what you are buying.' He signed.

Posted by: AnnS | August 24, 2007 at 07:48 AM"

Another commenter suggests that, because I am not willing to buy at today's prices, I should have my head examined and E should dump me and nobody should sell their house to me:

"...She needs a shrink to help her to deal with her obsessive behavior of shopping and not a house. If I were MR. Kate, I would've probably dumped her by now and if I were the seller, I would never sell to someone like her.

You chased the market up, now you'll chase it down and will not by anything. I sure hope you prove me wrong, because I sure hope not to see anymore posts about you on this blog.

One faithful LA Land commenter declares that E is a figment of my imagination and that I am broke. He also appears to be under the mistaken impression that I run advertising here at May 5 and that is my primary source of revenue. He writes:

"Ann S, you and I are totally sympatico [sic] on this one- Kate will never find what she wants because she and the dubious Mr. Kate (probably doesn't exist) don't have the budget for it. Instead of waking up to the reality she comes here and whines. I suspect that she's hoping her little blog will generate enough Google Ads revenue to propel in into the financial position she'll need to be in afford her dream home.

Posted by: vultur | August 24, 2007 at 10:28 AM"

Later, he decides he has more to say about my interest in front porches:

Yet Kate still can't find a home she deems worthy of her enormous self-image. It's not the home that overpriced- it's Kate's self-importance that's inflated!

I bet she can't wait to through [sic] her first dinner party and gloat to her friends how she snatched her dream property away from some poor flipper fool caught in the credit crunch.

Kate, I've got a perfect house for you babe and I'm certain you'll love it- it's called 'Barbie's Dream House' and you can customize it any way your little heart desires. You can even invite your husband Ken to come play with you. And the two of you with live happily ever after in your perfect house in your perfect world on your perfect little slice of Americana.

So, yeah, The Anger Phase. It's here. And it means we are that much closer to "Return to the mean." I thought these days would never come.


Anonymous said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

You left out the largest group of commentors on Laland: "The Righteous Renters." The ones who did the "smart, responsible thing" and didn't buy a house when all their friends went off and bought houses that cost a lot of money these past few years. The righteous renters have been burning in jealousy that their friends live in bigger houses than they do, even though their friends don't make more money. But now the day of reckoning has come! The sinners will be punished and the righteous will be rewarded with a house in Santa Monica for $300,000. I think your post really got under their skin because it pointed out that not everybody who wants to/already has bought a house in LA has no money. They call you spoiled because if there are enough people like you who can actually afford to spend $700,000 on a house in the Valley, they'll never get their house by the beach for $300K. And that would be totally unfair because they've played by the rules.

ghenghy said...

Wow, this blows the mind. I'm also surprised at the vehemence in the comments for what seemed like a fairly innocuous post. There's definitely a lot of anger out there.

It's a pity commenters make personal attacks rather than present a coherent argument as to why they take issue with your post. It just proves they're reacting on an emotional level rather than through any thought or logic.

Suzy Q said...

I read the LA Land post and the responses. It was crazy. I was kind of mystified, as well, with all the feeling out there that folks like you and I are operating with a sense of entitlement. Baffling--you have a job, a professional degree you worked hard to attain-- and you are posting about buying a pretty typical, middle class house in the Valley. It's not like you are on there bragging about how Daddy is giving you several hundred grand to buy down the mortgage on some Westside Trend-Box. I didn't get it. At first, I started to write a comment on the original LA Land, defending you from all these haterz-- but as I scrolled down, I just closed the window and refrained out of the sense that this weird vitriol was not worth touching, and any response would just not even be heard. It has everything to do with them, and basically nothing to do with you or your post. If you note, a lot of them don't even comment on anything you actually wrote.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, huh.

I'm not the type to post comments, but I had to join in when I saw all the crazy talk. As I said, it looked to me like some people were defensive and jealous. No doubt these were the same folks who've spent countless hours bragging about what a wise investment they made when they bought their house three, five, fifteen years ago. The notion that you wouldn't take out a 50 year ARM to buy their house in a bidding war drives them batshit.

Kate said...

Right. My point here really is that on my first post the commenters were mostly fellow house hunters yelling "Don't do it!" or "Move out of LA!" but it's really interesting how the emotional tide has turned.

As a buyer, I definitely find it encouraging.

qtilla said...

