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New Project – The Painted Lady

74 days after arriving home in sunny San Diego we’ve finally bought our first rehab project, The Painted Lady. I’m real excited about it, she’s a 1909 Folk Victorian Gingerbread. The house is located in an Urban Redevelopment neighborhood just 1 mile from Petco Park and Downtown, with incredible views of the Coronado Bridge and all the way to Tijuana.

There are original hardwood floors under the carpet, 10 foot ceilings, and a lot of original details still intact. This is a huge project and needs just about everything a rehab could require. I’ll be leveling the foundation by adding a new perimeter stem wall and 40 new footings, new roof, re-framing a 360 square foot master suite on the back, replacing all the mechanicals, new kitchen, 2.5 new baths including adding a half bath under the staircase, some new windows and complete landscaping and fencing with an automatic gate on the alley. The house has aluminum siding that’s probably been on there since the 70’s. I peeked underneath it and there’s fiber shingles probably from the 50-60’s . Under the shingles I found the original wood board and bat siding which I’ll expose and also add some of the missing period details like the gingerbread ornamentation and porch decoration the Victorians are famous for.

The Victorian era began in the 1830’s and ran until roughly 1940. Our house is a Folk Victorian, more simple in design than the ornate Gothic or Italianate Victorians, and was usually built more modestly for the middle class. I’m excited to see the scalloped shingles under the gables which I’ll paint multi-color and the decorative gable bracket. This architecture can really hold color well so I’m planning on using a minimum of 6 bold colors to bring her back to life. I’ve done a lot of Craftsman style houses but this will be my first Victorian and only the second 2-story house we’ve rehabbed. With the huge scope of this project it will be a perfect welcome home project and enable me to become reacquainted with the City permitting, historical and inspection departments this summer as well as dial in my sub contractor team. If you can’t see the potential in what we have here, Google “Painted Ladies San Francisco” and you can get an idea of where I’m going with this project. Stay tuned for demo and a walk through design video!

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  1. 22 Comment(s)

  2. By Marianne on Apr 16, 2011 | Reply

    How great I get to be the first one to say, “Congratulations!” I will be so happy to see the project unfold!

  3. By enplaned on Apr 16, 2011 | Reply

    Totally awesome — I am really looking forward to you doing your magic. Please err on the side of more rather than fewer posts!

    Do you have a tentative timeframe for completion yet? Can you give us some background info on the neighborhood?

  4. By Ashley on Apr 16, 2011 | Reply

    OMG, i can’t wait to see what you do with this!

  5. By MarkB on Apr 17, 2011 | Reply

    Excellent! That looks like 20 percent of the houses in my neighborhood. I will enjoy seeing what you do with this one. Good luck on this project.

    This is my first post here but I’ve been lurking for months. I just want to say thank you for the straight talk and great material.

  6. By Tom on Apr 17, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks for the comments everyone!, I’m not sure of the timeline on this house because of interviewing and working with all new subs and City inspections, but should have it done this summer. The biggest challenge is going to be in not “over-doing” it as the neighborhood is VERY transitional. I’ll document the whole rehab and share what I learn along the way, I’ll post a walk thru video this week.

  7. By Bilgefisher on Apr 18, 2011 | Reply

    Congrats Tom. This ought to be a fun project for you.

    May I ask how you picked this one up? Short Sale, direct marketing, REO?

  8. By John Doe on Apr 20, 2011 | Reply

    Tom, I’ve been dropping by your website for about a year now and I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed with the projects you undertake and the quality of your work. I think it’s safe to say there are few people who can replicate your work.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about your methodology for choosing a specific neighborhood in which to rehab; I’ve looked at neighborhoods characteristically (and demographically) similar to yours and I don’t think I could commit to the location. I’d love to hear more about your neighborhood analysis.

    I’m looking forward to see what you do here…and thank you for the great website and great content!

  9. By Tom on Apr 20, 2011 | Reply

    @John, thanks for the comments and great question. If recent sales justify your target sales price than thats all you should need. For me to do something cool in a transitional neighborhood I also look at the complete package. ie: Who lives next door, whats across the street, character of the house, how secure can you make it feel, lot size, scenic views, elevation from the street & other renovation activity in the area. This project had these factors going for it too. Also this neighborhood had a historic designation by the City in the late 90’s and they are continuing to dump redevelopment funds into it. New parks, undergrounding power lines, graffiti task forces, etc. When this happens Code Enforcement also starts cracking down on everyone and cleaning the area up. This is exactly what we saw in San Antonio. It’s trendy to live near downtown and especially with gas prices. I will however have to pull back on fixture and material choices and not build as if I were in the more established areas like South Park/ Golden Hill but my finished product will be 100k less. I hope I answered your question, there’s no solid formula, it’s gut feeling and risk.

  10. By Technical Support on Apr 20, 2011 | Reply

    I admire your pluck and determination. You inspire me! Really. You do. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and have learned an enormous amount from it. Actually, after reading your blog and other fix and flip blogs such as and I had very seriously considered getting into the fix and flip business.

    For the sake of all of you, I hope I am wrong but it seems to me that the fix and flip business is rapidly transforming into a high volume, low margin business that will tend to squeeze out the little guys. This seems to be part of a long term trend in our society in which large organizations tend to squeeze out small independents.

    This trend is not absolute. Of course not. But it seems to be a general trend. You can read some of my thoughts tangentially related to this point which I posted under the user name “Technical Support” on the following blog:

    It makes me sick to think about it, but literally my local coffee shop is a Starbucks, local office supply store a Staples, local bank a Chase, and local hamburger stand a McDonalds. 40 years ago none of these entities were local to where I now live (in Los Angeles). I abhor this trend, but I am not going to pretend it does not exist.

    Previously fixing and flipping was, to a large extent, a reverse logistics business (like the antique business). As virtually everyone familiar with the fix and flip business knows, you make money when you buy, not when you sell. Sure, you can add value to a property by being creative. But first and foremost you need to buy properties cheap.

    Until, say, 5 years ago the nimble fix and flip little guy with “feet on the ground” and local expertise had a huge advantage over the big guy. He was like a mouse who could literally run circles around an elephant with things like bandit signs or perfumed yellow letters. But now that is changing. It seems to me that the elephants are rapidly taking over much of the market.

