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Category Archive: ‘Uncategorized’

Home-Value Toy

redfunnThe red team has a new gimmick.

It is another home-value estimator, but unlike Zillow, you can plug in your own comps and come up with a customized estimate.

It does resemble reality by allowing sellers to use their favorite highest comps, and discard the low ones.

It is a fun toy, but it won’t have any impact on the market.  Buyers aren’t going to care about the seller’s tweaked estimate of value, and to offset, they will generate their own lower version.

The R-team is in position to dominate the real estate world because they are operating alone in the space.  They could expedite the process by employing great salespeople - otherwise they will just be like the rest, hoping to win on quantity, instead of quality.

Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Boat House Tour


ENCINITAS —- People who have long wondered whether the city’s beloved “boat” houses look as nautical on the inside as they do on the outside will have a chance to find out Saturday.

For one day only, and for perhaps for the first time in the city’s history, one of the two “boats” is open for public tours.

“This is a one-time opportunity,” said Peder Norby, who is helping organize Saturday’s open house event for the Encinitas Preservation Association. “This is something that probably won’t happen again for many, many years.”

Tours, which will occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., cost $10 per person or $20 for a family.

Link to full article:

Posted by on Mar 17, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Pre-Short-Sale Pricing

Fannie Mae tests ‘short sales’ as alternative to foreclosures
ORLANDO, Fla. – Fannie Mae has launched pilot projects in Orlando and Phoenix intended to reduce foreclosures by pre-approving short sales – agreeing on a price and the loss the bank will take prior to a deal even being made. Fannie Mae hopes the program will improve the popularity of short sales with real estate agents, who now tend to shun such deals.
Property professionals initially welcomed short sales, but soon found the process to be a frustrating one. Thanks to squabbling about the sale price and slow approval times by the mortgage companies, many short sales often ended with no sale at all.
“Short sales have received such a bad reputation among real estate agents that, as a portion of the overall mortgage market, they have gone down,” confirms Tom Popik of the research firm Campbell Communications, whose November survey of realty practitioners found that agents had to wait as long as 8.1 weeks to receive a response from the lender on a short sale – nearly double the 4.5 weeks the process took earlier in the year.
Fannie Mae’s pilot program focuses on homes listed at less than the mortgage balance that carry a Fannie Mae-backed loan serviced by Countrywide Financial Corp.  If successful, the pre-short-sale pricing concept could be expanded to other geographical areas and additional lenders.
There are concerns, however, about the program’s success, with real estate agents noting that property prices could decline before the pre-approval is issued.

Posted by on Jan 21, 2009 in Uncategorized | 9 comments

Flipper in O-hain

Remember this one?

The owner was part of a big SEC investigation over short-selling and stock manipulation, and was sentenced to 11 years in jail.  His conviction was upheld last month.

He had bought this 6,412sf house new in 2001 for $2,200,000.  Because of his ‘detention’, his mortgage fell in arrears, and he was sent a trustee sale notice.

The attorney thought there would be a bidding war on the courthouse steps and would get bid up into the mid-$2 millions.  He said that if the trustee sale did occur, he’d send his guy down to buy it.

Not sure if there’s a connection, but it was bought for $1,857,854 on the courthouse steps on 2/22/08.  Keith heard that there were no other bidders at the auction, and that the new owners planned to offer it for sale in 6 weeks – for $2.45 million.

That was last February.

It finally listed it last week - for $3,900,000.

It’s open today from 10:30 to 2:00, if you’d like to go by for a look – they cleaned the pool!

3371 Calle Tres Vistas.

Posted by on Jan 21, 2009 in Uncategorized | 9 comments

I-15 Corridor Report


With median prices for detached homes down more than 35 percent in San Diego County year-over-year in November, areas like Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch and Tierrasanta have mostly endured moderate declines while seeing fewer sales in the process.

Areas with median prices above $500,000 but less than $1 million have seen prices fall an average of 11.7 percent year over year. However, they have seen 16.4 percent fewer sales compared to 2007.

Some real estate agents said the prices have remained relatively stable in those communities considering the county had only six ZIP codes where there was an increase in detached median home prices. The prices have not fallen as sharply as some other areas because “typical” buyers in that sector of the market have not changed.

While year-over-year sales have increased by as much as 156 percent in markets where prices have fallen by a third or more, sales in upper-middle-class neighborhoods like Tierrasanta and Scripps Ranch have seen slight sales declines coupled with their modest median price drops.

Saeid Mojabi, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent of more than 25 years, said Tierrasanta saw one of its worst years in sales. While he added Tierrasanta’s median detached home price decline was “not as much” as areas like Chula Vista and Oceanside, he said there are still homes in distress.

“There is major activity in foreclosures and short sales,” he said.  Mojabi currently has a short sale listing for a Tierrasanta home priced at $590,000 that he served as the buyer’s agent when it was purchased in 2006 for $720,000. 

