Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ownit seeks bankruptcy protection

From the website :

The sub-prime lender, a casualty of the changing mortgage market, owes more than $165 million.

By E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff WriterDecember 30, 2006

Ownit Mortgage Solutions Inc. of Agoura Hills, which shut down abruptly early this month, has filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it owes more than $165 million to Merrill Lynch & Co. and other financial firms that bought Ownit loans now in default.

The petition, filed late Thursday in federal bankruptcy court in Van Nuys, was made in response to lawsuits filed by two creditors, said William Dallas, Ownit's chief executive and sole director.

He said if he had not filed the Chapter 11 petition, his 800 former employees would never receive the wages and commissions they are owed."Once you file Chapter 11 employee claims become the No. 1 priority," Dallas said in an e-mail Friday.

Assuming that the court approved his plans, he added, "once we file our 2006 tax return I will have enough money to pay them what they deserve."The filing is a sign of the stresses felt by so-called sub-prime lenders such as Ownit, which make higher-cost loans to borrowers with poor credit or limited incomes.

Ownit grew rapidly over the last few years, becoming a top 20 lender nationally in the sub-prime niche, but the closely held company turned unprofitable as interest rates and homes prices rose and competition for a shrinking customer base intensified.

Looks like some of these brokers posts are coming true.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Motivated or look for a couple of greater fools?

Old Craigslist:
Recall this post on August 8, 2006 , where the realtor claimed to be motivated and was looking to give away $75,000 of instant equity? Well, this home is still listed on CL and still has the same claim of $75,000 of instant equity and motivated seller. Is this realtor/home-debtor really motivated or just looking for a greater fool to take this albatross off of his neck?

New Craigslist:
This realtor/home-debtor also has another home on Craigslist-"Beautiful Lennar home offered at an incredible price, move in with $81,000 in equity!" He purchased this instant equity, er... home on June 2005 for $324,000 and is now trying to "give it away" for $349,000. Don't forget when you buy this home from this realtor to make sure and cover the "Property is in active tax default status"(Per the County of Kern's Website).

Looks like someone was drinking their own kool-aid? Is there no realtors code of ethics? Can they make these claims of "instant equity" when they, as the professionals, have been unable to capture this equity their selves?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Mortgage Brokers Christmas Poem?

From Brokers Outpost comes tonight's Christmas poem:

T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house, the family was moving, the M.B. was a louse.

He put them in an Option ARM with care, with visions of YSP dancing through his greasy hair.

The rate went up and the family knew, the old M.B. gave them the screw.

The foreclosure note was hung with great care and they soon knew the sheriff would be there.

The called the office and sent some mail only to find out the M.B. was in jail.

They quickly found out the office was closed, something about the way clients were hosed.

They whined and they cried and said they got screwed all because the disclosures where skewed.

They heard a fast car drive out of site with the A.E. screaming "piss on you all I've had a hell of a night".

Sounds like a stand up profession to me.

Another One Goes Out of Business

To All HMIC Business Partners,

It is with deep regret that we announce Harbourton Mortgage Investment Corporation will cease operations effective the close of business today, December 20th, 2006.
We are extremely proud to have had the opportunity to serve our Brokers, Investors and Business Partners and wish everyone much success in the future. Provided below are areas of contact:


Here is their last Press Release on Dec 8, 2006:

Harbourton Capital Group, Inc. ("Harbourton" or the "Company") (OTC:HBTC) today reported a loss of $3.6 million, or $0.71 per common share, for the three months ended September 30, 2006, compared with net income after tax of $42,977, or $0.01 per common share, for the comparable period in 2005. The loss for the nine months ended September 30, 2006 was $7.3 million, or $1.45 per common share, compared with net income of $621,899, or $0.11 per common share, for the comparable 2005 period. There were 5,061,375 shares of common stock outstanding during the three and nine months ended September 30, 2006 and 2005. Common shareholders' equity at September 30, 2006 was $17.7 million, with a corresponding book value of $3.49 per common share, as compared with $25.0 million at December 31, 2005, or $4.93 per common share.

The Company completed the acquisition of Molton Allen Williams Mortgage Company, LLC ("MAW"), headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia on August 31, 2006. In connection with the acquisition, the Company issued $2.1 million in preferred stock and a note payable in the amount of $300,000. The assets and liabilities acquired in the MAW transaction were contributed to the Company's wholly owned subsidiary Harbourton Mortgage Investment Corporation ("HMIC"), increasing the capital position of HMIC. The transaction was recorded using purchase accounting and accordingly the results for the quarter ended September 30, 2006 include the results of operations for HMIC only for July and August and the consolidated results of both HMIC and MAW operations for the month of September.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Employee Rewarded

Nice story in the LA Times about a former WaMu employee who noticed a significant amount of mortgage fraud and spoke up. She faced the wrath of the REIC, however, in the end good prevailed over evil:

A former Washington Mutual Inc. vice president, who claimed that she was retaliated against after raising questions about loan-funding practices, has been awarded $1.24 million in damages by the Labor Department.
The decision, issued Tuesday, is believed to be the first in a Sarbanes-Oxley whistle-blower case in which an employee won so-called front-pay damages from an employer instead of reinstatement, said attorney Marc Susswein, who represented the former vice president, Theresa Hagman of Moorpark.

Hagman, who was unavailable to comment for this story, was hired by Washington Mutual as a vice president and manager of a construction lending unit in Chatsworth in 2001. She consistently received stellar performance reviews and was offered a promotion, according to the judge's written decision.

Beginning in December 2003, Hagman noticed that about 30 loans hadn't been completely funded and had gone into immediate default, something that had occurred only twice the year before. When she raised her concerns with a supervisor, he became angry and, Hagman said, was physically and verbally threatening.

She reported the confrontation to other managers and to the employee relations department, which Hagman said did nothing. She also reported her concerns about the loans and an internal investigation was opened, which eventually vindicated Hagman and found that procedures weren't followed.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Central Valley Prices Down 3.9% YOY

Per the Central Vally Business Times :

Home sales plummet as prices continue to rise
LOS ANGELES December 22, 2006 6:12am
• Sales off 22 percent

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during November 2006 was $555,290, a 1.4 percent increase over the revised $547,870 median for November 2005, according to CAR’s figures, which are based on its survey of member Realtor associations. CAR’s figures do not include all types of sales and are generally higher than those median prices that do.

But prices are heading down in the Central Valley.

The median price for a home sold in the Central Valley in November was $340,370, the Realtors say. That is down 1.2 percent from October and down 3.9 percent from November 2005.

“Although the statewide median price is on track to post just under a 7 percent increase for the year, there is a mixed picture across the state, with more regions reporting year-to-year declines than increases at this point,” says Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist got the Realtors association. “We’ve seen three or more months of year-to-year price declines in areas where there was a lot of homebuilding activity and in those areas that are popular for second-home purchases.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Central Valley leads nation in foreclosure risks

From the Central Valley Business Times:

Report: Central Valley leads nation in foreclosure risks
DURHAM, N.C. December 20, 2006 6:08am

• Merced ranked most risky
• Nationally, 2.2 Million borrowers face foreclosure on subprime loans

Holders of so-called “subprime” mortgages are in danger of losing their homes, especially in the Central Valley, according to a report from the Center for Responsible Lending.

As much as $164 billion in mortgages is at risk due to foreclosures in the subprime mortgage market, it says.

With 25 percent of the mortgages issued this year being subprime, Merced County ranks as the nation’s most risky area for foreclosures, according to the report.

Other Central Valley areas are not much better, it says.

Bakersfield ranks second in the nation; Fresno is fifth; Stockton is seventh and Visalia-Porterville is 13th.

“We project that one out of five (19 percent) subprime mortgages originated during the past two years will end in foreclosure. This rate is nearly double the projected rate of subprime loans made in 2002, and it exceeds the worst foreclosure experience in the modern mortgage market, which occurred during the ‘Oil Patch’ disaster of the 1980s,” the report says.

The organization says its study is the first comprehensive, nationwide review of millions of subprime mortgages originated from 1998 through the third quarter of 2006.

Factors driving subprime foreclosures include adjustable rate mortgages with steep built-in rate and payment increases; prepayment penalties; limited income documentation; and no escrow for taxes and insurance, the report says.

