All posts by SavedbyGrace

8 out of 10 Worst RE Markets for 2009 in California

According to CNN,

“The housing market hasn’t bottomed out yet. For the third quarter, the closely-watched S&P Case-Shiller national home-price index fell 16.6%, and experts are predicting further declines. Of the top 100 markets, here are 10 with the worst forecasts.”

And out of those 10, 8 of them are in California. This isn’t news to the California housing bloggers, but it may be shocking news to most California homeowner/debtors. The numbers are staggering and things don’t look too good for the next few years. Here’s the data for these 10 areas that includes this year’s median price and the projected change change up to 2010.

1) Los Angeles, CA (LA/LongBeach/Glendale)
2008 median house price $375,340
2009 projected change -24.9%
2010 projected change -5.1%

2) Stockton, CA
2008 median house price $248,050
2009 projected change -24.7%
2010 projected change -4.0%

3) Riverside, CA
2008 median house price $256,540
2009 projected change -23.3%
2010 projected change -4.8%

4) Miami, Miami Beach
2008 median house price $293,590
2009 projected change -22.8%
2010 projected change -6.4%

5) Sacramento, CA
2008 median house price $225,140
2009 projected change -22.2%
2010 projected change -2.3%

6) Santa Ana/Anaheim, CA
2008 median house price $532,810
2009 projected change -22.0%
2010 projected change -3.5%

7) Fresno, CA
2008 median house price $257,170
2009 projected change -21.6%
2010 projected change -3.3%

8. San Diego, CA
2008 median house price $412,490
2009 projected change -21.1%
2010 projected change -2.9%

9) Bakersfield, CA
2008 median house price $227,270
2009 projected change -20.9%
2010 projected change -2.5%

10) Washington, D.C.
2008 median house price $343,160
2009 projected change -19.9%
2010 projected change -5.7%

Sources: National Association of Realtors; Moody’s

I wonder how the realtors are going to spin this one given that the NAR is one of the sources. There will undoubtedly be some seemingly great deals out there in the next couple years, but I can’t really imagine anyone taking the “It’s a great time to buy” reason anymore. Sure prices have come down a lot since a couple years ago, but just because people are hoping the decline will stop doesn’t mean it will. With the dwindling economy, the chances of a quick recovery are slimmer than ever.

Don’t forget, we’re only about halfway through the exploding ARMs that were taken during the bubble. We’re only at #24 on the x-axis on the infamous Credit Suisse chart.

This is going to be a long and painful RE recovery for all of us. I wish I had something more uplifting to share, but this was the headline that I woke up to this morning. It’s not a pretty sight out there and the storm is going to get worse before it gets better, but I hope people have learned their lesson. In this season of love and joy, take time out to be thankful what you do have in your life. When times are tough it seems like everything sucks, but we are still far better off than many people in other parts of the world. May you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season!

The Great Housing Bubble

When IrvineRenter approached us to write a review about his book I almost said no. Although I still follow the local housing market closely I really didn’t have the time nor energy to keep up with all the housing blogs. A week or so passed and the book came in the mail and just sat on my desk. And on my desk it sat for some time until I finally picked it up last weekend. I haven’t picked it up since because I finished the whole thing in one sitting.

In this time of economic hardship every financial decision becomes critical in one way or another. Sure oil is no longer $5/gallon, but many folks don’t have jobs to drive to either. I can’t seem to go through a day without hearing of this bailout or that rescue on the news. Because no one really knows when the economy will pick up again, I find it more important than ever to understand the real estate market and not make any bad moves that can put you and your family’s way of life in jeopardy.

The Greay Housing Bubble

Enter IR’s book – The Great Housing Bubble. You can buy it here, here or here. Lawrence Roberts is best known for his posts documenting the real estate crash on the IrvineHousingBlog as IrvineRenter. I have been an IHB reader since late 2006 and I encourage you to visit it if you don’t already. The author does a great job of presenting multiple aspects of the real estate market by taking the reader through the fundamentals and broad concepts of real estate economics, the structural and psychological factors of the bubble and finally how to deal with and prevent another one from forming.

