Thursday, August 17, 2006

The IJ's Spin on DataQuick's Numbers

In the past I have slammed the Marin Independent Journal for its lazy reporting, its ceaseless and almost blind cheerleading of real estate, and its ignoring of the facts as they relate to real estate. In my opinion the IJ chose to "follow the money" and side with their vested interests and abandon their journalistic responsibility to objective reporting and informing the public of what has been driving this real estate market to obscene levels and the risks that entails. Hence, this blog (which, incidentally, I know for a fact they read). So naturally, I was anticipating the IJ to put a significant amount of spin on the latest DataQuick figures. Well, they did put a lot of spin on them with an abundance of feel-good quotes from real estate agents. But nevertheless, for the IJ this is a fairly sobering article.
Median home prices fell in Marin County last month as sales dropped to their lowest level in 11 years. Marin's median home price was $900,000 in July, down from $971,500 in June and down from $910,000 in July 2005. Sales for both homes and condominiums totaled 286 in July, the lowest sales volume since July 1995, when 205 residences sold, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate information service in La Jolla. July home sales were down nearly 30 percent from July 2005, when 408 sold. In Marin, 204 single-family homes were sold last month, down 30 percent from June when 292 were sold and down 25.5 percent from July 2005 when 274 were sold.

"Marin was no exception [to the rest of the Bay Area] as the decline year to year was very similar to the Bay Area," DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage noted. "The slowdown under way for many months was just more pronounced in July and we are not sure if it is an anomaly or the beginning of a more similar slowdown. By fall we will know."

"It is almost certain the next stage will be that prices begin to drop," said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy. "I think the more expensive homes over $1 million are more vulnerable at this time."

"The July closing numbers are actually sales that occurred in June and the real estate market in Marin is traditionally slow during summer months," Cohn [Real estate broker Patty Cohn, of the Frank Howard Allen Greenbrae office] said [Marinite: uh, that's not true and agents in the past have been quick to point out that a big reason why the summer months are often a good time to sell is that people are out buying houses to relocate before school starts].

"Buyers see homes are not getting snapped up like hotcakes and want to know whether a house they might buy for $1 million will be worth more or less in five years."

Levy cited two types of buyers leaving the market. "The first set is folks who can only buy a house with an exotic mortgage - a very low-rate mortgage or a mortgage where the principle payments were deferred," Levy said. "The second group that left is buyers who were speculating or flipping homes, investors who were not buying to own. When prices stop rising that does not work anymore.

"Prices have stopped rising."


Blogger marine_explorer said...

$971,500-$910,000 (median) (-6.3%)
And so it begins...

"The July closing numbers are actually sales that occurred in June and the real estate market in Marin is traditionally slow during summer months"

LOL. Well, they certainly don't buy during Winter here! I think your own data has established ~July as the normal sales peak in Marin. I'm sure Patty Cohn is well aware of that.

Aug 17, 2006, 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

marin_explorer -

Yes, I tried to point out how Patty Cohn is changing the established story (that spring and summer months are the hottest season for Marin [and elsewhere of course]) to suit the facts. The IJ, if they were honest and take their journalistic responsibilities seriously, should have questioned her on that statement. But alas...

Aug 17, 2006, 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

Indeed--any reporter worth their salt should question such a ridiculous comment. The fact I could dig for 5 minutes and find contrary data highlights the IJ's lazy attitude toward reporting. I challenge them to publish the data you've reported here for 2006.

So I guess the hopeful Marin homeseller can read Patty Cohn's works and hope for a better Spring in 2007? Whatever, LOL.

Aug 17, 2006, 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Patty's comments were classic since sales were compared to the same month last year. They're slow and has nothing to do with "seasonal" considerations.

I also thought it interesting that the IJ showed the numbers but not the percentages. Headline could have been "Median Home Price Plunges 6% In A Month".

They could have interviewed a homeowner or two about trying to sell in this market, but no, all we get are more realtor quotes.

Aug 17, 2006, 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. Patty Cohn's statement that summer is the slow season is refuted by the facts.

From my look at the sales numbers for the last 8 years (completed some months ago), the summer months have the highest sales totals:

Month Average
Jan 237
Feb 238
Nov 336
Dec 337
Oct 357
Mar 374
Sep 382
May 390
Apr 404
Jul 414
Aug 433
Jun 435

Aug 17, 2006, 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Total BS from Patty about the summer months. What a moron to be quoted saying that. I was laughing out loud at that one.

I think the IJ had to print this. However with the Coldwell advert placed selling buyers to sellers - maybe it's a part of a new strategy.

Aug 17, 2006, 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Cohn must have thought she was talking to a client. Otherwise, she would not have come out with such a bald-faced lie. What a joke!

