April 6, 2008

Local Market Observations!

What do you see in your local housing market this weekend? Speculation? “As Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky enter a third straight year of declining home sales and falling prices, a new term has been folded into the local housing market vocabulary: Correction. ‘We’re getting back to reality in terms of pricing. Over the last five years, everybody became an expert in real estate,’ said Michael Dinn, a partner with downtown-based Property Advisors. ‘It became water-cooler talk, and it was a very speculative time in terms of value. What we’ve been experiencing is a correction – a housing hangover if you will.’”

“There are plenty of empty homes in North Texas. Homeowners are concerned about their property values with an uncertain future — especially with so many empty lots in the neighborhood. ‘We wanted neighbors, and we’ve got lots that are vacant that may not get built on for a while — and we don’t know when,’ said Joyce Hardeman.”

Slower building? “The demand for new homes in the Columbia region slowed significantly so far this year. Builders in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties saw a 33 percent drop to 1,082 single-family homes in the first three months of the year, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia.”

“‘We were expecting a downturn. I don’t know if I was expecting that much,’ association executive director Earl McLeod said.”

“‘This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,’ said builder David Beck, who has worked in the Columbia area for 17 years. ‘We’re just riding this to see what’s going to happen. I don’t think that it’s ever going to get back to the way it was.’”

“Beck said he started sensing a problem a year and a half ago, especially in the overbuilt areas of Northeast Richland. ‘The market was pretty much destroying itself,’ with people qualifying for loans to buy houses they couldn’t afford, Beck said.”

Bubble fallout? “Lawmakers are considering about 20 bills introduced in reaction to California’s wave of foreclosures. More than 37,000 notices of default were sent out statewide in February — up from about 27,000 in November. More than one-fifth of those homes were in hard-hit Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”

“The state legislation includes no direct financial help for builders, homeowners or others hurt by the housing slowdown. ‘Realistically, we don’t have the money,’ said Assemblyman Ted Lieu, chairman of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee.”

“San Diego’s office vacancy rate spiked to its highest level since 1996 in the first quarter thanks to a combination of weak demand and new buildings coming to market. Brokers point to a slowing economy and the fallout from the housing bust as contributing to the vacancy boost. Many mortgage companies, title firms and home builders have closed or downsized over the past year.”

“‘The residential real estate industry ripple effect is a blood bath,’ said David Marino of Irving Hughes, which specializes in representing tenants. ‘When we got hit hard in 2001 through 2003 in the tech side, the residential real estate guys took a lot of that space. Today, there’s no recovering industry sector to offset’ the decline from housing-related companies.”

Lower prices? “The median price of a single-family Thurston County home fell last month compared with the same period a year ago, but South Sound real estate agents said they were not worried about it.”

“South Sound real estate broker Doug Burger said he didn’t know the last time single-family home prices fell in the county, but he said he was encouraged that the price drop was small. ‘For us in Thurston County to experience only a slight decline speaks highly of the strength of our area,’ Burger said.”

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Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-05 10:55:37

But you’ve got such bitchin’ weather, dude

“‘The residential real estate industry ripple effect is a blood bath,’ said David Marino of Irving Hughes, which specializes in representing tenants. ‘When we got hit hard in 2001 through 2003 in the tech side, the residential real estate guys took a lot of that space. Today, there’s no recovering industry sector to offset’ the decline from housing-related companies.”

Comment by Neil
2008-04-05 11:33:03


But I’ve also seen quite a few office buildings that were demolished to make more townhomes or condos. Why do I emphasize townhomes? I know of almost 2,000 (many already complete) that will exist soon on land that was once warehouse, parking, and a little office space for my employer. That means that the next time we are awarded a large contract, the jobs *must* go to other regions.

Yes, I’m a broken record today. One of my favorite junior engineers that I was mentoring just ‘gave notice’ to move himself and his family to a low cost of living market.

I cannot blame him. I have a kid on the way and I wonder how long the wife will be patient before ‘buying a home for our child.’ He and his wife chose to have a child straight out of college. To support them on one salary isn’t possible in a bubble market. However, will inflation overcome his knife catching (his parents will help them buy in PA).

Got Popcorn?

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-05 11:55:23

Do you think, if someone like that goes to all the trouble to relocate his family, that he would settle for buying a condo or townhouse in the new location? It seems the expectation is for more, and when they come to Montana they really would like some acreage. I can’t say I blame them. Why move here if it’s just as crowded as back home.

Yet the planners keep telling us we need to all crowd together in town and quit a’sprawlin’ so much.

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2008-04-05 12:28:38

(his parents will help them buy in PA).

Northwest PA? God, I hope not! :-)

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-05 12:45:55

Quick! before they run out of any more NW PA.

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Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-05 13:49:34

LOL Bill and Faster..LOL
Bye must still be partyin!
Hope he is having fun.

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Comment by holytrainwreck
2008-04-05 16:03:34

they’re NOT making any more ranch land!

Comment by Skroodle
2008-04-06 12:46:35

Not Oil City I hope!!!! He might drive up the house price there and then ByeFl will be stuck living in his parents basement forever!

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Comment by Steve W
2008-04-05 15:40:14

Neil, may have missed this before, but congratulations on the upcoming Money Drainer! ;)

In all seriousness, it’s a wild ride that’s the best. Good luck.


Comment by mattR
2008-04-05 11:01:36

Here in Northern Virginia, we’re still in the denial phase. Several people at work (government contracting) are waiting to put their home on the market in the “spring,” or are convinced that the BRAC (base re-alignment and closing) will bring a lot of people here. Problem is, that the BRAC mostly moves things around the DC metro, but doesn’t actually bring people from elsewhere in the country.

There is also a feeling that DC contracting is “recession-proof,” and that we will never have the job layoffs that the rest of the country (or world) might see.

Of course, the outer counties have already seen 15-20% declines, with county budgets hundreds of millions short, and property tax increases of 15-20% approved.

So, you know, the facts on the ground aren’t affecting the outlook of the people. I think that’s just how Washington works.

Comment by Neil
2008-04-05 11:35:36

I’m officially confused that they think that. Eglin in Florida and Edwards in PalmCaster CA are supposed to be the largest net recipients. Home afford ability is supposed to be part of the BRAC…

DC is one of the big bubbles… its going to crash hard.

Got Popcorn?

Comment by JP
2008-04-05 12:08:11

So, you know, the facts on the ground aren’t affecting the outlook of the people. I think that’s just how Washington works.

LOL. That’s true about more than just housing.

Comment by kuga428
2008-04-05 18:39:08

I work for a contractor, also. Forget sub-prime and alt-A loans, there are plenty of well-to-do couples who bought in the 90s and early 2000’s who have gotten themselves into a huge financial mess by taking out HELOCs. Their “equity” (that is such a joke to me) ballooned to 100% more and some even higher in 5 years. So why not take out all that equity and have a great time. They already had a BMW. Let’s add a Benz and private school for the kids. The stories are the same. But this group says little or nothing.

One of my co-workers, retired AF Colonel and his wife, retired EPA thought they were going to sell their Alexandria SFH for more than double for what it is really worth. They planned to move to Phoenix. Now that is a joke. Their house was on the market for one year, nothing, zero. Naturally they can’t take anything less. Why? They Heloc’d the place to the max. Admit to most of the company? Heck, no. After all they were well-to-do and the lifestyle they led was broadcast. Now he can’t take his second retirement from where we work. In fact he is interviewing for a major position at the company (big pay increase) and his wife is now fulltime at HUD. They are in their early 60’s and basically will be here until their sun sets. I know what their house is like and it was an over-priced behemoth in the 90s. Darn.

This is a fairly typical situation here. The moneyed are in deep in cow patties. These upper crust types are lying low beneath the radar hoping that their situation won’t get noticed. They even chatter about “those poor sub-prime borrowers.”
I have said it before, this area is weird. It’s like living in an alternate universe or Oz. I came for the money, bought a house in Atlanta, and will get the heck out of here when my contract is up. I continue to rent a beautiful 1900 sq. ft. condo near Great Falls for $1500 a month. Utilities are next to nothing. The owner can’t sell the albatross as he bought in June 2006. The prices of units are dropping like rocks, yet he says that market will rebound in 09 and he will sell it then. Right.

