March 31, 2010

When fiction turns to fact

The LA Times has an article by Alana Semuels entitled:
From bucolic bliss to 'gated ghetto'
Hemet's Willowalk tract was family-friendly. Then the recession hit.

This news story about the Inland Empire exurb of Hemet is pretty much identical to the short story, Unreal Estate, I published in the November 17, 2008 issue of The American Conservative (see posting below for the best version). From the LA Times:
Reporting from Hemet - The gated community in Hemet doesn't seem like the best place for Eddie and Maria Lopez to raise their family anymore.

Vandals knocked out the streetlight in front of the Lopezes' five-bedroom home and then took advantage of the darkness to try to steal a van. Cars are parked four deep in the driveway next door, where a handful of men rent rooms. And up and down their block of handsome single-family homes are padlocked doors, orange "no trespassing signs" and broken front windows.

It wasn't what the Lopezes pictured when they agreed to pay $440,000 for their 5,000-square-foot house in 2006.

The 427-home Willowalk tract, built by developer D.R. Horton, featured eight distinct "villages" within its block walls. Along with spacious homes, Willowalk boasted four lakes, a community pool and clubhouse. Fanciful street names such as Pink Savory Way and Bee Balm Road added to the bucolic image.

Young families seemed to occupy every house, throwing block parties and holiday get-togethers, and distributing a newsletter about the neighborhood, Eddie Lopez recalled.

"We loved how everything was family-oriented -- all our kids would run around together," said Lopez, a 41-year-old construction supervisor and father of seven. "Now everybody's gone."

Home foreclosures have devastated neighborhoods throughout the country, but the transformation from suburban paradise to blighted community has been especially stark in places like Willowalk -- isolated developments on the far fringes of metropolitan areas that found ready buyers when home prices were soaring but then saw an exodus as values crashed.

Vacant homes are sprinkled throughout Willowalk, betrayed by foot-high grass. Others are rented, including some to families that use government Section 8 vouchers to live in homes with granite countertops and vaulted ceilings.

When the development opened in 2006, buyers were drawn to the area by advertising describing it as a "gated lakeshore community." Now, many in Hemet call Willowalk the "gated ghetto," said John Occhi, a local real estate agent. ...

In Hemet, city officials have simply boarded up homes in some troubled neighborhoods. Plywood covers the windows of dozens of apartments on Valley View Drive; resident David Hall says it keeps prostitutes and drug dealers out.

Willowalk presents a different challenge. The development promised a Tiffany neighborhood for what was then something closer to a Target price.

"Leave the world behind as you unwind by our picturesque lakes," cooed one advertisement, which touted "intimate botanical gardens and walking trails, tranquil lakes" and other attractions.

At first, the reality matched the come-ons.

Maria Lopez, a stay-at-home mother, recalls gazing at the mountains in the distance as her children played with groups of neighbors their own age. The community pool was just a few blocks away, and she says she used to let her older children, ages 13 and 14, go there by themselves. ...

Now she accompanies her children to the pool -- though it has been closed of late -- because the people who now hang out there "have no class," she said, and she sits out front with her children if they play in the yard.

"My next-door neighbors -- there are so many people living there, I don't know who they are," she said.

Walking through the development, there is not much evidence of the well-kept yards and friendly families Maria Lopez fondly recalls.

Many of the people answering a knock say they are renters, and won't open their doors more than a crack to see who is on their doorstep. Red-and-white "for sale" signs dot the neighborhood, clashing with the golds and browns of the homes. The contrast between occupied and empty houses is evident on one block, where high grass in weedy clumps gives way to a neatly mowed lawn with handwritten signs pleading "Please do not let your dog poop on our yard."

Homeowner Norma Hernandez, one of the few people outside on a recent sunny afternoon, can point out which families are permanent on her block.

"Rented, owned, rented, rented, rented," she said, gesturing at the gargantuan houses across the street, one after another. "It's bad," she said, shaking her head.

Nacho Gomez is paid by absentee owners to look after their rental properties. Currently, he's taking care of 17.

Doing a check of the homes on a recent Thursday, he left his van's engine running as he inspected a shattered window in one property.

"A lot of them can't pay the rent, and they leave the house a mess," Gomez said, referring to tenants.

He has had to fix holes punched in walls and replace refrigerators, dishwashers and other appliances -- even ovens -- stolen by renters on their way out.

