"In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.
"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number." "
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Through the first eight months of 2008, almost 3.38 million homes have been sold, down 17.1% from the same period of 2007.
Median sales price for an existing home in August was $203,100, down 9.5% from the same month last year. At current sales rates, there is an existing inventory of 10.4 months' worth of unsold homes, up 8.3% from the same period last year.
Monday, September 22, 2008
"Mr. Paulson is resisting efforts to limit the pay of executives whose
firms participate in the program and plans to fight it "hard," according to a
person familiar with the matter. He fears that provision would render the
program moot, since many firms might choose not to participate."
Really? I mean, really?
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The declines should help correct the large inventory of unsold homes.
Through August, some 681,200 homes have been started, down 30.5% from the same period last year.
Building permits dipped 36.4% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 854,000 homes.
Nearly 95% of those dealers responding have a showroom, averaging 8.5 kitchen and bath displays and vignettes, of which about 4 feature sustainable design and products. More than half of respondents have changed their displays or vignettes to show sustainable products and principles in the past 12 months, and 68% plan to change or add “green” displays in the next 12 months.
About six out of ten dealers say their promotional literature mentions sustainable design principles and products, and 45% advertise or promote it to their local market.
Seven out of ten dealers have instituted sustainable business practices at their dealerships. Eighty one percent use recycled paper, and 80% have cut down on paper use with e-documents. Seventy-three percent have cut back on energy use for air conditioning and heating, and 68% have switched to energy-saving lighting.
Three out of four dealers recycle some or all of what they tear out when installing a new kitchen job, with 29% recycling almost all, and 4% recycling all.
And the AP says the Feds are currently trying to organize a buyout of Washington Mutual, which has been among the lenders hardest-hit by the mortgage crisis.
The Financial Times notes that AIG paid its chief executive about $61 million when it fired him earlier this year, after he had lost them more than $30 billion.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Through the first eight months of this year, nearly 26.5 million kitchen appliances have been shipped, down 8.9% from the same period last year.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Some 13% of dealers say all of the jobs they’ve sold in that span are ecologically responsible, while 9% say none have been. Among bath jobs, 35% on the average have been “green.” Nearly 13% have done nothing but ecologically responsible bath jobs, while 14% have done none over the past 12 months.
More than half of the dealers responding say the price of their sustainable kitchen jobs is somewhat higher in price than non-sustainable ones. About 22% say there is no difference, while one in ten says the price for sustainable bath jobs is much higher. Fifty-three percent also say sustainable bath jobs are somewhat higher priced; 24% say there is no price difference, while 9% say the price is much higher.
Nearly two out of three dealers say they’ve encountered sales resistance among clients due to higher prices for sustainable products, but only 36% feel they’ve lost sales due to that factor. Forty-seven percent feel their ability to offer sustainable kitchen and bath designs and products has gained them sales.
Monday, September 8, 2008
"The U.S. Treasury's takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is aimed at
keeping the companies going into 2009, while leaving the next president and
Congress to decide their long-term structure.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart yesterday placed the two firms in a
government-operated conservatorship, ousting their chief executives and
eliminating their dividends. The Treasury may purchase up to $200 billion of
stock in the firms to keep them solvent.
``Some of this is a stopgap to try
to prevent the mortgage market from falling apart,'' former Federal Reserve Bank
of St. Louis President William Poole said on Bloomberg Radio. The federally
chartered, shareholder-owned structure, with risks covered by taxpayers, is ``an
unacceptable situation,'' he said, projecting the Treasury may need to cover as
much as $300 billion of losses. "
Those are some of the results of a recent survey of kitchen and bath dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association. More than 150 dealers responded.
Nearly 12% of the dealers said clients have a high level of interest in sustainable kitchens and baths, while 56% said that clients had a moderate level. Just 28% reported a low level of interest, and under 4% reported a very low level.
About 43% said their client had done a little research on sustainability issues when they walk into the showroom, and 41% said clients had done some research. Five percent said clients had done a lot of research on the issue, while 11% said clients had done no research.