(Hat Tip to Modesto & Merced Bubble )

Monday, December 18, 2006

HOV Cash Flow Used By Operations

HOV results out today. I will post on them, as they have a significant presence in Bubble Town, USA. Looking at their most recent SCF filed with the SEC (on their core operations are clearly not generating positive cash flow results. You would think that during this run up that these numbers would be positive, think again. Here are the last 5 quarters NEGATIVE cash flow from operations:

Cash Flow Used in Operating Activities (in millions):


How much longer can a company continue to operate by losing money on its core operations? Then came the news today that they will also lose money for the quarter.

Hovnanian Enterprises swings to quarterly loss

By Ana Campoy
Dec 18, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV :
Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc late Monday said it swung to a fourth-quarter net loss available to shareholders of $117.9 million, or $1.88 a share, as revenue fell and margins narrowed. In the same period last year, the Red Bank, N.J.-based home builder posted net earnings available to shareholders of $165.4 million, or $2.53 a share. Revenue fell 1.5% to $1.75 billion from $1.77 billion. The company expects 2007 per-share earnings of $1.50 to $2, on 16,000 to 18,000 home deliveries. For the first quarter, Hovnanian sees per-share earnings of 5 cents to 10 cents. "We believe that the overall U.S. housing market may hit the bottom in the first half of 2007," said Ara Hovnanian, the company's president and chief executive, in a statement. "However, the housing market is likely to bounce along the bottom for several quarters before pricing and sales pace improves."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"The local housing market is RED HOT"

According to Mark Thorngren, is his post updated 12-15-06, "the local housing market is RED HOT". HUH??:

The local housing market is RED HOT. The homes here appreciated approximately 35% in the last year! You can find a brand new 3 bedroom home for under 350K. Luxury homes normally begin at about 550K. Similar homes in Ventura County -further South -will typically sell for 3 times this price! Bakersfield has a population approaching 300,000 people and staddles the Kern River.

Multi-Million Dollar Flip or Flop: Update

Today's post is on a Multi-Million Dollar Flip or Flop. Recall this post, on August 23, 2006, :

Will this Flipper make it? Or is he too late in the game to turn a profit? Purchased 3/31/06 for $1,750,000 add in the carrying costs to date (estimated) and he is at $1,800,000. Orginally on the market for $2,600,000 now for sale at $2,200,000. Will some greater fool come along??

Property taxes were due on 12/11/06 and per the County of Kern's wesbite they were not paid. The taxes are still due along with a 10% penalty. Also, the home is no longer on the MLS, however, it is still listed for sale on the realtors website and per my contacts the home remains empty.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Local home sale prices will continue to fall

Home prices continue to drop, down 3.5% YOY (year over year). Also, the inventory is at approximately 3,800 homes. We started last year with about 1,750 homes. I predict that a tsunami of listing's hit the market beginning the first few months of the year. This will only had to the supply/demand problem we have. I think Gary's comments below, of a 5 % decline, are very conservative. However, at least he is not cheerleading like the other members of the REIC.

From the Bakersfield Californian:

Local home sale prices will continue to fall

The Bakersfield Californian Thursday, Dec 14 2006 7:30 PM
Last Updated: Thursday, Dec 14 2006 7:35 PM

Existing home sale prices in the Bakersfield area will decline by about 5 percent in 2007, local appraiser Gary Crabtree projects. The median sale price of existing homes in metropolitan Bakersfield was $279,900 in November, down 3.5 percent from the same period a year before, Crabtree said.

"It's a correction and the correction is taking place all over the state and the country," Crabtree said. Crabtree said the number of existing home sales in November -- 340 -- was down almost 33 percent from the number of sales recorded in November 2005, the result of high supply and declining demand. "When that happens, the price is going to adjust," Crabtree said.

Let's look back at what realtors said after last month's report. Why don't the reporters follow up with these cheerleaders and ask them "Were you lying to me last time we spoke?"

Robert Kleinhenz, the association's deputy chief economist, said he expects Bakersfield's median house price to remain flat or possibly increase slightly next year.

The area has strong job and population growth, Kleinhenz said, and "that's going to support a market that's a little bit more buoyant."

"The drop-off in sales in Bakersfield is not quite as severe," Kleinhenz said. "It's actually faring much better than many other central areas."

Local real estate agencies are starting to get more phone calls and hold more open houses.
Activity is increasing, but it hasn't had a dramatic impact on sales yet, local agent Nancy Harper said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

November foreclosure rate highest of the year

From the Central ValleyBusiness

In November nationwide, 120,334 properties entered some stage of foreclosure, an increase of 4 percent from the previous month and an increase of 68 percent from November 2005, according to RealtyTrac Inc., of Irvine, which operates an Internet-based marketplace for foreclosure properties.

Its report shows a national foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 961 U.S. households, the highest monthly foreclosure rate reported so far this year.

"Defaults, auctions and bank repossessions all trended higher in November, bringing the year-to-date foreclosure total to almost 1.2 million -- up 43 percent from the same 11-month period of 2005," says James Saccacio, RealtyTrac president. "With home price appreciation slowing, and even declining in some areas of the country, homebuyers who stretched themselves financially to purchase a property don't have much equity to work with if they experience even a small bump in their mortgage rate or disruption in their income.”

Nevada wins at foreclosure capital of the country

After eight consecutive months with Colorado posting the nation's highest foreclosure rate, Nevada's foreclosure rate jumped to the top spot thanks to a 12 percent increase in foreclosure activity from the previous month, RealtyTrac says.

Nevada reported 2,506 properties entering some stage of foreclosure during the month, nearly triple the number reported in November 2005 and a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 346 households -- 2.8 times the national average.

Colorado foreclosure activity decreased nearly 10 percent from the previous month, helping the state's foreclosure rate -- one new foreclosure filing for every 362 households -- drop to second highest among the states, according to RealtyTrac’s figures. The state reported 5,051 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, still up 88 percent from November 2005.

California reports highest number of foreclosures for third straight month

More than 19,000 California properties entered some stage of foreclosure during November, the most of any state for the third straight month and an increase of more than 19 percent from the previous month, RealtyTrac says.

The state's foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 635 households rose to 1.5 times the national average and jumped to seventh highest among the states after being 12th highest the previous month. California foreclosure activity has more than tripled from a year ago.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Myth "The longer you wait the lower the Price."

Maria Chavez over at has an interesting piece out. She claims that the longer you wait the more you will pay. Tell that to those who bought in 2005 and are now underwater due to declining values (see my numerous previous posts on price drops):

Market Values have decreased, due increased inventory in available properties. This pressuring available properties to be reduced for quicker sale. Buyers take advantage; this benefits you as you have more choices, although this creates the Myth "The longer you wait the lower the Price." The problem with that is, we may see Interest rates increase, and that will make it more difficult for Buyers, as they may loose out of the good interest rates we still have. Sooner than later the present inventory of available properties will come back to normal, then we may see prices come back up.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Going Down - High end update

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...

Looks like the locals saved another $29k. This home was originally priced at $1,150,000 and is now listed for $899,900.00. At my last update on December 4, the home was listed at $929,000.

How much lower will this home go? How could the realtor have missed the market by nearly 30%?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Back from the basement

As this massive credit bubble unwinds I will periodically look back at some of the foolish claims made by the REIC. Today, I want to focus on the claims made by "veteran analyst" Michael Youngblood of Freidmans Billing and Ramsey. Back on May 15, 2006 in Business Week he made some rather foolish claims. I assume he was trying to flip a house and needed to find a greater fool or maybe he is part of the marketing arm of the REIC trying to suck a few more GF's (greater fools) into the residential real estate market.

This guys analysis says Bakerfield will be up 43% this year. Are you kidding me? What does his analysis involve - sticking his head in his a$$ and pulling out some combination of fingers and then making up a number? By the way Bakersfield is down 2% YTD. Also, Fort myers Florida is down significantly YTD.

I emailed him and asked him what the hell he was thinking when he made these outlandish claims and if wanted to retract his pie in the sky analysis; surprisingly, I received no reply. Maybe when he gets to the pearly gates he will have to answer for these claims he made. I wonder how many young families took the bait and choose to buy into the American dream and instead it became their American nightmare?

Why The Housing Bubble Won't Burst

Veteran analyst Michael Youngblood explains his unusually optimistic take on the real estate market.

He bases this assessment on a new economic model he created that forecasts housing prices in 379 metropolitan statistical areas. Associate Editor Toddi Gutner spoke with Youngblood about his upbeat view and his surprising prediction that the greatest price appreciation will be coming in so-called bubble markets.

What makes you more optimistic than other housing experts?
I look at two economic indicators that I think drive the housing market: the growth in employment and the growth in personal income. Getting a job or a salary increase is what motivates people to buy their own home. This is different from the data the National Association of Realtors and other organizations rely on. They are more concerned with technical indicators such as the inventory-to-sales ratio and the number of months a house is on the market. These aren't leading indicators. Instead, they move with current changes in the market, rather than predict those changes.

