December 10, 2014

The First Rule Of Holes

7 San Diego reports from California. “Construction sites abound in east Chula Vista. In Otay Ranch, many homes are selling before they’re even built. Dennis Almario would know. He just bought his home in Otay Ranch. ‘We already got about $75,000 in equity after a year when we bought it,’ Almario said. It’s a great gain for Almario who lost a previous home to the mortgage meltdown a few years ago. ‘This will be another income for me and my family and my future and my kids and grandkids to pass along,’ Almario said.”

The Times of San Diego. “A slowdown in the local real estate market continued last month, according to the San Diego Association of Realtors. About 1,400 single-family homes were sold in November, a 22 percent decrease from October. While the SDAR chalked up the drop to a normal holiday season decline, the figure was also 14 percent below the same time last year. The median price of a house that sold last month was $491,000, a 1 percent decrease from the month prior. The price tag remained 5 percent higher than the same month in 2013. The median price of a condo was $325,000 in November, 4 percent below October but 5 percent above November of last year.”

“‘Opportunities exist in every market, and current conditions have been a plus for first-time buyers and people returning to the market,’ said Leslie Kilpatrick, SDAR’s board president.”

The Yakima Herald in Washington. “While sales are improving, plenty of pricey homes remain on the market. As of the third quarter of this year, Yakima County had enough homes over $500,000 to supply the market for nearly two years (21.3 months), according to data from the Runstad Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University. That compares to the 13.2-month supply during the same quarter in 2013. ‘We have a large glut of nice homes on the market,’ said John Niedhardt, managing broker for Almon Residential Real Estate.”

The RoanokeTimes in Virginia. “The city council has chipped away at the $10 million debt that it incurred to build a municipal golf course only to see the principal grow and its ability to provide core services falter. Tonight, the council will decide whether it should observe the first rule of holes and stop digging. Back in 2004, as the ribbon was cut on Vista Links, the nation was at the height of a residential golf-course building frenzy, and real estate ventures seemed destined to always appreciate in value. Then the bubble burst. By 2010, the city council said it could no longer afford the $660,000 annual debt payments, so it stopped paying.”

“‘We will have 27 additional years of payments,’ said city attorney Brian Kearney. ‘Do we continue to defer maintenance? To lose teachers to neighboring jurisdictions? To lose good people because we don’t give raises in city hall? This debt is sitting there and will be for many years to come.’”

From Chicago Business in Illinois. “The average time it took lenders to foreclose on a home in the state climbed to a new high of 889 days in the third quarter, up from 828 a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac. It’s the longest time since RealtyTrac started tracking the measure in first-quarter 2007, when the average foreclosure took 243 days. Times are rising even after a state ‘fast-track’ law took effect last year that’s designed to zip foreclosures of abandoned homes though the process.”

“State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago and a sponsor of the legislation, said the longer times suggest the measure is not reducing the gridlock that has left some neighborhoods with too many boarded-up homes in foreclosure. ‘Even though we have this legislation has it really benefited the communities ravaged by the financial tsunami?’ Collins asked. ‘The housing market is seeing an improvement in certain communities but not in hard-pressed communities.’”

The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio. “It shouldn’t require the rape of child — dragged behind an abandoned house as she waited for her school bus — for the Ohio legislature to act on a bill to protect urban neighborhoods blighted by ‘zombie’ properties. And it shouldn’t take a newspaper editorial to suggest that the Senate Finance Committee not block this remedy for reasons that are inexplicable. It ought to send Ohio House Bill 223 — intact — to the floor for passage.”

“The committee is slated to meet this afternoon, sponsors were told, to consider a substitute bill that guts the original intent: a pilot program to speed foreclosures of blighted and abandoned residential properties in Franklin County, Toledo and Cleveland. Their original bill sets up a tightly limited five-year program to let the three urban areas send abandoned houses to auction without conducting a sheriff’s appraisal or requiring minimum bids. Under state law, bids start at two-thirds of the appraised value. But many houses are not worth the cost of repairs.”

“No one bids. The properties sit. Neighborhoods suffer. H.B. 223 would let the market set realistic bids. Even a $1 sale is a bargain for neighborhoods if these properties ultimately are fixed up, occupied and back on the tax rolls. The bill passed the House unanimously on April 2, given fresh urgency: A 13-year-old girl had been raped a day earlier on a five-block stretch of North Linden that had 26 vacant structures.”

“This is the type of bill that Senate Republicans should appreciate. It removes the reliance on government intervention, which spends taxpayer dollars to raze or rehabilitate abandoned properties. It clears the way for the free market to work.”

Bits Bucket for December 10, 2014

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