Monday, March 17, 2008

Marin Market Heat Index Will Now Cost You $799/Year

The picture that you see above is the Marin Market Heat Index from January, 2008 (at that time the Index was around 0.41 which was essentially where it was at the end of last week). It is probably the last time you will ever be able to see it for free. You see, over this past weekend or so the Marin Heat Index became a paid service; if you want to know what the Heat Index is as of today or on any other future day, you or your realtor will have to fork over $799/year to see it.

This is what real estate agents do to remain relevant and to manipulate the general public -- they covet and restrict access to real estate information. The fact that the Heat Index was free and open to the public was the main reason why I endorsed Nate Sumner and his agents as they seemed to value the free exchange of information. Clearly, I was mistaken about them -- Nate and his crew are no better than all the rest of the real estate shills.

Why did they do this? Who knows? But given that the Index has been free since around the year 2002 and only now, at the collapse of the largest real estate bubble in history, the timing of this is rather suspicious... maybe not Eliot Spitzer suspicious (the feds just happen to be cracking down on the call girl service that the "Scourge of Wall Street" just happened to use), but suspicious none-the-less. Maybe their business is so slow that they thought that they could get some extra income by charging for the Heat Index? Maybe they just don't want the general public knowing how bad our market is and is becoming. Or maybe the last six years of free access has just been a "test the waters" sort of thing and going for-fee is all part of The Plan.

Well, if you are like me and feel that if your real estate market is ever to be even close to an open, free market, then please use the contact info that they provide on their web site to express your opinion. Who knows? Maybe we can convince them that they are doing a better service for people by letting the Heat Index remain free and open. Here is the contact info in case you don't want to look it up:

That email link goes here:


Blogger Lisa said...

When I saw this today, I thought it was just too weird. And right when we are entering the "crucial" Spring selling season, to suddenly not have this information free and available can't be coincidence. Sales in Marin were down 40% last month. 75% of Americans now think we are in recession (CNN). Fed orchestrated a firesale of the country's 5th largest brokerage house over the weekend.

I can't imagine too many people think it's a great time to go massively into debt to be a home owner in Marin...and poof...the public no longer has access to current market stats.

And a while ago, the IJ stopped publishing sales & price data for individual towns in Marin, which they did for years. All we see is country wide numbers, which buries what is going on in the entry, mid and upper price points.

Whatever. Will it make any difference in the long run? No. And it smacks of desperation.

Mar 17, 2008, 8:10:00 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Who cares about the Marin Heat Index? I checked it out because it did show valid trends, but it's not worth paying $.01 for. I thought the actual computation was needlessly complex. It could be easily calculated by anyone with access to the MLS - but why not just use an inventory measure equal to active lisings divided the current monthly sales (closings) pace?

This is the standard measure used by many and it's easy to understand. Just say there are X active lisings in Marin and there were Y sales last month. That yields an inventory level of X/Y months of sales. Overall, this measure is running about 8 months for Marin - it was probably 3 months or so at the peak.

I don't really care about the more elaborate pipeline effects that look at Contingent - Shows and Pending listings. Just show me what's available (and not under any contract) and what the pace of actual closings are.

I liked Nate's historical charts - but they correlate directly to the months of sales in inventory figures. The pipeline doesn't really add anything. Sure, it may slow down or speed up - but who cares. I don't think he's going to get many subscribers. I can't fault him for trying - he does have a PhD from Brown.

Mar 17, 2008, 8:52:00 PM  
Blogger clemente619 said...

You can still get it for free.

1. Click on the "Sign Up Now (Free!)" button

2. Select Marin County

3. Select a realtor from their list

4. Give them a throw-away e-mail (e.g., hotmail) and phony contact info

And they e-mail you your password and logon. Worked for me.

Now we'll see if they disconnect me after they call Papa Murphy's Pizza.

Mar 17, 2008, 9:35:00 PM  
Blogger Rob Dawg said...

Isn't the heat index just a graph of public datums? Call it the housing temperature index and graph it yourself.

Mar 18, 2008, 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Mar 19, 2008, 3:55:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Weise said...

I think must just have the worst luck. I just bid 40k over asking on a house yesterday and was second lowest out of six other bids. I know things are supposed to be slowing down but could there be a short term bubble again fueled by the new loan limits?

Mar 19, 2008, 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger susan said...

eric - sorry that you didn't get your house, but I commend you for not (grossly) overbidding. Could you supply some more details about this example of a "hot" market? There just isn't much supply in parts of Marin - so that's still a big part of the stickiness of prices. But the irrationality of most sellers and many, many buyers in Marin and San Francisco is deeply seated. This is the housing bubble's last stand - but it may take years to deflate.

Good luck in your search - and we would like to here about examples of overbidding.

Mar 19, 2008, 9:05:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Weise said...

This house was in San Anselmo. The stats show very few houses going into escrow which would indicate its pretty soft there.

Mar 20, 2008, 9:59:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Can I ask which house you bid on, I'm trying to get a handle on the bidding trends. I'm looking at MLS 20739898 on SFD by red hill. It's an aweful house in an aweful location with an asking of 600k. My only hope is that no one wants it so maybe I can get a low ball price that I can afford

more and more I think Novato will be my only option. Prices there are at least where someone with a 100k annual can afford something. Hate that I'd have to relocate my son to a new school though.

Mar 20, 2008, 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger liz.mccarthy said...

I know the Realtor (Nate) who invented and spends a lot of time on the Heat Index. He's a really, nice honest guy and he's not trying to "hide" anything about the market. I personally think it comes down to the fact that it takes him a lot of time to do that analysis, and he is trying to build an income stream from all that work. (and yes, maybe it's because the market is slow and he needs an alternative income source) That's it. No alternative agenda or anything.

