It's "Bonus Friday"!!
I mentioned above I felt like I'd seen properties that looked like pot grower's places... and that they'd make sense now in retrospect?
This place up in Willits, maybe about 2.5 hours north of the Bay Area, is one of those "retrospective" places....
If you look at the first seven pictures of this... 1bd/1ba... ... organic geodesic yurt hybrid (???)... it silently screams, "Professional Stoner." It's the sort of place where a guest wanders in circles because his buddy living there mischievously says, "Where's the bong? Oh... I left it in the corner..." and then giggles himself into hysterics while staring up at the soft, puffy ceiling.
Anyway... photo 20 reveals the tell-tale signs of water-tanks & PVC piping.
"But where is the greenhouse? Or the loops & plastic covering?" Those were the only "tells" I knew of pot farming.
Now that I've come to believe that "Stoned-henge Rounds" are an outdoor propagation variant, it all comes together in photos 24 & 25. This looks like a pot farm that was abandoned before this season, given the growth of non-psychoactive weeds in those rounds.
Meanwhile, if you check out the "Price Activity" in the listing, you'll note that this property listed as first "Active" in... October 2021... which would have been right after last year's harvest.
Interesting comp: ~$300K will currently buy ~160 acres in remote NorCal.
I am not a trader, so have little on that topic to contribute, but I am very glad to provide something - anything! - here for others, given the generosity of those here who have enriched my market understanding for years.
Okay, so I realized two things. First, last night I was wondering why I was encountering these listings all of sudden. And then it struck me and I felt very stupid for having been so slow: "Of course - it's harvest season! Right now!"
These properties are "all of a sudden" being listed because their associated final harvest has been secured and it is time to move on.
For today's episode, I move southeast of the Bay Area in the region affectionately known as, "the Road to Kirkwood."
Kirkwood is a ski resort - I believe the highest in local elevation, and therefore with some of the region's most reliable snow - frequented by Bay Arians of a certain stripe. It is not among the ritzy "Tahoe resorts" per se, because it isn't, in fact, on the lake; nor does one have to drive over the infamous Donner Pass to reach it. Kirkwood possesses precious little in the way of "après ski" but it has some exceptionally challenging runs: once on a lift there, a ski patrol dude told me that it is the preferred resort for all the seasonal workers looking to ski on their day off. It is a relatively unassuming but large & varied resort, and it is where the wife & I have primarily taken our beloved spawn to learn to ski.
Accordingly, I have kept an eye out for properties "on the Road to Kirkwood" that would serve the role of ski cabin, although now more out of curiosity than intention, since we will be empty nesters in due time, and the period for "amortizing" such a purchase with weekend ski trips with our sons has passed.
Anyway, here is a listing from yesterday, on one of the Roads to Kirkwood:
This one struck me, because of three things. First, the description indicates, "private property with rolling southern facing hills": that suggests "growers." Second, the description also indicates, "the last tenant left the a mess": setting aside the grammatical misuse there of duplicative articles, I once had occasion as a young, broke man to rent a home from someone who had grown pot previously in it (only learned this after the fact... interesting story, but I digress). They, too, had left a mess.
Hmm... stoners are messy.
Third, photo 8 shows the usual telltale signs: a large plastic structure for holding well water and what looks like the remnants of a white plastic cover. Suggestive but not determinative. Then, photo 11 shows haphazard PVC piping... which is very suggestive.
Then, there are photos 13 & 14.
WTF are those? It looks like some sort of agrarian Stonehenge tribute laid out in a forest clearing. Maybe the messy renters were practicing Druids? And they mounted these round structures for religious purposes? Maybe Druids are simply messy because... it's part of their forest-clearing agrarian Stonehenge rituals?
So, I did some googling, and what do you know!? I don't think they were Druids! The photo below from here suggests the messy renters were very likely growers probably using a variant of a raised-soil trellis system in the forest clearing, where available soil was suboptimal.
I never knew about this burlap-rounds growing approach until I looked at this listing on the Road to Kirkwood. Pretty interesting! I'm persuaded it was a pot farm.
This revelation makes me realize that a handful of properties I've reviewed in recent weeks and thought, "Hmmm.... that looks like a pot grower's place, but the grow-area doesn't make any sense to me," will probably make sense now in retrospect now that I understand that this is a distinctive trend....
If a global route on G7-minus-USA sovereign debt gets underway, the Fed would seemingly have to step in as the classic "Lender of Last Resort" and start buying up its allies' distressed issue, which would both stem the crisis and reverse dollar strength, which is somewhat the root of part of the immediate problem in the first place.
This is Kindelberger all over again....
