Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sacramento Real Estate Market - April 2008 Water Cooler

Post off-topic links, observations, and stories about the Sacramento real estate market here. Please read the comment policy before posting.

Some weekend reading:


inpd said...

Just One Buttom or a Wave of Bottoms
for each area?

So its fair to say that areas like
Elk Grove and Natomas have corrected
to 2001-2002 prices
(and may well regress some more).

But Davis, Lands Park, East Sac, have
barely reduced by 10%.

For those of you who have lived through
other housing busts, is it fair to say
there is not one bottom, but a wave
of bottoms one for each suburb and its
fair to say Davis's may come well after
Elk Grove's?

inpd said...

Oops, that should be "bottom" not
"buttom" and sorry for creating
bad mental images ("waves of bottoms")!

Made Decision too Quickly said...

Hi. I've been following this blog for 2 years -- when I first moved to Sacto. It helped me make the decision to rent back then. Never written in until now.

Now, however, I'm writing because I need some advice/help. Under a bit of pressure I put in an offer on a home a few days ago that was accepted. I thought it was a good low price even though it needs some of work. But a home just went on sale on the same block for a substantially lower price per sq foot and in better shape. I've got the traditional inspection and loan contingencies in place. How can I fairly and legally get out of this? I've never been in this situaiton before and want to do it right and I'm not sure my broker knows what she's doing. Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated!

Sippn said...

Dndt major in spelln' neither.

Well, lets look at the combination of items that creat the downside in this housing crunch...


Davis, Land Park and East Sac are missing the overbuilding part plus they are closer to the downtown core....always demand.

You build a few thousand homes per year in EG, selling many with no down, with and with out occupants, refi the rest of the town because of values and bingo.... disaster.

Land Park, for example is more conservative in the financial sense, far fewer % upside down.

Creates strength in the market in that area.

The farther out you move into the sea of tract homes, the more those homes become commodities.... not that that is bad, but it makes the homes more sensitive to supply and demand.

Gordon Gekko said...

Made decision too quickly,

What you're really asking is.. How do get out of this contract?

First, I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, it's just what I've heard that people do. I have never done them myself, proceed at your own risk.

What you can do is look for any contingencies in the contract, the use the contingencies to your advantage. Two common contingencies are home inspection and home financing. If there is an inspection contingency, get your own inspector. Don't use the one your realtor recommends. Instruct your inspector to find as much stuff as possible wrong with the property. The more expensive, the better the problem. After the inspection, go back to the seller and request a ridiculous amount of seller credit to correct the problems. Either you get a large credit to reduce the purchase price or (more likely) the seller will not accept the offer and you're free. It only cost you a couple hundred dollars for the inspection.

Another option is if there is a loan approval contingency in the contract. You could consider using your down payment for "other things", making your loan difficult to qualify for. If your loans happens to be denied then you may be able to get out of the contract as well.

You also said "How can I fairly and legally get out of this? I've never been in this situaiton before and want to do it right and I'm not sure my broker knows what she's doing."
Keep in mind, "fairly" is a judgment that you are going to have to make yourself. Far be if from me to judge fairness. If your broker doesn't know what she's doing, get a new one that does. She's going to do everything she can to get you to go through with this deal since that's how she gets paid. If you decide to get out, it will be a fight on all sides.

Gwynster said...

Went to some open houses today, finally. For something the NAR bills as "open House month" or week or whatever it is, what a poor showing. I guess when most of the houses are foreclosures, why bother doing anything.

I couldn't even find anything worth haggling over.

I did meet another decent realtor, and yes, I do feel slightly dirty for saying this. We had a great talk about foreclsoures vs. S/S, counterparty risk, PPT and more.
Poor woman is trying to sell a late 80s build, resale with a pretty hefty listing price. The house right across the stret, same model, was proudly sporting a shiny new NOD taped to the front door. Apprently it had just defaulted.

TwoWheelsBetter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TwoWheelsBetter said...

No doubt, Land Park has been holding up comparatively well. Still, in most instances that 10% loss in equity/reduction in price does amount to $40,000 - $80,000.

