Saturday, September 22, 2007


UPDATE: Another article on Dunmore Homes. From KCRA:

Last May, Jason and Gina Rossow fulfilled their dream of buying their first home in a brand-new subdivision under construction in Elk Grove. "Yeah, we were super excited," said Gina Rossow.

But now across the street are weeds. An entire field is empty with just debris. And around the corner there are unfinished homes. The Rossows' dream is slowly creeping toward nightmare. "We're just confused," Jason Rossow said.

What's causing confusion, concern, and unwelcome news is a closed sign that's on the Dunmore Homes sales office door. All construction was halted last month, and contractors filed roughly $5 million in liens against Dunmore Homes.

"That tells ya it's not a great sign for new home sales," Mike Show of the Sacramento Business Journal said..."People were predicting we'd be out this in a year," he said. "Obviously that's not the case. We're now saying it could be another year to 18 months."
From the Sacramento Business Journal:
After halting construction in August, Dunmore Homes closed the sales office last week at its Monterey Village development in Elk Grove, posting signs saying the move was temporary but leaving no indication when it will reopen. The closures follow the filing of mechanics' liens totaling more than $5 million by contractors working on that project and another in Rocklin.
Dunmore officials did not return phone calls seeking comment about the latest events. The company halted all construction in August, but owner Sid Dunmore said in an interview at the time that the company was breaking even. Dunmore Homes sold 66 homes in the Sacramento region during the first seven months of the year, according to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence. That compares with 321 home sales for 2005, according to new-home analyst The Gregory Group.
The effects of flagging new-home sales are showing elsewhere as some homebuilders are pulling up stakes or significantly paring down operations. Costa Mesa-based Warmington Homes, which is selling condos in Natomas and single-family homes in Galt, is folding its Sacramento division into the San Ramon office...."As we all know, it's a very difficult time in the market," [Chris] Hanson [vice president of sales and marketing] said. "I don't think you can name a builder that hasn't had layoffs."

Christopherson Homes plans to move from its 8,500-square foot Roseville office, but it's not closing the Sacramento division, said marketing manager Vicki Doyle. Instead, the company is looking for smaller space in Roseville to better fit its pared-down staff. A series of layoffs, including some last week, have cut the division to about half its size of a year ago, she said.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Sacramento-area unemployment was unchanged last month at 5.4 percent but has risen eight-tenths of a point since last year. "The numbers are starting to mount a little bit and look a little more ominous," said David Lyons, labor market consultant at EDD.
Greater Sacramento lost 2,000 jobs in August, the second straight monthly decline. About half the cutbacks were in construction and finance. The downsizing in construction was noteworthy because usually the summer building season lasts into September or October. "The house builders definitely made a bit of a call to cut back," Lyons said.
From the Central Valley Business Times:
Doom, gloom, and what happened to our boom?

A dark mood is settling over the golden state as pessimism about California's economic conditions hits its highest point since 2003, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California...A strong majority of residents (59 percent) expect bad economic times in the coming year — a 10-point increase since June (49 percent) and a 20-point increase since January (39 percent).
There has been a significant shift in attitude this year —and it is very likely being driven by bad news about the stock and housing markets," says PPIC president and CEO Mark Baldassare. "For so many people, the feeling of overall financial well-being is tied to the value of their homes — something that seems increasingly threatened as they see sales slow, prices dip, and foreclosures rise."
From Reuters:
A record 26 percent of U.S. homeowners say the value of their homes has fallen during the past year, above the previous peak of 24 percent seen in 1992, a survey released on Friday showed. Reflecting the extent of the prolonged housing slump, 21 percent of homeowners polled in September expect the value of their home to decline in the year ahead, up from 18 percent in August, according to the data from Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.
Homeowners in the western United States, where some of the most dramatic home appreciation had occurred, have been especially hard hit by the real estate downturn. In the third quarter, 33 percent of homeowners surveyed in the West said their home value fell during the past year, up from 23 percent in the second quarter. Nearly a quarter expect home prices to fall further in the coming year, up from 17 percent in the second quarter, said Reuters/University of Michigan.
From the Wall Street Journal:
When Susan McDonald began seeing an influx of renters in Elk Grove, Calif., just outside of Sacramento, she cofounded a community group, the Franklin Reserve Neighborhood Association. The group writes "good neighbor" letters to problematic tenants and landlords, organizes forums to discuss a variety of issues and holds block parties to encourage residents, both owners and renters, to get to know one another. Local high school students have even cut the grass on unkempt properties. For the most part, the steps have helped, Ms. McDonald adds, and when they haven't, community members have been willing to be even more aggressive.

Elk Grove resident Tim Chan, a Sacramento police officer, called the local police repeatedly to complain about loud parties, piled-up garbage and to report what he suspected was gang activity involving the renters next door. When that didn't work, he wrote a two-page letter, also signed by 21 of his neighbors, to the out-of-town landlord. "All of these items disturb the peace and quiet of our neighborhood and cause discomfort and annoyance to all that live on this street, as well as reducing the quality of life and safety of our children," Mr. Chan wrote. The letter, which was sent to city officials and also threatened legal action, got results: The tenants are gone, and the house is being fixed up.

