Friday, October 26, 2007

Better Start Stockpiling the Kool Aid

Let's see. Home owners in Marin are getting their property re-assessed at a record rate so as to lower their property taxes (when was the last time you could do that?). Foreclosures and defaults in Marin are "spiking" even in our strongest and most "immune" market of Tib\Bel. Price drops and ridiculously long days-on-market statistics are common. Sales are the lowest they've been in the last 12 years. The housing markets are getting "exponentially worse"; the current down-turn is already worse than it was in the 1990s (oh, but we are only just getting started...and don't forget that the economy is doing just dandy according to the official spinmeisters; my realtor said so!). And did you notice? A real estate agency cannot hide a disturbing fact: the median sales price and the average have diverged, at the very least confirming what we here have known for many, many moons:

What could it all mean?

And what about this:

And here is a glimpse into your housing future and that you have no doubt already seen somewhere else on the net:

Why do I even bother?

"These aren't the droids you're looking for... move along."

16 Comments:

Blogger Norka said...

We're Number 1!

We're Number 1!

Go Marin!

Marin's Number 1!

Yeah, Team!



http://themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com/

http://www.dqnews.com/RRFor1007.shtm

Notices of Default
houses and condos

County/Region 2006Q3 2007Q3 %Chg
Los Angeles 5,565 13,583 144.1%
Orange 1,500 3,882 158.8%
San Diego 2,355 5,673 140.9%
Riverside 3,040 9,250 204.3%
San Bernardino 2,548 7,038 176.2%
Ventura 578 1,377 138.2%
SoCal* 15,676 41,062 161.9%
San Francisco 149 252 69.1%
Alameda 803 2,126 164.8%
Contra Costa 1,012 3,216 217.8%
Santa Clara 670 1,655 147.0%
San Mateo 290 581 100.3%
Marin 89 172 93.3%
Solano 510 1,513 196.7%
Sonoma 231 749 224.2%
Napa 43 163 279.1%
Bay Area 3,797 10,427 174.6%
Santa Cruz 103 267 159.2%
Santa Barbara 188 598 218.1%
San Luis Obispo 94 249 164.9%
Monterey 202 751 271.8%
Coast 587 1,865 217.7%
Sacramento 1,761 4,947 180.9%
San Joaquin 898 2,961 229.7%
Placer 443 728 64.3%
Kern 741 2,196 196.4%
Fresno 789 1,807 129.0%
Madera 106 320 201.9%
Merced 282 1,076 281.6%
Tulare 268 595 122.0%
Yolo 101 303 200.0%
El Dorado 120 278 131.7%
Stanislaus 631 1,909 202.5%
Kings 46 108 134.8%
San Benito 63 178 182.5%
Yuba 66 227 243.9%
Colusa 18 54 200.0%
Sutter 77 155 101.3%
Central Valley 6,410 17,842 178.3%
Mountains* 185 417 125.4%
North California* 563 958 70.2%
Statewide 27,218 72,571 166.6%
* includes additional counties

Oct 26, 2007, 9:10:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

Marinite asked... Why do I even bother?

My personal answer is......

I'm still reeling from the years of RE industry hype.

They really did a good job.

Every time I turned on the TV they were telling me that it is going up and up and up.
They said "get in now or you never will" etc.

We all know the drill.

This site was the one specific Marin site that presented a different point of view.

Even now, I'm heartened by confirmation of what I knew in my gut years ago.

Marinite. I thank you for all of the work you have put in to this blog.

This stuff needs to be said and nobody else in Marin is saying it.

Kudos!

Keep the faith.

Oct 27, 2007, 1:14:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I emailed the SF Chronicle writer this morning....on one hand, Marin had the biggest % increase in foreclosures at 925%. But then the article also says that "SF, Marin and San Mateo Counties" are the least likely to have foreclosures. WTF? I pointed out that we are a smaller county than say, Contra Costa, so our absolute numbers will be smaller, but that a 925% increase hardly makes us less likely than other places to have a problem with foreclosures.

