Thursday, January 31, 2008

Neverland Soon?

Fox says:
The world of Michael Jackson is in the usual chaos this week, as the pop singer faces foreclosure on his Neverland Ranch for $23 million secured by Fortress Investments.

This is 2700 acres in Santa Barbara. $8500/ac is what good ranch land goes for. Mikey's pad isn't a good ranch. As Wagga would say; "Good yeah, good place to lose a cow." On the plus side it has good water and good access and lots of durable improvements under the crap of zoo and amusement park. $23m is a deal in that context. I'm guessing it will be "rescued" by a friend so that the dirty public doesn't mess it up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quartz Hills California

Special guest post:

View Larger Map
Peripheral Visionary said...
I think it is entirely possible that we will see a return to the ghost towns of yore. Probably not in San Diego or Los Angeles proper, but some of the more remote communities. Densely built cookie-cutter housing that is light years from nowhere, makes absolutely no sense.

What some people do not understand is that the record high vacancy rates in some of the hardest-hit communities are not going to take a long time coming down, they are not coming down, period. Banks renting bulldozers to plow homes under before we are done with all of this.
Thanks PV. I can only add that Mrs. Dawg just called from the new facility under her aegis. Lancaster, no... Quartz Hills, much classier. She was marveling over the mile after mile of 4br/2.5ba 2400sf homes spaced 10 feet apart. Most likely both adults are away at work in Los Angeles. These people aren't going to see a dime of appreciation for at least a decade. That is if they stick it out. They just plain aren't going to do that unless we bribe them.

Quartz Hills California we salute you.

The Sunny Side of the Street

Here we have contestant #1

And now a warm EN welcome for contestant #2

Confused? No, these are two "identical" houses. Well not really identical, you see in southern California it is the right and duty of all homeowners to put their indelible stamp of uniqueness on each house they touch. Sure they are steps away from each other, sure they share floor plans but some homes are more special than others. 2886 LaPlata is $50,000 less special than 2865 LaPlata. Lets see why:
Turns out Relitters® are right about one thing, location does matter.
Apparently a "backyard" 12 ft x 50 ft against the public golf course is worth something.

What about sales history?
2886 Sold new 10/11/2000: $356,000
2865 Sold new 05/14/2001: $416,000
According to Zillow both are down about $100,000 from last spring. For once, call it an accident, Zillow is probably right. Still both are probably $100k still too high for the market. The owners have got to be looking at the trend. They've "lost" $100k in the last 10 months and they aren't stupid, they see another $100k in the next 10 months.

Negative Interest Rates

Why not? People seem to think the Fed runs out of bullets at 0%. No such luck. But face it, as soon as rates go negative relative to inflation we'll just have another round of asset bubble reflation. I know I'd be tempted. There are many issues to weigh. Personally I think Bernanke is interested in the best interests of governments. Not just minimizing the mess that will be dumped in their lap and procting the GSEs from insolvency, this might also be a case where the Fed is concerned for the muni bond market. California is up against a wall wrt taxation. There just isn't any more blood in those stones. Mello-Roos was the last tap in the vein. We are seeing municipalities across the nation "struggling" to "cut" even 5% from budgets. There just isn't a model to address the 20% revenue shortfalls coming. One sure bet is the floating of some of the worst "self-insured" muni paper that ever managed to slip past the waste treatment plant. And there's your topical tie-in. Real insurance is going to be expensive and the markets will command huge premiums on uninsured so look for hybrid products with the worst aspects of both.

Want to know how desperate municpalities can get? This is only the tip of the iceberg:

Ventura OKs fee for 911 service
$1.49 to be added to telephone bills

By Kevin Clerici (Contact)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seizing on a way to free up money to hire additional police officers and firefighters, Ventura will become the first city in Southern California to levy a monthly fee on telephone users for emergency 911 service.

The monthly $1.49 fee for "Emergency Services Access," approved by the City Council on Monday night, is scheduled to take effect May 1 and will be collected on all Ventura cellular and land-line telephone bills.

Critics say the fee is a tax in disguise and should be put to voters. Others argue the city should live within its existing $90 million annual operating budget.
Ventura added a new wrinkle to strengthen its legal case: Residents can opt out of the monthly fee by agreeing to pay $50 any time they call 911 for a personal emergency.