The use of renewable resources ranked highest among client concerns, said 77% of the dealers. Sixty-three percent cited health issues from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and other factors; the same number said clients cited potential energy savings. Potential water savings ranked high for 39%, 17% said carbon impact, and 8% cited other factors including use of local products and the business practices of the dealer.
Friday, September 5, 2008
About 41% of respondents said that the number of prospects was the same or higher than last year at this time. About half said the number of kitchen sales was the same or higher, and 51% said the number of bath sales were the same or higher.
Forty percent of respondents forecast higher dollar sales volume during the next six months, and 15% expect sales to remain level with the previous six months. Some 52% say they will be doing business as usual during the rest of 2008, and 15% plan to expand.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
White or red oak ranked third in Canada and the Northeast, but was eclipsed by alder in other regions.
Birch scored high in the South, the Northeast and Canada, while mahogany was the fourth most popular wood in the West.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Some other regional differences: Arts & Crafts was the third most popular kitchen style in the Midwest and fourth most popular in Canada; it was fifth in the other regions.
Asian Fusion was much more popular in Canada and the West than in other regions, and Tuscan style ranked much higher in the U.S. than it did in Canada.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Bronzes/terracottas were cited by 34%, mints/greens by 19%, stainless steel by 18%, Sepiatones by 12%, reds by 11%, and saffrons by 11%.
Beiges/bones were the most popular bath color scheme (59%), followed by whites/off-whites (52%) and mints/greens (32%). Other color schemes mentioned as popular were browns (31%), blues (25%), bronzes/terracottas (18%) and sepiatones (12%).
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: "Consumer confidence readings suggest that the economy remains stuck in neutral, but may be showing signs of improvement by early next year. Declines in the Present Situation Index, both in terms of business conditions and the labor market, appear to be moderating. The Expectations Index, which posted a significant gain this month, suggests better times may be ahead. However, overall readings are still quite low by historical standards and it is still too early to tell if the worst is behind us."
"While there is no national turnaround in residential real estate prices, it is possible that we are seeing some regions struggling to come back, which has resulted in some moderation in price declines at the national level" says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. "The rate of home price decline may be slowing."
At the national level, the housing market peaked around June/July of 2006. As of June 2008, two years later, the 10-City Composite has fallen by 20.3% and the 20-City Composite is down 18.8%.
Forty-seven percent of the dealers and designers who responded were certified, and 86% designed both kitchens and baths; 12% designed kitchens only and the remaining 3% did baths only. Average kitchen job designed by the panel was priced at $51,710, and the average bath job at $30,344, confirming the elite status of the projects created.
Asked to characterize the three most popular styles of kitchens this Spring, 67% said traditional, 48% said contemporary, and 35% said Shaker. Arts and Crafts was mentioned by 25%, Tuscan by 21%, and Cottage by 16%.
Asked to name the three most popular styles in the baths they design, 71% cited traditional, 59% cited contemporary, and 23% said Shaker. Seventeen percent each said cottage, Arts and Crafts, or Asian fusion were among their three most popular bath styles.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Through seven months, nearly 2.9 million existing homes have been sold, down 11.8% from 2007's same period results.
Average existing home price during July was $254,000, down 8.0% from the average for the same month in 2007. At current sales rates, there are 11.2 months' worth of unsold homes on the market.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Microwave oven shipments were up 17.7% for the month, with nearly 922,000 units shipped.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Lowe's sales for the second quarter were up 2.4% to $14.5 billion, with same store sales down 5.3%. For the first half, Lowe's sales hit $26.5 billion, a 0.7% increase over the first half of 2007.
Permits dipped 32.4% to an annualized rate of 937,000 units during July, while single family permits fell 41.4% to a rate of 584,000 units per year.
NAHB/Wells Fargo's Housing Market Index for August showed builder confidence low but steady and sales expectations up slightly. “While our overall measure of builder confidence remains at a record low at this time, it is a good sign that two out of three of the HMI’s component indexes rose in August, and this may be an indication that we are nearing the bottom of the long downswing in new-home sales,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “Our current forecast shows stabilization of sales during the second half of this year, followed by solid recovery in 2009 and beyond.”
