Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Toweer of Babel: FINAL UPDATE

Hey y'all, sorry for the lack of posts. I've been on the road since last week and this is the first opportunity I've had to check in.

Sold on 04/22/10 - $283,000

Without knowing what the interior looks like, it's tough to say how much the new owner overpaid. But even if he did overpay, who cares? He now has a place to call his own and can furnish it with the free government money. He's probably feeling pretty good right now and I'm not going to be the one to piss in his punchbowl.


1728 East 3RD St #3, 90802
Asking Price: $289,000
Purchase Price: $132,500 (10/1999)
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 910
$/Sq. Ft.: $318
Year Built: 1928
MLS#: P703419
On Redfin: 130 days
Income Requirement: $72,250
Down Payment: $10,115 (FHA)
Monthly Nut: $2,000 (yikes!)
Description: WOW!!! This fabulous historical Rose Toweers condo is three blocks from beach, trendy shops and dining and public transportation. This unit is downstairs and has wonderful hardwood floors, faux fireplace in living room, faces courtyard, has dining area in living room and kitchen and has great choice of colors throughout. The complex falls under the Mills Act because it is historical and is on the National Registry of Historical buildings. WOW. Just a beautiful and charming place. This is not a short sale or REO property

WOW!!! How the hell do you misspell "Towers"?

And I love this...

Property Features:
Window Bars


I really like the look of this complex. I can't explain it. It just looks to tranquil. Like a Mediterranean getaway.

But, you know, pink.

Which is why after reading that lush description I was excited to scope some photos. But, alas, this agent believes mystery is the best policy.

"has wonderful hardwood floors"? PROVE IT.

"faux fireplace in living room"? PROVE IT.

"faces courtyard"? PROVE IT.

"has dining area in living room and kitchen"? PROVE IT.

"and has great choice of colors throughout"? PROVE IT.

And since there are no interior photos, I'll cut right to the chase: today's featured seller, obviously emboldened by their strong equity position, has been leisurely chasing the market down for quite some time.


Jan 19, 2010 - Price Changed $289,000
Nov 29, 2009 - Price Changed $297,000
Oct 19, 2009 - Price Changed $317,000
Sep 15, 2009 - Listed $329,000
Sep 21, 2008 - Delisted
Feb 06, 2008 - Listed
Feb 02, 2008 - Delisted
Aug 28, 2007 - Listed
May 05, 2006 - Delisted
Nov 04, 2005 - Listed
Oct 13, 1999 - Sold $132,500

That's right. Pretty much four years on the market! That has to be a record for the Long Beach Housing Blog.

Despite the eternity trying to sell for whatever chronic-fuelled figure was floating around in their delusional head, you do have to give the seller credit for finally getting serious late last year. Since September, the price has been slashed by $40,000.

However, reducing the price when you start out at a hilariously WTF number is like patting yourself on the back for quitting cocaine and heroin cold turkey...only to pick up a meth habit.

Considering this seller purchased pre-bubble for a pittance ($132,500), I understand how the allure of doubling your initial investment could cloud your vision and keep you from pricing too aggressively. I mean, you want to get your mitts on as much bubble profit as you can, right?

Unfortunately, that greed is preventing the seller from accepting the truth about today's market. Even with artificially limited inventory and fast-money subprime FHA loans, most overpriced properties just sit.

Especially pieces of crap. Which, let's be honest, this most likely is. I mean, how else can you explain the lack of interior photos? No realtor would be that terminally stupid to try to sell something for nearly $300,000 without a few pictures, right?

Honestly, I have no idea what this dolt is waiting for. Slash the price and get this thing sold, dummy! Anything you walk away with is pure, unearned bubble gravy anyway--why hang around for another year trying to get a few extra nickles?

Plus, this ground-floor unit doesn't seem very desirable. It has no stove, only one garage spot, two shared walls, and no laundry on the premises (sweet, two grand a month for the privilege of hanging out in a laundromat every Saturday). Take the money while this thing is still worth more than $200,000!