And we haven't seen a lot of Alt A foreclosures yet, as those resets don't peak for a while. I think that's when we'll really see Marin get slammed.

But at least this mess is now getting front page coverage in the Chronicle. And that graph was terrifying. All BA counties had huge, huge increases versus last year.

Oct 27, 2007, 8:55:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Forgot to mention....based on the NOD's posted in the comments section here, Marin had 172 NOD's in Q3 of this year. I believe roughly half of NOD's end up in foreclosure, so that would put us around 85. That would double down on the 41 foreclosures reported for the same period. And, we haven't seen the Alt A resets yet.

Oct 27, 2007, 8:58:00 AM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

I think that's when we'll really see Marin get slammed.

Has anyone seen stats on 2000-07 SFBA sales with morts that face a reset? My gut tells me a few people put themselves on a financial limb to live in the "better" Marin zip codes, or to leverage an expensive remodel on an existing home. Nothing says "loser" quite like living within your means in Marin.

Oct 27, 2007, 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"My gut tells me a few people put themselves on a financial limb to live in the "better" Marin zip codes, or to leverage an expensive remodel on an existing home."

I'd be willing to bet that MOST buyers put themselves on a financial limb to live here in Marin. Look at the prices. $800K for a starter cottage in San Anselmo. $550K for a crap condo in Fairfax. $1MM+ for a decent family size home in Southern Marin.

The SF Chronicle ran a piece a while ago that roughly 75% of 2005 home purchases in Marin were made with adjustable mortgages. And this was at a time when FIXED rates were at historic lows. I think either people didn't qualify for a fixed loan, or couldn't swing the full payment. Why else would 75% take out adjustable mortgages on a gigantic home purchase when fixed rates were so, so low??

How many people can really afford a reset that goes from 4% to 7% on an $800K house (plus interest)?

Oct 27, 2007, 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Price_Stout said...

you ask why you even bother...

well my wife and I are considering relocating to SF from LA (don't worry, we not real angelinos! We're from the east coast...). We actually sold our LA house in early '05 b/c i thought the prices were absurd and we could rent for an incredible amount less and buy the house back for less in a few years (obviously I mean an equivalent house). I thought housing was poised to collapse then (I'm a banker), and then buyers started flocking like never before to Option ARMs which, although refered to as "affordability product", only exacerbated the price run ups since housebuyers started acting like car lessors and asking "how much can I buy for X monthly payment."

Anyway, the insanity continued until things started to slow down earlier this year, and then ground to a halt with the August credit crunch. Now, that credit crunch has been bad for my business, but it's starting to make my personal choice to sell in early '05 look pretty damn smart finally (not to mention that I put half of that equity gain into emerging market funds which have more than doubled in that time -- I know this sounds like bragging, but heck, when you're right, you're right -- although the house we sold was certainly "worth" another 15% more than our selling price as of this spring... now, who knows). The decision to sell the house was a tough one for me and my wife, and the continued runup in prices subsequent to that certainly put a strain on our relationship -- not that she explicitly gave me a hard time, but I felt bad for having pushed that fairly radical choice (and the subsequent downgrade in our living in a rental less nice than our house), especially in the face of tremendous mainstream media coverage pushing the message that all trees grow to the sky.

Anyway, now we can both sit back and laugh all the way to the bank (finally!). We literally doubled our (lowly at the time) net worth by selling and switching to renting (you may argue that that didn't change our net worth, but it surely did as our actual rent payments were much lower than the then-current price of purchase entry was, and we rolled the cashed out equity into stock market investments that have increased even more -- and just so you know that I'm not claiming to be Warren Buffet Jr, just prior to the credit crunch there were what I took to be tremendous signs of weakness in the secondary markets and historically high P/E ratios on best ever earnings, and so I cashed out more than 50% of our stock holdings -- taking a pretty big tax hit -- including much our our emerging markets invesetments and put them in money market accounts, and meanwhile emerging markets are up another 20% since then!! Oh, well, we still did better than we would have keeping that darn house.)

