April 13, 2014

Gambling In A Legal Way

Readers suggested a topic on gambling. “Weekend topic suggestion: Get rich or die tryin’?”

A reply, “Do you have any big ideas which you could develop and sell to the masses?”

One said, “My idea is for a razor with 6 blades instead of 5. It’s extra better. Also I have an idea for a Kardashian with an even bigger booty.”

And finally, “I have nothing left with which I am willing to gamble, and for that reason….. I’m out.”

The Democrat & Chronicle. “The city’s tax foreclosure auction Friday at the Edgerton Community Center offered up about 530 properties from across the city and welcomed 350 bidders — both highs in recent years. These are not major developers but rather most are micro-investors, snatching up one or two properties at a time to renovate and rent. They choose houses having only an exterior or drive-by inspection to go on, making decisions based on the look, location and if it has a good roof.”

“‘Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised. And sometimes you are like, ‘Wow,’ said Joe Macko of Spencerport, who bid alongside his son and ended up with six properties — including a 2½-story on Agnes Street for $7,000. ‘I guess that is some of the fun of it; you are kind of gambling but in a legal way.’”

“Rocco Stebbins has been coming to these auctions for 12 years and owns about 40 properties; his father has been coming since before Stebbins was born. More than an hour later, he had yet to win a property. ‘They’re overbidding,’ Stebbins said after seeing houses go for more than $30,000. ‘I got houses next door I’ll sell them for half that. People get caught up.’”

“‘Anything that’s decent is going for money the houses aren’t worth,’ said Chris Cataldo of Irondequoit, who has been in the real estate investment business for three decades. ‘There’s more new faces. That’s because of all the TV shows (in which) you buy a house and get rich.’”

The Los Angeles Times. “Redfin recently asked 1,900 prospective home buyers nationwide what they planned to do with their old house when they bought a new one. As you’d expect, the majority said they would sell. But 39% said they’d rent it out. In Western markets like Los Angeles that have seen big price growth lately, the percentage was even higher. With the tenant covering the note, they can build equity — especially if home prices continue to rise. ‘It’s a market-based decision,’ said said Trevor Henson, managing partner at First Light Property Management in Manhattan Beach. ‘They know they can get really high rents right now. If I’m locked in on a 30-year fixed [mortgage] at 4%, and if home values are going up, it can make a lot of sense.’”

“Many of the new landlords are affluent and financially savvy, said Ellen Haberle, Redfin’s real estate economist. They’re not necessarily in it for the long haul, but they see a chance to profit right now. The wait-and-see approach is common, Haberle said. The conditions that make renting attractive could easily change. If rents fall or home prices rise enough, selling could be the smarter play. ‘These amateur landlords aren’t people who are doing this for a living,’ she said. ‘They just kind of happened into this opportunity.’”

Arizona Newzap. “The Phoenix housing market has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts since the 2011 recovery, but the latest real estate report from Arizona State University is showing a significant and sustained downturn to single-family-home sale prices. February 2014, which is the latest data available, marks the first time the median single-family-home sales price went down for a second month in a row since the 2011 housing rebound, the ASU report shows.”

“Phoenix-area home prices started rising quickly after hitting a recession low point in September 2011. Price increases began slowing down in July, with the market experiencing two monthly drops in the median single-family-home sales price this January and February — totaling about 5 percent. In February, the percentage of residential properties bought by investors was down to 20 percent from the peak of 39.7 percent in July 2012, the report states.”

“Walt Danley of Walt Danley Realty expects better numbers as the marketplace finds its new normal. ‘I think we are doing OK. I think at the end of 2013 we had a very strong January and February, but when we got into typically our selling season things have slowed down. I know that inventory is up year over year; in Paradise Valley we are about 21 percent above the number of active listings in inventory, but that inventory is not abnormal,’ Mr. Danley said. “What is abnormal is the lack of buyer demand.’”

“Mr. Danley says he has noticed a ‘lack of sense of urgency in the buyer pool. It has been a long time since I can remember buyer expectations and seller expectations so dramatically different,’ he said. ‘The reality is the market has shifted to a buyer’s market.’”

“‘We have changed from a seller’s market to a definite buyer’s market,’ said Robert Joffe of Prudential Arizona Properties. Mr. Joffe says the only thing investor buys did for the overall Phoenix housing market was make people feel better about the market itself. He says it had little to do with the overall health of the marketplace. ‘The only thing it does or the role it (investor activity) plays is in the amount of sales that happen,’ he pointed out. ‘They (investors) help the news, which makes everyone feel very good about things. It just helped everyone feel good, but I don’t think everyone believed that everyone was able to buy into it.’”

Bits Bucket for April 13, 2014

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