Movie Set?

At last; a bank-owned, newer one-story on a decent lot at an attractive price – only $164 per sf:

The previous owners refinanced in October, 2006, getting two loans that totaled $1,140,000. Six months later they got a new second, and another $60,000 cash-out, rounding off the indebtness to approximately $1,200,000.

Crack Consumption

Houses under $200,000 are blowing off the market, usually with multiple offers. This one closed yesterday, a 3br/1.5ba, 1,062sf house built in 1961 in virtually original condition, whose elderly owner just went off to assisted living:

The buyer of this house, an Arizonan, said,

“Where I come from all the slabs are cracked, even the ones on flat land”.

In the lower-end markets of Oceanside, it’s all about acquisition now, people just want to buy something, anything.

It’s addictive.

Government Gone Crazy

From today’s Union-Tribune:

12:24 p.m. May 29, 2009

— Thousands of first-time homebuyers will be able to get short-term loans so they can quickly make use of a new $8,000 tax credit to pay for some of the costs of buying a home.

The Federal Housing Administration on Friday released details of a plan in which borrowers who use FHA loans can get advances from lenders that let them effectively receive the credit in advance, so they don’t have to wait to get the money from the Internal Revenue Service.

Most borrowers will still have to come up with the FHA’s required 3.5 percent down payment, unless they work through a state or local housing agency or an approved nonprofit. Ten states have such programs in place, according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

But there are many other potential uses, such as for closing costs and fees, or to beef up the down payment beyond the minimum level.

The FHA which insures about a quarter of new home loans, is projected to guarantee about 2.2 million loans in the next budget year.

Any buyer who has not owned a home in the past three years is considered a first-time buyer and eligible for the program. Borrowers can claim the credit by filing an amended 2008 tax return or can wait for their 2009 return.

The change “will present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing,” Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.

The tax credit was included in the economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama in February. It is not available to individuals with incomes above $95,000 or couples with incomes above $170,000 and expires Nov. 30.

Real estate agents and homebuilders generally welcomed the change. Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, called it a “great step in the right direction.” On Wall Street, shares of such builders as Toll Brothers and D.R. Horton rose on the news.

Still, some real estate agents were concerned that many buyers won’t benefit at all if they can’t use it for a down payment – a big hurdle for many first-time buyers.

Reselling REOs

Remember this one from 18 months ago?

It’s the 4,453sf house in Rancho Carrillo that Wells Fargo foreclosed on when they couldn’t get $1,000,000 at the trustee sale.  Optimistic, they listed it for $1,100,000 in October, 2007.

In the first week they received an offer over list, and it closed for $1,175,000 in 12/07.


Back on the market, and just lowered to $998,000.

The new owners listed for $1,175,000 three weeks ago, so they must not have had many showings, if any, for them to drop so much, so quick.  But if they think they’re going to incite a bidding war, they need to handle this, seen only in the confidential remarks:

The stucco damage around the outside of the home will be fixed, as will the front door. 

Million-dollar buyers considering Rancho Carrillo may be reluctant to offer on what probably looks like a fixer, though this house does have a larger yard – will it be enough? 

Hat tip to doughboy for passing this along!

Sellers’ Disease

Everywhere you go, it’s the same mantra with sellers.

From this week’s Barron’s:


“I’m paying all of this insurance and property tax, and I rarely use the property,” says Bill Hutchinson, a Dallas-based commercial-real-estate investor who is selling a 1920s Mediterranean-style villa that overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Carmel Highlands, Calif. Anderson bought it as a vacation home in 2005 for $6.2 million “on a whim,” he says. The home was listed a year ago at $7.45 million and has since been reduced to $6.45 million. “I’ll walk away before I take a loss on the property. But if I find a buyer, it will probably be a wash after closing costs,” he says.


While looking for more info on this guy’s house, I came across this website of high-end celebrity homes, which noted that Jamie Dimon just listed his house in Chicago:


“How does JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon live? His $10.5 million home on Chicago’s Gold Coast offers a hint. The eight-bedroom home was built in 1870 and measures approximately 15,000 square feet over four stories. It includes a 900-square-foot rooftop terrace.”

“The home was purchased by Dimon and his wife in 2000 for $4.68 million so he could still make some money on the deal.”


Get Rich Quick

People ask all the time, where are the buyers coming from, and what is motivating them?

Yesterday in a couple of comments mentioned that people are tired of waiting, and want to settle down with their families.

But there will always be the get-rich-quick crowd.

Robert Allen is coming to San Diego May 31 through June 3rd, appearing at four different hotels.  He has been a well-known real estate speaker for years, and controverial.

His pitch from his full-page ad in the U-T:

“IT’S PULL THE TRIGGER TIME for real estate investors and first-time homebuyers.  The tides are turning in today’s real estate market.  Killer deals around every corner.  The time to act is now. Discover how to profit safely with my exclusive moneymaking real estate strategies engineered for today’s market.”

But there are many complaints about the guy.  His main objective is to sell books and tapes, and enroll you into the next program. 

This from Ripoff Reports, a quote from someone who signed up for the 3-day course:

Each day they would bait the hook and drop the line about the importance of purchasing the Executive Package Program (regular 12,680.00, class special 6,995.00) and if you want to protect yourself in the U.S., then the J.J. Childers Wealth Library (regular 2,835.00, class special 1,835.00), as well as furthering you knowledge with classes. The pressure was intense, these people are very good at what they do, and would make a telemarketer blush with their tactics. Succumbing to the pressure, I signed up for both products and gave over my Visa number. The class was done, everyone bid their good byes and we went off to seek our fame and fortune.

