Joel Litman, President & CEO of Valens Research, joins to the show to discuss the disruption in the real estate market and who’s taking advantage of the opportunities.

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  • There are some ways in which buying a house can be a path to independent living.   On the other hand, we’re expecting currency devaluation and the housing market is propped up on limbo rates. Is it worth taking on debt to buy? Will inflation eat away at the principal, or would you have been better off in PMs?   Have you bought recently? What factored into your decision?

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  • Perhaps you will find this magnificent BBC documentary interesting. It tells the story of the ancient city of Caral, a little north of Lima on the coast of Peru, which is arguably the oldest city in and the beginning of civilization in the Americas. The Lost Pyramids Of Caral There are two points I would like to make about the story told therein of Caral which I think are relevant to libertarians. 1) The early civilization of Caral apparently arose purely out of commerce. This confirms the insights of the Austrian school of economics. And it may be an example of a commercially organized cooperative human society that antedates the rise of any state. 2) This contradicts the presumptions brought to the study by the archaeologists. For one example, at 7:20 one states the following. You can’t build … on the basis of consensus. You have to have leaders and followers. You have to have specialists. You have to have people who are in charge. People who can tell individual groups, alright, today you will be doing this. This group you are going to be doing something different. In other words, in his academic world, the possibility is inconceivable of that human cooperation could be organized by trade — the marketplace — rather than authority.

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  • I recently started looking into the nature of land ownership. I was under the impression that land ownership was absolute- a person is free to lease, sell, rent, put up for collateral, or destroy their land as they see fit. Where, then, does the right of the state to tax and seize fit in? The common sense answer- that ownership is not absolute- is mostly correct. But it’s quite interesting to look into the history of why land ownership is not absolute. The ownership of land that isn’t subject to any higher authority- no state, no landlord, etc.- is called alloidal title or title in alloidum. In feudal times, the only person to hold alloidal title was the feudal lord. He was considered sovereign over the land. No one else had a right to interfere with his use of the property. Other types of ownership that the lord bestowed allowed the people on the land to exercise certain rights, such as the right to sublet, or the right to put the land up as collateral. In modern nation-states, the sovereign (i.e., the government) still exercises exclusive alloidal title. That is to say, you don’t own the land, the United States does. You can’t ever remove the land from their jurisdiction because you don’t have that right. Moreover, as the sovereign, the government retains the right to tax land, seize it through eminent domain, and steal a portion of the land in the event that there is no will. What exactly do landowners own then? They own an interest in real property. When land is bought and sold, what’s actually being legally exchanged is the interest in the land, not the land itself. This is called fee simple ownership. Interestingly, the word fee in this concept is a descendant of the word fief, or land held on the condition of feudal service. Under fee simple ownership, the government- be it feudal lord or “we the people”- retains full ownership of the land, while the subjects of the government are free to exchange title to the land. Never does the land cease to belong to the sovereign, and thus it’s power it protected. As I researched the nature of land ownership, and it’s descent from English common law, the blind justifications made more sense. Of course, they’re not morally right (Thomas Jefferson was in favor of alloidal title) but they make more sense. I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter, and if there’s a professional real estate lawyer who could contribute more to the conversation, that would be great.

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  • We are developing a real estate/community project in the Valdivia area of Chile for entrepreneurs to live and work with one another in an inspiring and supportive environment. It is our hope that once it has been finished, it can then be infinitely replicated all over the world. We’ve learned a lot about how not to do such projects from others who need not be named and one of the biggest lessons we took away was that total openness is the way to go. As we progress, we’re going to be obsessively communicative with everyone we deal with remaining totally transparent about every step we take. It’s in this spirit that we would like to invite everyone to offer their feedback, criticisms, and their suggestions as things progress. Question everything and share this journey with us. There’s no reason for us to grow in isolation when we could be sharing the education with everyone here on the community. Cheers!

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  • Does anyone here have experience investing in timber? I would be interested in any words of advice. I’m most interested in direct investment as the owner of a woodlot but we can also discuss other options such as investing in forestry products companies.

    Jump to Discussion Post 14 replies