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No More Whining
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February 2009

 

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Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.

 

We always feel bad when we read newspaper articles about people "so hard off" or such a "market turmoil" that their homes don't sell, even after months on the market.

Media is always trying to scare people, just like they did in the 1970s, trying to get us to believe that there was never going to be any more gas (obviously a lie, just look at what's driving around today).

Two months ago, gas cost $4 a gallon. The media had another heyday, telling us all we were going to certain doom as no one could afford to get to work.

Now that gas is back to half that, and its lowest prices in decades, or possibly ever, does the media even mention it? No; they cook up another fear-and-doom concept about something else and run with it to keep us all glued to our TVs and Tivos, which keeps their Arbitron and Neilsen ratings up to keep their ad revenues up. Arbitron and Neilsen may mean nothing to you, but mean everything in broadcasting: just one point means billions of dollars to a TV network.

How cheap is gas today? Adjusted for inflation, $2 a gallon today is the same as 40¢ a gallon in 1973! Gas is at least as cheap as it has ever been. Yay!

Not only is gas cheap, remember how the media was trying to scare us all into paralysis when home prices were rising a few years ago? All they showed us were young families unable to purchase homes, but never the zillions of nice, normal people who were able to raise their families someplace safe, and see their investments grow at the same time. All we heard were numbers telling us how fewer people could afford to buy homes.

Now that home prices have gotten a lot more affordable for all of us, more people can afford homes than ever. It's good times once again!

Does the commercial media show us this? No! All we see are homeowners paraded around like prisoners who aren't doing the right things to sell their home. Home sales are a very competitive market.

Commercial media will never show happy new families who are now able to buy their very first homes. Good news is never profitable for media. As we say in TV, "If it bleeds, it leads." Leads means it becomes the lead story of the news segment.

Geesh, if I watched TV or read the paper, I'd never be happy.

When you see sad people in newspapers unable to sell their homes, you'll never see their broker (a bad sign), just the disheveled homeowner blaming everyone except the only person who can do anything about it. Their homes don't sell because they made the very expensive mistake to think that all real estate salespeople are the same, or confused a flashy prospectus or pleasant personality with getting the job done.

Like most things in America, selling real estate is very competitive. If you're not set to win, you lose. You can't just throw something out there and expect it to sell.

The reason real estate doesn't sell is because there are a lot of short-timers and amateur part-timers working in real estate. People love to use their neighbor or friend who dabbles in real estate to sell their homes, and when it doesn't sell at the right price, it's a lot easier to blame "the market" instead of their friend.

We use our mom (aka Joan Reynolds (949) 707-4440 to most people in south Orange County, California, and "Noni" to our two-year-old) to sell and buy our houses. Yes, we know her, but she's been doing it for decades and decades full-time. She's been moving stuff, good market and bad, forever. She's never taken more than a few days to sell our old house and my old condo, and we've always gotten the price we wanted, even in slowing or dead markets.

She just sold our grandma's home. With this "horrible market" it took her a whole few weeks this time, and she again got us the price we wanted. It's no problem when you use a pro to list a home.

We have to laugh sadly when we browse the internal MLS listings; these are the listings that lead other brokers to come show your home for sale, or lead them to someone else's instead. The secret is to list a home not only at the right price, but to fill out all the blanks on the listing application.

Too many people think other people are going to be stupid enough to pay too much , so greedy listing prices make a home sit unsold. Once it's spent more than 30 days on the market, few pro brokers will waste their time showing it to buyers because they know something's wrong with it. There are always other homes to show instead. It's got to be listed at the right, current price at the start, or drop it a few days to a week (not a month) later to get it in line.

Sadly many newbie real estate people don't bother filling out all the listing "details," so half the listings out there forget to list the date constructed or other data that might be important to buyers. When your broker doesn't fill out every space to save them time, or to hide less competitive aspects of your home for sale, other brokers for potential buyers never pick up the phone and ask: they just move on to the next listing.

