Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Canary is Gasping

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:
Sales History
Date Price
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:
Date Price
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.


wagga said...

I don't have any snarky first-type comment, but I would like to point out that the Dawg will be a millionaire (in site visits) in a week or so.

Agent #777 said...

Dawg, are you seriously thinking that any kind of bottom is in sight? Based on what I am seeing in 4 different states of interest to me, the punch bowl may have been removed, but there is still plenty of kool-aid around!
IMO, no way the bottom happens this decade. I think in general that the Fannie and Freddie stories are just of minor interest to a majority of the population at this point.

1.44MB said...

See - stickiness does exist
thing get stuck not selling.

How's the Dodo at 410 Avocado doing?

1.44MB said...

crap that was meant to be 'things not selling'.

Is this whole no redaction policy just in case fliptard shows up and posts while trying to 'make friends'?

Property Flopper said...

I think some predictions can be made with the data available - if you look at the number of default notices (still climbing!) and the inventory sitting on the market, you can see we're not even close to the bottom.

Sending out a ping... no bounce back simply means you are too far from the bottom for an echo... either that or your sonar is broken and you're about to hit bottom at full speed.

Lost Cause said...

That is recreational property up there in Wrightwood, which should have collapsed a long time ago. Supposedly it is the first thing that people eject when the economy gets bad. It is a whole different animal, not so much a canary in the coal mine of real estate, but a canary of the economy in general. It is crazy that the prices there are still so high.

Lex said...

Thanks for the thread -- nice reminder to start getting ready for ski season.

Rob Dawg said...

Dawg, are you seriously thinking that any kind of bottom is in sight?

No, we are in a flat spin. Nothing we think we see is persistent or focused or relevant long enough to tell if we can even recover. Flattening out is the least likely scenario. The issue is that there is no way of telling yet.
The next false signal will be the unexpected drop in new foreclosure actions. It won't mean anything.

Rob Dawg said...

The first sign I was close to death was last February skiing. I plan on going again this winter even if I have to stick to the blue squares.

There are early indications of above normal snow accumulation this season in SoCal. Pray to the snow gods.

Rob Dawg said...

Lost Cause,
Right on all the observations but this time housing is leading the economy which is making things appear out of order.

Akubi said...

Nice subject line.