Iknow what I did on my summer vacation. I discussed real estate. Everyone on Martha's Vineyard discussed houses. It was the main topic of conversation at dinner parties. It topped politics, sex scandals and food.
This is how it went:
"The Gordons have just sold their house for $1,200,000," Murphy said.
"What's wrong with that?"
"They only paid $750,000 for it five years ago."
Ella Fitzgerald said, "I told Edward to buy it when it was $515,000."
"Why didn't he?"
"He said he was afraid once he bought it, the house would be put in eminent domain and the government would tear it down to put a Wal-Mart on the property."
Myron Leavitt said, "When you buy a house, you have to take your chances."
Edith Jaffe said, "The Mattlocks are breaking up, and I hear they're going to have to sell the house to pay for their lawyers' fees. I think if someone offers them two million five, they can get it. It will only take $900,000 to fix it up."
I asked, "When do you think the bubble will burst?"
Brown, who sells real estate, replied: "It may have already popped. I used to sell a one-bedroom, one-bath ranch house for $750,000. Now the last one I sold went for $730,000."
Bronstein said, "It scares the hell out of you."
There was much discussion at the table about mortgages.
Throwback, who's always bragging, said, "I got 5.7 percent for a fixed mortgage, 30 years, with no points."
Nichols said, "You got shafted. I got one for 5.3 percent and the bank threw in a set of Tupperware."
Annie Wolf said: "We're holding back until the rates go down even further. The banks have too much money and they're begging us to borrow it. My neighbor just got a call from a mortgage company and the guy said he'd refinance his house for three points less than the bank."
"They always say that on the telephone."
"This is a wonderful Burgundy wine," Throwback said.
Nichols said: "It comes from my wine cellar. We built it after we bought the house. It cost us $20,000, not counting the wine."
Hemlock said, "We're getting a bigger house. But first we're going to put our present one on the market for one million nine."
Wolf said, "Even if you get what you're asking for it, you'll never find another one like it for that."
"It wasn't my idea. It was Cynthia's. She said we have to keep up with Joneses. They have six bedrooms and we only have four."
"You heard the Hatchards made $2 million?"
"What kind of house was on the property?"
"There was no house. It was just land adjoining their property."
I said, "Can't we talk about something else besides real estate?"
"Okay. Did you hear Martha Stewart is going to sell her house for $10 million once she finishes her probation?"
(c) 2005, Tribune Media Services