I don't have to say anything do I?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ventura Snapshots

Taken shortly after the weekend storms:

Ventura County Median Household Income 2000 $59,666
Ventura County Median Household Income 2006 $72,107

Ventura County Median Home Price 2000 $248,700 Ratio 4.17x
Ventura County Median Home Price 2006 $600,000 Ratio 8.32x
Ventura County Median Home Price 2007 $523,000 Ratio 7.25x

Returning to 4.17x ratios for 2008 the median would be $305,000
Expected 3 year duration of declines we can project 2008 median price to fall $75,000 to $448,000.

Taken this morning while getting the paper:

The land in the foreground on the right is likely part of the $10m 400ac ranch mentioned yesterday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Safe Havens

By popular request a thread in which to discuss financial strategies be they preservation or acquisition. Arrrg.
Noticing this morning that Countrywide now offers 3mo CDs at 5.1% versus 5.45% a few weeks ago. The Bernanke Put is in place.
On place people might look is carefully screened tax free munis. With insurance so expensive they are offering higher rates direct to consumers and because they no longer carry the highest ratings some big players automatically pass them by making them even better returning instruments.
Stocks, maybe 1500 more points to go but how we get there I have not even a guess. One exception, Apple. You see I just bought an iPhone yesterday. I near cried at the price and the plan but it is a work of artistic genius. If they can get a tighwad like me to justify the tool then they have a bright future.
Assets. Well for one I suspect high demand vehicles will be going up in price and holding value. A Civic or Japanese hybrid or some European cars if you are looking anyway might be better to buy sooner than later. We are looking at the BMW X3. All the 2004 models are flooding the aftermarket at the $22-24k price point and 42k miles. A price break might convince us.
Strange stuff. Clip coupons. Just be careful to not change diet to match sales items. Home improvement in slow times. If it needs done eventually enjoy the new bathroom rather than be forced to replace it just before you sell. Get rid of old tech. If you have a Win XP computer more than 3 yrs old reconsider. If you still have CRT screens the electricty ROI is like 18 months. 12 months if you are air conditioned. On that note, insulate. The batting is likely to see some substantial price increases.
But I ramble. I want to hear what the smart guys think.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The local fishwrap is reporting of a fashion but doesn't see the import.
Ventura County foreclosures grew from 114 to 542. It was the county's highest quarterly foreclosure total since DataQuick started tracking the numbers in 1988.
...DataQuick estimates that 41 percent of California homeowners who receive default notices can get out of the foreclosure process by bringing payments current, refinancing or selling their homes.

In Ventura County, there were 1,505 default notices in the fourth quarter, a 89.4 percent increase from a year ago.

Okay, 542 FCs last quarter and 59% of NODs going to FC means 888 this quarter.

Sales expected this quarter? 1200. Does anyone hear a train whistle? That isn't the light at the end of the tunnel, that's the fuse burning as the tunnel is about to be closed off. Only 100 people or so each month can expect to sell their homes. This compared to the 850 per month that were selling in 2006. Note to would be sellers; the train has left the station.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gov Elbridge Gerry Would Be Proud

This is the 23rd congressional district of Lois Capps in pink. Nothing like a compact district with regular borders to insure impartial representation. This is why we have Nancy Pelosi as House Chair. Get used to it.

Thanks below for the reference to with their truer to scale map:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

There once was a Chairman named Ben
Who saved whole markets with only his pen
When asked to name his reward
He said "Oh nothing untoward...
Cash, most preferably Yen."

Give vent in verse. (It couldn't be worse.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Old Is New (Tech) Again

Apple stock tanks over 11% in after-hours trading
Shares of Apple Computer plummeted nearly $6 in after hours trading on Tuesday, losing over 11% of their value despite the company reporting the best quarterly results in its history.

For its fourth fiscal quarter __ ____, the Mac and iPod maker posted revenue of $3.68 billion and a net quarterly profit of $430 million, or $.50 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $2.35 billion and a net profit of $106 million, or $.13 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

However, the results still fell short of the extremely high investor expectations that have been baked into the company's stock price, which has recently traded at all-time highs.

