Costa Rican Contemporary

House Mecano is a body composed of a structure, a skin and a mechanism to adapt to their environment. The Concept of the residence arises in the use of passive strategies through bioclimatic design in synergy with an automation system that controls the appropriate levels of natural ventilation through open window systems and a pulley system that alter the position and inclination of the eaves manually, promoting thermal comfort and indoor air quality. The goal will be to maximize function in the smallest space possible.

San Diego Case-Shiller Jan 2012

The latest Case-Shiller Index is out.  An interesting quote or two from

“The economic news in the last few months, probably going back to December, has shown a lot of improvement. The housing news has been a bit more mixed,” David Blizter, S&P index chairman, told CNBC. “The overall housing market is a little behind the general economy.”

The flat reading broke a five-month string of declines as the market has been pressured by a low demand, distressed sales and an overhang of pending foreclosures.

“This gives you a little more confidence that the housing market is bottoming because perhaps the most troubling aspect of the recent housing data has been the sagging of the Case-Shiller price index effectively since July 2011,” said Cary Leahey, managing director and senior economist at Decision Economics in New York.

“The fact that the so-called double dip in home prices is ending gives you a little more confidence that the market could improve over the next year and a half.”

San Diego’s seasonally-adjusted numbers:

May 09: 145.55

Jan 11: 158.91

Dec 11: 150.92

Jan 12: 150.51

My guess in 2009 of December’s number being the bottom didn’t turn out!

More Talk of Principal Reductions

Principal reductions are the government’s next bailout device, and they are getting pushed hard.  Excerpts from an article at

NEW YORK – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to face pressure to reduce principal for homeowners underwater on motgages, but the debate still rages on who will end up paying for it.The FHFA has said it will review its analysis on principal reductions over the next few weeks, taking the incentives into account.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco remains fundamentally opposed to the idea of principal reductions, arguing that any large-scale reduction would only benefit banks.

Last week, ProPublica reported that the housing giants are likely to tell the FHFA that principal reductions will likely save taxpayers money. And Freddie Mac’s CEO Edward Hadelman hinted at a conference organized by Housing Wire on Friday that the agencies might be more receptive to the idea following new incentives from the Treasury.

“I have to say recently the Treasury sweetened the program and tremendously increased the incentive payments in their offer to us,” Haldeman said, according to a HousingWire report. “We will reevaluate that to see what may be in our economic best interest. If there are very large incentive payments — which could be 50 percent of what you could write down — it may be in our economic self-interest to participate in that.”


Water Heater

It takes effort to maintain a house, and it helps to know good contractors.

Curt Nelson is a great plumber – I recommend him to everyone!

See other recommended vendors in the right-hand column >>>>>>

Blog Talk Radio with JtR

My frustrations with the BTR control panel continued tonight – the opening song started before I realized that I had no off button. So enjoy the full version of “Heartbreaker” live by Led Zeppelin, or fast forward about five minutes:

Listen to internet radio with Jim the Realtor on Blog Talk Radio

We talked about the general market conditions, and how the flurry of activity we’ve seen lately is unlikely to cause higher sold prices.  If there is a surge of new listings over the next few months, they will likely be a result of sellers being enticed by today’s list prices, which are a false sense of the real market.  In other words, prepare for a glut of overpriced listings for the next few months.

I also got off on a tangient about what and where this blog is, and my enthusiasm about it.  I don’t have much, if any, sense of who reads this blog, or what you the readers want out of it.   So look forward to a new survey coming soon!

List Prices Gone Crazy

The media is enjoying the latest weak housing data, this from

Several other analysts started to question the strength of the recovery as well, with some just hoping that perhaps a warm winter had pulled some demand forward from spring. Despite a miss on existing home sales in February, the headline pointed to, again, big gains from a year ago.

Yes, we are ahead of where we were, but as we’ve noted so many times here on this page, rising foreclosures will put added pressure on this market, and we may not be out of the woods yet.

“Despite an extraordinarily mild winter, home sales just plod along at a pace last seen during the mid-1990s,” notes Mark Zandi in his monthly report from Moody’s Analytics. “Thus, the underlying pace of home sales may not yet be strong enough to support a long-lasting upturn by home prices.”

Tomorrow we get the monthly reading on the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. This index hasn’t been improving nearly as much as home sales, but the ever-hopeful housing lobby keeps blaming that on the fact that prices always lag sales, which is historically true, but what in today’s market has followed history?

Home prices are still falling not because of some lag, but because this housing market is running on sales of distressed properties at the very low end. The rest of the market is still stalled.

They don’t think about any other possibility, they just make up the hot soundbites and push hysteria.

There is another explanation – sellers have gone crazy with their list prices, and buyers  – loaded with ample market data – aren’t going for it.  As a result, sales will suffer.

Here a examples of the seller exuberance, and how buyers are reacting:

San Diego:


Carmel Valley:

Del Mar:


SW Carlsbad:

There would be a surge of sales if list prices were more reasonable – and about 10% less would probably be enough. But the media won’t look deep enough – just a casual look, and off to the usual panic phrases. 

Look how steady the SOLD $/sf trends are in every market – the buyers aren’t biting, rates are going up, and it’s almost April.  If you are trying to sell, and  your list price hasn’t worked by now, it’s probably time to beat your neighbor to a “price adjustment”.

Blog Talk Radio Tonight

Join us tonight for another round of Blog Talk Radio.

There is no guest planned, instead I’ll be taking your questions, telling a few stories, and working the crystal ball for some insight into the future!

Join us here at 7:00pm tonight!


Principal Reductions Help Banks

From Rueters:

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being pushed to reduce borrowers’ mortgage balances in order to shield U.S. banks from taking losses on distressed housing debt, the companies’ regulator said in a Financial Times interview published on Sunday. “If you do principal forgiveness, who is it benefiting? … Doing principal forgiveness is what would protect the big banks,” said Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

DeMarco argued that writing down the principal on first mortgages would amount to a transfer of taxpayer wealth to the biggest U.S. lenders, whose “second mortgages” are normally subordinate to the primary mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Some officials in the Obama administration, the Federal Reserve and Congress have called on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to write down the value of mortgages they own or guarantee as part of an effort to help the U.S. housing market recover from a deep slump that saw one third of property values wiped out since 2006.

DeMarco has previously resisted those calls, citing concerns it would increase losses at the two companies and undermine his mission of keeping a lid on the costs of their taxpayer-funded bailout. “Certainly the environment of the last number of months have shown substantial attempt to influence or direct an independent regulator,” he told the business newspaper.

Fannie and Freddie provide funding for the bulk of U.S. home loans by buying mortgages from banks and repackaging them as securities for investors, which they then guarantee. The Obama administration has proposed using TARP funds to lessen the cost to Fannie and Freddie of doing writedowns. DeMarco is now considering whether the new money the Obama administration is laying on the table changes the equation.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were taken over by the government in 2008 after massive mortgage losses at the housing giants threatened the global financial system. Since then, the U.S. government has funneled more than $150 billion in taxpayer funds into Freddie and Fannie, in part to ensure that credit remains available for homebuyers.

Pin It on Pinterest