The people here just don’t realize how “different” they are. They really believe this area is different and impervious to what happens elsewhere. Those who move here from elsewhere, well, we can see how “different” the the people here are. Oz.

Comment by GeorgeSalt
2008-04-06 07:34:10

“The prices of units are dropping like rocks, yet he says that market will rebound in 09 and he will sell it then. Right.”

Yes, the mantra has changed from “real estate never goes down” to “real estate never goes down for long.” Most people I know have written off ‘08 but believe that the market will return to “normal” (double digit annual increases) in ‘09.

You are right about the DC metro area being some sort of alternate reality.

Comment by Houston_Bug
2008-04-06 07:45:52


I also worked as a contractor for one of the major “beltway bandits” from 2003-2005. We sold our home in zip 20171 in late 2005 and rented until the school year was out in the spring of 2006. I will have to agree with your statement that lots of the NoVa and DC folks are hocked up to their necks, and in deep denial. We moved just outside of Houston, TX and have never looked back. If DoD spending dries up after the election, I believe prices may have further to drop, and those folks you speak of will be debt serfs to the bank for a looooong time.

Good observations on your part for that area……..

Comment by kuga428
2008-04-06 11:51:05

Even James Carville and Mary Matalin are leaving or have left Alexandria. Moved to Louisana to be close to James’ family and “real world” reality. Their girls are entering high school and middle school next fall. They thought this was a good time to bolt. Take the money and run as far as you can.

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Comment by Tokyo Renter - ex Los Angeles Renter
2008-04-08 19:00:19

Somehow my previous post asking about Houston didn’t get posted?

How do you like Houston and comments about the Kingwood area?
Why do prices seem so reasonable compared to other parts of the US, considering that salaries are relatively high in Houston.

The seem to be on par for man jobs to Los Angeles and the cost of living is a fraction of LA.

Any comments or suggests would be appreciated. The wife and I are thinking about Houston as a possible place to relocate when my project here in Tokyo is finished.

We have enough savings for 30-40% down a nice Kingwood home vs a 20% down for a so-so LA home. bleah

Unfortunately all our friends and my ‘network’ is in LA.

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Comment by hd74man
2008-04-06 14:05:06

RE: retired AF Colonel and his wife, retired EPA

And the wife nows works at HUD.

Met a bunch of these multiple fed careerist early- 50 retirement types while doin’ Hurricane Ivan disaster work in the FL Panhandle outside Pensa-Cola. They are rare here in the north country.

Went to one home that had to have been $750k. Both were retired civilians who worked for Eglin AFB and now had private sector jobs. No pain here.

The owner wanted to be damn sure he got reimbursed by FEMA for his new generator.

Talk about obnoxious.

Comment by Va Beyatch in Virginia Beach
2008-04-06 09:39:29

People believe the same thing down here in the greater Norfolk, Virginia area. It’s different here due to the military…

Nothing like seeing desperate military people trying to sell their house for $640K on craigslist because they got orders to move. They were offering to give away all furniture inside with the house. $620K in Chesapeake, Virginia. The local market is flooded with properties in that price range… the highest paid city being Virginia Beach with a median household income of $60K (Census data a few years ago).

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-04-05 11:16:31


As reported by the Olympian, from Ben’s link: ‘Combined sales of single-family homes and condominiums dropped nearly 21 percent last month compared with the same time a year ago… Single-family home prices fell 1.71 percent to $250,585 from $254,950 in March of last year, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported.’

And look at this one:
‘Potential Buyers Look for Bargains in Foreclosures.’

This article was on the front page of the Olympian last Sunday, with a nice color photo of ‘bargain hunters’ standing there holding papers and looking all prepared to ‘get bargains’. I saved my copy. I’m thinking of having it framed. Meanwhile, I just pick it up and lovingly fondle it now and then, oh, like every five minutes or so.
I guess I’ll go find my boots and walk up to the mailbox and get today’s paper to find this article Ben posted, and then I can have TWO newspapers to fondle happily. Oh, the delights that await me.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-05 11:47:31

Good for you Oly. A little bit of vindication does wonders.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-04-05 12:47:24

‘A little bit of vindication does wonders.’

You are so right, exeter. The other day my friend’s mom told me I had pretty eyes, and I said ‘Oh, thank you, I keep them sparkling with malice.’ Vindication adds that special glow, also.
Heck! I don’t even need to skip dinner and have a Botox party with the gals anymore, I’m looking so perky and uplifted nowadays.

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-05 13:51:21

LOL Oly. giggle.Perky.

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Comment by Troy
2008-04-05 11:21:01

Fresno’s mid-low areas are tanking, hard. What was $80K in 2001, $280K in 2005, is now listed for $140K. The high-grade areas are seeing some downward price pressure — what was $250K in 2001, $600K+ in 2005 is now $400K or less, but for the best properties it’s still a standoff situation.

Comment by BeachBubble
2008-04-05 11:25:58

Some observations from the panhandle of Florida…

- Local mall was dead on Friday night.
- WAY too many condos for sale, some partially finished developments going bankrupt.
- Local sheriff hauled off about 50 “illegals” this week. He stated that local unemployment was so bad, and now locals could have those jobs. Which, of course, were construction jobs on a condo site. It’s funny to me though that they weren’t busting all the illegals that worked on all the condo projects during the boom. A few years ago, there was even an article in the local paper about how thousands of service workers were needed for all the new developments and the county just couldn’t meet the need. So, oddly enough they shipped workers in, most of whom are young blonde Europeans or Scandinavians perhaps? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. They do speak English (hard to understand though), maybe that’s why.

And my favorite local tidbit…

I rent ( :) ) in a waterfront community. Each home is privately owned. One of my neighbors was taking a job in another state and put his house up for sale. This would be the first sale in the community in quite a few years. He dropped his price by $45,000 in just a few weeks and sold it, and the other “homeowners” were pissed. The guy didn’t care because he bought so long ago he better than doubled his money. Ha Ha :)

Comment by Neil
2008-04-05 11:40:10

The guy didn’t care because he bought so long ago he better than doubled his money. Ha Ha

Funny thing happens when sales rates drop to the point where they can entirely be supported by those sales and REO’s!

But careful what you say in public in that market. The sheeple were promised prosperity as long as they bought RE; even Ponzi’s suckers were angry when the police shut him down…

Got Popcorn?

Comment by GeorgeSalt
2008-04-06 07:39:06

“But careful what you say in public in that market.”

That’s the truth. I tried telling some of my co-workers that it could take 5-10 years for the market to recover, and they looked at me like I’m from another planet. Most people bought into the RE myth, and no one wants to admit they were had.

Comment by Frank Giovinazzi
2008-04-06 08:32:12

Report coming out this week that says every illegal immigrant costs taxpayers $9,000 a year. Read in IBD.


Immigration: As some experts tell Congress to fight a possible recession with more immigrants, a respected economist warns that immigration’s costs are grossly underestimated — because the government won’t study them.

Set for release Tuesday is a report published by Social Contract magazine, “The Fiscal Impact of Immigration: An Analysis of the Costs to 15 Federal Departments and Agencies.”

The 70-page study was conducted by Manhattan Institute adjunct fellow Edwin S. Rubenstein. As senior economist at W.R. Grace & Co. in the 1980s, he directed in-depth studies of government waste for the Grace Commission that sparked much popular outrage against Washington’s spendthrift habits.

Rubenstein found that each immigrant costs taxpayers more than $9,000, while every immigrant household of four costs $36,000 in taxes. That’s far more than the $3,408 in 2007 dollars the National Research Council’s 1997 “New Americans” study of federal, state and local government expenditures found immigrants to cost.

Comment by Mole Man
2008-04-06 12:33:26

Immigration studies like this usually use methodologies and sources that favor the conclusions the authors had in mind. The Tyson’s meat workers who were deported, for example, had taxes withheld from their pay, but no way to get a standard deduction back. Prison statistics are distorted by the failed war on drugs which lures many illegals here. And on top of everything the argument that illegals drove the housing boom seems hard to support. Exactly how many berry pickers were given loans of over $700k? One? Finally, what is the solution? Deport them all and let them stand in line for ten years or more because the legal immigration route is broken and no one cares to fix it?

