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tony


Oct 18, 2006, 8:24 AM

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(What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Hello,
Can anyone describe Mexico's middle class? I just read a post that stated up to half of all Mexicans want
to move NOB. Is life NOB really better, hype or illusion? I have spent alot of time around "middle class"
Mexicans and scratch my head went I hear how bad things are in Mexico. While every story is different,
I don't consider my observations to be unique. Consider this true situation:

Three brothers who are now in there 60's started out rather poor. Nobody got passed junior high. All got
started working at the local cement factory sweeping floors. They all eventually retired from this factory,
with a pension and health benefits. The pension and benefits are very modest, but none the less they
have them. 2 of the 3 brothers have homes, all paid for - like many mexicans. The 3rd inherited his so who
knows what he could have done.

1 brother has multiple properties - all paid off but not generating cash.
He also gifted small lots to his kids - who have built houses on this property.

Another brother sent 2 kids to to college - no "special school", the kids dormed
with 10 other people in a private house, ate at local homes to keeps food costs down.

None of these guys are "connected" or into illegal activities. As I know - and I would most likely
know.

Then consider this: Some of the sons of these guys have moved NOB to get packed into small apts
with other guys to work their butts off. They left families and try to make as much money as they
can. Partying, socializing, family events are all kept to a minimum - something they would never do
in Mexico. Of course they live in the seedy side of town NOB - to keep rent costs down. Again something
they would never do in Mexico. They have seen more drugs, crime and hustle in their few years NOB than they
have in their whole lives in Mexico. This doesn't sound like the "better life" to me - other than their bank
account is getting bigger.

Has anyone done a economic study of what it really takes to fully own a house NOB vs SOB? To me it seems
that less people rent property in Mexico than NOB. Another observation is that more people are living in their own
paid off home in Mexico than NOB. Is the illusion that NOB one really never owns ones nice house while reality in Mexico
is that one owns a very modest house?

I know my post is kinda all over the place. I am trying to get a deeper look at "real" life in Mexico. Tony

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."



ignacio

Oct 18, 2006, 8:35 AM

Post #2 of 93 (13388 views)

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Re: [tony] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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My humble opinion on this matter is that it is NOT the middle class trying to go NOB in droves, but the 50%+ of the population that is poor or has no future in Mexico.

There also exists the problem of lack of 'padrino' or connections (be it social, political, or whatever), where Mexican college graduates hit a 'taco ceiling' and cannot advance beyond in salary or position without the 'padrino'.

The middle class of Mexico is mostly comprised of employees of the well to do class, which has in its membership the well connected, politicians, and the wealthy by inheritance.

Some of these people, after hitting the ceiling, think they can do better in the USA and go NOB. Once there they find out that most of their 'degrees' are worthless in the USA, unless they take a qualifying board's exam, for which most are not prepared; a vast majority of these people come back to Mexico.

Laborers in turn become very successful NOB (if they are not addicted to booze and other expenditures), due to being able to earn many times their previous salary in Mexico and enjoy a much higher standard of living.

Not to say that there are not any self made, hard working Mexicans that are now very rich, for there are some of these, but in my opinion, these are the exceptions.


(This post was edited by ignacio on Oct 18, 2006, 8:46 AM)


tony


Oct 18, 2006, 10:22 AM

Post #3 of 93 (13351 views)

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Re: [ignacio] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Ignacio,
To define middle class, I am saying that if 50% of people are living at a certain living standard,
then they ARE the middle class merely by majority. The examples I gave are low educated
Mexicans - which reflect the middle class (majority) people in Mexico. If their
achievements are "typical" and compared to their NOB counterparts, there doesn't seem to be
much of a difference.

Mexicans laborers earn alot more NOB but pay out many times more in costs, live in high crime areas in crowded
living conditions. On the other hand they have more TVs, cars etc NOB... So is this really a much
higher standard of living??

