We talked with our neighbor Ursula, age 80, local Pierce County historian. We read this insightful but bleak news story in the NYTimes.
Here's the answer: spare parts.
Yes, your suburban house, where you raised your kids and have loving memories - - will be used for spare parts. On our trip home from the cabin last week, we passed house-after-house with an SUV or pick up truck in the front yard for sale. Paul Krugman says houses last longer than SUVs. But he's wrong. The rodents start the rot almost immediately. And burglars steal the pipes and other valuable metals for resale. Within a few years, apparently, your homestead is falling apart.
You can sell it, of course. Or can you? This year it was pick up trucks in the front yards for sale. Last year it was snowmobiles. Suburban houses are likely to continue decline in value. We heard of a Wisconsin golf course being turned into a natural bird sanctuary. There's a surplus of golf courses. Obviously a golf course is worth a lot more than trees for birds. But if no one will buy it, then the golf course (and a suburban house) is worthless.
A suburb probably can be converted back to farm land in a week (if you know, tell us). As an ad for a lousy house in downtown Portland recently noted, "Remember, you're buying the land." It's all about the land. Future farmland is our guess. What's your guess?