    With sites like Redfin and Zillow folks literally around the world can get a sense of the San Diego residential real estate market without actually having to be there. To accurately price a particular property, out-of-town buyers could easily contact a few local real estate agents, pay them to do a BPO, and have a then have a good idea of the actual value of the house.

    Or if the out-of-town buyers were big enough, they could put some local real estate brokers on their payroll. And these large buyers (think of, say, entities like Costco or Walmart) will almost certainly be willing to make far lower margins than the independent little guy.

    As for rehabbing the houses, previously being “hands on” was a huge advantage for the little guy. But with the advent of inexpensive video surveillance cameras, that advantage has virtually disappeared and may actually become a disadvantage.

    Surely experienced general contractors living in Honduras or Bolivia, can monitor several cameras installed in a property under construction to oversee a group of sub contractors as they work. And not only that, but these foreign general contractors would actually be able to converse in Spanish with the local sub contractors in real-time via, say, Skype.

    $5/hour may be a great wage for one of these guys, but it won’t be for general contractors living in the USA. Then there are the usual economies of scale that apply to the elephants (organizations such as Walmart) including but not limited to things such as: cheaper capital (lower interest rates on money they use to finance their projects), lower materials costs (because they buy many of their supplies in high volume), and lower labor costs (both by employing lower paid but highly trained foreign “knowledge workers” such as the general contractors I mentioned above, and lower paid crews here that work for less due to the dependable high volume of work they receive).

    For your sake, and for the sake of other little independent guys like you, I hope I am wrong. But before you left San Antonio, I thought to myself something like, “He’s going to get creamed when he gets to San Diego because unlike San Antonio, more big guys almost certainly have San Diego on their radar screen. These big guys will have lower costs, accept lower margins, and gladly squeeze the little guys out of the market. Tom is going go have to work harder for less until eventually he either becomes a big guy himself (which I suspect is highly unlikely) or exits the market altogether.”

    I was disgusted when you explained that buying groups from China were taking very low margins. But I wasn’t surprised. When you struggled to find a property I was again chagrined but not surprised. When you mentioned you were going to “gear up” to do a high volume of projects I cringed: high volume/low margin seems to be “the way to go” but sadly transforming oneself from a mouse (crafty, obsessed entrepreneur) into an elephant (corporate America CEO-type) very rarely actually occurs. Many birds can swim and some fish can fly, but generally fish swim far better than birds, and vice-versa.

    In spite of this, I suspect you’ll still be able to make a living in the fix and flip business for the next 5 years or so, but I suspect during that time you’ll make less and less money per hour until you eventually you exit the market altogether as our society’s tendency to march back towards the Gilded Age continues on for the foreseeable future. It pains me to arrive at such a somber conclusion. Like I mentioned above, I sure hope this conclusion turns out to be wrong.

    Finally, I suspect the effects of this change are being felt hardest now in places like Las Vegas and San Diego (because they are well known nationally and internationally), but I suspect folks in places even as seemingly off the beaten path (for most of us) as Western Massachusetts the same sorts of effects will become much more noticeable (than they likely are now) over the next few years.

    Napoleon was purported to have disparaged the English by referring to them as a “Nation of Shopkeepers” but personally I find the idea of having a nation of shopkeepers (little guys) very appealing. As Adam Smith explained, powerful cabals inevitably work to rid themselves of competition- such as the little guys- in order to dramatically increase their own power.

  11. By tj & the bear on Apr 21, 2011 | Reply


    Please do not wait until you’re finished to post project pictures and/or video!

  12. By Tom on Apr 21, 2011 | Reply

    @Tech. wow, thanks for the great comment. That is the most well written and intelligent comment I’ve ever recieved. You make a really good point here and its right on track with the struggle that we face in our business. Yes we found the competition to be way higher here in San Diego compared to sleepy old San Antonio but at the same time there are thousands and thousands of more deals. A friend asked me when we decided to move back if I would rather be a big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond. Quickly I responded with small fish. There are just so many deals here and so many people making money that if you have any experience at all its easy to get the jump on half the folks out there and sqeeze in to the mix.

    I was alarmed when we saw the feeding frenzy at the courthouse steps and the fact that the Big Buying Groups were settling for an average of 10-12%. Of course some deals they go over but then again alot of deals they eat it on too. One Big Group that buys at the steps just defaulted on their 100 million dollar credit line. These groups operate as hedge funds and promise investors up to 20% returns so they have to count on the volume to make their numbers. This clearly isnt where I want to go. Contrary to your observations about whats really transpiring before our eyes I still think there will always be room for the little guy to carve out a few real juicy deals no matter what.

    I like your point about all this going big box as this is natural progression within every industry. I saw it with snowboard manufacturing in the late 80’s and then the skateboard footwear industry in the 90’s. On the flip, theres always still room for someone who wants to go the extra mile, do a really nice job adding REAL value to a house and carve out deal after deal for himself. I see that most of the competition here in San Diego is with the REO 3/2 carpet, paint, kitchen, under 150k purchase price, retail sale 250k rehabs. These are the ones that you’ll commonly see 20+ offers on the first day. Few investors really want to do anything structural nor do they want to pull permits and deal with the City. As much of a pain in the butt this is, it really might help me to carve out a niche.

    The camera comment about contractors in Honduras is just crazy talk, c’mon man. LOL You have to be on site and be local to do this business, even from state to state there are huge differences in building codes. Every state goes by the National Code but adopts their own additional chapters or chooses how to enforce it differently. Additionaly, the dust on a jobsite will lock down the best laptops with Skype around; )

    It’s challenging, I’m not going to lie. But after a few months of being here I’m really liking what I am learning. I cant tell you how much money is being made here right now. Many different business models, too. It’s a perfect storm of an endless supply of foreclosures that won’t qualify for financing and retail buyers who finally can afford San Diego prices but want something already cleaned up.

    Thanks again for spurring an interesting conversation and hope to see you continute to participate here on my forum.

    @TJ.. Walk through video tonight for sure buddy! (sorry but half of the house is gutted already) oops.

  13. By Technical Support on Apr 21, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks for your kind words. You strike me as a very sharp guy with loads of experience in the fix and flip business, but like all people, you are naturally biased in your favor.

