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Category Archive: ‘Foreclosures’

99 Homes

The foreclosure movie ’99 Homes’ is out – here is the review from Variety:

Here is what the had to say:

“99 Homes,” a gripping, intelligent thriller set amid the bursting of the nation’s housing bubble, zeroes in on the ruination of the American dream and the morally bankrupt characters who profited from the carnage. Like “The Grapes of Wrath,” it’s a classic example of how to take a social issue and turn it into riveting cinema.

The story opens in an Orlando, Fla., bathroom, where a family man has just killed himself to avoid the specter of being thrown out of his foreclosed home. Not long after the yellow police tape has been set up, real estate broker Rick Carver (the incomparable Michael Shannon) is prowling the premises, with an e-cigarette in his mouth, a cell phone in his ear and a gun attached to his ankle. Carver needs to make sure that the dead man’s grieving wife and kids are shooed off the grounds, so he can keep his banker clients happy.

Then it’s off to another residence, where Carver’s next victim awaits: down-on-his-luck construction worker Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield, back in top form after his “Spider-Man” foray), his mother (the always reliable Laura Dern) and his son. It’s the first of many evictions in this movie, and director Ramin Bahraini imbues all of them with a palpable sense of terror, anguish and heartbreak.

As it turns out, Carver sees a lot of leadership potential in the handyman Nash, who ends up striking a Faustian deal in which he helps the ruthless broker with evictions in exchange for financial help. Because of Garfield’s skill, and the strength of the script, we sympathize with the desperate Nash and his love for his home, even as he forecloses on his moral values.

Likewise, Shannon provides interesting shadings to Carver. On the surface, he’s Gordon Gekko with a “Miami Vice” outfit, but it’s clear that Carver doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing or view it simply as a way to get rich. Instead, he sees himself as a player trying to survive in a game that’s been rigged against 99 percent of the population. Shannon manages to convey an inner loneliness, a quiet desperation that he’s gone too far but can’t turn back.

The movie trailer:

Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Foreclosures, Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Real Estate Investing | 1 comment

The Next Ten Years


A big shout out to the commenters on Thursday’s 10th Anniversary Show – your involvement is appreciated!  Rob Dawg suggested that the next ten years will be more interesting – indeed!

What about the next ten years?

Let’s start with identifying where buyers are today – they have arrived.

The inventory of homes for sale is online, and available to everyone 24/7.  The gadgets and gizmos help buyers explore each house thoroughly, and in the future those gimmicks should expand to include full 360-degree video tours, heat-imagery scans, mortgage history, inspection reports, history of insurance claims, title reports , etc.  Most of these are available now, but not for widespread consumer use.

But are buyers interested in more stuff?

The analytical buyers will love digging around for more data, but most people will be happy reviewing a few photos or video before ordering a personal tour. Once there, gut instinct and emotions take over, and an offer is made.  The listing agent will then dictate how much you will pay, and if acceptable, then the deal is made.  Hopefully you like the price, because for the most part, it isn’t very negotiable.

Wouldn’t that change if we transition back to a buyer’s market?

It might soften up a bit, but note this fact:

Everyone in the real-estate-selling business is on the sellers’ side.  Why?  Because nobody gets paid unless sellers say so – and they only agree when they are mostly happy about getting their price.

It is different now – there aren’t distress sales in popular areas, and we know that if people get in trouble, foreclosures are unlikely – they will get bailed out instead by the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights and government support. Hence, we are stuck with elective sellers – especially in popular areas.

Besides, nobody will side with buyers, unless a fee-only or hourly pay structure is implemented.  But buyers are very reluctant to commit to an open-ended pay package when all they want to do is look at a few houses for sale.

So we have a lop-sided playing field, with agents and vendors (escrow, title insurance, banks, appraisers, portals, etc.) on the sellers’ side, hoping to coax buyers into paying the right price. If the buyers aren’t willing to pay the happy price, they are told to go back to the sidelines – because confronting the seller about going down in price is almost unheard of these days (it’s easier and more dramatic to act offended).

The one thing that could bring a wholesale change to this equation is the auction format.  But that would just level the playing field, and give buyers a more-equitable shot at paying a fair price – though it could be more!

