Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Right Into the Belly of the Beast'

From the Sacramento Bee:

STOCKTON – Weeks after unveiling a relief plan for struggling subprime borrowers, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came to the epicenter of the nation's foreclosure troubles to tout the effort as a "market solution" that would be fixed if it falls short.
...
Paulson promised to investigate the claim of one borrower who said her lender had refused to offer any solutions and would not talk with her until she had defaulted. "In June I'm staring down the barrel of an $8,000-a-month mortgage payment," said the woman, who declined to give her name. "From what I hear, our program is made for you," Paulson told her.
...
Paulson's visit highlighted the growing troubles of borrowers in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, which accounted for almost 28 percent of California's foreclosures in July, August and September, according to DataQuick. The area has about 17 percent of the state's population. The vast 400-mile region between Bakersfield and Redding is home this year to more than 42,000 mortgage defaults from January through September, DataQuick reported...[Stockton's] unsold housing inventory is so large it would take 25 months to sell all the houses on the market today, according to Sacramento-based TrendGraphix.
From the LA Times:
The governor and Paulson on Tuesday went "right into the belly of the beast" because "Stockton is one of the hardest-hit places in the country for foreclosures," said Paul Leonard, director of the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending, an advocacy group for borrowers.
...
John Knight, a professor of finance and real estate at the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, cautioned that the rush to help people who can't afford to pay more than their teaser rates needs to be tempered with fairness to other people who have been paying the higher rates all along. "What about the borrowers who borrowed responsibly and can deal with the rise in the rates?" Knight asked. "They are not getting any help, while those who borrowed recklessly are getting help."
...
"This crisis is not going to last," the governor said. "It's a bump in the road." He predicted that California's declining home values would turn upward again soon.
From Reuters:
At the Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton, California, the parishioners at weekly prayer group meetings seek spiritual support for everything from health issues to marital problems to job losses.

These days, many people also are praying about their mortgages. "There are many people in this community who are losing their homes or in danger of losing their homes, and there are some who have just seen their mortgage payments go through the roof," said the Rev. Marc Maffucci, the church's pastor.

Stockton, a city about 80 miles east of San Francisco that was founded as a gateway for gold miners in the mid-1800s, has one of the highest foreclosure rates of any large U.S. metropolitan area as its once-hot housing market has gone cold.
...
[A]t Quail Lakes church in Stockton, Maffucci said that the housing crisis continues to reverberate. Some in his community are in danger of default, and others who worked in the housing industry and now are jobless. He said that at almost every Wednesday morning prayer session he attends there are requests for prayers for someone struggling with issues such as how to scrape together a loan payment.

He has provided counsel to some of his better-off congregants who got overextended in real estate and now are working to pare back their lifestyles. For others who have gotten behind on their mortgage bills, though, there is little that can be done. "I think they understand their options are somewhat limited. They are going to make the payments or they are not," he said. "They are really praying for wisdom at that point."
From the Stockton Record:
The motto of Campbell-based Alliance Title Co. was "Closing the California Dream." Its informal motto late last week became: "Closing Our Doors." The company unexpectedly went out of business, shutting down San Joaquin County offices in Stockton, Lathrop, Manteca, Tracy and Lodi, reportedly costing about 30 people their jobs.
...
Jerry Abbott, president and co-owner of the Stockton real estate firm Coldwell Banker Grupe...said the closure news was quite a surprise. Alliance Title representatives even sat in on his real estate firm's sales meeting last Wednesday. "They never said a word," he said.

