The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Monday, May 26, 2008

Some more about houses...

For our anonymous poster from below, a couple of articles from

Flip this house, please!


I bought a house, and now I'm crying everyday

Here's just a snippet from the second one:

I am 35 years old, and we recently bought our first house. I have cried every day since. Our house is an older fixer-upper. All I could see when we looked at it was lots of potential. Most of my TV time is spent watching shows like "Flip This House" or "Designed to Sell." They make it look so easy. There were so many red flags, but for some reason I persisted.

I could read stuff like that all day long. Just for the record, though, I don't hate home ownership--I just think we have way too much of it. In fact, I agree with this guy who wrote a well-considered response to the 'Flip this house, please' article:

Home ownership is kind of cool, though. You can paint the walls and know that any improvements will benefit you, not a landlord. The bank can't raise the "rent" (never, EVER, get an adjustable loan, unless you are a financial expert). If you plan on staying put for 10 years or more, and you're careful, you will find it a positive experience.
(my emphasis)

Hell, in fact, this guy is even more conservative than I am about it--I've always said five years, not ten. But, because the very thought of spending ten years in one place fills me with existential dread, I know that owning a home is always going to be like wearing a shoe that's too tight. And the housing market is only going to really get better once all of the dreamy-eyed (see above), the flippers, and the dudes like me who aren't in it for the correct time frame get squeezed out.

Anyway, point taken--enough about all of this for a while. Maybe we'll move on to golf...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Best of luck to all our comrades!

Today is graduation day, mates! Here's to all our buddies about to set sail--especially the LegalDiva who hails from Big V!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Exam and Summertime Mojo

Alright--feeling like we need some psychic voodoo to take us to the next level. At times like these, there's only one place to go: the Conan well.

Conan: Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That's what's important! Valor pleases you, Crom... so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

This could be the shot we've been waiting for--the one that could get us back. Now we'll see if we're tough enough (though hopefully we won't have to bite through a vulture's neck while nailed to the Tree of Pain...)

Someone finally had the guts to say it

To borrow a phrase from my younger colleagues, OMG (or, the more emphatic and profane, OMFG), I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone--the New Republic is running this as their top story:

Too Many People Own Homes

Here's the opening paragraph from the article:

In the midst of the subprime crisis, there's an important question that analysts and policymakers have neglected: Did so many people need to own homes in the first place? The dream of home ownership has long been part of the American experience, but, as the federal government steps in to artificially support borrowers and lenders with tax credits that encourage more spending or with public spending that keeps over-indebted borrowers in unaffordable homes, we ought to consider whether it's time to wake up from that dream.

So far, all the comments left under the article are positive--which is surprising, since I've been beaten to all but a bloody nub countless times on this topic.

Rosner, the author, notes that, historically, home mortgages were a sort of forced savings mechanism, since they were relatively difficult to sell, and required at least a 20% down payment. We're all well aware--painfully aware--that this is no longer true, and probably won't be again. The "Flip This House" generation simply won't stand for it. The best we can hope for is to wring at least some of the silliness out of the system.

To that end, Rosner is right on another point--what he calls the 'stigmatization' of renting. If you think that's hyperbole, consider that financial planners used to advise parents to buy their children houses to live in while in college, rather than 'waste' money renting.

I've been taken to task several times on the American Dream rhetoric. The American Dream is--or should be--financial security (which is the only true form of freedom there is, in this country or any other). That used to be realized by owning a home--but only because of the process, not the physical thing. This whole thing went off the rails when the house became confused with the goal. Once that happened, naked greed for vaulted ceilings and picture-perfect lawns could be passed off as virtuous. To paraphrase Russell Crowe in Gladiator, people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had a vision for this country, but this is not it.