Do you think the housing bubble argument is overblown?
Absolutely. It's overblown because there is no national housing market, so there can't be a national house-price bubble. However, there are bubbles in 75 of the 379 markets I studied. A bubble exists when the ratio of the median existing house price to per capita personal income exceeds 6.8 times. This definition is based on historical data of when other markets, like Houston and Boston, had bubbles

What markets are likely to show the biggest price gains and declines this year?
We expect the greatest gains in Bakersfield, Calif. (43%), Fort Myers, Fla. (42%), Stockton, Calif. (39%), and Punta Gorda, Fla. (35%); the biggest declines in Harrisburg, Pa. (8%), Odessa, Tex., Roanoke, Va., and Utica, N.Y. (all 6%).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sub Prime Blowup?

Looking at the latest postings on the Broker Outpost, one would think the Sub prime market is ready to blow up:


Just got this in an e-mail. Anyone else heard of these?
Sebring - CLOSED
Maribella - CLOSED
MLN - Lost it’s only investor today, scrambling to replace them.
D1 - needs a 580+ for any stated Loans
People’s Choice - 660+ needed for FTHB to

Last night, their national director of Wholesale (PaulImpaggilazzo) resigned his position with MLN last night.He left his managers with a message that is being relayedto his AE’s today.
1. For the foreseeable future, we are only going to payyou 25% of all the commissions you earn and defer the restback into the company operating fund as we try to raisecapital to stay afloat - Unfortunately, at this moment, wecannot afford to pay you the full commission you earn.
2. Our exclusive sale agreement with RFC has beenterminated - we have nobody to sell our loans too.
3. We are heading to Wall Street immediately and beganyone we can to offer us warehouse lines of credit so wecan continue funding loans.

(2) Encore is out of business?

“And another one bites the dust (allegedly). At this rate there’s not going to be too many subprime lenders left”

Dropping Like Flies

Update: Employee of the month at OwnIt Mortgage (from the affilate website Dallas Capital):

Angel anticipates an exciting future with Dallas Capital and Ownit Mortgage Solutions.

Looks like the expected lending shakeout continues with two more players dropping like flies, adding to the REIC dead pool:

Ownit a victim of sub-prime shakeout

The mortgage lender closes suddenly amid a cooling housing market and funding troubles.
Ownit Mortgage Solutions, an Agoura Hills-based wholesale lender, has ceased operations and laid off 800 employees nationwide, part of the shakeout in the sub-prime lending business. One employee, among 300 to lose their jobs in California, said he learned of the company's demise Tuesday while manning the Ownit booth at a mortgage conference in Las Vegas.

Panet said he didn't know how much pay would be coming to employees."I've been told not to expect anything as far as severance goes," he said. "It's not sure we will be getting a last paycheck on the 15th."

Mortgage bank abruptly closes

Sebring Capital Partners, a Texas-based subprime lender with a Denver-area office, falls prey to the rising rate of defaults in another sign of the industry's trouble.

"We were exploring several different opportunities, and unfortunately none of them came to fruition in a manner that allowed us to continue as a going concern," he said.

Monday, December 04, 2006

High End Update

High End Update - Still DEAD!

Remember this report back on 10-14-06 ttp://

Well it looks like the locals just saved $20,000 by having a little patience! Keep up the good work! This home is now listed at $929,000:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Local Contractors Stiffed

Millionare stiff's local contractors. Merry Christmas and thanks for all the work done on our McMansion!

From 23 News

BAKERSFIELD -- Dozens of protestors picketed in front of a southwest Bakersfield home on display at the Chez Noel Christmas Home Tour Friday morning, claiming nearly $700,000 in unpaid construction costs.

The tour opened its doors Friday, giving local residents a chance to see three spectacular homes all dressed up for the holidays. One of the three homes, however, has become a battleground between the home owners and home builders.

A 23ABC investigation found more than a dozen subcontractors who said they've been trying to get paid for several months on a stocking full of extras and upgrades they provided during construction; an unpaid bill they say is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The 7,500 square foot, Georgian-style, two-story home sits on the edge of a gated neighborhood in Seven Oaks. The interior is decorated like a circa 1800's English manor, with lots of extras. But it's those extras that reportedly caused the price of the custom home to skyrocket.

Ron Pruitt said the owners, Greg and Gina Hartman, wanted 40 different oil-based colors, imported from London, to use on the interior. He said he explained the process would triple the original estimate.

Most of the contractors we spoke to said the requests the owner made were satisfied but never paid for.

Once it was complete, contractors said the owners paid for the original bid, but didn't pay for any extras to the tune of $700,000.

37% Gone

To all those who claim there is no bubble in the Valley. Please read this. Homeowner loses $235,000 by buying into the American Dream. I know this is happening here, however, the Californian refuses to print stories like this:

From the Modesto

Tax assessors may ease pain for buyers with bad timing

Albert Quintero's timing couldn't have been worse.

He made a deal to buy a new Turlock luxury home in November 2005, at the real estate market's peak.

By the time construction ended in July, Quintero's Milestone Way home wasn't worth the $874,890 he was contractually obligated to pay.

Now the same model — a new home on nearby Tapestry Way — is priced at $639,990.

"It's really tough to swallow that we paid 37 percent more than what our home is worth now," Quintero said. "We got caught."

He wasn't the only homeowner burned by buying at the top of the market

Hat tip to the Sacrmento Blog and Modesto Blogs!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

Another homeowner has lost their home. Didn't the REIC say that we should buy real estate so we could all become millionaires? Unfortunately, this family took the BAIT! They purchased this home on 9/1/05 for $350,000. Then things went from bad to worse - on 9/14/06 Resmae Mtg Corp became the new homeowner and THREW the poor family out of their home and ended their American Dream. If only they had visited the bubble blogs in 2005 they could have avoided the pain of a foreclosure (BTW - when you buy this home make sure you pay the tax defaulted 2005 taxes which are still due):

$339900 Rare Move-In Condition Bank-Owned Property

Fantastic opportunity in this 3bd/2ba splitwing that is move-in ready. Open and airy with neutral tile, paint, carpet, spacious great room with fireplace, great kitchen with large tiled bar, lush backyard with mature landscaping and inviting covered patio. Close to Cal State, restaurants, shopping, schools. THIS ONE WILL NOT LAST! Seller must sell quickly and will look at all offers!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

California home sales plunge

Per the Central Valley Business Times:

There were twice as many homes on the market unsold in October than a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors, reflecting a 28.7 percent plunge in sales.

“While it appears that home sales have stabilized over the past three months, it’s too soon to say whether or not the market has bottomed out,” says Colleen Badagliacco, president of the Realtors’ association. “We do expect smaller year-over-year declines in home sales for the remainder of the year.”

“We’re seeing a seasonal decline in the median price characteristic of this time of year, although the overall trend is a slight year-over-year increase,” says Ms. Badagliacco. “Prices at the regional and county level have shown greater variability, with some areas posting year-to-year declines while others continue to register price gains compared with last year.”

“The unsold inventory of existing homes is at 7.2 months, twice last year’s inventory. Higher inventory levels are a key factor in the moderation of home price appreciation,” she says.

There were enough existing, single-family detached homes sitting waiting for buyers last month to equal a supply that would last 7.2 months before being sold out. That compares with 3.4 months (revised) for the same period a year ago.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

7 Oaks Foreclosure

Another FB using Craigslist to try and throw a hail mary pass for the end zone. This home was purchased 9/23/05 for $524k and now on sale for $479k. Thats a $45k loss, ohh and don't forget the back taxes due in 2005 (supplemental). This new comp now will take $45k and more from all of the neighbors in 7 Oaks. Looks like the Housing ATM is running out of cash:

PHOTOS: HAVE 4 DAYS TO SELL - bank is foreclosing

I cannot make my payments and the bank is foreclosing.

Purchased in Sept 05 for $524,000.

