Monday, September 28, 2009

Average Buyer 6 Month Update

It's now been a little over 6 months since we moved into our new place. There doesn't seem to be much to write about lately, so I thought I would post an update on our situation as I am in serious procrastination mode.

Job Front - Huge sigh of relief for me. It was just announced that the Federal government (Department of Transportation) renewed our contract . Barring any major unforeseen troubles ahead, in theory, this means I have job security for at least a year or two. Mr. BT works for a small company, so his situation is always somewhat precarious.

On the home front - In terms of landscaping our barren lot, we obtained all the proper permitting, and are now working on building a deck. I'm doing a terrible job keeping plants alive so far (this is nothing new, but for a while my track record was improving). I'm not sure if it is our backyard exposure (to the South), but even the herbs that flourished last year, didn't seem to take this time around. Perhaps it's because I used the leftover seeds from last year?

I still look at the MLS and Ziprealty, but primarily for backyard ideas. We are somewhat limited with what we can do, as our soil is incredibly rocky. It's a bit of a catch-22, in that I hate to spend a lot of money on plants if they are just going to die, but if I don't spend more money and buy a larger established plant, it is much more likely to die.....sigh.

I still haven't covered 7 windows with anything permanent (we have paper up). We hired a contractor to help pour the concrete deck pilings, so we decided to wait on some non-essential spending like window coverings.

The builder is putting the finishing touches on the last couple houses in our development. We have been really pleased with them, as they have been very responsive in terms of customer service/maintenance issues after we purchased.

As far as our neighborhood, I couldn't ask for better. People really seem to look out for each other. For example, one night I forgot to close my garage door, and the neighbors across the way called around 9pm to let me know it was open. In addition the neighborhood has an e-mail chain, that helps alert everyone to problems/issues, and community events.

Auto Front - We also bought a new family car at the end of June. The lease on our Subaru Forrester (the flower mobile as I fondly called it) was up this year, and we decided not to keep it. The Ford dealer offered 0% financing and some cash back. Feeling concerned about our economy, I wanted to buy from an American company, which was never really a factor in the past. This was a big purchase we had put off, because we didn't know what our budget was going to look like going forward. Once we purchased our house, we had a better idea of our expenses (i.e. if we had stretched to buy a home, we would have bought a more modest vehicle.)

Family Front - We experienced a terribly tragedy in July. The wife of Mr.BTs brother was killed in a motorcycle accident (she was in her 30s and had two kids from a previous marriage). This has motivated us to get on the ball regarding a will/trust and to make sure there are provisions to take care of our kids should something happen to both of us. I still get sick to my stomach every time I see a motorcycle on the freeway. I mention this as food for thought because, it has ramifications on how you record the title of your house.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What Were they Thinking?

This tale just keeps getting more bizarre by the minute. The short sale saga I told earlier this month, just took a very weird twist. It was just listed on the MLS #90072959 for a whopping $692,900. This is the exact same house, that sat on the market for over a year for $550,000, and then dropped do $475,000 for over 6 months.

As mentioned in the last post, according to the Bee database, it was bought for $359,100 recently. Why on earth would they list this house so ridiculously high? It has done nothing but deteriorate since it was last listed. Perhaps they sunk a couple 100k into fixing it up....unlikely. I have an appraisal that valued the home at 460k.
Good thing we didn't wait around to buy this one from the will certainly be interesting to see how much it actually sells for.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Updated Historical Housing Sales and Price data for EDH and Folsom

It's been a long time since I posted the updated historical charts for Folsom and El Dorado Hills. Please note that the unlabeled source reports the median price, while the MelissaData chart is the average. I believe the MD chart includes new home sales, while the other is primarily for resales.

The late fall is when the biggest price drops have occurred over the last couple years. It will be interesting to see if this trend holds true for the current year. With many tax credits expiring and a backlog of foreclosures, it is certainly possible.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is it Price or Percentage that Matters Most?

I commented on yesterday's thread that I think the dollar drop is more important than the percentage drop, since real people deal with real dollars and not percentages. This theory is primarily based on my observations of the housing tracker data which tracks three different price points, the 25th percentile, the 50th (median), and the 75th.

Below is an excerpt from the data which illustrates my point. While the percentage difference at the three price points, varies greatly, from -54% to -34%, the actual drop in value is much closer. Important to note also, that the 75th percentile has dropped almost 20k more in dollar terms, even though the percentage makes the total drop seem small compared to the 25th percentile.

I thought it might be worth reposting an update to yesterday's post in case folks don't follow old material.

