Monday, January 28, 2008

They're BaaAAaack!

So I am skimming over the Ben Jones housing bubble blog and I notice the name "Marty Ummel" mentioned in one of the posts and I say to myself, "Hey, I know that name". I remember that name from a Marin IJ article that I almost chose to blog. I was unable to find the original IJ article in their archives (it was back in late 2005 or early 2006 if I remember correctly) but as I recall these were the folks who (for reasons that I find hard to believe) actually left God's Country (aka Marin County) for that "armpit" Southern California. As I recall they lived in the Dominican Hills area and Vernon and Marty Ummel were fund raisers for Dominican College University at the time.

Well, the Ummels are back in the news (you can see the video here). Apparently, the Ummels feel they paid too much for their SoCal house, they are watching it fall in value, and, naturally, are suing someone and that someone is their real estate agent:
CARLSBAD, Calif. - A North County woman who says she paid too much for her home, which she bought at the height of the housing boom, is taking her case to court.

In 2005, Marty Ummel and her husband bought a four-bedroom house in Carlsbad for $1.2 million. The Ummels say their agent was dishonest about the price of other homes in the neighborhood, and then rushed them to close the deal before the Ummels found out comparable houses on the same street sold for as much as $175,000 less.

She has now filed suit against her real estate agent, claiming fraud.

"We feel that we were misled. We feel disappointed. We do feel angry," she said... We've worked hard and to think that we've done that our whole lives -- and then for a realtor not to tell us about the biggest purchase of our lives -- that there was a house selling for much less," she said.

But in a deposition, an expert witness hired by the defense said of the Ummels: "They simply didn't do what is expected of a knowledgeable sophisticated buyer, and are now looking for someone other than themselves to take responsibility.'"

The defendant in this case, Mike Little of Remax Associates, told the New York Times the case is quote "ridiculous."

"There are a lot of folks out there who are in a desperate situation right now with their homes and they're simply looking for someone to blame," said Diana Olick of CNBC.

"If they have information that is pertinent to their purchaser they should disclose it, but at the end of the day, the buyer is responsible for their own actions," said Robert DeLeonardis, the former president of the Manhattan Association of Realtors.

People in the real estate industry are calling this a "landmark lawsuit."

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind seeing the real estate industry being sued; I don't mind that at all. And I am sure there are a lot more law suits to come. But seriously, how many of you are actually going to tell me that the Ummels didn't buy with the full expectation that "houses only go up in price" and "now is [always] a good time to buy" so it doesn't matter if you willingly pay a stupid price for a house? These are former Marin residents after all and that makes them "special"; as the Marin RE bulls were frequently telling us "bubbleheads" early in the history of this blog, Marin residents are all rich, all financially savvy.

So what do you think? Do the Ummels have a legitimate gripe (listen to the reasons Marty Ummel lists in the video)? Is this case truly a "landmark" case? Will we be seeing more upside-down buyers suing their real estate agents? Or are the Ummels just more spoiled, whining Marinites who didn't get their way? And what does this portend for the future?


Blogger Becca said...

Good memory. I think it would be fitting if the people who purchased the Marin home of the Ummels decided to sue Marty and Vernon for accepting an unreasonably high offer for their Marin home.

Jan 28, 2008, 7:59:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

I am not an advocate for real estate agents, but this case has no merit.
In a development of 25 homes, it would be very easy to check on recent sales data etc.
The Ummel's were assuming that prices would only rise, so they didn't cares about the stats.

Caveat Emptor.

Jan 29, 2008, 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Rob Dawg said...

Homemoaner v. Realtard® Celebrity Deathmatch. Bring it on, let them beat each other over the head with lawyers for our entertainment.

Jan 29, 2008, 5:31:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

It's the same attitude exhibited in Sunday's 60 Minutes story on the housing market. Unless the house is going UP in value, people don't want it and will find someone else to blame.

The good news is that I think we've reached the tipping point in terms of psychology. People are starting to grasp that you sure as hell CAN lose money on a house, and lose big given how out-of-control prices got.

Jan 29, 2008, 8:49:00 AM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

This is what happens when you leave the "reality bubble" of Marin to buy a home in a market that was so obviously in trouble as early as 2005. You have to wonder if they raised these concerns before they signed the paperwork? I have my doubts.

Jan 29, 2008, 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Our beloved Marin Heat Index is not so hot today at 0.35.

I hope whoever bought the Ummels home in Marin doesn't need to sell anytime soon.

I have friends in Tiburon who had their home on the market for 10 months. They're now trying to rent it for a modest $7,000 a month.

Jan 29, 2008, 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

$7,000 a month? I rent my 4 bedroom house for $1,600. Tell your friends that they're dreaming.

In regards to these 'poor' folks, well if they are suing over this, then it indicates to me that they're actually in serious financial doo-doo. If they were really rich enough to spend over a million bucks on a house, then you'd think that a measly 175k would be peanuts. Perhaps they're desperate and this is the only thing they could think of.

But what do I know? It soudns incredibly stupid no matter what. And if all those so-called homeowners want to walk... let em'! Just adds more to the abundant supply for us future buyers to choose from.

Jan 29, 2008, 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Wrong plaintiff Marty, you poor dear. You should try and take a pop shot at Leslie Appleton Young or the NAR or the IJ for filling your little head with thoughts of easy riches. Didn’t your agent know you were from Marin and can’t be expected to have to do your own due diligence? How dare he! I watched the video, she’s much more informed than the average buyer, but, then again, she is from Marin. She’s also chocker block full of arrogance and entitlement.

Hey, look at the bright side Marty, maybe a set of five immigrant families will buy the house next door to yours at a comparable price….

Jan 29, 2008, 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

And how much you wanna bet had housing prices kept rising the Ummels would not be suing now despite the fact their allegations would still be as valid?

Jan 30, 2008, 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Cow_tipping said...

Oh yea, its real fun to watch the vultures and the jackals fight over the same rotting carcass. I just hope they lose all their money to the blood sucking vampires (lawyers).

Jan 30, 2008, 3:03:00 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.