Friday, February 27, 2009

Daily Breeze on South Bay LA home sales

Hat tip to Ben Jones' excellent HBB blog.

I find it very interesting that less than 30 homes sold on the PV Peninsula last month. There are 313 on the market as of last night. I haven't been tracking the inventory much this year (I'll get better), but have 277 homes for sale in the four cities that make up the PV on 1/5/2009, 297 on 2/1/2009, and 309 on 2/23/2009.

The LA times lists the January sales as 9 single family and 3 condos (from DQnews).

277/12=23.08 months of inventory. Now, I expect some spring improvement, but its very unlikely we'll drop below a year of inventory in 2009.

I think we're approaching a local capitualation as Realtors (like the one in the daily breeze article) are now conceeding 2009 is a lost cause. They're swamped with desperate sellers and very few buyers.

I think its the perfect time for the Screen Actors to rattle their saber. Will they strike? I double dog dare them. ;) (The blowhards are powerless.) edit: I have friends who work the film industry. I do not take joy in what's happening, but the SAG had over a year to be sensible and instead they were stupid. This once powerful union went from feared to sidelined in less than four years. If they strike, many middle class individuals will be hit hard. The 'big name' actors are effectively corporations that will be fine. Just the threat of a strike forced industry wide cutbacks for the entire 1Q 2009. Let's see how SAG handles commercials. This will make or break the union. There was a lot more money flowing around when negotiations first started. Now they're going to be fighting over the scraps instead of the ribeye steak.

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edit: One of my coworkers bought on the PV peninsula in February. He knows of other February 'sales' that went pending amoung his friends. So I expect sales in February to be much better than January. But not enough to drop the inventory enough to matter. There are too many homes overpriced by $1M+ over what the market will bear today. But I bet the Realtors will spin this. March sales will show us how truly broken the market is.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Case Shiller

Case-Shiller just published their December results. Its a bit scary. Since other blogs do a better job of discussing the 10 and 20 city results, I'm going to focus just on the last 3 cities that remained about 200: LA, DC, and Miami. They are all crashing and going down together.

The chart of the three is here. But its going to be the next chart that tells the story:

What is the trend of the monthly losses for each region? Amazingly, they are behaving very similarly. This implies that its a national phenomenon. Its not 'different here.' Now, we're at the point of rolling losses. I'm watching the ex-urbs of LA almost stabilize (they're still dropping) while the inner core is now pulling down Case-Shiller. Where I want to buy, my wife is seeing 30k to 50k drops per Month!

Notice how all three cities have stabilized at about a 2.5% drop per month? Also note the last spring selling season. For March through July, the rate of drop decreased during the seasonal 'sellers market.' It wouldn't surprise me if DC's rate of drop went to near zero during the selling season. I suspect Miami and LA will show much smaller 'seller season' trends in 2009.

August through February is the 'buyers season.' Its very clear on last year's Case-Shiller derivative. The only question is how will employment and the overall economy effect buying?

We've had two straight years of declining home values. I stand by my prediction that 2009 will be the most brutal year for price drops nationally. With the Asian markets now net sellers of Fannie and Freddie backed bonds... The 729k 'conforming jumbo' is a bit of a joke. They're going to be tough to aquire.

Do note that in the case of LA, these 2.5%/month price drops were occuring while everything possible was being done to slow down the entry of foreclosures onto the market. All those stupid laws have done is:

1. Tighten up mortgage rules
2. Delay the introduction of inventory until the spring buying season (which I call 'sellers season' as it is the best time to sell a home during the year).

Some areas will fall harder than the cities I ploted. I have no desire to beat up on Detroit, so I'll do no more than mention it. Las Vegas is doomed. Same with Phoenix; both are dropping faster than the examples listed.

Doing some simple charting, we won't see an increase in Case-Shiller before the 2011 selling season. There is quite a bit of downside potential between now and then. Oh, if you get the bargain of a lifetime, go ahead and buy. I'm going to wait until 2010. I still see price drops ahead greater than $100k. Thus, its not yet time to buy.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

California passes a budget

Yahoo article

The one tax increase I was hugely in favor of, the gas tax increase, was removed at the last minute. Ugh. Yes, I'm a bit obsessed in my belief that our trade deficit is part of what made this mess. Oil is far to large a component of that deficit to not make strategic policy changes to cut consumption.

Many of the other tax increases... I consider a problem.

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. -- Winston Churchill

Wise taxes and tariffs have a role. I would have supported up to a 50 cent per gallon increase in gasoline taxes! We need better roads, a bus system, and even rail. (I expect two people to dislike the last: my best friend and Rob Dawg.) Then again, I have relatives who design rail projects and if they could be installed from precast (in a factory) concrete assemblies, it actually makes economic sense. ;) Assuming you also build bus terminals to anchor major destinations (e.g., LAX, union station, Burbank airport, etc.)