    Sure hedge funds that want 20% returns (after inflation) won’t survive in the long run. Most mature and legal “real businesses” are considered to be doing well if they earn 12% to 15% per year on their money. Generally, 20% returns aren’t sustainable in mature businesses that have many competitors.

    I suspect these hedge funds will give way to companies that act more like Starbucks or Home Depot. In other words, I predict that the first wave of greedy investors looking for easy money won’t make it, but they will attract other, more patient and smarter, “elephants.”

    Walmart wasn’t the first big box retailer. Many companies that tried to “stack ’em high and sell ’em fast” went belly up. But Walmart succeeded in part because they did two things better than their competitors: they invested heavily in information technology (IT) and they were one of the first big box retailers to source significantly from China. These two innovations gave them a huge competitive advantage. Then they used their size to simply steam roll their competitors.

    In turn, I predict that Walmart will have a difficult time competing against services such Alibaba Express. For just as Walmart tended to disintermediate (to get rid of the middle man) retailers on Main Street, services like Alibaba Express will tend to disintermediate Walmart. But try telling a guy will a little hardware store in 1950s America that Walmart might put him out of business, or trying to tell folks at Walmart that Alibaba Express might put them out of business, and you’d likely get a response like, “The camera comment about contractors in Honduras is just crazy talk, c’mon man.” Just 10 years ago Blockbuster and Borders looked like two healthy giants. But looks can be deceiving. Similarly, Netflix and Redbox seem like two healthy giants too. But I suspect it’s unlikely either will be around in 10 years because content producers will simply stream movies directly to their customers.

    In other words, I know the comment about general contractors in Honduras seems “way out there” (crazy) but think about it for a moment: normally when you walk into most big box retailer or, more and more, when you drive through an intersection in a busy intersection in a large urban city such as Los Angeles or San Diego, you are being recorded on video.

    Dust being a insurmountable problem? Really? Dust? Think about that assertion for a moment. Then consider it a bit more. To me, at least, it seems absurd on its face. It clearly seems like wishful thinking to me. To me this seems like a clear example of your bias probably based on some belief you have that goes something like, “Hey, I’m a valuable general contractor with decades of experience! I deserve to be paid for my ability and expertise!”

    Those thoughts remind me that, as proverbs teaches us, “Pride proceeds the fall”. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take pride in what you do. You do some really beautiful work. Of course you should take pride in your work! But the inimitable Mark Twain wrote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Are you sure you are a valuable builder/designer/general contractor? If so, that belief may get you into trouble. Like virtually all of us men, much of your sense of self-worth is tied up in your ability to provide and protect, for those two attributes are what tend to attract women to men.

    Therefore you naturally tend to want to believe your wor-k is wor-thy. But as many of us have become a “nation of nomads”, separated from our families and communities, tending to literally and figuratively buy into the dominant paradigms which we are constantly bombarded with in things like advertising, we tend to equate our worth as a person with our financial worth. From a financial standpoint, your work is only worth what you are paid (“what the market will bear”). And that trap, of equating self-worth with financial worth, is a trap I’ve fallen into countless times myself.

    By the way, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) lived to see the job of steamboat pilot essentially disappear as it was replaced by a new form of technology.


    “Mark Twain” (meaning “Mark number two”) was a Mississippi River term: the second mark on the line that measured depth signified two fathoms, or twelve feet—safe depth for the steamboat. In 1857, at the age of twenty-one, he became a “cub” steamboat pilot.

    I can drop into folksy vernacular in an attempt to gently disarm your argument. Let’s see now. Hmm. Here goes:

    C’mon now TT, if they ain’t on the market yet, I’m sure me an’ the boys can rig up a dustproof enclosure with some old plexiglass we’ve got lyin’ around and some plywood I got out by the shed. You can’t protect a digital camera from dust? Sheesh. That’s just krazy talk!

    I don’t like such folksy approaches of discussing problems because they let bias seep in without folks realizing it. Predictably yet regrettably, our political leaders use such approaches almost as a matter of course.

    Let’s try to dispassionately look at the situation. Ok? When these hypothetical enclosures inevitably become dusty the general contractor (in Honduras) will be able to tell the subcontractors (in San Diego) to clean the dust. You are clever but you are also biased. And I suspect your bias is blinding you to some obvious facts. In this case, I think we should consider Einstein’s quotation that, “Imagination is more important then knowledge.” Just because general contractors in Honduras may not be currently be employed to oversee subcontractors in San Diego, doesn’t meant they won’t be employed to do so. Frankly, I suspect some folks are probably already doing something like this, but you and I are simply unaware of this.

    In the post World War II era at various times the Japanese, Taiwanese, Koreans, and Chinese were all openly scoffed and dismissed as unworthy competitors by employees and shareholders alike of existing American companies. But for the most part those folks are only scoffing at the Chinese these days. And even that scoffing is coming to an end as the Chinese march relentlessly “up the food chain.”

    If American companies can build things like refrigerators or air conditioners in China, they can certainly employ general contractors in Latin America, to monitor remote job sites. I suspect that’s an irrefutable point. But please, feel free to try to refute it. It’s not as if video conferencing (think of Skype) is some Dick Tracy sort of science fiction concept any longer. People make video calls everyday. It’s no big deal any longer to millions of people around the world.

    As for pulling permits, that can be done by some guy making $10 per hour, even in San Diego. Nuf said! (Woops, I just tried to be folksy again… 😉 Just as Henry Ford transformed the assembly of a car from a tedious craft requiring highly skilled artisans into an efficient drudgery that low skilled workers could accomplish, I suspect something similar is occurring in the fix and flip business.

    The high end, custom work, you seem to love and do with great pride and craftsmanship, will almost certainly be a niche folks like you can work for the foreseeable future. It’s too small and difficult for the “elephants” to do low volume, high end custom work. Perhaps you are thinking, “Well… TS, you finally see my point! My skills are marketable. I am a worthy human being!” But that’s not what I’m getting at. I think you are a worthy human being period. The amount of money someone pays for your wor-k does not make you wor-thy.

    Ultimately mass customization will almost certainly enable the elephants into the high end fix and flip niche. But I wouldn’t worry about that happening significantly for at least another 10 to 20 years. Although, mass customization is now a reality for products such as t-shirts, chocolate bars, and tennis shoes, it’s still only in it’s nascent stages even in those businesses.