On a personal level, I sometimes make fun of my college educated wife, she never lived in a house
as nice as I did NOB, nor did they ever own more than 1 car. We had multiple older
vehicles - yet we were never sent to college. I consider my parents and my Mexican inlaws to be
middle class - and they have achieved roughly the same things on both sides of the border. Tony

BTW my father is a 10 grade East LA Mexican american dropout. I am 1 of 7 kids. None of his kids will achieve
his financial success - does this fall under the category of "no future"?

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."


ignacio

Oct 18, 2006, 12:37 PM

Post #4 of 93 (13317 views)

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Re: [tony] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Tony, future is 'on the eye of the beholder'......

If anyone is happy with what they have, regardless of social status or bank accounts, then they will have no incentive to work harder to make more $$$.

Some people are happy with a bicycle, others are never 'totally' happy with their current size of luxury yatch, and yearn for the bigger size.

The 50%+of the mexican population are NOT the middle class, they are the hungry poor, that's right, over 50%.

The middle class is around 35% and the rich around 10% (owning about 95% of everything in Mexico).

Yes, Mexico's wealth is NOT shaped in a bell curve, it is more of an 'S' curve.


Gringal

Oct 18, 2006, 1:27 PM

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Re: [tony] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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"To me it seems that less people rent property in Mexico than NOB. Another observation is that more people are living in their own paid off home in Mexico than NOB."
__________________________________________

I agree with Ignacio about the wealth distribution in Mexico. Give the U.S. another 50-100 years and I suspect it will achieve the same pattern.

About home ownership, this is an out-the-window observation. I live in a Mexican neighborhood which was developed in the last twenty years as facilities (sewer, water, etc.) were installed. Much of the land is vacant. Not for long, though. From out-the-window, I see many homes under construction. The difference between here and the U.S. is that the landowning families are digging the ditches, chipping the foundation rock, building the brick walls and doing the finishing work themselves; after work, on weekends, whenever. There are obviously some reciprocal trade agreements between families. Everybody works: the men, the women, the teenagers and even the kids. (It's interesting to watch a small one toddling along with one brick and a serious expression.) Sometimes there is a time lag in which the major workers head El Norte for a cash infusion. When they return, it's back to the construction project. By the time the house is finished, it's paid for. They are not all things of beauty, but they certainly are solid. Their great-grandchildren will be living in them.

I'd say these people are "working class" or upper lower class. They drive taxis, have small shops and do car repair. Many of the women work as maids and the men as waiters or food workers. Since San Miguel de Allende gets its major income from tourism, work is plentiful. Thus, plenty of houses.

In the U.S. the policy has been to get everybody into homeownership whether they could afford the house or not. Variable rate mortgages and no-money-down with zero qualification have resulted in a lot of impending misfortunes. At least these Mexicans have a secure roof over their heads when times are hard.


Ron Pickering W3FJW


Oct 18, 2006, 1:52 PM

Post #6 of 93 (13299 views)

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Re: [tony] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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I think one has to keep in mind the price of owning a house/home NOB. The poor, the majority of the middle class cannot afford to buy a home up here anymore unless one is considering living in ND, SD, parts of OH, IND & PA where there is no work to be had. And I'm just talking about purchasing a home. Not taxes & utilities and the other misc costs associated with owning a home.
For most areas NOB with the possible exception of the barrios, your home/property will be in the high 6 figures or millions or high rents.
For these reasons alone, I doubt that many Mexicans with the exception of the highest class will remain NOB for any length of time. The laborers, both legal and illegal will in all probability not remain NOB when they have enough of a financial start to return SOB.

Just my opinion, but too many of the middle higher class up here are being evicted even though both work but still can't afford their housing costs. It's even worse for seniors. Even those whose home is paid off are being "kicked out for the betterment of the community in order for a private builder to build a mall or condominiums by the local governments." We've just had 72 senior citizens evacuated from their homes in WA because of Eminent Domain laws so a few condominiums could be built. All these people live on limited income and can't afford to sue the county to stop the process.