Those tenants appear to be the exception, and the renters provide at least one benefit: Without them, there would be even more vacant homes. Even so, their presence has fundamentally changed the character of what was once sold as an exclusive community.

The Willowalk Homeowners Assn. is trying to recapture some of the community's lost spirit. In recent months, it launched a trash committee -- members pick up rubbish in the park -- and started a neighborhood watch group to keep an eye on residents' homes.

But it wasn't enough for Angelica Stewart and her family, who are leaving the $318,000 home they bought in 2006. To Stewart, living in a gated community is absurd when drug busts are a regular occurrence.

"It's not worth it for us to live in this neighborhood," she said.

The Lopez family plans to stick it out, knowing they can't sell their house for anywhere near the $440,000 they paid for it. Based on comparable prices in the neighborhood, the place is probably worth about $170,000 now, and maybe less. They're petitioning their bank for a loan modification.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Neal Stephenson described the same deterioration in 1994, back when it was still science fiction, in Interface.

Anonymous said...

We loved how everything was family-oriented," said Willowalk resident Eddie Lopez, left, with wife Maria and six of their children. They bought their 5,000-square-foot house for $440,000 in 2006. It's probably worth about $170,000 now... Vandals knocked out the streetlight in front of the Lopezes' five-bedroom home and then took advantage of the darkness to try to steal a van.... Vacant homes are sprinkled throughout Willowalk, betrayed by foot-high grass. Others are rented, including some to families that use government Section 8 vouchers to live in homes with granite countertops and vaulted ceilings...

Anyone who had been reading both Steve Sailer and Spengler [at the Asia Times], in the 2000 to 2005 timeframe, would have known that this dystopia was coming.

But even the worst cynics in the HBD-o-sphere [I'm looking at you, Mr Derbyshire] have no idea how bad things are about to become.

If the world's demographic situation doesn't improve - and improve both soon & drastically - then our great-grandchildren, in the 22nd Century [heck, maybe even the mid- to late- 21st Century], are likely to be rallying around some putative Charles Martel in a desperate attempt to stand athwart the tide of history.

Or whatever role it was in which Steve's ex-employer used to fancy himself - only this time the role isn't going to be metaphorical.

tommy said...

Ha! Steve, I just you an email that linked to this story. There is a post at the misnamed liberal blog, The Moderate Voice, where one Mr. Remmers relates his own experiences:

My area has been clobbered by the housing market collapse beginning in 2007 and the rate of foreclosures of first-ownership new homes ranges as high as 50% in some subdivisions.

Many of the abandoned homes are broken into by squatters — prostitutes, drug runners, illegal aliens, gangs and other dredges of life. Some are rented but the once manicured lawns have gone unmowed and unirrigated.

The situation is so quirky that people qualifying for Section 8 rental assistance vouchers are living in 5,000-square-feet homes with marble kitchen counter tops and vaulted ceilings.


In the comments, "DLS" mentions Moreno Valley:

My girlfriend in LA experienced the same transformation in Moreno Valley. The park where her daughter played is now unsafe at night and infested with gangs, etc..

Remmers sounds pessimistic about a recovery in home prices:

The situation may never improve. One expert believes as many as 25 million suburban multi bedroom and bathroom homes of 5,000 square feet or more embellished by baby boomers will be forsaken by their children and grandchildren whom he predicts will prefer living in smaller quarters in cities closer to their jobs.

Sure, crime may be high, and the neighborhood may look like a train wreck, but I'm sure that intangibles like "vibrancy," "color," and "diversity" (and an abundance of conveniently located Mexican restaurants that Tyler Cowen would enjoy) will push housing prices up in due time. But first you've got to learn to kick it with the esés, Holmes.

Anonymous said...

Because pricing in the real estate market is so deeply affected by political shenanigans, involving both local zoning policies & environmentalist-whacko NIMBY-istic nonsense at the state & federal level - all of which re designed to minimize the supply of coveted real estate [and thereby maximize the wealth of the existing landed gentry] - the real estate bidness tends to be dominated by the very worst kinds of unscrupulous, rent-seeking, hyper-political vermin.

So don't for a second think that these folks won't be purchasing legislators, jurists, and executives [at the local, state, and federal level] to try to maximize immigration so as to boost demand and restore prices.