Friday, August 15, 2008
"The EcoJohn Sr. is a waterless, incinerating toilet certified for safety
by Underwriters Laboratories, which, for classification purposes, called it a
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Consumers perceive neutrals as “safe purchases” because they are timeless classics, adding longevity to the product’s life.
Is it any wonder that earth inspired neutrals of browns, grays and greens continue to be the primary colors? These hues are safe and make us feel safe in turbulent times. Either standing alone or supporting brighter hues, these chic and luxurious subtle colors gave focus to form, texture and pattern with interplay of shadows and light.
YELLOW is moving in three directions. From an elegant gold, with formal antique influences, which has been with us for a couple years, to a vibrant yellow-orange and a new soft optimistic yellow that works as a neutral.
ORANGE is slightly losing some of its brown cast of previous years, to a more vibrant, playful hue. Deep corals are gaining in popularity and are being used in to add pop other color families. Terra cottas continue to be best sellers in many products.
RED & PINK swing from yellow-based reds to blue-based reds. They include a spicy yellow-based red, a highly saturated orange-based red and a powerful blue-based-pink. They are influenced by China, South East Asia and Mexico. Red will continue to gain acceptance in accents and smaller appliances, which in recent years would have been in off-white.
VIOLET has shifted from a blue-based violet to a red-based raspberry hue. Violets are not big sellers for most industries; they are being used in small amounts for pop in neutral palettes.
BLUE continues to be a favorite this year. Spa blues are still prevalent however a shift to bolder, highly saturated blues that get your attention. There’s a new navy blue and a near-black as well. The mineral-based blue in combination with dark brown have been a best seller for three years, however they are about to go their separate ways.
GREEN continues to be highly influenced by environmental issues. Whether it is being motivated subconsciously, through direct natural colors, eco-sustainability or by the organic culture these are all affecting the green family. Yellow-based greens still remain strong; there is a shift blue-influenced greens as well.
BROWN is a color we just can’t get enough of. Brown is the ubiquitous color family in virtually every industry. It continues to either stand alone in monochromatic schemes or complement brighter color families. There is growing interest in lighter mid-tone browns; yellow and red overtoned browns remain popular."
Nevada continued to document the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate in July, with one in every 106 households receiving a foreclosure filing during the month. Foreclosure activity in Nevada was up 97% from July, 2007. One in every 182 California homes were foreclosed on in July, and 1 in every 186 Florida properties were served.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
"U.S. foreclosure filings more than doubled in the second quarter from a year earlier as falling home prices left borrowers owing more on mortgages than their properties were worth.
One in every 171 households was foreclosed on, received a default notice or was warned of a pending auction. That was an increase of 121 percent from a year earlier and 14 percent from the first quarter, RealtyTrac Inc. said today in a statement. Almost 740,000 properties were in some stage of foreclosure, the most since the Irvine, California-based data company began reporting in January 2005. "
June new house sales were down 33.2% from the same month last year to seasonally adjusted annualized rate of just 530,000 units.
At present sales rates, builders have 10 months worth of unsold inventory.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Through the first half of 2008, some 2.39 million existing homes have been sold, down 16.7% from the same period of 2007. At the present sales pace, there is an 11.1-month inventory of unsold homes on the market, 22.0% higher than inventory levels at this time last year.
Median sales price of an existing home in June was $215,100, down 6.1% from June of 2007.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
"During an eight-month investigation, The Miami Herald analyzed computer records for more than 222,844 Florida mortgage professionals, examined thousands of records from the Office of Financial Regulation, reviewed hundreds of court files and interviewed dozens of regulators, brokers and victims.
The newspaper found:
• From 2000 to 2007, regulators allowed at least 10,529 people with criminal records to work in the mortgage profession. Of those, 4,065 cleared background checks after committing crimes that state law specifically requires regulators to screen, including fraud, bank robbery, racketeering and extortion.
• More than half the people who wrote mortgages in Florida during that period were not subject to any criminal background check. Despite repeated pleas from industry leaders to screen them, Florida regulators have refused."
Friday, July 18, 2008
"Securities regulators from several U.S. states on Thursday inspected the
St. Louis headquarters of Wachovia Securities, seeking documents and records on
the company's sales practices."