Look, rates won't be this low forever, the FHA won't stay solvent forever, first-time homebuyer ponies (likely) won't make it past summer, inventory won't remain this artificially low forever (well, actually, they might be able to drag it out for years, but are you willing to take that risk?)...WHAT THE HOLY HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

This may not be the ideal time to buy, but with all of the government incentives aligned just so, I can't imagine a more opportune time for the equity-flush to sell.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Hate to Brick it to You: FINAL UPDATE

How did I miss this sale? One of the most hideous freaking houses in Long Beach actually sold last year!

In September 2009, I said:

Whatever the reason for his steadfast refusal to accept reality, assuming he hasn't refinanced to the high heavens, every single day that goes by without an offer represents another stack of bills he's leaving on the table.

It's over, pal. Cut the price, take the money and count your blessings. Otherwise, this fickle, ruthless market will brick your heart.

I'm happy to report that after nearly two fruitless years begging on the market, this seller finally took my advice. Last December he accepted a lowball offer of $865,000 for his four-bedroom chimney.

Considering the original pig-faced wishing price was an astounding $1,095,000, that represents a $230,000 realty-check.

Not to mention commissions, which ran another $50,000.

But don't shed a tear for this long-term owner. You see, during the last housing bottom they paid a paltry $350,000 , meaning they walked away with at least half a million dollars in appreciation (it doesn't appear they ran wild with refinances -- the tax basis is only $451,509 -- and they have 14 years of equity so they're probably walking with a lot more assuming no HELOC abuse).

Other than waiting too long to snap out of his denial and accept that lowball offer, costing them upwards of $100,000 in extra profit, he should be commended for finally getting it done and setting himself up nicely for retirement.

Other delusional Long Beach sellers, take note. There is hope for you yet.


257 Belmont, 90803
Price: $955,000
Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 2,536
$/Sq. Ft.: $377
Lot Size: 6,150 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1931
MLS#: P675017
On Redfin: 227 days
Description: Sophisticated Tudor style 4 bedroom home with 2 1/2 baths, stunning hardwood floors throughout, formal entry, huge living room with gas burning fireplace wood beamed ceiling and corbels, formal dining room, breakfast room with built-ins, original door knobs, wainscoting throughout, 2 downstairs bedroom, inside laundry room, spectacular remodeled upstairs bathroom, large bedrooms, a secret playroom, basement, original kitchen with Wedgewood stove, 2-car garage and more. This property has so much charm and character throughout. A must see for the appreciative Buyer!

See the implication there? If you aren't interested in checking out this place or paying the million-dollar price tag, you're not an "appreciative Buyer" with a capital B.

So why don't you just run along to the welfare line and get some food stamps, ya worthless bum!

This has got to be one of the ugliest houses in the universe. And lucky us, it's right here in Long Beach!

While the exterior is odd (to be generous), the interior has some neat design cues and built-ins. However, when you're talking close to a million clams, it's really quite unimpressive (to everyone but the seller, that is).

The kitchen is absolutely BRUTAL. Don't stare for too long or you'll turn to stone. Or asbestos.

Anyhow, here we are after 227 days on the market with no sale. Por que, cabron?

Well, besides the severe deficit in the looks department and the lack of a discernible yard, there's one obvious reason why buyers--even "appreciative" ones--have flatly rejected this 4 bedroom chimney.

It starts with P and ends with E and isn't PEYOTE. Well, actually, peyote might be involved here, BUT the reason, as usual, is PRICE.

$955,000...227 days...

To borrow a phrase, There's nothing price can't fix.

Wanna see something neat?

Dec 21, 1995 - Sold $350,000

That seems like a pretty good deal for '95, given the location. And a damn cheap payment for the last 14 years! This dude should be nostril-deep in equity. Translation: If he dropped the price to a reasonable level, he would walk away with a trunkload of cash.

How's that price dropping going?

Feb 09, 2009 - Listed $1,095,000
Mar 17, 2009 - Price Changed $995,000
Jun 23, 2009 - Price Changed $955,000


"Glacially" is a word that comes to mind.

Of course, a glacier wouldn't last long in this house seeing as it's made of brick, has tiny windows, and no air-conditioning.

Maybe he HELOCed himself into the stratosphere, maybe for pride reasons he's resisting "just giving it away," or maybe it's yet another vanity listing and he really has no intention of selling.

Whatever the reason for his steadfast refusal to accept reality, assuming he hasn't refinanced to the high heavens, every single day that goes by without an offer represents another stack of bills he's leaving on the table.