Having lived NOB for 65 years I find it HIGHLY disgusting for having this type of crap happening and am biding my time while I save to head for our South border.
As the old saying goes, "show me a good polition and I'll send flowers to his funeral."
I for one don't have enough money for flowers for 99% the polititions, but by damn, I can still use a spade to help dig the holes.

Off my soapbox now.....
Getting older and still not down here.


Bubba

Oct 18, 2006, 2:40 PM

Post #7 of 93 (13281 views)

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Re: [Gringal] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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In the U.S. the policy has been to get everybody into homeownership whether they could afford the house or not. Variable rate mortgages and no-money-down with zero qualification have resulted in a lot of impending misfortunes. At least these Mexicans have a secure roof over their heads when times are hard.
Gringal


Good points, Gringal:

One of the reasons we retired to Mexico is so that we could own a home free and clear with minimal (and I mean minimal) taxes so that, no matter what (short of all out war and even then, maybe) we would have a roof over our heads and, at worst, would only have to worry about adjusting our variable expenses downward if we experienced financial difficulties. After having lived in the coastal areas of Northern California for 30 years and piling up a huge mortgage debt and paying a very large annual property tax bill, we couldnīt wait to sluff off all those insane costs and come down here. A modest middle class Mexican home debt free is a godsend compared to the overextended existence of so much of the American middle class where they can sit around in their palatial ticky tacky in their cul-de-sac-just-like-the-next-cul-de-sac and tend their ulcers. .

The developers, speculators and their cohorts in the title insurance, mortgage insurance and associated financial services fields have their greedy eyes on Mexico. They will provide obscene mortgages starting in such mindlessly developing areas as coastal Baja and, once they get their feet wet there they will swoop down on other parts of Mexico. Then by allowing people to leverage their purchases, they will encourage real estate speculation and promote indebtedness.

Most people donīt know this, but when I started my first job as a savings and loan examiner with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Los Angeles in 1966, it was illegal for an S&L to make a loan in excess of 80% of loan to value (90% with mortgage insurance) and all residential loans had to be monthly principal and interest straight amortization within a 30 year time frame. No exceptions. The borrower could not have aggregate debts including the new mortgage in excess of 25% of gross annual income. The very thought of ARMs, interest only and negative amortization loans would have been inconceivable.

Now, since it may not be clear where Iīm going with this, I want to thank the powers that be for de-regulating the residential real estate market in the United States because as a result of that de-regulation, I was able to sell my home in California for far more than I would have been otherwise to a person who didnīt even have a job and couldnīt possibly afford it without a loan to value of 100%, (probably based on a phony appraisal) negative amortization with principal accumulation and variable interest rates and now, as the market begins to turn south up there, her bubble and many others will burst and I will have been the one to profit. This real estate bubble was the direct result of incredible greed and shortsightedness on the part of bankers and speculators. It was like a gold rush brought on by the reckless notion that things will just continue to get better forever.

What does this have to do with Mexico? The same people that facilitated the real estate bubble in the U.S. are on their way here to make it easier than ever for middle class Mexican and foreign buyers to buy homes and incur debt. If everything goes as they plan, that will drive up real estate values, create an active, leveraged home market in Mexico and here we go again.

No skin off my back.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Oct 18, 2006, 2:45 PM)


Gringal

Oct 18, 2006, 4:02 PM

Post #8 of 93 (13260 views)

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Re: [Bubba] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Amen to those sentiments.

As a fellow beneficiary of the largesse of the CA real estate gods, I am sitting snug in my paid for casa with low taxes.
I am old enough to remember the good or bad old days when a banker checked every line on your app. and a pile of cash changed hands before the keys did.

I hate to see this particular U.S. export coming to Mexico - buy now and pay forever - but along with fast food, gangsta jeans and Britney tops, it's going to be with us. Already, the new cars on display in the local mall show the monthly payment, with the price in very tiny print.

