Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Canadian L33t

I've tried very hard not to get political on this blog, but....

I think I found a program that should appeal to Bay Arean ego in the unlikely event that the republican candidate for the US presidency is elected:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where Are You?

Starting with some quotes from someone who has been nothing but sober and sane (Robert Shiller) when the majority of people were drunk on the notion that houses were going to make us all rich and 20% per year appreciation was our God given right:
What have we learned from all this?

I think we've learned some very elementary lessons. Don't think that because something didn't happen for the last 30 years it won't happen. It's amazing how people thought home prices can only go up.

One thing people haven't learned very well is home prices can stay down for 30 years, too. I'm not saying it will. It certainly can happen. Most people still think this is just a temporary interruption and real estate prices are going to soar soon. The real estate market is not cheap yet. It's not to where this bubble started (in late 1998).
And one from another independent thinker:
"People are saying the reason prices are falling are because of all of the foreclosures, but the foreclosures are happening because the prices are falling.

They've got it backwards. The prices are falling because they're too freakin' high."

Chris Thornberg, August 27, 2008
Enough bad news. Now for the good news, care of our friends at DataQuick (these days I like using DataQuick's numbers because when the bubble was still in inflation mode here in Marin, Marin RE bulls liked to use it as proof-positive that real estate in Marin can only go up because we are so damn special): Marin real estate was down only 16% last month (so sales that were committed to in late summer, before the recent financial shister hit the fan):

I think it is now safe to say we have a trend here in Marin. I eagerly await the unambiguous cratering of South Marin. Only then can our arrogance and hubris be taken down a notch or two (I can hope, can't I?).

Oh, and lest I forget some choice quotes from our local rag that has been nothing but a flagrant cheerleader of the housing market when "things were good" and the Marin real estate industry's poodle. But first, the article's title:
"Condo sales buck up Marin home sales as prices continue to fall"
Since when do condo sales "buck up" real estate in Marin? Isn't that ars-backwards for us? What does that imply for single family residences? So bottom fishers are buying the cheapest properties. Isn't that a little like the floor dropping from under your feet?
Marin's home sales increased on the strength of condominium sales last month while prices continued to drop...

DeSalvo [a Coldwell Banker broker] said county foreclosures weren't [!!!] confined to condominiums or property sales in San Rafael or in Novato, where foreclosures and short sales make up 30 percent of the real estate market.

"Houses that were selling for $675,000 are on the market for less than $450,000," he said.

In Marin, foreclosure sales - homes sold in September that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months - accounted for 14.9 percent of total sales, continuing a steady increase from 13.5 percent in August and single digits a year ago.

"My personal opinion is until buyers' fears are allayed and the jumbo loan market is at equilibrium, we're going to continue to see uncertainty. We're going to see this for the next 18 months."
So where are the Marin RE bulls who used to visit this blog and try to explain how confused the rest of us were? RE Junkie? Where are you? Fredtobik, where are you? (For me, the two most memorable ones; perhaps you recall others.) You were all so (how do I put this politely?)... "adamant" about your opinions. And what about the legion of anonymous realtor cowards? Where are you? You can still wear your shorts in the winter and play golf; and it's still only a two hour drive to the slopes! All your self-serving justifications and rationales are still intact. Ok, so maybe the "gas prices are going up so people will want to live in South Marin" thing isn't working out for you at the moment. But where are you? And where's that fellow who fairly recently came on this blog explaining to us why CDOs and other financial wizardry were such great ideas and, despite what we thought, were here to stay? Where are you?

Look, others had the courage to start blogs saying "it's not necessarily so" at a time when house prices were doubling about every year or so; true mavericks like Patrick.net, BubbleMeter, The Mess Greenspan Made, Mish, Calculated Risk, just to name a few. Now is your best opportunity to show us what you're made of, to stand up for what you really believe. Lay it on us...

Just one rule, spare us the "things will get better, prices always go up eventually" line of reasoning. No one here will disagree with you as it is necessarily true given our inflationary system.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Welcome Again to the "Ownership" Society

No need to discuss recent events (of course, you may if you wish); they speak for themselves. Suffice it to say that Patrick.netters said it best: the American people got "owned" yet again.

I encourage you to re-read the U.S. Declaration of Independence (here to see the original) for inspiration. It's a beautiful document; it represents the founding spirit of our nation; read it with pride.

The following sentence represents the essential message of the document:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
In other words, for those who have the means it is not just their right but their responsibility to effect change.

Recent events are the culmination of "a long train of abuses". The only real question now is what do we do about it?
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