"Should I Sell Now or Later?"
Homeowners who are considering selling typically ask two questions: First, what's the market like now? Second, should I sell now or later?
The general consensus at this time is that the housing market is recovering but not booming. One problem with what appears on the surface to be positive numbers is the fact that a large proportion of home sales transactions are being closed by all-cash, investment-oriented buyers, who are purchasing these homes to hold as rental properties. Not that there’s anything wrong with investor activity. But experts are skeptical about the ability to maintain momentum without a resurgence of first-time and move-up homebuyers, who historically account for the bulk of home purchases. Another, related, concern is a large shadow inventory of foreclosures. There is also the problem of transactions that go into escrow (offers are accepted) but do not close and complete the process, as a result of appraisal or buyer financing problems.
So the argument against selling at this time is supported by the fact that property values will likely be higher in the future.
The argument in favor of selling at this time is multi-fold: (1) Interest rates are at historic lows. As these rates go up, potential buyers will be able to afford less. (2) In many places, there is a shortage of inventory. This translates into higher prices being offered for a relatively scarce commodity. (3) If you are also planning on buying, after you sell, you may be able to take advantage of the combination of relatively affordable pricing together with historically low interest rates, getting more bang for your buck.
Ultimately, regardless of whether you are located in Santa Clara, San Mateo or Alameda County and regardless of which city the home you plan to sell may be located in (Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose or elsewhere in Silicon Valley), the decision as to when to sell is an individual one, depending on a multitude of factors and a set of personal trade-offs. The answer will depend on what is best for the individual homeowner, on that particular person’s plans and goals.
Shame on You, Tony Robbins!
What Do Donna Karen, Bill Clinton & the Dalai Lama All Have in Common?
I just finished watching one of the most appealing and impressive infomercials I have ever seen. It was an infomercial for what is apparently the latest Tony Robbins product, his “Ultimate Edge” program, mostly a collection of CDs and related booklets.
The infomercial centers around an “interview” with Tony Robbins, at his beautiful island mansion estate in the tropical paradise of Fiji. The interview is conducted by actor Tom Selleck and is interspersed with testimonials and photos featuring an impressive array of celebrities, including “legendary fashion designer” Donna Karan, former President Bill Clinton and even, yes, his Holiness the Dalai Lama (in the form of a photo with Tony Robbins’s hand placed inappropriately on the Dalai Lama’s neck).
Now, I don’t consider myself a Tony Robbins detractor. I have bought some of his tapes in the past and I think that he has some good ideas. In terms of his physique alone, one cannot deny that he is an impressive individual.
But there is something very disturbing about this infomercial: a very clever and blatant deception around which the whole thing turns.
At the beginning of the “interview,” Selleck asks Robbins to explain the cynicism in the world today. Robbins answers in effect by saying that this cynicism is the result of people having been lied to so often. The obvious implication is that Robbins is different, that he does not lie.
Fast forward to the end of the presentation, where the product is pitched. The “Ultimate Edge” program appears to be actually three different programs packaged into one. Each of the three programs includes anywhere from 6 to 10 CDs, each in its own jacket or case. And the only number that is flashed up on the screen is $14.95. “Risk Free Trial Offer, only $14.95! (plus shipping and handling). And when you call, ask the operator how you can also get a free i-pod.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. All that for $14.95, plus shipping and handling? That really does sound like a great deal, even if the shipping and handling is on the high side. My eyes searched the screen for any mention of additional payments but couldn’t see anything to that effect, not even any fine print.
My wife had something to say to me at that point, about a completely different matter, but I was mesmerized by the informercial. “Wait a minute,” I said. “This is amazing. I have to keep watching this.” But that’s how the presentation ended. Just $14.95, plus shipping and handling.
So I went to the website, UltimateEdge.com. Same thing on the home page: “Risk Free Trial Offer, $14.95.” The only fine print was beside the $14.95: “plus S&H.” And you also get $300 in free bonuses, “when you order today,” including a free coaching session, with someone trained by Robbins, “a $100 value.”
So I clicked on the “Order Now” button. First you see the $14.95, with an enumeration of three different programs, all the cases lined up, and all the different bonuses. Eventually, you are told that you will also be billed an additional $14.99 for shipping and handling. Buried deep in the descriptive paragraph of small print is the critical information: If you do not return the materials within 30 days, your credit card will be billed three additional payments of $99.95!
Is there anything wrong with Tony Robbins charging $330 for his new program? No, of course, not in itself. Is there information of value in his materials? Almost certainly there is.
The problem is the deception: Getting people to let down their guard by complaining about all the lying that has led to widespread cynicism and implying that Robbins is different. He is not going to lie or deceive. He is the real deal. How else can you explain his being touted by Bill Clinton – whose written praise for Robbins is flashed on screen - and photographed with his arm around the Dalai Lama?
Ultimately, the infomercial and its pitch end up as just another big lie. Most people are not going to see the fine print that mentions the additional $300 in charges that will be made to their cards. And those of us who have faced the frustration of dealing with companies that charge our card when they are not supposed to know that this kind of thing happens all the time. You return the product and you are still charged. It takes so much of your time to keep getting the charge reversed that you are tempted to just give up, because the value of your time eventually exceeds the effort required. And, after all, if Robbins is going to deceive you about the $14.95, how likely do you think it is that his company is going to be honorable about not charging you the additional $300 if you decide to return the merchandise?
What does this have to do with buying and selling houses in the San Francisco Bay Area? A lot. Because this is an example of how frequent deception at all levels makes everyone’s life more difficult, regardless of what they are doing. The natural assumption is that you are lying, even if you are not. Everyone has their guard up, thanks to people like Tony Robbins. Communication is complicated and made more difficult. Everything takes more time to accomplish than it otherwise would have to and, in the end, everyone suffers.
Couldn’t Tony Robbins still make a lot of money, without the deception? One would tend to think so. That is probably the ultimate irony.
If this were simply a case of "just" another lie, that's all it would be: just another lie. One of many that cheapen the currency of human discourse. But it's more than a lie. It's a highly sophisticated deception, based on a cleverly disingenous and blatantly hypocritical critique of the very kind of trickery that is being perpetuated. The infomercial exploits images of paradise, the children of Fiji and the Dalai Lama, to achieve its end. This makes it cross the line, from bad to evil.
Maybe the infomercial company, Guthy-Renker, is largely responsible for the deception. Yeah but, after all, it is still Robbins’s production. The deception could not be happening without Robbins’s permission, so it’s only fair that he be assigned responsibility. Tony is a smart guy. He knows very well what’s going on.
Shame on you, Tony Robbins! You really should know better.
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