As of 5:00pm eastern time, Apple stock was trading at $45.85, down $5.74 or some 11.13%.


The punchline: the above is from Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Update: "The Scum asked about pizza in Vegas in a previous thread:
Any better local pizza similar to that in Vegas

OMG! You don't do Pizzeria Uno? To die for. On the west side across the freeway from the strip. There are even specials not on the menu. We get a "Sea Delico." Ask, they'll know.

So Anything to Talk About?

75 bp and still 350 points down. Everything we've been talking about has been coming true. And are we being asked to comment? No, same talking heads still not getting just how different things are this time.

Tough, I'll comment here. Housing is going to see some even scarier numbers in February. In my opinion the massive investment component of so much residential housing will start acting like an investment. n plain English; stickiness is gone. This is the gap down I've hinted at previously.

Monday, January 21, 2008

HELOCs Not Really Forgiven

"The customer still owes the money, but it is no longer an asset on our books." That doesn't let the borrower off the hook: The lender keeps the lien in place, however, in the hopes that it will receive some money when the property is sold.

This is so wrong. These banks have a free parking space on the board where they can hide potential assets at zero but they think have value? NFW.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Put Down Your Coffee First

Last night on the ABC7 Eyewitness News out of LA they had election coverage from Las Vegas of the primaries and caucuses. As part of their background reporting they talked to their driver who expressed his support for Obama based upon positions and thought it was wonderful that a fellow black man could be in the White House. Limo driving was actually his third career. Until last summer he had been a mortgage broker in the hot hot Las Vegas market but that all dried up in August. The reporter proceeded to query him as to if he will be voting in the caucus. The driver replied, "Actually I cannot vote owning to a previous felony conviction." :Prior to being a mortgage broker he was a car thief. You can't make this stuff up.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Land of Fruits and Nuts

[Hattip Lou] This from Victor Davis Hanson:
At some point we Californians should ask ourselves, how we inherited a state with near perfect weather, the world's richest agriculture, plentiful timber, minerals, and oil, two great ports at Los Angeles and Oakland, a natural tourist industry from Carmel to Yosemite, industries such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and aerospace—and serially managed to turn all of that into the nation's largest penal system, periodic near bankruptcy, and sky-high taxes.

I'll hold off for a few replies before weighing in.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Love Charts Like This

Berkshire Hathaway v. AIG 2 years.

Something happened in July 2007 or so don't you think? Two stocks that track suddenly start to mirror. I just wish I could afford to buy a share. Just one share. Surely our smarter readers can see some tradeable action here but then again AIG was unfortunate enough today to have the word "insurance" in their name. That alone was good for a loss twice what the Dow saw.

The Next Wave

"The next wave of problems will come from prime borrowers who bought too much house or borrowed too much against it,"

That from a Reuters article "Wealthy may be next in line in U.S. home crisis." Yes indeed. The destruction of the middle class has been a common theme here. It has just become so pervasive it has become subtext. Now, finally the MSM is waking up to the facts. Pity the hard workers in their 40s, they'll not see retirement until their mid 70s and then receive a pittance eroded by inflation and taxes and mandatory participation in various programs.
All the money will go to saving these people:
"For those who utilized home equity loans for five to ten years to finance their lifestyle, the chickens are coming home to roost,"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chance of Lower prices in 2010

PMI Residential Real Estate Trends 2006 download pdf.

Red is 90% probability. That big blob in the lower left represents about a quarter of all US residential asset value.

As a result of deteriorating market conditions and the enhancements to the risk index model, the risk of home price declines increased in all of the Top 50 MSAs during the third quarter. California’s MSAs accounted for 7 of the 15 MSAs in the highest risk categories.
There is also a growing distinction in California between the performance of house prices in the northern parts of the state (dominated by the San Francisco Bay area), southern parts of the state (dominated by Los Angeles and San Diego), and the Central Valley (Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, etc). Housing markets in the Central Valley and Southern California MSAs are much weaker than those in the Northern California MSAs, where employment continues to be strong. The MSAs in Florida
account for 5 of the 15 highest ranked MSAs in the largest 50. Rounding out the group are Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Providence, which all experienced significant increases in their risk scores.