I can't believe anyone could be so awful. Especially about what someone else wants in a home. Why should they care so much? I can only hope that these people are the ones who get in fistfights at little league games and yell at strangers in their cars.
It is your right to want the product you want. And it is your right to be savvy about it.
I'm sure a lot of people make great money in real estate by counting on people feeling like they should 'just take what they can get.'
There are so many problems with real estate and they won't ever be solved if people don't know about them.
I suppose that is why these people want to discredit you so badly.
Thinking can be very scary.

Kate said...


I do suspect that most of the angry commenters would be unlikely to say some of the things they do if it were a less anonymous forum.

But, honestly, I don't mind. I think it's really great that people are putting their true thoughts out there for the world to see. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of civility, but I'm also a big fan of free speech.

Anonymous said...

Wow - amazing. I'm guessing those Realtors have a lot of time on their hands just about now ;)

And they're angry because you know what you want and know what you're willing to pay to get it. How dare you!! You, all by yourself, are ruining everything for them! You must be stopped at all costs!

Anonymous said...

"Harsh words denote a weak cause."

Kate, I throughly enjoy reading your blog. Keep it up. -Robert

Suzy Q said...

No, Kate you're right. Hey, if their anger is the first step towards accepting a new reality and home prices dropping, let them comment away!

Danlmarmot said...

Kate, I almost left a post in LalaLand (hell, maybe I'll go back and post this), but the vitriol was amazing. It's *your* near-million dollars, you can decide what you want.

Here was what I wrote:


I agree 100% with Kate--and have been looking for exactly what she's looking for over the past year as I've sought to move back to southern California from Seattle... in that same collection of communities along the Ventura freeway from Tarzana-ish to Burbank. She's spot on: so much remodelling done to get-rich-quick rather than to live.

I'd add a few more turn-offs: sellers who disregard the skanky apartment house across the way, or the looming 3 story condos next door on the south side of the property that'll cast a shadow in winter, and along with that: neighbor's air conditioner units that are right next to the house windows. Large pet stains on the floors--like urine burns on hardwood floors, sometimes hidden underneath an area rug; indicates lack of maintenance and caring. Cigarette burns on the granite countertops (hey, at least *someone* lived there). And definitely cracks or a popped nail or four in the drywall, indicating that the structure might have shifted nastily.

And the most important turnoff: sellers who aren't interested in closing the deal, but merely use your offer as bait, which is why I put a 'must counter by noon tomorrow' in all my offers.

I was looking for what Kate was looking for: a house with a sense of aesthetic integrity, with as few insensitive upgrades as possible, good for a childless couple that has occasional house guests, and one that's priced near or below the average for the neighborhood (which doesn't mean "comp" homes at all in the mixed neighborhoods I was looking for). It's fairly difficult but not impossible.


Oh, and on that not, tomorrow is closing on the house for me... but not in Valley Village or Sherman Oaks or anywhere like that--but it's not in the Valley, where I grew up, but in North Park, San Diego, where real estate agents are helpful and don't consider themselves arrogant gods. It's quite refreshing.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how written text becomes a rorschach test for a lot of people. They read into it what they want and suddenly your benign comments become petty, snotty, hateful or worse. I've learned (the hard way) from emails to use "emoticons" liberally so that the recipient doesn't uncover some deep seeded ulterior motive in my message. :-)

Your post for LA Land reminded me of something I regard as a red flag when looking at on-line listings; if the only picture of the house for sale is a picture of the yard, I think you can be pretty sure the house is not worth looking at. I mean seriously, if you're selling a house and you can't take one decent picture of the exterior or interior, we've got a problem.

My Buddy Mimi said...

Looks like the realtors found an outlet to vent their frustrations.

I enjoy your posts, so keep on writing.

Kate said...


North Park is great! I lived in University Heights and Mission Hills for many years. Loved the Parkhouse Eatery and the Hash House! So great.

I'd love to move back one day.

Westside Bubble said...

Keep up the great writing, Kate! These responses remind me of an agent some years ago that showed us three houses and was bothered that we didn't want to pick one already. Or the agents who still insist, buy now or be priced out forever.

(Can you turn on in Blogger the date of posted comments?)

Kate said...


Ummm... I don't know if I can! I'll go look into it now. Also, I've been meaning to add you to blogroll... hopefully I'll get on that today as well.