Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Secret Crush on John Edwards

All About Thin-Slicing, Accents and Handsome Sleazeballs

I know this has nothing to do with real estate—but who likes talking about their job all day, anyway?   

This post is about John Edwards, the incredibly handsome dirtbag who was so charming and successful that he almost won the Presidential nomination.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he discusses a concept called “thin-slicing”—or the automatic psychological process that allows us to make up our minds about a situation in under 2 seconds. Plenty of times, we’re right. But we can be wrong in huge ways too.

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John Edwards fooled us all, and he wasn’t the first one. Gladwell cites the example of Warren Harding, a womanizing party boy who served two years as President before dying of a stroke. Historians agree that he was one of the worst presidents in American history, but he rode to success on the back of his charm and notable good looks.

Here’s the first way we thin-sliced Edwards. Generally, we perceive tall people as powerful and intelligent. A majority of heads of big companies are over 6 feet tall, but the average American man is only 5’9. John Edwards is 6’2.

The second way: we also innately perceive good-looking people as more honest, more competent, and harder-working—a fact that has been proven time and again by data that correlates attractiveness with more promotions and higher pay. And let’s not pretend that John Edwards isn’t decent eye candy.

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The third way may apply only to me, but I don’t think so—it’s his accent. Edwards’ accent reminds me of that movie French Kiss, when someone asks Meg Ryan what Kevin Kline is saying (in French) and she replies, “I don’t know, but it sounds beautiful.”

Put all these things together, and you get a major WOW factor. But then you find out that he not only had an extramarital affair with a staffer and fathered her child, but that he also carried on all of this while his wife had breast cancer and used campaign contributions to cover up his affair. Would he have been able to deceive everyone for so long if he had been 5’4 and ugly, with a thick Brooklyn accent? Not to insult short men or ugly New Yorkers—but the answer is probably no.

Now he’s on trial, and I hope the jury is given a copy of Blink, so that there’s no chance of them falling for the well-worn shortcut of “tall, dark and handsome.”  As my mom once said, “No matter how much mayonnaise you add, you can’t turn chicken sh** into chicken salad.”  

Friday, April 13, 2012

I love Rick Perry...

Although he did not look too smart when running for President-- He did the best informercial for Texas since Gunthy Ricker’s Proactiv

Rick Perry was the greatest thing to happen to the state of Texas when he ran for president.  I know he took a lot of grief and has been re-named Ricky Bobby (from the hilarious Will Ferell movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
But you could not pay for the great infomercial advertising he gave to the state of Texas. Even Guthy Ricker and their Pro Activ infomercials can not top what Rick Perry did.  Although he made Texans look closed-minded and unintelligent, he did enlighten the rest of the country to one little fact: There are states that do not have a state income tax!  And the cost of living is low. Shocker!

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Because of this and $100 oil, we are in the only state you would want to ride out this recession in.  I met a waiter several month ago at America’s and he explained that he had had 7 job offers since arriving in Texas. Pretty nice after being unemployed in North Carolina for months.

Thank you Rick Perry. Despite your seemingly homophobic-attitude you did a great service for Texas by pointing out some of our good qualities!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

What kind of idiot would buy a house right now?

The answer: a really smart one. The kind of idiot that’s bold enough to analyze the local economic trends and capitalize on a serious opportunity. The kind of idiot that, ten years from now, will host a beautiful dinner party in a home that’s already paid for, and shrug graciously when people ask, “How did you get this place for that price?” 

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I’ve been in real estate for over 28 years—that means I’ve seen two recessions and two bubbles. I thought I’d seen all of the buying conditions that could ever exist. But I’ve never seen anything like the market we have now in Texas. The stars are shining bright!

And before I start sounding like the queen of these aforementioned idiots, let’s just go into specifics. What are these stars I’m talking about, exactly? 

  1. Price: Everything about the market has stayed steady. There have been no huge appreciation jumps like we had in 2002-2007.
  2. Interest rates: This is a no-brainer. 3.7% is an unprecedented low.
  3. In-migration: People are moving into Texas, not leaving. 40% of all US jobs created are located in this one state.
  4. $100 oil: Whether you are for or against it, it’s becoming reality. This price spike means big things for oil companies.
  5. Minimal building: Getting a loan for new construction is still tough—you’re guilty until proven innocent—so building start-ups are staying extremely low.
  6. New normal: People are coming to understand that the economy has changed permanently. They’re taking stock of things and making moves.
  7. No equity lines of credit: Easy money always ends up being bad money. Because Texans were not able to access our home equity with an ATM card, foreclosures have stayed down and our real estate market has been relatively stable.
  8. Tax credit: Now, I do not believe that my tax dollars should supplement anyone’s home purchase. But this tax credit served as a sort of infomercial for young homebuyers who otherwise would not have entered the market.
  9. Rick Perry running for president: It was a free infomercial for the State of Texas not having a state income tax. Many people in other states did not know there were states that did not have a state income tax.
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Buying right now, in this market, may turn some heads—but in reality, it’s the smartest move you can make.  In two years you will paying a lot more.