New Condo

I bought a bank owned unit in my condo development for $39,000 & closed on it today. We don’t have as many foreclosures as a lot of other places do, but prices are still low, although this is way below the current market value. Since it’s smaller than my current unit, I plan to rent it out for a few years until I can sell it at a good price.

The unit is in pretty good condition, with new tile floors, fresh paint, and an enclosed patio, although every switch & electric outlet was removed and the wall is damaged in a few spots from mirrors being removed. I already have someone interested in renting it, so I’ll be busy the next few days fixing it.

I took some pictures of it, which I posted here.

I bought this!.jpg

Back Home

I got home after midnight last night and I’m still feeling pretty tired, plus I still have a cold with an earache.

This trip was the closest I’ve come to an actual vacation in about the last 10 years, since I didn’t go to a conference or do anything work-related (except for one meeting).

I saw a few places I really loved, but most of them were way too expensive. Even a 1 bedroom unit in one of those condos cost more than twice what my 3 bedroom would cost even now. It looks like the real estate bust hasn’t hit the bay area.

I did see some very nice, new townhouses built in 2002. It’s a row of 8 homes in a little cul-de-sac, at least 4 of them are foreclosures or short sales for well under $100k. Unfortunately it’s in a pretty bad part of Oakland. The places I looked at in the Peninsula were a lot nicer, but also a lot more expensive and didn’t seem very pet-friendly. One of them even had a shuttle to the Bart station, which would make it easy & cheap to get into the city anytime I want and not have to worry about parking.

Where I’m living now, I’m very financially secure. I owe about half of the current value of my condo and my mortgage payments are only about 5% of my income, so I pay about $200-300 extra principal every month to pay it off faster. This gives me a lot of freedom, and I can afford to take chances. If I moved into one of those places, my finances would be a lot tighter. I like the freedom of living beneath my means.

There are some units nearby that are cheap enough that I can pay cash for, and after flipping one of them I can easily pay off my remaining mortgage, which would put me on my way to buying one of those condos in the bay area. It looks like I’ll have to delay my moving plans for a year or so.

California vs. Florida real estate

I’m taking a trip to San Francisco at the end of this month to look at some homes. I’ve already been talking to a realtor and browsing the MLS listings. What I’ve seen isn’t very encouraging.

I currently own a 3 bedroom 2 bath 1130 square foot condo, which I paid $95,000 for in 2003 (which was below market value at the time). At the heights of the real estate boom, it would have sold easily for $230,000. Now I’d be lucky if it sells for $170,000. Although there aren’t many foreclosures in my complex, the one next to me has almost 50% foreclosures, with many of them selling for $45,000 or less. Of course that brings down prices for the entire area.

In most parts of Broward County I can easily buy a nice 2 or 3 bedroom condo for a lot less than $300,000, but in the San Francisco bay area, I’m lucky if I can even get a small 1 bedroom unit for that price.

Plane Crash

Earlier today a small plane crashed into a house a few blocks from here. I wasn’t able to see it from my window, but my neighbor banged on my door to let me know and dragged me over to see it. I just took my point & shoot camera, because I was afraid I’d be hassled too much if I brought the D90. When I got there, the fire was already under control, with fire & rescue workers at the scene.


I’ve posted more photos here.

D90 Hi-Def Video

I recorded a lot of hi-def video on my D90 at Oakland Park Youth Day. Here’s an unedited video straight from the camera. This is the only one that was small enough to upload to Flickr.

I find that it’s hard to keep the video in focus when the subject is moving, and it’s very difficult to see if it’s in focus on the LCD screen in bright sunlight.

I also uploaded lots of photos here.


I went to Oakland Park’s Oktoberfest today. It took place for the first time in the brand new Jaco Pastorius Park, so there was a big traffic jam & lots of confusion with parking.

I took lots of photos and a few videos with my D90. Most of the activity took place in a large tent with very uneven lighting, so I had to do some experimentation to get the exposure right. I found that in this case center weighted metering worked better than matrix, since the outside light seemed to throw it off.

I had to raise the ISO since it required a long exposure even with the largest aperture. This was the worst case, at 1/20 which blurred the dancers, although I liked the effect so I kept it.

Oktoberfest 2008

Here’s another one, this time with more cowbell.

More Cowbell!

You can see the full set of pictures here.

No Oktoberfest is complete without the chicken dance, so I had to make a video of it.

R.I.P. Verda

I found out that one of my elderly neighbors, Verda, died yesterday. She was a former condo association president & still came to every board meeting, until she became too weak. Verda worked at the polling place for every election as long as I’ve lived here. She took care of every stray cat & had a few of her own, but she wasn’t the stereotypical “crazy cat lady”.

Gustav & Hanna

Gustav missed us, but it’s heading for New Orleans and looking pretty grim there.

Although we dodged another one, Tropical Storm Hanna is out there and heading in our direction.