It's over, pal. Cut the price, take the money and count your blessings. Otherwise, this fickle, ruthless market will brick your heart.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time is Money: FINAL UPDATE

After 250+ days on the market and $200,000 in price reductions, Ted Kaczynski's toppled cabin finally sold for $985,000.

Interestingly, the sales price was just a shade ($50,000) higher than the 2005 sales price. Considering most properties selling in Long Beach are well into 2003 pricing, being able to sell for an '05 price speaks volumes to the stickiness of Naples.

Congratulations, Naples, you really are different!

Oh, wait.

It turns out the 2003 price was $925,000, meaning this dump in fact did sell for a 2003 price.

So much for stickiness.

Anyhow, the bigger point is that after commissions this seller pretty much broke even. Wow! That's such a rarity these days that I think it's worth congratulating.

Although five years of ownership without one red cent of appreciation is nothing to crow about, at least this guy, unlike most Long Beach sellers, was realistic enough to accept a lowball offer. And because of that, he didn't lose a dime and is now able to move on with his life.

Well played.


Address: 37 58TH Pl, 90803
Asking Price: $1,049,000
Beds: 3
Baths: 3.5
Sq. Ft.: 2,305
$/Sq. Ft.: $455
Lot Size: 2,396 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1923
MLS#: P693252
On Redfin: 177 days
Down Payment: $210,000
Income Requirement: $262,000
Monthly Nut: $6,700
Description: Check out this fantastic ocean and bay view peninsula home PLUS INCOME! Front house is a two story two bedroom two bathroom home. The entire second level is master bedroom with a giant ocean and bayview patio and enormous bath with a sauna! Rear building has a one bedroom and studio unit. Rents coming in at $2050/month. That offsets over $380,000 of mortgage at 5%!

It seems potential buyers have been checking out this "fantastic ocean and bay view peninsula home" for quite some time now. And yet a sale eludes this guy.

With photos like these, I simply can't figure out why. Check out this kitchen:


I have to admit this view from that "giant" patio is incredibly impiressive:

The master bath ("with a sauna!") is also something to behold:

Absolutely stunning!

Or this shot of the two rental properties in back:


The exterior may look like Ted Kaczynski's cabin fell over, but the gorgeous interior speaks for itself!

But, hey, cut this listing agent some slack--ever since the real estate market bottomed in 2007 2008 2009, he's been insanely busy. Selling as many houses as he does, as quickly as he does, means 177 days isn't nearly enough time to provide some photos.

Especially when you're only asking $1,049,000. I mean, a million bucks is small potatoes for a baller realtor like this.

And speaking of a million bucks, according to this incredibly savvy listing agent if you buy this property it will actually only cost you $669,000. You see, according to the listing description, "Rents coming in at $2050/month...offsets over $380,000 of mortgage at 5%!"

Well that's an interesting way to look at things! I guess banging hookers for the rest of your life instead of getting married offsets wedding costs, but I digress.

So, all you have to do is run a veritable boarding house and the price is magically slashed by $36%! [Of course, they might as well have calculated the offset "savings" at -111.1% because there's no way in holy hell you'll find a 5% jumbo loan today. The FHA's not even drunk enough to touch that one].

With a bargain like that, I'm shocked there has been no interest in this gem!

I mean, come on! The asking price has been slashed aggressively--down a whole 11% in six months. What a steal!

Dec 18, 2009 - Price Changed $1,049,000
Oct 14, 2009 - Relisted
Oct 09, 2009 - Delisted
Sep 25, 2009 - Price Changed $1,119,000
Jul 01, 2009 - Listed $1,185,000
Dec 14, 2005 - Sold $935,000 (0.5%/yr)
Aug 05, 2004 - Listed
Aug 29, 2003 - Sold $925,000

Interestingly, the 2003 owner was unable to capitalize on the rampant, batshit insane housing bubble run-up. A year after purchasing for $925,000, he tried to sell it. So far, so good--paint-by-numbers bubble flipping. But after 16 months on the market (remember, this is near the apex of The Great Housing Bubble! Studios with murphy beds never spent more than a week on the MLS) he sold to today's current seller for $935,000--a meager $10,000 profit. Not enough to cover even a fifth of sales commissions).