America always has a terrible thirst for enemies that Mexicans and Arabs serve so well. Does this mean that the Christian traditions have all gone away? We were strangers in the land of Egypt gets repeated six times in the King James Bible, but you never hear that kind of talk of foregiveness in public anymore.

Comment by CrackerJim
2008-04-06 14:01:13

“The Tyson’s meat workers who were deported, for example, had taxes withheld from their pay, but no way to get a standard deduction back.”

It is a simple matter for an employee to file exempt on the W-4 form and then no Federal taxes are withheld. It does require the employee to “certify” certain things but what the heck everything else on the application is bogus so they just certify away.
Social Security and Medicare taxes are always required to be withheld however.
All this discussion applies only when the person is paid by payroll check and not as an independent contractor or “under the table”. Of course very little of this type of subterfuge ever goes on here in this country, so worry not.

BTW, “use(s) methodologies and sources that favor the conclusions the authors had in mind” applies to all sides of this controversy, not just the anti-illegal immigration voices.

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Comment by hd74man
2008-04-06 14:09:53

RE: Local sheriff hauled off about 50 “illegals” this week. He stated that local unemployment was so bad, and now locals could have those jobs

Hopefully-Pretty soon those who are gettin’ rounded up will be swinging back!



Comment by lnk
2008-04-05 11:48:50

I just heard the most *amazing* example of (in)numeracy this morning…

According to my cleaning woman (once a week, Saturday mornings, and halfway between a want and a need because it really helps cut down on my arguing with my 90-yr-old mother about how I clean her mother-in-law suite), yes you can afford a house at 6 x income — easily!

Here’s her logic: “6 x income over a 30 year mortgage is only 6/30 = 20% of income each year, which is way less than 28% or 33%”. (The discussion started when I tried to tell her the old 28-33% rule meant only spending at most 3x income.)

And furthermore, according to her, an ARM is no problem too, because even if it goes up to 10% or 15% that’s really only another 2 or 3%. Her math, that she was very proud of showing off to me, was “15% of 20% is only an extra 3%” — see, she’s been learning fractions and percents as part of doing his homework with her 10-yr-old.

I used to wonder how anybody could fall for the kinds of deals advertised for mortgages, credit cards, time payments, etc. Now I know.

And suddenly my pessimism about the future has gone up exponentially…

Comment by rms
2008-04-05 12:01:42

“I just heard the most *amazing* example of (in)numeracy this morning…”

I read a few years ago that 85%+ can’t balance a checkbook.

Comment by Michael Fink
2008-04-05 12:17:39

Oh… My… God…

I will be forever stupider for reading that post, and for following your Einstein of a cleaning ladies math. I am forever shocked at how fractions and percentages perplex people; but, usually, if they are confused they keep quite. Not this one!

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2008-04-05 12:33:46

Math teachers are lobbying to get rid of teaching fractions (too hard for them?) as they have few applications in the real world. As time goes on, it will just get easier and easier to fleece the sheeple.

Comment by Mole Man
2008-04-06 12:39:41

“Math teachers are lobbying to get rid of teaching fractions …”

This is a bogus statement. Even if you could name two teachers who want this, which I very much doubt, the larger group of math teachers supports no such thing. It is deeply ironic that in making such a statement you underscore the cartoonish ignorance that threatens this nation. You should beware that once you start showing this kind of contempt for the truth, the truth might just return the favor at some point.

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Comment by lnk
2008-04-05 13:28:54

I will be forever stupider for reading that post, and for following your Einstein of a cleaning ladies math. I am forever shocked at how fractions and percentages perplex people; but, usually, if they are confused they keep quite. Not this one!

I agree — my poor mathematical engineer’s brain just cringed, and I had to give up; the thought of trying to explain compounding to her was just too daunting. (I have to save all my energy for trying to — unsuccessfully — educate my management in basic math!)

And yes, she’s quite vocal in her opinions. Just in the last few weeks, I’ve heard how 1) the government should cut gas prices because it’s unacceptably expensive for her to keep filling her Expedition, 2) the court should let her husband stop paying child support to his first family because ahe and her son need all his salary, 3) her 57-year-old husband may be fired but he wouldn’t have to worry about that in Mexico because they older workers with seniority have job security there, 4) we should accept all the illegal Mexicans because “they’re just poor people wanting to make a living”, but 5) we should kick out all those horrible Cubans(huh? Cubans in Albuquerque?) who live in her neighborhood and get free health care, etc.

Usually I consider her my own personal version of the shoe shine boy offering stock tips, but this is getting ridiculous.

I should probably also mention, she’s not illegal now — she came illegally over 20 years ago, went through the 1986 amnesty, got citizenship a few years ago — and still considers herself a Mexican not an American.

Comment by implosion
2008-04-05 17:05:39

For some real entertainment you need to hear the long time many generation NM hispanics do some bagging on the Mexicans.

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Comment by sm_landlord
2008-04-05 12:55:13

lnk: My cleaning lady probably couldn’t even carry on that conversation in Spanish, let alone English. It’s actually sort of nice, because I don’t have to listen to that sort of utter cluelessness.

It’s really no wonder that predatory lending is so profitable on the sales side - with customers like that, it’s the biggest no brainer in the history of mankind…Oh Wait! That’s what those mortgage ads are talking about with that line! NOW I GET IT! ;-)

Comment by lnk
2008-04-05 13:30:21

I never could understand who those commercials were aimed at, until I started listening to her.

Comment by Jean S
2008-04-05 15:23:30

sounds like it’s time to paste a big cheesy smile on your face as you get busy with … something. Otherwise, holy cow, you’re gonna be thinking of murdering her. (although I’m sure we’d all visit you in jail)

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Comment by cassiopeia
2008-04-05 17:16:56

My cleaning lady told me the lenders used to ring her bell all the time. They were aggressively pushing exotic loans in her barrio and several relatives and acquaintances bought property. She can tell they are now in trouble. Thankfully, she didn’t take the bait, the idea of debt scared her. Good for her.

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-04-06 09:25:00

This is why we need MANDATORY Civics/Financial education in the senior year of High school and college.

Make it a requirement to graduate. Its amazing how many people are clueless about a rental contract let alone a car lease, Or how even small claims court works. I remember we did go on a couple of field trips…(remember them?) to the court house to the court library, to supreme court, small claims all to help us understand the system, and not to be afraid of the Rights we were given as Americans. But then i am not a young kid.

Comment by tiger
2008-04-05 11:50:10

Just a general observation. I’ve looked at listings from the SF bay area and Los Angeles. SF bay area housing prices are maybe around 10-20% more reasonable than LA prices. It doesn’t make any sense to me why LA is more expensive than the SF bay area. SF area is nicer all around in my opinion with less ghetto areas and better traffic and public transportation. Also, I think SF has a little higher incomes.

Comment by WantsOut
2008-04-05 11:56:15

North Shore Ma.

Looked at a few overpriced homes today with a non Kool-aid drinking realtor. She was in total agreement regarding price to value. As we were chatting she offered that nearly all her listings were either already in trouble or soon to be in trouble.

Comment by Neil
2008-04-05 11:56:53

It doesn’t make any sense to me why LA is more expensive than the SF bay area. SF area is nicer all around in my opinion with less ghetto areas and better traffic and public transportation. Also, I think SF has a little higher incomes.

Yep… LA doesn’t build infrastructure, they pander to the poor and wonder why the problem is worse every decade. :(

Got Popcorn?

Comment by wmbz
2008-04-05 11:57:36

“‘We were expecting a downturn. I don’t know if I was expecting that much,’ association executive director Earl McLeod said.”

Funny, what a difference a year makes. This same fellow (I think) was telling everyone how no RE downturn would happen here in the Capitol City because we are so ‘diverse’.

I’m going to a cocktail party this evening and at least 5 RE sales people will be there that I know, can’t wait to listen to their ‘it’s different’ here BS! I doubt I’ll keep my mouth shut this go round.

Comment by implosion
2008-04-05 14:09:07

“I don’t know if I was expecting that much…”

I think I heard the botox mortgage broker say the same thing as she was grabbing some tissues.

