Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Bank Failure

From the

Regions Bank Acquires All the Deposits of Integrity Bank, Alpharetta, Georgia

Integrity Bank, Alpharetta, Georgia, with $1.1 billion in total assets and $974.0 million in total deposits as of June 30, 2008, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was named receiver.

The FDIC Board of Directors today approved the assumption of all the deposits of Integrity Bank by Regions Bank, Birmingham, Alabama. All depositors of Integrity Bank, including those with deposits in excess of the FDIC's insurance limits, will automatically become depositors of Regions Bank for the full amount of their deposits, and they will continue to have uninterrupted access to their deposits. Depositors will continue to be insured with Regions Bank so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance.

The failed bank's five offices will reopen Tuesday, September 2nd, as branches of Regions Bank. However, for the time being, customers of both banks should use their existing branches until Regions Bank can fully integrate the deposit records of Integrity Bank.

Regions Bank has agreed to pay a total premium of 1.012 percent for the failed bank's deposits. In addition, Regions Bank will purchase approximately $34.4 million of Integrity Bank's assets, consisting of cash and cash equivalents. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to its Deposit Insurance Fund will be between $250 million and $350 million. Regions Bank's acquisition of all deposits was the "least costly" resolution for the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund compared to all alternatives because the expected losses to uninsured depositors were fully covered by the premium paid for the failed bank's franchise.

Integrity Bank is the tenth FDIC-insured bank to fail this year, and the first in Georgia since NetBank in Alpharetta on September 28, 2007.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bankers are dumb!

I wanted to highlight a post by Ichabod that was very interesting. It really shows how slow the banks are to react to this downturn:

Actually, the bank needs to wise up and TAKE the short sales! With our market going downward (it used to be the kiddie slope, now its triple diamond slope!) the banks will make MORE money on homes through short sales. I had a home listed with a buyer wiling to pay $204,000 in April of '07- the bank wouldn't halt the trustee sale. They are now trying to sell it REO (after putting a town of money into the house for new carpet, paint, plus the monthly utility bills, hello?) for $100,000 LESS!

I had another house listed where the owner owed $254,000. I was trying to short sale the house, I had a buyer willing to pay $180,000 CASH, the bank said they refused to look at offers less than $200K. The house foreclosed (oh, and a transient broke in, flooded the bathroom, trashed the place) and the house sold REO for LESS THAN $120K!!! The funny thing is, the bank never even listed it for $200K!

One more boring example: I had a house listed For under $200K and had a buyer willing to pay $150K- the bank demanded $175K. The buyer was even willing to pay $175K if the bank would simply compensate him for the missing appliances- the bank refused, and foreclosed on the house. The bank then listed it for $134K! They never even tried to get $175 or even $150! It is still on the market for less than $100K!In conclusion- short sales are the best bet to a bank- but they have so much red tape, they are losing so much more than they really have to.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Will Crisp be homeless?

Oh how the phony rich have fallen:

The Southern Oaks house where David Crisp has been staying in recent months — after the once high-flying Realtor lost all of his own properties to foreclosure — fell into default Tuesday, county records show.

The property at 9808 Fitzgerald Drive is owned by real estate broker David “Ty” Stewart.

“I’d like to keep it if I could,” Stewart said, “so I don’t have to evict a tenant who can’t pay rent.” Monthly payments are $4,500, Stewart said, and the interest rate is 12.5 percent.

The house is also worth $200,000 less than Stewart bought it for, he said,
because of the declining market.

“I’m just a victim” of the down economy “who’s struggling like everyone
else,” he said.

Victim? Whatever!

Maybe a victim of greed and hubris?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weight Loss, Defaults and Nurseries

Weight Loss centers trim the fat?:

Both of Bakersfield’s L.A. Weight Loss Centers appear to be closing amid nationwide reports that the Pennsylvania-based company is finished.

The east Bakersfield store at 2625 Mount Vernon Ave. is full of packed boxes. A handwritten sign says it is open three days a week. A manager was not available to comment.

Another handwritten sign on the door of the southwest store at 5113 Ming Ave. says it closed in July. No customer information was posted.

Options wilt as some nurseries close
Two perennial Bakersfield nurseries — businesses once hearty enough to pass from one generation to the next — may be going the way of last year’s petunias

Robby’s Nursery & Landscape Service, founded in 1962, and Cooper’s Gardens, another independent around since 1941, appear to have succumbed to economic and competitive maladies spreading among mom-and-pops industrywide.

