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Required reading for housing and retail investors



September 16, 2007 – Comments (4)

Think housing bubble's minor? Think that retailers catering to middle-agers (Chico's, etc.) are insulated? Maybe we all ought to think again.

And how about these "victims?"

During the boom year of 2005, the take-home pay of Dawn Shevlin's family reached $350,000. That year, she and her husband bought two pickup trucks and a boat, and started building a custom home on a handsome beachfront lot.

This year, Shevlin, a real estate agent, sold hardly any homes. Her husband's carpentry business is "dead in the water." They have been unable to sell a second home they own.

Every night, she said, "we fight over every dollar." With their income below $60,000, they have more bills than they can pay and have ruled out any big purchases. Even dinner at a modest restaurant is too great an extravagance.

Shevlin says she is trying to get a steady job as an airport security officer, but the competition is fierce. "I'm 45 years old and I feel like I should be going to a higher place in my career," she said. "Instead I'm taking 20 steps back."

I got news for ya, honey. You were never really ahead to begin with. You were lucky for a while, but, alas, not smart enough to figure it out. When you spend more than you make, you're only one economic ripple away from losing it all. Welcome to the real world. If misery loves company, at least you'll have that.

4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 16, 2007 at 3:48 PM, floridabuilder2 (98.14) wrote:

Fort Myers is in the top 3 of worst markets in the US, I don't think the US follows suit...  Fort Myers does not have a lot of high paying jobs and their housing boom was almost pure speculation.. whereas, other cities like DC, PHX, Vegas, Orlando, etc... have real economies and not beach economies...

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#2) On September 16, 2007 at 5:51 PM, FoolishChemist (92.91) wrote:

I don't have much sympathy for people who make over $40k a year and claim to be struggling.  OK you won't have a second house and a Lexus, but you can find a comfortable house and an Oldsmobile.  If you make more, save every extra penny.  Stop trying to keep up with the Jones since they are probably way in debt.  If things don't go your way, you don't need to try and cut expenses just live off that cushion of cash you have saved up.  My richer-lifestyle friends think I'm living way too poorly, but I know I'll get the last laugh.

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#3) On September 17, 2007 at 7:42 AM, Gtrinvestor (95.79) wrote:


Totally unrelated issue, but.... 

I ummm saw you on Squawk Box this morning ummm and thought you did ummm pretty well on talking ummm about the Microsoft anti-trust issue.  That being said ummm you may want to work on filtering out the ummm filler language, as it detracts a bit from the content of what you say.

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#4) On September 17, 2007 at 8:51 AM, TMFBent (99.24) wrote:

Thanks, ummm, for the feedback.

Today's appearance was a bit rough. The questions were more open-ended than I'd been led to believe would be the case, leaving me trying to figure out exactly what these folks wanted to hear. (The feed I got before going on was a train wreck, with the anchors fumbling their duties, so I figured out pretty late it was going to be a bit crusty.)

Also, there was a pretty noticeable delay which had me wondering the whole time if I was still connected. That makes it a challenge to stay composed, especially for people who communicate primarily via written word. Talking on camera -- especially live -- is a skill that takes considerable practice.

If you don't believe me, I invite you to wake up at an ungodly hour, try and read a 250-page court decision, toss on a suit, then stare at a camera at 5 a.m. talk to a few million people continents away. You can have my slot. I would gladly forgo the 4 o'clock wake-ups!

Sj - who made it through U. Missouri J-school without ever training to step in front of a Camera, alas.

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