Comment by mgnyc
2008-04-05 14:49:13

“I’m going to a cocktail party this evening and at least 5 RE sales people will be there that I know, can’t wait to listen to their ‘it’s different’ here BS! I doubt I’ll keep my mouth shut this go round.”

wmbz-i think you will hear stuff like

“would you like a cheesepuff?” or can i take your plate probably

are they guest or waitstaff? (no offense to any waiters)

Comment by Stars End
2008-04-05 15:42:57

Please report back with the outcome of your conversations!
Stars Ends schadenfreude is in full swing! :)

Stars End

Comment by ahansen
2008-04-05 11:57:36

Over the last year or two I’ve been following the housing travails of my housekeeper’s sweet, simple son and his young family. Every week brings a new horror story about the carnage their McMansionette has wrought on their finances, their marriage, and their future. Yes, they bought way over their heads in a shoddy Central Valley tract. Yes, the neighborhood is foreclosed and falling apart. But they also got hoodwinked by unscrupulous sales and lending personnel, and when they tried to refinance, ended up signing their house over to a third party.

So it wasn’t such a surprise to me when the wife threw in the towel and fled last week with their kids. But no one expected to find him as they did, hanging in his closet yesterday morning.

Just an observation of the unintended social costs of this global derivatives mess….

Comment by exeter
2008-04-05 12:19:54

That is horrible. Just horrible. God bless those kids.

Comment by hd74man
2008-04-05 12:38:41

RE: the wife threw in the towel and fled last week with their kids.

Par for the course.

When the going gets tough, the female half splits.

So much for the “better or worse” wedding vow BS.

Comment by ahansen
2008-04-05 13:31:08

No young mother “just” packs up the babies and leaves home without a reasonably valid excuse. There are always (at least) two sides to every story, hd74– even yours, perhaps?

In my experience, women can endure far more than the average male finds tolerable…something about our genetic predispositions and child-rearing physiology. Maybe it’s just a different perception of what is being toughed and who is doing the toughing?

Comment by exeter
2008-04-05 14:23:09

I’ve been on both sides of it and can appreciate HD’s perspective. HD, maybe some day we’ll trade experiences. My drama of 15-20 years ago would curl your toenails.

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Comment by Lost In Utah
2008-04-05 13:34:04

“When the going gets tough, the female half splits.”


Comment by mgnyc
2008-04-05 14:56:40

lol- utah

and exeter i can identify with your story i am sure

well my beautiful wife has just made me dinner so got to go

she doesn’t even want to go out to eat- i love her even more when she cooks

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Comment by flint 'burbs
2008-04-05 13:41:41

Ah, yes, fidelity. Let’s see how long those trophy-wife hunters stay married when the Botox/nips are too expensive? Most of them are cheating on them already (note the politicians getting caught at it?) Our senator’s husband was just headline news, paying a hooker for “services rendered” here in Oakland County, Mich. 2 victims here, the sexslave and the wife (police bargained with HIM so they could catch HER - no charges for HIM! Hope he caught something from this.)

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-05 13:56:43

OH how terribly sad.
Bless them.
There are more stories than that out there.
I know of 9 from last yr in my industry/co.

Comment by mgnyc
2008-04-05 14:52:31

damn that is terrible

unfortunately i have heard at least two other similar stories like that in the last year and will probably hear more

Comment by cassiopeia
2008-04-05 17:24:30

My God, that is awful. So now on top of bubble debt, bubble unemployment, bubble desperation, we have bubble orphans. I am speechless.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2008-04-06 06:03:56


I felt so deflated after reading that story.

I’ve often told the story of the bible teaching mom who’s young daughters have quite the reputation for terrorizing the other girls if they didn’t wear the same designer clothes they sported. I knew the family was in financial trouble since the single income earner is in an industry experiencing salary cuts - pilot. They dealt with the problem by HELOCing instead of cutting back on their conspicuous consumption.

I thought I would enjoy a small sense of justified schadenfreude when they began to feel the flip side of things. But after hearing she’s spent a lot of the last year in bed depressed I couldn’t help but feel really bad. I wanted them to realize the error of their ways and begin to show some respect for those that were more intelligent with money. I don’t celebrate any one’s slip into utter despair.

Comment by implosion
2008-04-06 09:34:46

I’m surprised the bible teaching mom doesn’t know about putting all her problems into the “God bag”.

Comment by Ben Jones
2008-04-05 12:02:48

Struck up a conversation with a stranger yesterday. Single guy who mentioned he bought a new house in 2006. He admitted it ‘cost way too much.’ The subdivision it’s in is probably going to be the worst hit in town.

He goes on to say that ‘when the market turns around in a few years’ he hopes to make a big profit and buy his dream place out in the country. I didn’t say much, but it goes to show what the mindset is. Even with all the news about the markets, there are plenty of people who are completely clueless about how these cycles work and what a bubble in prices means long-term. I figure he’ll walk in 2010.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-04-05 12:25:09

This mindset is arising because more and more people realized that they were basically going nowhere in life. Of course, after the bust, they will still be headed to that same nowhere but hopefully a little wiser from the experience.

This whole thing about selling and buying a “dream place out in the country” is being repeated from coast to coast. I’ve heard it too many times from way too many different sources to not see a pattern of sorts …

Comment by Kid Clu
2008-04-05 14:24:33

“This mindset is arising because more and more people realized that they were basically going nowhere in life.”

Faster, I have often wondered if there had been realistic opportunities to get ahead, would so many people have bought into the housing bubble ? It seems to me that the bubble was a desparate, final, grasping at straws attempt by the middle class to finally have something to show for all of their hard work.

Comment by jerry from richardson
2008-04-05 15:01:14

Yes they would, just as they did during the dotcom bubble. How many people got good jobs and kept jumping jobs every 6 months? How many people quit their good jobs to become daytraders? Greed is always in human nature. What exactly does get ahead mean? Do they want to be like Warrenn Buffett or Oprah? This whole MTV bling-bling flip that house mentality has influenced many people to think that they are entitled to live like royalty. It wasn’t too long ago that people were happy to have a job and live a middle class life. Today, the middle-class are driving luxury cars, living in McMansions, and taking exotic vacations every year.

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Comment by lnk
2008-04-05 15:48:11

Today, the middle-class are driving luxury cars, living in McMansions, and taking exotic vacations every year.

Is it really the middle class, though, or the wanna-be-middle-class?

I consider myself firmly middle class. I’ve been in the same job for almost 30 years (switching around internally every 4 to 8 years to avoid getting stale), buy used small cars and drive them for an average of ten years each, had my mortgage burning party over 10 years ago, spend within my income after savings, and never count my house in my net worth. (It’s an expense! But I do love my garden…and my cats and dogs.) And most of the people I work with are the same, as are most of my neighbors — paid-off houses, investments, often multiple income streams, and no debt.

But I do see a lot of people either really working-class, or high-school grad sales-people (like used house salespeople, natch!), or struggling small business people, all definitely trying to live a lifestyle not only above their income, but way above mine too.

Comment by exeter
2008-04-05 15:03:19

“This whole thing about selling and buying a “dream place out in the country” is being repeated from coast to coast. I’ve heard it too many times from way too many different sources to not see a pattern of sorts … ”

Man you hit the bullseye on this one. Its one that I just cannot wrap my mind around, logically or otherwise. With rural areas shrinking in population, services and fixed costs rising (taxes, HVAC, health ins, etc), what is it that puts this silly talk on the map???? I keep hearing this, over and over again yet the actual trend is the opposite. People are moving back into population centers to be near family, services, etc.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-04-05 15:37:40

‘People are moving back into population centers to be near family, services, etc.’

Good. ‘Cause me and the frogs find all that human jibba-jabba annoying. Opposable thumbs are waaaaaay over-rated, in my opinion, except that on the other hand, they do help me get up a tree pretty fast, which is useful now that my experiments in learning to extrude sticky frog slime have failed. (Hahaha! Get it? ‘On the other hand’? Opposable thumbs? I made a funny!)
And now excuse me, I must go climb some more trees, because it’s tree-climbing weather today out here at Chez Olympiagal.

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Comment by iftheshoefits
2008-04-05 13:01:33

Ben, I assume you’re talking about your home town? Would the subdivision that’s “going to be the worst hit” possibly be Ponderosa Trails? I made a number of observations there myself over the last 2-3 months.

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-05 12:03:22

Tthe local Realtors org finally put their numbers back up after being down the month. They were supposedly casting about for a “new format,” but all they did was combine local and wider-area stats.

