’72 Custom

In the confidential remarks of the listing, the agent notes that “the seller reserves the option to waiting to respond to offers up until April 15th”. As a result, buyers may hesitate on this one (Peak urgency is usually around Day Four of the listing period).

Free Lunch For Who?

From HW:

Bank of America will begin a new pilot program in the next few weeks, allowing some California homeowners to receive a principal writedown on their mortgage.

The program will be funded from the $699.6 million the California Housing Finance Agency received from Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit Fund last year. A spokesperson for the CalHFA said there is no set amount of loans BofA is targeting, but the bank will be soliciting eligible homeowners soon. CalHFA has not given BofA a limit to the funding “unless they blow us out of the water,” the spokesperson said.

CalHFA is in talks with other lenders and servicers, but they did confirm that Guild Mortgage Company will also participate in the program.

“We’re really excited to get the program going,” the CalHFA spokesperson said.

Rebecca Mairone, the new national mortgage outreach executive at BofA, said in an interview with HousingWire Monday that it would soon begin the California initiative as well as several other states that received Hardest Hit Funds.

Earlier in March, BofA announced it was sending letters to Arizona homeowners regarding possible principal writedowns under Hardest Hit Fund programs. Through that program, BofA said it was targeting 8,000 households.

Ally Financial agreed last week to participate in another principal-writedown program in Michigan, again using the Hardest Hit Fund.


Preliminary March Numbers

The next Case-Shiller reading is coming out tomorrow, and you can bet that the MSM will be screaming double-dip all day. Because the C-S index will be reflecting the Nov-Dec-Jan numbers, it’ll be dated for those who are thinking of moving today.

What is happening in March, 2011?

The month isn’t done yet, but North SD County Coastal is faring pretty well, compared to last March.  Here are the closed sales and average cost-per-sf for March, 2010, compared to those closed so far this year:

Area & Zip Code March, 2010 March, 2011
SE Carlsbad, 92009 58/$269 31/$246
SW Carlsbad, 92011 13/$318 12/$305
Carmel Valley, 92130 32/$326 32/$351
DM/SB, 92014-75 10/$764 14/$641
Encinitas, 92024 28/$360 19/$313
RSF, 92067 9/$491 20/$448
Total Above 150/$349 129/$362

Pricing is down in the individual zip codes, measured by the flimsy “average cost-per-sf” – only Carmel Valley shows an increase.  But sales are fairly healthy – if buyers can just find the right house, at the right price!

This Is Wrong

Hat tip to SM for sending this along from the nytimes.com:

Mr. Engle’s is a tale worth telling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its punch line. Was Mr. Engle convicted of running a crooked subprime company? Was he a mortgage broker who trafficked in predatory loans? A Wall Street huckster who sold toxic assets?

No. Charlie Engle wasn’t a seller of bad mortgages. He was a borrower. And the “mortgage fraud” for which he was prosecuted was something that literally millions of Americans did during the subprime bubble. Supposedly, he lied on two liar loans.

It’s not just that Mr. Engle is the smallest of small fry that is bothersome about his prosecution. It is also the way the government went about building its case. Although Mr. Engle took out the two stated-income loans, as liar loans are more formally called, in late 2005 and early 2006, it wasn’t until three years later that his troubles began.

As a young man, Mr. Engle had been a serious drug addict, but after he got clean, he became an ultra-marathoner, one of the best in the world. In the fall of 2006, he and two other ultra-marathoners took on an almost unimaginable challenge: they ran across the Sahara Desert, something that had never been done before. The run took 111 days, and was documented in a film financed by Matt Damon, who served as executive producer and narrator. Mr. Engle received $30,000 for his participation.

The film, “Running the Sahara,” was released in the fall of 2008. Eventually, it caught the attention of Robert W. Nordlander, a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service. As Mr. Nordlander later told the grand jury, “Being the special agent that I am, I was wondering, how does a guy train for this because most people have to work from nine to five and it’s very difficult to train for this part-time.” (He also told the grand jurors that sometimes, when he sees somebody driving a Ferrari, he’ll check to see if they make enough money to afford it. When I called Mr. Nordlander and others at the I.R.S. to ask whether this was an appropriate way to choose subjects for criminal tax investigations, my questions were met with a stone wall of silence.)

Mr. Engle’s tax records showed that while his actual income was substantial, his taxable income was quite small, in part because he had a large tax-loss carry forward, due to a business deal he’d been involved in several years earlier. (Mr. Nordlander would later inform the grand jury only of his much lower taxable income, which made it seem more suspicious.) Still convinced that Mr. Engle must be hiding income, Mr. Nordlander did undercover surveillance and took “Dumpster dives” into Mr. Engle’s garbage. He mainly discovered that Mr. Engle lived modestly.

In March 2009, still unsatisfied, Mr. Nordlander persuaded his superiors to send an attractive female undercover agent, Ellen Burrows, to meet Mr. Engle and see if she could get him to say something incriminating. In the course of several flirtatious encounters, she asked him about his investments.

After acknowledging that he had been speculating in real estate during the bubble to help support his running, he said, according to Mr. Nordlander’s grand jury testimony, “I had a couple of good liar loans out there, you know, which my mortgage broker didn’t mind writing down, you know, that I was making four hundred thousand grand a year when he knew I wasn’t.”

Mr. Engle added, “Everybody was doing it because it was simply the way it was done. That doesn’t make me proud of the fact that I am at least a small part of the problem.”

Unbeknownst to Mr. Engle, Ms. Burrows was wearing a wire.



Cliff May began designing and building homes in his early-20s, but wasn’t licensed as an architect until the last year of his life (1908-1989).

He spent his boyhood summers at his Aunt Jane McGee’s home at the Los Flores adobe on Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, now a part of Camp Pendleton.  He also roamed the Santa Margarita ranch house and the Casa de Estudillo, two other important adobe haciendas.

May expressed a visceral understanding of what made these earthy, old haciendas with thick walls and low roofs so comfortable, when he reminisced about his youth: “The ranch house had eveything a California house should be.  It had cross ventilation, the floor was level with the ground,and with its courtyard and the exterior corridor, it was about sunshine and informal outdoor living.”

Click here for U-T coverage

Old Spanish Under $200,000?

This house was foreclosed on February 4, 2008 when the previous owner owed $435,000. 

The bank re-sold it to this guy for $285,000, and he put 20% down on 7/10/08 – and by then borrowers had to qualify for their mortgage.

Ten months later his NOD was filed, in May 2009. It was foreclosed again on 3/18/2011:

Cliff May Home Tour

The SOHO home tour is tomorrow, Sunday March 27th – for more information, click here:

An unprecedented tour of the first homes built in the over 50-year career of Cliff May, known as the father of the American Ranch House.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour the very first homes built by Cliff May. The fabled homes, designed and built between 1932 and 1936, showcase the work of this Southern California Master Builder. The six homes on tour include the first five out of six he built (a sixth was lost) and one of the few Monterey style homes he built, a style that became popular by the late 1930’s.

Located in several communities, Talmadge Park, Presidio Hills, Point Loma, and Loma Portal, and representative of the California ranch style, these homes are the result of May’s experimental early hacienda style and his fascination with the early California adobe haciendas and ranchos. The visitor will be able to see firsthand the origins of the signature style of this master designer, builder, and architect for the first time.

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