Friday, October 12, 2007

Cows to the Slaughter

The SF Chronicle ran this story in today's business section about the tripling of Bay Area foreclosures:
Foreclosure filings across the United States nearly doubled last month compared with September 2006...

Foreclosure filings in the Bay Area tripled in September compared with a year ago.
The data for the following chart came from the Chronicle's graphic for the above mentioned article; I just added some info:

(Click on the image to get a larger view.)
You might think that a tripling of foreclosures is big news. What did the Marin IJ run on the front page of their web site today? Why, an article entitled "Here's the beef: Marin's best hamburgers".

* * *
Update 10-13-2007: I saw this in the Marin IJ today (a day late and a dollar short):
The number of foreclosures is rising in Marin, with defaults almost quadrupling in September over a year ago, but the number of properties in distress remains relatively small. The same isn’t true for counties like Alameda and Contra Costa, where the numbers are significant...

Valerie Castellana, president of the Marin Association of Realtors, said she expects to see increases in defaults and foreclosures in Marin but added, "We are blessed to have the default and foreclosure numbers so low compared to other Bay Area counties."
Uh, Valerie, according to the 2000 census Alameda has a population of about 1.4 million and Contra Costa is at roughly 950K; Marin's population is about 250K. So of course Alameda and Contra Costa's absolute numbers of NODs/foreclosures, etc. are higher than Marin's. That's why you look at rates of change, percentages, etc... to factor out population differences when comparing across counties. When you do that you find that Marin is really no different than any other Bay Area county, which of course is the point. (Also I should mention that what really matters when comparing is not the county population per se but the number of houses that are actually for sale in that county.)

What spinmeisters are Marin real estate agents/realtors and what a tool is the Marin IJ.


Blogger see me said...

The Marin IJ article is the BREAD in the circus. The author wanted "to get a sense of Marin's hamburger diversity..." A very important topic in todays trying times. ROME IS BURNING!!!

Oct 12, 2007, 4:47:00 PM  
Blogger fortunateone said...

To be fair, you should consider the populations of the counties. Marin with 248,000 versus Sonoma at 466,000 or Solano at 411,000.
In both of those cases they don't have even twice the population of Marin, but compare the number of actions/foreclosures.
Solano, for example, has 289 notices of default compared to Marin at 23.

Oct 12, 2007, 5:17:00 PM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

To be fair, you should consider the populations of the counties.

One reason for using percentages. It's better than raw numbers like the Chronicle had.

Oct 12, 2007, 5:35:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Foreclosures tripling is foreclosures tripling, period.

Yes,the figures are small, but who is to say they'll stay small? So it's 70 NOD's now, but what if this number continues to go up as this mess unravels?

And if Marin is so f**** special, why couldn't those houses be sold before they went into foreclosure? If we're all so rich here, why aren't people able to pay whatever mortgage they signed on for?

It's not so much the absolute numbers, but the fact that it is happening in Marin, of all places, that deserves note.

Oct 12, 2007, 8:19:00 PM  
Blogger W.C. Varones said...

Good post, but there's a mistake in your math.

The "% Change" column should be (2007 - 2006) / 2006. You calculated just 2007 / 2006.

Oct 12, 2007, 8:51:00 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Well, but yeah... in the words of our esteemed leader "We need to get em to eat more beef... it's good for em." Can't argue with the decider.

Oct 13, 2007, 3:58:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

The "% Change" column should be (2007 - 2006) / 2006. You calculated just 2007 / 2006.

The Chronicle was claiming that there is a tripling in some rate. But they showed only raw counts in their table. I wanted to see either a column of things like "3x" or "300%" to make their message clearer (and also, to satisfy a previous commentor, because it makes county population differences irrelevant). Perhaps "% CHange" was too terse of a column caption?

Oct 13, 2007, 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

The other thing I should note is I think the data the Chronicle is reporting is an under-reporting anyway. According to my count in Marin there are currently about 50 foreclosures, 230 pre-foreclosures, 55 bankruptcies, and 1150 or so properties with tax liens.

Oct 13, 2007, 11:55:00 AM  

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