----If this perspective becomes common knowledge we can expect a huge number of homemoaners to review their housing strategy. I'll be plain. MILLIONS of people are only in the house they are in now because they thought they could capture apperciation. They are going to look at this and their monthly payment and taxes and see their investment 90% chance of eing lower and they are going to get out of that particular house. Or at least try. Grab some butt and hold on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

California Bond Downgrades

Businesswire reports:

Fitch Places State of California's Ratings on Negative Watch

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fitch has placed the State of California's approximately $43 billion outstanding general obligation (GO) and $5.9 billion in related state appropriation-backed bonds on Rating Watch Negative. Bonds affected by the action are detailed at the end of this release.

The action reflects California's widening structural budget and cash flow imbalances as the state's economy slows largely due to the housing downturn. Risks are heightened given the long-term lack of political consensus for fiscal solutions to California's chronic structural budget imbalances, as well as concerns regarding state economic and revenue forecasts developed in early December, since which time the general economic outlook has diminished. Underlying assumptions project that the California housing downturn bottoms out later this year, and revenue deceleration reverses in the new fiscal year, which in Fitch's view is uncertain. The depth and diversity of the underlying economy, despite short-term direction, remains a strength. Debt levels are moderate, though rising, and proposed new authorizations would substantially increase this burden.

Rating downgrade would be triggered by the lack of timely action during the emergency session to implement proposed cash conservation or equivalent measures to offset cash shortfalls projected through August, accelerating economic and revenue weakening, extended delays in budget enactment, or the absence of sustainable structural measures incorporated in the final budget.
Right on schedule. Anybody want the scores for the next three superbowls?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dr. Phil v. Casey Serin Celebutard Smackdown

Thanks to Tiki:
Wednesday - January 16, 2008

Get Rich Quick Disasters

Do you know someone who says he or she has a great idea to make a lot of cash overnight? Does this person spend all their time, energy and money trying to make a better this or that? Dr. Phil's guests have their heads in the clouds but no money in the bank, and their loved ones want to give them a reality check. First up, Dave thinks his big–money break is around the corner. He says once one of his deals comes through, he'll being living high on the hog, though for now he lives in a tent. His ex-girlfriend, Diane, says she would marry Dave if he could get his finances figured out. Find out why Dave's mom says she's scared for her son's future. Next, Casey is only 24 but has already racked up $2.2 million in debt with rash real estate investing. He's been foreclosed on, receives calls from creditors, is considering bankruptcy, and recently, his wife handed him divorce papers. He's desperate to save his marriage, but is his wife willing to work things out? And, meet A.J. Khubani, a man who has made millions selling products on TV infomercials. He allows the Dr. Phil cameras to roll as he tells it like it is to wannabe millionaires. Find out which product caught A.J.'s eye, and what he's willing to do for this inventor. Plus, learn how to spot a two billion-dollar scheme that could take you for thousands, and don't miss the get-rich-quick ideas the Dr. Phil viewers submitted. Would you buy them?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fundamentally Flawed

Last year at this time Ventura County suffered a hard freeze. Happens about every 10-15 years and damages crops and often orchards themselves.

Here is a Ventura Star story about the response that makes it abundantly clear why California has a budget crisis and why it cannot solve that crisis:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly announced the opening of "one-stop" assistance centers. They were touted as places where displaced farmworkers could find "job and unemployment assistance, support with food programs, healthcare information, warming center location information and other essential services."

But immigration laws blocked assistance from going to anyone who didn't have a Social Security number or proof of eligibility to work.

Many farmworkers are undocumented immigrants, who are eligible only for social services such as child care assistance and referrals to food distribution programs. ...

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger's office and other state agencies, realizing what was happening, figured out a way to move money to farmworkers affected by the freeze. Emergency loans began flowing to farmers and grants to the food banks. The state, for example, allocated $461,235 to the Center for Employment Training in Oxnard to help Ventura County farmworkers pay their rent.
Half a million dollars to help pay rent in crowded Oxnard tenements to subsidize illegal farm workers. They are proud of their ability to find a way around immigration law.

