March 6, 2012

Trying To Figure Out What Normal Looks Like

A report from the Idaho Statesman. “About 8,000 pages of personal financial information about Tamarack Resort partner Alfredo Miguel Afif have been sent to Bank of America, which is seeking $4.9 million to pay off a lease on two chair lifts. The submission should satisfy attorneys for Bank of America and end a judge’s plan to issue a civil warrant for Miguel’s arrest, said Miguel’s personal accountant, Leonard De Los Prados. The Valley County ski resort fell on hard times in 2008 and defaulted on a $250 million note. Tamarack owes money to Credit Suisse, its biggest lender, and a variety of other creditors.”

“Miguel invested $29.2 million of his personal money in Tamarack Resort, including $6 million spent in 1996 to repay all debts to local vendors left by a previous developer of the resort, which was then called Valbois, De Los Prados said. Miguel’s investment is now ‘all gone’ following the resort’s 2008 declaration of bankruptcy and default of a Credit Suisse Bank loan of $250 million, said De Los Prados, who is also treasurer of Tamarack Resort.”

The Oregonian. “Nearly one in five Oregon and Portland-area homeowners with a mortgage owe more on the loan than their home is worth CoreLogic reported. In the Portland area, 19.6 percent of homes were underwater in the fourth quarter of 2011, representing an increase of 10,000 homes from the previous three months. In all, the firm says, more than 93,000 Portland-area homeowners posted negative equity in their home for the quarter, and another 29,000 — 6 percent — were near negative equity.”

KGW in Oregon. “A bill dealing with homeowners in foreclosure in the Oregon Senate passed with strong bipartisan support. ‘If the laws had passed last year, we would have still been in this house today,’ Ex-Salem Homeowner Ginny Real said.”

“Speaking outside the home her and her husband owned for 24 years Real is angry at the way her bank foreclosed on their home. Real said her husband got seriously ill and it was tough making the $700-a month house payment. So when she heard about the new Home Modification program she contacted her bank and began the process to lower her payment to just under $400 a month.”

“‘I ended up applying three times. They (the bank) lost the paperwork twice. Third time they told me everything was going through and we got a knock on the door saying somebody bought the house and we were out in ten days.’ Now, Real and her husband live with their daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren. Her daughter Jami Real blames the bank for the foreclosure.”

“‘They didn’t play fair at all, they’re crooked. Something needs to be in place to protect the homeowner not just the bank,’ Real said.”

Komo News on Washington. “A local woman who’s been very vocal about her foreclosure fight with Bank of America is about to head to the other Washington, where she’ll be meeting with several groups, including the Obama task force. As Vera Johnson gets ready for her trip, she’s asking people here in the Puget Sound area to share their tales about how their lives have turned upside-down because of the mortgage crisis.”

“After a very public outcry, Johnson got a modification, helping her keep her home and business open. But she fears it may not help her in the long run. ‘My house is under water. It’s under water by 30 percent. They gave me a modification. They didn’t give me a principal reduction. I’m gonna be in the same situation in four years,’ she says.”

Seattle PI in Washington. “Seattle’s median house price in February posted its first year-to-year gain since October 2010, according to a report. The median price in February was $365,000, up 2.8 percent from February 2011 and 4.1 percent from January 2012, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported. King County’s median, $308,125, was down 7.75 percent from a year earlier and 2.2 percent from the prior month.”

“What can one read into Seattle’s increase, seeing as prices were down by 10.1 percent year-over-year in January? ‘I think it really is a market that’s trying to figure out exactly where it belongs, what normal looks like,’ said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.”

The Columbian in Washington. “Homebuilders will showcase two concepts at this year’s 2012 Parade of Homes, a September showcase of spacious models overlooking the Columbia River and smaller abodes built with eco-friendly practices. Evergreen Pointe, the Vancouver subdivision includes seven lots ranging from 0.5 acre to 1.5 acres in size that were sold for $825,000 apiece in November. By contrast, the same lots were selling for $1.1 million each in 2005, 25 percent higher, during the height of the homebuilding and real estate boom.”

“Jim Beriault, a promoter of the annual event, organized by the 800-member Building Industry Association of Clark County, said all of the houses will be pre-sold before the show, as homebuilders continue to shy away from the risk of building houses ‘on spec’ during the still somewhat stagnant market for new homes. Spec, or speculative, houses are constructed by a builder with the belief that a buyer will eventually come along.”

“Pre-selling the houses ‘is really the only way you can make it work these days,’ Beriault said.”

The Kitsap Sun in Washington. “Home prices in Kitsap County continued to tumble in February, down 11 percent from a year ago, and close to where the price stood in 2005. The price jetted downward most steeply for condos. February’s price of $215,550 was a 39 percent free fall from February 2011. For single-family homes, the price fell 10 percent to $225,900.”

“The median home price stood at $218,944 for the entire Western Washington region, down 9 percent from last year. The median closing price for homes in Mason County in February was $95,800, down 40 percent from a year ago. In Jefferson County, the price was $203,500, down 34 percent.”

“Frank Wilson, managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo and a member of the Multiple Listing Service’s board, said the shrinking inventory of homes for sale in Kitsap County now has tipped the scales to a seller’s market. ‘We continue to see more multiple offer situations on homes that come on the market correctly priced,’ he said.”

Bits Bucket for March 6, 2012

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