In the meantime, these could happen:

  1. A big disruptor could come in and break the mold.  But it would only be a platform of sorts, and somebody’s staff will still need to do the work of sales.
  2. Realtors love to spoon their new listings to their buddies at under-market prices and get both sides of the commission.  Could we see a district attorney take down a few of the worst offenders over the next ten years, and teach the industry a lesson?  Yes.
  3. A national MLS will likely develop, which will create a uniform presentation of the listings across the country.  But don’t we already have that with Zillow?  There might be jostling between portals, but the eyeballs will follow the best.
  4. Zillow could develop a brokerage side, and would be able to sell it easily.
  5. Any discount brokerage could rise to prominence, if they are willing to advertise like crazy.  The brokerage that advertises the most, will win the game – Zillow has shown how good advertising trumps all.
  6. Better and more efficient transportation (battery cars) combined with working at home could allow for housing developments to be built further out.
  7. Zestimates become accepted as close enough.  Buyers don’t care about pricing precision, they just want a house.
  8. First-time buyers dominate the market – primarily foreigners.  Those who already have a house here aren’t as desperate, and won’t pay as much.
  9. Multi-generational buyers will increase – they would rather combine finances to afford better housing, than to live where they can afford separately.
  10. Reality TV fluff continues to be popular, and helps to form opinions.
  11. Real estate smarts keep you on the sidelines – the less-informed are making the market.
  12. Prices keep going up.

After the big downturn, the San Diego Case-Shiller Index is lower than it was ten years ago.  Where do you think it will be in 2025?

Case-Shiller San Diego history

P.S. Speaking of disruptors, remember what Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. (h/t Jorge)

Posted by on Sep 28, 2015 in Forecasts, Foreclosures, Jim's Take on the Market, The Future | 5 comments

Kitchen-Sink Foreclosure Avoidance

Hat tip to daytrip for sending this along:

Eric Mains is fulfilling a dream many Americans have had since the onset of the financial crisis seven years ago: He’s attacking fraud in the banking industry as aggressively as he can, using every possible tool under the law to achieve justice —and win some money back for himself.

Mains, a former team leader with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), has become so bitterly embroiled in a six-year dispute with his mortgage lender that he left the regulatory agency, fearing that he might have to eventually name it as a defendant in a federal lawsuit. He’s one of a small yet determined band of people still fighting foreclosure (the seizure of property) cases with obscure and sometimes arcane arguments, built on a simple yet mind-blowing premise: The true ownership of millions of mortgages issued during the housing bubble was fatally corrupted, and now it’s impossible to prove who actually legally controls those mortgages.

Recent Supreme Court precedent suggests that by rescinding his mortgage—canceling it, basically—Mains and people like him can put the onus on banks to prove they have the right to assets like his house in the first place. If Mains or his allies succeed, they would rip open a wound that virtually everyone in power has tried to stitch up and forget. But such a long-awaited victory wouldn’t make up for the years of stress and personal hardship Mains has suffered, including a failed marriage and now the end of his career in public service.

“I had to ask myself a question: Will I do this no matter if it hurts?” Mains told me. “I said yes. If I can afford to fight these suckers and bring this illegality to light, that’s why I went to law school.”

Mains has gotten divorced, lost custody of his kid, and wound up in the hospital – read the full article here:

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Bailout, Foreclosures, Foreclosures/REOs | 4 comments

Foreclosure Counts

A certain foreclosure-subscription company is always rattling their sabre about any uptick in notices.  The headline for this article is: Early Stage Foreclosure Filings up Nationwide and in Most States:

But with the banks engrossed with loan-modding anyone who can fog a mirror, the only thing that matters is how many actual foreclosures are being completed.  Buried deep in the article:

The dip in total filings was due to a 10 percent reduction in bank repossessions or completed foreclosures compared to October.  A total of 25,249 properties were taken into bank inventories or REO, down 17 percent from November 2013.

It was the 24th consecutive month in which completed foreclosures were lower on a year-over-year basis.

The national count of completed foreclosures has been dropping for two years straight!  Bill showed how delinquencies have been tapering off too:

Regardless of how it happened, it looks like a soft landing that will last – at least as long as rates are ultra-low.

Here is how the local San Diego County numbers look:

San Diego County Filings
San Diego County Trustee-Sale Results
SD County Defaults by Est. Value
Days to Foreclose and Resell - SD County

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Foreclosure Count, Foreclosures, Foreclosures/REOs | 4 comments

Foreclosure Limboland

Reader elbarcosr noted that the latest default list was the longest in recent memory, and wondered if the foreclosure market might be coming back to life.

