Bubbleinfo Lite

For those readers who prefer an occasional glance at the real estate market, we have added a new way to subscribe to bubbleinfo.com.

If you would rather receive the top-5 blog posts by email every couple of weeks, you can now submit your email address in the right-hand column under “Subscribe”  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Click on the link below to see the first edition:


The purpose isn’t to skim a bunch of email addresses and harass people incessantly.  Those of you who have responded to Jim’s Club know that there’s no abuse of your right to privacy – instead, you probably think that I lost your email address!

The purpose of the bi-weekly newsletter is to provide a way for the more casual blog readers to stay in touch with the market. 

Let me know what you think!

Other School Districts, Part 2

Here’s a crazy idea when thinking about what high school to choose for your kids.  What colleges will be in the running?

Between the intense competition and budget cutbacks, you can’t just stroll into a UC campus with any old HS grades – heck, you need a 3.50 GPA just to get into many majors at San Diego State! 

Should you consider an easier high school, in order for your kids to get a higher GPA – and increase the college choices?

Wifey thinks this thought is preposterous – of course you send the kids to the best high school available.  But in this budget-conscious era, if you want to get into the best colleges, the 4.0 GPA might be required – especially if you have young kids, and are looking at 5-15 years from now.

The thought of glossy high schools doing a better job preparing kids for college with more-rigorous school work makes sense, but if good HS grades are tougher to come by, and a lower GPA occurs, it could make getting into a top college harder, not easier.

At the upper-echelon high schools, there is also some peer pressure to attend a big-time college, when you hear others around you are going to Harvard, MIT, Cal, and Stanford.  The budget cutbacks at big-time schools will likely continue – did you see where Cal dropped it’s baseball program this week, after 100+ years of existence and winning two national championships?

Should the difficulty of getting into the best colleges be considered when choosing a high school? 

By the way, on the thought that Cathedral Catholic HS  is full of rich kids; they do reach out to the community – at least one-quarter of those enrolled are on scholarship.


Consider Other School Districts?

With the local inventory of quality properties being fairly tight, some homebuyers are considering where they might compromise.  Can you live with a smaller home and/or lot?  A home that needs work?  Different neighborhoods?

Or how about school districts?

Would you consider a change in schools when you can get a better value on homes in that district? There are highly-ranked elementary and middle schools in most districts, let’s just look at the high schools for this discussion.

The stats from www.greatschools.org:

High School 2010 API Score 2009 API Statewide Rank Parent rating # of students
Canyon Crest 894 10 9 1,780
Torrey Pines 870 10 8 2,691
Westview 851 10 9 2,431
San Dieguito 847 9 8 1,495
La Jolla 841 9 8 1,637
San Marcos 829 9 9 2,030
La Costa Canyon 816 9 7 2,534
Carlsbad 812 9 7 2,944

I’m not advocating Westview or San Marcos High Schools, but when you can get substantially more house for the money, are they worth considering?  Parts of Carlsbad are in the San Marcos district, and Westview isn’t far from Carmel Valley for the buyers who are looking for those locations.

The parent ratings and comments on the website could be unduly influenced, but the API testing is administered by the state. From the greatschools website:

Although test results can be an indicator of what’s happening in the classroom, they don’t tell you everything about the quality of a school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final determination.The API Statewide Rank ranges from 1 to 10. A rank of 10, for example, means that the school’s API fell into the top 10% of all schools in the state with a comparable grade range.

Your thoughts?

Slammin’ Sammy Zielonka

Hat tip to Kelly Bennett for sending this along, from marketwatch.com:

Equity Residential today announced that the company has acquired Vantage Pointe in San Diego, CA for $200 million.

Vantage Pointe is a 40-story high rise featuring 679 apartment units, 26,425 square feet of retail space and 968 underground parking spaces. The purchase price values the apartment units at approximately $291,000 per unit and $348 per square foot of rentable apartment space.

The property was developed as a condominium project and completed in 2009. Amenities include a clubhouse, rooftop pool and sundeck, fitness center and theater. Equity Residential purchased 100% of the units, which are being operated as rentals and are currently approximately 22% occupied. The company has begun a comprehensive marketing and leasing campaign and expects a year-three stabilized yield of approximately 7%.

“The acquisition of Vantage Pointe is another example of the opportunities we have seized this year to add high quality, well-located assets to our portfolio at prices well below replacement cost,” said David J. Neithercut, Equity Residential’s President and CEO. “And, as we have shown with the success that we have had at our 425 Mass property in Washington, D.C., we are able to tackle large, complex deals to create long term value for our shareholders.”

