Thursday, July 31, 2008
I’m a frequent poster on the LA Times’s LaLand real estate blog. The blog examines the local r.e. market. Peter Viles, the blog editor, rode along with me on our local caravan back in February. Most of the posters there believe the real estate market is in the middle of a prolonged crash, and it can get a little shrill and flame-y. I admit I have contributed to the flames in the past. Lately, however, the comments have been getting very more and more childish and vindictive. For example, from yesterday: “Real estate agent…when you’re too ugly to work at Nordstroms.”
And here, a poster named Anon has continually challenged me on statistics (see my Stalker post, below), ignored my boots-on-the-ground posts on my local market experiences, and has sent in some increasingly viscious comments. Anon, if you don't like my blog, don't read it. If you want a forum, create your own blog.
I have loved the freewheeling nature of blogging and open commenting in major media outlets. But, Rainey is right. The tone of the comments everywhere is descending and beginning to seem like recess on the third-grade playground.
And, this blog is not a democracy. I started it to try to give information about my local market, promote my services and (hopefully) amuse you readers with various real estate absurdities. So, I’m not only going to moderate posts, I will no longer allow anonymous comments of any kind. As Rainey’s article says,
“Webmasters could begin to fix the problem and heighten the level of discussion by requiring folks who want to share their views to also agree to publication of their real names. If you're not willing to put your name beside that lovely screed, maybe it really isn't fully fit for human consumption.”
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
There was another celebrity sighting today at Aroma, Studio City's best coffee house/cafe. This time it was Moby, recording artist extraordinaire. I'm told Moby is about as small as this picture.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I just sent this letter to the editor of the Burbank Leader:
"I am a local Realtor, and it is a privilege to be quoted by Jeremy Oberstein in the July 26 article "Local Housing Market Flailing." However, in the paragraph about foreclosures in zipcode 91505, I was quoted as saying there were 19 foreclosures out of 4,000 homes in this year's second quarter. The number should read 14,000 homes. I think you will agree that this is a very significant difference. Also, I believe I cited statistics from the first quarter only, when there were just 6 foreclosures in that zipcode. The source of my information, obtained in May, was the Los Angeles Times' own "search foreclosures by zipcode" widget available on the L.A. Times' (your parent company's) website."
Okay, I'm finally beginning to believe that "the media" is blowing this issue out of proportion, at least for our area.
Update: Jeremy sent me this return email yesterday:
My mistake. I will change 4,000 to 14,000. The stats cited were not from the 1st quarter but from the second; That is why we were doing the article this week. It was an honest mistake and one I regret making, but not a case of "the media blowing this out of proportion" as you mention on your website.It will be fixed on the Leader website ASAP.Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
We just received notice that the Los Angeles Times plans to eliminate the Sunday Real Estate section. I don't know whether this has to do more with the reduced revenues from the real estate classifieds, or just general cut-backs at the newspaper.
But it's a sea change for sure. Can it be much longer before they eliminate the advertising section as well? Although I don't want to see either of these go, I'll admit I'm using much, much more electronic and internet advertising than print advertising for properties. Most of my colleagues are doing the same. So I'm sure the lower profits from the real estate community lead to the decision to lower the editorial support. Still, a major metropolitan Sunday paper should have a real estate section.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
And today's LAT front page headline article by Peter Hong is about foreclosures. Peter interviewed me on Monday for this, but I guess I didn't make the edit. Anyway, here's an interesting item: The latest figures contained one surprise: defaults -- the first step toward foreclosure -- rose by just 6.6% in the second quarter, down from a 39%. DataQuick President John Walsh said the reason was not immediately clear. Foreclosures may be "nearing a plateau," he said, but it could also mean that lenders are "swamped and can't handle processing any paperwork." [emphasis mine]. That's what I'm seeing, too. Lenders just don't have the staff to handle work-outs, short sales, foreclosures...
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
And, interest rates are down a little bit. They are still fluctuating, but nobody expects much of a rise there over the next few weeks.
"Stated income" loans are also still possible. These are loans for people who don't get a regular paycheck, are self-employed, or small business owners, etc. A buyer needs 2 years' worth of tax returns and good credit to qualify.
So, if you need to buy a home now, you might find the lending possibilities to be broader than you thought.
No, there's no news here about IndyMac or Fannie or Freddie. The news is that there are actually quite a few less listings in the east San Fernando Valley than there were at this time last year. According to the local mls's, we're down about 25% from the amount of listings we had at this time last year. (This is not true for Santa Clarita; the amount of listings are way up.) Traditionally, this part of the summer is slow for new listings. It will likely be worse in August and get a little better after Labor Day. But I think that sellers are reluctant to sell now if they don't absolutely have to.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
For your Sunday morning reading pleasure, here's an article from the New York Times' Business section. No, it's not about Fannie, Freddie or IndyMac. It's about how impossible it is to get in touch with your lender to arrange a work-out on your mortgage. The article is long, but it contains lots of anecdotes, and I've heard stories like this from several people here. I've already blogged about how long it's taking to arrange a short sale, especially with Countrywide -- same thing here. The lenders are just not equipped to deal with what's going on.
Also for your reading pleasure, here's today's NYT Ben Stein's column. It's about applying investing advice to your love life. Why didn't I get this guy before?
Friday, July 11, 2008
So far, so good. The r.e. market was still humming along at this point, and we put 1210 on the market in March 2007 for $780,000.
By early summer 2007, we had lowered the price twice and had negotiated three low-ball offers. No sale. Marc refinanced 1210 to cover the down payment of the new house, and the new place closed as scheduled. A qualified buyer for 1210 soon appeared and we opened escrow with a purchase price of $700,000 in mid-July. The buyer wasn’t putting much down, but neither were any other buyers at this time.
Then August 2007 came, and the real estate lending market screeched to a halt. The buyer of 1210 couldn’t get a loan. Neither could anybody else. Marc was now making two mortgage payments, with no end in sight. What to do?
Marc rented the house to the would-be buyer on a lease-option deal. The buyer would then pursue getting a purchase-money loan in early 2008. Why the wait until then? Because we all hoped the lending market would loosen up by then.
Spring ’08 came, and the buyer began to work on getting another loan. The lending market had indeed loosened up. Sort of. Loans still aren’t that easy to get, and this particular one was no exception.
And, by this time, housing prices had come down. The house re-appraised at $630,000. Although he wasn’t happy about the price reduction, seller Marc is a realist. He didn’t want to be stuck paying two mortgages forever. Plus, he and his fiancée just wanted to get on with their lives. The Realtors involved (me, my brokerage and the buyer’s agent and brokerage) shared some of the pain by reducing our commissions (gulp).
The almost-a-year-long escrow finally closed last week. My seller took the hugest hit, obviously. I think this story is instructive as an excellent example of the pain absorbed by individual sellers in this new real estate market.