February 7, 2023

How much would this house sell for where you live?


By John Guy LaPlante

Morro Bay, CA — A few days ago I received a super-sized postcard. You know, junk mail. For sure many households here got that postcard.

That’s a picture of it up above.

Realtor Jack A. Franklin was using this postcard as a way of marketing it. A quite effective way, I thought.

He certainly got my attention, although I am not buying. I’m all set.

The card gave its address. Descriptive details. And the all-important price. Wow! I whistled when I saw that price!

Immediately I thought of other places where I’ve lived. Massachusetts. Connecticut. Southern California.

And wondered, “How much would this house bring back there now? More? Less? About the same?”

And I got another idea. A terrific idea. I’d send this picture to you, my readers. Ask you the same question. You live in lots of states, lots of cities, lots of towns. What would the price be?

It would be fun. And you’d learn a lot about Morro Bay.

Of course, to answer my question of how much, it’s important for you to know more about Morro Bay.

Well, it’s a nice small city of 10,000. Nice in many ways. Quiet. Peaceful. Located right on our beautiful harbor, with the vast blue Pacific beyond it.

In fact, I can see the Pacific from Morro Bay Boulevard, which is just around the corner from where I live. The harbor is just a mile or so down the hill. And just beyond is the open ocean.

Of course, the harbor and beaches and ocean are big magnets that draw lots of people. Morro Bay is great for fishing, sailing, motorboating, paddling, water-skiing, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, kite flying, bird watching, photographing otters and other wildlife. How about that?!

Yes, we’re a small city, so yes, we have a variety of neighborhoods, and not one really bad.

Of course we’ve got everything you would expect. City hall, police station, fire station,  churches, schools, library, chamber of commerce, senior center, banks, shops and stores big and small, restaurants of many kinds, doctors, dentists, other professionals. All within easy reach.

We’ve got lots of hotels and motels because this is such a big tourist and vacation center.

And just 15 miles south is San Luis Obispo, a beautiful city of 45,000 with stores and restaurants and services and amenities of so many kinds.

We have a state university and a community college, hospitals, museums, on and on.

The weather right here is a big plus. Never any snow or ice. Never the sizzling summer temperatures of communities just 20 miles inland. And usually a breeze is coming up off the ocean.

So the bottom line is that Morro Bay is a very appealing community.

No surprise that lots of  people relocate here, younger people and a surprising number of retirees.

It’s why my daughter Monique and her husband David live here. And that’s why I live here now.

And because of all these positives, it’s no surprise the cost of real estate is high.

Sorry to say this, but somebody with an ordinary job just can’t hope to own a house here. Even with a second income. It’s a sad reality.

Now about the house Mr. Franklin is selling.

The first thing I did was to tape over the advertised price on the postcard. It’s under the yellow oval with the left and right sides snipped off. See it down on the bottom right?

Now here is specific info about Mr. Franklin’s house to answer my question to you of how much. It’s all on the back of the card.

He says it’s located in a highly desirable neighborhood.

It has two bedrooms and two baths with what he calls a bonus room off the living room.

Also has a wood-burning fireplace and built-in bookshelves.

A large living room and large dining room. A vintage dining table that can accommodate 8 to 10 people.

Spacious kitchen with all the expected appliances, and fine condition throughout.

Beautiful hardwood floors. The whole interior freshly painted.

An extra-deep one car garage with washer and dryer included.

But it has special advantages, he says.

From the living room and master bedroom, you can see Morro Rock. That’s the huge dead volcano that juts out of the ocean right at the entrance to our harbor. Morro Bay is famous for The Rock, as we call it.

Well, who wouldn’t like a house with a beautiful view?

He cites other desirable assets.

“Fantastic location for walking to The Rock. Also the Embarcadero.”

That’s the scenic road running along our waterfront. More than a half mile of it is lined with a great variety of restaurants and shops.

“Also an easy walk to beautiful Morro Strand Beach. And it’s just a hop and a skip to Morro Bay Golf Course, Black Hill hiking trails, and the Museum of Natural History!”

He wraps it up as follows: “A very, very special home! Do not miss this opportunity!”

So, friends, what is the price that he’s advertising?

Oh, I should mention one more thing. In a phone call, I was discussing this very question of how much with my son Mark.

He lives in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin. He and his wife Stacie are professors at the University of Wisconsin there.

Madison is a lovely city and very livable. A great place to live.

Mark said to me, “Send me the picture, Dad. With the taped-over price. I’ll give it a shot.”

So I emailed it to him. The next day I got his price. “Less than $200,000.”

I called him back. “Interesting, Mark. Thank you. But it’s selling for a lot more than that.'” And mentioned the price. He was shocked. Does this give you a clue for your answer about the price?