Recently, two homes-- 2705 17th St and 2908 17th Street-- sold for 2002 prices. A nice enough home for sale at 2707 Marty sits despite a significant price reduction. So, there are cracks in the foundation. The neighborhood bears watching.

AgentBubble said...

Made Decision too Quickly...

This is not legal advice. It is only my opinion. Do not give a specific reason. Instead, have your agent cancel pursuant to section 14 of the contract. You are not obligated to tell them anything other than that. Use the "Cancellation of Contract, Release of Deposit and Joint Escrow Instructions" form (CAR Form CC, 4/06). Section 1 of that form asks for the pertinent information, then you just check letter "E" that states "As otherwise permitted by paragraph _____ of the Agreement." (Insert 14 there) The CAR contract is pretty lenient on getting out of a contract until you've removed all contingencies. And remember, if the sellers refuse to sign the cancellation, they may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Good luck.

Made Decision too Quickly said...

Thank you VERY MUCH Gordon Gekko and AgentBubble. Is this the kind of thing that we should get a RE attorney for in order to make sure we get our desposit back? Or should a realtor be able to handle it?

Also, if we want to find an independent inspector who is going to look for prolems were should we look? Is there a directory or a good place to get a referral for this kind of person?

Thanks again!!!

AgentBubble said...

Made Decision too Quickly said...

Your realtor should be able to handle this. As for an inspector, if you are going to back out, I wouldn't spend the money on an inspection. Simply find something about the neighborhood you don't like. That's all the reason you need. Look at the Megan's Law website and you might find an undesirable person living close to the house. That would certainly be justification. But, if you really want an inspector, I'd just use the yellow pages and find someone out of there. Definitely avoid your agent's recommendation if you don't have 100% trust in him/her. Good luck.

James said...

East Sac, Land Park, Davis; what doe s the future hold?

There is little information on this blog about these areas. From the March water cooler blog some have the opinion that these areas will fall as much as the burbs in the next 3-4 years. Are there others sharing this view as well? I have been renting in Land Park for several years and am now putting offers on 3/1's in 95819 (east sac). My rent is currently $1900/mo for a 1300 sq ft 3/1. A very nice 1300 sq ft home sold on 41st street near P a few days ago for $415,000. At this price it is more affordable to buy. Am I missing something? Will rents go down, thus reducing the price of homes in these areas, or will they go up as more people leave Elk Grove, Natomas, ect. I have been out bid on 3 homes now in Eas Sac and I feel like I am back in the old days. Should I wait or just get into a house I want to live in for the next 7-10 years while rates are low?

Embdddsgnr said...


I am not sure that $415K is more affordable than a $1900/mo. rent: Using 5.5% and a 30 year fixed I calculate $2345/mo. Unless you have the $83K in hand for a 20% down, in which case you are at about $1875/mo., and these figures are P&I only. That sale was also $319/square foot -- nothing close to a bargain. And why do people worry so much about interest rates? It's about affordability. I'd rather buy that house for $350K at 7% than $415K at 5.5%. Then at least I get equity preservation over that 7-10 years, and the chance to refinance if the rates drop.

I rent in east Sac., and I have absolutely seen prices coming down. My rent has been flat for two years now. Every house I track that has sold has been for 3%-5% less than asking, and usually after several price drops. On my block there have been two REOs and there are two vacant homes that went off the market after not selling. Others gave up and rented. I say let these fools outbid each other for another year at least so they can watch what down payment they made evaporate. Look at the history of prices in these areas -- even the Fab 40s. Everything is still overpriced, everywhere. Sure, these areas will remain valued higher relative to other areas, but they are all coming down together.

You can usually get some chatter about these areas from anon11-something (sorry anon), Gwynster, and myself. Though I read this blog daily, I rarely feel like I have much to contribute (except after about three Captain Morgan's and Cokes, then I write limericks. . . . ). I have been tracking 95814, 16, and 19 for almost two years now, including dozens of specific properties and I see the trend. I can be more specific if you or any others want.