Anyway, you ask why you bother, and at least for me, these types of sites have been invaluable over the last several years. I've learned a lot on sites like this one -- although I just starting coming to this one in particular recently when we started thinking about making a move.

So, please keep it up.

And tell me, when do you think a decent time to buy in Marin would be? I don't need to try and time the bottom, b/c we would plan on staying put perhaps as long as "forever" but certainly with a minimum intention of 7-10 years (altho' who knows, right?). If we were to make some fairly aggressive low offers @ January would you think that incredibly stupid?

My own view about the nicer parts of LA is that prices won't get close to bottom until probably 2010, since the collapse is happening from the exurbs in, but I don't know enough about Marin to have any real sense. Like I said, I don't need to buy at bottom, but I also don't just want to throw away 1/3 of the 30% or so that I plan to put down.

thx!!!!

Oct 27, 2007, 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

"SF, Marin and San Mateo Counties" are the least likely to have foreclosures. WTF? I pointed out that we are a smaller county than say, Contra Costa, so our absolute numbers will be smaller, but that a 925% increase hardly makes us less likely than other places to have a problem with foreclosures.

Exactly so. We are in fact one of the most likely if you take into consideration population size.

The SF Chronicle ran a piece a while ago that roughly 75% of 2005 home purchases in Marin were made with adjustable mortgages. And this was at a time when FIXED rates were at historic lows.

Yeppers. Exactly so.

Lisa, I sure wish you would take over this blog or give me a hand. I sent you the invite a month or so ago.

Oct 27, 2007, 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

...although I just starting coming to this one in particular recently when we started thinking about making a move...

Well, my "best" posts are from the first 70% of this blog or so...back when I asked a lot of questions and took more time examining data and thinking about what current trends mean or imply. So look there. Now, after two years, I just don't have the time or much of an inclination and frankly, anyone new to this blog is way late to the party as far as I am concerned.

And tell me, when do you think a decent time to buy in Marin would be?

If you have a boat load of money and are the type who doesn't care how much you pay for something (and I don't think you are), then the answer is now is as good a time as any.

But for everyone else...

In Marin, you have to factor in the snobbery, the "we are so much better than you" mentality... Marinites take the "we are special" statement (that realtors in every community like to make) to a whole new level. It takes time for that level of arrogance to ratchet down.

You can already start finding some pretty nice "deals" (relative to 2005 prices anyway) already across Marin; especially in San Rafael and north, some in Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur. But it will take time for the stubborness and arrogance of most Marin sellers, the ones I described above, to throw in the towel or take their "noise" off the market for good. That only matters if you want a large choice of much cheaper houses to choose from.

Of course, having cheaper houses on the market, relative to what a mortgage will cost then, only matters if you have a lot of cash on hand. Sounds like you do. And if that cash is overseas in some other currency, better still (thanks to Bernanke waging a destructive campaign on the value of the dollar which I don't see reversing any time soon).

My recommendation to you is if you have not already done so, move to Marin and rent for a few years and get a feel for this place. Live here for a while and then make decisions. FWIW: physically it's nice, but an ever growing larger majority of the people here are nasty the further south you go; it wasn't always so. Don't feel you should buy a place before you actually move. Moving is a pain I know and moving twice doubly so. But it is far better to move twice and get a feel for the different parts of Marin than to spare yourself one extra move only to realize later that you paid way more for your house in a part of Marin that you may later decide is not right for you than you could have paid if you had waited a couple or few years longer.

(Ok, so that last was not one of my better sentences.)

You might also want to consider the East Bay. Marinites like to refer to much of the East Bay (and pretty much everywhere else) as an "arm pit" but if you actually go there and check it out more than just superficially much of it is very nice and nicer than most of Marin IMO. The EB has its "canal districts" (a reference to one of the traditionally seedier areas of Marin which you will discover if you spend some time here first) which is what most Marinites refer to when they describe it as an "arm pit". But the rest is worth your time.

