January 17, 2008

You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet In California

The Sacramento Bee reports from California. “One of the most turbulent years in a decade for Sacramento-area real estate ended in December with 2,440 homes changing hands in the eight-county region, the fewest sales since 1995 in some counties, according to DataQuick. Sacramento County’s median sales prices slipped to $280,000 during the month, down more than $100,000 and 27.6 percent off their August 2005 peaks. Those prices were the lowest since February 2004, DataQuick reported.’”

“The continuing decline in home values prompted Sacramento-based researcher TrendGraphix to declare December the ‘resurrection of the $200,000 house.’ The firm reported that 12 percent of the 13,994 homes now for sale in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties are priced below $200,000, with the majority being homes repossessed by banks.”

“A year ago just 2 percent of homes for sale in the region were priced below $200,000.”

The San Francisco Chronicle. “Bay Area home sales plummeted to the slowest December recorded in at least two decades, according to Dataquick. It was the 35th consecutive month of decreasing sales as foreclosures.”

“DataQuick said the December median was $587,500 last month, down 4.9 percent from $618,000 in December last year. It was an 11.7 percent drop from the peak median of $665,000 reached in July. For resale houses, the median dropped in every county except Santa Clara.”

“The difficulty and expense of getting ‘jumbo’ mortgages - those over $417,000 is clearly reflected in the sales results, which show 1,610 jumbo mortgage purchases in December, down 65.7 percent from December 2006.”

The Press Democrat. “Home sales usually slow over winter, but this December they nearly vanished. Only 188 homes sold in Sonoma County during December, about half the average for the month and the lowest since The Press Democrat began tracking the market 17 years ago.”

“The typical home sold for $466,500 in December, down 18.2 percent from a year ago and the first time the median fell under the half-million mark since May 2004. Prices have now fallen for 18 consecutive months, in year-over-year comparisons.”

“Housing peaked in August 2005 when the typical home sold for $619,000, ending an eight-year run when prices nearly tripled.”

“In Petaluma, Kevin and Rebecca Boesler have cut the price of their home 5 percent since listing it for sale in August. The 2,500-square-foot, four-bedroom house was originally placed on the market at $789,000. Hoping to attract a buyer, the Boeslers have reduced the price to $749,000.”

“‘It’s priced with the competition, but the market is just crawling around right now. I think the buyers are sitting on the fence,’ said Scott Rowlands, the agent from Santa Rosa with the listing.”

“The family hopes to sell so they can purchase or build a home on country property, Rowlands said. ‘So they’re willing to take a loss, but they’re going to buy something a lot cheaper than two years ago, if they can make it happen,’ he said.”

From CNN Money. “A former real estate appraiser for Washington Mutual is suing the bank, claiming she was blacklisted last year for providing a housing market forecast that was too gloomy.”

“Jeniffer Wertz says WaMu stopped accepting her appraisals in mid-2007 a month after she reported that her local housing market in California was ‘declining.’”

“But Wertz’s assessment shouldn’t have been controversial at the time. According to the National Association of Realtors, home prices in her hometown of Sacramento fell $9,000, or 2.5 percent, to $356,500 in the second quarter of 2007.”

“And most economists were already characterizing the housing market as a bubble that was ready to burst.”

“In the lawsuit…Wertz says she completed appraisals on two houses in May and then quickly got a call from a WaMu sales manager demanding she change her outlook to ’stable’ so a loan could be approved.”

“The WaMu sales manager also demanded Wertz change her appraisal process to produce higher prices for the properties she was evaluating, according to Wertz’s lawyer Stephen Danz.”

“When Wertz refused to comply, she claims the sales manager threatened to block her from doing future appraisal work for the bank. A month later, Wertz’s suit says, a third-party appraisal request assigner told her WaMu would no longer accept her work.”

The Contra Costa Times. “The early months of 2008 are expected to unleash more pain for a mortgage industry that has disclosed plans to shed more than 1,600 jobs in California.”

“Washington Mutual is among the companies that recently filed layoff notices with the state. ‘Some of them are home loan center jobs,’ said Gary Kishner, a Washington Mutual spokesman. ‘These were people involved in loan fulfillment. They did the back-end work for processing loans and things like that.’”