The median keeps going up except for this March compared to March 2007 and it drops quite a bit. I posted it all here.

We’ve still got condo building going on, and a few sfh and commercial - motels, banks. But there is a 60-lot development across from me that’s just sitting there after being all paved and improved last year. Finally they built one house - not spec apparently and it looks like someone’s living in it. They actually worked on it Christmas day. We’re guessing it’s still some kind of model. You’d think they’d start more houses but it looks like the builders are pulling back from spec.

Comment by Duane Lapinski
2008-04-05 13:49:04

In Bozeman, the construction industry is grinding to a halt. At the city planning office, requests for zoning changes have slowed down to a trickle. There has only been two sub-division review applications since the the beginning of the year.

At the clerk and recorders office the number of liens and notices of trustee sales are way up compared to last year.

It looks like Blixesth has abandoned build plans to build a giant house at his Yellowstone Club. His plans to sell the club have also failed. I have heard for a couple of months that his financing is drying up, the failure of the sale seems to show that this is true.

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-05 14:00:51

Blixseth is in deep kimchee, doo doo, and all other kinds of crapola. Know of one source who can’t get his money back from this asshat.
It is funny, when in London 4 mo I picked up WEALTHYGUYmagazine(for lack of real title) and article inside for Tom Blixseth, showed it to my friend who told me the inside scoop.
Blixseth is divorcing, and prior past 3 yrs was in bad waters.
Brought it on himself.
Then the bubble.

Comment by Duane Lapinski
2008-04-05 14:30:08

There are a lot people around here that won’t do business with him. He has not come up with $20 million he supposed to pay Greg LeMond as a settlement.


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Comment by M Gal
2008-04-05 14:22:39

Heard last week from a Missoula roofer that this has been his worst year in 20+ years. This includes remodels. Everything has ground to a standstill.

Hey, Not — great site. Thanks for posting links to the new AIG & Radian underwriting criteria. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/external/onlinenews.ap.org/banks/results.php?zipcode=59801&SITE=TNNAT&SECTION=US

VERY interesting to see Missoula (zip 59801) in amongst the bad boy towns. Guess you just can’t trust those realtors when they say the problem is contained in crazy coastal areas.

Did you see that according to Realty Trac, MT’s foreclosure rate increased 101% MOM last month and 81% MOY? http://www.realtytrac.com/ContentManagement/Library.aspx?channelid=13&ItemID=4412 The numbers are small relative to the rest of the country, but still, it’s happening here.

Things will get worse now that AIG & others are requiring DOWN PAYMENTS and decent credit scores to guarantee loans and have even tighter criteria for second homes and those over $674K, which kept prices going up while the bottom of the market tanked.

When the Missoula Org of Realtors took down their market data, I looked around and found one local realtor, Mindy Palmer of Lambros, who does post some data. For the last quarter of 2007, she shows 7 months of inventory, 15% decline in volume, and houses selling for 98% of list. http://mindypalmer.com/default.asp?pageid=market Note: end of year inventory was low because they took all sorts of stuff off the market to ripen until March, when it came back on. Also, although she uses Lambros data and provides a link to it on her page, this info is (as far as I can tell) not actually posted on the Lambros realty page.

As Not notes, the big news this week was the MOR actually posting Feb and Mar market data and showing a 9% decline in median price in March. Both Feb and Mar showed about 22% decline in volume compared to same month last year. They are lumping urban and rural together because of low, low, low rural sales (see December Lambros report, which is organized by rural/urban and zip code; you can access from Mindy’s site).

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-05 14:44:56

Ahhso, ok….suppose that’s out of state equity drying up? Who’s going to buy all these spec houses at 44 Ranch? I can’t see why someone would go into hock for a 4400 sf lot.

Comment by M Gal
2008-04-05 14:56:16

Exactamundo. A realtor mentioned this to me last year as it was unfolding. Builders out in Lolo and beyond are way over their heads. Used to sell avg house on avg lot for lots less than in Msla. Then a few high end builders started in on big house, big lot for out of towners and wealthy locals. Once all the builders got in on the act, the lot prices went up, and the houses were too big for scrawny Msla salaries. Who would drive so far each day and still pay at or higher than downtown prices?

Dec 2007 MOR figures showed one (1) house selling out of the Msla urban area. Best, then, to compress the data. They have not, however, turned off the soundtrack about how everyone wants to move here.

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Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-05 18:26:57

Well in my mind, everyone should want to move here, but then I made my peace with the winters and cold springs here (Brrrrrrr) a long time ago. Seems like cold-avoidance is more normal, which okay with me, serves as a foo barrier.

Comment by Carlsbad Renter
2008-04-05 22:45:01

It is about frickin’ time Montana started to collapse. Last time I was in Bozeman and Billings to visit family and friends, I kept asking where are the wages to support all this growth and housing prices? All I heard was “a lot of small businesses” and “railroad jobs in Laurel.” Yeah, right. Everybody and their mother was in construction. I told everyone there that it is a dragon feeding on its tail and when it eats so far, the end will be it and it will all collapse to where the median wage could afford the median house.

I then come back down here to Southern California and meet various people talking about their Montana or Jackson house (even calling themselve Wyomingites…yeah sure buddy…that’s where I graduated school..(college & HS was in Billings)). It all became clear to me then.

They just took at a HELOC from their place here and bought up there.

Comment by rms
2008-04-05 12:09:26

A house along my fitness bicycle route used to have some contractor type doing a fixer flip project, but nothing has happened there in months. I saw a neighbor outside today, so I stopped to ask about it. He was really upset having this “dump without siding” sitting there ruining HIS equity and neighborhood. Apparently the contractor’s line of credit dried-up. Sound familiar?

Comment by desmo
2008-04-05 13:20:23

“A house along my fitness bicycle route ”

Do you have a non-fitness route?

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-05 15:01:47

Hey I know what rms is talking about. You got certain routes that give you a good workout…then you’ve got your commute, your ride-to-town etc.

Comment by rms
2008-04-05 15:50:54

“Do you have a non-fitness route?”

Yes, in the winter it’s from my desk to the refrigerator! :)

However, when the temperatures are between 38-degrees and 110-degrees I ride 24-miles/day for exercise, and 100-miles or more when I have the time. I ride a Litespeed Siena Titanium bicycle. I just endured about 15-miles into a 12-knot headwind today. Here in Washington’s Columbia Basin strong wind is the spoiler; I’ve learned to just down-shift and live with it.

2008-04-05 18:28:28

Apparently the contractor’s line of credit dried-up. Sound familiar?

Absolutely correct rms. This is going to get inning #2 of this party really started. These nitwits look at their unused HELOC as though it was money in the bank. The looks on their faces when they get the letter from the bank informing them of the cut in their available line must be priceless.

Some of these idiots may be able to hang on for a while longer, using credit cards, 401Ks, but it’s just a matter of time and patience on our part until the real deals start happening - 2013 or so.

Heaven help us if this game goes extra innings.

Got diversified assets?

Comment by Dr.Strangelove
2008-04-05 12:22:35

Hello all…

Came to this and Patrick’s bubble blog in 02′.

Almost pulled the trigger on a condo in Stockton/Lodi Calif. Would’ve paid $80k for 1bdr and 95k for 2bdrm. Doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, this is San Joaquin County, folks, and I had a feeling I’d better wait.

Good thing I did wait. Prices on some of these foreclosed units are at 02′ prices now and still dropping (Not that I’d buy a condo now anyway–with rediculous homeowner’s fees and possible crappy neighbors). ;-)

Homes are also dropping like a rock here in Lodi, CA. I’ve got my cash ready for when they can be had for equivalent, or dare I say…LESS than rent! I’m really thinking it’s gonna happen, and soon at that.

Jesus am I glad I looked, listened and waited in 02′!!


Comment by holytrainwreck
2008-04-05 16:36:12

Oh Lord, stuck here in Lodi again….

Comment by exeter
2008-04-05 12:24:11

I’m seeing signs bunching up at intersections and off-ramps off the Taconic Parkway in Dutchess Co, NY. Theres one intersection that makes for a choice photo but I haven’t had a chance yet. More FSBO/RealTard sign swaps. Most of them going from FSBO to RealTard.