Personally, I don't have a problem with immigration - if we have 30,000,000 extra homes in this country, then I have no problem with importing 30,000,000 young, fertile, NW European whites [fleeing the imposition of Dar al-Islam], or young, fertile Chinese Christians [fleeing the Communists' 1-Child Policy], but you can rest assured that that is not the demographic profile which the rent-seekers will be demanding from their purchased politicians & jurists.

Anonymous said...

But first you've got to learn to kick it with the esés, Holmes.

I'll be damned - I hit the reply button, to chide you for mis-spelling Homes, but then I noticed that you actually got it right.

jody said...

you guys should watch "breaking bad". a fairly realistic look at this stuff as it happens in new mexico.

eh said...

I bet the realtors and loan brokers made out pretty well though.

They're petitioning their bank for a loan modification.

I'm thinking of doing the same thing for my car -- it's lost value since I bought it too.

Anonymous said...

Nacho Gomez

Speaking of Qua-neshia... is this a joke?

Anonymous said...

all of which re designed to minimize the supply of coveted real estate

= all of which are designed to minimize the supply of coveted real estate

ggttrrew said...

From gates of heaven to gates of hell.

From swimming pool to drowning pool.

RandyB said...

I know it's not the point, but our country should really try to get employers with many young employees to move their businesses to places where there's lots of vacant housing. Today's young adults are going to face high taxes for the boomer's Social Security and Medicare, so we should ease the way by making housing cheap for them.

couchscientist said...

Off topic, but the wise latina justice apparently isn't very good at basic math. In dealing with an complex statute, Justice Sotomayor shows that she does not have the faintest grasp on the easiest part of it. Abovethelaw.com reports on a recent oral argument:

Near the end, Justice Sonia Sotomayor had problems with her math.

Under the current interpretation, the government does “the measurement [of good-time credit] at the end of the 365 days,” she told Stephen Sady, lawyer for the inmates. “Let’s say he misbehaves on the 340th day, and they say for that reason, we’re only going to give you 10 days of credit. So now your year starts at 350?”

“355. Yes,” Sady corrected her, politely of course..

“No 350, because they are only giving 10 days of good-time credit.” She paused for a second. “Because at the end of– wait– 355…”

“355,” answered Sady, politely of course, but smiling.

“That was pretty bad,” said Sotomayor, hands raised, shaking her head and chuckling at her mistake. The courtroom erupted in laughter.

Anonymous said...

Is this the start of the US turning into a Mexico? Damn this HBD stuff is depressing.

Housing never lost value in Canada, at least not to any great extent. In fact things are booming up here because of the low interest rates, and the big three banks just raised their prime to try to cool things off a bit.

I don't think blacks are a large enough portion of the population here to effect the housing, and we have very few Mexicans. Most of the First Nations people live on reserves. In my town the primary minority group is Sikhs. Sikhs tend to be house-proud and to have large, fancy houses that are well kept up. Sometimes their houses are REALLY large, with huge extended families living in them. (No wonder there is so much domestic violence what with them living with all their relatives). In my town the Sikhs tend to be mixed in randomly with everyone else, and don't seem to create any problems.

But Surrey, a low-brow suberb of Vancouver, has been pretty much taken over by Sikhs. Here is a quote from a comment on a recent story on CBC.CA (about a white guy who stabbed a Sikh in a dispute over a noisy party)
----------------------
"If you have ever lived in an punjabi neighborhood, you'll know they like to party and they're cars fill up the streets and garbage is thrown everywhere. Care for some bhangra music from 6pm-4am???

I'm in no way condoning this tragedy, just wonder if it was a party of another sorts wouldn't the police have shut it down by the 2nd complaint? I've lived in these neighborhoods and never liked it..."
------------------------
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/03/30/bc-surrey-stabbing-murder-charge.html#ixzz0jnglbTwA

Eric said...

My girlfriend in LA experienced the same transformation in Moreno Valley. The park where her daughter played is now unsafe at night and infested with gangs, etc..

Moreno Valley has been a gang-infested pit for about 15 years now. It may be worse, but it hasn't been a good place to raise a family in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Off topic. From Andrew Gelman's blog today on divorce statistics: "I also wonder how Gladwell could've gotten fooled so easily." The truth about Malcolm is slowly coming out.

ogunsiron said...

“That was pretty bad,” said Sotomayor, hands raised, shaking her head and chuckling at her mistake. The courtroom erupted in laughter
---
She seems able to make fun of herself. That's not too bad.