Both nurseries’ owners pointed to the housing slump, tighter consumer spending and pressure from big-box retailers. They also blamed specific local factors: brutal weather, commercial property values that encourage selling out and shifting shopper habits.

Las Palmas Nursery on Coffee Road also closed recently. The owner could not be reached for comment

Another real estate "mogul" can't pay his bills on time:

Two residential tracts in Rosedale defaulted on more than $29.5 million worth of loans Friday, county records show. The abandoned construction sites are both on the north side of Meacham Road, near Heath Road.

One is the southern half of the Tallus Ranch development at the northeast intersection of Heath and Meacham Road. There, Modesto developer John Carter Williams defaulted on a $19.5 million loan from Colonial Bank N.A. made in June 2005. As of Thursday, the developer was behind on more than $10.5 million worth of payments, the default filing showed.

The second site is slightly west, at the northeast corner of Meacham and Wegis Avenue. The 116-acre property is bounded by Hageman Road on the north. There, Williams defaulted on a $10.3 million construction loan from Colonial Bank made in March 2006. More than $3.7 million was in arrears as of Thursday.

Both loans were made to Williams through his company, J.C. Williams Co.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More trouble for the City in the Hills and Ca home prices crash even more

Construction at two tracts in northeast Bakersfield’s City in the Hills development has been halted by one of the builders there, K. Hovnanian Homes, a company official said.

The Rosemary Arbor and Lantana’s Edge neighborhoods are on hold, said Joseph Manisco, vice president and chief legal officer at the company’s Southern California regional office in Ontario. Manisco said the tracts weren’t profitable.

"What we're looking at is a fire sale of properties in newer affordable neighborhoods that were bought or refinanced near the price peak with lousy mortgages.

The median price paid for a Southland home was $348,000 last month, down 2.0 percent from $355,000 in June and down 31.1 percent from $505,000 for July 2007. That peak of $505,000 was reached in March, April, May and July of last year.

Orange County down 28% YOY

Riverside County down 34.8% YOY

San Bernardino County down 35.2% YOY

Friday, August 15, 2008

City in the Hills defaults and others.

This is getting ugly...I might need to move out of town...maybe we will have a grapes of wrath II, except this time we go back to Oklahoma...

From the Bakersfield Californian:

A trio of large developments in northeast Bakersfield have defaulted — two of them from the master developer of the City in the Hills project, county records show, continuing to a string of such troubles in Kern. More than $26 million was past due on the three loans.

Here are details:

Three loans made by Indymac Bank to subsidiaries of City in the Hills’ master developer defaulted Thursday.

• A $19.8 million construction loan to S & J Alfalfa Inc. for about a square mile at the southeast corner of Highway 178 and Morning Drive. More than $9.7 million was owed as of July 29, the default notice said. The loan was made in December 2006.

• A $9.8 million loan to SKY 21 LLC for about 3/4 of a square mile on the east side of Masterson Street, at the southeast corner of its intersection with 178. More than $7.4 million was in arrears as of July 29 on the loan made in October 2006.

• A $17.9 million construction loan to Sycamore Villas Development LLC. More than $1.9 million was owed as of July 29. The loan was made in January 2007. All loans were signed by then-president Dennis A. Harris, records show. Indymac, based in Pasadena, was seized by federal regulators in July. Last month, another related company, MVB Ventures LLC, defaulted on a tract in City in the Hills known as Juliana’s Garden. Los Angeles-based Mountain View Bravo LLC is the master developer of nearby City in the Hills, on the north side of 178.

• Another northeast parcel defaulted Wednesday. Monte Carlo LLC defaulted on a $15.4 million construction loan from County Bank in Merced. Developer Terry L. Moreland owed more than $9.1 million as of Aug. 12 for the December 2006 loan against 105 acres near the northeast intersection of 178 and Alfred Harrell Highway
Federal regulators last month entered into a written agreement with County Bank requiring better lending oversight and disclosure of problem loans.

• In southwest Bakersfield, the Destefani family defaulted last week on a $3.6 million loan from Bakersfield-based A-C Electric Co. on about 143 acres at the northeast corner of Taft Highway and Old River Road. The area has plans for residential and commercial development, though the lot is currently agricultural land. More than $2 million was owed as of July 31, the default notice showed.

I assume the Nascar race track is dead now that the Destefani family is defaulting on their debts and begging for investors?

California's unemployment rate at a 12 year high

As expected...California's unemployment rate just hit a 12 year high.