Ms. McDonald and Mr. Chan both blame the majority of the Elk Grove's problems on absentee landlords, not the tenants. "You don't just rent a property and assume that it's going to be taken care of," Ms. McDonald says. "Come and see if the lawn is being taken care of. Come and talk to the neighbors."


Unknown said...

If you think real estate has not reached bottom, there's an easy way to invest in falling real estate. Through any stock broker you can buy an exchange-traded fund (ETF) called the ProShares UltraShort RealEstate Fund (stock symbol SRS).

SRS tracks double the inverse of the Dow Jones Real Estate Index. If, for example, the Dow Jones RE index falls 1 percent, SRS increases in value by 2 percent.

I think SRS may be at a good buy point right now. Two weeks ago SRS sold for $105/share and has fallen to $91/share today. SRS's chart:

I believe this is a short-term overreaction to the half-point rate cut by the Fed. I think SRS will be back up to $105/share within a few months.

This is my personal speculation; it is not investment advice, do your own research.

smf said...

"what happened to our boom?"

It exploded.

Imagine an explosion. You have the rapid rise first, then all the parts fall back to earth.

Yep! This was a boom.

BMac said...

mmmm.... I smell Spam.

HOUSE2008 said...

*sniff* bmac.noooo *sniff* smf noooo... *sniff* wimpyvo2max, Whooa. BACON!!!!

patient renter said...

..."People were predicting we'd be out this in a year," he said. "Obviously that's not the case. We're now saying it could be another year to 18 months."

I expect that statement will be revised at least 3 more times before all is said and done. Sigh..

Unknown said...

bmac, smf: My post isn't spam. I'm not pumping the SRS fund. I have no interest or position in SRS, although I may buy some next week. I'm just a Sacramento Land(ing) reader who spotted an investment idea related to the declining R.E. market and decided to share it here.

I realize that not everyone is knowledgeable about these types of investments. It's true that spammers send out garbage pumping penny stocks. OTOH you'll never see spammers pimping Exchange Traded Funds -- they are too big, too neutral and too liquid for any one person or entity to try and pump and dump.

Wimpy "100% spam free" VO2max

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

Back in 2005 I told all the people on (Elk Grove Online) that the greedy developers, "amateur hour Bay Area investors" and ghetto mentality knuckle draggers are what will cause the Elk Grove market to head into the tank.

Most of these idiot investors don't even know what a Gross Rent Multiplier are and how to use comparables.

Drive out those idiot investors and thug wannabees and reclaim your neighborhoods.

The neighborhood mentioned in the WSJ article will have rougly 10% of the houses being in foreclosure by the end of 2008.

Currently there are 800 homes in preforeclosure or already REO - taken back by the bank in that area out of 10,000 homes.

blackwomanblogging said...

I live in the Franklin Reserve neighborhood and was once active with the neighborhood association. I, too, sounded the alarm about the absentee Bay Area investor landlords about a year ago, as 39% of the homes on the block where I used to rent were owned by Bay Area investors, including my own landlord. I moved from that block to another in the area, but I'm still renting. And I'm glad I rented instead of bought. I'd be in a world of hurt if I paid what many folks paid for their homes given the state of things. I had neighbors who would barbecue in their driveway, party late night in the backyards, and play loud music from their car stereos in their driveways. Luckily, the street I live on now is much quieter, and I can't help but believe it's because there are a lot fewer renters. My husband and I moved here from a home he owned, so I think we totally get the concept of being a good neighbor. Many renters who have never owned don't, and even some first-time homeowners don't. Not all, but many.

As a renter in the Franklin Reserve neighborhood, I was somewhat disappointed that more homeowners weren't active in the neighborhood association given that they had more at stake than I did as a renter. IMHO, the neighborhood association and its efforts at code enforcement are the neighborhood's only hope given the high number of foreclosures in the area. But if anyone can see the neighborhood through to better times, it's Susan McDonald.

Unknown said...


That's a very interesting post. My question is, how much of the Dow Jones Real Estate Index is attributable to residential properties? My concern is that if it's only a small fraction, and if the general economy is strong enough to withstand the sub-prime bust, the commercial properties would not suffer significantly, which means the Dow Jones RE index does not have much more room for falling.

Unknown said...

Thanks wont. You're right, the DJREI is diversified and consists of commercial, retail and residential REITs. Top holdings include Simon Properties, Vornado, Prologis, Archstone-Smith, Boston Properties and Equity Residential. If you think only residential will go down and the other REITs will do fine, then SRS won't go down much more from here.

Me, I believe the credit crunch and loose money also impacts retail and commercial RE. Also, as consumer spending drops due to foreclosures, retail and commercial will hurt too. And so I think SRS will go up because most of the holdings will go sour, IMHO.