My price of $479,000 will go up on Nov 25th. Bank must approve offer

Friday, November 24, 2006

Prices down almost 8%

Based on the price per square foot of sales in Kern County, from, we are down almost 8% in the last 5 months. Also, prices are now back to Summer 2005 levels. :

Average Price Per Sq. Foot. by MonthThe following data is a historic representation of average price per square foot for single family residences sold between July 1994 and September 2006 in Kern County. While average home price is an interesting barometer, price per square foot is more accurate in determining sales trends.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Found this CL home in pre-foreclosure. Owner purhased on 7/15/05 for $369,000. Now they are trying to sell for $15k below purchase price. They should be ok, because, well, Real Estate NEVER GOES DOWN!!! BTW the contact listed below was not the purchaser in 2005??:

Pre Foreclosure Sale! Seller Extremly Motivated to Sell! Selling for $15,000 less than they paid for it in 2005! Beautiful, Spacious, near-Brand New 4BR, 2BA, 2442 SQ.FT.HOME. Outstanding curb appeal, 3-car garage, fabulous Master Bedroom with walk in closet, Great neighborhood for family. Great Schools. Southwest Bakersfield, 10615 Mount Pleasant Drive, Bakersfield 93311. Call Luis J. "Lu Jack" Martinez at 951-255-1795 or 818-804-5515 for additional details and to set up a viewing.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

#40 On the Foreclosure List

Irvine, Calif. – Nov. 9, 2006 – RealtyTrac (, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released its Q3 2006 U.S. Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report today. After two consecutive quarters featuring Indianapolis, Atlanta and Dallas as the three cities with the highest foreclosure rates, the third quarter report showed three new cities — Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale and Denver — posting the nation’s highest metropolitan foreclosure rates. Completing the top 10 list were Miami, Dallas, Indianapolis, Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Memphis.

“The third quarter saw a marked increase in the number of properties entering some stage of foreclosure,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “It appears that a combination of factors, including a slowdown in home sales and lower home appreciation rates are contributing to higher numbers of delinquencies. It’s also likely that part of the reason for the increased foreclosure rates is the long-anticipated effect of the first wave of adjustable rate mortgages re-setting at higher monthly payments, putting homeowners into financial distress.”

Of the top 10 cities on the list only Indianapolis reported lower foreclosure rates, with 2 percent fewer foreclosures than reported for the second quarter. The two Florida cities — Ft. Lauderdale and Miami — reported the highest foreclosure growth for the quarter with 87 percent and 97 percent respectively.

National leader Detroit reported 42 percent growth in foreclosure activity for the quarter, with Denver reporting 30 percent growth and Dallas reporting 10 percent growth. Ft. Worth reported a 14 percent increase in foreclosures, Atlanta had a 5 percent increase over second quarter activity, Las Vegas reported a 59 percent increase, and foreclosure activity in Memphis was up 2 percent over the previous quarter.

Detroit’s foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 80 households was more than 4.5 times the national average. Ft. Lauderdale and Denver reported foreclosure rates that were
more than four times the national average, with Miami just short of four times the average. Foreclosure rates in the remaining top 10 cities exceeded three times the average except for Memphis with a rate that was 2.5 times the national average

Although it ranked 19th among the top 100 metropolitan areas, Chicago posted the most new foreclosure filings for the third quarter, reporting 16,155 properties entering some stage of the foreclosure process. Second highest total was in Atlanta, reporting 13,562 properties entering the process, followed closely by Dallas reporting 13,422 properties in the foreclosure pipeline.

Currently Bakersfield is #40 on the list. See the complete list here:

Friday, November 17, 2006

Crisp & Cole co-owner stepping down

Big changes this morning for the Bakersfield realty duo Crisp & Cole.

Carl Cole, 60, has confirmed that he will step down as chief broker, but will remain a partner in the firm.

Cole says the move was amicable between he and co-owner David Crisp, and he hopes to ease up on his work schedule. He says his health was also a factor in the decision, and that he wants to spend more time with his family.

In September, the two denied rumors of bankruptcy and F.B.I. investigations.
Cole says he will now focus on developing a $350 million office and condominium tower project, with Cal State Bakersfield.

Let me be the first to say there is 100% no way CSUB is going to do this project. What a total joke! Also, no mention of the competing business that is not a competing business:

Cole is no longer the broker on record at Crisp & Cole. Instead, he has signed on to work as the broker at his son's Bakersfield business, Points West Realty.

Cole said he is not competing against himself by working with son Alan Cole and Crisp concurred.

Both said Points West is significantly different from Crisp & Cole: It's a small, traditional real estate office that doesn't advertise on TV or maintain a high profile.

"He's running that whole thing," said Crisp

Not a competing business - don't they both sell real estate? Love the line he is running the whole thing - So don't blame me when...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And IIIIIII E IIIIII Will Always Love you!

Whitney Houston faces foreclosure

NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) -- Whitney Houston's New Jersey mansion is slated to be sold at a sheriff's sale because she is more than $1 million behind on the mortgage and taxes have not been paid this year, according to reports published Wednesday.

The January 4 sale was scheduled Tuesday by the Morris County Sheriff's Office, the Daily Record of Parsippany reported. The service agent for Chevy Chase Bank, the mortgage holder, sued Houston in June.

Houston's estate comprises two lots, and the sale would be of the lot assessed at $889,300. The adjacent lot is valued at more than $5.6 million, the Daily Record reported. Houston, 43, bought the properties in 1987 for $2.7 million.

Mendham Township is owed about $83,000 in property taxes this year on the 10-acre estate, officials told The Star-Ledger of Newark. The township sent notices after each quarterly deadline was missed, the assessor's office said. The most recent payment was due November 1.


Carl Cole has announced he is leaving Crisp&Cole (per 29 News). He made some retirement claim? Why would you build a new office building and then leave before its finished? Then, set up your son in a competing business? Maybe the rumors are true? Maybe the Californian will do another "damage control" piece. I look forward to that?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Southland home sales slow to ten-year low: Ventura -2.3% YOY

November 14, 2006
La Jolla,CA----Last month was the slowest October for Southern California home sales in a decade. Prices continued to level off, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 22,117 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 2.4 percent from 22,654 in September, and down 22.4 percent from 28,489 for October a year ago, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Last month's sales count was the lowest for any October since 1996 when 18,505 homes were sold. October sales have ranged from 14,608 in 1991 to 32,522 in 2003. The October average is 23,077, slightly above last month's sales. DataQuick's sales statistics go back to 1988.

"It's harder to buy a home if you think it might go down in value than it is if you're convinced it's going up. Buyers are taking their time, trying to wait out the uncertainty in a market that is rebalancing itself. Additionally, many potential buyers are in the move-up category, and they have their own home they need to sell," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

Depreciation Areas:

Ventura -2.3%

San Diego -5.5%

Sunday, November 12, 2006

CEO Resigns

KB Home CEO resigns after backdating probe

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- KB Home CEO, President and Chairman Bruce Karatz has resigned after an internal investigation found that he backdated his own stock-option grants to increase his pay and will forfeit about $13 million in gains from the backdating, according to a media report Sunday

KB Home also said it has created the new post of non-executive chairman and will conduct a search for the position, The Journal reported.

KB Home disclosed in August it was conducting an internal probe of its options grants, after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal about an unusual pattern of well-timed grants.

The company said it hasn't negotiated any terms of departure with Karatz other than the agreement to repay profits from backdating, The Journal said.

To correct its accounting for the backdating, KB Home said it expected to take charges of no more than $50 million, according to The Journal.

At they still have not filed their 10k. Trouble ahead??

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Home Sales Cool Faster Than Expected

From KGET 17 News:

For nearly the past three years if you had a home in greater Bakersfield you could pretty much sell it within a month or so because home values had soared to record highs in 2005 and many people, especially those from outside the area, found this to be a hot market for Real Estate.
But the winds of change have blown through the area, cooling the market much sooner than most experts were anticipating.

Gary Crabtree of Affiliated Appraisers keeps track of the details of these trends each month and his latest report shows a drop in the number of homes listed in the area, down from 4-thousand-52 in August... to 39-hundred-95 in September.

But look at the numbers of actual sales: There were only 376 existing homes sold and 148 new homes sold.

The sales numbers show significant cooling from previous months.

Crabtree, compiles all the numbers each month for his newsletter, and tells me there is now about a ten-month supply of homes here, making it more and more challenging to sell a home.

He says more people now are backing away from selling and sitting on the sidelines possibly until spring.

“This is something that could be prolonged for a while. We are approaching the winter marketing season, which typically slows down. Last year in that period of time we had a 6-to-10% drop in prices. We recovered from that after the first of the year, but it would not surprise me to see another price drop during that period of 6-to-10%."

Crabtree says area builders are trying to remain responsible and not over-build the area.
Lennar remains the big builder in town with 109 building permits issued in September and 820 for the year.

But others like Pulte and D.R. Horton have backed way off from earlier building binges.
Nationally home builder sentiment improved slightly in September as interest rates remained low.