Mar 20, 2008, 4:09:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Weise said...

Admin, I bid in the low 8's on MLS #20739898. I think it probably went for around 850k. The asking price was below market since you can't find a 3 bedroom house on a flat lot in the 700s.

I live down the street from the house you're considering. Being on SFD isn't the best, particularly with kids.
Have you looked in Terra Linda? There's definitely some distress in that area and the commute is much better than Novato. Investment-wise, I think Terra linda and marinwood are pretty good bets in the long-term (short term it should drop some more) since the schools are great and the freeway is being widened, which hopefully, would get rid of the backup into san rafael.

Mar 21, 2008, 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger sf jack said...

liz said:

"I personally think it comes down to the fact that it takes him a lot of time to do that analysis, and he is trying to build an income stream from all that work. (and yes, maybe it's because the market is slow and he needs an alternative income source) That's it. No alternative agenda or anything."


I've recently noticed that realtors who also find rentals for interested parties are being very helpful these days.

"Every little bit helps!"

And not to put down Nate or anything, but I don't think many around here need the COLD Index to tell them the market is not in great shape.

It may get more interesting at some point a few years ahead, but probably not before then.

And as pointed out above, is it not public data?

Mar 21, 2008, 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Eric, that the one on San Francisco by the park? Nice place, but mid 800s is a lot of money!

Marinwood's not much better than SA. There's a small SF fixer in downtown at 399k with no takers. I thinking hard about going north. I work up there anyways.

Mar 21, 2008, 4:14:00 PM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

I still see homes selling around the Bay Area, but usually where market psychology prevails--despite the all-too-obvious indicators of instability, and not just in real estate. It simply takes "guts" to buy before any real correction is underway. Who really knows how far the credit fiasco will unravel and ultimately the risks to our income/economy?

Would I sign up for crushing debt before corporate America is forced to deleverage and so many credit-pumped lifestyles vanish into thin air? I'm far too cautious to do anything but hunker down, reduce my risk, and see how this plays itself out. A correction is housing is now the least of my concerns.

Mar 23, 2008, 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger sf jack said...

Some good quotes in this one:

"Just a tidbit of good news on home sales"

Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 25, 2008



- Dead housing bounce underway?
- Market still in freefall
- California inventory? 14 months vs. 8 months one year ago (!!)
- San Rafael resident and realtor looks likely to chase market down over multiple years (she must be in contention for some kind of award)


No one else was breaking out the Champagne.

"It's a dead housing bounce," said Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher
Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at UC Berkeley, referring
to the "dead cat bounce," a slight, temporary increase in a stock price that has already plummeted. "It is not a recovery. It is wrong to interpret it that way. Wall Street will grasp at any straw."


Rosen said the report's most important finding was that February's national median sales price was $195,900, down 8.2 percent from $213,500 a year ago.

"The (continued) house price decline is really bad news," he said. "Mostly the market is still in freefall."


G.U. Krueger, chief economist for Institutional Housing Partners in
Irvine, said the most disconcerting part of the report to him was that California now has 14.3 months worth of inventory on the market, compared with 8.2 months a year ago.


One Bay Area home seller said she is close to pulling her home off the market and renting it out instead.

Ali Liptrot wants to move to Truckee. She has had her San Rafael
3-bedroom, 1-bath home on the market since early this month with no offers despite lots of visitors. Liptrot, who sells property in Baja and has her real estate license, said her asking price of $629,000 is on par for her Santa Venetia neighborhood.

"It is a little perplexing; I thought for sure I'd have at least one offer by now," she said. "Every single person who walks in the house says, 'Your house is beautiful.' I'm like, 'Yeah, so put in an offer;
give me something to play with.' "

Because Liptrot purchased in 2000 and has ample equity in her home,
she's not desperate to sell. "I'm keeping it on until the end of next
week and then that's it," she said. "I have a good friend I could rent it to for a year and then re-evaluate next year."

Mar 25, 2008, 8:47:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

I've been gone for awhile... just got back from a visit to TN. Anyhow, the crap that occurred when I was gone- the 200bn injection from the Fed, ect, ect, is pure BS. It seems like there is absolutely no end in site for what the Fed, government, and other arms of finance are willing and capable of doing in order to try and make housing recover.

This is unbelievably short-sited because it is obvious that prices in many metros got way too high for anyone making even a large income to afford- good economy or not.

In regards to what I saw in TN: It appears that there was some sort of 'rolling bubble' that has only more recently started to subside. Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga all had large quantities of Mcmansion developments starting in the 250-350k range, which is way too much for locals to afford... but clearly targeted for equity locusts. These developments looked totally out of place and clashed horribly with the landscape. The face of outright greed. The language there was the same that we heard in CA about a year ago, which was that: " Yes, the market has slowed... but it's bound to keep on going, yadda, yadda, yadda..."

As for returning home, I came back to a distressed situation: thousands of signs in yards decrying the budget cuts to public schools. Newspapers with stories of a budget crisis, and a stock market almost giddy with glee that since all the banks have reported their losses, that the worst must surely be over and now we can buy the snot out of financials and homebuilders.... which makes absolutely zero sense to me.

I swear- I almost have a good mind to simply move out of the country. But where? all the rest of the Western world is in a bubble too.

Mar 25, 2008, 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

"But where? all the rest of the Western world is in a bubble too."

Right. I recently returned from BC Canada, and it's basically the same there for coastal cities. The difference is--people don't really get the depth of risk yet up there. I may move to Canada, but the situation will be hardly better...people are still in "investor" mode. Go figure.

Mar 25, 2008, 8:05:00 PM  

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