    Therefore, your safe for now. Right? Actually, I don’t think so. As I see it, as the big guys take the low hanging fruit (the easy jobs) the folks like you who heretofore were able to make part of their living picking the low hanging fruit will be pushed by Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” higher up the tree (to the hard jobs) in search of work.

    When you mentioned on this blog you might try to pick up some lipsticks (easy fix and flips) in San Diego just to get started I said to myself, “He’s dreaming. The margins for the lipsticks are going to be way too low to make it worth his while.” You may be able to use perfumed yellow letters to persuade folks to sell you a lipstick here or there below market, but I suspect in San Diego the competition in that area is probably becoming fiercer by the day. My hunch is that you will abandon looking for lipsticks altogether because it won’t be worth your time to pursue them.

    I don’t mean to pillory you, but ultimately I suspect that this sort of “used car salesman” approach to manipulating people isn’t good for your soul. Therefore, I guess if the profits from this approach decrease, you’ll probably have an easier time listening to your conscience that probably says something like, “Sending out perfumed yellow letters and convincing folks in distress to sell their houses below market isn’t the right thing to do.” You’d certainly be able to turn to, say, Genesis and Exodus for lessons that clearly explain how we should not prey upon the weak. Hey, I’ve done worse. I’m not throwing stones in a glass house. I’m simply “calling ’em like I see ’em.” (Woops, I keep getting folksy! My bad dude!)

    Let’s consider opening a hamburger stand in the US these days. Little guys can successfully open new gourmet hamburger stands these days; but they generally can’t successfully open new cheap hamburger stands. McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, et al have made it far too difficult the little guys to enter the low end of the market.

    If I am correct, then as more of you little guys get pushed higher up the tree, you’ll have more little guys competing for the fruit up in the tree. Because of the huge supply of shadow inventory, depending upon what folks inside the beltway (in Washington DC) decide to do, for a while the quantity of fruit up in the tree may increase.

    If this happens you may be “fat and happy”…. for a while. But if this happens I predict it will be much like the famous California Gold Rush of 1848 which allowed laborers to earn huge incomes for about a year or two. Then, very quickly the “iron law of wages” went into effect and turned laborers into low paid “wage slaves.” California gold miners proceeded Walmart and even the railroads with the idea of employing tens of thousands of Chinese laborers to cut labor costs.

    And just like today, there was hatred on the part of many American workers towards their low cost Chinese competitors. I’m not implicitly blaming anyone. I’m simply trying to provide some historical perspective because as George Santayana opined, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Sure, it very well may take 5 or 10 years for the vast majority of the shadow inventory to come onto the market, but there are only a finite number of homes that need to be fixed up. Floods do not last forever. But more importantly, there are tens of thousands of unemployed or underemployed construction workers in the San Diego area. Let’s say one of those guys befriends a lawyer or doctor looking to invest in the fix and flip business. It looks like you have an awfully low barrier to entry into the fix and flip business.

    Furthermore, given the general trend in the US for the rich to get richer, the middle class to shrink, and the ranks of the poor to swell, if the fix and flip business is profitable, you’ll likely find more and more folks in general entering the fix and flip market over the next few years as they look for work.

    Therefore, I suspect that the dream of a large shadow inventory providing a bounty of lucrative fix and flip projects for the little guys is an illusion. Windfall profits only can be sustained if you create what Warren Buffet (our generally revered, avuncular robber baron) calls a moat. But only oranizations that are powerful enough to first take the hill and then build the castle are powerful enough to build and then guard such moats. Companies like Google, General Motors, and Coca-Cola, all have constructed large and deep moats to protect themselves. Little guys like you (and me) simply can’t do that.

    My hunch is that you’ll make an average of no more than $30 per hour for all of your hard work and risk. Granted, if you work 80 to 100 hours per week, you can make $120,000 to $150,000 per year. But I’ve worked that sort of obsessive, unhealthy pace myself before. Personally, I think it’s better to make $60,000 per year and “only” work 40 hours per week. But hey, that’s just my opinion. Also, as for selling houses yourself, unless the National Association of Realtors gets protection from Washington DC, services like Redfin are going to distermediate many residential real estate agents. That means, part of the value you currently add, by selling houses, will become worth less (not worthless) but literally worth less than currently.

    Hopefully, you’ll retire before things get too ugly. But I also hope that folks considering entering the fix and flip business realize it’s becoming much more like Starbucks or Subway than the “little guy” business you describe in this blog. Personally, much like Adam Smith describes in the Wealth of Nations, I believe without some sort of government intervention (such as anti-trust laws) to prevent it, cabals will inevitably form to squeeze out the little guy, or at least turn him into a wage slave, even if he is self-employed.

    Heretofore, the technology wasn’t sophisticated enough for large organizations to go after the residential fix and flip market. I believe that now the technology is sophisticated enough for them to enter. In spite of your assertion that general contractors from Honduras couldn’t feasibly oversee subcontractors in San Diego, many large organizations almost certainly have the fix and flip market clearly on their radar screens.

    Sure, most companies that try to become Walmart (or Ford, Xerox, Microsoft or Facebook, for that matter) will fail. And critics will gleefully say things like, “See, I told you to shop on main st, buy a horse, use carbon paper, stick with a mainframe computer, or meet people through local friends and family.”

    But in a winner-take-all game, with huge profits, folks such as investment bankers, venture capitalists, and private equity companies can easily entice limited partners to “buy a lottery ticket” to try to become “the next big thing.”

    I believe that as the elephants commoditize the low end of the fix and flip business (as they did hamburgers, coffee, plywood, and the like) they won’t directly put you out of business, but by taking away the lipsticks (easy fix and flips) their actions will tend to increase your competition and decrease your profits.

    When you couple that with the shrinking middle class and “good jobs” any profits you make in the fix and flip business will tend to attract other “little guy” competitors, many of whom will be glad to make $25/hour instead of $30/hour.

    I really hope you’ll keep point this out to both for yourself and your readers. It took me a long time to understand what seems to be happening in the fix and flip market. It’s changing so rapidly that many people don’t seem to understand what is happening.

