The horror

September 19, 2006 | 34 comments
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I found this post today on a Craigslist San Francisco real estate forum:

If this is supposed to be a buyer’s market, why do the listings that I have been seeing look so lousy?

I know that I can afford a decent place in most of the country (approximately $550K or so), but when looking at the listings here on CL and at other places, most of the places are just… dumps…

They are either extremely small, are near railroad tracks or are just plain wrong…

I only found one place that even comes close to my liking and even then it is right next to a Mormon Church and has popcorn ceilings (aka asbestos) …

I don’t know what’s worse: mesothelioma or loitering deacons.

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34 Responses to The horror

  1. Kaimi Wenger on September 19, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    “I don’t know what’s worse: mesothelioma or loitering deacons.”

    It is a close call, but I’d give the edge to the deacons.

  2. DHofmann on September 19, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    In high-priced markets like San Francisco, what’s wrong with renting?

  3. jjohnsen on September 19, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    A Mormon church seems like it would be a good neighbor. It’s empty to or three days a week, and the lawn is kept up.

  4. S. P. Bailey on September 19, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    I am not surprised that our ubiquitous-utilitarian structures don’t provide the sort of ambiance some desire. I like religious buildings in general. But surely some (certain small cathedrals come to mind) would make cooler neighbors than others.

    Still, it is funny that the author specifically mentioned that it was a Mormon church. Did she/he assume that no Mormons were listening (i.e., C.List is young, hip, and urban and Mormons don’t go there; one can speak freely about Mormons at C.List …)

  5. paula on September 19, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    But at many mormon churches you have seminary kids arriving outside your house at 6 AM, or perhaps 6:10, when they’re supposed to arrive at 6. The neighbors of our church have complained about the noisy kids in the parking lot then, and I think they have a vaid point.

  6. DKl on September 19, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    Do Deacons really loiter there? We always went to 7-11.

  7. nmo on September 19, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    Well, it IS San Francisco.

  8. MikeInWeHo on September 20, 2006 at 12:56 am

    Yeah, that’s what I thought too: It’s no coincidence that this ad was placed in SF.

  9. Susan M on September 20, 2006 at 10:06 am

    My husband was just saying to me the other day that California is like a whole different country from the rest of the U.S. Meaning it’s ridiculous here. Salaries are higher than most other places, but the houses are just so overpriced even with the higher salaries you can’t afford to buy.

    I honestly do not understand how anyone can afford to buy a house. The crappy old suburban homes where we live are still going for well over $600,000.

  10. Mark B. on September 20, 2006 at 10:13 am

    I think that even in the Provo of my youth–the sixties and early seventies–property next to the church buildings would have sold or rented at a discount.

    It wasn’t just the loitering deacons. It was all the kids let loose at 5:00 Wednesdays after primary, the youth going to and from Mutual on Tuesday nights, the crowds before and after dances on Friday or Saturday night, and then the whole crowd twice on Sundays. To say nothing of the Boy Scouts at 5:00 a.m. as they left for a campout.

    I knew people on the corner properties next to the church who would turn the water on when Sunday School got out (at 11:45) to keep people from walking across their lawns. (That was down in “old” Provo, where there are sidewalks, and where people actually walked to church).

  11. DKL on September 20, 2006 at 11:00 am

    My guess is that property in Old Testament Jerusalem that was located next to the 1st and 2nd temples went for considerably less than real estate that was located a bit further away, for some of the same reason that Mark B identifies about our current chapels. Well, those plus all the blood.

  12. Nate Oman on September 20, 2006 at 11:02 am

    Could you get Mormon Churchs suppressed as a public nuisance? Are you coming to the nuisance if you buy a house next to a Mormon Church?

    (FWIW, in territorial Utah the Mormons once tried to get various aspects of the federal government suppressed as a public nuisance. They were ultimately unsuccessful, but I think that there basic intuition was correct.)

  13. Carl Youngblood on September 20, 2006 at 11:28 am

    It’s not that hard to redo the ceilings. Buy the place next to the chapel.

  14. S. P. Bailey on September 20, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Nate: no. The burden is too localized for a public nuisance. Church neighbors would have a better shot at private nuisance. But is the interruption of the use and enjoyment of their property unreasonable? I think not; the impact on neighbors of church property use probably compares very favorably to other non-residential property uses.