Anyway, figured I'd mention this, since Mom again sold another house we knew about easily and fast. (She sells and has people buy a lot more all the time, we just don't ask.)

It's never the market: its always your broker, or you not listening to your broker to make your house saleable. If you're in southern Orange County California, feel free to use her to buy or sell your next place. She's not just mom, she's good!

And remember: no whining! There's always a party going on somewhere, and the market is always being good to someone. Make that someone you. More people than ever can afford great homes in Southern California, yay!

If you own your home, now is also a great time to refinance for less. We just did, no problem. The only place there's a "credit crunch" is in the papers, not at the banks.

Of course retail stores are going out of business. Duh, where do we all buy things? Can you say I-n-t-e-r-n-e-t? I haven't bought from a retail store except Price Club in ages. Why would I? Do I really want to waste an hour driving around to pay more for less selection?

Of course Circuit City went under: they sucked. In the 1960s, they were called Lafayette Radio Electronics, and it was good. In the 1990s, as Circuit City, who needed them to buy electronics when we had the Internet? I hated it when the wife would drag me in there Christmas shopping, and all I saw was a selection of computer items only one-tenth as broad what I could find at Amazon, but at higher prices. Worse, everything on the shelves at Circuit City was six months obsolete.

We had had a Circuit City gift card for years, and I could never find anything I wanted there. We just liquidated the last of our gift card on front-register candy as Circuit City goes out of business.

Going out of business is one thing. Reorganizing under Chapter 11 is something totally different.

The media loves it when someone files Chapter 11. Chapter 11 means simply reorganizing your debt. It has nothing to do with going out of business.

The media are people with journalism degrees, not degrees in accounting. Any accounting major knows that Chapter 7 is liquidation (going out of business), while Chapter 11 is staying in business.

Ritz Camera Centers, the retail stores, just filed to reorganize under chapter 11. Big deal, they're not going away, and I haven't bought anything from a Ritz retail store since I bought my Nikon 12-24mm lens from Ritz in UTC in 2003. I don't buy retail.

I buy loads of stuff from RitzCamera.com, including most of my recent Nikon bodies. (see my reviews; I go Adorama or Ritz depending on who I clicked last.)

RitzCamera.com is a totally separate business from Ritz Camera Centers (the retail stores). RitzCamera.com is doing great, of course. You'll never hear a peep out of the media about that!

Read the commercial media, and it's almost funny that Ritz Camera Centers (retail) blames "digital photography," which has actually been the biggest boost ever in the photo world. Nikon and Canon have made record profits. What they really meant to blame by using the word "digital" is "online camera stores."

Funnier still, to come full circle with the top of this rant which where I wrote about low gas prices before I read about Ritz camera Centers and added this, is that they blame high gas prices. Ha ha! Gas prices are now LOW!

Why are retail stores going away? Because men don't shop retail. We have computers. Women still like to see the clothes they buy, but I only buy camera gear, and I get that all online. Of course all the crappier retail stores are all going out of business or Chapter 7. No one needs them any more. It has nothing to do with the economy.

Heck, if the USA were a Communist country, the government would throw money at supporting dying business models like retail, and the whole country would spiral down the drain. Because America is free, money in America goes where people want to spend it, so it goes to efficient, clean and sound online businesses instead.

 

California to Prohibit Photography in all State Parks and Beaches

See what I mean? I bet that title had every single one of you wanting to know more. I just made it up as an example.

If I had written a positive article like "California Parks and Beaches Contain the World's Most Beautiful Landscapes" you wouldn't have bothered to read it, even if it's true.

Bad news travels fast, and even faster if it's not true.

Good news doesn't even rate as commercial news. Today is another absolutely lovely day here in Sunny San Diego. It's 8:30 AM, the fog just burnt off the hills and we have another perfect day ahead of us in which to go photograph anything we can imagine. Will you read that anywhere but here? No.

 

PLUG

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Thanks for reading!

Ken

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