This place must be a real shithole.

The current seller, ironically, has fallen into the same trap as the previous one: He overpaid for an undesireable property, in an undesireable configuration (who the fuck wants to spend all that dough to be landlord to a bunch of other people while you live in a tiny-ass 2-bedroom?) in a very desireable area. No big deal...unless you have plans to sell for a profit someday.

Plus, I'm assuming since today's seller and agent are too ashamed to include any photos it's still a steaming dump inside, making a sale even more difficult.

Hell, even crazy-ass Epraisal and Cyberhomes refuse to buy into this "million-dollar-home" horseshit:

Eppraisal - $466,262 (low) $548,544 (mid) $630,825 (high)
Cyberhomes - $681,615 (low) $757,350 (mid) $870,952 (high)

LOL! It's obvious (to everyone but the seller) that he's in a race against time and cruel, frigid reality. The previous seller was lucky to get away with only a small loss after his colossal investment mistake, and I hope this guy is as fortunate.

Maybe 2009 will be remembered as the year we put the worst behind us economically, and '10 will be the year of recovery and a return to 10x income housing prices. Then, I imagine, it truly will be a happy new year for this seller.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Impatient Inpatient

Asking Price: $1,599,000
1390 LOS ALTOS Ave, Long Beach, 90815
Beds: 4
Baths: 3.5
Sq. Ft.: 3,400
$/Sq. Ft.: $470
Lot Size: 0.33 Acres
Year Built: 1956
Community: Park Estates
MLS#: P704104
On Redfin: 210 days
Down Payment (30%): $480,000
Income Requirement (total mortgage/3.5): $320,000/yr
Monthly Nut: $8,000
Description: Totally remodeled showcase home with top of the line amenities throughout. This Kenneth Wing modern style home is practically brand new and features 4 bedrooms + additional office, 4 baths, and approx. 3,400 sq. ft of living space. Gourmet kitchen, granite counters, top of the line appliances & fixtures, bamboo flooring, remodeled baths, new windows, 2 fireplaces, central heat and AC, plus more! All rooms look outside to the beautifully landscaped yard with swimming pool making this home perfect for indoor/outdoor living. Perfect for entertaining with light/open floorplan and French doors stepping outside from most rooms. Rare, upgraded style in exclusive Park Etates neighborhood. All this on an estate sized lot. MUST SEE!

No, what people "MUST SEE!" is that nasty fire hazard of a roof on a $1.6 million house!


Looks like the mouth of a homeless candy aficionado.

And realtard: just a bit of advice. When trying to sell a house for $1,600,000, make sure you actually spell the neighborhood correctly. Unless Park "Etates" is some special Long Beach enclave I've never heard of, that's some bush-league stuff, son.

I am continually amazed by the mentality of fools who purchased in 2008 despite well-documented evidence of rapidly declining prices. I mean, what the hell were they thinking?

"It's a whopping 10% off the last sales price! I'd better snap it up before I get priced out forever...again!"

Well if it fell 10% in just one year, did you ever consider what would stop it from falling another 10%? Or 20%? What's your hurry, cupcake?

Plus, this impatient inpatient failed to consider what the sale price was in the transaction before last.

For this property, all this dummy needed to do was look at the public records:

Aug 22, 2008 - Sold $1,595,000 (-10.8%/yr)
Apr 03, 2007 - Sold $1,870,000 (+72.0%/yr)
Jun 02, 2006 - Sold $1,190,000

Fucking whooooooooooooooops.

Really, guy? You saw that 72% annual appreciation between 2006 and 2007 and thought a measly 10.8% discount from the peak price somehow made this a bargain?

Sir, I think you're too stupid to breed.

What's even more dumbfounding is that these 2008 buyers are just as clueless on the way out. Most of them have actually convinced themselves that despite 2008 not being anywhere close to the bottom, there are buyers out there ready and willing to bail them out of their eyes-bigger-than-their-wallet mistakes. Seriously, how many 2008 buyers have you seen that truly believe they won't lose a dime selling in 2010?


In case you haven't noticed, the two years since your purchase have been absolutely hideous as far as unemployment, price declines, and constricting jumbo lending requirements. Just how the holy hell do you think you're going to get out of this only paying commissions?

I'll never understand these idiots.