“Hundreds of East Bay workers involved in residential real estate transactions, financings or construction. ‘I’ve stopped looking in the mortgage area,’ said Victoria Christol, an Oakland resident. ‘With all the mortgage problems, the business is not the same as it used to be. Lenders are not issuing the same loans they did. You might find a job, but you can’t make as much money.’”

“She added that she has never seen the region’s mortgage market in such bad shape. ‘It’s going to get worse,’ Christol said. ‘You haven’t seen anything yet.’”

“Gina Cefalu, a real estate broker in Danville, said that a major rebound has yet to materialize on the horizon. ‘My sense is that this is going to go down further before it comes up,’ she said. ‘It does not look like it’s coming back this year.’”

The North County Times. “California’s economy will continue to slow, but maybe it won’t, or maybe it could tip into recession, a federal economist said Wednesday in a speech thick with caveats.”

“‘The good news this morning on the way in: oil, $90 a barrel,’ Gary Zimmerman, senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said to tentative laughter Wednesday. ‘Who thought that was going to be good news?’”

“Zimmerman said rising interest rates could bode ill for construction and other industries that depend heavily on credit. Bank of Escondido Chief Credit Officer Mike Churchwell said the bank no longer loans to companies that depend on a booming economy to help them cover their debt, he said.”

“‘We don’t want to give people the rope to hang themselves with,’ Churchwell said. ‘We want to help clients make good decisions.’”

The Press Enterprise. “Home builders in the Inland region outdid themselves when times were good, and have built tens of thousands of homes too many during the last few years, a Philadelphia economist says.”

“In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said Peter Linneman, principal of Linneman Associates, builders have erected 30,000 to 40,000 more homes than they should have.”

“Linneman said growth will catch up to the glut by year’s end. ‘It won’t necessarily return to crazy,’ Linneman said, referring to the double-digit annual growth in home values that took place earlier this decade. ‘This area came to believe that you couldn’t lose money in housing.’”

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “With fewer home sales, falling prices and economic uncertainty, this year’s housing market may get worse before it gets better. That was the message delivered Wednesday by the state’s top economist on housing at a monthly meeting of the Shorewood Realtors at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel.”

“Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist of the California Association of Realtors, blamed the credit crunch and buyer reluctance for a negative housing outlook for 2008.”

“‘I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing a decline in the median in 2008,’ she said.”

“After statewide home sales peaked in 2004 and 2005, with each year hitting about 625,000 unit sales on an adjusted annual basis, the market bottomed out with 287,000 sales in 2007, Appleton-Young said.”

“‘I think we are just about, if not already at, the bottom,’ she said. ‘It’s not going to get much lower than that.’”

“The South Bay saw a 45 percent drop in sales compared with a year ago, according to CAR. Besides cities like Torrance, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach, CAR’s South Bay figures include Long Beach, San Pedro and Wilmington.”

“The run-up in home appreciation created ‘a mentality that you cannot afford not to buy a home in California,’ Appleton-Young said, adding that now people have the opposite mentality.”

“‘You’re dealing with buyers now who are waiting until the end of the market downturn,’ she said.”

“Appleton-Young added some cautious encouragement for buyers: ‘No one rings a bell at the bottom of the market.’”

The Independent. “With some bitterness, condo developer John Blankenship declared to the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Commission that he would not stand before them again.”

“After 37 years in the business, Blankenship said that he was defeated not only by a declining market and the subprime loan crisis, but by a city permitting process that prevented him from profiting on his projects.”

“It is the city’s loss, he added, because for the past couple of years Blankenship Construction has been one of the few still creating condos in the $600,000-$700,000 range — middle-class workforce housing, just like the city said it needs.”

“Blankenship and his wife, Hazel, continued to insist that they will not build, especially in light of the glut of low-end condos on the market in Santa Barbara: Currently 184 are comparable to those built by Blankenship. A few years ago these units were fetching up to $700,000; now they are going for $450,000.”

“‘It used to be worth it. An entitled property used to be worth money,’ she said.”

