Longtime readers will recall that I've been following Wrightwood, California [zip 92397] as a leading, exaggerated indicator of mega-regional health. If that is the case then there is nobottom in sight.
I stopped prognostigating last February because I claimed anyone who tried to predict through the summer was worse than lying. There would be just no way to make intelligent analysis. That seems to have been the case. Now is the time I promised to peek out from the bankerdome and see if things have changed. No, things have not changed. Physics assures us we are closer to the bottom than we were at the start of the year but our sensors are not able to located that bottom. Could it be November? I don't know. Could it be Q4 '09? I don't know. Well then, what the hell good am I? Take this one thought away; anybody who tells you anything except "I don't know" is worse than lying. Liars are useful, negative information has value to the perceptive listener. Noise is just noise and ultimately diminishes our capacity to identify the real bottom. Back into my hole for 6 weeks and at the end of October I'll look again.
Back to 92397. Another sad tale that needs no backstory. The transaction data says it all. 5652 Sycamore St.
Price: $239,900 BEDS: 2 BATHS: 2 SQ. FT.: 1,596
$/SQ. FT.: $150 LOT SIZE: 6,400 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE Detached, Single Family Residence
YEAR BUILT: 1936 ON REDFIN: 246 days
Then we get to the transaction history:
Aug 26, 2003 $220,000
Feb 27, 2006 $374,500
Dec 07, 2007 $325,201
And the sales pitch:
* * * PRICE REDUCTION!! BEST DEAL IN TOWN * * * REO / Bank Owned: Come Take A Look At This Ideal Vacation Home, Investment Property, Or Nice Home Without Spending A Fortune. Upstairs is a nice loft-type bedroom. Close To Mountain High Resort. Enjoy the fresh air and blue skies on the nice porch. Sold As-Is.
At lest the bank is smart. Here's the list prices:
Jan 09, 2008 $309,900
Feb 14, 2008 $289,900
Mar 24, 2008 $275,500
Jun 10, 2008 $255,000
Aug 01, 2008 $239,900
That's smart. Foreclosed Dec 7th and on market one month later at an "aggressive price." Then every few weeks reduce the price by a real amount until it sells. Okay, they obviously massively missed the first price seeing as 8 months and $70,000 (23%) later it still sits. Still they learned and were proactive.
See the story? Purchased Feb 27th, 2006 at the very tippy top of the market and foreclosed 21 months later for 80% of the purchase price plus fees and penalties. There's also some poor dude out there sucking on 100% loses in his 20% loan. For the record I sold my last property in the vicinity in April 2006 a month later. Whew.
Surely there is either a personal tragedy or failed scam here somewhere. More likely someplace in between. That doesn't matter. Until basic housing like this manages to sell in an orderly fashion there ain't no bottom. Yet.