Friday, October 24, 2008

"Empty Homes Have Turned into Giant Bird Houses"

Housing Bust Consequence #867. From CBS 13:

A local neighborhood is going to the birds. With so many vacant homes, it's a problem that can develop in any neighborhood. Birds are now taking over empty homes and bringing with them a lot of noise and mess. Birds have taken over two vacant homes on Coop Drive in Elk Grove, turning what was a quiet neighborhood into a nightmare...Empty homes have turned into giant bird houses.
From the Sacramento Business Journal:
Home sales, likely fueled by hundreds of foreclosed homes on the market, soared in Sacramento and California in September as the median price of homes sold in the state capital dipped below $200,000 for the first time in years [according to the California Association of Realtors]. The median price of a home selling in Greater Sacramento last month was $195,900, down 11.3 percent from August and 39.8 percent lower than a year ago. Sales, meanwhile, were up 8 percent over August and 186 percent higher than a year ago.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Jennifer Harris, executive director of the Home Loan Counseling Center of Sacramento, a nonprofit loan counseling agency...said there's also a rising new class of people now "just willing to walk away." "For us, it's a new thing to deal with," she said. "People are calling and saying, 'My values have dropped. Why shouldn't I walk away?' "
[A]n abundance of trouble for struggling homeowners has been a blessing for buyers priced out during the housing boom. Foreclosure resales have driven prices down by a third or more the past year. Sacramento County median prices for resale homes – where half cost more and half less – have fallen by 37 percent in the past year to $190,000, the lowest in more than six years [per DataQuick].
From the Appeal Democrat:
The housing boom kept on busting during July, August and September as foreclosures jumped sharply compared with a year ago, according to figures released by a real estate information firm Thursday. Sutter County foreclosures increased five-fold during the third quarter of 2008 compared with the same period a year ago, totaling 291 homes, according to figures from MDA DataQuick.
The glut of inventory from foreclosures plus short sales is causing downward pressure on home prices, said David Burrow, president of the Sutter-Yuba Association of Realtors. He said the inventory of homes has been accumulating beyond the number sold..."We're actually accumulating them faster than they're selling them," said Burrow, a Realtor who is with Keller Williams Realty Yuba Sutter.
From the California Progress Report:
Yesterday’s Sacramento Bee had a story which indicated at least 7,600 Sacramento-area residential foreclosures and the number may grow. I live in the Pocket Area and there are signs of foreclosures there and this is the most stable or one of the most stable parts of Sacramento County.
From the Redding Record Searchlight:
Alan Nevin, chief economist for the California Building Industry Association, said building smaller homes will work only if the buyer can't get the larger home for the same price. In foreclosure-ravaged areas such as Merced, Stockton and Riverside, prices are falling rapidly. "They've declined so far that it doesn't make much difference how small a new house is — builders can't beat the foreclosed price," Nevin said.
From the Sacramento Bee:
"Everyone is getting hit by this because they're short of money," said Joe Ortiz, who just got a $2,700 property tax bill. "It's really outrageous." Many homeowners, like Ortiz, had assumed their property taxes would fall in the wake of the housing crisis – a small measure of relief in the face of tumbling stock prices, shaky pensions and general economic fear.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Turns out, the bottom falling out of the housing industry is a good thing for districts such as San Juan Unified School District....The district broke ground this week on a $4.3 million gym at Mesa Verde High School would have cost about 25 percent more to build just a few years ago, said Don Myers, the district's senior director of facilities and planning...[B]ecause of the downturn in the economy for the last year now, as well as the downturn in housing market, we've actually gotten a very good price (on the gym construction)."
From the Sacramento Bee:
Edible Events owner Margie Tose, who specializes in corporate catering, said she began fielding calls for holiday parties as early as August. "But then, all of a sudden, it just stopped," Tose said, attributing the drop in calls to the flailing economy. "I think they'll still do something, but they'll scale back. These past couple of weeks have been scary, but once things settle down, I think they'll start calling, probably around November."
From the Sacramento Bee:
In his 36 years behind the counter, [Jim] Relles, longtime owner of Relles Florist in Sacramento's midtown, has seen economic good times and tougher ones. He harbors no illusions this year. "These are probably the worst economic times in my existence of running a business," he said. And it's shown at the cash register.