Ben Balsbaugh, residential sales manager for PMZ Real Estate in Stockton, said everybody knew a shutdown was inevitable. "There were certainly red flags," he said. "For the past couple of years, we kept hearing about all the high salaries and bonuses they were paying out to their escrow officers." He said he just didn't see how Alliance could have sustained that in the slow market, he said. "There was not enough business."
From the Stockton Record:
Years of growth in property tax revenue appears to be grinding to a halt as the dismal housing market and mortgage crisis have started leeching money from public coffers.
...
The fat years of the housing boom saw the assessed value of all property in the county grow by more than 17 percent just two years ago and by 9 percent this year, according to the San Joaquin County Assessor's Office. But growth in revenue next fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be minimal, at best, and some areas could even see a decline, said Assessor Gary Freeman. Freeman sent a memo at the end of November to county officials to give them an early warning about such a drastic shift, he said.
From the Sacramento Bee (hat tip Sacramento Crash):
Valerie Harris had an errand to run before she could pay for the work done on her husband's classic hot rod. She had to rob a bank, authorities say. Wearing gold-rimmed reading glasses and carrying a cowboy-style pistol with a wooden grip in her purse, the 50-year-old Rocklin woman walked up to a teller at the US Bank inside a Safeway grocery store in Roseville last Wednesday and handed him a note demanding $10,000, according to court papers filed in federal court Tuesday.
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At that moment, authorities say, Harris transformed from quiet suburbanite to the person later dubbed the "Grandma Bandit."...Harris, 50, was driven to rob the bank of $1,243 in small bills because of mounting economic hardships – including what authorities said was the recent foreclosure on the home she and her husband have lived in the past nine years, according to the criminal complaint.

15 comments:

Lander said...

Growth slows in Placer, El Dorado counties

The rush to Sacramento's most popular suburbs has slowed to a crawl. Both Placer and El Dorado counties grew at a slower pace this year than during any of the last 15 years, according to new population estimates released Wednesday by the California Department of Finance.

jay said...

What a joke. Did you see the women who needed help with her 8,000 mortgage. Can you say fraud. For an 8k mortgage you need income of approx. 20k a month. I guarantee she did not have a job that paid her 5k a month. She does not deserve help but instead deserves jail time!

Diggin Deeper said...

Unfortunately, we have stripped culpability away from the public and have tagged them victims.

Why would anyone do due diligence on a loan if they knew they could hide behind the veil of stupidity and get away with it? You just can't keep people from hurting themselves no matter how hard you try. They have no reason to fire up calculator, budget their resources, or plan for their own future.

Imho, the bailout will barely get off the ground, before the problem overwhelms Paulson and his cronies.

Cow_tipping said...

Oh yea, is the grandma bandit eligible for the bailout ??? Pun wholly intended.
Cool.
Cow_tipping.

Diggin Deeper said...

CT I think the only thing she'll be eligible for is a "breakout"

anon1137 said...

where are the DQ numbers . . . .

alba said...

on the positive side, she probably doesn't have to pay the banks back (and likely doesn't have any equity left in her home.) Kinda like bankruptcy...she'll be out in a few years.

SacramentoCrash said...

The first of many crimes due to foreclosure?

Loss of Boats, jet skis, toy Haulers, "Redneck Mercedes"(full sized pickup trucks), SUVs and oversized homes might push more people over the edge.

alba said...

Actually, Grandma's home has been foreclosed on since July. How does that happen?

The banks keep holding on, hoping nobody will notice, or until their credit unit figures who they may owe money to, if the loan is unraveled.

Gwynster said...

I'm waiting for my beloved USC data but I'm the last person to be shocked by slowing migration to the suburbs.

Patient Renter said...

Bailouts are a "market solution"!?!?! Somebody pinch me.

Perfect Storm said...

Mortgage applications down 20% this week, most since 2004.

Perfect Storm said...

Mortgage applications down 20% this week, most since 2004.

Diggin Deeper said...

MBIA says it has $30.6 bln exposure to CDOs

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071220/bs_nm/mbia_cdos_dc_2

NEW YORK (Reuters) - MBIA Inc (MBI.N), the world's largest bond insurer, said it has exposure to $30.6 billion in complex mortgage securities that it insures, an amount that eclipses its entire net worth.

Talk about drinking some bad Kool Aid. Once the bond insurance goes away, bond prices go down and rates have go up in order to compensate for risk. It will be tough to find buyers willing to buy these bonds, uninsured.

Just another facet beginning to unfold due to the subprime / credit crisis that's spreading across the economy.

Buying Time said...

anon I am wondering the same thing!