Comment by Roy G Biv
2008-04-05 13:04:27

Observation - Central NJ: Much talk of Recession but honestly have not seen anything in my little world [work at Town Hall, general clerk] Asking prices have not Dropped but will admit have stopped rising. Maybe we are in lag here as so close to NY City. Still renting 1b/1b $860 + electric.

Comment by kevintx
2008-04-05 13:16:30

“There are plenty of empty homes in North Texas…. Homeowners in Landstar’s Cypress Creek neighborhood in Frisco told us they had no idea the home builder was considering a halt to new construction until they saw these “available” signs in front of two model homes.”

So they get a kind of gap-toothed neighborhood. Empty lots. This is a good thing.

Comment by desertdweller
2008-04-05 14:03:11

Maybe there will BE alot of ‘Gaptoothed’ types soon. lol

“So they get a kind of gap-toothed neighborhood.”

If you can’t afford your overhead, can you afford your dentists visits?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-04-05 14:25:49

“What Me Worry”

Alfred E. Newman

Comment by jerry from richardson
2008-04-05 15:07:52

Even in Texas, people were saying that we are running out of land. I had to laugh at them. You can get a new 2500sf house here for $160K, but some idiots keep wanting to pay $320K for similar houses a block away. It’s strange because you would see one area with very cheap home prices, and 5 minutes away they were priced California-style. I doubt that the quality was that much better.

Comment by spike66
2008-04-05 13:23:24

Clinton Campaign Manager Was Director of Failed Subprime Lender…
“Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign manager, Maggie Williams, earned about $200,000 on the board of a Long Island subprime lender that charged prepayment penalties - a practice that Clinton, a critic of the subprime industry, now seeks to eliminate.
Williams, who took over the reins of Clinton’s campaign in early February, served as a director on the board of the Woodbury-based Delta Financial Corp. from April 2000 until the firm declared bankruptcy in December, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records.
She was recruited by former New York City Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch, a Delta consultant. Her assignments were to create a new code of “best practices,” and to improve the company’s crisis management operation in the wake of state and federal predatory lending probes that resulted in a $12 million payout to borrowers.
Her hiring coincided with stepped-up Delta outreach efforts in minority communities, where the company made a large number of its loans, an initiative that included parties for homeless children and mortgage seminars in Brooklyn and Queens.
Williams, 53, isn’t the only Clinton insider who made money from an industry the candidate has demonized. A month ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Clinton ally and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros grossed more than $5 million in stock sales and board compensation from Countrywide Financial, one of the nation’s largest subprime lenders.”

Comment by Muggy
2008-04-05 14:39:50

I hate to write this, but a house I was close to making an offer on sold for about 10% off peak price. I’m going to keep my eye on it to see if there’s any funny business involved. I was bummed, but I am realistically 2 years away from looking seriously… or moving.

Pinellas County, FL

Comment by mgnyc
2008-04-05 14:40:42

another week and another load of open houses with the same prices more or less here in the nyc area

my wife and i went to look at those apts today in which i asked for
some input on yesterday (thansk to all who commented) and no go on either one so my wife has agreed that our best course of action is to stay in our (very nice and spacious place) for another year at the same rent as per my landlord

i felt if i did actually buy i would no longer be in on all the fun on the hbb.

well here is to alot more laughs and reality checks (and saving)

thanks all once again

nycboy will you forgive me? speak to you later

Comment by Kid Clu
2008-04-05 14:43:35


I hear that granite countertop prices are going up, because the Chinese manufacturers will no longer accept dollars—It’s Euros only for that granite, baby! ––So maybe we will go back to countertops that one can actually use while cooking, and not just admire in passing.

OMG—We are actually having a Spring Selling Season. One of the houses for sale that I have been driving past in Dunwoody since last spring actually sold. How do I know this? The for sale sign now has a humongous SOLD sign above it. I don’t think I’ve seen that done before. A realtor out there must be real proud of that commission. But I’m kinda disappointed that my drive by not sold list average has gone from 0 for 100 to 1 for 99.

Comment by Jean S
2008-04-05 15:31:10

hey, some of us put in granite because we actually use our kitchens! In our case, the house had the world’s oldest formica, which we put up with for a couple of years, then replaced with granite. If you’re a baker, granite is fantastic.

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2008-04-05 16:39:56

If you’re a messy cook, granite needs a lot of upkeep. I’ll take Corian any day.

Yes, I cook so my wife can enjoy retirement too.

Comment by holytrainwreck
2008-04-05 16:40:33

At least you USE the granite. Most McMansion bling-tards EAT OUT while they have stainless and granite.

Comment by grumpy realist
2008-04-06 20:40:13

granite hides the crumbs…and the tiny lentils you were hoping would get into the pot instead.

(My experience so far is I’ll take granite over Corian anyday. They’ve got granite in the kitchen and Corian in the bathroom. Granite is much, much easier to get paint off of.)

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Comment by Incredulous
2008-04-05 16:05:52

Keep watching; it may go back to being unsold. On my block there is a place with a “contract pending” sign above the “for sale sign” that has been there for at least six months. That must be one heck of a long contract.

Comment by grumpy realist
2008-04-05 16:15:08

Heck, I got my 1 bedroom condo because the prior guy couldn’t get the financing. This was about 6 months ago.

Comment by M Gal
2008-04-05 15:08:54

Folks in states where it’s illegal to disclose house sales prices:

Have you seen realtors sitting on market data, like they’ve been doing in Missoula (see entries above)?

Are you seeing efforts to change the law?

According to realtor.com, the non-disclosure states are:

New Mexico
North Dakota


In Dec 07, there was talk of making prices public in NM (see below). Apparently there is a similar effort afoot in Idaho. http://www.idahostatesman.com/1306/story/335057.html From this article, it sounds like ID price disclosure is now voluntary (?)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Law Would Disclose Home Prices

By Autumn Gray
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Assistant Business Editor
The price you paid for your home is nobody’s business but yours, with some minor exceptions.
That’s New Mexico law today.
But that could soon change.
A task force has recommended that New Mexico join the majority of states that require home sales prices to be made public.
The recommendation requiring “that all final negotiated real estate sales prices be public record” now sits in Gov. Richardson’s office waiting for the thumbs up for consideration by the Legislature in January.
Whether it takes bill form should be determined by Friday.
The recommendation is one of 17 made by the governor’s Task Force on Mortgage Lending, which was created Aug. 30.
Its mission was to evaluate the potential local impact of the subprime lending crisis and to come up with ways to protect consumers against abusive lending practices.
“One of the problems in the mortgage meltdown were loans based on inflated values,” said task force co-chair Michael Loftin, who is executive director of Homewise, a nonprofit home ownership organization in Santa Fe. “So if you make more transparent what the values (home sales prices) are, it makes it harder to cook an appraisal.”
As the best estimate of a home’s fair market value, appraisals are used by mortgage lenders to determine loan amounts. To arrive at a value, an appraiser considers a combination of factors: home size, amenities, renovations and remodels, exterior and interior condition, and, in most states, the sales prices of comparable homes in the area, to name a few.
Task force members say unavailability of sales prices creates an environment in which it is easy for the unscrupulous appraiser to overvalue a home, possibly at the request of a lender who wants to obtain a higher loan from the underwriter. Done too often, this leads to an artificially inflated housing market in which consumers wind up buying into excessive mortgages.
“The thing I’m concerned about is (making) sure the mortgage company is getting a value that’s real as opposed to one that’s made to order,” said John Howden, the task force member who suggested sales price disclosure be included on the list of recommendations.

The current law
New Mexico is one of about a dozen states that do not make sales prices public. However, since Jan. 1, 2004, state statute has required those prices be provided to county assessors “to be used only for analytical and statistical purposes in the application of appraisal methods.”
Bernalillo County Assessor Karen L. Montoya says her office analyzes the data to identify trends in the market, and uses those trends to adjust the cost tables. It has a computer-assisted mass appraisal system that helps get the numbers as close as possible to the current market values.
Many home owners experienced sticker shock in November upon receiving their 2006 tax bills, which in some cases were much higher because of higher assessments. Generally, property taxes cannot increase more than 3 percent. But if a house is sold, no cap exists, and the assessment is based on market value.
The million dollar question is whether property taxes could increase even more if New Mexico becomes a full disclosure state. The short answer is maybe.
“It would depend on what the bill says, what the legislation brings, whether we would use it for property tax evaluation,” Montoya says.

