Back to Berkeley

Back in the 70s I lived in Berkeley and had a great time. It’s surprising how little things have changed, at least as far as I’ve wandered from my motel on University Ave. Of course, back then there were no cell phone stores or Macintosh stores. And lots of the restaurants have changed. But the streets themselves feel much the same, the buildings look familiar. I haven’t been down Telegraph yet, though, and back then it was a hippie/radical artery. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have time to take a tour.

I’m here for what I hope will be a fun weekend for BADCamp (Bay Area Drupal Camp) – 2 days of workshops on a hugely popular open source content management framework that we have been using more and more for our projects. I have a feeling I may be by far the oldest person at this thing. From what I can tell from interactions with the Drupal community, most of the people involved weren’t even born when I used to hang here. But it’s a good, positive thing to focus on while the economy melts down around me.

Taking a Stand on the Economy

Everything seems to be falling: Stock  values, home values, gas prices, earnings.

While all of us are (or should be) watching the news, the campaign, the markets and trying to discern a way forward, we have had a house on the market so the whole thing has been more than an abstract exercise. Of course, now the at stock market is tanking, if you are in the market, it’s no longer abstract either. Or if you have been trying to get a loan to start or build a business in the last few weeks, it’s no longer abstract.

But we’ve had a house on the market since January. It’s in Kaua’i, Hawaii. It was my brother’s house who passed away in November. When we were given a market value prior to listing the house we were shocked. It was much higher than we imagined. But the market comparables were hard to assess. They were all over the place. But all of them were much higher than a similar house might be in Humboldt County. We figured, well, it’s Hawaii after all.

Nine months later, and we hadn’t had a single offer on the house. Each month we lowered the prices trying to catch up with the falling market. After over a $100,000 drop in price, we got an offer. A low offer. But we countered and got an acceptance. So, if escrow closes, (and that’s a big if as the buyer is getting what I thought were extinct loans with only 3% down) we will have made some kind of statement. That house, in that location, at this moment has that value. It’s a small pin in the global real estate map.