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The seasonally adjusted annualized starts rate for the month was 1.07 million units, down 26.9% from the rate for June, 2007. The single family start rate was 43.0% behind the pace for June of 2007, at just 647,000 units. It was the weakest performance for single family starts since January, 1991.
Through the first six months of 2008, some 515,900 permits had been issued, 33.2% below the total for the same period last year. Over that span, single family permits fell 41.1% to 332,300 permits.
“The current economic woes, brought on by the collapse of the so-called "housing bubble," are considered the worst to hit investors since the equally untenable dot-com bubble burst in 2001. According to investment experts, now that the option of making millions of dollars in a short time with imaginary profits from bad real-estate deals has disappeared, the need for another spontaneous make-believe source of wealth has never been more urgent.
"Perhaps the new bubble could have something to do with watching movies on cell phones," said investment banker Greg Carlisle of the New York firm Carlisle, Shaloe & Graves. "Or, say, medicine, or shipping. Or clouds. The manner of bubble isn't important—just as long as it creates a hugely overvalued market based on nothing more than whimsical fantasy and saddled with the potential for a long-term accrual of debts that will never be paid back, thereby unleashing a ripple effect that will take nearly a decade to correct."”
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Pasadena-based IndyMac late
Friday and has assured depositors that accounts with $100,000 held in a single
name or $250,000 in a retirement account are safe.But many customers have said
that when they checked their balances online, tens of thousands of dollars
appeared to be missing. And when they went to branches in search of answers,
they encountered lines hundreds of people deep and unhelpful staff members. On
Tuesday, reports of unruly crowds brought police to branches in Encino and
Northridge, although there were no arrests or injuries.Noelle Gabay of
Northridge, a budget analyst for the state of California, said FDIC officials
acknowledged that she was owed $213,500 but provided her access only to $99,000.
"My trust in the FDIC is gone," said Gabay, 49. "The question is now, where do
we put our money? Do we buy a bigger mattress?""
Through the first half of 2008, kitchen appliance shipments lag behind shipments for the same period last year by 10.3%, with 19.9 million units shipped. The chart below gives first half breakdowns by category:
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
"...the Federal Reserve Board on Monday voted unanimously to bar lenders
from making higher-priced mortgages without regard to a consumers' ability to
Monday, July 14, 2008
The bank reopens today under Federal control.
FDIC says 90 banks are currently at risk of failing.
"In a statement timed to precede the opening of Asian markets Monday, as well as
a closely watched auction of debt by Freddie, the Treasury said it plans to seek
approval from Congress for a temporary increase in a longstanding Treasury line of credit for the two companies.
The Fed's Board of Governors met Sunday in Washington and voted to grant the New York Fed authority to lend to Fannie and Freddie "should such lending prove necessary," the central bank said in a statement. The move would effectively give the two companies access to the Fed's discount window if necessary, providing a backstop in case the firms were to face a short-term funding crisis down the road."
Friday, July 11, 2008
"As we explored our options for appliances, it became clear that the
fastest, most efficient step we could take in completing the transformation of
our industrial portfolio would be to focus on a possible spin-off of the entire
unit," GE chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt said.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Chances are increasing that the U.S. may need to bail out Fannie Mae
and the smaller Freddie Mac, former St. Louis Federal Reserve President William
Poole said in an interview. Freddie Mac owed $5.2 billion more than
its assets were worth in the first quarter, making it insolvent under fair value
accounting rules, he said. The fair value of Fannie Mae's assets fell 66 percent
to $12.2 billion, data provided by the Washington-based company show, and may be negative next quarter, Poole said.
James J. Saccacio, CEO of the firm, said, "The year-over-year increase of more than 50% indicates we have not yet reached the top of this foreclosure cycle. Bank repossessions, or REOs, continue to increase at a much faster pace than default notices or auction notices. REOs in June were up 171% from a year ago, while default notices were up 38% and auction notices were up 22% over the same time period.”
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
NAR says existing-home sales are expected to total 5.31 million in 2008, and then increase 5.0% in 2009 to 5.58 million. There were just over 5.65 million existing homes sold in 2007. (and to put that in persepctive, in 2005 there were almost 7.08 million sold).