Realtors’ view
If the recommendation goes before lawmakers as a bill, it will likely be met with opposition from at least two camps— some realty agents and some appraisers.
Realtors, who have near sole proprietorship of sale prices in their Multiple Listing Service, tend to be split on the matter.
Some don’t feel very strongly about it.
But “some of the Realtors still think it’s nobody’s business what somebody sells their property for,” says M. Steven Anaya, speaking both as a task force member and as executive vice president of the Realtors Association of New Mexico. “I can tell you it’s a very animated discussion.
“About half of the Realtors are probably for it, half against. But the half against are probably more adamant about that position.”

Appraisers in other states
Howden, chairman of the New Mexico Real Estate Appraisers Board, obviously supports the practice.
But there is some dissention.
While local appraisers were reluctant to speak to the Journal, some appraisers in other states have argued against the practice.
They say having sales price data available increases the likelihood lenders will use faster and arguably less expensive computer-based appraisal programs instead of on-site appraisers.
Such computer systems, called Automatic Valuation Models, or AVMs, rely on public record data to arrive at market value; they do not factor in observables such as property condition.
This, some appraisers say, leads to inaccurate valuations, which when used against each other as comparables, creates a flawed view of the market.
When asked whether he was aware of some of the opposition, Howden said, “The arguments I have heard about keeping New Mexico a nondisclosure state almost invariably hover around people’s need to make money.”
The 26-member task force was composed of representatives in industries including banking, financing, real estate, home construction, law and government.

Comment by Duane Lapinski
2008-04-05 16:16:51

One problem you have in changing the law in Montana is Article II, Section 10 of the state’s constitution. It is the right to privacy. Your are going to have to show some “compelling state interest” in having sale prices disclosed.

Comment by M Gal
2008-04-05 16:32:10

All sorts of info is public: property taxes, voter rolls…

And anyway, why should individuals “own” their house price? I’m not asking to be let into anyone’s house. I just want to know what’s happening in the market. Markets only work when prices are known.

As is, realtors and appraisers “own” house prices. How is that any better? Sounds like a monopoly to me.

Comment by M Gal
2008-04-05 16:25:33

Don’t think there’s a correlation between non-disclosure and high house prices? Check out page 27 of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s Dec 07 report. Of the 9 states that had the highest (5-9%) appreciation in the US during last quarter 07, seven were non-disclosure states. The two that weren’t non- disclosure states were WA and OK. The rest of the non-disclosure states were all in the 0-5% appreciation range.

Comment by NotInMontana
2008-04-05 18:31:41

Yep, I believe it. Where exactly is it written that MT is non-disclosure? Is it a law in the MCA or just the absence of a law?

Comment by M gal
2008-04-07 15:43:52

I don’t remember. I just looked in the real estate section of the Montana Code and don’t see it there.

Here’s an interesting article about the various ways non-disclosure can work. http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/672007_Real_Estate_Records.asp

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Comment by Mozo Maz
2008-04-05 16:47:22

In Charlotte… it’s clear there are more homes for sale than in previous years. I’m seeing more being converted to rentals now as owners get tired of waiting. Some news in the paper about local employers starting to trim jobs. Got a bid from an insulation contractor. He said it’s really slow, that he’s doing about 1/5 the work as he was last year.

Still, I would not say that it feels like a recession yet. It just sounds like “some people” are getting stuck. My guess is that Charlotte will finally meet the incoming tide late this year or early next.

Comment by AnonyRuss
2008-04-05 17:36:57

Holy smokes. . . listen to the damage on this former model home built in 2003 in Surprise, AZ (Phoenix area):

“Large home former KB Home model is a true fixer upper. Please use your imagination & your power tools for this one. Nice floorplan with very large bedrooms. Gas fireplace in master bedroom. Corner lot with Pebble Tech pool. Buyer to verify all facts. This home has serious potential! This home will not go FHA, VA due to damage. If you have conventional financing, please speak with your lender as this home is basically a shell with excellent curb appeal-it is not 95% complete. No a/c’s, cabinets, countertops, fixtures, appliances, stair railings… NOTHING. Pool will need to be replastered.” You will need new flooring, drywall, paint, etc….

MLS # 2964775

14244 N 136th LN Surprise

Comment by novawatcher
2008-04-06 13:08:46


I dig the demon/pig picture they drew on the wall.

Comment by AnonyRuss
2008-04-07 02:39:39

Image 9 is the kitchen. Absolutely every sink, cabinet, countertop gone. Even the kitchen island.

And demon art to boot. Unreal.

Comment by redmondjp
2008-04-07 14:34:10

If you look closer, it appears that the cabinet doors are all they took in both the kitchen and the bath (at least on the lower cabinets). Now what in the world are you going to do with those doors (full disclosure: I have a bunch of oak cabinet doors from the dumpster of a cabinet shop sitting at home for 8 years now–haven’t used them yet)???

What a deal on that place, though–my lot sans house in Microsoftland would go for way more than that, even today. A fairly easy fixer. I was expecting way worse from the way people were describing it. And stealing the A/C unit from outside, in AZ? Well that’s just wrong . . .

But the house IS in Suprise, after all!

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by redmondjp
2008-04-07 14:38:41

OK, I was wrong–the kitchen is completely stripped. Must be the cabinets in one of the bathrooms that they left.

Hmmm, what, about $20-25K to put cabinets back into the place (well, non-pressboard ones)?

Comment by grumpy realist
2008-04-06 20:45:20

What’s this thing about so many places with pools? It seems like a brain-stem function for people in the South/Cali area: buy a house, get a pool put in. The fact that a pool is nothing more than an expense that you maybe use on the weekends seems to totally go over heads the most people.

Heck, if you’re going to pay the money, get a bunch of solar cells put on the roof.

Comment by Michael
2008-04-06 07:05:10

Recent bus tour of foreclosed homes a first for the state

NASHUA – The wheels on the big white bus slid to a stop in front of a yellow cape-style home on Pasadena Avenue.

Out walked about 20 people in casual weekend wear, trudging in single file up the snowy wooden steps into an empty home with blown-out pipes and no electricity.

“By the way, folks, we’re calling it like it is on these properties,” real-estate broker Peter Bohush said. “We’re not trying to hide or sugarcoat anything.”

Next stop: a bungalow on Dickerman Street that still showed signs of life. Doll clothes, a crib and a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” were scattered in the sunroom. Clothes hung in a bedroom closet.

The 1890s farmhouse on West Hollis Street left a few people speechless. Some of the passengers took one look at the outside and hesitated to leave the bus.

This isn’t a scene from Detroit or Stockton, Calif., where nearly 5 percent of all households are in some stage of foreclosure. In cities like that, it has long made sense for banks to get as many eyes as possible on their growing inventory of properties.

This is Nashua, where foreclosures are markedly fewer but growing quickly enough to attract the Foreclosure Express – a whirlwind Saturday tour of about 10 bank-owned properties. The March 29 tour in Nashua was the first of its kind in New Hampshire.

The tour was put on by Digital Federal Credit Union’s real-estate arm, DCU Realty. The Massachusetts-based credit union, with a branch in Nashua, brought the bus north of the border after the idea caught on elsewhere.


The scary part is that this is my Credit Union. I only keep about $10K there for my checking account for small bills but I’ve been wondering about the health of the credit union for a while now. I haven’t checked the health of the FCUA in a while. I’ve been with DCU for a few decades because they don’t fee you to death.

Comment by eastcoaster
2008-04-06 08:05:14

Two people I know recently had their homes for sale. First one - a 3BR townhouse in not-so-great condition - sold in 29 days for ~95% of asking price. Second one - a 4 BR colonial - sold in just a few days. Not sure at what price. However, the realtor selling that house advertised, “Cash for your home if you buy this one” so that may have very well factored into it.

Two other single family homes that I’ve been watching have been on the market well over 6 months. Both with prices that make me choke.

I really feel like I’m going to have to move away from the Philly burbs if I am ever to be able to buy a home. Which sucks because - prior to the boom - I would have been able to buy around here no problem. In fact I was getting ready to. But then I lost a job and - while finding another - prices took off like a rocket ship.