Don't get me wrong, this is a nice ass house!


Although, what's up with this photo? Is it just me or is the bed sticking out at a wonky angle?
What possible advantage could that provide from a layout perspective?

Whatever. Look, the debate isn't about whether this is a sweet property; it's about whether it can command $5,000 more than it sold for two years (and one housing crash) earlier.

After 210 days on the market at the same price, the answer is a resounding HELL NAH, SON.

To make matters worse, the location within the neighborhood is terrible. It's on a janky-ass lot which backs right up to busy-ass Bellflower. It doesn't matter how nice it is inside, just because you were dumb enough to pay top-dollar for a crappy lot location doesn't mean your potential buyers will be equally as stupid.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you fucked up. You paid too much too early in the crash, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to extricate yourself from this monstrous mortgage payment and move on with your life.

But dude, it's time to live in the now. You need to let go of your misguided, "break-even" wishing price and slash it by $100,000 tonight...and keep cutting until it sells.

Better yet, just take it off the market and enjoy living in this killer house. Oh that's right, YOU CAN'T. Because if you could actually afford this house in the first place you wouldn't be trying to sell for a $90,000 loss after commissions, would you?


Friday, April 16, 2010

Crack Shack or Mansion?

Via Denninger's blog, I just had to share this. If you thought Southern California's bubble was insane, it's nothing like Canada's massive, yet-to-implode real estate bubble.

And so I present to you: Crack Shack or Mansion?

The basic premise is: Can you tell the difference between a crack shack and a Vancouver, BC mansion, listed for one or two million dollars? Find out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tsunami, or Preamble to More Government Intervention?

I used to be in the camp that believed a "tsunami" of foreclosures was about to hit the market, creating an influx of supply and thereby putting significant downward pressure on prices.

But that tsunami never came. And despite month after month of extremely limited (and declining) supply of bank-owned properties, anecdotal evidence would continue to emerge, typically from "a cousin's friend's fiancee's vacuum-repairman's niece," insisting they had it on good authority that banks would start stepping up foreclosures any day now.

And once one bank starts dumping properties on the market, other banks in the cartel will have to follow suit to get ahead of the rapidly declining prices. It'll be a bloodbath!

Yeah. Whatever.

Long ago I gave up on the idea of free markets in this country, and wrote the foreclosure tsunami off as more wishful thinking from buyers (like me) who simply wanted to buy a reasonable house for a reasonable price. A flood of new inventory -- priced to sell -- would certainly do the trick in returning prices to realistic levels, so it made sense for buyers to cling to such a hope. Alas, the government machine was too powerful, and would apparently stop at nothing to keep home prices artificially inflated and out of line with typical household incomes.

But interesting little info nuggets -- not quite hardened fact, but more than just anecdotal -- have popped up recently. To wit:

Calculated Risk: San Diego Surge in Foreclosures

Irvine Housing Blog: BofA to Increase Foreclosure Rate by 600% (hat tip SR)

Breitbart: Foreclosure Rates Surge, Biggest Jump in Five Years

RealtyTrac: March Foreclosures Highest on Record

And this from Redfin:

Long Beach March trends:
Inventory up 8% vs. Feb
Inventory up 9% vs. last year

So, what do you think? Is this the "tidal wave" of market-clearing REOs beginning to crest, or is this just another excuse for the .gov to create another acronym-laden program to keep deadbeats in their (our) homes?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Short Sale Sob Story

1747 East 2ND St, Long Beach, 90802
Wishing Price: $999,000
Beds: 4
Baths: 2.75
Sq. Ft.: 2,550
$/Sq. Ft.: $392
Lot Size: 4,620 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1914
MLS#: F1822956
On Redfin: 184 days
Income Requirement: $250,000
Down Payment: $200,000
Monthly Nut: $5,500
Description: Amazing location!! Alamitos Beach south of Broadway just a quick walk to beach and Bixby Park. The home was substantially remodeled and expanded over the last several years and offers unparalleled charm and location. All new copper plumbing and newer dual zone a/c and heating system. Beautiful 4 bedroom 3 bath home in great beach location!!

This has to be one of the ugliest million-dollar houses in Long Beach. It took me a few minutes to figure out this asking price wasn't a typo.