That neighborhood in the OP sounds very very vibrant , by the way.

Anonymous said...

That's a scarey article. We came oh-so close to spending $400K on a Centex home in Hemet in 2006. We decided that the houses/ neighborhoods/schools just weren't worth it and so we bit the bullet and moved our native-Californian family half-way across the country to Austin, TX, where we had no relatives and knew no one. It was the smartest decision we ever made. We bought a huge house for $250K, which would probably cost close to $1 million if we bought it in the Orange County we moved from. Moreover, we have made some great friends among the neighbors, many of whom are California refugees just like us.

Sean68

tommy said...

I'll be damned - I hit the reply button, to chide you for mis-spelling Homes, but then I noticed that you actually got it right.

I figured it was "Holmes" after the old white teenage saying, "No shit, Sherlock!" But you are probably right. It's unlikely that many Hispanics teenagers have read Arthur Conan Doyle (or much of anything else). I suppose "homes" is actually derived from "homie."

It's just one small reminder of the American culture that Mexicans assimilate.

Chief Seattle said...

My wife's cousin just completed his second year of living mortgage free in Florida - meaning he stopped paying in Apr 2008 and is still living there. He's not a bad guy, just took too much mortgage and then saw his income fall.

Living in the Inland Empire only ever made sense if it was cheap - meaning houses sold for cost of materials. But I doubt the Lopez family has lost much - they probably put down 5% of the house cost, if that. The real losers are the pension funds and banks that let someone borrow half a million dollars with little money down to buy a cookie cutter home in the inland empire. And the scary part is that not many of the affected institutions have recorded anything close to their full loss yet - see the example above as evidence.

Anonymous said...

Is this the first time this has happened in the Land of Milk and Honey, bankrupt Cali?

Here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, we went through this in the 80s. My best friend bought a condo for 125K in a suburb south of Boston when he got married back in 1984. He and his new wife got it for about 20K below market because it was owned by his parents, basically a 20K wedding gift. Then the stock market crashed in 1987, and some of their neighbors began to have issues paying their mortgages (buddy and wife both had good jobs, so they were OK). The condo association was petitioned by a group of owners to call a meeting to consider overturning the bylaw that didn't allow subletting, which was eventually done.

Eighteen months later, they were the only owners left in their six-unit building; subsidized renters were taking over the entire complex. The final straw for my friends was when the 250-pound white gitl with 4 children of unknown ethnic derivation moved in across the hall. A constant parade of unsavory characters, confrontations with drunk and drug addled visitors in the halls, and finally, a shooting in the building next door force my friend to sell for what he could get in the depressed market. He never told me what they sold for, only that they had to cut a check for $17K when they closed in 1992.

Brutus

ed said...

I'm confident that the claim that the house is "5000-square-feet" is a mistake. Rather, I suspect the *LOT* is 5,000 square feet. These are much more modest homes than you might think by reading the article.

For example, compare this listing from Zillow of a house in the same neighborhood on Bee Balm Rd:

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1277-Bee-Balm-Rd-Hemet-CA-92545/69286869_zpid/

(Bad journalism from the LA times. You'd think they'd know enough about real estate to catch this obvious error, but I guess not.)

Unsympathetic White said...

Hernandez, Gomez, Lopez...where's the diversity?

Dalrock said...

When my wife and I were looking at houses to buy in Dallas about 5 years ago, we strongly considered buying in one of the many new subdivisions. Prices were very reasonable given the locations and the perk of having a brand new home. Then we looked at a subdivision which was about 4 years old, and it was awful. It was clear that out of control lending was putting lots of people into brand new homes they had no business being in. I looked around and told my wife, "this is what (the brand new neighborhood we were considering) will look like in 4 years". She was furious with me, because she knew it was true. We ended up buying a 15 year old house in an established neighborhood, and I'm very glad we did.

At the time I thought the issue might have been that the "vibrant" types tended to overly prefer new homes. I still think this might be the case, but after reading this post I think the other issue is that brand new neighborhoods were 100% subject to the new and insane lending rules. Older neighborhoods would be impacted too, but only a small percentage of the homes would be on the market during the crazy times, limiting the damage.

silly girl said...

"And the scary part is that not many of the affected institutions have recorded anything close to their full loss yet - see the example above as evidence."


Even scarier when the federal gov't stops buying mortgage backed securities.