The Century 21 realtor who closed four offices in the East Bay last week blamed the internet. Is that what is next from Ms. Cohn and the Marin MLS monopolists? Will they try to close down Zillow?

Don't they understand that they no longer can keep their clients in the dark?

Aug 17, 2006, 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The median is down $70K in one month and this is all the press it gets!?! If there had been a $70K increase in one month, you can bet it would have been a front page story singing the praises of how special Marin is and how RE only goes up because everyone want to live there.

Aug 17, 2006, 1:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse my previous comment at 8/17/2006 01:32:20 PM. I see the story was a link on the main page of the on-line version.

But still, where is the panic and sense of urgency? I'm waiting for the crash so I can stop being a bitter renter.

Aug 17, 2006, 1:41:00 PM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

"I'm waiting for the crash so I can stop being a bitter renter."

If past cycles are any indication, we're all going to have to wait a few years. Then again, this recent speculative run is worse than anything I've seen before; your guess is as good as mine.

Aug 17, 2006, 2:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait till the 30-year treasury goes to 7%. That would be the final nail on the coffin of the US real estate market.

Aug 17, 2006, 2:43:00 PM  
Blogger Marin Family Guy said...

Really funny that quote. Everybody knows the market heats up in Marin in the summer months (especially as the kids graduate school, the only thing keeping the family in Marin). Sales skyrocket in June and plummet after labor day as kids are back in school and no one wants to move their kids to a new school.

In the immortal words of Bones, "I'm a country doctor, Jim, not a brain surgeon."

Aug 17, 2006, 9:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Century 21 realtor who closed four offices in the East Bay last week blamed the internet."

Well that's quite a compliment. To all bloggers a big pat on the back. (Except I think it's really the lack of home affordability and slow exhaustion of the pool of idiot FBs willing to take out suicide loans.) But a round of congratulations for bloggers anyway.

Aug 18, 2006, 1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well that's quite a compliment. To all bloggers a big pat on the back."

It's war.

Aug 18, 2006, 1:30:00 PM  
Blogger allspaces said...

Tips for Being a Successful Landlord

In today’s apartment rental market there are several things that are “must do’s” for becoming a successful landlord. The reason you’re playing the real estate rental game is to have the check in your mailbox on the first of the month, right? Here are a few tips that can help you to achieve this with as little aggravation and frustration possible.

First and foremost is finding the right tenant to rent your apartment, house or other rental. This is the most important ingredient in the recipe. Checking the prospective tenant’s credit history to make sure they are paying their bills is one of the best ways you can screen. A tenant that pays their bills on time most likely will send you their rent on time. Establish a clear system on collecting rent, handling complaints from the tenant and how you will contact them if you need to gain access to the apartment.

Secondly, get all the important terms of the tenancy in writing. You have the option to have a basic rental agreement or draw up a formal lease. Whichever you decide, the important thing is to document the terms that you and the tenant agreed to. Clarify who is paying the utilities, the rental price and any other agreements made between you and your tenant.

It’s a good idea to stay on top of the repair and maintenance needs of your property. When you are notified of something that is broken or not working, repair it as soon as possible to prevent further damages. You may also lawfully enable the tenant to withhold rent, sue for injuries caused by defective conditions or move out without notice.

On a similar topic make sure you are carrying enough property and liability insurance to cover yourself in any situation. A well designed insurance program can protect your rental property from losses caused by everything from fire and storms to burglary, vandalism, and personal injury lawsuits.

I hope that this has been helpful to you. Just remember, as long as you follow these simple tips you will be on your way to a happy and fulfilling landlord future. Best of luck!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Goldstein, associated with which Conveniently Connects All People with All Spaces in All Places, has been dedicated to the real estate rental market for over 8 years. He has assisted over 25,000 landlords with their renting needs. Any questions about renting apartments, houses or other rentals feel free to visit or email him at

Sep 6, 2006, 2:57:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Terms of Use: The purpose of the Marin Real Estate Bubble weblog (located at URL and henceforth referred to as “MREB” or “this site”) is to present and discuss information relating to real estate and the real estate industry in general (locally, state-wide, nationally, and internationally) as it pertains to the thesis that recent real estate related activity is properly characterized as a “speculative mania” or a “bubble”. MREB is a non-profit, community site that depends on community participation and feedback. While MREB administrators do strive to confirm all information presented here and qualify all doubtful items, the information presented at MREB is neither definitive nor should it be construed as professional advice. All information published on MREB is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind and the administrators of this site shall not be liable for any direct or indirect damages arising out of use of this site. This site is moderated by MREB administrators and the MREB administrators reserve the right to edit, remove, or refuse postings that are off-topic, defamatory, libelous, offensive, or otherwise deemed inappropriate by MREB administrators. You should consult a finance professional before making any decisions based on information found on this site.

The contributors to this site may, from time to time, hold short (or long) positions in mentioned and related companies.