The person went on to cancel the program, and eventually received his money back.  But then he was hounded for weeks by different pitchmen to buy other programs, one costing $22,000 for one-on-one tutoring!

Here’s a link to the full report:


Are some of today’s buyers coming juiced up from real estate seminars like this?

Aviara Resort and Home Values?

The Four Season Aviara Resort has been embroiled in a dispute between hotel owner and management. 

Here’s a link to today’s U-T article on the judge sending the case to arbitration:


An excerpt on where the trouble started, the refinance of the property:

The very public quarrel over management of Aviara landed in court after Broadreach, owner of the resort since 1998, notified Four Seasons in late March that it was terminating its contract for failing to run the property in a “cost-effective manner.”

Broadreach wants to replace the Four Seasons management group with New Jersey-based Dolce Hotels and Resorts.

Four Seasons, however, would not go quietly, refusing to leave the resort and turn over hotel records and books to the owners. It went so far as to erect barricades at the entrance to the 329-room resort, according to the owners’ attorneys.

In a statement earlier this month, Four Seasons maintained that the dispute relates to the 2009 operating budget for Aviara and the owner’s “obligation to provide working capital necessary to fund debt service.”

While Aviara is profitable at the operational level, Four Seasons said, the owners took on more debt than “the resort can now service” when they refinanced the property in 2006.

When the Four Seasons took over in 1998, the timing couldn’t have been better – a number of new Aviara tracts were underway, and values soared.  The Four Seasons resort and the Aviara community grew together, are they still intertwined?

Dolce may be a fine hotel group (their portfolio: http://www.dolce.com/portfolio/portfolio.asp) but they don’t have the same sizzle as the Four Seasons.

If the Four Seasons gets the boot, could it have an effect on surrounding home values?

When KSL took over the La Costa Resort in 2002, they spent millions on improvements – but it was a weathered facility and needed every penny of it.  It is an older and more storied resort, having hosted PGA events for years, and a stop on the women’s tennis tour.  But today there isn’t much relationship between the resort and surrounding real estate values, if any.

Four Seasons Aviara resort and the surrounding community has had a mutually-beneficial relationship when the real estate values were on the rise, could a nasty public dispute have an effect on today’s buyers?


Carlsbad Test – Are Fixers Selling?

This video was taken a couple of months ago when it went pending, and a good example of how the market has warmed up on the lower ends of every market.

It’s the type of house that is easy to pass on – even if you were a handy fella and wanted a fixer, you’re stuck with this oddball floor plan from the mid-1960s:

But then again, buyers are finding that there isn’t much selection on the low end, and the good ones get snapped up quick. But the oddball fixers?  Yep, they’re selling too.

This just closed for $550,000. The buyers used a 20% down payment too.

Carmel Valley Pricing

In July, 2007, I sold the house at 10503 Abalone Landing Terrace in 92130 for $1,199,000, which was the full list price at the time.

Zillow has a follow-up program for properties logged under your name, and they send regular updates.

Yesterday they noted that their zestimate of value was $1,093,500, an increase of 1% over last month.  The overall decline since it sold was a relatively strong -8.8%, which seemed about right to me.  Carmel Valley has only seen about a 10% dip in values, at least so far. (click on image for better clarity):

For those buyers who are waiting for the big collapse, know that there are other buyers out there who are willing to pay more – it’s the sellers who are holding out.  I talk to other CV listing agents just about every day, and the stories are amazing.  I called on one that’s listed in the $1,300,000s, thinking that the max value was around $1,100,000, and had proof.  But the agent told me that they had two offers this month in the 1,200,000s, and the sellers turned them down!

Unintentional Transparency

In spite of the want and need for transparency in the business, there has been no willingness to expose a realtor’s sales history or depth of experience – the consumer is left to their own devices to figure out how to chose an agent.

The REIC powers-that-be have always coddled the newly-licensed agents. The brokers make the maximum commission splits off them while they are cutting their teeth, and the state agencies/boards of realtors enjoy their dues for as long as they last.

But recently the California Department of Real Estate decided that all agents should have their license number on all promotional materials – flyers, business cards, etc.

Because the license numbers are sequential, now you can easily size up how long someone has had their license.  It doesn’t mean a whole lot, but at least it’s something.

The lower the number, the longer they’ve had their license – here’s a timeline:

License Date License Number Status
12/74 00400000 expired
10/84 00873197 JtR
9/88 01000000 expired
1/91 01100000 expired
8/95 01200000 expired
11/00 01300000 licensed
6/03 01388871 Klinge Enterprises corporate license
11/03 01400000 licensed
9/06 01500000 expired

You can decide for yourself how much experience is optimal – let’s face it, there are plenty of old guys who are lazy or ripoffs.  But it’s a starting point. 

Most licensees under 01400000 are going to have decent experience, and hopefully 50 or so deals under their belt.  On average, figure that licensees do a deal a month.


The DRE also notes the realtor population – it has finally started to subside.  Since March, 2008 we’ve been losing 1,000 to 3,000 licensees per month, but there are still roughly 75,000 MORE licensees in California than there were in June, 2005.

The DRE also has a list of people who have been served “Desist and Refrain Orders” for loan mod fraud:


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