As I read the book I found myself both amused and amazed at the clarity it brings to the current RE situation. Amused because I have yet to empty my personal reservoir of schadenfreude and amazed at how clearly the components of the bubble equation were spelled out. What factors contributed to the bubble and how did they affect the market? How can you protect yourself from making a bad financial decision in the next bubble? The analysis are well thought out and clearly communicated to the reader. I recommend this book whether you are a renter waiting on the sidelines with cash, a home debtor stuck underwater or even a hopeful real estate agent looking for business.

I should have prefaced this earlier in the post, but I do not have any incentive, financial nor personal, to promote this book. What we bubble blog authors write will not change the course of events that have and will unfold in the coming years. My goal is to get the word out to help people understand the real estate market so history does not repeat itself over and over again.

Where’s the Summer Rush?

Ever since the credit crunch reared its ugly head last year, everyone from realtors to specuvestors to homeowners strapped to their overpriced properties all wished for a quick recovery. Fall and winter came and went with nothing but disheartening news of subprime woes. Spring was suppose to be the turning point, but we’ve heard nothing but increasing reports of foreclosures and delinquencies. After this weekend’s heat wave, I’d say summer is here and all I see are the billions and billions of dollars in upcoming rate resets over the next few years. So to those who say the spring summer will be different, I ask: Where the hell is this summer RE rush I keep hearing about?

We’ve all heard this wishful “prediction” from bankers, brokers, realtors and other hopefuls. Don’t worry, we’re going through a bit of a slump, but once spring rolls around buyers will be geared up for the summer selling season and we’ll “turn around” later this year. Um okay, that’s what you said last year and that’s what you said 6 months ago. Am I going to hear the same thing in another 6 months?

As I was out and about this weekend enjoying my time off, I passed by many for-sale signs and open houses. Some had a car or two parked outside, but most seemed empty. Perhaps the hot weather kept buyers out of the sun, but things aren’t looking too good for these sellers. Time is not on their side and everyday their house sits on the market means money out of their pockets. Whether you believe in the numbers or not, the trend is clear. Sales volume is way down from previous years and prices in all local SGV cities are sliding downward as they buckle under the crushing weight of the struggling economy.

We’ve seen the effects of the tightening lending standards and now we’re all experiencing some rather concerning economic hardship. Gas prices are through the roof with no slowing in sight, gold is off the charts and employment is weak at best. Leisure spending has all but slowed to a crawl and the falling dollar has inflation knocking at our doors. Couple this with low consumer confidence, a huge number of rate resets and the inevitable interest rate increases later this year and the US housing market is toast.


So as sellers start to sweat in this heated pressure oven otherwise known as the Summer (RE) Rush, I’ll be that happy renter who’s not worried about losing equity or how long my house has been on the market. There’s no pressure to buy because I’m saving a bunch of cash every month and prices/volume have nowhere to go but down. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. I put my money where my mouth is and so should you. If prices are going to “rebound” and everything is so fine and dandy, you should hang onto that property you bought a few years ago because it’s such a great investment. *note heavy sarcasm*

Highland Update*

Update* – Reduced to $1,294,876 (-$64,000)

I profiled this property two months ago and it has since taken a $64k reduction in the asking price. As noted in the comments section of the original post, there was decent foot traffic through the open house back in March. Apparently nothing came about because it’s still on the market.

The Highlands is suppose to be one of Arcadia’s premier locations, but properties are sitting on the market just like any other listing. Not only that, the spring and summer seasons are suppose to be prime “boom months” in real estate, yet we’re seeing price reductions and increasing days on the market. At what point will the bulls stop their propaganda about how we’ve bottomed, how things will pick up during the summer and turn around towards the end of the year?

A near 5% price reduction isn’t enough to wet my palette, but that’s enough to show softness in the market. $64k isn’t a whole lot of money, but it’s more than most people make in the two months it took for the price to drop. Let’s see – wait a couple months and save $64,000; I could do that. Heck, I could wait all year!