“Most of the buyers for their $600,000 condos were subprime borrowers, and although the last count shows a mere 41 homes in foreclosure in the City of Santa Barbara, compared to 450 in the Santa Maria and Lompoc area, the banks have stopped making those kinds of loans.”

“Consequently nobody, said Hazel Blankenship, including herself and her husband, ‘has the nerve to try to build.’”

Too Many Bubbles Have Been Going On For Too Long

Some housing bubble news from Wall Street and Washington. CNN Money, “Housing starts and building permits plunged in December much more than expected, resulting in a full-year decline in new home construction that was the sharpest drop in 27 years. And there is little sign things will get better soon. According to government data released Thursday, the full-year total for building permits posted the biggest drop in 33 years.”

“The pace of housing starts in December dropped 14 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.01 million in December, according to the Census Bureau report. That figure is down from the 1.17 million November reading, which was also revised lower.”

“For the year, housing starts fell 25 percent to 1.35 million. That decline represents the biggest drop since the recession year of 1980 and the third largest drop since the Census Bureau started tracking this activity in 1959.”

From Bloomberg. “Merrill Lynch & Co. reported a record loss after writing down $16.7 billion of failed investments. The writedown included $11.5 billion to account for the plummeting value of subprime mortgages and related bonds called collateralized debt obligations.”

“Merrill also reduced the value of bond insurance contracts by $3.1 billion, saying provider ACA Capital Holdings Inc.’s credit rating had been slashed below investment grade, making it a less-reliable counterparty.”

“The firm wrote down the value of other mortgages by $949 million. Its commercial bank units also took an $869 million charge for their investments in mortgages and related securities.” “The writedowns by Merrill add to more than $100 billion of subprime-related losses reported since May by the world’s largest banks and securities firms.”

“Founder Charles Merrill, who burnished his reputation by telling customers to sell stocks just before the 1929 stock market crash, would be appalled at the firm’s ‘bubble mentality’ of recent years, said Edwin Perkins, author of the 1999 biography of Merrill.”

“‘Things just get out of control, and once you’re involved in it, there’s no way to get out of it gracefully,’ said Perkins.”

The Guardian. “Stricken German lender WestLB will probably foot the bill for two structured investment vehicles (SIVs) by putting them onto its books, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.”

“Alexander Stuhlmann said that it would probably take two further SIVs onto its books before the year end. ‘It looks like that is the way it’s going to be,’ Stuhlmann said.”

“These two SIVs, Harrier and Kestrel, have a combined volume of about $13 billion and such a move would erode the bank’s capital base further.”

The Wall Street Journal. “The great CDO debacle has claimed another German scalp. Hypo Real Estate said it would write down €390 million ($578.3 million) on its €1.5 billion exposure to U.S. collateralized debt obligations.”

The Associated Press. “Regional bank Huntington Bancshares Inc. said Thursday it swung to a loss in the fourth quarter due to losses from a relationship with a subprime mortgage lender.”

“Huntington’s financial results for the quarter included $512.1 million in total provisions for credit losses as delinquencies and defaults rise, especially among mortgages given to customers with poor credit histories.”

“CIT Group Inc., the largest independent commercial finance company in the U.S., reported a $123.2 million fourth-quarter loss because of bad home mortgages and the declining value of its student-loan business.”

“The company said it had $1.03 billion in home loans in which payments were past due by 60 days or more as of Dec. 31, or 9.9 percent of its total unpaid balance. That compares with $538.8 million, or 4.9 percent, a year ago.”

“The highest delinquency rates were in Florida and California, Chief Financial Officer Joseph Leone said on the call.”

From MarketWatch. “Bank of New York Mellon Corp. said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit dropped from a year earlier as the company took charges on collateralized debt obligations and a conduit it sponsors.”

“The latest quarter’s results included charge of $180 million to restructure and consolidate the assets of a conduit it sponsors called Three Rivers Funding Corp.”

“Bank of New York Mellon, the company that resulted from the merger of Bank of New York and Mellon Financial Corp., also took a $118 loss to write down the value of collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs.”

“Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s increased their scrutiny of bond insurers. Ambac and MBIA dropped in early trading and their risk of default soared after Moody’s said it may cut Ambac’s AAA credit rating.”

