Monday, February 02, 2009

"The [Stockton] Man Who Started the Global Recession"

From Time:

Some communicable diseases can be traced back to what medical researchers call "patient zero", the first carrier of an illness and often someone who has no symptoms...The global recession has a "patient zero", a single person who set off the series of events which may lead the economy into its greatest downturn since The Great Depression and, by some estimates, push 50 million people around the world out of jobs this year, according to The International Labour Organisation. "Patient zero" bought a house in Stockton, California, in 2003 after getting a subprime mortgage. He defaulted on that mortgage 39 months later.
From the Stockton Record:
Tonight Stockton will get another dose of national attention as a foreclosure hot spot in yet another round in the TV spotlight. This time, though, say the producers of the "Deals on the Bus" series by Discovery's TLC channel,...will show a new real estate trend: People riding in tour buses in the quest to buy nice yet affordable homes in communities hard hit by the housing downturn. "It's kind of like speed dating for homes," said executive producer Carlos Ortiz of Actual Reality Pictures, an independent Los Angeles-based film company that has filmed such reality-genre programming as "Flip That House" for TLC.
From News10:
The managing broker behind a failed mortgage operation posted a rambling essay on the company's Web site describing his years of fraudulent activity and asking for forgiveness. The seven-page essay by Christopher Warren, 27, replaced the home page of Triduanum Financial which abruptly closed its doors last month.
Warren said WTL Financial faked credit scores and W-2s to peddle loans to investors who failed to scrutinize the files. "I made over $2.25 million, all of which was spent on 24 cars, five houses and drugs," he wrote.
From the Sacramento Business Journal:
A custom homebuilder that had been among the region’s top in revenue before the housing downturn is preparing to file for bankruptcy as it’s being investigated for fraud and other complaints. The Contractors State License Board has referred two complaint violations against Ultimate Development Inc. of El Dorado Hills to law enforcement agencies for investigation.
“The recession has essentially shut down residential construction and there are virtually no credit opportunities available anymore,” he [owner Kevin Javaheri] said.
From Home Front:
The Construction Industry Research Board and California Building Industry Association now reports 65,380 construction starts in 2008. It's the lowest since CIRB began keeping records in 1954 in the Eisenhower Administration.
It's so low that even in the lowest point of the 1990s recession - 1993 - with Southern California base closings, a defense industry imploding in the wake of the cold war ending, with job losses from San Diego to Eureka, builders still planted 84,656 houses on California soil. That's 19,276 houses more than last year.
From the Sacramento Business Journal:
The worst period in the construction industry was in 1990 and ’91, and we’re fast approaching that now. The only reason we’re not already as bad now as then is that voters approved some infrastructure bonds and that money is still available and working. As a consequence, our picture is not as bleak as, say, homebuilders. But if the state doesn’t come up with a plan by Feb. 1 and it runs out of money, our industry, and the state, could be worse off than it was in 1990 and ’91.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Fighting to avoid a bankruptcy filing and apparently unable to finish the job, the developer of the long-delayed Elk Grove Promenade shopping mall is seeking investors to bring the project across the finish line...The mall has become something of a poster boy for the Sacramento area's hard-hit commercial real estate market...The mall's opening has been postponed three times, the victim of a poor economy and Elk Grove's disastrous housing market.
From the Sacramento Business Journal:
For Ike’s Landscaping, business started spiraling downward halfway through 2008...Although Ike’s had a strong first half in 2008, [president Eric] Aichwalder said, “We’ll be down to 20 employees in the next few months.” Ike’s employed 133 last year.