From the March 2010 FOMC statement
"To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and about $175 billion of agency debt;"

http://alephblog.com/2010/03/16/redacted-version-of-the-march-2010-fomc-statement/

Anonymous said...

Back in the day, when I was a lad, calling a friend "Holmes" was the highest compliment you could pay him.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but the wise latina justice apparently isn't very good at basic math. In dealing with an complex statute, Justice Sotomayor shows that she does not have the faintest grasp on the easiest part of it.

The Honorable Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr., D-GA: Yeah, mah, mah fear is dat, ah, da whole island will, ah, become so overly populated dat it will tip ovah, and, ah, and capsize.

Anonymous said...

@ Chief Seattle
2 years?
How is the cousin staying in a house for two years without making a mortgage payment? Why hasn't he been evicted?

Give us details, please.

How can I sign up for that program?

Anonymous said...

Its NOT the neighbourhood. Its the PEOPLE LIVING in the neighbourhood.

Anonymous said...

Its NOT the neighbourhood. Its the PEOPLE LIVING in the neighbourhood.



What's the diff?

Dahinda said...

I moved from Chicago to a rural part of Illinois a few years back. I paid $100000 for a house on 22 acres. A recent appraisal showed it is now worth $160000. 60% return in 3 years ain't too bad. The California buyers should have seen that they were buying on top of a bubble. A little research would have told them that demand was growing only in rural areas for real estate.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

How about trademarking a catchy moniker for this phenomena? Suggestions:

McPalacio

Dubyaville

Bushville

Latin King Castles

RandyB said...

A bubble occurs when price-velocity becomes a factor in buyers' perception of value. If instead of asking "do I want to live in this house for $400k" they ask "what can I sell this house for in two years," they have basterdized the real estate market into a casino.

The creation of communities is too important to leave to amateur financial game-players

David said...

It stands to reason that if "universal homeownership" is the goal, pushed by the "unlimited resources" of the government, then all sorts of trash will get a house and fill up neighborhoods.

I saw the beginning of this in person, in 2001 in Florida - starter neighborhood began filling with low-class dregs, people who stated that no one in their families had ever had a house before. And man, you could tell. Just before we pulled out, it had become "edgy" to walk down the street, even in daylight. Hostile black faces staring you down as you tried to walk around the block in the pleasant air.

What that neighborhood is like now, I shudder to imagine. Thanks, elites!

David said...

And now the government is fixing to flood the medical market with money and and "diversity" rules, under the philosophy of "universal access."

What will our hospitals look like in 10 or 15 years?

David Davenport said...

Silly Girl,

One current rumor going around the Internut is that, before this fall's Congressional elections, the O. will issue some sort of Executive order or imperial decree that all residential foreclosures be stopped. ... All God's children just get to keep on livin' in the houses or condos they occupy.

Paul Mendez said...

When I was a kid, my parents bought run-down homes in the city, renovated them themselves, and made money through "sweat equity."

Maybe soon, groups of people will buy homes in a run-down neighborhood, form a posse to run out the scum, and make money through "vigilante equity."

Lots of bad things could happen to squatters, prostitutes, drug runners, illegal aliens and gang-bangers before the authorities would start looking into it.

Chief Seattle said...

"How is the cousin staying in a house for two years without making a mortgage payment? Why hasn't he been evicted?"

The bank hasn't foreclosed. He owes about $300K on the loan and the house might sell for $200K - probably after 6-9 months on the market. He's declared personal bankruptcy, so there's no recourse for them by going after him. I guess they'd rather have someone mowing the grass for free until(?) the market turns around.

Luke Lea said...

I just visited Hemet last week to see what the epicenter of the subprime crisis looked like. I went to a neighborhood profiled last year as among the very worst expecting to see boarded-up houses, graffiti on the side-walks, and un-mown lawns everywhere. Instead I found what looked like a prosperous upper-middle class neighborhood. There were a couple of For Sale signs out of a total of thirty or so houses, and only two yards that looked like they needed a cut. You get a glimpse of what I saw in the photograph accompanying the LA Times story. One black man was washing his car in his driveway.

I concluded that the pain and devastation is largely invisible, reports in the papers notwithstanding.

On the other hand my friend Frank remarked that there was a lot less traffic on the freeways than there used to be -- this was in the Bay Area -- which he attributed to not as many people going to work. We didn't even slow down as we approached the Bay Bridge at 4 o'clock in the afternoon!