But many builders which had added employees to help with the building boom, may now be dropping those workers because of the cooling trend.

And that could have a ripple effect on the rest of the economy for several months to come.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Housing price collapse in two years"

From the Central Valley Business Times:

Newsletter: Housing bubble hasn’t even gotten here

• Predicts housing price collapse in two years
• ‘Homeowners are in denial’

The author of an investment newsletter says any real bursting of the U.S. housing bubble it at least two years away and that the current price and selling setbacks are nothing compared to what is likely to happen.

"Homeowners are in denial," says Karim Rahemtulla, an advisory panelist for Investment U, a newsletter based in Baltimore, Md. "Right now, sellers aren't selling ... They're still waiting for Santa to deliver their asking price, or close to it."

The situation is about to get worse, he says.

Those who have interest-only, or "teaser-rate," mortgages could see their monthly payments more than double, Mr. Rahemtulla contends.

"Interest rates will rise on about $300 billion in adjustable-rate mortgages this year alone," he says. "That figure is projected to skyrocket to more than $1 trillion in each of the next two years."

California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida will be hit particularly hard, he says, and homeowners in these states may not see a 5 percent decline, as experts predict, "but could fall two or three times that number."

Homebuilders are feeling the pinch, too.

According to Mr. Rahemtulla, the bottom of the housing market will be here no sooner than two years.

"So while the brokers are upgrading homebuilding stocks," he says, "and trying to make it seem that the worst is over for housing, my advice is to take the first reasonable offer and count yourself lucky. The housing bust is not today's news. It is going to be tomorrow's."

Mr. Rahemtulla is an equal opportunity bubble-popper. He says the Canadian housing market will see its bubble pop, too, just after the U.S. market.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Real estate always goes up!

According to this blogger named golfnut on the Bakersfield Californian web site, real estate always goes up:

"Clearly, you're a believer in the "bubble", however, consider one thing - real estate always goes up. Always."

Read more of this insanity at:


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bakersfield will now be called Pluto from this point forward!

Fed's Fisher: Housing Bust Complicates Fed's Task

Dallas Fed President Richard W. Fisher spoke today in New York: Confessions of a Data Dependent :

In retrospect, [in 2002 and 2003] the real fed funds rate turned out to be lower than what was deemed appropriate at the time and was held lower longer that it should have been. In this case, poor data led to a policy action that amplified speculative activity in the housing and other markets. Today, as anybody not from the former planet of Pluto knows, the housing market is undergoing a substantial correction and inflicting real costs to millions of homeowners across the country. It is complicating the task of achieving our monetary
objective of creating the conditions for sustainable non-inflationary growth.


So these clowns admit they F'd up and kept rates WAY TOO LOW for WAY TOO LONG! Too late to act now and prevent the coming disaster. Time to break out the mops and pails and get ready for the biggest clean up job in history!

Meanwhile back on the planet PLUTO. The Bakersfield Californian has a story out claiming, for the N'th time we are "Different".

Prices might dip next year, but Bakersfield will still have a lot going for it -- a growing population, affordability and a self-sufficient economy, Launer said.

"Developers are anticipating a resurgence in the market in Bakersfield," he said

That may be because builders are biding their time until the market picks back up, Launer said.

"Developers want to be ready," he said. "They want to be able to hit the market in stride

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

$3.6 million

This is the most expensive home listed on the Bakersfield MLS. Will they get their price or are they smoking something?

Is this news or advertising?

This appeared in the newspaper and is now posted in video format on the web. Not sure if this is news or an advertisement? Are newspaper required to DISCLOSE when an section of the newspaper is an advertisement? I thought they were - if so, they choose not to do that in this instance!

Monday, October 30, 2006

California foreclosures surge 171 percent in Q3

From the Central Valley Business Times:

More than 37,000 homes went into the foreclosure process in California in the third quarter, a 171 percent increase over the same period in 2005, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine-based foreclosure information company.

"Higher interest rates and a general softening of the real estate market are the two key factors contributing to the 43 percent increase in foreclosure filings from the third quarter of 2005," says James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "What our third quarter research appears to be showing is that the first wave of adjustable rate mortgages is having a negative impact on the number of homes going into foreclosure. With the volume of these loans -- more than $1 trillion of them due to adjust over the next 15 months -- this is a trend that definitely bears watching

Sunday, October 29, 2006

We are different!

I would have posted this story when it initially ran, however, the newspaper chose to not post it on their website.

Home price slump won't stunt Kern

California house prices are expected to decline next year, though a state economist says Kern County's market should fare better than some metro areas.

Robert Kleinhenz, the association's deputy chief economist, said he expects Bakersfield's median house price to remain flat or possibly increase slightly next year.

The area has strong job and population growth, Kleinhenz said, and "that's going to support a market that's a little bit more buoyant."

The median sales price for an existing Bakersfield house was $292,000 in the third quarter of 2006, down 1.2 percent from the same period a year ago, according to a report by local appraiser Gary Crabtree.

Sales of existing homes from July through September were down 25 percent from a year ago, according to Crabtree's study.

Some 741 Kern homeowners received notices of default during that same time, up 105.3 percent from the year before.

"The drop-off in sales in Bakersfield is not quite as severe," Kleinhenz said. "It's actually faring much better than many other central areas."

Local real estate agencies are starting to get more phone calls and hold more open houses.
Activity is increasing, but it hasn't had a dramatic impact on sales yet, local agent Nancy Harper said.

Blogs Scoop Newspaper

The Bakersfield Californian has run the story of A$$ Clown Casey in their real estate section today. This story has been all over the blogosphere for some time now. As usual, the snail news is days/weeks/months behind the real news. How about a local version of this story?

Oh I know why not - We are different here. See the next post (above) "Home Price wont slump Kern"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The high end market is DEAD.

The high end market in town is dead. Here are two excellent examples:

This home was listed in Dec 2005 for $1,150,000. It feel out of escrow and is back on the market for $995,950. That is a 14% haricut.

This home was listed in January 2006, also for $1,150,000. After several prices cuts and gimmick sales tricks (free pool, country club membership), they have decided to drop the price to $949,000. Nice 17% buzzcut!

BYE BYE 2006 - HELLO 2004!

According to this realtor we are now pricing homes at 2004 levels. What about the realtor clowns who claimed prices would go up 20% for the foreseeable future!

Buyers now have the luxury of having more time and more to see. This is a welcome change from the past 3 years where the home buying frenzy gave them too little to chose from and not enough time to make a decision before the house was gone. A common occurance in this market is home sellers offering incentives on their homes such as help with closing costs or flooring allowances. There are many homes on the market priced below appraisal values. Some sellers are pricing at 2004 prices to get a quick sale

Monday, October 09, 2006

Setting the new comps!

Want to learn how to win friends and influence your neighbors? Just check out this craiglist seller who has just set the new comps! This property, if it sells, will be at $138 per square foot. That takes us back to late 2003/ early 2004. So much for that "soft landing"!

$309950 3 BR+Loft Coleman 2100 sq ft 2-Story MOTIVATED

Seller wants to move out of state to be near grandchildren. Currently listed with agent, but listing expires soon and price will come down 6% ($291,500) Best schools in Bakersfield - Columbia Elementary, Fruitvale JH, Liberty HS. Open ceilings, loft overlooking living room (perfect for home office or den/guest area), tiled entry, fireplace open to both living room and family room, ceramic tile entry and kitchen/breakfast nook. Master bedroom with oval tub and separate glass shower, walk-in closet, mirror doors. Quiet cul-de-sac. Mature landscaping, lots of trees. NO AGENTS PLEASE

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bakersfield Operations Involved in this RIF?

Standard Pacific employees notified homebuilder cutting jobs

Company memo sent out earlier this week.
The Orange County Register
Irvine-based homebuilder Standard Pacific Corp. has notified employees that it is eliminating some jobs and restructuring others following continued reports of lagging home sales across the nation.
Company officials couldn't be reached to confirm rumors of layoffs in at least three Southern California divisions and one in South Florida.
But a company memo to employees of the Orange County and Coachella Valley operations notified workers of an Oct. 3 "reduction in force."
The company's finances have been hit this year by a slowdown in new home orders and rising cancellations, fueled by a backlog of unsold homes in the existing-homes market, company officials said.
The company reported that net income was down 10 percent in the second quarter of the year and recently announced that orders had fallen 58 percent in July and August.
Company CEO Stephen Scarborough said also in a mid-September Web broadcast that the company's cancellation rate had grown to 50 percent as new-home buyers failed to sell their existing houses.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

George is now talking from both sides of his mouth!

