Economics 101

One of my earliest memories about Japan was from my economics teacher, in high school. I remember that he seemed to be well liked by the ladies, which isn’t saying much for my town, in retrospect, but had my curiosity in those days. He could walk on his hands and did so a handful of times in class. That, I still can’t do, and I respect it.

And I recall that he said, around the year 2000, if you fold a US 100-dollar bill as many times as you can and put it down on the land in downtown Tokyo, that is how much the land was worth. I can’t remember the point, perhaps supply and demand, but I remember this bit.

I decided to test him, 19 years later. I took a piece of paper about the size of a US 100 dollar bill and folded it as much as I could down to 1.5 x 2 cm or 3 cm squared. Then, I looked at some of the house listings that I am interested in where some listings will show the land price and the house price separately. The median land price of 5 listings was 20,871 JPY per 3 cm squared. Converting currency, that works out to $189 USD per 3 cm squared. So make that 2 US 100-dollar bills folded as much as possible and stacked on top of each other to show the value of the land in Tokyo. I understand that there are several flaws with these calculations but I just wanted to do a quick check to see for myself.

Last year, after hours of looking at listings, I sent 5 notifications of interest to 5 different listings that were posted by 5 different agencies online on a Sunday afternoon so that we could field the responses during the week. All 5 proceeded to call us through the rest of this same Sunday into the evening… Certain agencies called us on a daily basis for a couple of weeks after that as well.

A year later, I am monitoring the listings for a deal that has yet to present itself, and also looking at agency emails for their private listings.

I have received thousands of emails in my lifetime, maybe most of us have, from spam to proper publications and newsletters. One particular agency, I believe, has never seen a normal email before.

This is their typical email about their private listings (I have sprayed out names):

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The email goes on in the same schizophrenic formatting, with photos. Keep in mind, they are selling homes for between a half a million and one million dollars! Would anyone buy a home for a million dollars from an agency with this insane email style?!

Here was my response:

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Using Microsoft’s Outlook, only yellow highlight was available, unfortunately. It’s in English but I think that my point should get across.

It reminds me of when I went to Uluwatu Temple on my trip to Bali. We were high above the coastline along the temple wall taking photos of the beautiful scenery.

One particular tourist was shouting to a scattered group, perhaps an extended family. It seemed to be regular speech but very loud. The responses to him were muted.

In a Larry David way, I yelled at my spouse: “Let’s take a photo over here!!”

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Everyone went quiet.


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