Saturday, September 26, 2009

Local Sales (DQ)

The latest stats on home sales were released by DQ news (ok, I'm tardy blogging them). Basically the trend is a weak 2Q2009 home sales. Oh, the local REIC is trying to make it sound like its almost a seller's market.

It will be interesting to see how we do this winter. We're unlikely to see 2003 before late next year or early 2011 in 90505, 90274/90275, and 90277. But 90278 is almost there. A little winter weakness and it could be there...

With the huge fraction of California mortgages not being paid... its going to be interesting times ahead.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

DQ news, July

I mentioned before that July and November are two months where the data should be just lumped into the quarterly numbers. Unless something had really broken out, the data for those months can be very noisey.

So I charted data from Sales aren't great for a July. But nor were they bad.

Price per square foot is back to 2004/early 2005 levels. I notice 90278 is slipping back to 2003 values. This could be interesting.

From my perspective, I find the linear drop in price per square foot in 90275 very interesting. Its a linear trend down. $17/ft^2/MONTH! The trend was for zip codes of interest to be dropping $30/ft^2/YEAR! I will be very curious if this trend continues. Since 90278 and 90274 did not drop as 90275 did... I suspect its a trend that is about to be broken. As a potential buyer. :( But then again, one more month of this trend erases a bubble year, in four months!

Basically, nothing broke the downward trend. We have only August left of the 'sales months' of the year. Overall, the dq data (LA times) showed a lot of areas struggling to sell.

Got Popcorn? (Thanks for the icon on CR Ken!)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I've been lazy tracking inventory. One data point in a month. oh well... at least I have detailed past data to compare with. The quick summary is that inventory is starting to climb up in many areas, but is still low compared to the last few years.

Note: DC and Houston are starting to look quite healthy; since their job situation is 'ok,' they could be done with the downward trend. The only question is hidden inventory.

Here in California, 9% of the mortgages are in default. That's a HUGE hidden inventory. If those mortgages are fixed so that the 'owners' can afford the mortgage, that's the same as cutting the home sales price.

Note on the upgrade market: Its dead here in California. I do not expect it to return for 5 to 7 years. Since the areas I want to buy are at inventory levels at or near the levels before everything fell apart... and Alt-A is just starting to tickle the market... I'll wait.

I still think the bottom in prices (National and South Bay LA) will be February 2011. I expect a long 'churning flat' after then as ALT-A and prime implode. Between now and then... we exit this 'calm of the storm.' I'm coasting until I see the August data (in September). July is a non-event for Real Estate in California. No conclusions should be made off July data (good or bad, same is true for November). But to get through this storm, we have the seasonal October-February "Buyers Market" to get through.

Let's just say the OC Register's attempts to make it sound like bidding wars are the norm amuse me; the best strategy for a home seller is to price below market and let the market work (bids up the home to market). Yawn. I've been suggesting that strategy to sellers for two years. Now let them mention how many chase the market down...

Keep in mind Realtytrack's latest on foreclosures:
"In spite of the industry-wide [foreclosure] moratorium earlier this year, along with local, state and national legislative action and increased levels of loan modification activity, foreclosure activity continues to increase to record levels,” noted James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Unemployment-related foreclosures account for much of this increased activity, and the high number of borrowers who find themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes’ are now worth represent a potentially significant future risk…."

There is no Real estate price recovery until incomes improve.

But the whole point to my plotting data if for you to make your own conclusion. Just realize how hard it would be to do a worse investment than SoCal Real Estate during the last five years.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Local Sales Data

Home prices continue to drop. All of the zip codes I plot dropped in $/ft^2 terms. Only 90275 had decent sales volume (of course, where I wish to buy). I set up trend lines months ago on $/ft^2 and have not had any reason to adjust them. The market appreciated about $70 per square foot anually on the way up. Now its dropping at the rate of $30 per square food anually on the way down. Or is it...

May, June, or August are the three critical months of the local sales year. In terms of $/ft^2, May and June have been weak. This implies either buyer resistance/fear or that the market is about to capitualate. I think its the later, but the data does not *yet* prove it. It does look like 90275 has broken below $450/ft^2, but let us wait for August data to confirm that.

I should mention a little about the local selling seasons. I'll post July's data, but I'll warn you there are two months locally that do not deserve to have any conclusions made on their data: July and November. November is due to the holidays. The data could fluctuate any which way that month and it wouldn't tell us a thing. July is a weird month. Sales can spike or plummet in July and it would probably correlate best with vacation packages or the price of steaks at Costco; its certainly not a month that produces numbers of interest (locally). Yes, this July is also impacted by 'Bear Chits' (California IOU's) too. Hence, we'll make conclusions after August's data is available. February is the darkest month of the bad selling season (October-February). However, December does have a spike in closing, but I speculate that is just for tax advantage and does not compare to June-August closings. The exception being December 2007 (with the market turning south).

Another caution: While prices seem to be turning down since April at a faster pace, I would hesitate to make a conclusion before seeing the August data. If you cannot tell, I'm expecting no surprises that waiting buyers wouldn't like to see. But I'm not yet ready to declare a major change.

Note: Some friends & coworkers are noting its tougher to procure a mortgage above $417k locally too. Rumors are that mortgage insurance above $417k loans is tough to find. If that is the case, prices in this region of 10% down payments is going to make a huge belly flop. I suspect everything possible will be done to bring back the 'conforming jumbo' ASAP with 10% down. I do not think that any effort will work out, but the REIC will try. (I'm a fan of *real* down payments to stabilize a society.)

We could see the dollars per square foot drop pretty quickly soon... or it could be a blip. Stay tuned.

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The graphs:
Note that the slopes on the sales trendlines are calculated by excel:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I'm chuckling reading the comments from my last post. Yes, Inventory is down, but I still find it interesting. I also find there is a disconnect. Homes show up in the local MLS already with an offer. While I can only point to one agent doing this, I wonder, are homes being marketed before being put on the MLS? Significant? I doubt it, but interesting.

Ok, Inventory is way down. Everywhere I've been tracking. Heck Phoenix is below 40,000 (I lack detailed historical data as OCRenter used to have great data before that blog went private, so I didn't bother to track it.) Remember when it was 64,815 in Phoenix? 3/26/2008 is the peak I recorded. But there might be a day when it was fractionally higher. Today Phoenix is at 37,828!

Palm Beach (which by Ziprealty includes areas too far away to really be palm beach, but I was lazy and just used their inventory) peaked at 132,636 on 2/28/2008 (which was estimated to be a multi-year inventory at the time). Now its at 90,478. So Palm Beach county is still in deep chit.

Do note my south Bay LA only includes Torrance, Redondo Beach, RPV, PVE, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills estates. Yes I realize Hermosa and Manhattan beach would be among the high end areas... but I skipped to only tracking where I wish to consider buying.

Oh, I've been recording data since 11/9/2006 just for the record.

So in celibration of the Bear chit (California IOUs), I bring inventory graphs!