Local weatherman, er... realtor, George Lindsay Young has his newest market update on the web. This is the same guy who called you a "Chicken Little" (see my post on 9/14/2006). Sounds like he is changing his tune:

The Perils of Pricing High

We hear it all the time! In an effort to get top dollar for their home, many sellers will tell us, "My initial listing price isn't that important because the price can always be adjusted down later."

While this may make sense on the surface, a closer look reveals the potential perils of starting out with a listing price that's too high when putting a home on the market.

To unravel the myth that the initial listing price isn't important, we must first take a look at the primary factors that bring buyers and sellers together. While marketing can be vital in attracting unrepresented buyers, the vast majority of buyers are working with and talking to a real estate agent. A professional REALTOR® knows the current inventory and market conditions for any given area. If your home is first offered for sale and is priced too high, those agents are going to show similar homes that are priced more attractively. Your home will be passed over.

Real estate buyers and REALTORS® also tend to pay the most attention to homes that are new to the market. It's been said you only have one chance to make a first impression, and it's no different when selling your home. Very often, REALTORS® and buyers wait with baited breath to see what's new on the market. Enter the market priced too high, and many buyers will simply write off your home as "the home that was overpriced." A price reduction later in the marketing cycle can leave your home overlooked as new and more aggressively priced homes hit the market.

You may be thinking, "Don't the buyers understand that I'm willing to negotiate?" The truth is, many buyers aren't thinking about that. They are comparing your home with similar other homes offered for sale, and will often write an offer for someone else's home with a more realistic asking price.

The other danger of pricing a new listing too high is once you've realized your error, it may be too late to get top dollar. As more time goes by, if you're moving out of area or simply have to sell quickly you may forced to take a much lower offer because you're simply out of time.

Here at Scott Rivera Real Estate Team, when we meet with you to discuss selling your home we take a different approach. Well before we sit down with you to make recommendations regarding the sales price of your home, we roll up our sleeves and do our homework. We make a detailed analysis of market conditions in your neighborhood, and work with you to develop a pricing and marketing strategy that is custom tailored to your home and your needs. That, blended with our aggressive and comprehensive market plan, can often be the best recipe for success to help you sell your home quickly and for the best price possible

Housing bubble collapse could trigger major depression

From today's Central Valley Business Times:

John Rubino is convinced the current retreat in the nation’s housing market has all the signs of a bubble that’s bursting.

Mr. Rubino, a financial writer and advisor, says the bursting could be so severe, that it might trigger if not an actual depression, at least a recession in the United States.

What we’ve ended up with is a classic bubble … with prices being far higher than the average family can afford, especially on the coasts,” he says in a CVBT interview. “It’s very possible a housing bust in 2007 turns into a general recession. You have the real danger of this snowballing into a serious, economy-wide, problem

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The next several years won’t be pleasant

From the Central Valley Business Times:

Is California’s housing boom bust?

The rocket engine of the California economy for the past 16 years – the booming housing market – is broken and, if not headed for a total crash, the next several years won’t be pleasant, warns a top economist with the University of California, Los Angles.

“There is nothing in the historical record that suggests we can get quickly back to normal – after all we are going to have to get prices back in line with affordability, and that will take some considerable period of time. In the meantime, sales are sure to be way down,” Mr. Leamer says.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Damage Control

I am still trying to figure why a newspaper would avoid reporting the facts of the housing bubble and the potential effects on the local economy. Instead, they do the bidding of a pair of local realtors. Instead of reporting the pontential problems associated with negative amortization loans and pay option arms, they placate these guys so they will increase the dollars spent on advertising? Instead of discussing the problems associated with families spending 50% of their income on housing and the damaging effect on their personal lives, they choose to do ANOTHER puff piece and make us all believe how great these guys are.

This blog has never been about these guys. This blog is dedicated to discussing the issues the local news outlets refuse to address because so much of their revenues come from REIC sources. Yes, they are part of the story, along with loose lending standards, mass speculation and cheap & easy credit.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Permits Plummet 60%

August 2006 permit numbers are out. The number of permits pulled in August 2006 was down 60% from August 2005.

290 permits pulled August 2006

726 permits pulled August 2005

Top 5:

Lennar 109
Centex 37
Builder/Owner 35
Calif Homes 12
Hardt Homes 10

A few more months like this and that could mean less contractors needed, less pick-up trucks purchased, less big screen tv purchased...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Crisp Responds to Rumors

This is the headline at KGET. "Crisp Responds to Rumors". Watch the video. Does he really respond to the rumors?? Not sure.

BAKERSFIELD - David Crisp of the Bakersfield realty partnership Crisp & Cole said rumors about the duo’s personal integrity and private lives have been detrimental to their daily business.
The rumors have included allegations that Crisp is under investigation by the IRS or the FBI, or he was arrested over the weekend, along with other variations.
Crisp said the rumors are simply untrue and the local real estate market is changing so they are trying to adapt to the changes.
Crisp said he is moving ahead with their new office building across from Cal State, and with plans for the $350 million tower condominium project with Cal State.
He said while some investors have begun to ask questions about all the rumors, many have recently given the business partners reassurance of their support.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Countrywide may cut jobs by 10%

Thanks to desi dude for the tip-

Countrywide blames housing sales slowdownBy Jim McLain, jmclain@VenturaCountyStar.comSeptember 20, 2006

The end of the real estate market boom is forcing one of Ventura County's largest employers to cut 5 percent to 10 percent of its work force over the next few months, a top executive told workers Tuesday.

Countrywide Financial Corp., the country's largest mortgage lender with about 5,700 workers in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village, instituted a 60-day hiring freeze and plans to reduce staffing in several areas, Dave Sambol, president and chief operating officer, said in a memo obtained by The Star.

The memo does not mention layoffs, but several workers leaving the company's Westlake Village office as security guards roamed the parking lot declined to discuss layoffs or said they were told not to talk with the media.

A Thousand Oaks woman who did not give her name said she received two weeks severance pay after working for the company the past 2 years. She clutched a packet she said contained information to help her find another job.

She added that layoff rumors that had been swirling on the Countrywide campus for weeks were confirmed Tuesday morning."You found out because your vacation time on your paycheck was gone," she said.Countrywide officials did not return The Star's repeated calls for comment.

The Calabasas-based holding company, which offers a range of financial services, has more than 56,000 employees and some 900 offices nationwide. That means the cutbacks might directly affect as many as 5,600 workers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


California housing bubble about to burst

Several U.S. real estate markets including Fresno and Stockton in the Central Valley are facing a bust as real estate prices driven to unsustainable levels by years of activity by real estate speculators and increased reliance by homeowners on low down-payment, short-term adjustable rate mortgages have created a glut of motivated home sellers, says House Buyer Network, a Marietta, Ga.-based company which buys and sells distressed properties.

“You’ve got the makings here of the perfect storm,” Mr. LeGate says. “I can see prices going down by a good 20 percent in the markets we’re calling ‘bust.’

Monday, September 18, 2006


From we get an update from local realtor Chuck Doremus:

"The experts predicted a soft landing with the real estate market; however, it seems we have landed on too short a runway for some. Some of those investors who purchased properties to "flip" them for a quick profit have found they are on that short runway, and are now faced with having to dump the properties or rent them at a negative cash flow. As of mid-September there were 4,697 single family residences on the market"


Sunday, September 17, 2006


I turned on my site counter last Monday and have had over 2,000 unique visitors (IP addresses). Thanks to all those who have visited and contributed!


From today's two local articles:

Housing slowdown could mean painful adjustments for Kern

The housing market’s slowdown, and the resulting loss in jobs, could mean a painful adjustment is in store for Kern County’s economy, experts say.

Jobs slip as building slides

Then the market ground to a halt last fall. And house sales didn’t pick up as much as many had hoped in the spring.

That’s when the layoffs started

Sales have been dragging for both national builders and local ones like Barbara Smith, whose custom and semicustom homes typically sell for $600,000 or more.
Anything priced above $400,000. has been really, really slow to sell, Smith said on a recent afternoon


I wonder how many of the real estate offices built on Coffee Road will be vacant in the next year?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Washington Post honest about local market

I have to go all the way to DC to find evidence of a housing bubble in Bakersfield? Why are the local reporters asleep at the wheel?