“‘No one knows when the end may be in sight, including the raters,’ said Richard Larkin, a municipal bond analyst at JB Hanauer & Co.. ‘The rating agencies have lost as much credibility as the bond insurers. Every time you turn around they’re changing their minds about what’s going to happen in the subprime-mortgage market.’”

“Losing the AAA stamp would cripple the bond insurers’ business and throw doubt on the ratings of $2.4 trillion of debt the industry guarantees, causing as much as $200 billion in losses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

“Ambac yesterday reduced the value of some contracts on debt it guarantees by $3.5 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31 and ousted CEO Robert Genader. ‘This loss significantly reduces the company’s capital cushion and heightens concern’ about losses on mortgage-backed securities, Moody’s analyst James Eck said in the statement.”

“The risk of Ambac defaulting on its debt soared, trading in credit-default swaps shows. Investors demanded 22 percent upfront and 5 percent a year to protect Ambac’s bonds from default for five years, according to London-based CMA Datavision. That rose from 15.5 percent upfront and 5 percent a year.”

“MBIA’s subordinated notes sold last week tumbled as much as 12 percent, bond traders said. Credit-default swaps linked to MBIA soared 9 percentage points to 25 percent upfront and 5 percent a year, according to broker Phoenix Partners Group. That means it would cost $2.5 million initially and $500,000 a year to protect $10 million in MBIA bonds from default for five years.”

The LA Times. “Countrywide Financial Corp., stuck with tens of billions of dollars in “alternative” mortgages it can’t sell, is pushing customers to refinance into traditional loans that can be easily unloaded by the struggling lender.”

“The home-loan giant seeks to have $12 billion of these exotic loans refinanced into uncontroversial mortgages and has told its sales force to pull out all the stops to get borrowers to go along, internal documents show.”

“It’s unclear exactly what kinds of loans are in the $12-billion refinance mix, except that they are for less than $417,000 — the limit for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

“A senior Countrywide loan officer described them as a ‘hodgepodge’ that includes many adjustable-rate mortgages with optional ultralow payments made to borrowers with good credit who obtained them on a ’stated income’ basis — without documenting their earnings.”

“‘Countrywide is desperate to dump them to recoup the capital by refinancing them into marketable loans,’ the loan officer said. ‘It’s the equivalent of a manufacturer who gets stuck with a ton of unsold merchandise after the Christmas season. So he says, ‘Let’s liquidate the inventory.’”

“The documents describing the program make clear that the replacement loans must be ‘conforming’ — adhering to the standards of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — or ‘government loans,’ the highly documented mortgages that can be backed by the FHA or VA.”

“‘You must figure out how to originate every loan as a Conforming or Government loan!’ the instructions read. ‘Ineligible Loan Types: Do not originate!!!’”

“If borrowers ask why they are being pitched a new loan, loan officers are told to reply: ‘As you may have read in recent news articles, Countrywide is committed to ensuring our borrowers are in the best situation possible. We want to help you by determining if we can significantly improve your mortgage rate and payment.’”

“For Countrywide’s $12-billion refinancing initiative, its success is ‘by no means certain,’ said Frederick Cannon, a mortgage industry analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.”

“‘It will be pretty tricky in this market,’ he said. For one thing, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, after being burned by the national slide in home prices, now buy mortgages for no more than 75% of a property’s value.”

“‘But I guess desperate times call for desperate measures,’ Cannon said.”

From CNBC. “Next Tuesday, the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate is holding its 12th annual real estate conference. The keynote speaker: Angelo Mozilo, co-founder and CEO of Countrywide.”

“That drew the ire of locals who formed ‘Disinvite Mozilo.’ They planned to protest the event, feeling it inappropriate for a university to bill an event on the state of real estate around a man some consider part of the problem.”

“But, Wednesday afternoon, USD announced Mozilo was pulling out. His choice, it appears, not theirs.”

“‘Due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts resulting from the proposed acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. by Bank of America, Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide’s Chairman and CEO, will not be able to participate in the conference.’”

“This week three major banks are scheduled to testify. Through Wednesday, Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. had ‘fessed up. Banks ruined their balance sheets and market values for the sake of SIVs and MBSs.”

