Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sundance's evolution

This past weekend, we drove to Sundance resort. This is for us an annual ritual to drive 45 minute to that magical spot. Unlike most places in the “civilized” world, we always find the place totally unchanged, year after year. 
Well, almost, because in the absence of obvious change or “new stuff”, the place ages. The buildings fade away, the wooden stairs split, the vegetation invades a little bit more.

A pessimist could say that the place is going to the dogs. I say that I'd love to be in charge of maintenance at that resort, because there would be nothing for me to do!

Employees are not engaged, seem absent-minded, as if the place had fallen asleep. Robert Redford, the owner, turned 81 in August and this might show...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Finally, flat-fee realtors!

If your house sold for $500,000 or $1 million, would you enjoy paying the real estate agents involved in the transaction $30,000 or $60,000 in commission?

I guess not... Even though I tried briefly, decades ago, to join this shady profession and quit a year later because I found it particularly unethical, I've always considered its selling commission structure like highway robbery.

In a 2015 Gallup survey, real estate agents ranked below lawyers and used-car salesmen for trustworthiness with a dismal 20% rating! In spite of it, this strange system has held-up because it was a de facto monopoly and had the support of one of the strongest lobby in America.

Yet, today, we're starting to see some erosion in that outrageous commission scheme and it's a good sign. So, with this in mind, just bear with me, as I try to explain. A traditional listing agent typically charges 3% commission for listing a property and that's where a flat fee of say $3,000 charged by Redefy compares to the $15,000 or $30,000 portion of the commission mentioned in the above example.

The seller will still have to fork up the remaining 3% that goes to the selling agent, but instead of paying respectively $30,000 or $60,000 in total commissions, the amount will drop to $18,000 and $33,000 respectively.

Purplebricks is another company (from the UK) that offers a similar business model at $3,200 per listing and there are plenty of others outfits like Homie, that seem intent to making a dent into the cost of selling and buying a home.
I just hope these alternative solutions make it, spread like wildfire and are not thwarted by that nefarious and powerful monopoly, called National Association of Realtors.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Obit, the movie...

This weekend, we went out to see a documentary called “Obit”. It featured the way obituaries come to life at the New York Times, driven by a team of writers who are crafting the live stories of people that are more or less famous.

This process is filled with time-pressures, painstaking research, creativity, sometimes errors; occasionally, they'll even write an obituary in advance so can be pulled out from their files, updated and brought in to press at a moment's notice.

What the New York Time does is simply exceptional. While the idea behind this film was great, the execution could have been more streamlined, perhaps made a bit shorter and less boring.

This said, my take-away was that we should all write our own obituaries in advance of our passing, so they fully reflect who we really are and what we think we have accomplished – or not during our earthly passage!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time to get on the Hyperloop!

You probably have all heard about the Hyperloop transportation technology. If you haven't or want a refresher of what this new mean of transportation is, it simply consists of a sealed, low-pressure tube through which passenger pods travel free of air resistance and friction thanks to magnetic levitation, reaching speeds around 600 mph.

Presently a third of a mile loop exists in Nevada and in 2016, the Hyperloop launched a competition involving 100 countries. The number of candidates was first narrowed to 24 finalists in April, and just now, the 10 selected routes were announced in the U.S., Canada, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Those of us in the ski tourism industry know how critical ease of access is to destinations ski resorts like Park City. In fact, I'm convinced that it's our ease of access, not so much our snow, the Olympics or our exotic liquor laws (!!!), that have put Park City on top of the U.S. ski map.

This has also dovetailed with a shrinking length of stay by winter visitors over recent decades; as a result getting there fast is key. The bad news for people from Park City is that a 360-mile route from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Pueblo going through Denver Airport, Denver, along with a spur planned all the way to Silverthorne and Vail, was one of these lucky 10 sites selected.

With Hyperloop, Vail travel time would be just 9 minutes away from Denver. This means that Utah's competitive advantage over Colorado would vaporize if we choose to stay on the sidelines and not become part of that new technology. In terms of timetable, Hyperloop hopes to see 3, out of the 10 full-scale systems, operating by 2021.

It appears pretty obvious to me that Park City can't ignore this new development, but must move as a community, joining forces with the greater Salt Lake City area, from Provo to Logan, Utah, to get as soon as possible on the Hyperloop bandwagon.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The stress-free life

For more than a decade, my job and my life have been much stress-free than they used to be when I had to be a rain-maker, was expected to pull rabbits out of my hat and counting on the miracles I performed to please my boss and keep my job.

To me, the joy of retirement has been more a situation of having been free of stress than work, or just having time for myself.

The proof is that, even in my new life, I still love to work and sometimes still get far too absorbed by it.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

When we stereotype people...

Often time, we have that discussion about how Americans are different from French people from a culture and attitude standpoint.

This is when I decide that what makes more difference than the country of origin is where the individual stacks up in the socioeconomic ranks than geography or even traditions. Think about it.

Humanity is pretty much the same everywhere and today's big difference is more likely to be found in someone's actual stage on life and how hard or easy it is to survive day by day, than by that person's passport.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Not an "Epic" incentive

Vail Resorts isn't that generous, but is trying all kind of tricks to get its clientele to commit early to their next season's ski pass.

In May, they begin by asking for a $50 deposit towards the pass lowest price by offering a few “buddy passes” that are a bit cheaper than their outrageous window price and will let you ride the few lifts open during summer as long as you don't have a bike in tow (if you do, you must buy a special day ticket or a season pass). 
If you can't decide to purchase your season's pass by Labor Day, the cost goes up by $20 until the final deadline at the beginning of October. All in all, skimpy incentives in relation to more than a 6 percent increase of their pass price over the previous season!