Some mortgage lenders and relocation companies now expect appraisers to examine a wide range of data they never emphasized during the boom years. Gary Crabtree, owner of Affiliated Appraisers, based in Bakersfield, Calif., said that besides the traditional "recent comps," he now factors in at least eight other types of data in determining the value of a house:

Pending sales under contract.
· Listing prices of houses in the area.
· Market supply and demand.
· Length of time unsold on the market for current listings.
· Price reductions or increases on current listings.
· Notices of defaults and notices of trustee's sales
· Known concessions provided to buyers to facilitate sales.
· Personal interviews with real estate agents on what they're experiencing with sellers and buyers

Crabtree said one house he tracked was first listed in October at $299,900. It sat unsold for 122 days. Then the listing agent pulled it out of the system briefly and brought it back as a new listing, but this time at $269,000. When it didn't sell in 30 days, the agent again yanked the listing and reported it as a new one with an asking price of $259,000.

The house is now on the market for $229,000, "but it's still not selling."

Thanks to Ben Jones for the tip.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


In is 9-13-06 update Local weatherman, err... realtor George Lindsay Young is using some good old fashion NAR scare tactics to convice people to buy. If you don't buy you are a chicken little. Forget that prices are overvalued by 50%, forget that median incomes are flat in the last 7 years, forget that the prevelance of liar loans and speculators have left many sellers holding the bag - NO George needs some transactions, otherwise how is he going to eat! Thanks to the reader who sent this in.


Better Than You Think!

Remember Chicken Little? In the popular children’s fable, a small acorn falling on the feathered fowl could only mean one thing: THE SKY IS FALLING! It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of overreacting to incorrect conclusions and misguided information. The screaming chicken incites mass hysteria, which leads to further danger for herself and her friends. In many ways, much can be learned from this story and the parallels between it and our current real estate market. If you wanted to find irrational exuberance in the real estate marketplace, you don’t have to look much further than the last three years. Thin inventory, eager buyers, & low interest rates all served as a catalyst to fuel explosive growth in home prices. But rapid price growth is rarely sustainable, and left unchecked, can lead to precipitous drops in prices. Fortunately, that’s not the case for our area, yet the slowdown in our current home market has led some to believe now may not be a good time to buy or sell a home. Cue Chicken Little! But I’m here to tell you, when you get past hyperbole and focus on the facts…“The Market Is Better Than You Think!” Take a close look at statistics and real estate market data for the Bakersfield area and another picture begins to emerge: Managed growth and stability. These are two factors that will likely keep our home market healthy for quite some time. Over the last two months more than 900 homes have sold in the Bakersfield area, and here at the Scott Rivera Real Estate Team, we sold an average of one home every day. It’s a new market reality that has returned us to a normal real estate market. The problem is, normal is a relative term. When things are abnormal for a very long time that can begin to feel normal for many people. Why is the Bakersfield real estate market holding its own when other areas of California may not be fairing as well? While price is big factor, it’s only part of the story. Our economy, diversity, community, and location are also part of the puzzle. Kern County has much to offer when it comes to job growth and quality of life. Also a recent fall in mortgage interest rates will serve to continue to keep the wheels of the real estate machine humming with precision for many months to come. So next time a Chicken Little you may know tries to rule the roost with declarations of doom, just smile. While some will run around with their hands on their head afraid of a piece of the sky falling, you’ll know the home you’re buying or selling will be a piece of something much bigger. It’s the peace of mind that comes from knowing that real estate always has been and always will be part of the American dream.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Robert Price had an interesting piece in today's paper on why CSUB can't attract more students. The campus has the capacity for 15,000 to 18,000 FTE yet they have only 8,000 of current enrollment. Why don't more students attend college was his question. My question is - Why attend college? The greatest job opportunity in this town is to become part of the REIC (Real Estate Industrial Complex). It is clearly the easiest path to riches in Bakersfield.

Why would a reporter ask such a question? He should know the answer. The newspaper loves to lionize all of these quick buck real estate show boats by splashing their material possessions on the front page of the local paper and glorifying them as visionaries. When in fact, they are simple salesmen with expensive suits and sub-standard high school educations. This "boom" was built on the back of the FED keeping rates way too low for way too long. It had nothing to do with great vision or business sense but shear luck. Who knew being in the right place at the right time made someone a real estate genius.

Why spend 4 years and $75k to attend college when you can make that in a week flipping homes or signing FB's into pay option arms. Why try to build a career that will contribute to society when, in fact, you can find one that allows you to prey on society?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Hovnanian CEO: Housing market changing dramatically

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- The chief executive of home builder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. at an industry conference Monday said housing markets are changing "quite dramatically" and that new-home prices have effectively reversed through the use of concessions and incentives. Speculators and investors were a greater part of the market than anyone realized, and are now contributing to the inventory overhang of homes as they stop buying and relist homes, said Ara Hovnanian at the Credit Suisse Homebuilding Symposium in New York. "Buyer psychology has shifted . . . buyers are more content to wait on the sidelines than they were," the CEO said. "Cancellation rates have been creeping up."


D.R. Horton CEO says 2007 will be worse than 2006

By John SpenceLast Update: 2:00 PM ET Sep 12, 2006
BOSTON (MarketWatch) — DHI : D.R. Horton, Inc.Last: 23.80+1.45+6.49%1:46pm 09/12/2006
Don Tomnitz, chief executive of D.R. Horton Inc., Tuesday said the company is preparing itself for a tougher housing market in 2007 compared to 2006, with prices finally stabilizing in 2008. “We have never seen housing prices and demand slow as quickly as they have during this downcycle,” said the CEO of the nation’s largest home builder when measured by 2005 deliveries. “Demand has evaporated to the extent of about 20% to 30% for the industry, and in a tighter timeframe than we’ve seen before.” The use of incentives by builders to move homes in a slower sales environment will continue for the next three to four quarters, Tomnitz estimated at the Credit Suisse Homebuilders Symposium.


Greed, speculation helped overheat housing market: Toll CEO
By John Spence
Last Update: 11:27 AM ET Sep 12, 2006

BOSTON (MarketWatch) — Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL: 27.95, +1.33, +5.0% ) Chief Executive Robert Toll said the U.S. housing market got ahead of itself due to greed on the part of buyers and sellers, and that it now likely faces the highest level of speculative inventory ever. Toll said the current downturn is unique in his experience because it wasn’t driven by a “macro-event” although interest rates have risen steadily. “Every day there’s an article about how lousy housing is now and how dumb you have to be to buy a house now,” the CEO said Tuesday at the Credit Suisse Homebuilders Symposium. “I don’t know what it will take to turn this market — it could take two years, or it could take someone getting quoted in the New York Times saying the market has hit bottom.”

Beazer Homes Update

Housing market conditions won't improve in near-term: Beazer

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- Beazer Homes USA Inc. (BZH :
Beazer Homes USA, Inc.
BZH38.70, +1.40, +3.8%) Chief Financial Officer Jim O'Leary said the company doesn't see conditions in the U.S. housing market improving in the near-term as home cancellations rise. "About 50% of the people canceling on us now have home-to-sell issues . . . and some are looking for better deals," the CFO said Tuesday at the Credit Suisse Homebuilders Symposium. "A lot of buyers are having trouble closing [on their existing homes], and they don't want the risk of owning two homes in this market," O'Leary added

Monday, September 11, 2006


I continue to wait for the Bakersfield Californian to be a leader in dicussing the local angle on this housing bubble bust. However, I continue to be disappointed. Meanwhile, other Central Valley cities have reporters who put journalism before Advertising Dollars:

The shakeout continues for Sacramento home builders. From the Sacramento Bee:
Ax falls at home buildersFirms shed executives, field staff in wake of slowdown.After months of sales cancellations, production slowdowns and costly incentives to win customers, Sacramento-area home builders have turned to staff reductions and consolidations to help improve bottom lines, analysts and some executives say.Several public and private home builders have shed executive and field staff in recent weeks, industry officials acknowledge. At least one builder has consolidated offices and another, Colorado-based Richmond American Homes, reportedly shifted its local operations base to Pleasanton after laying off approximately 25 to 30 staffers...Schleimer, owner of Market Perspectives, said Richmond American made a sizable reduction in its regional work force in recent weeks. One of those laid off said the publicly traded Denver builder cut 20 to 25 management positions. The reduction followed five earlier position cuts, said the former staffer, who requested anonymity because final paychecks have yet to be received...

Fresno's "Go-Go Days Are Gone-Gone"
The Fresno Bee reports on the rapidly changing Fresno housing market.
During the go-go days, home sellers put their houses up for sale and sat back as would-be buyers jacked the price up with every bid. Those go-go days are gone-gone. With home sales in Fresno County off from last year by a third, sellers and real estate agents are more willing to negotiate...Some people have been surprised at how quickly the real estate market softened because, unlike previous declines, this downturn is not accompanied by higher unemployment or a fundamental change in the economy.