I guess the takeaway is that there still isn't any rush. There is quite a way to go yet.

Gwynster said...


Renters are your most mobile workforce and the ones most likely to feel the effects of pricing pressure. They are the proverbial frog in the cooking pot.

You need wage increases to grow rents. Turn up the heat on rents and they double up _if_ wages are still slowly growing and living conditions are decent. But you get accellerating vacancy rates and a return to lower rents. That's a closed loop if you manage it right.

Remove wage growth and jobs and you have population flight. Increasing rents just exacerbates the the issue.

Wadin' In said...


I thought you had a donation button on your web site. I usually donate $50/Qtr to Ben & Max's site. I would like to support you blog too. How would I do that, or are you indendently wealthy?

James said...

"And why do people worry so much about interest rates? It's about affordability. I'd rather buy that house for $350K at 7% than $415K at 5.5%."

Interest rates are very important in my opinion. So in your scenario P&I come out the same, basically a wash over 30 years. Also, if rates go up to 7%, then we are in an inflationary position. This would mean wage growth and asset prices will rise, two factors that will push real estate prices higher. Houses do not necessary act like bonds, higher nominal rates do not always mean lower prices. Take the 1980's with its 18% mortgages, with such high inflation, real rates remained stable and as such, home prices did not fall through the floor.
Are you willing to gamble on picking a bottom? In most assets trading in free markets, once a bottom has been recognized, it has already happened and the value is gone. It appears to me with sentiment getting so low, we are nearing some kind of bottom.
I also feel supply is limited in my target areas (39th to 45th), and as such, how low can prices go? Homeowners here are established, have lots of equity, and generally are not leaving until it is feet first.
Also, I know it is argued and beat to death, but the tax benefit of owning is advantageous too. Doing my taxes and seeing $60,000 go to the Feds last year made me really pick up the search for a new home. Not only would I have been able to reduce income by the interest and tax deduction, but I could have itemized and found another host of favorable income eating write-offs.

To Gwen's point. Anecdotal evidence suggests vacancy rates in the defined neighborhoods are not going up. Take a look at, things rent pretty fast and for some pretty high prices. What I was suggesting is people are getting out of their houses in the burbs and renting closer to the jobs, downtown. I live here for quality of life. I sold my house in Folsom in 2005 because I could not take the commute anymore. I have been renting 5-10 minutes from my practice ever since and can't be happier. I wonder if more people aren't starting to do the same?

Sippn said...

James, as much as the crowd would like to see east sac prices drop like Elk Grove, its not gonna happen. WHY?

Its home to the workforces that are still growing...
4 hospitals, 3 governments (state/county/city - don't believe that stuff about hiring freezes) and the pressure mounts higher as fuel prices increased so much recently, encouraging people to reduce the commute.

So you compete with doctors, interns, staffers and you are thinking they all go through the rent/buy logical calculations?

Often these places are bought with the thoughts of "can I spend less than $100K to fix this place up nice enough to live here?"

Overbuilding? The biggest new "tract" there is 6 homes.... heck you couldn't grow enough pot in 6 empty homes to sell to the whole neighborhood! I might be wrong.

Cheaper homes in the 'burbs? To an East Sacramentan, the river is as wide as the Atlantic Ocean.... during the 1400's.

Happy Sunday!

smf said...


Please, your defense about the high-priced areas is getting a little old.

It has always occurred that when the tide that lifts all boats goes down, all boats go down with it.

But East Sac will still remain expensive anyways, just not as expensive as right now.

And another thing. The homes there are basically move up homes. Hence, their owners have to sell a home before buying, and I can guarantee that the buying price depends on the sale price.

Sort of what happened to us.

The price we offered on our move up home, in a very nice area, was dependent on the price we get for our current home.

And as some already know, just by plain acceptance of both offers, the comps immediately became $50-$200K lower! In a nice area.

Anonymous said...

Anybody have thoughts on the current situation in Antelope. I've been watching the prices plummet. Some are now listed at 2001/2002 prices, 40-50% off peak.

