Michael Shedlock

I AM IN NOSTALGIA mode. Perhaps it shows my age, but I cannot help but think about that loveable pink lion Snagglepuss.

If you want to order a Snagglepuss magnet, I certainly can understand. Inquiring minds can also preview a brief several second audio of “Exit stage left” here (the audio is free, and I recommend it).

Before I could even ask, the telepathic thought lines were flooded with calls. “Mish, what does Snagglepuss‘ ‘Exit stage left’ have to do with the economy?”

Heavens to Murgatroid, I am pleased to announce that staging exits has once again taken center stage. Of course, I have proof. Here it is…

Home Staging Tips

Barbara Corcoran has “Tips for Staging Your Home.” Now, she does not say if it is an exit stage left or an exit stage right, but she does say that “Simple Changes May Translate to Big Bucks.” Let’s take a look:

“If you’re selling your house, you should probably be staging it.

“‘It’s always best to your put your best foot forward in any situation, and this is a way for your house to put its best foot forward,’ said real estate guru Barbara Corcoran.

“Fixing up your home, or ‘staging’ it, as the real estate business calls it, can raise your selling price anywhere from 5-20%, Corcoran says.

“Here are her tips for staging your house.

“Clean your house. A filthy bathroom is the worst, second only to a dirty kitchen.

“Let the light in. Wash your windows, because dirty windows keep out light. And open the shades. Basically, people like light, so if your rooms have dark colors, you might want to consider repainting them.

“De-clutter your house. Clutter makes your house look small and unloved.

“Take a whiff. If your house has an odor, that’s a huge turnoff. Make it smell nice. You might need an air filter.

“Fix up the bathroom. First of all, make sure it’s clean. Then, see how you can spruce it up. At the very least, recaulk any areas that are falling apart.

“Examine your front door. That’s the first thing people will see. Does it need a coat of fresh paint?

“Send your pets to grandma’s house. A barking dog is unwelcoming. Plus, people might be allergic to your pets.”

The question I have is should it take a “guru” to figure that out? I mean, seriously, how can one take plain common sense and put a “staging” label on it? I think Snagglepuss had more common sense. Whenever Snagglepuss was in trouble he exited “stage left” although on rare occasions he did exit “stage right.”

Whether left or right, it should now be clear that the stages are being exited.

Bargain-Basement Prices

The Palm Beach Post is reporting, “Bargain-Basement Auction Prices”:

“Luxe Properties Go for Bargain at Tesoro Auction

“The gavel slammed down almost as soon as the bidding had started. In minutes. As fast as the words could tumble out of the mouth of the auctioneer, whose voice buzzed like a bumblebee: Sold for $165,000.

“‘We’re in the basement, folks,’ the auctioneer said. ‘What a bargain’…

“Promising ‘prices we have not seen in years,’ auction organizers said the sea of sellers [looking to] unload properties was anything but a poor reflection of the Tesoro communities.”

Trademark the Obvious

It seems “Staged Homes” is now a trademarked phrase:

“The way you live in a home and the way you sell it are two different things. That’s the premise of ‘Staging,’ a hot new trend that’s sweeping the country. In any real estate market, Staged Homes sell faster, or sell for more money, or both! In Home Staging, readers learn how to play up a home’s strong points and improve its presentation. This book helps readers look at their houses through the buyer’s eyes. From repairing a broken step and clearing out the clutter to trimming those overgrown bushes and painting a room, Home Staging shows readers how to play up a home’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses.”

Plan “B”

Not all of our modern-day Snagglepusses staged an exit at the right time. Please consider, “They Had a Plan, Then Reality Intruded”:

“A group of friends who set out to buy, fix up, and ‘flip’ a Palm Springs tract house haven’t found the riches they were seeking…

“Four friends thought they could ‘flip’ a house, but cost overruns [and] bad timing got in the way…

“In August, the four bought a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,900-square-foot home that seemed like a good-enough deal at $425,000. Houses in Palm Springs had been appreciating consistently, and other homes on the same street were listed for considerably more…

“The plan was to spend $60,000 fixing up the house, then sell it in two months for about $650,000. According to [buyer Ron] Haughey’s calculations, the profit would be $60,000 after all expenses, taxes, and commissions, or $15,000 for each partner…

“Spirits were high when the project began. The friends worked full time during the week and then spent weekends in Palm Springs on their project. They visited tile stores, drove around neighborhoods looking at paint colors, dined at their favorite local restaurants, and generally enjoyed their time together.

“But as the renovation went forward, the budget crept up to $67,000, mainly because the kitchen and bathrooms cost more than expected. The kitchen got a luxury makeover with oak cabinets, some with frosted glass doors, plus brushed aluminum hardware and granite counters…

“The house went on the market in early November…

“The house is now listed for $629,000, and if it sells for that, each partner will pocket just $5,000.

“‘It’s not risk-free,’ Nina Smith said of her first foray into speculative remodeling. ‘I need to better educate myself on finding a better property.’

“And if the house doesn’t sell for the current price?

“‘We have all discussed Plan B,’ [Jeanine] Scalero said. ‘The possibility of turning it into a vacation rental. We’ve been told that weekly rentals go for around $1,500.’”

Ah, yes, the infamous “Plan B.” They could not sell it for a profit in six months, pray tell what makes them think they can rent it in another six months? Even if they can, how long will all four of them be happy about the carrying costs? The good side is that those costs are now split four ways. But what is going to happen in those situations where one person is holding six mortgages hoping to flip them? If you think that scenario is unrealistic, then please check out “6 Properties, Seller Willing to Hold Financing”:

“I am an investor selling the following properties. I am willing to hold financing so you can buy with no money down, and in some cases, I am willing to stay on, FREE OF CHARGE, to continue to manage the existing tenants.”

This is what I think. Some poor sap wants to “exit stage left,” but the doors are now closed both left and right. With every uptick in interest rates, the stage doors are getting tighter and tighter while fewer and fewer speculators make it through the exits.

Regards,
Mike Shedlock ~ “Mish”
April 25, 2006

Michael Shedlock

Mike Shedlock (Mish) is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. His blog Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis includes commentary every day of the week. Mike is also a contributing "professor" on Minyanville. SPECIAL REPORT- The Endless PAYCHECK PORTFOLIO: In three simple steps, unleash a steady flow of work-free income... starting with up to 75 automatic "paychecks" deposited directly into your account.

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