Whether it is imminent or decades down the road, given the global role of the US Dollar (combined with debt profligacy), the Fed is going to face accommodating the Rest of World eventually/inevitably on its balance sheet.
If it’s a dead cat and it renews its sell off, despite the BoE pledge of spending whatever necessary in support… one week after the same BoE was supposed to begin QT… all the sharks will presumably organize their circle around the BoE’s commitment, much as they did to Britain's commitment to the ERM in ‘92.
Seems like that could get real fugly.
I'm going to post these periodically as a side note, just because it's sort of an interesting "local" commercial thematic.
Listed 5 hours ago.
40 acres, no structure, tall hoops, solar-powered well, 3 greenhouses, "very private setting."
Just tomatoes, I'm sure... 🙄
Let's be frank.
Some of the planet's wealthiest and best-compensated people asked a central bank overnight to intervene to backstop their livelihood, and the central bank did their bidding.
These wealthiest-and-best-compensated people had put on trades that were short-sighted, and they were losing money because of those trades.
They floated whispers in a pliant financial press intimating that the worst-case was the most-probable-case, which is the Paulson Playbook.
Lastly, these same SOBs no doubt pointed & cried "Foul!" when the Big Nickel Whale made the clearinghouse break trades.
"Hello, Chairman Powell? This is, umm, some very responsible participants on Wall Street. We think it's important that you know that, umm, we are seeing some, umm, 'financial risk' here and, umm, there's been some, umm, 'dramatic moves.' And we thought we should communicate this very important information so that, you know, you might maybe do that sorta Bank of England thing, to really 'calm markets.' Because, this isn't about us or our overcompensated livelihood... like we said, we are very responsible participants on Wall Street... but this is just, you know, 'financial risk' & 'dramatic moves' and 'calm markets.' So, if you could also do that thing where you buy the stuff and everyone relaxes and everything goes up, it's win-win all around. We have some thoughts on those purchases... actually we have a list here... because we are trying to be helpful...."
Here's another - 3 days on the market - that I just stumbled on....
"It's also a fully licensed cannabis production property."
All these "Gentleman Farmer" places are being surrendered, because... well, it turns out, the economics suck.
July & August 2020 when the wildfires caused the smoke in the Bay Area to shut everyone indoors for 6 weeks or whatever, I tried to convince my family to move away right before our eldest was to start high school. I couldn't get buy-in from our eldest, for whom the move would be most disruptive... so we stayed. But, yeah... quality of life is not as attractive as it was 20 years ago when we moved back to the Bay Area from SaMo. The hills are brown, the city is a pit, and the bohemian & weirdos that helped make the place interesting for decades have been replaced by tech 20-something millionaires & the RV homeless.
Here's simple cultivation in the SoCal desert... but pvc greenhouses can also be found:
"Unpermitted cannabis used to grown in garage, but cleared already."
Want to share another component of the rural Californian real estate thing. Consider this place:
Okay... transacted in May 2018 for $465K after a $50K price cut. Just eyeballing the graph above, and mortgage rates then were ~4.5%.
The price history is opaque on Redfin, but you can see where they whacked the price by ~$100K a couple days ago, from $795K to $699K.
Now, look at the photos of the place. Photos 20-22 show that this was... a pot farm.
I know an old-school Humboldt grower, who was illicitly active 30 years ago, and who gave it up about 10 years ago, just before legalization. He still lives in the Emerald Triangle, and I saw him about a month ago. Asked how things were going. He said the locals are getting killed. Why? Because this listing is not unique: I have seen a lot of listings statewide that were equally designed to cultivate weed. Here's the deal: the market for pot has been positively flooded by enthusiasts like the listed-owner above who thought they were going to turn a casual profit by growing & selling a dope harvest. Unsurprisingly, price/pound has collapsed. For the locals of the Emerald Triangle who have their "secret spots" deep in the Redwood Curtain, and who enjoyed very handsome returns on their illicit activity much to the benefit of the local economy, their livelihood has been ambushed by indoor or licensed supply.
Now, I'm not shedding tears for anyone on this score: the market is a ruthless mistress for us all with a commercial angle.
But you tell me: I'm going to assume that the May 2018 price presupposed net-positive income at $465K transaction price. Now, that land is just... another piece of California dirt. Now, I loves me some California & her dirt, but there's plenty of it like this up north.
So, why with the mortgage rate move from 4.5% when it transacted to 7.0% today does $699K make sense... even if seller cut $100K off the price a couple days ago?
And you know who's even worse-exposed than the naive commercial dope-growers?
Those who fancied themselves VRBO empire builders, leveraging short-term rentals into ever additional purchases.
Down around Joshua Tree, them people are gonna get hammered by a downturn.
Wile E. Coyote