Not In My Backyard

My street is named after that ship. A Royal Navy destroyer escort. Over 15,000 people worked in Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard during WWII. 277 ships were built. One ship was delivered in 23 days. They must have been welding when the champagne bottle was smashed. Not in my backyard! Clean up that glass. Okay fine. It is a shipyard. It is kind of an incredible thing to consider. The old hometown has Bethlehem Steel on the resume. For a small New England town. With a population of 22,000 now. Hingham had massive involvement in WWII relative to its size. The actual shipyard is gone. Every last bit of it knocked down. And carted off. They’re currently digging to China over at the old Building #19 site. You don’t want to dig a hole! Don’t do it. That’s a real estate maxim. A pithy little truth. But is it true? It depends. The idea here is that anytime the homeowner digs a hole. It is a problem for the homeowner. It is not a problem for the excavation company. They love digging holes. How many and how deep? I think what the maxim is trying to impart is if you as a homeowner are renovating or rehabbing. And you can find a way to not dig a hole. It’s probably better for you. Better being cheaper. When it’s all said and done? Even if you have to dig a hole. You’ll probably be happy in your new digs. You, dig? I think digging is just fine. I just want to know what I am digging into. That’s where probability enters the equation. Probability is a huge factor in my life. The likelihood that something will happen. Or be the case. Building on that rocky lot has a high probability of making my life a hell. I need that massive jack hammer machine to go dat, dat, dat. It’s actually called an excavator-mounted hydraulic jackhammer. There is also a high probability that I will enjoy living there when all the rock dust settles. Hmm. I think we have a draw here. Can I come up with a tie breaker? The equations that I calculate do not always come out with a clear winner. I will freely admit that. Real estate especially commercial can be a lot of moving parts. I do my homework though. I like my odds better. Than the roll of the dice. Or the pinch your nose and do it method. That’s an actual real estate move. You just pinch your nose and do it. No looking back. That’s for the weak! This deal stinks. You’re doing what you want though. There is no shame in that. I like doing what I want. My friends do too. I have an example from four years ago. Not market advice. I was not a realtor. No little R on my business card. I had plenty of experience on the commercial side of the business. I was on the team. Over here. On the team. Throw me the ball! You don’t typically make commercial decisions alone. My commercial compatriots included: construction firms, big law firms, structural engineers, realtors with international reach, all the way down to the junk man. I love a good junk man. Plenty of junk in commercial. Haul it away, brother. I want it gone yesterday. My friends sometimes asked me to look over a deal that they were considering doing as a favor. Free beer is that consideration? No judge is that cruel. We’re sitting there with our Bud Heavies. Big old mug at the 99 in Hingham. I’m just sitting there busting chops. Man, you should buy me the 99. You’re loaded. My friend doesn’t want to buy the 99 for me. He wants my opinion. I will not give it. He says what do you really think? I say about what? He says that house. What’s the matter with you. I say you don’t want my opinion. He says why not? I say my opinion is totally irrelevant. He says how so? I say you are an emotional buyer. So just be it. He says I am buying that house. You are right about that. I will not listen to reason. I must have it. I say you don’t really want my opinion. See? And as I have said it is totally irrelevant. Then he says it’s a classic money pit. They should just slap a sign on it. Classic Money Pit. I have to have that house. It’s got my name written all over it. I say sounds like you made a decision. He says it needs a F Ton of Work. That’s an actual real estate measurement. It’s the greatest amount of work possible for any given property. A F Ton of Work. I say are you willing to do it? He says I am looking forward to it. I don’t care if I have to set money on fire in the front yard. That’s also another real estate concept. A bit abstract but apt. He bought the house. He had to dig on that deal too. And he’s sitting there as happy as a clam at high tide now. I am happy that he’s happy. The seller was happy. The realtor was happy. You got a lot of happy on that one. However the more complicated the project? I am not just talking real estate. I can apply that theory to even writing novels. The bigger the problems. But solving them can be your opportunity. You can do something that nobody else has pulled off. I recently looked at another property for me. I said to myself. Is this land worth turning my life into an absolute living hell for the next year? Possibly even more. How many sleepless nights am I looking at here? Do they make four wheel drive cement trucks? How am I going to get trucks up that godforsaken hill? Views can be really punishing on the way in. I could attempt to secure lawful permission from the neighbors to drive down from their property which is above this one. Let gravity takeover. It’s a great idea until I flip a truck. Break expensive building materials. Or somebody gets hurt. My job is shutdown indefinitely. Driving down a cliff is a terrible idea. The anxiety that property produced when I was thinking about all the actual real life solutions. Or lack of them. Was just too much for me. Let some billy goat take this on. I am out. What do you think? The realtor asks. This was not a property listed by Coldwell Banker. I was Will Berkeley private citizen. Working as buyer’s agent for Will Berkeley. The pressure is on. I better do a good job. I am a pass for now. My opinion may change. But for now. I am a solid no. What are your reasons? It’s too complicated. If the seller cleared the site. Put in the septic. Utilities. A driveway. That’s possibly the biggest problem right there. I would do it. But who wouldn’t? Anybody that can get all that done. Might even spark a bidding war. Currently what you are selling is a question mark. I don’t like that. The market seemingly concurs with the high days on the market. I am a vanilla buyer today. I want a buildable lot with no question marks. Tomorrow I might be a question mark buyer. But not today. These types of buyers do in fact exist. I am currently consulting for a friend. He is actively looking for a question mark. The opportunity for him are all the problems. Show him this property, the realtor suggests. He wants to enter a rural market. I think he might have a winner on his hands. But it’s going to require homework. Then it’s a classic pinch your nose. AKA: damn the torpedoes full speed ahead! Thanks for reading, Will