Officials said that the Federal Reserve remained concerned that the declining housing market would not reach its bottom and financial markets would not become more stable before some time next year, and that the economy would continue to suffer as a result of declining consumer confidence, a sluggish global economy and the widespread effects of the rapid jump in oil prices.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Be kind to your webfooted friends
For a duck may be somebody's mother...
Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.
Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.
Overall, construction employment fell 2.9% to 7.43 million in June; some 785,000 workers were unemployed. The construction unemployment rate climbed to 8.2%, up from 5.9% in June of last year.
Average weekly earnings for construction workers during the month was $853.01, up 2.7% from June, 2007; average hourly earnings were up 3.5% to $21.65.
"Consumers fell behind on loans secured by their homes at the fastest pace
in two decades in the first quarter, signaling deeper distress in the U.S.
economy, the American Bankers Association reported.
Home-equity lines of credit at least 30 days past due rose 14 basis points to 1.1 percent of accounts in the quarter, the Washington-based group said today in a statement. Delinquent credit-card accounts increased 13 basis points to 4.51 percent, the highest since 2006. Late rates worsened in five of eight categories of non-revolving loans tracked by the group. "
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
"Billionaire investor Eli Broad said the U.S. economy is in the worst recession since World War II and a recovery in the housing market is 'several years' away.
'This is worse than any recession we've had since World War II,' Broad, 75, said in an interview yesterday. Broad, the founder of homebuilder KB Home, said the U.S. should avoid a depression on the scale of the 1930s because the country now has sufficient 'safety nets'.''
Two of the signers (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson) became Presidents of the U.S. Three became Vice Presidents Adams, Jefferson, and Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts, after whom the word “gerrymander” gets its name.) Two became Supreme Court Justices (Samuel Chase of Maryland and James Wilson of Pennsylvania). Four became senators; four, ambassadors; seventeen, governors of their states; fifteen, state judges, including nine chief justices; five, speakers of their state legislatures.
The last survivor was Maryland’s Charles Carroll, who passed on in 1832 at age 95. He had also been the wealthiest signer; when he affixed his signature, one of the other fifty-six quipped “There goes a million dollars.”
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
However, the slump still has a ways to go before bottoming out, and warmer weather did not bring any upswing; the May sales rate lags about 1% behind February's pace.
May's existing home median sales price was $208,600, down 6.3% from the same month in 2007. At the present sales pace, there is a 10.2-month unsold inventory.
And Pennsylvania is facing a $20 billion shortfall affecting its drinking water and waste water systems. (Courtesy US Water News.)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Median sales price of a new home in May was $231,000, down 5.7% from the same month last year. At current sales rates, builders have 10.9 months of unsold inventory; in May 2007 they had 7.8 months' worth.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Said Lynn Franco, Director of the Board's Consumer Research Center: "This month's Consumer Confidence Index is the fifth lowest reading ever. Consumers' assessment of present-day conditions continues to grow more negative and suggests the economy remains stuck in low gear. Looking ahead, consumers' economic outlook is so bleak that the Expectations Index has reached a new all-time low. Perhaps the silver lining to this otherwise dismal report is that Consumer Confidence may be nearing a bottom."
Just 8.8% think business conditions will improve over the next six months, while 33.9% think they will grow worse. Just 12.3% expect their incomes to increase over that span.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Update: The Wall Street Journal posts a copy of the indictment. Pages 7-8 have the meat:
Starting at least by March 2007, CIOFFI, TANNIN and others believed that the Funds were in grave condition and at risk of collapse. Rather than disclosing the true state of the Funds to investors and lenders, thus allowing an orderly wind-down of the Funds, CIOFFI and TANNIN agreed to make misrepresentations in the ultimately futile hope that the Funds' bleak prospects would change and that their incomes and reputations would remain intact.
On June 9, 2007, when the Funds' collapse was imminent, CIOFFI stated that, "[ilf I can't [turn the Funds around] I've effectively washed a 30 year career down the drain."
25. In executing their scheme, as detailed below, CIOFFI and TANNIN, together with others, misrepresented or omitted material facts in communications with investors and lenders about a variety of topics, including the financial prospects of the Funds, their opinions regarding the financial prospects of the Funds, their personal investments in the Funds, the Funds' investor redemption requests, the Funds' liquidity picture, and the Funds' exposure to the subprime mortgage market.
