Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Break

Will be on hiatus for quite some time (at least till after the new year).

Hoping this holiday season finds everyone happy, healthy, and employed.

Below is a picture of what our family woke up to Monday morning (the view from our backyard). The wonder and delight in my kid's eyes was contagious.

Best to all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chafing at Charity

This time of year I find myself thinking a lot about needs versus wants. Two things set me on this train of thought. The first, was the FHA loan limit for the Sac Metro area, and the second, a wish list item for a needy family. Let me make a couple observations before I get back to this.

In theory there are very few basic needs for someone living in a developed country: nutritious food, clothing, clean water, shelter, electricity (for heating and cooling), transportation to and from a job.

There are also many additional things that are considered basic needs by most Americans, but which I classify as wants: cell phones, TVs, name brand clothing and shoes, ipods, sushi etc.

So back to the housing related discussion.....in theory, the FHA is supposed to help folks of moderate means secure a loan to buy a home. So I was pretty stunned to learn that the FHA limit for the Sac Metro area is $580,000 (according to my google query). A loan of that size gives you access to over 90% of single family homes in the Sacramento area. A family of modest means should not be purchasing a home for almost 600k. The whole FHA thing has gotten way out of control.

As to the second item, call me a Grinch, but I recently received the wish list of an "Adopt-a-family" through my moms group, and I was really surprised. It had items like "gift card for ipod", and matching bedding set. These are items my kids don't even have.....since when does a kid from a truly needy family have an ipod?

Are my ideas of basic needs to stringent, am I being too judgemental? When I first moved to Sacramento after college, I ate ramen noodles, had a bike, a bean bag, a small radio, a microwave, and slept on a futon. I made due on my $10 hr job at a non-profit, and even managed to save some money for graduate school.

As many of you all know, I'm a bleeding heart, but using taxpayer money to subsidize a loan for a $580,000 home in the Sacramento area, and buying ipod gift cards is a stretch, even for my sense of charity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

California October 2009 Home Sales

Was looking for some context on how the Sacramento Metro Area housing market compares to the rest of California. Below are two charts, the first has data for all California cities, and the second, only data from cities in the four county metro area.

The horizontal axis is the Oct 2009 median home price, the vertical axis is the % change from Oct 2008, and the size of the bubble is the number of home sales in Oct 2009.

Charts were cut off at 1 million price tag and 50% increase/decrease to better show the majority of the data. The grey bubble in the first chart is data from the city of Sacramento.