However, some agents said they have not witnessed the drop in prices and sales for mid-range homes as much as Mojabi.  Maria Peña-Morales, president of the Team Q group of ReMax Ranch and Beach, said her team has seen sales increase in the $500,000 to $600,000 range calling that housing class the “bread and butter” of her business.

Peña-Morales conducts business primarily in areas encompassed by the Poway Unified School District, which boasts some of the highest test scores in the county. She said good schools always draw people looking for a place to raise their children.

Scripps Ranch’s median detached home price is just over $700,000; more than double the countywide median.

However, Sue Herndon, a Prudential California Realtor, said there are still people who want and can afford homes in the upper-middle range of the market.  “I think we have people who can afford them,” said Herndon. “I think that that’s still an affordable (price range), I think what’s going to be more difficult are what you would consider you’re high, high priced homes.”  Herndon added homes in the $2 million to $8 million range would be difficult to sell given the current economic climate, but said there is still a thriving market for homes under $1 million.

Buyer demographics in terms of age, martial status and income haven’t changed much, but what has changed is that buyers are more qualified.  “We’re going back to what our parents taught us,” said Peña-Morales. “Save up your money, put 20 percent down and have good credit.”  Peña-Morales also said she has seen more international buyers looking for second homes who perceive value in the current market. She said they are looking for homes to own for the long term rather than investment properties.

“The climate of this economy is not for people to flip properties,” she said.

Posted by on Jan 6, 2009 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

Modern-Day Hero

Harry Markopolos first had suspicions about Bernard Madoff’s work back in 1999, and pursued the case ever since.  Here is the Wall Street Journal’s story.

In early 2000, Mr. Markopolos shared his explosive concerns with Edward Manion, a staff examiner at the SEC’s Boston office.  In his documents, Mr. Markopolos said that there’s a chance “I’m an idiot for wasting your time.” But he argued forcefully that “I believe an SEC visit is warranted” to look into Mr. Madoff’s practices.

“This sounds serious,” Mr. Manion told him, inviting Mr. Markopolos in for a meeting.

In May 2000, Mr. Markopolos says he sat down with Mr. Manion and an SEC attorney.

Mr. Markopolos argued his case: A key part of Mr. Madoff’s strategy relied on buying and selling options on the Standard & Poor’s 100-stock index. But Mr. Markopolos said his research showed there weren’t enough S&P-100 options in existence at the time to support Mr. Madoff’s stated strategy, given all the money he seemed to be managing. So something else must be going on.

Mr. Markopolos, a native of Erie, Pa., who had trained in “unconventional warfare,” including intelligence gathering, as a reservist in the Army, says he came to “consider Madoff a domestic enemy.”

What a story – it should be a movie!


Posted by on Dec 18, 2008 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Free Advice

N.A.R. is touting their plan to stimulate the housing market:

  • Make the $7500 first-time homebuyer tax credit available to all buyers and eliminate repayment requirements. The credit’s limited availability and repayment requirement severely limit the credit’s use and effectiveness.
  • Make the 2008 FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits permanent. New rules for 2009 will reduce them. Now is not the time to limit mortgage affordability.
  • Get the Treasury relief program back on track and target more funds to mortgage relief. Create a federal mortgage interest buy-down program to make below-market rates available and stabilize home prices.
  • Permanently bar banks from engaging in real estate brokerage and management. The banks have proved they have enough to do to simply manage the loan process. Banks should not manage home sales and purchases.

The first and fourth ideas are a joke, but #2 and #3 could help the market without an unfair bailout.

What can the Obama administration do to help?  There are two caveats; we know the government will want to throw money at the problem, and we know tax revenues will probably need to be increased.  What policies can they implement to achieve the best results?

Here’s my list:

  1. Leave the Fannie/Freddie limits where they are, and have FHA/VA match ($546,250 in SD).
  2. Commit to ‘mortgage rates in the 4.5% to 5.5% range’.  The market has miraculously achieved this on its own, but to hear that the government will provide support to keep rates that low will keep buyers from making hasty decisions to buy.  Re-evaluate every six months.
  3. Feds adopts California’s CC2923.5, giving delinquent homeowners three notices in 30 days to provide loan modification help and credit counseling. If no resolution after 30 days, foreclosure proceedings begin.  No “foreclosure freeze”.
  4. No short sales of federally-insured mortgages.  Make your payments or get foreclosed.
  5. Waive or suspend ARM resets or recasts. Neg-am loans will take care of themselves, I/Os to streamline refinance without an appraisal if well qualified.  Avoids major meltdown without costing taxpayers a bundle.
  6. Raise long-term capital gains tax back to 20% (from 15% now)
  7. Change the two-out-of-five-year tax benefit to $150,000 for singles, and $300,000 for couples.  The market has knocked down equity positions, so this shouldn’t bother too many folks.  We have to identify tax-generating possibilities somewhere, and the original bill sparked too much speculation, let’s reduce that in the future.
  8. New restrictions: Minimum five-year teaser rate periods for ARMs, and mortgage originators to have a fiduciary duty to their borrowers.

These would hopefully spend the least amount of taxpayers money, yet provide some  general stimulus to the housing market. 