  15. Mark Butler on September 20, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    There were neighbors of the Primary Memorial Chapel in Farmington complaining for a few years, because the Young Single Adults played volleyball every Thursday night in the Cultural Hall starting about 10:00 p.m. and generally didn’t end until about 1:00 a.m., and we were often too noisy in the parking lot when we left. I miss volleyball…

  16. Susan M on September 20, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    I thought you had to have a Haz-Mat team redo the ceilings if asbestos was involved.

  17. S. P. Bailey on September 20, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    To put Mark and Nate’s posts together, the thought of the old rock church in farmington as a public nuisance is strangely ironic. The neighbor directly south (a certain amusement park) is a much more likely candidate to for abatement.

    Mark: I’m a Centerville boy, but thems is practically my stomping grounds. I never played volleyball there, but I am married to a descendant of a prolific Farmington polygamist who I believe presided there once upon a time. Small Mormon world…

  18. Alison Moore Smith on September 20, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    When we moved to Utah, we looked hard for a property by the church. But I suppose that advantage that we saw (being able to wave goodbye to our children walking to mutual–rather than driving them 30 minutes, waiting for them, and driving them back) would be lost on the guy who posted his objections.

    Currently we’ve got over five acres that back right onto the church’s three acre ball field. And we paid to have a gate put in the fence connecting us. It’s a dream to me, but at this distance we never feel the ill-effects of being close.

    Our dream house is for sale now, as we’re building another. Think I should post on Craiglist?

  19. danithew on September 20, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve heard that the property values of the homes adjoining our new chapel have all gone up.

  20. Mark B. on September 20, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    I saw that house in a dream too, but it was a nightmare.

  21. CaliSaint on September 21, 2006 at 1:03 am

    My husband was just saying to me the other day that California is like a whole different country from the rest of the U.S. Meaning it’s ridiculous here. Salaries are higher than most other places, but the houses are just so overpriced even with the higher salaries you can’t afford to buy. I honestly do not understand how anyone can afford to buy a house. The crappy old suburban homes where we live are still going for well over $600,000.

    It would be great if T&S or some other Mormon blog would discuss this issue. The housing bubble is probably the biggest economic story of this decade and it is having a huge impact on young LDS people just starting out in the world of work. It’s nearly impossible to buy a house in California with a single middle class (or even upper middle class) income without the use of a suicide loan. On a related note, President Monson has been warning against cashing out with second mortgages.

  22. Greg Call on September 21, 2006 at 1:27 am

    CaliSaint: As a Bay Arean, you raise an issue near and dear to my heart, but I don’t know that it has much of a Mormon angle. And with all the flame wars I’ve seen on the housing “bubble” elsewhere, I’m not exactly excited to raise the topic here. I will say that your observation about buying a house in California is correct (and goes for Boston, NYC, and probably DC too); the flip side of that the market has also made some middle class Mormon couples wealthy beyond their years, if only on paper.

  23. Bryce I on September 21, 2006 at 2:26 am

    You know, if you put Google Adsense on this post, you could make a few hundred dollars in a matter of days, I bet.

  24. Jonathan Green on September 21, 2006 at 3:25 am

    Although the housing bubble–expanding or bursting, take your pick–does have real effects on Mormon wards. The ward I grew up in is in an area where housing prices have exploded over the last 30+ years, meaning it’s been just about impossible for young families to move in ever since. The housing market as a whole isn’t one of my particular interests, though, so I have no idea where the lines are drawn in a housing bubble flame war. But the impact of macroecnomic forces on Mormons does seem like an interesting topic.

  25. TrailerTrash on September 21, 2006 at 8:26 am

    Just to continue on this threadjack for a second, it is also interesting to note that the exact period of the housing price surge (the last ten years) also corresponds to the explosion of Mormon populations in major east coast cities like New York, DC, and Boston. The fact is that these places have been wildly economically and educationally prosperous for young LDS families to the point where these east coast communities have tripled over the past decade. It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of this explosion are since these young families are also highly mobile.

  26. Yeechang Lee on September 21, 2006 at 10:20 am

    It’s nearly impossible to buy a house in California with a single middle class (or even upper middle class) income without the use of a suicide loan.

