I can’t believe another week is gone, but at least we feel good about what we have accomplished. One of our top priorities has been to complete all those annoying little things that need to be done as part of the recent move. Updating drivers licenses, car registrations, changing mailing addresses with many different parties. All those little tasks take time. Fortunately, we have now completed almost all of them.
One of the best things about our current lifestyle is the flexibility. Mrs. IS can adjust her schedule when I need to work, while the Little Man and I can volunteer…..go to parks….visit friends/family…..etc….the rest of the time. Last week was also the start of the Lenten season at church, which means I needed to complete a few tasks before the church services changed format for the new season. In total, I probably spent 15 hours at church or on church related projects. In this case I build the wooden cross you see in the pictures, with a friend. (I will definitely get a nice compound miter saw before I take on that project again.) I also built the associated kneelers, for members who wanted to pray around the cross and light candles. While I enjoy volunteering at church, I do not find it nearly as rewarding as volunteering in the community. For me, I think the difference is people. Typically when I am volunteering at church, I am working with at most one other person. When I volunteer in the community, I am often working with a group of up to a dozen other people. I am a very social person, and really enjoy interacting with the other folks. I also really enjoy building things and getting my hands dirty. Seeing a project I’ve completed and built, always feels satisfying.
As part of our current flexibility, we have been spending a lot of time in parks and at the beach. As every Snowbird knows, Florida weather is incredible during the winter and spring. While the water is too cold for us to get in, leaving that to the Canucks, we have enjoyed many wonderful hours at the beach lately. We have been taking family walks at the beach, or going a park, before Mrs. IS goes to work. Sometimes as an added thrill, we pick Mrs. IS up from work, and go have a dinner picnic on the beach. The Little Man loves to dig and play in the sand, while Mrs. IS and I enjoy the weather and being out in nature.
Sometimes, we go walking in the community where we would like to buy our next house. There is a great playground and about 26 acres of park. Some is forested, but most is open fields and courts. We have been leisurely looking for a house in that neighborhood, but figured we’d probably wait for the increase in interest rates to cool off the housing market…..over the next couple years. While I hate renting an apartment, I don’t like to buy something that is overpriced.
As a developer, I have learned that the best values in a given market are rarely listed with a real estate broker. The best values are usually owned by people that are dreading the hassles of listing and selling their property. To find those types of people, I engage a type of guerrilla campaign that I affectionately call “walk and talk”. As the name implies, I spend a ton of time in the subject area while on one of these campaigns. I am literally there every day or two, walking and talking to random people. I engage in conversations with these folks, and start with questions like “how do you like living in this neighborhood?” How long have you lived here? What’s your favorite part about living here? Etc. It’s amazing what people will tell you, once you get them talking. This type of activity is where most of my best leads have come from.
Such was the case, in the area that we would like to live. Knowing that 90% of the houses in the area are out of our price range, mostly because they are too large and listed with a realtor, I have been on a “walk and talk” campaign for a few weeks. I have spoken to a couple dozen people so far and handed out my business cards to the most promising. On Saturday, while on one of these walks, I stumbled across a great prospect. We negotiated the terms of sale, and I wrote up the real estate contract earlier this week. The sellers are currently reviewing the contract with their attorney. If they don’t jerk us around, I think the sale will go through, and we’ll have a new home. If they do, we’ll walk, and look for other prospects. I’m not emotionally attached to this house, so a few hours of my time would be the only casualty if the deal falls through. No problem.
On the whole, we still aren’t seeing much compelling value in the broad markets. As mentioned last time, we have established buy levels in two of our long term holdings……Union Pacific (UNP) and Vanguards Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) …..as well as a buy level in favorite swing trade Pan American Silver (PAAS). So far, all is going according to plan. All three are trading notably below the levels we recently sold them ($109, mid $39, mid $20). Our buy levels, should we get there, are as follows:
Union Pacific (UNP)- under $96
Vanguards Emerging Markets ETF (VWO)- under $36
Pan American Silver (PAAS)- $15ish
These activities represent more trading than we prefer to do, but we’ve decided that trading around our core positions is a good way to minimize risk and harvest some profits…..from a global market that makes us very skeptical. Time will tell, but I think these markets have gotten way, way, way, ahead of themselves on the the idea that the world has changed in a few short weeks. The world has not changed, and political dysfunction is alive and well
Happy value hunting!
Where are you finding value in today’s markets?
Disclosure: Currently Long UNP and VWO. Please consult your investment professional to create an asset allocation mix that meets your specific needs. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation for anyone to buy, sell, or hold any securities. I am not a financial professional. Please consult a real estate professional or attorney when buying/selling real estate.