The question is, are Mexicans as short-sighted about their financial security as U.S. folks? Will having the illusion of home "ownership", and of a fancier home, be as seductive? In most other areas, Mexico seems like the U.S. some decades ago, when getting in debt was a no-no; when bankruptcy or foreclosure was a huge personal disgrace. Anyone else out there remember ....gasp....usury laws?


sioux4noff

Oct 18, 2006, 8:34 PM

Post #9 of 93 (13203 views)

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Quote
NOB with the possible exception of the barrios, your home/property will be in the high 6 figures


Where do you live???
We sold a 1,600 square foot house last year. 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car attached garage, swimming pool, large lot and in a nice area of town. Sold for $108,000 US, in the Waco, Texas area.
Not everywhere is valued like Waco, but high 6 figures - dream on!


raferguson


Oct 18, 2006, 8:38 PM

Post #10 of 93 (13197 views)

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Re: [ignacio] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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I think that Tony has it right. The people who are coming North are mostly the ambitious poor or lower middle class. They have no opportunities in Mexico to speak of, so the opportunity to make many times their salary in Mexico is very attractive, even if the costs of living north of the border are somewhat higher.

I remember being surprised when I started seeing "white' Mexicans. Unless you go to Vail, there are very few Mexicans in the USA who do not have brown skin. The well off people in Mexico are predominantly white, and the poor people are disproportionately brown and indian. It all comes down to opportunities, which are very limited in Mexico for poor and brown skinned Mexicans. America is the land of opportunity, and minorities can usually get ahead in the USA by dint of hard work. White Mexicans don't generally need to move north of the border to earn a decent income. One of the guys working on the remodeling project at my house in the states is from Cuernavaca; his skin is pretty dark. When I teach English as a Second Language in the states, the Mexican students are various shades of brown.

I have one article that claims that 50% of all Mexican households have an income of $300 US per month or below. They show the middle class as $400 per month to $5600 per month, about 44% of the population. The wealthy 6% of the population have household incomes in excess of $5700 a month. Of course, we would not consider a household making $400 a month to be middle class in the USA. The dividing line between poor, working class, middle class, upper middle class, and wealthy is arbitrary, and varies by country and who is making the divisions.

I think that Tony is right, that Mexican professionals do not dramatically increase their salary when they move north, which means that they do not move, or return home. To me, it is all about economics and opportunity.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


patch66

Oct 18, 2006, 8:50 PM

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Re: [sioux4noff] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Waco, Tx and Poplar, Mt may have alot in common-low house prices, but Portland, Or is fairly high, as is most of the west coast.


sioux4noff

Oct 18, 2006, 9:00 PM

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Re: [patch66] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Waco may not be high-falutin' Portland, but it is a very nice place to live and has affordable housing.
Just pointing out that "high 6 figures" ain't a national standard by any mens.


Gringal

Oct 18, 2006, 9:17 PM

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Re: [sioux4noff] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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High six figures? How about today's Santa Cruz Sentinel, the "hometown paper" where I came from, quoting the "drop" in median home prices to $743,000 from a high of $789K last year. This is for houses not as nice as the one you described having sold. Prices are just as high in most of the coastal areas of California; some even higher.

But, as they say in the real estate business: location, ditto ditto.

For "middle class" incomes in Mexico, a policeman in SMA makes about $450 a month.


sioux4noff

Oct 18, 2006, 9:23 PM

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Re: [Gringal] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Our amigo who works for Proteccion Civil y Bomberos in the Bahia de Banderas (just north of Puerto Vallarta) amkes about 2,500 pesos per quincena (15 days). He does inspections, is a fire fighter and gives training classes.


ignacio

Oct 18, 2006, 9:37 PM

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Re: [Bubba] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Ha Bubba, you say "it was illegal for an S&L to make a loan in excess of 80% of loan to value (90% with mortgage insurance)",...