SUVs About to Stage a Comeback in California

Digging deeper into The Budget (yes, it gets capitalization and you don't need to ask which budget) I was expecting the usual games and lies. This is only supposed to be about tough choices and compromise. No such luck. What's going to get hammered are capital projects. You know, things like road repair and freeway lanes are -projects- and don't have recurring budgets like -programs-. Better (depending on perspective) when a project is delayed the existing money actually counts against other spending programs in the aggregate.

What about personnel? Another case of a perfect storm. Public safety retirement is so generous we are going to see some very expensive new recurring costs. 'Retired' 45 year old prison guards and CHP looking to pull 110% salary pensions for another 40 years. Bad roads, fewer cops, 20,000 prisoner releases. You are gonna need an all terrain vehicle and it better be armored.


So, this means one good thing, the CA-AHSR is probably dead for a decade. Other than that the outlook for the State 5 years from now is "shabby." Another interesting possible wildcard that I need to research more; population projections. We might do okay with education if there's a baby bust but sales tax revenues crater. On that last expect CA to lead all the States in an internet sales tax. Conjecture but that could come this summer and it will be interesting to see if there are any successful holdouts among the States. I doubt but makes for good political watching.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Finally A Profit Opportunity

Many people have been wondering how to make a little something from the whole housing implosion. Sure shorting the HBs was fun but so 2007. Now American Home has provided the answer.
The company, once one of the country's largest mortgage lenders, says it can no longer afford the $45,000-per-month rental on warehouse space to preserve hard loan files.

What say we all pitch in and buy a freaking warehouse in Oklahoma and shovel all this stuff in. Won't be long before somebody looking to discharge a foreclosure comes around looking for the court ordered original documentation. $10,000 per file. What? Outrageous you say? Fine, go back to the judge with your story. Better yet, we'll go to the judge and to the borrower and while your ass rots in the slammer for contempt we'll be selling that same file to the borrower for pennies on the dollar. Lawyers in jail. it doesn't get any sweeter.

If Only For The Damn Neighbors

For those of you who want to rent here for your consideration. Careful readers will recognize this as the house in the picture from a previous post as being across the street from the $5m home.

Particulars for this bargain:
5 total bedroom(s)
5.5 total bath(s)
Approximately 5003 sq. ft.
Type: Detached
Spa/hot tub(s)
Exterior features: 1st Floor Entry, Abuts Golf Course
Exterior construction: Block, Stucco, Concrete Slab Foundation
Golf course lot/frontage
Lot is 38889 sq. ft.

Price: $7500/month. Ouch. Just remember that includes taxes. Taxes on this puppy run $1900 per month.

That rental price puts the theoretical purchase price at ~1.2 million. Last asking $2.42m. Ooops. S'course they ain't gonna get $7500 so it is a moot point.

And on to the $5m house. Just yesterday the "For Rent" sign went up on another home nearby. Their backyards abutt. And this sweetie? See for yourself.

4 total bedroom(s)
3 total bath(s)
Approximately 3020 sq. ft.
Type: Detached
Spa/hot tub(s)
Exterior features: 1st Floor Entry
Exterior construction: Stucco, Wood, Concrete Slab Foundation
Lot is 19994 sq. ft.

Price: $3500

Nice places, lousy neighbors.

New Inventory A'Comin

How many Countrywide employees can afford their houses in the Thousand Oaks area? [Only the orange man raises his hand.]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cliff Diving

Update 2: Just in case everyone missed it. Da Governator said $14.5 billion just like I predicted weeks ago. Sadly neither he nor I was being truly honest. $14.5b is what FY08-09 would accrue. What we haven't talked about is unmet obligations, current fiscal year overspending and interactions. Da Gov is only projecting $14.5b next year based upon the assumption that voters approve another $40b in debt and spending. Without those new bonds for supposedly capital projects the multiplier to the general economy and thus State revenues evaporate. Nevermind the total insanity of planning on charging hospitals a new tax to cover expanded healthcare.

Does anyone remember when ABC Wide World of Sports used to feature this sport? Wow, as a kid in frosty New England I remember these events every bit as clearly as I remember the RFK assassination news and that poor guy who fell off the Olympic ski jump (live).

We are about to see a master of mixing sport and entertainment and brinksmanship announce his budget threats. It will be entertaining in the watching NASCAR for crashes, NHL for fights kind of way. Don't get too comfy you other 49 states.

