Readers Respond

Do it Best follow-up

The September issue of Home Channel News included an item about the origin of Do it Best Corp. and founder Arnold Gerberding. One reader writes:

“Not only did I travel with [Arnold Gerberding], but to save money we stayed in the same hotel room. Regardless of the weather, at 6 a.m. he threw open the window and performed his morning exercises. Talk about togetherness.”—Sheldon Gilblom, Retired, Do it Best Corp.

Glued to the cell phone

“We’ve become a faceless society. Texting, e-mailing, tweeting, social media, blogging—would a quantum leaper from the ’90s be lost in today’s language? Have we resorted to becoming the automated attendants we intensely dislike when placing phone calls to ‘Customer Service Centers?’ Pick up a phone; call a colleague or prospect; visit a friend; write a note; reinforce a relationship, and create an ultimate experience. Give people what they yearn for, and they will give you what you want: the welcoming sound of a friendly voice, before we all become droids.”—Tony Calistro, Ring’s End Lumber

“Being informed is a good thing, but being over-informed comes under the old adage of ‘too much of a good thing.’ Without time to contemplate life and the more important aspects of it, one tends to lose direction and even purpose. When all of one’s time and energy is focused on keeping up with the endless drone of incoming data, when does one have time to ‘smell the roses,’ or even keep from trampling them and getting impaled by the thorns? Too much incoming data is NOT a good thing in the overall scheme of life. Besides, much of what is on Twitter or being texted is minutia. Who really cares what I had for breakfast or if I beat the zombies on the latest game?”—Jim Kummer, Kummer Marketing Inc.

The value of tax credits

“I’m a wholesale distributor in the Midwest with five distribution centers. I think the tax credit did its job to spur activity; however, as you point out in the article, it also borrowed from the future. Based on low interest rates, cheap raw-material prices and guys who need the work, this should be a great time to build. So why aren’t people building? Is it the price of the land or lots? From my experience, this has a small part in it, as I don’t think land has come off as much as real estate in general. However, I don’t think this is the main problem.

“The main problem, as I see it, is a person can contract to build a home, but due to comparable home sales, the banks are not willing to lend 80% of the contract price; they are only willing to lend 80% of the composite price. As a result, anything being built requires significant upfront money, maybe as much as 40% to 50%, depending on the market. You can’t build a house today for what a bank says it’s worth.

“The regulations need to be loosened to allow a bank to make a loan based on a customer’s ability to pay and not only the comp. [After] general contracting my own home with cash and loans from family, in June 2009, when it was completed, I could not find a bank that would lend to me based on the money I had put into building the home. I was only able to finally mortgage through a small private bank that never sells their loans. As a result, they were able to lend on their own criteria.”—Rob Latham, Tri-State Forest Products Inc.

Homeownership, good or bad?

“Homeownership is the driving force behind all other purchases.”—Jim Osebold, Quality Lumber

“I am a living statistic, transferred across the country in the midst of the downward spiraling housing market. I moved from Georgia to Oregon during the summer of 2009, and as of today have not sold my house in Georgia. I am currently renting. I recently dropped the price on my house in order to move it, and the lost income paid on a house I haven’t occupied in a year combined with the out-of-pocket cost to settle the mortgage—if and when I sell it—have given me a great deal of pause for thought regarding purchasing another home.

“The simple fact of the matter is that a very small part of the American population looks at homeownership from a pure financial standpoint. Most home purchases are emotional. Otherwise, who in their right mind would assume a debt of hundreds of thousands of dollars with no real upside? Debt is slavery. A mortgage is a monumental debt. You are no more in control of a mortgaged home than you are a rented home. The risk of loss in either situation simply comes from different sources.

“I will eventually own a home again, but I believe that I will rent for a while and rebuild my cash position before doing so.”—Sidney Hines