Let’s hope so!

If the NAR would have been looking out for realtors, they would have insisted that the foreclosure process be allowed to run its course, and clear the market.  Instead, they lobbied for foreclosure-rescue programs from the government, and now we have a mushy unknown distressed market – again. is one of the culprits, and we just don’t know what to expect from them, other than mis-direction.  Back in June, we saw them try to auction a tenant-occupied home that Chase has owned since 2011:


It never closed escrow, and has never been on the MLS – instead, it’s another bank-owned property sent to foreclosure purgatory. is also known for conducting price discovery for NationStar on their short sales. will market the home and conduct online bidding even though the seller has a written contract with a buyer.  Nationstar has a right to sell their short sales for top dollar, and this process helps to expose any shady dealings by the listing agent, but it doesn’t help the reputation of

Though is the most visible player in the foreclosure market, we can’t judge the trend by their advertising.  What matters most is whether the lenders and servicers are going to liquidate any remaining defaulted properties, especially now that prices are up?

Has Nationstar or other servicers been ramping up production in light of the higher prices?  Not really – here are the notices issued over the last 12 months in San Diego County:

San Diego County Filings

The foreclosure market has been rife with speculation and intrigue, but we always seem to end up with a nothing-burger.  But I’m giving it another chance – I signed up to be a Zillow foreclosure specialist, figuring it can only get better from here. 😆

I’ll be on flood watch!

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Foreclosure Count, Foreclosures, Foreclosures/REOs, Jim's Take on the Market | 2 comments

Mortgage-Debt Tax Relief

Yesterday I saw a for-sale sign in front of an upcoming REO listing.  It made me wonder, “How many REO and short-sale listings of detached-homes have we had this year around NSDCC?  Here are the counts:

REO: 5

Short Sales: 43

Non-distressed: 3,516

There’s not much chance of finding a deal these days!


Here is the update on the Mortgage-Debt Tax Relief:

Read More

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Foreclosures, Short Sales, Short Selling | 0 comments

Doomer Report

This guy only sees negative in the real estate world.  He called me once trying to get me to bash the market, and when I refused, he hung up.  Even today he is still ranting:

Real estate analyst Keith Jurow, author of the Capital Preservation Real Estate Report, is warning that the real estate market is not as strong as it seems.

Says Jurow: “I never bought into the idea that we had a recovery at all.” His research leads him to conclude that home prices will be heading lower.

His research? Because the Case-Shiller Index is still rising, just not as fast – that means prices will be heading lower?  There are plenty of reasons you could use to justify the doomer position (wars, unemployment, unaffordability, earthquakes, etc.), but smaller increases are a weak excuse.

He also thinks we will still have a surge of foreclosed properties to come, just because their are so many people delinquent.  But once you miss a few payments and ruin your credit, the delinquent homeowners might as well ride it out until they get the boot.

How are the San Diego foreclosures?

Some said they dropped off because of the Homeowners Bill of Rights, which was released two years ago and became law on January 1, 2013.   The bansk have had plenty of time to adjust – here’s how they are doing:

San Diego County Filings

San Diego County Trustee-Sale Results

It’s hard to believe that people just go back to making their payments, whether they get a loan mod or not.  The banks will wait until they can make money by foreclosing, which around the coastal markets, should be after another 10% appreciation or so.  Until then, why foreclose and lose money?

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Foreclosures, Foreclosures/REOs, Jim's Take on the Market, No-Foreclosure as Banking Policy | 10 comments

SD Foreclosure Counts

The decline in foreclosures continues, but the pundits and media don’t really look into it much further.  Here is the best quote they could come up with in this article, linked below (hat tip to Stormin’):

“We have now registered two and a half years of continuous decreases in the number of homeowners who are in some stage of the foreclosure process. This consistent decline means fewer Americans are experiencing the distress of delinquency and default,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

The foreclosure notices and the number of properties actually foreclosed have dropped considerably in San Diego County.

San Diego County Filings

San Diego County Trustee-Sale Results

We have had 1,500 to 2,207 notices sent out per quarter over the last 12 months, but only 450-610 properties foreclosed per quarter.  The big gap makes you think that the banks/servicers are still throwing loan mods at anyone who wants one, and cancelling any notices soon thereafter.

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Foreclosure Count, Foreclosures, Foreclosures/REOs, No-Foreclosure as Banking Policy | 1 comment