Anonymous said...

1291 Lavender Lane notwithstanding, the Google street view pictures make it look like a very nice place. I wonder when those pictures were taken.

Basswood Court, 50 yards away, looks like a meth-lab hell hole.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the movie, Poltergeist. If I remember correctly, it was filmed in some newish LA subdivision. How do you make the sunny suburbs look scary? You either have to have some supernatural monsters or some gangbanger who is raising pit bulls nextdoor. I'll take the monsters.

Anonymous said...

Tommy said, quoted Mr Remmers:

'The situation is so quirky'

Quirky? wtf?

none of the above said...

Its NOT the neighbourhood. Its the PEOPLE LIVING in the neighbourhood.

To see an illustration of this, contrast a college dorm with a prison. Other than bars and fences, the facilities might not be all that different, but the neighbors make all the difference.

At the extreme end of this, you get Detroit. I was listening to a Democracy Now piece this morning, where they're talking about demolishing houses that are still in pretty good shape, because they're abandoned. Perfectly good houses, but who the hell wants to move their family into Detroit?

Eric said...

2 years?
How is the cousin staying in a house for two years without making a mortgage payment? Why hasn't he been evicted?


There was an article in my local paper a few weeks back about a guy in San Diego who's managed to do it (so far) for four years immediately after moving in. That is, he never made a single payment. The two year guy is a piker.

The banks aren't evicting people for a couple reasons. First, if they evict you they have to recognize the loss on your loan. Too much of that and the bank is officially underwater instead of just unofficially. They're about to get creamed in the commercial market, so they can't really afford to recognize losses they don't have to recognize. They'd rather have a "non-performing" loan on the books than no loan.

Also, if they evict you and can't sell the house it'll become uninhabitable within a year or two. As long as they're on the hook for the place the bank wants somebody living there, even if they're not getting paid, because it will keep drug dealers from breaking in, setting up a meth lab, and defecating in the living room.

Lastly, the banks don't want to do anything that negatively affect the market. Can you imagine what would happen if hundreds of thousands of houses went into foreclosure and came on the market at the same time? Then everybody would be under water, and lenders would have the same problem they have now, but in spades.

Mike Courtman said...

"The Lopez family plans to stick it out, knowing they can't sell their house for anywhere near the $440,000 they paid for it. Based on comparable prices in the neighborhood, the place is probably worth about $170,000 now, and maybe less."

If this happened in New Zealand, there'd be mass suicides. Real Estate has pretty much taken over from the Anglican church as our national religion.

Anonymous said...

When Steve skips blogging for two days I get worried about him.

ben tillman said...

The situation may never improve. One expert believes as many as 25 million suburban multi bedroom and bathroom homes of 5,000 square feet or more embellished by baby boomers will be forsaken by their children and grandchildren whom he predicts will prefer living in smaller quarters in cities closer to their jobs.

Who is this "expert"? Donna Shalala? There aren't 25 million 5,000-square-foot homes in the country. Not even close. There are maybe three or four million, of which not all are in the suburbs and not all will be abandoned.

Anthony said...

Nacho Gomez probably has "Ignacio Gomez" on his birth certificate; "Nacho" is a common nickname for Ignacio.

rebelliousvanilla said...

Anonymous, this is why I don't feel like having children anymore. I don't want my kids to be Charles Martel's troops. lol

Reading these stories make me crack up, to be honest. Only an idiot would have bought a house back then. I predicted that the housing mess would implode after studying economics in 11th grade and I was some random 17 years old girl. Now I'm waiting for my other, a lot less pleasant predictions to come true. Still, the economic problems are in front of the US, not behind it. The financial mess might be over, but the economic one is beginning.

And I wouldn't flee the imposition of Dar Al Islam so that I move to China minor, no thanks. I'd rather bust my behind to move to a place like Iceland.

RandyB, young people won't pay social security. Most Americans are sold the thing of the idea nation so I doubt they have much loyalty to the US as Americans. So they will pack up and leave considering they will face crushing taxes if the leeches are to get their handouts. This is why I want to emigrate from my country, for example. Taxes are so bad that I would simply not afford having more than one child.

Since we're at real estate predictions. I suggest you people buy a house with no downpayment and a fixed rate if you can. When the bonds and currency bubble will implode, you will get a house for free.