Anybody know what the market is like over there right now? Are the REO's getting a lot of offers? I want to buy in September and was hoping to lowball about 10% off a 250k house. Does that sound realistic?

Anonymous said...

Also, anybody have any info on Cal pers loans? I've been a state employee for about a year. They shot me over to a major lender and I asked about getting one, but he said I wouldn't be eligible yet... (which contradicts what I read on the Cal pers Web site.) Said I would have to get an FHA loan instead?

Embdddsgnr said...


I agree with most of what you say, and I know the areas we live in will always be "special."

I usually don't factor in tax savings, because it's mostly offset by property taxes at these insane valuations.

As for trying to time the bottom? Screw it. When we can buy a house we like, for a cost that is reasonable within traditional guidelines, we will buy. I read all the reports, analyze the historical data, look at incomes vs. house prices, etc. But my gut tells me prices must come down -- the lending that led to this situation is over. Using the 2000 census data and trying to adjust for inflation, the median house price (3x income) in 95816 ought to be. . . $255K! I admit that doesn't sound right.

Sippin, I think you're mostly right too, but unless I'm willing to spend 50% of my income on housing, it simply makes no sense for me. And I don't think there are enough doctors and other highly paid professionals to prop up the market here only.

smf: what you said (oh, and congrats on your selling/buying situation).

Oh, and James. . . damn, $60K in taxes? In 2007? Our two-person household income for last year was over twice the Sacramento median, and our taxes were not even half that (no house, but two dependents). I take it all back; why wait?

Jacob said...

Dont worry about timing the market. When we get to the bottom we will stay there for 10 years.

We are way over built. Builders built to meet the speculative demand, and exceeded it. Now back to reality and maybe only 50% of the homes that were built this decade are needed.

Housing was so unaffordable that people needed to take 1% neg am teaser loans (and no doc to boot) just to qualify.

So now that banks actually expect to be paid back, how many people qualify?

People in the area cant afford the homes, there are too many homes, many people are losing their jobs, credit is a lot tighter, other expenses like gas and energy and foot keep cutting into everyones budget.

Anyone looking at all that and thinks prices will stabalize soon is delusional. Sure you can pick one area that may hold up better and use that as an example of market stabalization but that is only that one area.

And there are still a lot of resets this year. Foreclosures are almost outpacing sales. A lot of current sales are still going to floppers.

We are at 43% off from peak now and still homes are not really affordable.

Sippn said...

SMF - Anatolia has most of the FITs on the top of the list, some with over $500K in price drops (sold vs sold, not asking vs sold). In Gold River, its not as large of a % - am I right?

TwoWheelsBetter said...

NYT article today referred to a DataQuick report that during the late 80s/early 90s bust in SoCal, prices in Beverly Hills fell 36% per sq ft (50% factoring in inflation). So, no, East Sac and Land Park are not immune in any absolute sense. Still, there are trends (increasing energy/transportation costs, fewer households with children, for example) that will bolster these neighborhoods' relative attractiveness.

smf said...

"In Gold River, its not as large of a % - am I right?"

No, but GR was always a little expensive.

Still, the agreed to price is $225K lower than (at least one) a $800K sale for a similar 2004.

Perfect Storm said...

Hey Gwynster,

Nine homes sold in Davis in Febuary 2008 and inventory is over 200, so that puts 20 plus months of inventory in Davis.

Davis is going downtown!

Were right on track for a 50% decline by 2009.

James said...


Yes, last year was unusal income for us. The wife picked up a new client and I nearly doubled sales year-over-year. Can't say it is typical, but sure hope it is.

Jacob said...

perfect storm: We are at 43% now, we might beat your prediction.

Diggin Deeper said...

When we hit a 50% decline in pricing it will have wiped out anyone who's sitting on 100% gains in sales price equity. Pretty impressive and that should take us right back to 2002pricing. It appears the only sellers out in the market are those that have to sell...most everyone else, with any sense or equity left, will just ride out this storm.