    I don’t want you to turn your blog into a political screed, but in my opinion you are beating a dying horse (“Work with me! Tom Tarrant! The clever, fesity, obsessed, little guy!”).

    As I see it, we have been heading back to the Gilded Age for at least 30 years now. In other words, we’ve been here before. Even though to most Americans it seems like ancient history, the Gilded Age actually ended less than 100 years ago. In other words, we are becoming more and more like Brazil or Indonesia and less and less like Japan or Denmark.

    I admire you and your feisty, optimistic, Horatio Alger-like approach. But Horatio Alger was probably an effete homosexual (nothing like the feisty and tough All-American heroes he created) who created essentially propaganda to make Americans, particularly boys, believe everyone had a fair chance to make it rich.

    Sadly many American males still cling to that propaganda. Sure, some folks do start out poor make it to the top! Just look at our current president, not our penultimate one. (I believe neither are/were good presidents; we need presidents who are statesmen not hucksters). But the odds are stacked heavily against the Barak Obamas of the world.

    In my opinion, you seem to be swimming upstream against a current that is becoming stronger and stronger by the day. In my opinion (which could be wrong) you seem focused too myopically on the content (yourself) and not enough on the context (our society). In books like “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair or “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, we can see what happens when laissez-faire policies allow small groups of powerful men are allowed to collude to further their interests.

    If we don’t change the rules of the game, the big will continue to dominate the little. And the Tom Tarrants of the fix and flip game will “mysteriously” find they are working harder and harder for less and less. If they subscribe to the Horatio Alger mythology they will blame themselves and believe if they just work a little bit harder and a little bit smarter they will succeed. But if they study history (or Las Vegas casinos) they will see, that it is as if they are on a football field on which increasingly some of the players on the football field look like King Kong and Godzilla.

    Sure, some players under 6 feet tall play in the NBA. But not many. The way the rules are set up in the NBA, players who aren’t very good athletes, but are 7 feet tall, tend to succeed whereas players who are 5 feet 10 inches and superb athletes generally fail… even if they work very hard and very smart.

    Many little girls in the USA are weaned on the Cinderella myth (“You are my little princess!”) whereas many little boys are weaned on the Horatio Alger myth (“if you work hard you can be president of the company or even the USA.”) Both myths set children up for failure. You can’t have many princesses or presidents in a particular society but our mythology tells little boys and girls that they should aspire to “make it to the top!” And when 90% plus don’t make it to the top then what? They implicitly think they are failures. That’s a great way to soften up the masses to do the bidding of their “betters”, but it also leads away from many of our All-American ideals and towards a society of the Haves and Have Nots (Brazil instead of Denmark).

    I love my country. But we have been headed down the path of winner-take-all (a return to the Gilded Age) for at least 30 years now. I sure wish you’d at least mention this in passing in your blog so that other folks like me could realize that the fix and flip business, probably isn’t likely a good market for “little guys” to enter.,_Jr.#Style_and_themes

    Geck observes that Alger’s themes have been transformed in modern America from their original meanings into a Male Cinderella myth, and are an Americanization of the traditional Jack tales. Each story has its clever hero, its “fairy godmother”, and obstacles and hindrances to the hero’s rise. “However”, he writes, “[T]he true Americanization of this fairy tale occurs in its subversion of this claiming of nobility; rather, the Alger hero achieves the American Dream in its nascent form, he gains a position of middle-class respectability that promises to lead wherever his motivation may take him.” The reader may speculate what Cinderella achieved as Queen and what an Alger hero attained once his middle class status was stabilized and “[i]t is this commonality that fixes Horatio Alger firmly in the ranks of modern adaptors of the Cinderella myth.”

  14. By Tom on Apr 22, 2011 | Reply

    TS..I like your style and wish I could agree with you but I see the glass half full I guess. Many fortunes have been made in real estate and through every cycle. This wont change because of anything in China or Honduras I’m sorry to say. There is so much opportunity out there the big elephants cant even come close to taking it all. If I didn’t believe in what I was doing then I wouldn’t be doing it. Maybe I’m biased but I’m having a blast being self employed, improving neighborhoods, putting paychecks in other peoples pockets and providing a fundamental need to society in affordable quality housing. We’ll leave politics out of it; )

  15. By Technical Support on Apr 22, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks for posting my penultimate comment on this blog.

    I like your style too. Really. Your spunk, creativity, passion, and tenacity remind me of the notion of “good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity.” And I admire your work. I’d be very glad if we had a “nation of shopkeepers” (see Napoleon’s quip about the English) like you instead of this “Chaining of America” (McDonalds, Home Depot, Starbucks, etc) in which millions of Americans become minimum wage employees with little prospect for a middle class lifestyle.

    But to me it seems like a trend that has now made its way into the fix and flip business. Of course, if it has then the little guys in the fix and flip business aren’t likely going to welcome such a development. Not at all.

    IrvineRenter (that’s his screen name) has a very nice little graphic to explain what often happens in our minds when we encounter bad news.

    I think most little guys in places like San Diego who are in the fix and flip business are in the “shock and denial” category right now. They probably tell themselves, “Hey, I’m not worried. Sure it’s tough out there. But I’ve encountered adversity before. I’ll figure out a way to make it through this time just like I did before!” A fish swimming in a swimming pool, may not realize what is happening if the pool he is swimming in is slowly being drained. But to the outside observer, it’s clear that the fish is in danger.

    I may be wrong, but to me it seems that they are listening to the voice of Horatio Alger without even realizing it. I lived in Japan for a year and a half. They don’t have any myths even remotely resembling Horatio Alger over there. When we say, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” that’s meant to encourage individuals to stand out, but when the Japanese say, “The nail that sticks up gets pounded down” they are saying conform to the group or you’ll be crushed; don’t be an individual. I believe that none of us really know our own minds. But it’s often easy for outsiders to see how we behave in very similar manners, when we ourselves are seemingly blind to such similarities.

    Perhaps *you* will figure it out. You have an enormous amount going for: you are very clever, hardworking, talented, experienced, determined, and have this wonderful little blog (which sadly, I think encourages people to jump into a swimming pool that is being drained). As much as it pains me to type this, I predict that most little guys in the fix and flip business probably won’t make it for more than another 5 to 10 years. I predict they’ll probably get squeezed harder and harder over the next 5 to 10 years as they find themselves working longer and harder for less and less.