    This is why (as told to me by an authoritative source) the Menlo Park California Stake, which encompasses northern Silicon Valley, is declining in population; young couples drawn to Stanford who want or have kids can’t afford to stay and thus move, not to neighboring stakes but to Colorado and Utah and inland California and the Northwest and, to TrailerTrash’s point, to the East. I would be surprised if the San Francisco California West Stake, my current location, isn’t shrinking as well.

  27. Rosalynde Welch on September 21, 2006 at 10:51 am

    We’re in St. Louis instead of San Diego for one reason only: prohibitively high housing prices in San Diego. I would dearly love to get back out to Southern California, but even with the very good salary my husband will eventually earn I don’t think we’ll be able to afford it. I’ve joked before that the gathering to Jackson County will occur as a result of real estate prices on the coasts.

  28. bbell on September 21, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Just for the record,

    I am here in the Northern Suburbs of Dallas Fort worth where real estate is about $60-$75 a sqft

    We are seeing a major influx of california saints right now. 1 family a month. My current newly constructed street is 50% transplanted californians. 1 LDS. Even the local stores have noticed the influx and retailers are always asking us when we by houshold goods and notice that we do not have TX accents if we just moved here from CA like all the other people.

    The Cally saints come here with horror stories. Talk about being unable to afford 1300 sqft houses and basicly being forced to leave the state. Then the pay 180K for a 3000 sqft house here.

    last year there was even an article in the local paper noting the large population of Mormons who have been moving in from out of state

  29. CE Eric on September 21, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    We are in Colorado Springs and not in southern California for the same reason Rosalynde mentions. We figured that, even with the promotion I was offered, it would take over five years for cost of living increases to catch us up to where we were when I was offered the job. And that doesn’t take into account the commute–which is now about 20 minutes each way–changing to a commute of one to one-and-a-half hours to live the nearest place we could afford.

  30. Sarah on September 22, 2006 at 7:05 am

    The people in the neighborhood around our stake center looooove the stake center. Well, okay, they love the parking lot. There’s a shortage of parking; we’re up against Reynoldsburg High School on one side and an apartment complex on the other. The kids also like cutting through our parking lot on their way home to/from school or the Dairy Queen; it probably saves 10 minutes each way over going around.

    On the other hand, I don’t think our institute building right near campus is all that popular. I strongly suspect it’s really inconvenient party-hopping with a beer in your hand and having to stumble half-blind across the 300 party-free feet the Mormons stuck up on the street between houses. We actually bought out and ripped down an older house to rebuild and enlarge the Institute and create more parking; it’s now officially quite a hike from one house to the next on that side of the street. And we don’t let non-Institute students park in the lot, which is about 20 times closer than the nearest lot that most students can park in (it’s a 20 minute bus ride from that lot to my classroom.)

    Could part of the problem, incidentally, be where the chapel is located? I know that out west more chapels are on public square type lots — a large busy street right there, a gas station not far away, etc. I’d hate to live in that kind of situation, and never mind the church being there.

  31. tracy m on September 24, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    I was born and raised in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area of the SF Bay Area… We had to move 4 1/2 years ago in order to buy a home- and now live in eastern Washington state. Fortunately, my husband was able to transfer with his company. The homes where we lived were selling for over a million dollars, then they were being pushed over and the lots were re-built on.

    If I was going to be able to stay home with out kids, we HAD to leave. Now, when we go back to see family, the wards are really odd- not many kids, primary is a shell, and not even many younger couples- at least where my parents are. It’s kinda creepy.

  32. tracy m on September 24, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    That should read “…stay home WITH our kids,”

  33. manaen on September 26, 2006 at 11:20 am

    I lived in Silicon Valley just before and after the internet bubble burst. Places like Atherton had 50 yo 2-BR houses selling for $950k. These places were more expensive if easy to demolish because the location was the value, not the home. Many houses were packaged with construction plans for a new home pre-approved by local authorities.

  34. Greg Call on September 28, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    “I lived in Silicon Valley just before and after the internet bubble burst.Places like Atherton had 50 yo 2-BR houses selling for $950k.”

    Not anymore; the prices have just about doubled in those parts since the internet bubble burst. Here’s an Atherton tear-down for 3 million: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/rfs/212803898.html

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