I agree about waves of some places appear to gone about as far as they are going to go. I expect that future additions to any further price declines to be posted in areas that have been somewhat shielded up to this point. It's hard to believe that any area in Sacto will come out of this mess unscathed.

Diggin Deeper said...

My wife has a home (sfr) in escrow where her buyer bought a bank owned 3 year old home for $150K. The same model within a few blocks is selling new for over $260,000. This is right in line with the 40-43% declines we're seeing. Price per square foot is around $112.

Moral of the story...if you're buying new you're screwed...

Deflationary Jane said...


Add to that the fact that not a single one received it's list price >; )

There have been some nice haircuts. Blessing are the comp providers

smf said...

The prices we are getting for the sale and purchase of our homes in firmly in mid-2003 territory.

Just an FYI for all.

Deflationary Jane said...


There are some sales here that are at the 2003 mark too and going down. Just have to keep your eyes open.

On another note, we're debating some options and are looking for a realtor that is NACA approved in Sacramento. This program is really restrictive and the realtors I met at open houses this weekend either howl when I mention their name or give me that uncomfortable silence.

Patient Renter said...

Embdddsgnr said...

these areas will remain valued higher relative to other areas, but they are all coming down together.

Exactly. Nicer areas will always retain higher values, but all areas will fall relative to how much they went up beyond the historical average rate of appreciation (inflation).

state/county/city - don't believe that stuff about hiring freezes

This comment has no basis in reality. I'm witnessing hiring freezes first hand. Obviously hiring freezes aren't universal, but they are starting. What else would you expect with historic budget shortfalls?

Patient Renter said...

The reset problem remains.

Rates are low, sure, but trouble brought on by Option ARM resets will not be avoided with low rates.

The Credit Suisse chart shows rough waters ahead:

James said...

From CNBC's Funny Business with Jane Weils:

I just wanted to do a little background check using public records. Here is what I found out.

Karnail did put 20% down when he purchased the home in 2004, but then in 2005 he took $150,000 cash out. Had he not done this, he would be fine.


Buyer / Borrower SAINI,KARNAIL S
Transfer Date December 17, 2004
Transfer Value $586,500 (Full)
Transaction Type Re-Sale
Document Number 0000057774
First Loan Amount $448,000
Loan Type Conventional
Interest Rate Type Variable

Buyer / Borrower SAINI,KARNAIL S
Seller Name
Title Company
Transfer Date November 4, 2005
Transfer Value
Transaction Type Re-Finance / Equity
Document Number 0000055330
First Loan Amount $150,000
Loan Type Conventional
Interest Rate Type Variable
Deed Type Deed of Trust

The best part, Hiep, the seller, purchased the house for $501,000, held for exactly one month and made $86,000. Great ROA.

watchingthebubble said...

Anybody have any intel on the Highland Park neighborhood in Roseville near Rocklin? DH and I are trying to decide whether to put this on our list of potential neighborhoods down the line. Seems like there are a lot of foreclosures there, so I'm concerned. Thanks!

Patient Renter said...

James, how can I go about looking up that sort of loan info on a house?

James said...

Patient Renter:

I have a dataquick account which allows me to pull all title records on a property. It is pretty expensive, but a great tool for house shopping.

I can pull a record or two if you would like. Your realtor should have access to the same data as well.



Patient Renter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
norcaljeff said...

Watching the Bubble:
What do you want to know? I'm familar with the area. It's just that many of the homes were built in the 04-05 time frame and there were a ton of people moving from entry level homes to the bigger homes of highland park. Nothing unusual about the area.

Buying Time said...

Not in favor of a taxpayer bailout of the housing market. But if I was, I certainly like this idea from the NYT today the best (selfishly speaking of course). 25k buyer credit!

Patient Renter said...

I certainly like this idea from the NYT today the best (selfishly speaking of course).

Sure it sounds good, but you have to think of it for what it is - a debt that you get to benefit from, but your children will have to pay off, with interest!

norcaljeff said...