    This isn’t some pessimistic, doom and gloom scenario. Just go talk with full-time employees at places like Kentucky Fried Chicken or Staples. Ask them about how much money they make and their prospects for advancement. And these aren’t a bunch of lazy losers. Many of them are smart, hardworking, and simply unlucky to have been born into poverty and unable to escape it. Now here’s some tough love for you: if you are telling yourself, “But fixing up houses is *different* than frying chicken or selling office supplies” then I think you are simply in denial.

    Anyone can tell us that the movement of the planets, the ebb and flow of the tides, the flight of an arrow, and the falling of an apple are disparate phenomena. Sure. That’s obvious. But Newton taught us that based on mass and distance we could accurately predict some of their behaviors.

    I remember suggesting to a Trader Joe’s employee over a decade ago that surely they’d have scanners one day at their checkout counters just like the supermarkets had. It was just an off-the-cuff comment I made as I was checking out as a way to make conversation. I was shocked at the umbrage he took with my suggestion. It was like I was telling him he wasn’t important because some of his job would be replaced by a machine. I was simply looking at a trend that seemed to be spreading.

    I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I’m sorry you interpreted my thoughts as the glass being half full. That’s not what I intended. I’m talking about a changing environment. It seems to me that little guys are currently being pushed out of the lipsticks (cosmetic fix and flips) by the elephants. Eventually, I predict the elephants will move further up the tree, but you’ll probably be out of the fix and flip business by the time they do because it will probably take the elephants at least 10 or 20 years to figure out how to climb up the tree profitably.

    If you can become seen as someone like Frank Lloyd Wright (“Wow! You bought a Tom Tarrant House! How’d you manage to snag it, you lucky dog?!?”) , then you will be able to charge a premium for the work you do just like Ferrari can charge a huge premium over Hyundai for cars they sell. But the rub there, is you need to be seen as a rock star (celebrity) to charge such premiums.

    Although I have some serious criticisms with much of what Seth Godin writes, I also think some of the stuff he writes is brilliant. I predict that as little guys like you get pushed up into the trees (away from lipsticks towards the more difficult jobs), the competition will very likely become fierce because the barriers to entry are fairly low and we don’t have nearly as many good paying jobs as we used to in this country.

    Sadly, I am convinced that your blog gives readers like me the wrong impression: that the fix and flip business is promising for the plucky and innovatlittle guy. I’m convinced that generally it isn’t. Unless an upstart can become a “rock star” (Frank Lloyd Wright) the fix and flip business seems to be headed the way of many other businesses in this country where the big guys tend to push out the little guys.

    Instead of trying to compete in such an environment, I suggest little guys stick to smaller niches or professions. I’m thinking about niches like a local tutoring center or really fun old-fashioned barbershop (where guys go to hang out, not just get their haircut) or professions such as nursing or architecture. All four of these businesses allow the little guy to differentiate himself from the chain by offering a personal service in a way that big guys simply can’t.

    Because a house is an inanimate object, now that the technology is available to enable the big guys to dominate it, except for the celebrity fix and flippers (the Frank Lloyd Wright’s of the business), I predict that the fixing and flipping business will become a game dominated by the big guys much like the businesses of producing tires or ears of corn.

    Unless laws are enacted to prevent it or something apocalyptic occurs that, say, shuts down the internet, I’m convinced the elephants- if they aren’t already- will very soon employ general contractors who live in places like Honduras to regularly oversee day-to-day work by subcontractors in places like San Diego. I predict that instead of having 5 local general contractors to oversee 10 jobs that are ongoing, big guys will hire 1 local general contractor and 4 general contractors who live in a place like Honduras. And the pressure that will put on the little guys in the fix and flip business will be analogous to the pressure McDonalds puts on local hamburger stands.

    I certainly hope I’m wrong. I’m a little guy and therefore, not surprisingly, my bias is that I’d like to see the little guys succeed. But I’ve been burned countless times in my life by letting wishful thinking get in the way of my better judgment. I admire what you are doing. Really. I do. I feel inspired when I read your blog. But in spite of your optimism and good intentions, I think you are inadvertently misleading your readers into thinking that they are likely to make a good living in the fix and flip business.

    I detest cabals. I think they are seriously harming the US because they are making us more and more like, say, Guatemala and less and less like, say, Norway. Therefore, I’m rooting for you and your readers. I hope all of you guys farewell. Really. I do.

  16. By Tom on Apr 23, 2011 | Reply

    Hey TS.. I hear your position but have to respectfully disagree again. I don’t think too many fix and flip guys in San Diego right now are very worried. If they are, it’s only about how can they find more deals because they are Crushing It! As I said before, there’s TONS of cash being made. Sure, things will change eventually but then so will the investment strategies. The only thing that’s always consistent is change.

    I never preached on this blog that my business is easy nor that there is fast money to be made by anyone in real estate. I take huge risks, put my own cash on the line and work long hours to pull it off. It’s not for the weak at heart and I’ve watched a lot of more intelligent people fail. Furthermore, I add serious value to these homes, I’m not patching over stuff and cutting corners to maximize my net nor am I trying to squeeze a tiny profit by adding granite and stainless, pushing up home prices or taking inventory away from retail buyers like some flippers. Most of the houses we buy investors wont touch. The Painted Lady had been on the market for 100’s of days and everybody passed, I was looking at it on Redfin while we were still in San Antonio in fact.

    Sure, I give lots of flipping & investing tips here and support anyone trying to get into the business, it can be done if you are willing to try hard enough but I’ll agree its not for everyone. I happen to have a background in sales, marketing, construction, design and the financial means. If someone doesn’t have these skills the proverbial deck is stacked against them. Thanks for following and I’m glad to got some inspiration, I don’t think anyone is being misled here though.

    (Disclaimer: this blog is for entertainment purposes only. The owner does not guarantee you can make huge profits overnight in real estate nor does he have anything to sell you. Read this blog at your own risk.)

  17. By MarkB on Apr 25, 2011 | Reply

    My God that was a fascinating exchange! I’m moved to say 2 things.

    First, I have no doubts about Tom’s future in this business. The elephant era is at LEAST 5 years away and Tom’s work is outstanding.