The bottom line for commercial landscapers is the market’s getting tougher. “Owners are watching all their dollars because tenants are coming to them for reduced rents,” said Ken Reiff, managing partner in the Sacramento office of brokerage NAI BT Commercial.
From Inman News:
[According to Radar Logic] San Francisco had the highest [price] decline, at 36.8 percent year-over-year during the November period, followed by Phoenix (down 34.6 percent) and Sacramento, Calif. (down 32.4 percent).
From the Modesto Bee:
Rental home rents also have become a bargain throughout in the region. "The economy is driving the rental prices down," said Kris Marin, who manages about 250 rental properties in the Northern San Joaquin Valley for Tri-Tal Realty. "There are a lot of vacancies. It's hard to find good, qualified tenants if the rent is too high." So to get homes occupied, Marin said, monthly rents have fallen about $100 for three-bedroom homes and about $200 for four-bedroom homes.
Al Nazmi said his family members have purchased more than 20 foreclosed houses during the past 18 months..."Most Modesto investors have run out of cash to buy homes the last three months," said Nazmi, noting how few people attend the daily foreclosure auctions on the county courthouse steps. But out-of-town investors are filling the void: "I have friends in neighboring states who are buying homes in Modesto now." All those investors are turning former owner-occupied houses into rentals. Those homes now compete with apartment complexes for tenants.
From the Press Democrat:
Exchange Bank reported an $18.5 million year-end loss Friday, its first annual loss in at least five decades....The problem loans are concentrated in construction lending, largely among loans made to home builders in the Sacramento region. The bank expanded into the Sacramento area earlier this decade near the peak of the housing market. Now, with housing mired in a deep downturn, many builders are struggling to stay in business and pay off their loans.
From the Appeal Democrat:
Plummeting revenues due to the construction slowdown will lead to layoff notices for eight Yuba County employees and the deletion of 12 vacant positions.
[Supervisor Mary Jane] Griego noted the development boom that preceded current conditions and that she said was spurred in part by dramatic increases in housing prices in Placer and Sacramento counties. Those increases helped push development into Yuba County, she said. "We'll never see that again," Griego said of the extraordinary rise in home values in this region and the rest of California. "It was like the stars came together for Yuba County."
From the Sacramento Bee:
The economy is in such wretched shape – finishing 2008 with its worst performance in a quarter century – that some forecasters have begun writing off 2009 as well...Some analysts are rethinking predictions that the recovery would start in late 2009; now they're talking 2010...Two weeks ago, [CSU Sacramento economist] Suzanne O'Keefe said job growth could resume in Sacramento by September. Now she says it probably won't happen until 2010.


Diggin Deeper said...

It all had to start somewhere...why not Stockton, why not California? This state is finally getting the RE pricing haircut that's been much needed since the 60's. Too bad we had a bunch of hacks that took advantage of loose lending standards to eventually create what we have on a worldwide scale today...

Rich said...

My only question is: How do they know it was a man? Or don't women buy houses and default?

patient renter said...

List of things that bailout money is effectively being used for:

Corporate parties
Executive bonuses
Corporate jet(s)
Free ice cream (hehe)
Below market rates
"VIP" loans

and finally...

"24 cars, five houses and drugs"

What else did I leave off the list?

Giacomo said...

"Patient Zero," in a bubble/recession?
This is absolutely meaningless media claptrap, playing to some public craving for simplified explanations. A single borrower did not "set off" any events -- if anything, his case would be a first symptom, not an cause. So typical of TIME magazine to peddle this kind of drivel.

Dave said...

The dates don't make sense. He would have defaulted after prices started to decline.

Diggin Deeper said...

This just in...Standard and Poors just downgraded California's debt...again. It now has the lowest rating of any state in the nation...downgrades like these are usually a precursor to BK.

In this "giveaway society" California leads the way in spending more than they take in.

Real estate problems be damned...if the state can't find financing the only way to soften the blow is to force lots of good people to go home.

Cow_tipping said...

"Patient zero" bought a house in Stockton, California, in 2003 after getting a subprime mortgage. He defaulted on that mortgage 39 months later

What is this ... 2 year old news. We all know this patient One ... Casey Serin.

sacramentia said...

I didn't know financial stupidity was contagious. Guess I need to replace my broke friends with rich ones.


Anonymous said...

casey serin. good call !

Wadin' In said...

If only he was named Casey Serum. The disease would not have spread!