Looks like the state is close to passing a bill charging customers 5 cents for every plastic or paper bag they use at grocery stores, unless they use a reusable bag. So now you get charged a nickel for each can and 10-15 cents for every bottle, even though you'll never see that money back when you recycle them. If that bag bill passes, I'm moving out of the state.

Patient Renter said...

Hilarious post at today:

James said...

New home sales plunge to lowest levels in 16 1/2 years, but housing builders and related stocks posted a huge rally today. In fact, the builders are up 50% in the last 3 months. Could the market be predicting a bottom?

smf said...

I have started to see the flipping shows again!

Those updates get...interesting...

Saw one from 2007.

People had bought a house for $635K. With a $100K budget they expected it to sell at $899K.

After 6 months, they finally sold the house for...





Wadin' In said...


The average Flipper In Trouble (FIT) in Placer County is now listing at $110,000 UNDER the price the FIT paid! Add carry, closing and sales costs and.....ka-boom, big losses.

luca said...

we will have 2005 prices again in 2015-2017

paranoid renter said...

I've been following homes coming on the market in areas that interest me. Almost everything coming on the market these days looks like REO. They are all homes that no one wants, but the prices are very agreeable.

On the other hand, new home builders don't seem to be moving on price. They are building very few houses...Elliot homes has a development in east Roseville where prices start at 500K for a 3/2 1800 sq ft. They have about 10-12 lots to be built up and they expect to be around > 2 years! That's how slow they are expecting to move. However, it looks like there are people paying that kind of money because there were some recent move-ins into that neighborhood.

So, the picture heavily distorted. There are a lot of *bad* choices available for buyers, but if one is picky, there is very little on the market.

I think the distorted picture will continue for at least another year -- stimulus package, interest rate games, lies in the reporting methods, and the elections -- will all keep the financial markets buoyed for a while. Following the election, either things go to the dumps or government policy will create a bubble in some other area of the economy, perhaps renewable energy.

smf said...

There are a lot of *bad* choices available for buyers, but if one is picky, there is very little on the market.

Excellent description of the situation. Those homes that seem so cheap now, relatively speaking, are still overpriced due to the area that they are in.

The better areas still seem overpriced, though I have not seen many WTF prices. Most of these areas appear to be break even or slight loss prices.

Deflationary Jane said...

MLS #: 70129774
$195,000 listing but not sure what it closed for. These folks are still pounding CL hoping for renters. They started at $1650 and are now down to $1450. Imagine their faces when they realize comp rent for it is about $1250/1300 if they can find decent tenants.

I'd like to know what they closed for.


The Elliot homes in East Roseville are a rip off. He's asking $250/sqft sometimes more. He got all that land for about $10K/acre and yet he's milking this. I guess he'll wait til kingdom comes for the market to turn around. More power to 'em if he's got the stomach. JMC and Tim Lewis are also local builders who finally came to their senses and reduced prices, looks like Elliot is stubborn. He also bought a ton of land from Aerojet a few weeks ago for pennys on the dollar.

Patient Renter said...

Worst cities for homeowner debt. Guess who is #1?

Patient Renter said...

He also bought a ton of land from Aerojet a few weeks ago for pennys on the dollar

I know that consumers have very short memories and are endlessly ignorant, but I am holding out hope that local consumers will keep in mind that most of Aerojet's land had been so long witheld from sale due to hazardous waste contamination.

All you have to do to confirm is go up to the land and check out the signs all over. Given this, I was under the impression that land was "off limits" for good.

Deflationary Jane said...

'Real Estate: Worst Cities For Homeowner Debt

It's no secret that homeowners with subprime mortgages have taken a beating.

Next up: those who have combined their mortgages with home equity loans, second loans or both.

These combinations spell especially bad news for homeowners in Sacramento, Calif., San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Colorado Springs, Colo., markets with some of the nation's highest concentrations of homeowner debt. In these spots, prices are dropping, making it very difficult for homeowners to refinance as lenders are reluctant to take on risk.'

Patient Renter said...
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Patient Renter said...

The new Case-Shiller graphs out today are in full nosedive mode.