That's because despite claims to the contrary, this is not an "Amazing location!!" Sure, it's just blocks from the sand, but it's down past Esperanza. Even if you wanted to park your car on the street here, you couldn't anyway because this neighborhood is ground zero for cheap, high-density apartments.

Forget bungee jumping or swimming with Great White sharks sans diving cage, if you want to get your adrenaline pumping just walk around this 'hood at night. I've made that mistake before and I'll never make it again.

"El Bee, how dare you! I live in this area and I feel perfectly safe at night. In fact, the toothless, cart-pushing homeless dudes near the Rite-Aid serve as our Neighborhood Watch."

Hey man, good for you that you feel that way. But I have this thing called a sense of self-preservation and especially if I'm spending A MILLION FREAKING DOLLARS, I want to feel as safe as a lil' joey in his momma's pouch at all times.

Anyhow, this idiot purchased in 2005 for $680,000 (which even for the bubble seems outrageous given the marginal neighborhood), and insists the value appreciated by $220,000 during one of the most horrific housing crashes in the history of carbon-based lifeforms.

"So what, El Bee, we see this kind of greed-faced horseshit all the time. Why feature this particular pig?"

Well, the reason is because even if this place sold for its million-dollar price tag, it would still be a short sale.

That means this fool hit up the Housing ATM for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, lived the high life for a few years, and now expects the bank (i.e. you and me) to eat a shit sandwich while he walks away with a slightly dented credit score and no tax liability for the forgiven debt.

Fuck yeah! Awesome! Sign me up!

Uh, P.S., after 184 days on market, there is no shot in hell this place will sell for $999,000. I don't give a crap how much of that HELOC money went into this "substantially remodeled and expanded" dump (and by the way shitbird, if it's so impressive why not include, oh, I dunno, A FUCKING PICTURE?!) this price is way out of line with local prices, local rents, local incomes, and reality. A million dollars is a straight up Mario Brothers pipe dream.

Which means only one thing: Gaming the interminable government system of HAMP, HAFA, HARP, HEAP, HERB, HARK, HANK, HOOF and FASB (the accounting rules that allow banks to keep non-performing loans off their balance sheets, thereby incentivizing said banks not to foreclose) for a year or two and living rent-free, saving a small down payment so he can re-enter the housing market with a government-backed FHA no-skin-in-the-game loan, and eventually sticking taxpayers with the tab racked up by his greed and ignorance.

What a country.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A $440,000 Starter Home: UPDATE(S)

The price was "$439,900" and changed to "$415,000"
The price was "$415,000" and changed to "$439,900"

Dude, what is this realtor smoking?

Until the listing price starts with a "3", this dermoid cyst is just going to rot and rot and rot.

And now the interior photos have been removed?! This used home salesman is on a roll! With marketing skills like that, I'm sure you'll have it sold in no time!


I'm back from Park City, trying to regain my bearings. Have your Long Beach Housing Blog withdrawals subsided?

I'd like to thank Yikesboy for sending in today's property.

Address: 1384 QUINCY Ave, 90804
Asking Price: $439,900
Purchase Price: $540,000 (11/2005)
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 672 (!)
$/Sq. Ft.: $655
Lot Size: 3,526 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1938
MLS#: S10019372
On Redfin: 2 days
Down Payment: $88,000 (20%)/$18,000 (FHA)
Income Requirement: $126,000
Monthly Nut: $2,400 (20%)/$2,800 (FHA)
Description: 1384 Quincy Ave offers the perfect opportunity to own a great starter home on a large 3500 sq ft lot in a quiet residential neighborhood. The large gated back yard affords plenty of room for dining al fresco as well as play space for family and pets. Inside you will find a nice, cozy 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home with many of the original features of this 1938 bungalow. Guest quarters off of the garage offer extra space to expand your living (buyer to verify permit). .. use your imagination and enjoy this rare opportunity! There is still time for the Home Buyers Tax Credit so don't hesitate to make an appointment and call this home!

If this is what passes as a "great starter home" these days, then I'm not going to bother getting off the blocks. I'll rent forever before I slap down $440,000 for 672 dingy square feet in this neighborhood.

I mean, just how warped have things become that a matchbox home miles from the ocean, asking nearly half a million dollars, is considered a "starter home?" Does that make any kind of freaking sense?

