Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lights Off

It's that time of year again. Time to take down your Christmas lights and decorations. My brother-in-law took our lights down in approximately 5 seconds. Since I'm feeling extremely generous I'll give people until February to get their lights down before I start mocking them. Anything after that is just shameful.

Keep Christmas in your hearts...not on your house.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where is the bottom?

Here is an interesting article from the Modesto Bee.

Stanislaus County housing prices stabilized a bit last month, slowing the brutal price plunge that began three years ago.

Median-priced homes sold for $160,000 during November, which was $1,500 less than October. That decline was far less than previous price drops. Between September and October, for instance, home prices fell $17,500.

Stanislaus home values have fallen nearly 60 percent since peaking three years ago, according to housing statistics provided by MDA DataQuick.

First-time home buyers and investors are taking advantage of the now-affordable pricing. Sales volume was strong during November, as more than twice as many homes sold compared with the same month last year.

The sales statistics aren't nearly as comforting for Merced and San Joaquin counties.

Merced prices continued plummeting in November, falling to a median of $124,500. That was $12,250 less than October, and nearly 66 percent below what houses were selling for three years ago.

San Joaquin prices dropped to $172,000 last month, a staggering $28,000 fall from October. Its home values have declined nearly 62 percent in three years.

The Northern San Joaquin Valley has been rocked by the foreclosure crisis, which experts agree is pushing down home prices. Those experts disagree, however, on whether the region is through the worst of the housing mess.

"It comes down to just the sheer volume of problem loans in your area," said Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosures nationwide. Sharga predicted the region will continue to lead the country in foreclosures through 2009.

But since this region was first to enter the foreclosure mess, some think it may be among the first to rally.

"It is already recovering," said Sean O'Toole, founder of ForeclosureRadar, which tracks California real estate. He said it's a good sign that the valley's sales are up and prices are affordable. "Whereas the so-called strong areas in California, like San Mateo or San Francisco, are now only beginning to correct (by lowering prices). At current prices, I'd much rather own property in Modesto than Palo Alto at the moment."

Bargains to be had

Local realty firms also are seeing some positive signs.

"There's a tremendous amount of demand for housing at these prices, and there are good interest rates right now," said Mike Zagaris, president of Modesto-based PMZ Real Estate.

Whether home buyers will continue to be able to take advantage of low-cost housing opportunities depends on the economy, Zagaris said, "because we have a growing recession that's putting people out of work."

Zagaris also is concerned that many current owners are giving up their homes because they've lost so much equity.

"I'm being told by my people in the trenches that the vast majority of those facing foreclosures now have no interest in redoing their loans. They just want out," Zagaris said. "If that's true, there's no stopping these foreclosures."

Demand catching up

What has stopped is most new home construction.

That's good, according to Sharga, because the region needs to reduce its overall inventory of homes so demand can catch up with supply.

Most of the valley's new home builders have sold all their finished houses and they're only building new ones after they sign sales contracts, according to Kent Steinwert, chief executive officer for Farmers & Merchants Bank of Central California. He thinks that will stabilize new home prices.

Steinwert is bullish on the valley's housing future: "The fundamentals are there. We're growing in population ... and we can't build enough homes long term to meet demand."

Population estimates released this week show there's been a shift in who is living in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

More people are moving out of the region than are moving in. New population estimates from California's Department of Finance determined that about 6,824 more people moved to other parts of the United States from Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties this year than moved to the region.

But new immigrants from foreign countries and high birth rates among current residents more than made up for that loss, the figures showed, so the three counties still gained in population.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I have been getting antsy for a trip somewhere, and some of you know that I like love to go to Lake Havasu City. Like anywhere I go, I like to check out the local market for houses and
Real Estate Owned Foreclosures. It never gets old for me and since I am a cheapskate I like to look for the Free REO foreclosures list. I can look at houses all day long, even if they are dumpy homes. It's like a challenge for me to use the Free Foreclosures and map out where the houses are, and off I go having no idea where I may end up. I think that might be why I like to do this.

The site offers everything for free. No trial period...just a free service for anyone to use. Its pretty simple to use, and all you do is go to the main page and click on the state and find the city. It's that simple!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Boston Real Estate

Boston real estate does not seem to be hit as hard as other areas of the country, especially like California. Here is my take on it:

1. Real estate in Boston never had the overinflated jump that other areas did.
2. There is a demand for luxury real estate there.
3. Boston is a historic and cultural place to live with plenty to do and see.
4. Even Boston condos have held up pretty well considering that condos seem to take the first hit.
When you are ready to buy visit Bushari Group Real Estate

All I ever write about is California real estate, because it is what I know. Do any of you have insight on the east coast market? I'm curious.

Signs of the Times

Ho Ho Ho

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry Christmas

My wife wanted to take me to Manteca, California, about 40 minutes north of us to see some Christmas lights. She was yipping about how amazing they were, and I was thinking, yeah, yeah, yeah, they're just Christmas lights, we have those in our town too. Was it really necessary to drive 40 minutes? Oh Holy Night, was it ever. These pictures do not do this house justice. I was transformed into a spastic little boy again.

If you live near Manteca, go check this place out, and then afterward go check out the Bass Pro Shop which is more like Bass Pro HEAVEN. Even my wife enjoyed walking around through it, until she was creeped out by the Santa who looked a little too lonely and acted too eager for her to come sit on his lap. She is very reserved and just kept on walking like she was very interested in something over in the knife section. When Santa turned his attention to me, I made a beeline for the knives as well.

After that we went through a drive-thru Nativity Scene on the life of Christ, where the teenaged/young men and women at the crucifixion scene were a little too into it. It wasn't touching, but rather a little creepy like Santa at the Bass Pro Shop. The actors in the other scenes were excellent, but these kids needed to be reigned in if you know what I mean. Two girls were screaming, wailing, and howling at the foot of the cross, and the boys playing the soldiers were yelling at them like wife beaters. "Jesus" was laying on the cross like, "Uh, exsqueeze me? WWJD?"

Who knew Manteca was such a festive holiday town?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Urban Flair

They seem to never end. This place has been on the market for six months, and no takers. I can't imagine why this place has not sold.
Maybe its the boarded up windows?
Maybe its the dried up lawn?
Maybe its the graffiti on the boarded up window?
Maybe it's in a bad neighborhood?
Maybe they are asking too much?
Maybe the inside is a disaster?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Atlanta Luxury?

If you live in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, and you have the bucks to spend, then you need to check out Sovereign Buckhead. Being a simple guy, I know less than nothing about Atlanta luxury real estate, or luxury real estate anywhere, but this looks pretty spiffy if you are into big city living. I have to say, that if I were forced to live in a big city, Atlanta would be number 1 on my list. Buckhead Condos are not your average condominiums, so check them out.

My wife is a nurse, and I keep trying to convince her to be a traveling nurse. In fact, I would not be disappointed if we had to spend some time in the southern United States. Howard, however, is happy right where he is.