1714 Highland Oaks Dr.


Asking Price $1,358,876 ::: Sq-ft 2,788
Purchased Price $980,000 ::: Lot Size 0.28 acres
Purchased Date 08/24/2007 ::: Beds 4
Days on Redfin 11 ::: Baths 3
$/Sq-ft $487 ::: Year Built 1957
20% Downpayment $271,775 ::: Area Highlands
Income Required $339,719/yr ::: Type SFR
Est. Payment* $6,870/month ::: MLS# 22107958

*Estimated monthly payment assume 20% down, 30-yr fixed @ 6.50%

Completely redesigned by daniel deleon design, the subtle, yet tasteful, Asian contemporary elements lend it a zen-like ambiance and the great floor plan is oriented to fully enjoy yard and canyon views. Move from the brand new kitchen into the large great room or spacious dining room. Enjoy the fireplaces or the view from either room. Truly a turn-key home, it boasts a media-ready family room, a master suite, private in-law or guest apartment, all new windows and doors, hardwood floors throughout, large under-ground wine cellar and many other fine features.

This is a beautiful property and an example of why I’ve fallen in love with parts of Arcadia. Although it was built in the 50s, it’s been completely remodeled and in my opinion look leagues better than any of those mcmansions that have sprung up over the years. It sits up in the hills on the east edge of the Highland community, which I will profile soon. Without any neighbors along the back of the property, it’s probably very private. I like this house and could I afford it, I would probably buy it.

Back to the profile part of things, this is a flip. It was purchased a little over half a year ago for $980k and renovated to its current state. The original structure was half a century old and from the pictures, it seems like it was a complete gut. It’s also the first property I’ve profiled that has an underground wine cellar. If that wasn’t original, the flipper spent a lot of money digging dirt.

Purchase Price $980,000
Purchase Date 08/24/2007
1st Loan $784,000
2nd Loan $98,000
Downpayment $98,000 (10%)

With similar sized homes in the Highland Oaks area renting for $3,000/month, this property is overpriced. Granted, it was completely renovated, but I find it hard to believe it would rent for anymore than a 25% premium (or $3,750/month). A recent sale on 1728 Highland Oaks just up the street sold for $910,000 in February 08. That property had one less bedroom, but was of comparable size in the same community. At $910k, the sale occurred at $379/sq-ft.

$379/sq-ft x 2,788 sqft = $1,056,652
$910,000 (recent comp) / $3,000 (rental) = GRM of 303
1,358,876 (asking price) / $3,000 (rental) = GRM of 453

Admittedly, it would probably be worth a little more than $1,056,652 right now because of the remodeling that was done to the property, but I don’t think it’s $300k+ in renovations. That’s at today’s prices. I would venture to say that a home like this could dip as low as the $900k’s in a few years time.

Thanks to our reader 626chump for alerting me to this property. If you end up going to the open house this weekend, don’t forget to come back on AHB to let us all know how it went. Also, I invite anyone else who attends open house(s) to drop a comment or two about how the market is doing. Since I’m not currently in the market to buy, I’m not evil enough to attend open houses just to make low-ball offers. Although, that will change as the market correction continues.

Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

REO at 2004 Rollback Prices

815 E. Longden Ave.


Asking Price $574,000 ::: Sq-ft 1,823
Purchased Price $575,000 ::: Lot Size 5,356 sqft
Purchased Date 12/17.2004 ::: Beds 4
Days on Redfin 2 ::: Baths 2
$/Sq-ft $315 ::: Year Built 1965
20% Downpayment $114,800 ::: Area Near Monrovia
Income Required $143,500 ::: Type SFR
Est. Payment* $2,902/month ::: MLS# 22110843

*Estimated monthly payment assume 20% down, 30-yr fixed @ 6.50%

Another day, another 100% financing deal gone wrong in Arcadia. According to Property Shark, this property was purchased in December of 2004 with two loans, a first loan of $460k on a ARM and a fixed second of $115k. The March 2008 transaction shows the bank taking back the property for $616,421. Since the original purchase price was just $575k, I suspect the homedebtor used that ATM bolted on the side of the house to pull out some easy HELOC money between 2004 and 2008.

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. Banks have no emotional ties to the properties they hold and will unload them at whatever price the market will bear. With the rising notice of defaults and foreclosures raping the southland, banks cannot afford to hold on to REOs in hopes that the crash has “bottomed,” nor can they wait for prices to increase. They have obligations to shareholders and unsold REOs on their books is like an anvil in the water.