.....and true, except for little old me (then young me), when in 1967 I bought my first home under the GI Bill, with $99 (yes ninety nine) dollars down payment in California. That house cost me $17,000, and in 1999 sold for $350,000.

My second home cost $40,000 in 1973, and sold in 1999 for $500,000, yes this was crazy inflated California, if I had held on to this house another five years, it would have sold for $875,000.

Like Bubba said, I don't know when the bubble is going to burst, but in the meantime, old folks like us made out OK (partly with the help of the other 'Bubba', Bill Clinton's home-owner exemption, and the wonderful 'Proposition 13, which rolled back property taxes to some of us).

Now in Mexico, unfortunately, they are also getting people to in debt and buy beyond their means, be it for home mortgages, cars on credit, of the dreaded plastic. The old idea of buying cash (with the help of your family) now appears to be a thing of the past here in Mexico as well.



(This post was edited by ignacio on Oct 18, 2006, 9:39 PM)


Ron Pickering W3FJW


Oct 18, 2006, 10:17 PM

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Re: [sioux4noff] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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In Reply To
Our amigo who works for Proteccion Civil y Bomberos in the Bahia de Banderas (just north of Puerto Vallarta) amkes about 2,500 pesos per quincena (15 days). He does inspections, is a fire fighter and gives training classes.

That is only $500 usd per month. If he is middle class, at what point does upper class start. That is "piss poor" pay even in Mexico. A previous post said middle class runs from 5000 ps to 56000ps. That my friend, is a pretty wide spread in pay. I'm sure the person making 501 dollars does not consider himself in the running with the one that makes 5600 $ per month. There is no comparison.
Getting older and still not down here.


nfabq

Oct 19, 2006, 12:54 AM

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Re: [sioux4noff] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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There's a guy who keeps vacationing around Waco and keeps lowering property values.

Norm


sioux4noff

Oct 19, 2006, 6:40 AM

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Ron, it was someone else, not me, who said 5,000 pesos a month is middle class.
I agree, it is poor pay. He agrees, too, but loves the job.

And sad but true, the vacationer has actually raised property values in the Crawford area quite substantially.


(This post was edited by sioux4noff on Oct 19, 2006, 6:42 AM)


tony


Oct 19, 2006, 7:34 AM

Post #19 of 93 (13117 views)

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Lets take That Example - 5000 Pesos

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For arguments sake lets use the 5K peso example. This guy is a bombero. What is his living conditions?
We might say it ain't much money but is the guy starving? Raggedy? Renting? Walking?

I have an college educated inlaw who makes about 4K/month in pesos as a prison psychiatrist. She (single mom) pays
a reduced rent since she rents from her parents, has nice clothes, goes out once in a while, can't afford a house,
no car, has a stereo, music, food, dog - but not much else. Lives in a quaint little town. Sounds very much life in
the US. I don't dare tell her to come to the US - WHY? Because chances are life won't be any better NOB than
what she already has. She definitely will not have a better standard of living if she moves into a US barrio! Despite the
fact that she will be "forced" into buying a car. Tony

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."


Ron Pickering W3FJW


Oct 19, 2006, 8:12 AM

Post #20 of 93 (13101 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Yes, I should have said previous poster, not previous post.
I just picked out those few states I'm more familiar with. I perhaps should have said towns or cities above 25 - 50,000 population. Towns on the lower end of that scale, from the investigation I've been doing the past few months, generally have homes available for anywhere from about $50,000 (fairly poor condition) and up, but, not much if any, work/employment at a decent liveable wage is available. Once above 50,000 pop. which is a fairly large city, house prices soar dramatically even if the employment rate is high, or low, no difference. This seems to apply throughout the country with the exception of tourist traps like Sun Valley and coastal areas, where the prices of housing AND taxes are obscene. I'm happy that Bubba and a few others were able to take their money and run. The bubble up here is going to burst big time. From all indications I've been seeing, it may be sooner rather than later.