Update: I calculated the weighted median price (for the June 2009 data) and it comes out to be $211,628. The weighted median per sq foot is $125....this implies a median home size of 1,687 square feet. Which given 3x income, is affordable to a household making $70,550 a year. (Statistical can't just average all the zip codes, you have to weight the data by the number of sales in each zip code to get an accurate picture.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Status Check: Sacramento Metro Median Home Price

Below is a table (apologies for so much data in such a small font), with a comparison by zip code, starting with the June 2009 median price (as well as count of transactions and price per sq ft), compared to the minimum and maximum prices since August 2002 (data doesn't go back any further).

In the minimum field, a red date indicates the median price minimum was before the bubble burst, a blue date indicates a median price minimum was hit after the bubble burst. No color indicates that the most recent month was the minimum.

The percent drop from peak (maximum) is also color coded for the severity of the drop (red most severe, green least). Zip codes are sorted from the greatest dollar drop from peak to the least.

Update: I calculated the weighted median price (for the June 2009 data) and it comes out to be $211,628. The weighted median per sq foot is $125....this implies a median home size of 1,687 square feet. Which given 3x income, is affordable to a houshold making $70,550 a year. (Statistical can't just average all the zip codes, you have to weight the data by the number of sales in each zip code to get an accurate picture.)

Note: Data has been filtered for zip codes with at least 10 transactions in June 2009.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Time and Time Again

Hats off to Michael Choe. Time Magazine (2005 & 2009) and the Sac Bee both featured him for his prescient decision to sell his Natomas home (that he bought in 2001) in 2004 and buy a foreclosure in 2008.

While our story is similar but a slightly later timeline......what really struck me was his true reason for purchasing before things had bottomed out. According to the Sacramento Bee "The real story was that his son was ready to start school. Otherwise he would have waited two more years to buy."

Our purchase this year was highly motivated by this same reason. Closing in February gave my daughter enough time to get to know some of the neighborhood kids who are also attending/starting the local elementary (she started Kindergarten in August).

Of course I get serious pangs of anxiety about this decision, as I watch the NODs in our neighborhood pile up. But knowing there are other bubble bloggers out there who followed the same route has us, is giving me great comfort.

Sometimes life just gets in the way of making a buck. For instance I forbade my husband to even think about selling our Townhouse in D.C. when I was pregnant/on maternity leave. I just couldn't handle the stress of a toddler, a newborn and a move. So we missed the peak in the market by about 6 months(luckily the peak in our area was almost a year later than Sac), .......and moved to Sacramento when my son was 9 months old.

The Bee article states that he frequent the blogs....hope he pays Average Buyer a visit, as he sounds like a kindred spirit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Short Sale Saga

Some may recall, that during our house hunt, we pursued a short sale, twice. Here is a brief timeline and recap of the latest developments on it:

A flipper bought the home for $550,000 in March of 2007. At the time, she thought she was getting a great deal. With a first ($440,000 with National City and second lien for $55,000 with Countrywide). House was put up for sale in October of 2007 listed at $579,000 (then dropped to $550,000). She had worked out a deal with them to lower her payments while she tried to sell the house.

February 2008 - We submitted a written offer and negotiated with a seller on a short sale. Unfortunately, the bank would not approve the sale at our offer price (approximately 20% below asking). The seller did receive bank approval at 14% below their list price, and they immediately re listed the home (before we even responded that we wouldn't increase our offer price). We feel like we were played so that they could bring an offer to the bank and get a "bank approved" figure.
August 2008 - We resubmitted for the Short Sale that we tried for in February in the hopes that the bank would be more willing to negotiate now that 6 months have passed. We even paid $300 for an appraisal. The bank would not negotiate. We believe the home is now going into foreclosure.

According to Melissa Data and the Sacramento Bee Homes Sales Database, the home sold in June 2009 for $359,100. I was confused since it was way below what the first lien was.

I then checked the El Dorado County Assessors office, and the new owner is National City Bank (the first lien holder). The home hasn't shown up on the MLS yet. It was already in serious disrepair by the time we made our second offer (which was less than our first).

Side note: One part of this saga that really confused me was how an appraisal could come out at asking price....even though a home had been on the market for over 6 months at that price. A home is worth what someone will pay for it. If no one is willing to pay that price, then in my mind, it is not priced right. (Conversely, recent stories of homes not appraising for asking, even though there are 3 legitimate offers over asking....means a home is worth more than asking).

Having seen the home come through on both Melissa Data and Sac Bee, made me somewhat suspect of their data. It was my understanding their data did not include sales back to the bank. Thus any statistics (median price etc.) that are derived from these sources, will not be an accurate reflection of the market. Initially I thought perhaps the house was bought at auction, but the assessors office confirmed that the bank now owns the house.

I will be very curious to see how much the house actually sells for. I am guessing between 375k-425k depending on the shape its in (our last offer in August was $425,000 if memory serves me right).

Bank should have taken our first offer (pretty sure was more than what they were owed at the time). Obviously they had our best interest at heart ;) even though it didn't feel that way at the time.