Oct 27, 2007, 1:45:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Oh, and if you are willing to consider Sonoma county... it is just as pretty as parts of Marin and IMO many of the towns far, far more charming and authentic than you will ever find in Marin. Much of Sonoma is still full of genuinely nice people. Prices in Sonoma have come down a lot (not surprising as the bubble is collapsing from more remote areas inward towards the employment center) and so you can get a very much nicer house there for the $ than you can here. Check out the Sonoma Bubble blog (not really maintained much anymore but the info there is still relevant).

Granted, it makes for a longer commute to SFO if that is where you want to work. But maybe you can work remotely some days a week? Or take the ferry? Or maybe Marin will some day, after more than 30 years of bickering about the idea, stop blocking all efforts to build a commuter train through Marin?

Oct 27, 2007, 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger Price_Stout said...

thx for the comments and sorry if you feel I missed the party on your blog. I'll go back to some of those older posts -- marin wasn't relevant to me until very recently.

renting for a while is sound advice whenever you're switching towns, so we will probably do that, but we are candidly a bit sick of not being able to put our stamp on a place.

Interesting suggestions on other places to live. If we move, I'll be working right by the ferry terminal in SF, so the ferry commute from Marin would be perfect. As an ex-NYer, I don't really mind the commute so much as I'ved hated commuting in my car since we moved to LA. Part of the appeal of Marin would be the ferry. Of course, as an ex-NYer, I'm probably exactly the kind of person

I lived in Berkeley for 15 months about 10 years ago and really loved it, but my sense is that the commute is much worse from the east bay. Perhaps that's not right.

Finally, I'm a sailor, so being in Marin is perfect. And I'm a sucker for a water view.

Again, I'm enjoying going back through your blog postings. Great stuff here.

Oct 27, 2007, 6:20:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

I lived in Berkeley for 15 months about 10 years ago and really loved it...

I find Berk is superior for food or just about anything I want to buy. My options in Marin are too limited. As you know, there's a much broader swath of people and cultures which make the place interesting--or possibly a turnoff for some who must live among their own "tribe."

It strikes me that Marin is where some people go to hide from the cultural realities of the greater Bay Area. There's also an aloof, cliqueish feel to Marin, which may grate on some people (such as this reader).

my sense is that the commute is much worse from the east bay

Well, it can take as long as 45 minutes to get out of Ross Valley via Sir Francis Drake to 101. Getting in/out of Tiburon is a real pain as well.

Oct 28, 2007, 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Well, it can take as long as 45 minutes to get out of Ross Valley via Sir Francis Drake to 101. Getting in/out of Tiburon is a real pain as well.

Ditto for Mill Valley too.

Oct 28, 2007, 1:07:00 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Living in Northern Marin, 101 traffic congestion is just getting worse as time goes by and development increases. I have noticed traffic being bad as late as 11:30 am. Unless BART (not SMART) goes to the North Bay there won't be any improvement. Commute-wise, you are better off in Berkeley/Oakland area. So, getting to the Ferry is going to be a pain unless you actually live near the Marin ferry points. 101 is just nuts.

Marin is designed to make any additional development impossible, yet the county is pushing more development without really addressing that major infrastructure has to be in place in order to handle more development.


Since we have moved up to Marin we have missed the cultural, culinary, and intellectual opportunities of San Francisco and even the East Bay. Maybe all the ticky-tacky has a dulling influence?

Pre-schools and childcare are the most expensive in the Bay Area. If you have school aged children, primary and intermediary schools are good (but in many cases they underperform compared to 100 districts with the same high socio-economic demographic), but high schools are surprisingly absent from national rankings in comparison to South Bay and Peninsula schools with the same socio-economic demographic. Perhaps not having high tech or Stanford University nearby has something to do with that.

Marin is great if you love hiking, camping, and biking. We have perhaps the best collection of trails around. If you are an outdoorsy person Marin is for you. Also, if you enjoy rough and tumble land use politics, Marin is the place for you!

Oct 29, 2007, 8:19:00 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

btw..this is Marinmaven...blogger somehow changed to another login.

Oct 29, 2007, 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

In light of Citi's and other write-downs, that reset chart now taken on added gravitas.

Nov 5, 2007, 11:13:00 PM  

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