    Second, Technology certainly can bring the economies of scale necessary to bear on SOME fix and flips and certainly for tear-downs. However, the legwork of finding the projects and the analytical skill necessary to set find that magic purchase price is right smack on the ground and right smack in the neighborhood in which the project happens. That knowledge is gained by smart people like Tom and won’t be given away to companies. It would be a unique personality that would do the project analysis for a salary to a big firm for an extended period of time before they would just bust off and do their own projects. Maybe that’s my bias but time will tell.

    P.S. Technical Support, you obviously decided not to enter the fix and flip business yourself. Good luck to you (honestly) on finding that first elephant company that will become the growth stock miracle investment for you. After all that research you’re certainly going to put your money where your analysis led you right?

  18. By Technical Support on Apr 27, 2011 | Reply

    First and foremost, I’m rooting *for* Tom Tarrant not *against* him. I hope my arguments prove to be wrong. Really. I do. I detest the elephants. But just because I detest them; I’m not ignoring them.

    >> The elephant era is at LEAST 5
    >> years away and Tom’s work is outstanding.

    I essentially agree with that assertion.

    >> Maybe that’s my bias but time will tell.

    I do think your bias is showing.

    Currently many large firms employ very knowledgeable and very experienced investment bankers to work for them. Those investment bankers occasionally go out on their own and form concerns that compete with their current employers. But, the amount of money necessary to enter into many deals is huge (tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars). Besides, these very knowledgeable and very experienced investment bankers often make 1/2 a million dollars or more per year. Why should they strike out on their own?

    I sure hope I’m wrong but I predict that the independent Tom Tarrants of the world will increasingly have a difficult time competing with these giants that employ folks like Tom (say after he retires from “hammer swinging”) for an average annual compensation of, say, $250,000 (say $100,000 + $150,000 in earned bonuses). I’m guessing that one Tom Tarrant and a staff of 3 or 4 admins could help these elephants snag 20 or 30 deals per month in places like San Diego, Los Angeles, etc. I’m sorry to predict that as the elephants perfect their craft they’ll buy properties in areas that are less densely populated across the USA.

    >> Good luck to you (honestly) on finding that first
    >> elephant company that will become the growth
    >> stock miracle investment for you.

    I think you misread what I wrote. I’m not looking to invest in an elephant. Not at all. I’m a little guy looking for a business to enter in which I won’t get crowded out by an elephant. My observation of our economy is that businesses that turn out impersonal products (such as houses) generally tend to become dominated by elephants.

    In the industrial age “elephant” new home developers generally crowded out custom home builders (little guys). That’s clear. I predict that in the information age the elephants will be able to get into the things such as fixing and flipping and custom home building (which are both examples of businesses that I predict be “mass customized”).

    I believe that your argument above incorrectly anchors “economies of scale” to “mass production.” That used to be correct, but isn’t any longer. According to the concept of mass customization, economies of scale can increasingly be applied to mass customization. In other words, New Balance or Nike produce “mass customized shoe” for a fraction of the price that it would have cost them just 20 years ago.

    >> After all that research you’re certainly going
    >> to put your money where your analysis led you
    >> right?

    I’m not planning on putting my money into the fix and flip business because I believe changes in technology have brought the elephants into the game.

  19. By kyoung on Apr 28, 2011 | Reply

    Yes it is WAY more competitive to find good deals to rehab,but Tom does what the vast majority of rehabbers wont do; major structural rehabs involving foundations etc..add-ons. Most investors want in and out in 60 days.The projects he tackles scare most investors;and yes you need to be on the project every day to handle problems that always come up. He will always make money because he does what most people are afraid to do and he does it well. Can’t wait to see the finished house.

  20. By kyoung on Apr 28, 2011 | Reply

    Technical Support: your Debbie Downer diatribe has its flaws. Any group buying on 10% margin of profit is doomed. Everyone knows its just not enough to withstand the many surprises renovators face …like when you open a wall and discover termites,corroded plumbing , jimmy-rigged wiring or all three!A creative investor on his own can beat the pants off the big boys in the long run….they do not have to “consult the group” on every move they make. They can make their decisions with lightning speed and finish projects more rapidly and more profitably.Smaller can be better. I seriously doubt any “Tom Tarrant” types would even consider working for a “Big Box ” group. They are fiercely independant and the last thing they would want to do would be to punch a time clock with a corporation;thats exactly why they choose to work on their own…to escape the corporate world and have a jackass boss to answer to.

  21. By Technical Support on Apr 28, 2011 | Reply

    If I had a hat, I’d take it off to Tom Tarrant for posting my comments on his blog. If our positions were reversed I’d like to think I ‘d do the same.

    As for Tom being able to make a good living with his current strategy, for the next 5 years or so I think you and Tom will be correct; but 10 years from now I suspect you guys will be proven to be wrong because I think you guys are succumbing to wishful thinking. No one knows for sure. Only time will tell.

    Your apparently quaint and clever ad hominum jab at me (in which you used both alliteration and feminization) may persuade folks that your argument is sound. But to me, it’s simply a classic sign of someone using smoke and mirrors to defend a weak argument.

    Ultimately, I find both your arguments and Tom Tarrant’s arguments weak and deeply flawed. But hey, you guys seem to find my arguments weak and deeply flawed too. We seem to be at an impasse.

    In my opinion, healthy communities are inherently diverse. They are very different than self-selecting associations of like-minded folks who tend to unwittingly mislead one another by reinforcing one another’s ideas. This blog seems to be a typical case of the later. As we become increasingly balkanized in the USA, we tend to have fewer meaningful dialogs and instead tend to engage in shouting matches which inevitably contain personal attacks.

    Frankly, it seems to me that diversity clearly isn’t welcome on this blog. In his folksy way, Tom has basically told me I’m “full of hot air.” That’s not quite shouting, but it’s on the way to it. It’s certainly nothing near a meaningful dialog based on thoughtful consideration. To me Tom’s clever quips seem more like, “Hey! I’m Tom Tarrant! Look at me go! Yeee haaaaw!” Ah, yes. See Tom. See Tom run. Ok. I get it. Horatio Alger would be proud of how “little Tom made good!” But P.T. Barnum would probably smile wryly at the well-orchestrated carnival atmosphere Tom has deftly created.