Second Update: Reuters says almost 300 other people have also been arrested.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Says the report,
"Smaller independent dealers regained lost ground, the report shows, supporting claims of market share gains by the major buying groups.
Also weathering the storm were retailers that cater to the carriage trade, operate outside the hardest-hit real estate markets, or have limited exposure to the builder channel."
Sears led the group with $8.3 billion in major appliance sales, down 7.3% from 2006.
Through five months of 2008, just under 412,000 homes have started, down 30.6% from the same period of 2007. Slightly more than 289,000 single family homes have been started over that span, down 40.1% below the first five months last year.
Permit numbers were also anemic. Building permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of just 969,000 units in May, down 36.3% from the same month last year, while single family permits were issued at a rate of 623,000 units, down 41.4%.
Monday, June 16, 2008
An excerpt: "Some brokers ignored the balance. Connelly began to hear about loan officers who charged low-income borrowers fees of as much as 5 percent of the loan or got a kickback by tacking extra percentage points to the interest rate on a mortgage. "Many borrowers are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paperwork, disclosures, etc., and they're just not equipped to fully understand," he said. "There were half-truths and downright lies and severe omissions."
A mortgage lender could hire practically anybody. "It's not rocket science," Connelly would tell new hires, such as the busboy who quickly traded in his Toyota Tercel (value: $1,000) for a Mazda Miata sports car (value: $25,000). Pinnacle was running out of office space, forcing some loan officers to work on window ledges or out of their cars."
Friday, June 13, 2008
It had been sold by the founder in 2004 for $640 million.
The third largest manufactuer of tubs, spas and showers in the United States, Maax lost $180 million on revenue of $411 million in 2007.
One in every 483 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in May, the highest number since RealtyTrac started the report in 2005 and the second-straight monthly record."
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
Weekly wages for construction in May climbed 1.6% over last year to an average of $832.60, and hourly wages for construction workers were up 3.5% to an average $21.57.
The Hopps protested that was not their fault, that a tenant had organized the parties without their knowledge. Simply renting out the house was a violation of the terms of their mortgage, but the lender, Countrywide Financial, evidently did not notice. A month after the scandal broke, it gave the couple another million-dollar loan to buy a house four miles away."
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Adjustable rate mortgages made up 39% of the first quarter's foreclosures. More than 60% of the quarter's foreclosures were in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
The slim silver lining for this cloud is that 20 states saw declines in the number of foreclosures during the first quarter.
At the current sales pace, there is an unsold inventory of homes that would last 10.6 months.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Via the blog Big Picture, a West Coast developer holds a two-for-one sale of new homes.
And yes, it appears to be real.
Mounds of delicious cole slaw in seconds!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Said Lynn Franco, Director of The Board's Consumer Research Center: "The Consumer Confidence Index now stands at a 16-year low. Weakening business and job conditions coupled with growing pessimism about the short-term future have further depleted consumers' confidence in the overall state of the economy. Consumers' inflation expectations, fueled by increasing prices at the pump, are now at an all-time high and are likely to rise further in the months ahead."
Franco says she sees little likelihood of a turnaround in the immediate months ahead. More than a third of consumers responding said they thought business conditions would get worse over the next six months.
Friday, May 23, 2008
In the meantime, you might be interested in checking on the Phoenix Mars Lander, scheduled to touch down on live TV May 25th.
If you're a kitchen/bath dealer, you might be interested in taking the Sustainable Design and Practicies survey here, and/or the May Business Barometer survey here. Thanks in advance.
Through the end of April, nearly 1.4 million existing homes have been sold, down 20% from the same period last year.
Median existing home sales prices fell 8.0% from April, 2007 to $202,300. Inventory of unsold existing homes also rose to 11.2 months at current sales rates; last April's inventory was 8.5 months.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Allowing for inflation, OFHEO says home prices dropped 7.7% over the latest year.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
During the quarter, Lowe's opened 20 new stores, and now has 1,554 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
"Banks lined up to back newly minted companies. They made huge loans to workers of limited means who couldn't afford the payments.