One example in Tacoma. In 65 I bought an 850 sq ft house, 1 & 1/2 story for $8500 at 4% & payments including home owners at $58 per month. In 1999 when my ex sold it she got $149,000 and right now the house is on the market for $347,000. In all fairness, I should say that I put in about 20,000 in improvements over the first 20 years but presently, In my very humble opinion, the pricing and evaluation of properties is bordering (if not there yet) on obscene.

I will never again own any property NOB that I cannot get in and drive away, and I hope the NOB financial institutions & practices are banned forever from Mexico. 8<)
Getting older and still not down here.


Rolly


Oct 19, 2006, 8:48 AM

Post #21 of 93 (13086 views)

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Banorte, Mexico's only major bank still owned by Mexicans, is now offering home mortgages up to 95% of the value. They are also offering home loans to US citizens wishing to buy in Mexico.

Yankeefication of Mexico is well underway.

Rolly Pirate


Ron Pickering W3FJW


Oct 19, 2006, 9:08 AM

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Re: [Rolly] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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I offer Mexico my condolences. I'll be down next yearand hold my hat over ny heart....
As we go, I pray not Mexico follows....
Getting older and still not down here.


jerezano

Oct 19, 2006, 9:20 AM

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Re: [sioux4noff] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Hello sioux4noff,

If you click on a user name, the details which the user provided will show. Ron Pickering lives in Tacoma, Washington. Of course many users do not provide such details. But check, anyway.

Texas, which in the past was generally a low cost of living area and house prices were very low, is rapidly trying to reach the rest of the nation with real estate bubble prices. A $45,000 house in the Rio Grande Valley back in the 1980's is now usually over the $100,000 figure, etc. In the 1980's the Rio Grande Valley was one of the lower cost of living areas in the United States. It no longer is.

Ron Pickering is not dreaming. He is reporting what is happening in Tacoma Washington. Our experiences in other parts of the USA may, or may not be the same.

Adiós. jerezano.


ken_in_dfw

Oct 19, 2006, 9:42 AM

Post #24 of 93 (13054 views)

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Re: [jerezano] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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Sorry, I gotta disagree with you and Ron. I think the real estate bubble has been largely a bi-coastal phenom.

I bought my very statistically average 3 BR, 2 BA 1800 sq. ft. home in suburban Dallas in the late '90s. I got a couple of nice bumps on the market value the first couple of years and then watched the price move sideways for the past 5 years. The median home price here in Dallas is $143k. And as the Dallas Morning News reported May 16, "North Texas home price increases have been in the single digits for some time."

I completely understand where Ron is coming from sitting on the West Coast. And I'm very happy for those of you who have managed to retire to Mexico on the largesse of loony real estate prices in California or New York. But here in the "flyover" states, it's a different world.


bournemouth

Oct 19, 2006, 10:03 AM

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] (What is) Mexico's Middle Class

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The kind of people who build their own houses and end up with a free and clear property are generally those from humbler backgrounds, who have no financial services available to them anyway. It's great that they can do that but the concept does not extend to all brackets of Mexican society.

I see no problem with banks offering 30 year fixed rate loans to whose who can qualify. Think back to the days prior to the last peso crash, when debt was dollar denominated, payable in pesos at the current exhange rate, and many, many people lost their properties to foreclosure when payments soared skywards due to the devaluation of the peso. This brought about the "barzon" movement to try and save things for those people.

I have never seen professional people out building their own homes on little lots - they need capital available to them in the form of loans to buy houses. Without loans you end up with a group to whom the only source of housing is a rental. A 30 year fixed rate loan is going to make home ownership easier for those who earn enough to repay the loans. After all, that's how most of us on this fora bought our homes. Had we had to pay cash from day one of our real estate ownership, many of us would never have acquired a home to call our own.
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