Books in the Queue

I always have a giant stack of books waiting to be read — the part of The Matrix I coveted the most was the process of downloading entire books directly into the cerebelum in about 3 seconds.

Until that technology is perfected, these will be awaiting when precious time gets freed up to plow thru them.

Over the long weekend, I did start Ken Fisher’s The Only Three Questions That Count.

And I got a Festivus present from Donna at CNBC — 3 books that look intriguing (and in all liklihood that I will only get around to skimming): Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything looks really intriguing. So many firms from Amazon to Zillow now rely on user generated content. 

Tim Harford writes the Undercover Economist column for FT. Not surprisingly, his first book is called The Undercover Economist.

Finally, the book many people will feel obligated to read (but won’t) Nobel prize-winner Joseph E. Stiglitz’ Making Globalization Work. I suspect it will be economic’s answer to Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (bought by many, read by few).

Anyway, here’s what clogging up the queue:

* Sigh *   So many pages, so little time.

Category: Books

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

Category: Books

RE Speculation on Long Island

On New Year’s Eve Day, I was visiting my kid brother’s family. They live in the fictional town of Suburbia, Long Island.

The next development over is a section of Woodbury called "The Gates" (don’t ask). This has long been a very nice upper-middle to upper class part of town, known for rambling ranches and big splits on one and two acre plots. I hadn’t been thru there in years. My bro said he had something to show me (he is, amongst other things, a successful Real Estate speculator). 

So while the wives played with the kids and chatted, we took the convertible out (it was 56 degrees on 12/31/06) and tooled thru the neighborhoods.

I couldn’t believe the sheer number of knockdowns. It seemed that every 3rd house was either brand new, under construction, or had already been leveled.

The RAZR has a decent camera on it, so I took quite a few snaps:

This is the original sort of Houses that were all over this nicer part upper middle class suburbia. This Ranch is bigger than the photo shows, with a garage off to the right:
1_split

These are what are replacing the ranches and splits:

2_big

How the prices developed was an interesting aspect of this: According to public records, most of these knockdowns were purchased over the past 24 months. Specs paid between $1.0-1.3M — essentially for the land, as they razed whatever buildings were on the property. The new homes had been first listed for $2.4m or so, but that was optimistic. Prices slipped to then $2.2m, and they are now holding at $1.99m — with few takers. But  its a nice neighborhood (location location location), and as prices drop further there will be plenty of buyers — the only question is at what price point?

What I found so fascinating were the number of empty lots (knock downs) and half-finished homes — and according to the neighbors we met, quite a few have been that way for a while.

If any builders/developers here can provide insight, I’m curious as to what it costs to put up one of these bigger homes — not the land, just the construction costs. A few of these 5,000 sq. ft.homes were actually very handsome (not the boring red brick McMansions, but others). I am curious as to how much profit there is in these jumbo homes. 

One thing to note in light of the earlier Lennar news:  As Beezer’s CEO observed, about 75% of the home building business is still in private hands. (See WCW)

I’ll toss the rest of the snaps I took after the jump  . . .

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