Relles' August sales were off 30 percent compared with last year, he said. September was better – sales were only 4 percent off the year-previous numbers, he said. Then the financial crisis reached a head, scattering would-be shoppers. "Then we had October come, when everything started to crumble. Everything came to a screeching halt," Relles said. He's already cut back on ordering Christmas items, anticipating as much as a 40 percent drop in sales from the year-ago holiday season.
From USA Today:
Stockton, a boom-and-bust town hit early and hard by the nation's foreclosure crisis, is digging out of the financial excesses of its past...But the city's hangover is likely to be a doozy...Some blocks have been so depopulated that even the Saturday afternoon jingle of an ice cream truck is greeted with silence....In September, the city's unemployment rate hit 12.4% vs. 8% for the same month two years earlier, when construction and finance jobs were plentiful...School enrollment is down 7% from 2006 in a district heavily affected by foreclosures and population dips...
During Stockton's boom years of 2003, 2004 and 2005, home builders constructed almost 8,000 homes in the city — an amount equal to 11% of its single-family-home inventory.
Homeowner Deramous was caught in the frenzy. She and her husband relocated to Stockton from the Bay Area in 2000, buying a 2,400-square-foot home for $176,000. As home values soared, so did their spirits. The house appraised for $500,000 in 2006. They refinanced, took money out for a new car, vacations and other expenses. Now, they owe more than $300,000, and the house "is probably worth $176,000 again," Deramous says. "It was foolish of us," she says. "My parents never took money out." Deramous hopes their lender will lower their payments.
Manuel Leighton...bought the home in 1998...Near the peak of the market, the house was appraised for $465,000. He and his wife refinanced three times in almost six years, each time taking out cash to pay for a pool that never got built. Now, Leighton laments the loss of his better judgment and that he owes $390,000 on a house worth far less. A house next door recently sold at auction for $265,000, he says. "That hurts me," he says. "I'm going to call my lender and see if they'll redo my loan. If they can't, I may end up walking."


smf said...

During Stockton's boom years of 2003, 2004 and 2005, home builders constructed almost 8,000 homes in the city — an amount equal to 11% of its single-family-home inventory.

And somehow this glut will be gone in a few years?!

Perfect definition of the excess. There'll still be way to many houses even when prices go back to 2000 levels.

Deramous hopes their lender will lower their payments.

You overspent, you acknowledge you overspent, and yet now you may walk?!

All I can say is:

'Karma is a bitch'

Be ready to deal with it.

Jacob said...

What's with all these victim stories and we gotta help the poor home buyer who was duped into lying on their app, and who were duped into taking money out of their homes to buy crap.

These guys refinanced 3 times to build a pool and never built a pool?

You take out $300k and where does that money go? I wouldnt even know how to spend that much money so fast, buy a car, take a few trips, plenty left over for hookers and blow, then what?

Probably casinos, trying to double down.

But it is ultimately the banks fault. They gave people the money knowing that they wouldnt get it back unless the owner could refinance down the road... There was always another refinance down the road.

But if you take $300k out on a refi and it isn't for home improvements doesn't that loan have full recourse? So they can walk and the bank can come after them for the balance. I hope the banks make an example of a few of these people, would be well worth the bad PR to scare the rest of the people straight.

And next time remember to get 20% down on home loans so the owner has some skin in the game, and only allow refis at 50% LTV.

Diggin Deeper said...

Got a kick out of the article about the bird problem on "Coop" Dr. How appropriate.

Whenever there's a problem you can fully expect people will claim they were "victimized" to avoid personal consequences. We've been conditioned over the last 5 decades and have arrived at "victimization" as an out to anything that demands blame.

Smf, while I agree with your oversupply/lack of population theory, I have yet to see the rental market suffer that much. It seems that homes continue to rent in a reasonable period of time. Now that may change as this crisis evolves in our local economy, but so far, not yet

watchingthebubble said...

I live less than a mile from Coop Drive, at least until the end next week when we move out of Elk Grove. It's not the only bird house in the neighborhood, trust me.

This is the part of the housing debacle story that isn't being told in the MSM -- that not everyone was duped, not everyone was defrauded; some people just made really bad financial decisions. I don't understand folks who took money out of their houses for stuff that didn't appreciate,like cars, trips, etc. If they wanted to reap the benefits of appreciated equity in their homes, why didn't they just sell, rent another home, pocket the difference in what they bought their houses for and what the sold them for, and wait for housing values to drop to buy again?

And sucking out money for a pool? You rarely, if ever, recoup the value of putting a pool in. Now, a killer kitchen with a Subzero fridge and a Wolf range, maybe, but not a pool.

I wasn't for bailing anyone out, but once Wall Street got a bailout, I kinda favored bailing out the non-savvy owner-occupier folks who were defrauded by mortgage brokers. But not investors, and certainly not folks who used their homes for ATMs. You always gotta pay the piper 'cause he doesn't play for free.

There's still a lot of pain to come in this housing market, and too many people want some financial Vicodin -- or Oxycotin -- to ride it out.

Jacob said...

I favor a bailout for savers, make it illegal for banks to pay interest less than inflation. :)

Cow_tipping said...

Bird houses. Well that is a good use for houses I think ... after all, they are sitting there doing nothing.
I dont see a down side.