Update 1:

10% across the board. [lie]

Suspend Constitutional spending allocations.

Cancel inflation adjusted spending increases but not suspend inflation adjusted tax increases.

Amendments with automatic triggers. [stupid, how we got here]

Quotes Reagan. Bad sign.

Praises his stewardship these last 4 years. Another bad sign.

Capital None

Yahoo AP Capital One said it is taking a $1.9 billion provision for loan losses in the fourth quarter, including about $1.3 billion in charge-offs. The company said it is also adding about $650 million to its charge-off allowance because of recent delinquencies in its consumer lending businesses and "continued deterioration" of approximately $700 million of home equity lines of credit originated by its GreenPoint Mortgage unit, which shut down in August.

Subprime the gift that keeps on taking.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Earthquake Prediction

Actually two earthquake predictions. First a real earthquake. There's been a bunch of quiet and a bunch of microswarms and it has been too long.

Second and this one is not a "prediction" so much as a certainty and the real point of this post. The major municipal bond rating agencies are very soon now going to place the entirety of California on a ratings watch with strong guidance indicating that most will get downgraded. The news is coming in so fast it is hard to keep organized. The City of Santa Barbara discovered a $3.4m shortfall in their public safety budget. Some ($700k) was overtime from the Zacca Fire but most was Prop 172 money. Prop 172 was one of those bad ideas that arise with an open initiative process. Story and ubiquicerpt:
“We didn't think there would be any reason for sales tax to decline in any great way” this fiscal year, Brown noted in explaining why the projections were originally higher. “This (drop-off) may be a corollary affect of the decline in the housing market.”
Gee Mr. Brown ya think? Really bad news about this? Prop 172 is a statewide funding mechanism. EVERY single public safety agency has this same problem and hardly any even ksuspect they have a problem. Now for the tie in. Watch the COPs. No, not police officers, certificates of participation. It is possible that when these agencies go to the muni markets they will be denied. They don't have the resources to repay more debt and they can't afford performance insurance.

Mistakes Were Made

'I can understand the mistakes many financially naïve borrowers made but have a hard time understanding how so many investment professionals could have been so wrong.'

— William Poole, St. Louis Fed

Poole's list of five key mistakes:
• Borrowers took on mortgages they could not afford.

Real mistake: Lenders did not vet borrowers.

• Mortgage brokers put too many people in unsuitable mortgages. They knew, for instance, that adjustable-rate mortgages probably wouldn't be right for many borrowers if interest rates rose as the market expected.

Real mistake: Lenders did not vet borrowers.

• Investment banks jeopardized their reputations by securitizing mortgages without doing due diligence on the underlying assets, many of which were based on "inadequate or spurious information."

Real mistake: Lenders did not lend responsibly.

• Rating agencies put their stamp of approval on securitized mortgages without considering whether AAA ratings could be maintained if house prices fell.

Real mistake: Lenders eschewed oversight.

• Investors scooped up those securities without doing adequate analysis first. "Investors too readily accepted the AAA ratings at face value," Poole said. "A reach for yield with inadequate attention to risk in another basic lesson that apparently cannot be relearned often enough.

Real mistake: Lenders did not reveal material information pertaining to these securities.

Poole is trying too hard to spread the blame. I blame the lenders.

Charts are Astrology

Like my title, I think charts are generally useless but when the long term chart like GGP going back to the 1990s looks like a textbook case of parabolic then head and shoulders with a compressed right shoulder decline even skeptics like me are given pause. Maybe there is some value in charting.

Someone I admire and recommend recently said:

We have also lowered the occupancy rates in the recession version expecting lowering demand for shopping space in the wake of falling retail sales and consumer demand

This was Reggie Middleton this week.

Ahhhh. I can sleep now that Reggie has revisited vacancies. Read his blog/website. Caution: There is absolutely no evidence of what I am about to say.
The US has at least twice the retail/commercial square footage needed for the modern economy going forward.
I know it will take many quarters, perhaps years to be proven right. I can wait.