When President Obama steps up to the podium on January 20th, what do you want to hear him say?  I’ll send him the package tomorrow.

Posted by on Dec 17, 2008 in Uncategorized | 31 comments

South San Marcos

The 92078 zip code is south San Marcos, which is a cheaper alternative to neighboring Carlsbad. Currently there are seven 3,000sf or more SFRs listed for $550,000 or less. In this neighborhood of Old Creek Ranch there are 10 active listings starting in the low-$500,000 – four are REOs, three are short sales, and the highest three are builder inventory.

Here is what one of the pendings looks like – sold in 2005 for $695,000, now listed for $525,000 (the models sold for $800,000+). Some call this area ‘dump-adjacent’, but the old landfill is at least a mile away.

Posted by on Dec 11, 2008 in Uncategorized | 23 comments

Non-Owners Deserve a Break?

from Investors Business Daily:

Investors struggling to make mortgage payments get little help staving off foreclosure, while strapped primary-home borrowers receive more — including unsolicited loan-modification offers.

Lenders and government agencies have started a number of programs to make loans easier to afford. Yet every plan has the stated goal of helping just homeowners borrowing for “owner-occupied” properties.

Investors are never mentioned, but own nearly a third of homes in the foreclosure process, data on default and auction-sale notices, bank repossessions and the like suggest.

It has led some observers to question whether the foreclosure tide can really be tamed, absent some aid to investors.

Players Sidelined

Rick Sharga, senior vice president at foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac, thinks all borrowers should be eligible for loan modifications.

“I can’t think of a single reason that you wouldn’t extend these loan-modification programs to investors,” he said. “Why not extend the net out as broadly as possible, rather than flood the market with more bank repossessions?”

The latest RealtyTrac data show that in October, U.S. foreclosure filings rose 25% from a year ago to 279,561. Of those, 86,664, about 31%, were on investor-owned properties.

But investment properties are apt to comprise more like half of home foreclosures, in the view of mortgage auditor Moe Bedard, president of Loan Safe Solutions, in Corona, Calif. That’s because, he says, many borrowers don’t tell the lender that a property is an investment.

A few lenders offer to do short sales and deeds-in-lieu (of foreclosure) for some investment-property owners, says homeowners’ loan consultant Eric Rice, chief executive of DyerBeech Enterprises, in San Diego. But he says loan modifications — such as reducing an interest rate or extending the term — have been rare and slow to proceed.

Out of 100 housing investors looking for loan modifications, he says maybe 15 will receive them and it usually takes “five to six months.”

“It’s not helping anyone by not helping everyone,” he said.

But Mark Leyes, spokesman for the California Department of Corporations, says the foreclosure problem is so large, lenders and government agencies have had to focus their approach. The department has been working with 10 California lenders to encourage loan modifications.

“It’s not escaped our notice (that investors aren’t addressed), but our focus has been on owner-occupied properties. We’re trying to preserve people’s homes,” Leyes said.

Sharga thinks some lenders have wrongly shunned investors as scapegoats for housing’s bubble and bust.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s primary focus has been on helping borrowers who are owner-occupants, thus “stabilizing neighborhoods,” according to Andrew Gray, a spokesman for the agency.

“These loans are well-suited for a streamlined process where the borrower’s income and property value can be readily documented,” he said. Investment homes “require more attention on a loan-by-loan basis.”

Numbers Game

In the view of some loan-modification specialists, halting as many foreclosures as possible is the best way to address the slide in real estate prices, and collateral damage such as reduced property-tax rolls, underfunded schools and destroyed neighborhoods.

Rice, for instance, says when an investor loses a home to foreclosure it hurts two parties — the renter who gets evicted from it and the investor.

He suggests that lenders temporarily reduce installment amounts investor-owners pay. “A permanent change isn’t deserved, but a three- to five-year plan would make sense to get payments down to a break-even level (with rents) while we get through this crisis,” he said.

Sometimes, getting borrowers to come forward and seek a loan modification can be a problem because they don’t want to admit they’re in trouble, says Salvatore Buscemi, managing director of Dandrew Capital Partners, a distressed-real-estate investment fund in New York.

Treading Water

Buscemi buys defaulted paper and repossessed properties from lenders. He says he’ll negotiate with any owner on a mortgage he holds — an investor or primary resident. But he says investors walk away more often than owner-occupants, as “it doesn’t hurt them emotionally.”

Bedard, who has many investor clients, calls aid bias toward owner-occupants unfair. Many investors “just want to work it out to where they’re not underwater,” he said.

An investor might hold five or 50 homes, he says, so saving those can have more market impact than saving one primary residence.

Investor Jae Kim, with four Arizona homes, is working with Bedard’s firm to seek aid. Four months into negotiating with his lenders, he still can’t tell if his loans will be modified.

“I think every borrower should be treated the same,” he said. “They’ve all put their hard-earned money in, whether it’s for a retirement home, investment or primary home.”

Posted by on Dec 6, 2008 in Uncategorized | 36 comments