The Porterville Recorder. “As Tulare County enjoys a bustling economy and housing market, officials at the County Administrative Office said Thursday they are keeping their spending in check.”
“Assistant County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said they have learned from the state’s mistakes. ‘We have more money that we have had in the past,’ said Rousseau, who compared the counties upswing in assessed property value to the dot-com boom in the early 1990s. ‘We don’t want to put that growth into program spending.’”
“Just like when the bubble burst on the technology industry, the county is preparing for an eventual downturn in the housing market. Rousseau said that means basing their budgets on historically normal revenues as opposed to the inflated numbers in recent years.”
“‘We want long-term fiscal stability,’ Rousseau said. ‘What’s the point in spending when you will have to come back the next year and cut it?’”

Thanks to Lander and Ben Jones for these great valley stories. I guess I will have to carry the torch for the southern SJV until the newspaper gets some BALLS!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

From Boom to Blah!


Hot real estate market gets chilly in Bakersfield
Housing inventory quintuples as boomtown of 2005 returns to Earth

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Just 12 months ago, this sun-baked Southern California city was one of the hottest real-estate markets in the country. With inventories at razor-thin levels, properties would sell in a matter of days, sometimes even hours, as multiple bids poured in on each home. "For Sale" signs were almost nowhere to be found.
Those days now are dust in Bakersfield's gusty winds. The housing stock nearly has quintupled and prices are virtually flat when compared to last year's levels. Home sale time-frames now are measured in months, not days.
"Yeah, we miss those times," Darrell Muhammed, a local agent, said of last year's market.
While average prices have yet to tumble, concern mounts that an ever-increasing housing inventory, coupled with coming hikes for variable rate mortgage holders, could send the market south in a hurry.
Trouble signs are everywhere. At Lennar Corp.'s (LEN :
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LEN44.79, -0.05, -0.1%) Artisan/Terra Vista tract on the city's west side, about 20 homes only a year old are back on the market.
They compete with dozens of other new houses Lennar is building in later phases of the same development, which agents say makes the older homes tougher to sell. Six of the resales are within view of each other on the same street.
"It's very tough market," said Joginder Gill, the agent trying to sell one of the six houses. "If you look at past history, it's going to go way, way down."
Sudden rise
Tucked into the southeast corner of California's San Joaquin Valley about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, Bakersfield suddenly became a hot real estate market two to three years ago when prices in the L.A. region skyrocketed out of reach for entry-level buyers. See full story.
Those variable mortgages with low initial interest rates catapulted most homes in the L.A. area past the $500,000 mark. Meanwhile, Bakersfield remained somewhat more affordable with a good selection of homes still under $300,000 for those willing to brave the long-distance commute, or others lucky enough to find work nearby.
The region also captured a lot of interest from investors looking to make a quick buck. As many as one in four homes bought during this time were from out-of-town investors interested mostly in flipping properties, experts say.
The city led the charge of eastern California towns like Fresno, Modesto, Visalia and Merced where home price hikes beat out more high-profile areas to the west such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in percentage gains.
According to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Bakersfield edged out Las Vegas in the first quarter of 2005 for highest average property growth with a 33.7% increase. Las Vegas was up 33.3%.
More recently, OFHEO ranked Bakersfield 19th and Las Vegas 83rd during its survey for the first quarter of 2006. For the first quarter of 2006, OFHEO said Bakersfield's average home price rose nearly 27% when compared with the year before.
Flat pricing?
Local experts say those figures are outdated.
Gary Crabtree, a local appraiser who compiles a monthly report on Bakersfield market trends, says median home sale prices in the region rose 2% in July compared with the year before.
The time that unsold inventory remains on the market has jumped 400%, from 1.7 months to 8.5 months. And the time homes have spent on the market has more than tripled, from 12 days to 38 days.
Even that last figure can be deceiving, Crabtree says. He thinks agents are playing what he calls the "re-listing game," or taking a property off the market and then putting it back on again so that the "days on market" clock starts anew.
One property he was eyeing spent more than eight months on the market. But through several relistings, it appeared to buyers as though it never spent more than a couple of months up for sale.
Crabtree, though, says the market should be put in perspective. Last year was extraordinary, with property values skyrocketing in the face of high demand and extremely low supply.
"We're back to being normal again," he said. "We're tracking right along with the rest of the state."
Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Association of Realtors, said sales are down 30% statewide from what they were a year ago. She said the market is correcting but it's not recession-fueled. The interest rate environment remains favorable.
Simply put, the market that saw 40% jumps in housing prices the past two years has gotten a wake-up call.
"It's been completely unsustainable," she said.
To many, the Bakersfield situation was inevitable.
"Why shouldn't there be retrenchment in housing?" said Stuart Gabriel, director of the University of Southern California's Lusk Center for Real Estate. "It's appropriate that housing take a breather."

Competing with builders
Karen Siggel probably wishes it wasn't happening now.
She's tried to sell her spacious, two-year-old custom home in an east Bakersfield development for almost five months now. She's competing not only with other resale homes, but the builder in the neighborhood, Corky McMillan Companies, is offering incentives to move the new homes it's building.
So she's looking to do the same, carrying some of the closing costs for buyers, as well as other options.
"We've drastically lowered the price, too," she said. Corky McMillan officials didn't return phone calls.
Many agents insist the Bakersfield market isn't crashing. To them, it's simply behaving like a normal market with a reasonable supply of homes - more than 2% of the housing market compared with last year's levels that were a fraction of a percent.
"It's what I would say is balanced," said Don Cohen, president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors. "You're seeing what I saw in the '90s but you haven't seen since 2000."
Chuck Doremus, a longtime Bakersfield agent, said sellers are getting a reality check.
"We're seeing people put out their price based on what things have sold for," he said.
Others, however, wonder whether the Bakersfield real estate market adjusted too quickly and will keep heading down. Agent Ryan McDonald said the jump in inventory is disturbing.
"I don't think it's normalized," he said. "I definitely think it's reverted to the buyers."
Price cuts
Gill, the real estate agent trying to sell the home in the Lennar tract, says it was about a year ago that the market started turning. He's about to take over as agent for one home that was put on the market a year ago for $950,000 -- a high price for the region. It, like many other homes, has been reduced several times. He's about to re-list it for $785,000.
Another house listed in late 2005 was on the market eight months. It had to be reduced from $390,000 to $345,000.
The Artisan/Terra Vista home sits on a street where five other houses are on the market. It was an investment vehicle that the owner now is trying to flip for a profit, but may end up having to cut expectations.
Complicating his job is the fact that Lennar keeps building, as do other homebuilders in the area.
"People like to go to the new homes," Gill said.
Lennar spokesman Marshall Ames said in an e-mail that "we do not comment on individual markets in between our quarterly conference calls [with analysts]."
Lennar is seeking anywhere from $365,555 to $461,555 for homes ranging in size from 2,148 to 2,969 square feet. It has 19 homes listed as available for sale on its Web site, but it may find it difficult to sell those.
Just a few blocks away, a tract built by Centex Corp. (CTX :
Centex Corporation
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CTX51.13, +0.18, +0.4%) is offering a wider range of home sizes at lower price points. A home at 1,821 square feet starts at $279,990 while the largest Centex offering measures 3,518 square feet and tops out at $433,990.
Centex officials didn't return phone calls.
No building slowdown
Despite the more competitive climate, it doesn't seem as if builders intend to slow down at all. Jim Eggert, a city planner, says there only are about 300 to 350 fewer building permits taken out throughout Bakersfield when compared with last year.
They're still out building, but I don't know if they're selling," Eggert said. "These prices have to come down a little bit. They have to."
One impetus for builders is that the region's population continues to grow. Metropolitan Bakersfield had 451,800 residents at the beginning of 2005. That grew to 467,900 a year later and is expected to reach 483,800 on Jan. 1, Eggert said.
Does it all mean that current trends will continue to snowball, sending the Bakersfield market crashing? The next 12 months should be revealing, said Crabtree, the appraiser.
He said the bulk of variable-rate loans issued three years ago will start to mature. That means buyers will start paying several hundred dollars more each month for their homes.
"I do think we're in for a period of some foreclosures in 2007," Crabtree said. A flood of resold homes could also hit the market.
"It could very well be that some of these people are looking at these interest rate increases and are trying to get out," he said. Russ Britt is the Los Angeles bureau chief for MarketWatch.