I run my business literally from a shed in the backyard. FedEx and UPS don't have a problem. Paypal and Time Warner don't either. My clients could care less about an office front. Think about all the places you do business with. Do they need all the overhead they are carrying? We could stop building general purpose commercial/retail space for a generation and still accommodate a strong, growing economy.

Election of 2024

Dateline 2024 Wash D.C. - President Chelsea managed to get Supreme Court Justices Bill and Hillary to stop squabbling long enough to rule on VP Jenna Bush's Senate tie breaking resolution that the black helicopter be sent back in time to the contested election of 2000 to "set right" the election results. From her frozen bunker in Santa Monica California President Chelsea Clinton-Federline-Swartzennegger said the latest Global Ice Age Scientists insisted the former President, now baseball commissioner, Gore erred in ordering the draining the Great Lakes to make room for ethanol crops back at the start of the century...
The Senate free for all got more out of hand than usual during the "debate" when the plurality Apathy Party tried to introduce an amendment citing that unfortunate incident in 1997 when the Dawg tried to collect evidence of wrongdoing as the actual start of the devastating Global Warming conspiracy whose policies plunged the world into the current Ice Age.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bubble Confirmation

This can't be right.
If it is right and it does sell you may not hear from me for a while. You see this is my neighbor, my next door neighbor. If they get $5m then I can get $5m and next stop trust fund alley; Beemer, Club Med vacations, the whole hedonist lifestyle baaaybeeee.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my predialian manse but properly structured $3.5m clear after expenses throws off $15k per month. that's a lot of suntan oil.

Friday, January 04, 2008

By Populist Demand

So does anyone care yet? The second derivative talking head analysis isn't even amusing. Huckabee has no legs. Clinton and Romney are wounded? GMAFB. They are both marathon campaigners. Clinton/Edwards v Romney/McCain in Nov.

Valley Prices Return to May 2005 Levels

The Daliy News talks about the San Fernando Valley:
The median price of a previously owned single-family house fell an annual 6.3percent, or $37,500, to $557,500, said the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. It's the lowest median in 32 months, or the start of the 2005 second quarter.

Old news for us but I just have to pull this quote:
"You have people frightened to death that there will be more price declines."

Fear, you can smell it. This fits with one of my predictions for 2008. There is a chance for herd mentality to take over and we could see a "gap down" in housing wishing prices.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

$508 Per Square Foot

Sweet. I just don't understand why anyone thinks there's a housing implosion. After all when you can ask $229,000 for this luxomatic crib with a swinging whole hunka 450 square feet of love nest there's no telling where the top is. Check out this deal on Realtor dot com.

Let's get real. Those "450" square feet are on two stories where you cannot stand up on the second. 1br 1ba and more than five hundred freakin' bucks per sq ft!

OMFG Fire Up the Shredders

Forbes breaks this story:
American Home Mortgage Investment Corp.'s plan to destroy 490,000 hardcopy mortgage loan files has drawn fire from federal bankruptcy monitors, who say it could hurt homeowners' ability to sue the failed lender.

The company, once one of the country's largest mortgage lenders, says it can no longer afford the $45,000-per-month rental on warehouse space to preserve hard loan files.
"The only loan files that we are destroying or seeking to destroy have been fully imaged," Kalas said. "Anything related to consumer concerns or loan fraud or anything like that, the information would be available on American Home servers."

Investors who own the loans also have protested the plan to destroy the files, complaining in court papers that they have had trouble getting full documentation from American Home, and don't want to see the paper files destroyed.

"Tanta the Great" at Calculated Risk has both denouned and settled this. Several judges who have been exposed to the shady lawyer practices seeking to obviate this fundamental protection have wisely followed her lead.

Documents and provenance are de rigeur. When all that French stuff starts showing up you know it is serious.

Quote O'Note

Sometimes the hypocrisy just drips off the screen. Put down your coffee before reading further.
I don’t give a rat’s ass about traffic. What I care about is telling the truth as beautifully as possible — saying what we want in the way that we want. If we’re right, we’ll attract people who understand why we’re right. If we’re wrong, we need to learn better. Nothing matters to me more than being right — right ethically, right epistemologically and right in my behavior. BloodhoundBlog was built that way from the beginning, and it will run that way forever. - Greg Swann

Pardon my not providing the linkwhore a link.