Posts in Category: Personal

More homebuyer tax credits? No thanks!

You must be thinking “is this guy crazy?” An insentive for buying a house, who doesn’t want that? Well I don’t. And up until a week ago I was trying to take advantage of the current first time homebuyer tax credit. Key word there is trying. You see my wife and I have discovered there is quite a lot of competition out there for homes in the “first time buyer price range.” And competition drives up prices. People are clamoring to take advantage of the credit. You would think that the credit would help. But in the end it hurts.

My wife and I aren’t the only ones to think so. There are other articles that also feel this is bad. I will just tell our personal story. That all starts with a trip to the lawyers office. Our apartment lease doesn’t end until April 30th and if we closed on November 30th, the last day of the credit, we’d be on the hook for 5 months of rent. So half of the tax credit gone, straight away. The lawyer cut a deal with the apartment complex and we were off shopping. But we weren’t the only ones. Twice we ran into situations where agents had schedules showings for the same or overlapping times. Both times there wasn’t one other potential buyer there, but two! And both homes stayed on the market less than a week. We live in Pennsylvania, but the same thing is happening in Santa Clarita, CA.

We ended up making three offers in the span of two months. And we lost out on two of those offers. Both were at asking price! We had been watching lots of HGTV and none of those people payed asking! In one case there was an escalation clause involved! My agent was beside himself both times. So you may be asking, what happened to the third? We were under contract on that third house. The home inspection revealed a few big ticket items that needed to be addressed. And the homeowner didn’t want to give us any money towards repair. This homeowner was quite “hostile” during negotiations. But I also got a sense that they felt we could suck it up since we were getting free government money. Well it isn’t free if we have to use it to rebuild the falling garage we paid for.

This quote from the Calculated Risk Blog sums up the market situation nicely.

This level of first-time buyers is completely unsustainable – even if another tax credit is enacted. There was significant pent up demand from potential first-time buyers who were priced out of the market in 2004-2006, and then were afraid to buy as prices fell. But demand from these buyers will wane.

We were part of that pent up demand. Before the market “collapsed” we wondered if we would ever be able to afford a home. Well even after the collapse we still can’t apparently.

Here are some other points to ponder. Others have pointed out that a credit such as this, especially if it is extended to everyone, will raise the price of homes by that amount. And that is true. But who does that benefit? Not the buyer. If that $8,000 credit goes towards your down payment, and you put 10% down, that allows you to buy $80,000 more house. Although you were able to afford more house you have a larger mortgage. You have to pay some of that money back, compounded with interest. Your mortgage company likes that. Yeah those same guys that marketed their “toxic”, bound to fail mortgages to others, that got us into this whole mess. And we will all have to pay for this program via taxes. Meanwhile the seller just walked away with $80,000 more than they would have been able to get otherwise. Let’s not forget to mention the people trying to defraud the system. So write or call your senators and tell them no.

Back on the Horse

September. Damn that seems like a long time ago, because well it was. And a lot has happened since then. For one I’m married now. There is not much to blog about atucrossing over the winter b/c there really isn’t much autocrossing over the winter. Philly region does have a winter series but I didn’t attend it b/c my Miata got rear-ended and subseqently totaled out by the insurance co. That was obviously a big bummer b/c I was looking forward to really tuning the car this year and bridging the gap to the CRXs.

And Irene and I decided to get rid of the Prelude. It was just getting two high in mileage. So that is two cars gone over the winter. We did get something cool to replace the Prelude though, a Mazdaspeed3. We both like th car a lot. S-plan pricing really made it a good deal.

Initially I was going to find another Miata shell this spring and swap everything over. But I decided to put that on hold till next year so we can focus on finding a house. The government is holding this $8,000 tax credit carrot in front of our noses and we’d be stupid to not try and take advantage of it. So there hasn’t been much to report on the car front. I have done a few autocrosses in the Mazdaspeed3. But I’ve also missed a bunch.

So because of all that stuff, and there was some crappy medical stuff going one over the winter, that I haven’t been posting. I’ve realized of late that there is a lot of other stuff I could be posting about other than cars and autocrossing. I don’t like putting to much personal life stuff up on a public blog. But I have been getting more interested in what is happening in politics, or more like what the current President and congress are doing to “fix the economy”. For the record I don’t like it, which is why I feel I should be writing about it. In addition there is the real possibility of “carbon cap & trade” coming to this country now. I have some strong opinions on that since I work in the utility industry. Specifically I don’t like it.

I have also been messing around with computers more lately. I got really fed up with Vista and tried Linux again. There is at least one future blog post in that story. I have also been messing around with trying to write a small CMS for websites. It is going very slowly since I can only dedicate an hour or two each day to it. IT is very rewarding though and I could see myself doing that for a living if I was to find a way to change careers w/o a drop in pay (yeah right!). And I have been doing more unique stuff with the 3D design software we use in work, Autodesk Inventor. There are some potential blog posts waiting to come out of that experience.

So now that I’ve made the excuse post and gotten back on the horse let’s hope I can me more active on this thing again.

First “Official” Post

All of the posts older than this came from my old “blog” which was nothing more than a static html page I would update, less often then I hsould have. By installing software to make it easier to post I hope to be posting more often. And since it is so easy to post I hope to be posting on more than just car stuff. I guess I should introduce myself to anyone happening to catch this an a feed.

I am a twenty something, going on 30, guy, a mechanical engineer. I graduated college late so I am a little behind in what I feel my professional develoment should be (read I should be more in charge and making more money :laugh:). As a mechanical engineer I have kept in touch with my inner geek. I almost went the computer science route after great success in a community college C programming class. But my love of cars and machinery won out.

My affinity for code landed my in geeky jobs once I transfered to university and started doing co-ops. My first co-op was a what was essentially a Center of Excellence for Computer Aided Design & Analysis tools for a very large engineering company. Besides the work with the CAD tools (I worked with primarily Pro/Engineer) they did a good deal of web publishing. Sharing best practices and lessons learned between all of the different divisions and sites thoughout the county (many of which were bought out or merged from different companies) was the name of the game. Oh, and most of the CAD tools were on a Unix environment. So there I learned how to use the Unix shells, and started programming in Perl to make some active pages for the website.

My next job landed me at a powerplant. The plant had a system which archived every datapoint from every sensor in the plant in a sophisticated data server. Another ASP based software was purchased to mine out this data and present it ina pretty way to users on the utility intraweb. My job was to help define the software’s pages and common data sets, which could be made to look like a plant operators screen or can do post analysis on data, such as calcuating heat rate, heat transfer rates on certain peices of equipment, or track effiency of the gas turbine compressor. So needless to say I learned ASP and how most database driven web apps work.

Now, in my job i use quite a bit of CAD software. Our company’s choice is with the Autodesk products. Actually were are a traditionally heavy AutoCAD company as most of the CAD users so pipe layouts and structural drawings that are suited to 2D. As part of the product design group (and not doing that type of work) I pushed for us to aquire a 3D software package. Autodesk’s Inventor was choosen by management. I have grown to like it and consider myself an intermediate user who is starting to dabble in advanced areas. In my private life I have become involved in a motorsport called autocross. It is a totally amatuer, entry level sport where you take a regular production automobile, with varying levels of modifications, and run them though a small course made with traffic cones in a large parking lot. It is quite fun and challenging. And the people you meet are get. I’ve made quite a few friends doing it. So I got invloved in a geek role with my local autocrossing club and am the admin of their discussion board, which is a phpBB board.

So that’s it in a nutshell. And I’m just about spent so until next time…