On the other hand, you, perhaps living where real estate prices are extremely high, may shoot back a price higher than Mr. Franklin’s advertised price.

I’ve emphasized how expensive housing is here.

Well, by a happy happenstance, I just read an interesting story about this very subject.

It was in the Tribune, the daily newspaper that covers San Luis Obispo County.

The front-page headline was:

‘SLO homeowners need two jobs

That pay well, and 2 of them”

Many locals call San Luis Obispo SLO. Like “slow.”

A shocking headline. It’s backed up with a long article. I have boiled it down to its salient facts. You’ll learn a lot.

It is by two journalists. They reached their conclusions by citing the government and industry data bases they consulted.

Here is their story with the fat cut off.

I am printing it in italic to make it stand out for you.

By Lindsey Holden and Kaytlyn Leslie

Everyone knows how difficult it can be to purchase a home in San Luis Obispo County, so who exactly can afford to buy one?

The county’s median home price hit $640,000 in May, which is a new record for that month.

The quarterly median price, released in May, was $602,000.

Home buyers would need a median salary of $126,680, which would allow them to make monthly payments of $3,170, including taxes and insurance.

The Tribune used the county’s quarterly median home price data, as well as other data to determine which jobs would yield the minimum salary needed to buy a $602,000 house.

The average annual salaries were determined using 105,100 incomes reported to the state every quarter.

Some occupations don’t report employment numbers, depending on the size of the workforce and other factors.

The salaries are averaged, so they’re all likely employees working in the industry’s described who had more or less money.

It’s obviously easier to purchase a home with two incomes, so The Tribune’s analysis included household incomes, assuming there are two equivalent wage earners by combining their salaries.

So who can afford SLO County homes?

San Luis Obispo County’s median household is $67,175. About 76% of the County workers cannot afford a $602,000 house.

This is reflected in the county’s biggest industries, including food service, retail sales and personal care which pay employees $25,000 to $31,000 per year. Those salaries, even combined, do not come anywhere close to the $126,000 needed for a median-priced home.

Home ownership is narrowly in reach for 24% of workers who can afford a $602,000 house with the help of an equivalent wage-earner.

For example, some high school teachers buying a house with an additional income would fit in this category, along with some people who teach at California Polytechnic University and Cuesta College.

Accountants, civil engineers, and correctional officers (big state prison here) could also buy a $602,000 house with the help of an additional salary.

Only about 1.5% of County workers earn enough money to be able to buy a house with just one salary.

Pharmacists, psychiatrists, and architectural or engineering managers all earn enough money to buy houses without another income.

So ends the article.

So now, friends, the moment has come. With all this info under your belt, how much do you think this house would bring where you live?

Please jot it down right now, before you go any further! Otherwise the game will be spoiled.

Put in your answer here:  $_ , _ _ _, _ _ _ .

Of course you want to see Mr. Franklin’s advertised price. I’ll show it in a minute.

But hold on. One thing concerns me. If I show you his price right now, you’ll see it and that may affect your thinking in coming up with the price for your neighborhood.

So I came up with a simple ruse.

For the real price, I have made his price bigger than it really is.  To discover his price, just subtract 2 from the first four numbers in the following: $894,700.

Have you done that? Great! Now you have figured out Mr. Franklin’s asking price.

Now compare this price with the estimate you jotted down up above. Are you higher, lower, about the same?

If you like, you can compare it with the median price cited in the Tribune’s analysis.

Now please do one more little thing. Please, please shoot back a quick email to me with the price you came up with for your neighborhood. And please add a few words of explanation for the price you came up with.

Feel good if you came up with a considerably lower price for your neighborhood, and it’s a nice neighborhood. You are fortunate.

Hope you enjoyed this. Thank you much!

I just thought of one more thing. Would you consider moving to Morro Bay? It might make sense for you.

For more info on our fair little city, just Google it. Or Bing it.

I just did that on both those search engines. Was surprised that Bing has more photos than Google. Videos!

Hey, one more thought. You may want to buy the house Mr. Franklin is selling. I’ll bet there’s some wiggle room in his price.

If you come to check it out, contact me. I’ll give you a great tour of Morro Bay. First I’ll take you to the Rock. Then lots of other good stuff. Show you anything special you’d like to see. Then at the end I’ll show you where I live. Morro Palms Mobile Park.

It’s such a nice place and a good deal and the living is so pleasant you might want to move in close to me. You’d drop all thought of Mr. Franklin’s house. Just two restrictions. It’s an adult community. And you have to be at least 50 years old. Oh! And I wouldn’t make a nickel on it.

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