“Merrill Lynch dove headlong into subprime with its purchase of First Franklin, a lender. Morgan Stanley bought hedge funds and stepped up its trading. Citigroup did it all. New York Stock Exchange member firms made $22.7 billion in 2006 before taxes, nearly double what they made the previous year. The party kept going in 2007.”

“This week alone it’s possible more than $30 billion in assets will be written down among three of the worst offenders.”

“Banks need to start revamping how they evaluate credit, and regulators need to put specific penalties in place against credit professionals that knowingly pass off junk to investors.”

“As former Sen. George Mitchell said in his report on drug use in baseball ‘it is now time to look to the future, to get on with the important and difficult task that lies ahead. That is the only way this cloud will be removed from the game.’”

From Reuters. “Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker thinks the U.S. central bank is to blame for allowing bubbles to inflate asset markets, and says that current Fed chief Ben Bernanke is in a tough spot.”

“Critics blame the ultra-low interest rate policies of the final Greenspan years — when the U.S. central bank steered overnight federal funds rates to 1 percent and held them there for a prolonged period of time — for fueling the housing bubble.”

“‘Too many bubbles have been going on for too long…The Fed is not really in control of the situation,’ the Times quoted Volcker as saying, in clear criticism of both Bernanke and his predecessor Alan Greenspan.”

The Perception Is We Have A Ways To Go

Bloomberg reports from New York. “Long Island and Queens home sales dropped 25 percent in the fourth quarter and the inventory of properties surged as the housing decline hit residential areas east of Manhattan, Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers said. A total of 38,769 homes were on the market, 41 percent more than a year ago. ‘We’re seeing real price erosion across every major market,’ on Long Island, said Jonathan Miller, director of research for Radar Logic Inc.”

“Home sellers in the Northeast are having to lower their expectations as the real estate decline worsens. An index measuring signed contracts for previously owned homes fell 13 percent in the region in November, the most in the country, the Realtors group said in a Jan. 8 report.”

“The biggest hurdle to sales on Long Island is homeowners who refuse to lower their prices, said Dottie Herman, CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman. ‘I guess about 35 percent are saying ‘I need to get this price and if I don’t get it, I’m not selling,’ Herman said. ‘I don’t consider those real sellers.’”

Newsday from New York. “House sales and prices are down. Nassau Assessor Harvey Levinson, however, contends in a new assessment roll that the value of residential and business property is up.”

“But tell that to Nassau’s homeowners whose property tax assessments went up. The MLS of Long Island reports that the median sale price of a Nassau residence dropped 4.8 percent last month over the year before.”

“‘My clients resent that assessments are not reflecting reality,’ said Fred Perry, a Dix Hills lawyer who represents thousands of Long Island homeowners.”

“Vincent Jambrone, who was notified this month that his Hicksville home had increased in value to $558,300 from $527,200, said he wished he could find a buyer at that price. ‘I offered to sell it to anybody over at the assessor’s office,’ he said.”

“Levinson acknowledged that home values have decreased in some areas, adding that almost half of Nassau’s 383,000 homeowners received notice of a drop in assessment. The rest, however, went up.”

“Levinson said he expects residential assessments will catch up to market value by next January. ‘If the market continues to soften,’ he said, ‘it is likely that most taxpayers will see substantial reductions.’”

The Staten Island Advance from New York. “We’re all going to remember 2007 as a bad year for the housing market on Staten Island. Foreclosures zoomed, sales prices tumbled, and new housing starts darn near disappeared. And current sales of older homes have pretty much been stopped in their tracks.”

“‘It’s dead.’ one real estate agent conceded this weekend. ‘There’s nothing going on, and if you expect to sell a house you’d better be realistic.’”

“Would-be retirees counting on the sale of their Island home to bankroll a lavish leisure-years lifestyle have adjusted their thinking more to little-cabin-in-the-woods as opposed to beachfront in Bermuda. Such is the world of boom-and-bust finance, I guess.”

The Morning Call from Pennsylvania. “Lehigh Valley home prices fell last year for the first time since 1998, as the slowing market that has engulfed most of the country finally rolled back some gains from the boom years here.”