I'm glad there is a budget. I'm just very upset the wisest tax in the whole package was cut. The only problem is that in six months the state will have to panic and put together a revised budget to handle the further drops in income, capital gains, sales, and property taxes.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skiing in the Netherworld?

Ok, I'm about to recommend an article in the OCRegister's Real estate section.
I'd better check on season tickets for skiing in the afterlife... ;)

The Article

Let's see... bottom in 2010...

No price appreciation before 2013...

Hmmm... I would slide the 2010 to 2011, but gee, we finally have a post that removes the 'six month' blinders! I'm shocked!

Oh, on bidding wars, I'm noticing that has cropped up on the HBB blog today. There are too many pigs going through this python. Too many surplus homes. We've talked before how these lies would keep cropping back up...

A little reminder on my thinking:
I'm still planning, assuming I'm employed then, to buy in 2010. Now... I'm also assuming homes drop most of the remaining 30% they should be dropping by then too. If not... I'll wait.

As to bidding wars, I'm not going to ever believe that. Even if true, what's the worst that happens? You find the next good home.

Bidding wars do not become common until inventory drops below 3 months. Be really suspicious if you shop during these high inventory times and people discuss bidding wars. Oh... under-market priced short sales, foreclosures, and estate sales will probably attract bidders. One wise seller, in a down market back in 1992, noted that if you price your home initially at 97% of market price, you should expect to sell for 102% of the current market price. He sold at 103% of what we agreed was a fair market price.

I'm going to consider finding the place listed at 102% of market price and bid below market. How much further below 'market' will depend on the conditions then. There is always a market clearing price. So sellers with 100% equity can always sell. So Mr. Banker... what's the sales price? ;)

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Optimism for future?

There are many indixes still cliff diving.

But one I've been posting on a while is showing some recovery,
the baltic dry index:

Now, I'll be excited when this breaks 2,500 from its current 1,895. At that point mothballed ships will be pulled out of port and put back to use. It implies the rate of ship mothballing should be slowing.

Part of the reason I'm posting this is the bearish blogs have been invaded by people who seem to want a depression. There is a huge difference between warning about one and wanting one. The whole point is to try and keep it to a 'deep recession' at worst. Some people want to see their 'political enemies' punished for no other reason than they think its their right. Ugh... that is very short sighted at best.

I've had people get very angry at me for not being pro-tax on taxes that would kill employment. Instead of debating economics, they make fun of voodoo economics. Fine. But I know of enough people who will lay off if their taxes are increased too much. This is the boiling frog syndrome. If you change things too fast, the frog will jump away.

There are taxes that I would like to see raised. I'm convinced the cash flow out of the USA to pay for oil is killing us economically. Recall that is far more money than we send to China and India! So raise the gasoline tax governator. Heck, I'm pro raising the car registration tax.

Build infrastructure to enhance the economy short and long term. How I wish the unions would allow pre-fabricated elevated buildings, road, or rail to be put in. For long term a city needs transportation to prosper. While we're at it, upgrade LAX, SFO, OAK, and build San Diego a proper airport (multi-runway with one runway long enough for long haul).

Mostly I'd like to see carpool/bus lanes built and bus terminal built analogous to the ones I've used in Europe and New York. I'm pro-rail, but the current system is so corrupt that rail is an economic nightmare. sigh... Why could they do it 100 years ago but not today?!?

Otherwise this will get worse. I've been investigating the 'Autobahn' method of stimulus. In that not only do you build infrastructure, but you force companies to assign workers to the project so that those companies are then forced to go out and hire new workers. Oh, mostly you take the unemployed. You then also work those workers under... harsh conditions that makes everyone glad they have a city job. The US' 'New deal' wasn't that bad. But I'm wondering if the US needs this sort of program to reteach a work ethic and to 'shut up and appreciate' what you have. I've read translations of letters written by lawyers forced to work the autobahn. Why do I bring this up? I do not want to go down the path Germany did... (Certainly not in certain extreme situations). But if you wish a depression... Don't expect those in control at the start to necessarily chose the path out.

So let's celibrate good news. We'll need it over the next 18 months. I'm done with schadenfreude. Oh, I want the worst criminals put in jail. But if you want to go after a large group, they will band together in an unpredictable way. Set up better laws and regulation.

And read Adam Smith. The latest people to invade the blogs are good at mocking. Yea for them, but so were the Realtors (tm) in 2005-2007. But its also obvious the new commentors haven't read the background text books. Not even Marx. They just want a change in society... that won't happen. Oh, society is going to change. But I've yet to see it go a way where Adam Smith doesn't get the last laugh after a few decades.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Not much has changed

I've been really busy in my personal life. So I haven't paid much attention to real estate. Emotions? They're strong here in California. Intense panic. But I see no evidence that nationally anything has moved on.

My last emotions post in December Seem as current as ever.

I missed tracking inventory for January. Oops. I'll update and then post.

I personally know good people losing their jobs. Outside of Healthcare and IT, I know of no industry hiring more than it is laying off.

I really hope things return to the 'deep recession' path.

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