Am I really to believe I’ll be able to buy around here again some day? I would need to see prices for homes that I’m interested in (certain townhomes or small s.f.h.) drop ~ 25%. I have never felt so helpless in a situation. And the smugness all around just makes it 1000 times worse.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-06 10:12:45

I wonder how this REO property is going to do on the market, as even after price reduction, it is priced $130,000 above the closest comp. Good luck with that pricing strategy!

15266 WINESPRINGS CT, SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127**
List Price: $849,900 - $849,900
ZipRealty will give you up to $5,099 cash back.*
Bedrooms: 4
Full Baths: 3
Partial Baths: 1
Square Feet: 4,136
Lot Size: N/A
Year Built: 2005
Listing Date: 01/02/08
On Market: 95 days
Type: SFR
Status: ACTIVE
MLS #: 086000246

**bank owned reo** ground floor master bedroom. Hardwood floors, granite counters. Great floor plan with central court yard area. Buyer to verify all before coe.

ZipRealty Price Track:

Price Reduced: 03/19/08 — $899,900 to $849,900
On Market: 95 days

Clients who viewed this home also viewed:

SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127
Beds/Baths: 4/3 Sq.Ft: 3,166

SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127
Beds/Baths: 5/5 Sq.Ft: 3,628

SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127
Beds/Baths: 5/3 Sq.Ft: 3,431

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-06 10:39:35

Forgot to supply the price per square foot (PPSF) information:

15266 WINESPRINGS CT, SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127**
List Price: $849,900 - $849,900
Square Feet: 4,136
PPSF: $849,900/4,136 = $205

Beds/Baths: 4/3 Sq.Ft: 3,166
PPSF: $680,000/3,166 = $215

Beds/Baths: 5/5 Sq.Ft: 3,628
PPSF: $720,000/3,628 = $198

Beds/Baths: 5/3 Sq.Ft: 3,431
PPSF: $699,888/3,431 = $204

Tentatively conclusion: The local market is on the brink of falling though the $200/sq ft level.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-04-06 10:31:42

Here is the first four bedroom Foreclosure Ranch home I have seen offered below $500,000. The ad forgets to mention the lovely background view of another McMansion about 12 feet to the side, but it is clearly visible in the photo. One could not touch one of these for below $800,000 three years ago.

Given that they are still fishing for an offer of $500,000, they must (presumably) have an offer below $500,000 currently in hand. Sounds like the current offer does not come with a bucket of money, either, as the buyers are not yet approved for a loan. I guess we are talking about a $300,000 (37.5 pct) haircut off the bubble peak here at the minimum — quite a scalping I would say!

17019 RALPHS RANCH ROAD, SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127**
List Price: $499,888 - $549,888
ZipRealty will give you up to $2,999 cash back.*

Bedrooms: 4
Full Baths: 3
Partial Baths: 0
Square Feet: 2,112
List price per square foot:
$499,888/2,112 = $237

Lot Size: N/A
Year Built: 2006
Listing Date: 11/12/07
On Market: 146 days
Type: SFR
Status: ACTIVE
MLS #: 076088713

Offer accepted, pending lender approval, still accepting offers* seller to entertain $ 499,888 - $549,888 * gorgeous 4s ranch home * spacious floor plan * formal living room * home shows like a model * huge master bedroom w/balcony * low maintenance backyard * sale subject to lender approval*

ZipRealty Price Track:

Price Reduced: 01/11/08 — $574,888 to $569,888
Price Reduced: 02/22/08 — $569,888 to $499,888
On Market: 146 days

Clients who viewed this home also viewed:

SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127
Beds/Baths: 3/3 Sq.Ft: 2,112
List price per square foot:
$550,000/2,112 = $260

SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127
Beds/Baths: 5/3 Sq.Ft: 2,250
List price per square foot: $244

SD - Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127
Beds/Baths: 4/3 Sq.Ft: 2,478
List price per square foot: $246

Comment by east beach
2008-04-06 11:05:26

My neighborhood, and Santa Barbara CA in general is most definitely going down:

* One house has been on and off the market for 2+ years, started asking price was $1.05M, noticed the other day they are asking $749K
(Bad for them, as they bought in 2004 for $850+ and remodelled some…)

* Starting to see condos for less than $300K again, for a while there was nothing under $500K

* Starting to see SFHs near downtown for less than $700K

* Seeing some San Roque and Shoreline Park places less than $900K

Still too high, but all in all this is 20 to 30% down from 2005-2006 asking prices :-)

I’ve been very happy lately, as I’m seeing more possibilities to buy something for my family after 7 years of saving…

Comment by foo
2008-04-06 15:42:15


Houses still moving here. Plenty of solds on the bike route (commuting non-fitness). The last domino of the west coast still stands. Talked to a recent (educated) buyer factoring a worst case scenario of 10% decline. I wished best of luck.

Comment by jayceee
2008-04-06 17:44:23

vancouverite here.
just got back from going to some open houses (for a laugh) with a friend. two bedroom 850 square feet condos downtown for $700,000. people here are crazy.

also went into a east side house (for those who don’t know east side of the city is a lot cheaper than west side. and crappier) for 1.2 million. realtor tried to tell us that we could rent two suites on the first floor out for $900/month each. so effectively, if we buy the house we can live in the 1200 square feet upstairs portion for 1.2 millions dollars.

people here are crazy.

Comment by Michael
2008-04-06 19:57:49

$1,000/sq ft? Seems like too many zeroes to me.

Comment by grumpy realist
2008-04-06 20:56:31

Reporting here from Oak Park, Illinois. We’re still all over the map, mainly because of the Frank Lloyd Wright influence. A proposal is out to expand one of the historic district–people on the edges are furious because this just adds to the restrictions on what one can do with the property.

Foreclosures up 51% over last year, supposedly.

we’re still pretty stodgy here and not much in the SFH areas are budging. Anything that can have “Arts and Craft Era” slapped on it still is going for over $1M. I notice that the end townhouse of one of our new complexes (with the pseudo-medieval tower) is still being listed for $899K and is still attracting no buyers. The Marion street condos were listed for $650K+ and seem to have mainly sold (except for that medieval turret thingie.) New townhouses getting advertised at $399K. I’ve noticed the remaining units in our building getting advertised for less than $200K, although what’s left is of the north-facing, 1 bedroom, 2nd floor variety….

Comment by Tokyo Renter - ex Los Angeles Renter
2008-04-08 18:37:15

What’s up with Houston prices?

Recently I received a phone call from a head hunter located in Houston about a position available, I never considered Houston until I looked at home prices and what you can get for your money. Especially in the suburbs.

I’ve been looking around the Spring, Kingwood and Woodlands areas mostly and the kind of home you can buy is fantastic for the money.

I’m from Los Angeles and will probably go back there as my friends and my wife’s friends are there and it’s where all my business contacts are.

But Houston is looking good lately. I know the weather is (REALLY) hot and humid in the summer (ever been to Japan/Tokyo?) and the pollution is bad (again ever been to Tokyo or Osaka in the summer? - Japanese burn most of their garbage - in the cities!) and the Houston traffic is bad (LA, Tokyo, DC, Chicago = BAD!) but the salaries were about the same as LA (in IT) for the same positions, less then Tokyo for foreigners but… but the schools seem better (in the burbs) than LA or Tokyo (yes contrary to the MSM, Japanese schools for the most part suck), plus the trees in Kingwood/Woodlands are beautiful.

So can someone comment on the situation with Houston Texas? I know it’s a bit bubbly there, but compared to the rest of the US it’s looking pretty good.

My wife is Japanese and loves Vietnamese and Korean culture and food and she likes HOT sub-tropical weather. (which Houston has plenty of the above) She felt LA was a bit cold and absolutely loathes the weather in Japan (except the summer).

She was in Houston for about a week when applying for a job at Continental, (she could live in LA) she stayed with a student of hers and thought it was a very nice place. So she would consider moving with me.

The property taxes seem high, but with no state income taxes it seems to offset this a little but. Prop taxes for Kingwood seem to be around 3%!

So what’s up with Houston? Someone from Texas (txchick? or anyone ?) care to comment?

Any advice would be great. Thanks in advance!

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