September 8, 2015

A Noticeable Shift From The Go-Go Days

A report from the Oregonian. “Portlanders apparently upset with the direction of the local housing market are slapping ‘no Californians’ stickers on For Sale signs in the city, real estate agents say. ‘A lot of these homes are going into bidding wars and going over ask price,’ said Quinn Irvine, of M Realty. ‘And a lot of these guys are getting outbid. And I think they’re going around to agents who have properties that have sold over ask price and putting anti-California stickers.’”

“Realtor Lori Fenwick said somebody covered her name on one of her signs, replacing it with a phrase: ‘STOP THE BUBBLE.’ She and Irvine acknowledged that they are dealing with a lot of out-of-state buyers, many of whom do come from California. ‘I’m dealing with a couple of San Francisco buyers,’ Irvine said. ‘One guy’s cash.’ But both agreed that out-of-state buyers are coming from everywhere – not just south of the Oregon border.”

The Boston Globe in Massachusetts. “These are good days to be a well-heeled renter in Boston. With so many new luxury apartments coming onto the market, landlords are increasingly competing for tenants able to afford rents that can start at $2,800 for a studio and be two or three times that for two-bedrooms. The competition is a noticeable shift, real estate brokers said, from the go-go days of the past few years, when it felt as if landlords held all the cards and rents could only go up.”

“‘Renters can be choosers,’ said David Huddleston, rental manager at The Charles Realty in the Back Bay. ‘There’s just so much inventory right now.’”

“Derek Ebrecht, a broker with Boston City Properties, has a one-bedroom in the Back Bay for $2,250, with two months of free rent, in part because of the noise of nearby construction. Despite the discount — and pictures of a sunny unit with exposed brick — his phone isn’t exactly ringing off the hook. ‘You’d think I’d get more calls,’ he said. ‘I’m posting it multiple times a day.’”

The News Journal in Delaware. “James Stein knows the luxury market – and he knows Delaware. So when he put his Centreville house on the market recently for $1.175 million, he went into it with his eyes open. ‘I know it’s not easy to sell,’ Stein said of his house. ‘But I hope someone will love it as much as me.’”

“Stein is not alone. Sellers of houses priced $1 million and up now are faced with a drooping mansion market in New Castle County as the number of expensive offerings has ballooned to a more than two year supply, according to data compiled by Trend, the region’s MLS. If Stein needed any proof of the soft market, he only has to look across the Selborne Drive to the medieval mansion built in 1928. Ten years ago, the house was listed for sale for nearly $6 million. After languishing on the market for years, the 10,650-square-foot house on nearly six acres sold for $1.5 million in March.”

“Following the Great Recession, even buyers who can afford a more than $1 million home question whether it makes financial sense, some say. ‘They ask themselves: Will I get the return on my investment if my circumstances change or I no longer want or need this home?’ said Kevin Kelly, the past chairman of National Association of Home Builders and president of Leon N. Weiner & Associates in Wilmington.”

KOMO News in Washington. “The future of four area developments, including a 41-story Seattle highrise, is in limbo after federal officials accused the developer of defrauding hundreds of foreign investors out of millions of dollars. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint and sought a restraining order this week against Lobsang Dargey, CEO of Path America, alleging the Everett-based builder told more than 250 Chinese investors their involvement in his projects would help secure their residence in the U.S.”

“‘It’s unfortunate there will probably be a hold on this project for a long time because it does create a vacant lot,’ said Dean McColgan, president of the Belltown Community Council.”

The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina. “Roughly nine years after the start of the U.S. housing crisis, complaints about mortgage companies top the list of grievances North Carolina consumers are filing with a federal regulator. Consumer advocates say the CFPB’s mortgage complaints are troubling because many of them represent familiar problems, such as the inability to get mortgage modifications, that borrowers have faced from mortgage companies since the housing market collapsed.”

“Christy Romero, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the federal bailout program for the financial system, is among those concerned about borrowers being rejected for mortgage modifications. In July, Romero’s office noted a ’startlingly high’ denial rate by mortgage servicers of borrowers seeking assistance through the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, which is part of TARP. Citing U.S. Treasury Department data, Romero said 70 percent of homeowners, or 4 million people, who applied to lower their mortgage payments through HAMP have been denied.”

From Florida Today. “The housing crash of 2007-08 threw the United States into a major recession and ruined the livelihoods and lives of thousands. We asked a number of individuals with ties to the housing and financial markets their thoughts on the cause of the crash and what — if anything — was learned.”

“Who should get most of the blame for the crash? Jack McCabe, owner of McCabe Research & Consulting LLC, Deerfield Beach: ‘There are a couple that come to mind. First off is Angelo Mozilo (chairman and chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial until July 2008). He made all these (bleep) loans and he hasn’t spent a day in jail. And I think he is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve) and his monetary policies had a lot to do with it.’”

“What have we learned, if anything, from the housing crash? Larry Hufford, founder of Lifestyle Homes, West Melbourne: ‘Sadly nothing. At the heart of this, and the 1990 big recession and even the Great Depression, are under-regulated banks. Our government seems to serve the largest political contributors best. At this point in history that would be the banks.’”

Bits Bucket for September 8, 2015

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