To reasonably afford this dumpy "starter home," a family just starting out has to pull in at least $126,000 per year.

That's is more than three times the median income in this zip code.


Does this tiny, cramped 72-year-old shoebox really look like a property that the top 10% of Long Beach earners would be interested in?


Studio apartments have more square footage than this thing!

"But El Bee, the listing says 'Guest quarters off of the garage offer extra space to expand your living [whatever the fuck 'expand your living' is supposed to mean].'"

Uh, that's great (and judging by the interior of the main house, I'm sure the guest quarters are wildly impressive) but the seller--who I'll remind you is asking $440,000--can't even be bothered to verify the authenticity of the permits! What a joke!

As I'm sure you've already figured out, I think this property insanely overpriced. Just an insulting, open-handed slap to first-time buyers.

But the seller's idiotic wishing price isn't all that surprising when you consider what kind of person we're dealing with. Check out what our seller paid:

Nov 21, 2005 - Sold $540,000 (119.4%/yr)
Jun 21, 2005 - Sold $389,000

So, not only was he stupid enough to pay $540,000 ($804 per square foot!) in November 2005, but he did it just five months after someone paid $389,000.


You're telling me there was nothing fishy about a 119% annualized return? I don't see granite, I don't see nice tile...hell, I don't even see a matching fridge!

Anyhow, assuming he could get his ridiculous $440,000 asking price, and considering this is not (yet) a short sale, he stands to lose -$126,000 including commissions.

But that's assuming a brain-damaged buyer comes along and finds this to be an exceptional bargain. Don't worry, seller, I'm sure that mush-mouthed imbecile will come along soon.

Just hang in there, Tiger.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Pinhead Premium

Asking Price: $499,000
640 ORIZABA Ave, Long Beach, CA 90814
Beds: 3
Baths: 1.75
Sq. Ft.: 1,564
$/Sq. Ft.: $319
Lot Size: 4,350 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1912
MLS#: 12136163
On Redfin: 19 days
Income Requirement: $114,000 (mortgage/3.5)
Down Payment: $100,000
Monthly Nut: $2,700


This place was purchased in 2003 for $437,500, and the loanowner made it EXACTLY five years (hmmm...five-year Option ARM, anyone?) before trouble started. Knowing he couldn't afford the full payment anymore (or ever), he desperately tried to get out from under his obligation in February 2008.

After two years and 11 days of extend and pretend can-kicking and gaming the system (aka living rent-free while the bank dragged its heels), the bank finally took it back for $424,000 -- essentially the '04 price.

Just three weeks after taking it back, the lender slapped it on the MLS (it's funny how banks don't seem to be in any sort of hurry as long as a property stays off the books, but as soon as they take it back they suddenly snap into action)...with a $95,000 premium attached.


They've since lowered the price to $499,000, which isn't crazy compared to some of the garbage that's selling these days, but that's still a chunk of change.

With all of the recent happy talk about "V-shaped recoveries" and good times being here again, it's easy to forget we're still muddling through the disastrous results of the Great Housing Bubble. You know, the bubble? Remember?

Here's a refresher course:

May 29, 2003 - Sold (Public Records) $437,500 (22.3%/yr)
Mar 09, 2001 - Sold (Public Records) $280,000 (262.4%/yr!)
Sep 13, 2000 - Sold (Public Records) $150,000


Anyhow, this house is pretty sweet. It's on a reasonably sized lot in an okay neighborhood (a little too close to 7th for my taste), has a back yard, and looks crisp and clean on the inside.

I'm just trying to figure out why the bank thinks it will get such a hefty premium over what they paid (and nobody else was willing to pay) at auction.

Oh, who the hell knows. It'll probably be in escrow by the time I publish this.

Friday, April 2, 2010


March 31, 2010 - Price Changed $349,500

Including commissions, we're now looking at a $137,000 loss. That's a 30% drop from the peak. And this is still not a short sale, meaning this potato chip enthusiast will eat that loss IN CASH.

The good news is, I think he's finally (mercifully) competitive at this price. Especially given the small window for buyers to double-dip on the state and federal tax credits, a sale at this price (although still too high as far as I'm concerned) wouldn't surprise me.