This particular property is moderately priced, but not priced to sell. There is another listing just down the street with 3 bedrooms and a bigger lot asking for $429,900. At $299/sqft, it’s slightly cheaper than this house. Coincidentally, that listing is also an REO. It’s still early in the housing correction, but we are starting to see 2004 rollback prices in Arcadia and I expect to see more of those later this year.

Still just another McMansion

114 W. Pamela Rd.


Asking Price $1,298,000 ::: Sq-ft 3,424
Purchased Price $700,000 ::: Lot Size 7,500
Purchased Date 10/22/2001 ::: Beds 5
Days on Redfin 2 ::: Baths 4.5
$/Sq-ft $379 ::: Year Built 2001
20% Downpayment $259,600 ::: Area Baldwin Stocker
Income Required $324,500 ::: Type SFR
Est. Payment* $6,562/month ::: MLS# A08076815

*Estimated monthly payment assume 20% down, 30-yr fixed @ 6.50%

This property was purchased for just $700,000 back in 2001 when it was a new construction. According to PropertyShark, the seller put $200k (or 28.5%) down at the time of purchase. At 3%, 4% and 5% annual appreciation, it would now be worth $850,290, $906,103 and $964,992 respectively. Instead, it’s currently being listed for $1.298MM — a $598k gain over about 6.5 years.

Rental equivalents are a great way to gauge the market because they’re based off fundamentals and directly tied to income. When home prices are tied to income, it suggests stability and sustainability. As of yesterday, Craigslist didn’t have any 5 bedroom homes for rent in Arcadia, but I doubt the rental market is anywhere near $6500/month for a SFR in the Baldwin Stocker area.

Surely there are families who have $260k for a 20% downpayment and an annual gross income of $325k, but how many of them are out there actively looking for a house in this neighborhood? How many of them can qualify for a loan in today’s tough market? Furthermore, how many who can afford the payments actually like this cookie cutter stucco box? Yes, the seller only needs to find one such buyer, but I go back to my point that buyers must be both willing and able to purchase a property for the sale to go through. There has been a lot of discussion in the comments lately about the Asian rescue scenario and I maintain my position that this phenomenon will not save Arcadia nor any other SGV city.

Hopeful Romantics

That’s who the average sellers are…hopeful romantics. If this were 2005, I can imagine the logic of buy, wait and resell for profit, but I find it difficult to comprehend that silly people were still doing that last year. The numbers are out for the month of April and DataQuick reported that Arcadia zipcode 91007 SFR sales price change dropped 25% from April of 2007.

Today’s featured properties are all in the 91007 zipcode, purchased in 2007 and listed for resale in 2008. Did their asking prices reflect the data? Let’s take a look.

A) 10421 E. Live Oak Ave.
Purchase Date 08/09/2007
Purchase Price $610,000
Listing Date 05/17/2008
Current Asking Price $729,000
Price Change +19.5%

B) 1107 W. Duarte Rd. #B
Purchase Date 11/28/2007
Purchase Price $442,000
Listing Date 05/09/2008
Current Asking Price $559,000
Price Change +26.5%

C) 2105 S. Baldwin Ave.
Purchase Date 06/18/2007
Purchase Price $550,000
Listing Date 05/21/2008
Current Asking Price $573,888
Price Change +4.3%

D) 2029 S. Baldwin Ave.
Purchase Date 05/04/2007
Purchase Price $650,000
Listing Date 05/19/2008
Current Asking Price $718,000
Price Change +10.5%

Are these folks hopeful romantics or what? Instead of following the trend of the market and actually pricing it for sale, they’re still trying to make a profit despite buying in 2007. If these properties were to sell at the 25% discount like the rest of the 91007 properties in April, they would go for A) $457,500 B) $331,500 C) $412,500 D) $487,500 instead of the above listing asking prices.

When will we see these prices on reflected in the market? Soon. Actually the 25% decrease in price from April 07 vs 08 is REAL. It’s not a prediction or a guess; it’s the actual sales prices of homes sold. It’s important to look at data from homes sold and not homes listed on the market. After all, we have seen countless homedebtors romanticizing about selling for a profit – even in this desperate market.