At Desert Sun, five ex-employees told The Oregonian their incomes were inflated or their signatures forged on loan applications or other financing documents.
Now that some of those loans have defaulted, banks are going after some of the employees with foreclosure threats. But in many of the Desert Sun transactions, there is no house to repossess -- only land worth a fraction of what is owed.
"I owe $290,000 for a piece of land that is probably worth $70,000," said Casey Cross, a former Desert Sun electrician who owns an empty lot in Sisters. "I'm one of the lucky ones. It's just me and my dog. There are good people with families just getting crushed." "
Hat Tip to Calculated Risk.
And like a joke, the story ends with the punchline:
Friday, May 16, 2008
Single family starts remained mired in the doldrums, down 42.1% from last April's pace at a rate of 692,000 units.
Through the first four months of 2008, some 321,000 homes had been started across the country, down 29.8% from the same period of 2007.
Permits in April were down 32.9% from the same month last year to a rate of 978,000 units. Single family permits for the month were down 39.9% from April, 2007 to a rate of 646,000 permits per year.
Through the end of April, just under 320,000 permits had been issued, down 35,1% from the first four months last year.
In separate news, builders remained downbeat in May, as the National Association of Home Builders' Builder Confidence Index dipped to one of its lowest points ever. “Despite the Federal Reserve’s concerted efforts to lower short-term interest rates, free up credit markets and shore up the national economy, the housing market has shown no evidence of improvement thus far. In fact, conditions have continued to deteriorate in recent times,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “The latest HMI shows that even fewer builders now foresee market conditions improving over the next six months compared with our April survey, and builder ratings of buyer traffic through model homes also have dropped off over the past month on a seasonally adjusted basis. This certainly adds fuel to the argument that targeted policy stimulus, in the form of a temporary tax credit for home buyers, is essential to halt the housing downswing and remove the heavy drag being exerted by housing on overall economic growth.”
Thursday, May 15, 2008
For April, electric cooking appliance shipments were down 7.1% to 402,900 units, gas cooking appliances down 9.2% to 219,400 units, and microwave ovens and ranges down 8.6% to 832,900 units shipped. Refrigerators were down 7.4% to 722,700 units, dishwashers down 13.7% to 485,400 units, disposers down 16.6% to 414,600 units, and compactors down 18.2% to 6,300 units shipped.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
More from Bloomberg.com.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
"The U.S. Attorney's Office accuses Berry Louidort and Ralph Michel (also known as Ralph Duverneau) of putting together deals for two dozen homes in Palm Beach County, persuading banks to loan far more than the properties actually sold for, then pocketing the difference and letting many of the homes lapse into foreclosure.
Boca Raton mortgage broker Lauren Jasky helped Louidort and Michel arrange the deals, prosecutors say.
Louidort, 26, Michel, 35, and Jasky, 29, were arrested April 23, and it's hard to say which detail of their deals, as federal officials describe in court documents, is the most jaw-dropping.
There's Michel - a native of Haiti who, according to his attorney, can't read or write well enough to pass a U.S. citizenship test - collecting "assignment fees" of $650,000 and $600,000 on side-by-side homes in the Versailles development in Wellington.
There's Louidort, also a native of Haiti, describing a scheme to buy 50 condos in Boynton Beach while stealing $4 million from lenders. He thinks he's talking to a willing accomplice. In fact, he's laying out the plot to an undercover FBI agent who captures the conversation on videotape.
There are straw buyers, such as the part-time Publix cashier whose income on loan applications was inflated from $13,000 to $344,000 so she could qualify for $1.3 million in loans on a palatial home in a gated community in Boca Raton.
There's Jasky saying she doesn't want to know the unsavory details of the loans she's shopping to lenders. Meanwhile, her mother is acting as the Realtor on some of the deals.
And there are some of the world's most sophisticated financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York, making loans on these properties for twice what they were worth. The Wall Street giants approved these mortgages in 2007 for much more than the properties sold for in 2005 and 2006, despite the steep downturn in home prices in Palm Beach County."
Monday, May 5, 2008
You might recall that an Oregon newspaper got hold of a JP Morgan Chase internal memo advising employees how to do just that.