Then again, this Spring could see an increase in the number of recently thawed hibernators coming out of their caves and also throwing their apartments on the market to take advantage of the "Spring Bounce."

That means tougher competition.

And with a kitchen this hideous, he better prepare to slash the price even further to get ahead of those soon-to-be sellers vying for the same shallow pool of qualified buyers.


Mar 13, 2010 - Price Changed $369,500

10 Grand here, 10 Grand there...pretty soon we're talkin' real money!

$465,000 purchase price, $395,000 original list , $25,500 in price reductions, and still not a short sale.

Given that this is still a standard sale, I have to assume the seller put down 20%, or $93,000. That means with this newest price reduction, they are officially in the hole.

Add $22,000 in commissions, 114 fruitless days on market, and the expiration of the first time homebuyer giveaway next month, and this seller is staring down the barrel of a really bad day.


Feb 28, 2010 - Price Changed $379,500
Jan 12, 2010 - Price Changed $389,500

In December I said due to the awesome location, I wouldn't be surprised by a sale at around $360,000. Our seller is fast approaching that figure, but I wonder if it's fast enough.

I'll remind you that despite a $465,000 purchase price, at $379,500 this is still not a short sale.

Effing brutal.


235 MIRA MAR Ave #4, 90803
Beds: 2
Baths: 1.5
Asking Price: $395,000
Sq. Ft.: 1,018
$/Sq. Ft.: $388
Year Built: 1958
HOA: $203
MLS#: P711997
Source: SoCalMLS
On Redfin: 11 days
Down Payment: $79,000
Income Requirement: $99,000
Monthly Nut: $2,300
Description: Bright top floor unit in very quaint neighborhood. Open living room with unique light fixtures. Gas stove, microwave, hardwood floor in kitchen. Large master with custom mirrored closet. Plenty of closet space & cabinets. Only 1 common wall. Private single car garage with storage and room for an add'l. car in front of garage. Walk to beach & enjoy the sunsets. Close to shopping and entertainment.

You know your apartment sucks when you mention a "mirrored closet" as a selling point.

And speaking of selling points, why not mention those sweet custom-painted kitchen cabinets?


Good lord. And the old-ass tiles just make it worse. At least finish the job like this idiot and put some granite on there!

Our featured seller is in deep, deep shit. He bought in the right location, but he got blatantly ripped off when he did so.

In November 2005, near the peak of the housing bubble, he decided to get into the real estate game and plunked down $465,000 (yes, you read that correctly) for this 2-bedroom/1.5-bath WITH NO LAUNDRY FACILITIES ON THE PREMISES.

I bet when he agreed to pay $465,000 he took a look at the 2001 sales price of $182,000 (assuming he even did that much research) and instead of thinking, "Hmm. That 22% annual appreciation during the last four years doesn't seem right," he imagined also holding it for four years then more than doubling his investment. Piece of cake, right?

Well, four years and one day after purchasing, he put it on the market for $395,000. So much for doubling your money. In fact, after commissions he's staring down the barrel of a $90,000 loss. And that's before negotiations even start.

But a quick look at the sold comps and it's clear that he's more underwater than he realizes. The average price per square foot of condos sold during the last six months is $369. Translation? This apartment at $369 per square should be priced at $375,886--20 Grand below his current wishing price.

Good thing he's got a life boat:

And you thought it was just a super classy coffee table.

Speaking of questionable decorating choices:

Disney's Jungle Cruise right in your own living room! There is plenty of weirdness to go around, but the giant Lay's bag on the wall takes the cake. He must REALLY be into potato chips.

What bothers me is the monthly $203 HOA fee. Curious about the wonderful perks you'll get to enjoy if you buy in this building? Well, here you go:

Amenities: Barbecue


With no on-site laundry, just what the hell is your HOA money going toward? Landscaping?

With a 51-year-old building, I would perform some serious due diligence regarding the HOA's finances before considering a purchase.

Overall, because the neighborhood is excellent a 10% discount will probably be enough to garner a sale. I'm not saying that it won't decline further in value, but with interest rates at record lows (again), a sale at around $360,000 wouldn't shock me.

But that's something like a $120,000 loss. Given that this is not (yet) a short sale, we have to assume he had a monster down payment in 2005.

Key word: had.