Equity Residential now owns and operates 14 properties, consisting of 4,963 apartment units, in the San Diego market.

Equity Residential is an S&P 500 company focused on the acquisition, development and management of high quality apartment properties in top U.S. growth markets. Equity Residential owns or has investments in 479 properties located in 21 states and the District of Columbia, consisting of 134,484 apartment units.

(The previous owners had a $210 million loan on it.)

More Foreclosure Halts

Hat tip to SM, from the WaPo:

Attorneys general in Connecticut and California ordered Ally Financial’s GMAC mortgage unit to freeze all foreclosures within their borders, joining a growing list of states investigating whether the firm and other lenders improperly kicked people out of their homes.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Monday accused Ally of using “defective foreclosure documents” in its filings and said he ordered the moratorium “to forestall horrendous, illegal harm against homeowners.” California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Friday called Ally’s document review process a “sham.”

In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she “wants to see Ally stop the filing of foreclosures in Illinois as well until this situation can be remedied,” a spokeswoman said.

The actions taken by state officials are illuminating an overburdened foreclosure system that relied on shoddy or fabricated paperwork to deal with the massive pile of cases.  Now criminal and civil inquires are widening to other major companies who might have engaged in similar conduct.

This has the potential to be an industry-wide issue,” said Patrick Madigan, an assistant attorney general in Iowa who is chairman of a national foreclosure prevention group that includes law enforcement officials and bank regulators, among others.

San Diego: 15th Consecutive Gain

The Case-Shiller Index for July was released today, and San Diego’s non-seasonally adjusted number showed a 15th consecutive monthly increase.  The SD index, 165.02, reflects a 9.3% improvement year-over-year, and a 65% increase above the base month of January, 2000.   The seasonally-adjusted number was down 0.2%, the second consecutive month-over-month decline but not sure if it’ll make the headlines.

It doesn’t mean much on the street, but the buyers and sellers who only glance at headlines might take it seriously. The perception will be more important than the reality, especially for active sellers who aren’t selling, they’ll think that their turn is right around the corner – and resist lower pricing.

From cnbc.com:

“While we could still see some residual support from the homebuyers’ tax credit, which covers purchases closing through September 30th, anyone looking for home prices to return to the lofty 2005-2006 levels might be disappointed,” David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P, said in a press release.

“Housing starts, sales and inventory data reported for August do not show signs of a robust market, and foreclosures continue,” he said, adding “stable prices seem more likely.”

The 20-city index showed home prices remain 27.9 percent below the peaks set in mid-2006.


Mother Merrill Flips Out

From HW:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts believe the federal government should begin investing in distressed real estate directly through a second round of the Public-Private Investment Program to reduce the shadow inventory of properties.

The original PPIP was a coordinated effort between the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to hold real estate assets off bank balance sheets in order to free up credit lines. Through July, the government has invested in more than $22.4 billion in the PPIP.

But while BofA Merrill Lynch analysts called the program a success for driving up the value of residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities, they said PPIP 2.0 would be critical to reduce homeownership rates, the amount of delinquent and foreclosed homes in the shadow inventory, and increase the value of real property.

Homeownership rates dropped to 66.9% in the second quarter, according to the Census Bureau. BofA Merrill Lynch analysts said the adjustment to a more natural 62% to 64% rate is under way. Converting another 3 to 4 million homeowners to renters would be required to get there.

At $200,000 a property, it would cost between $600 billion and $800 billion to make that reduction.

Initial targets for the program would be the 5.5 million delinquent borrowers.  “Despite all modification efforts directed at this group, we think it is probably only a matter of time before these many homeowners are no longer homeowners,” according to the report.


San Diego Trustee-Sale Results

The number of properties making it to the court house steps is on the rise – there has been a 50% increase roughly in SD County trustee-sales since the end of June (from 200 to 300).  It’s still a pittance, however, compared to the 14,493 properties in default in San Diego County:

San Diego County Trustee-Sale Results, Weekly


The SFR trustee sales in the North SD County Coastal region have been fairly steady however – no big spikes yet. There has been an average of seven SFRs foreclosed per week over the last 12 weeks (avg of 2 of 7 bought by third-parties), even though there are 608 on the NOD/NOT lists. Are servicers trying to squeak out every last loan mod they can find, or deliberately holding back?

North San Diego County Coastal Trustee-Sale Results, SFRs-only:

It appears that the servicers are managing the drip very carefully for the higher-end properties, but if there are any surges, you’ll see them here!

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