    This seems to be the “Go get ’em Tom Show!”. Um, well then pardner, I guess I’ll just mosey on off off of the set so you cow pokes can get back to creatin’/watchin’ your regularly scheduled programming.

    But I hope you will remember, those folks who claim commercial television is “just entertainment” are not being honest, either with themselves and/or with us. They have a product to sell.

    Of course, Tom Tarrant is entertaining people with this blog. But in spite of his rather feeble “disclaimer” to the contrary he is clearly trying to persuade people to help him make a profit. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with making a profit. But there is nothing inherently right about it either. We can profit honestly or deceitfully.

    See, just like Tom’s perfumed yellow letters, this blog contains some subtle and sophisticated deception that I hope folks will notice. Tom is selling people part of the “American Dream!” That’s great! Isn’t it? To many folks the American Dream is sacrosanct, like, say, the Ten Commandments. But the former is a new concept that has not stood the test of time; the later is an ancient concept that has withstood the test of time.

    I think too often, what we think of as the American Dream would be better described as the “American Mirage.” Or as George Carlin cynically quipped, “They call it the American Dream because you’d have to be asleep to believe it!”

    Before any of us were born, owning a big, fancy house of your own in which you and your nuclear family would live, was part of an American dream that was created and marketed to American consumers by organizations that were trying to make a profit.

    Not only does Tom apparently often violate scripture, which forbids us from preying on the weak (someone grieving due to death, disability, drugs, divorce, or debt is weak), but Tom is enticing folks to go into enormous debt to purchase shelter. I think that buying beautiful homes that are beyond their means (which typically require both husbands and wives to work full-time in jobs that tend to dehumanize them, with folks who are basically strangers to them as they send their children off to schools where they are typically taught by strangers) in neighborhoods where they are typically literally surrounded by strangers (some of whom become their “friends”) isn’t a “sweet dream” for most people.

    To me it seems like a very unhealthy and unfulfilling way of to live. But it’s become so “normal” that most folks living in these environments hardly seem to realize from a historical perspective how utterly bizarre this way of living actually is.

    But hey, if you’ll buy it, like countless other salespeople before him, Tom Tarrant will sell it to you! After all, there’s nothing wrong with enticing folks to go into enormous debt and pay usurious interest…. unless you happen to consult with many ancient religious texts which strictly forbid such behavior.

    But it’s legal, isn’t it! Yes. Sure. It’s legal. My grandfather’s grandfather could have legally owned slaves in this country. Adultery isn’t illegal in most, if not all, of the USA. Therefore, it’s ok to commit adultery. Right? No. Of course not.

    In other words, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s good. We live in a young and immature country. We are making many of the classic mistakes that adolescents make for, “Those who don’t learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.”

    Like the Talking Heads sang,

    “And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself- Well…How did I get here?”

    I believe that we collectively got here because we have followed the siren song of modernity and progress instead of heeding the wisdom of the ages. As far as I can tell, unnecessarily going into massive debt and often paying usurious interest to provide oneself and ones family with shelter isn’t part of the wisdom of the ages; nor is enticing people to enter into such arrangements. Just as most ancient traditions have rules against preying on the weak they also have rules against accumulating massive debt and usury.

    I’ve been wrong countless times in my life before. Perhaps I am wrong this time. I really do hope those of you who buy one of Tom Tarrant’s beautifully restored houses (I do think they are beautiful) being marketed on this blog will find that I am wrong. I hope you will find that you have benefited greatly by participating in this part of the American Dream.

    I certainly hope you don’t find yourselves waking up in the morning for most of the rest of your lives, dragging yourselves out of bed yet again to sit in a shiny metal box as you drive to a ferro-concrete edifice where you perform your duties with strangers so that you can persuade your current employer to provide you with a proverbial paycheck so you can pay your onerous mortgage to yet another stranger.

    I sure hope I am wrong. But as much as it pains me to say it, I think Tom is like the Pied Piper leading you guys on a delightful journey that predictably ends in misery.

    It seems to me that you and Tom have essentially ignored my arguments. To borrow Peter Thiel’s phrase, I’m tired of shouting into a hurricane.

    In spite of my concerns, I really do hope that you, Tom and everyone else who contributes to and reads this blog, all farewell.

  22. By Tom on Apr 28, 2011 | Reply

    Oh, TS. What are we going to do with you? We’ll have to just agree to disagree I guess. I’ve approved your comments continually because I think it makes great reading for my audience but at some point I think we’ll have to go our separate ways as I’m not here to discuss the moral, political and religious implications of house flipping, only how to do it.

    Yes, I’m here to market my properties but never have preached to anyone to get into debt to try and start a business or take risks they are uncomfortable with. My blog audience seems to be already remotely interested in real estate investing in some fashion so I do give tips on how to be successful if they wish to take them. With any healthy capitalist system you have to build in a margin between your raw material costs and the finished product. To say that I violate scripture because I am an entrepreneur seeking to make a profit doesn’t fly in my book. Controlling costs is the biggest way to build in this margin.

    The 4 D’s in real estate investing as you’ve found buried in my site here and seem to have an issue with among other things, refer to death, debt, disability and divorce. These are generally indications there is a distressed sale looming. For anyone in sales who searches where to find new lead sources (so they can put food on their table on not rely on the corporate world for a paycheck that might disappear one day), this simply guides them. In no way do I advocate preying on anyone or ambulance chasing, although I’m here to make a profit, however it takes 2 willing and able participants to enter into contract and make a transaction happen. If someone doesn’t like my offer they can simply not do business with me. If they do however need out of a financial jam or dispose of an unwanted asset, that’s where I come in and it’s always a win-win situation for both parties. The countless times I’ve had sellers thanking me for purchasing their homes (at a discount) affirms this.

    I’ll leave you one last time with this great quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

  23. By kyoung on Apr 28, 2011 | Reply

    Technical support; your obvious jealousy and hatred of a hard working and successful man are obvious. You have way too much time on your hands to write long winded, preachy diatribes which add nothing constructive to this website. I think its time for you to get off the government dole and get a job….maybe Tom can give you a chance to swing a hammer…something tells me though that hard work is not something you are used to;you are a middleaged balding overweight man who lives in his mom’s basement on unemployment ….the truth hurts!Now GET LOST!

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