From the La

California's unemployment rate in July rose to 7.3%, its highest level in 12 years as many areas of the economy shed jobs.

The state's nonfarm payroll shrunk by 14,900 jobs last month, the California Employment Development Department reported today. The unemployment rate increased by three-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 7% for June and now stands almost two full percentages points higher than the 5.4% it was at a year ago.

The unemployment rate was worse in the Inland Empire, rising to 8.9% in July from a revised 8.1% in June. Orange County fared better, with the unemployment rate reaching 5.7% in July from a revised 5.3% the previous month.

Since July 2007, California has lost a total of payroll 75,900 jobs -- down to 15.1 million.

The steadily worsening unemployment is evidence that California's economic weakness is spreading from the hard-hit construction, real estate and financial sectors to other once-healthy fields, said Howard Roth, chief economist for the state Department of Finance."

The state's economy continues to sputter, and it looks like the job losses are getting distributed to manufacturing and retail," Roth said. "It's not just housing but it's also high energy and food prices that are squeezing consumers."

The combination of a rising unemployment rate plus soaring inflation - the so-called Misery Index - is making life painful for even working Californians, said Stephen Levy, chief economist and executive director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The index topped 12% in July, its highest point in 15 years, Levy said

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Abolish the Fed!

Alan Greenspan came out today and called his 4th or 5th bottom. Why should we belive him or anyone else at the Fed? This is what Greeny said in 2006:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the "worst may well be
over" for the U.S. housing industry that's suffering its worst downturn in
more than a decade. I suspect that we are coming to the end of this
downtrend, as applications for new mortgages, the most important series, have
flattened out." - October 2006

Lets flashback to what the head housing cheerleader at the Fed(who worked for the NAR and MBA) said in 2006 in Time Magazine:

"My view is that the run-up of home prices has been driven by the fundamentals,"
says Dick Peach, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He
figures we'll have a soft landing"

Don't believe the liars and crooks at the Fed!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Commercial vacancy rate to soar

From Dow Jones Newswire:

After 113-years in business, Whitehall Jewelers said today its 373 stores in 39 states will be liquidated following the company's inability to find a buyer or drum up fresh equity after filing for Chapter 11 in late June.

"We're experiencing the most active period of liquidation sales in 10 years, due to a combination of consumer cutbacks on peripheral pending and tightening by retail lenders," said James Schaye, CEO of retail liquidator Hudson Capital Partners.

As part of a joint venture Hudson Capital Partners, Great American Group, Silverman Jeweler Consultants and Gordon Brothers Group will manage a court-ordered bankruptcy liquidation sale of Whitehall.

The sale, which will begin Aug.13, was ordered by the bankruptcy court as a result of Whitehall's Chapter 11 filing in June.

Inventory will be liquidated at below market prices, in a sale that is expected to last approximately four and a half months. Merchandise to be sold will include a selection of diamonds, gold, precious and semi-precious jewelry and watches.

Today a judge also approved Whitehall Jewelers Holdings Inc.'s request to employ a financial consulting firm over objections by a federal monitor who claimed that the move would represent a conflict of interest.

Company Locator:

Bakersfield Lundstrom201 Valley Plaza CenterBakersfield, CA
Bakersfield Whitehall2701 Ming AvenueBakersfield, CA

Look for more commerical space to open up as the economy begins to slow. If you have driven around town you already know there are entire strip centers that are 80-100% vacant. As more businesses go bust, I expect more malls & strip centers to receive foreclosure notices.

Recall this post from the local perma-bulls who made some comments they might regret.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When will we hit bottom? Open thread.

I have received numerous emails on when I think we will hit the bottom of this housing bust. Right now prices have gone from a peak of $315,000 (median) to $190,000 (median) that is a drop of 40%. Add in inflation and selling expenses and the numbers look even worse. Remember all those realtors telling us in 2004-2007 that "now is the time to buy". Thanks for the good advice!

Questions for the readers -

How much lower will prices go?

When will we hit bottom?

(I am going to turn off the comment moderation for this)


Central Valley Business:

Pre-foreclosure filings set record in July

Pre-foreclosures hit record highs in July 2008 both nationally and in 14 states and the District of Columbia according to new figures from Inc., a Fair Oaks-based foreclosure information company.

“So far this year, more than 1.25 million Americans faced the risk of loosing their homes to foreclosure, up 7.3 percent from June 2008, and up 88.62 percent from July 2007,” says Alexis McGee, president of