“At the same time, the number of homes sold last year hit the lowest level since 2001. ‘If you need to sell a house, this is probably the worst time in 10 years to do so,’ said Bethlehem economist Kamran Afshar.”

“And there’s little optimism that a turnaround is on the horizon. The number of pending sales contracts fell to its lowest level in December since the period immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

“The scant number of expected home sales is more remarkable in light of new subdivisions that have boosted the number of houses in the Valley since 2001 by thousands.”

“‘People are not jumping into the market,’ said Stephen Thode, director of the Goodman Center for Real Estate Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. ‘The perception is we have a ways to go on this. Prices could actually fall even further.’”

“‘Going back to the late 1980s, and early 1990s, we went through the same thing. It just had to come to a stop,’ said Jim Keim, a licensed real estate agent who works primarily as an appraiser. ‘It took a couple of years to recover. It really did.’”

“The association report shows that some of the Valley’s most desirable neighborhoods registered declines in average prices in 2007. Home prices fell year-over-year in the Salisbury, Bangor Area and Nazareth Area school districts. Real estate agents say some people have been forced to sell their homes at a loss.”

“‘I’ve seen people drop their price by $100,000 from what they paid four years ago,’ said Clay Mitman, owner of Prudential Paul Ford Realtors in Easton. ‘That’s happening, and it’s not just an isolated situation.’”

“Mitman, who sat on the board of the local Realtors’ association, said many people overpaid for their homes during the boom years and now owe more money than their homes could fetch if listed for sale.”

The Canton Repository from Ohio. “Terry and Darlene Gulley may be the face of the foreclosure problem in Stark County. In financial straits because of a job layoff, the couple turned to a subprime mortgage for their home and ended up losing it after 19 years.”

“Stark County has seen foreclosures grow from 380 in 1995 to a record 2,811 last year, well over a 600 percent increase, according to state Supreme Court figures. Despite the explosion, the numbers are growing even faster elsewhere in Ohio. Stark’s numbers grew at a rate that ranked 20th out of 88 counties.”

“Only about 15 percent of the foreclosures are tax-related, said Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler.”

“The Gulleys bought their home in Perry Township in 1987 on a land contract. Their payments were $385 a month. They took out a 30-year fixed interest mortgage at 7.5 percent in 1992, and the payments went to $585.”

“But like so many in Stark County, he was laid off in 2002 from his job. They needed money, so they refinanced with Equicredit on a five-year, adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) with payments of $725.”

“Then in 2004 Ameriquest contacted them and said they could get them a lower rate. ‘I told them on the phone I wanted a fixed rate,’ Gulley said. ‘Then we found out it was a 2-year ARM.’”

“Also, ‘The property was appraised way higher that it was worth.’ The price in 1987 was $39,900, and the Stark County auditor valued it at $80,000 in 2006. In 2004, Ameriquest’s appraiser valued it at $185,000.”

“Ameriquest…formerly one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country, stopped taking loans applications in August. ‘We are in the process of winding down the business,’ said spokesman Chris Orlando.”

“The Gulleys only borrowed $112,000. It was a 2-year ARM for a shorter term, so payments were $826. ‘We hoped we’d (eventually) be able to get a fixed rate,’ but after two years of on-time payments, Ameriquest said no. When the teaser rate expired, ‘It started increasing by the hundreds,’ Gulley said.”

“The first jump went to $1,015 a month. ‘When it got to that point, I said ‘We can’t do this.’ He called Ameriquest and ‘I asked them what we could do. The woman on the phone said ‘You just can’t afford your house. There’s nothing we can do.’”

“‘At that point, my wife and I decided to move’ in Nov. 2006, he said.”

“The house went for $55,000 at a sheriff’s sale, and ‘Ameriquest wanted to come after me for the other $50,000 or so,’ Gulley said. In September 2007, the Gulleys filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner’s plan, because it requires people with regular income to repay all or part of their debts.”

“Ohio joined other states in suing Ameriquest for its lending practices, getting $6.6 million for the state’s share of the settlement. The Gulleys’ portion would have been $255, but they didn’t file for it. ‘It’s like a slap in the face to me.’”

Bits Bucket And Craigslist Finds For January 17, 2008

Please post off-topic ideas, links and Craigslist finds here.