Leonard H. Craver

Leonard H. Craver
Leonard H. "Tony" Craver

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Mayor Bill Bell is stepping down after 16 years as mayor. A lot is being
made about that fact that he won the office 8 times. I think folks who
push that thought are missing the point. If you do a good job in Durham,
you can be re-elected forever. Mayor Bell has done a lot for minorities
and the poor. Yes, Durham has some of the highest taxes and most expansive
social programs. But, Mayor Bell is also on the side of business. I can
think of no other city in North Carolina that has expanded its business
base, revitalized its down town and has made itself more inviting to folks
all over the Triangle than Durham has over the last 16 years.
In a nutshell, Mayor Bell has successfully walked a political tight rope
during his sixteen years as Mayor of Durham. He has reached the other
side with a high degree of professionalism. A job well done, Mayor Bell.
Enjoy your retirement.


Are you happy? According to the Associated Press Science Department
you are not. They have been collecting data since 2012 from countries
all over the world to determine which countries have the happiest
citizens. The winner is Norway followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland
and Finland. Obviously climate was not a criteria. Canada was 7th and the
U S was 14th. The bottom five were the Central African Republic (last
place), Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda.
The article went on to say that the degree of happiness in the U S had
dropped 5 % in the last decade, proving that money does not bring happiness.
If money were a major critiria than why are the five most unhappy
nations among the poorest? I agree with their premise that wealth alone
cannot make you happy except that as the saying goes, rich or poor it is
good to have money. Another interesting observation is that the happy
five have very high taxes that cover health care and education. However I
wonder how happy they would be if that tax burden was raised enough
to include supporting a military strong enough to keep them free. We,
the United States, do that for them and don’t charge a thing. One last
thought: why does it seem that folks from all over the world want to get
to America by any means possible and we are not among the happy five?


This is not about a gas shortage or food shortage. This is about a housing
shortage. Ten years ago when I was showing houses to new arrivals, I
told them they would not have trouble finding what they wanted but
would have trouble choosing from the gracious selection being offered. I
really miss those days. Now it is not only hard to find what they want but
they usually have to bid against others to get it. We have described over
the last few years all of the reasons for the current housing shortage. It
all started with the bursting of the housing bubble. After that folks could
not sell their house because financing options dried up. Others did not want
to sell because their value was too low due to the nearly 30% drop in prices.
A third major reason was no confidence in job security. These
and other reasons sparked a cycle of tying up a lot of houses with long
term leases. As this problem has slowly resolved itself, those few houses
that were left on the market have been gobbled up almost as soon as
they appear for sale. As a company, Craver Real Estate is eagerly
wanting new listings since in this active market we have just about sold
everything in the inventory.
Let’s focus on the new construction shortage. The Wall Street Journal
recently had an interesting article where they quoted the National
Home Builders Assoc. The NHBA knows their industry just like National
Assoc. of Realtors knows the brokerage market. NHBA blames lender
restraints and regulations on the shortage of new homes being produced.
Home ownership is at a 50 year low, down from 69% a decade
ago to just 63.7% now. To realize how significant this is, if the home
building side of the housing market had produced at their normal rate
last year it would have added over $300 billion to the U S economy.
That would have increase our GDP by 1.8%. That doesn’t sound like
much unless you understand that our annual GDP has not reached 3%
in eight years.
Personally I blame the Dodd-Frank bill that was passed as a title only
and then written over the last number of years. No one wants to go
back to the “loan to anybody” days just before the housing crisis, but, as
usual, the government swung the pendulum too far in the other direction.
In normal conditions 12% of mortgages are at risk of default. Last
year that dropped to 5.1% meaning that lenders, due in large part to
restrictions built into Dodd-Frank, were not making loans to thousands
of people who pose very little risk. The article says that these folks have
been kept away from riding the recent growth in housing prices, forcing
them to rent instead of buy.


Bob Baranick, a former Disney “imagineer” who helped design Epcot
and Disneyland Paris has announced his intention to develop a
theme park in…….wait for it…..Saxapahaw. I love Saxapahaw and
there is definitely not another theme park there to compete. They
are going to feature a train ride so I will be there.
 There are a lot of professional and not so professional house flippers
out there, all inspired by their favorite flipping show on TV.
ATTOM Data Solutions recently studied this art form and listed the
top 25 zip codes in the Triangle for profitable flipping. There is such
a thing as unprofitable flipping. Not too surprisingly, six of the top
ten zip codes are in Durham. Here they are: #9 27705, #7 27712, #5
27704, #3 27703, #2 27707 and #1 is 27701.
 There is a list out of the most expensive listing in each state. North
Carolina’s contribution is a house in Asheville on top of the mountain
overlooking the city. It can be yours for just $10.95 million.
That’s cheap compared to the California entry overlooking the Pacific
for a measly $250 million.
 The top tourist attraction in North Carolina last year was the NC
Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh with 937,341 visitors.
Durham’s Museum of Life and Science came in 7th. The Duke Chapel,
usually high on this list, was closed last year for restoration.
 Even though almost every TV show takes place in the city there is a
movement once again to the suburbs. So naturally someone has
made a list of the hottest suburbs in the U S. Checking in at # 10 is
the Apex area followed closely at # 12 by the Wildwood/Allen/Mint
Hill area near Charlotte. Who’s number one? That belongs to a suburb
of Denver. It is growing like a weed. I couldn’t resist!
 U S News and World Report comes up with a best places to live in
America list every year. I do not understand how you can be # 2 one
year and # 6 the next year. Yes I do. They sell more magazines if
they mix it up a little. Former number one a few years ago, Raleigh-
Durham came in at # 7 this time. Charlotte was #14, Winston-Salem
# 37 and Greensboro #51. One and two were Austin and Denver.
 If you are painting your front porch this weekend, don’t complain.
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI is repainting the world’s
longest and most beautiful porch along with you. I try to make it a
point to visit this 660 foot long porch every summer. You should


This is Newsletter No. 63. That’s a lot of verbal B S. But I have enjoyed
writing every one. I do hear from a lot of you after every issue with comments
and compliments and they are all greatly appreciated. In the future
I hope to write the Newsletter more often as we continue to pursue
our real estate business full tilt, as they say. We are glad you are along for
the ride.