Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can't Say This Fills Me With a Lot of Confidence

Don't try this explanation next time a client asks you to justify your cost estimate for remodeling their kitchen. From Forbes:
"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 Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number." "

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

August Existing Home Sales Down 11%

Existing home sales in August dipped 10.7% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.91 million units, according to the most recent figures from the National Association of Realtors. Single family home sales dipped 9.6% to a 4.35 million-unit pace.
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

Choosing Not to Participate

The proposed Fed bailout for the mortgage industry will be covered better elsewhere. But I do want to call the reader's attention to a peculiar paragraph in the Wall Street Journal's coverage:

"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

Home Theatre Market to Hit $3 billion in 2013

A report (with an apparently incorrect headline) from echannel finds 7% annual growth in home theatre products and services.


Today be a great day to make your co-workers think you've lost your mind, mateys.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

August Single Family Starts Dip 35%

Single family housing starts hit their lowest pace since January of 1991, down 34.9% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 630,000 units, according to the Census Bureau. Overall starts dipped 33.1% from August, 2007, to a 895,000-unit rate.
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 Half of Dealer Showroom Designs Are now 'Green'

Almost half of the displays at the average kitchen and bath dealer now feature sustainable products and design principles. That’s according to a recent survey of dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada conducted by the NKBA.
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.

Fed Bails Out AIG; WaMu Next?

The Federal Reserve has bailed out American International Group (AIG) and now owns nearly 80% of the ailing insurance giant.
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

August Kitchen Appliance Shipments Dip 8%

Some 3.3 million kitchen appliances were shipped in August, down 8.0% from the same month in 2007, according to the most recent figures from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
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.

Focus on What Matters

Good advice from Seth Godin.

Monday, September 15, 2008

37% of Dealer Kitchen Jobs Are 'Green'

About 37% of the kitchen jobs sold by kitchen and bath dealers in the past 12 months have had ecologically responsible features in them, according to a recent survey of dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada conducted by the NKBA. More than 150 dealers responded.
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

Fed Bails Out Mortgage Agencies

From Bloomberg:
"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. "

77% of Dealers Asked by Clients About Sustainable Design

Seventy-seven percent of dealers had customer requests or inquiries about sustainable design of kitchens or baths in the past 12 months, and three out of four brought up the subject of sustainable design without being asked.
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

July Business Barometer Shows Mixed Results

Kitchen/bath dealers averaged 32 prospects, 12 kitchen sales and and 15 bath sales during July, according to the NKBA Dealer Business Barometer. Average price of a kitchen for respondents was $32,735 and average price of a bath was $10,918.
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.

The Age of Invention

It's the Baconator alarm clock...

And this is a prototype by Italian bath manufacturer Teuco that rotates on the wall to become either a tub or a shower.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maple Tops Cherry for Kitchen Cabinets in Northeast

Maple or Birds' Eye Maple was more popular than Cherry as a wood for kitchen cabinets in the Northeast during the period from April to June of this year, according to the results of the NKBA's recent Style Barometer Survey. Cherry ranked as most popular elsewhere.
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

Contemporary Tops Traditional Kitchen Styles Out West

Although traditional styles were the most popular kitchen styles in the East, Midwest and South, according to the NKBA's recent Style Barometer Survey, in the Western states contemporary edged out traditional , and in Canada, Shaker styles were more popular than either.
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

Beiges/Bones Are Most Popular Kitchen/Bath Color Schemes

The three most popular color schemes for kitchens this Spring were beiges/bones, cited by 55% of respondents, whites/off-whites (50%), and browns (39%). That's according to the NKBA Dealer/Designer Style Barometer, which polled 200 dealers and designers about their clients’ style and color selections for kitchens and baths during the period April-June, 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

Consumer Confidence Improves in August

Although still well below last year's levels, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index improved in August to 56.9 (1985 = 100). The Expectations Index increased to 52.8 from 42.7 in July.
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."

S&P Sees Moderation in Home Price Decline

Although the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed continued declines in the prices of existing single family homes across the United States through the end of June, they also showed some reason for cautious optimism.
"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%.

Traditional, Contemporary and Shaker Are Top Kitchen Bath Styles This Spring

Traditional, contemporary and Shaker styles were the three leading styles for cutting edge kitchens and baths during the Spring of 2008. That’s according to the NKBA Dealer/Designer Style Barometer, which polled 200 dealers and designers about their clients’ style and color selections for kitchens and baths during the period April-June, 2008.
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

July Existing Home Sales Show Uptick

While still well behind (-13.2%) 2007's pace, existing home sales for July posted a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5 million units, up 3.1% from June. Single family existing home sales were also up 3.1% from June to a 4.39 million-unit pace, according to the National Association of Realtors.
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

July Kitchen Appliance Shipments Basically Flat

Some 3.2 million kitchen appliances were shipped in July, just 0.6% below the shipment level for July, 2007, according to AHAM. For the first seven months of 2008, some 23.1 million appliances have been shipped, down 9.0% from the same period last year.
Microwave oven shipments were up 17.7% for the month, with nearly 922,000 units shipped.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home Depot Sales Down 5% in Second Quarter; Lowe's Up 2%

Home Depot reports its sales were off 5.4% in the second quarter, compared to the same period of 2007, at $21.0 billion. Same store sales dipped 7.9% for the period. Through the first six months of its fiscal year, sales for the Atlanta based giant were down 4.5% at $40.7 billion.
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.

July Starts Dip 30%

Housing starts in July dipped to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 965,000 units, down 29.6% from the same month in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. Single family starts fell to a rate of 641,000 units, down 39.2% and the lowest pace since January of 1991.
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

Who Could Possibly Mix Up a Toilet and a Barbecue?

Underwriters Laboratories, that's who:
"The EcoJohn Sr. is a waterless, incinerating toilet certified for safety
by Underwriters Laboratories, which, for classification purposes, called it a
barbecue. "

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kitchen and Bath Color Trends for 2009

A friend of ours, Denise Turner of Colorturners, who is a member of the Color Marketing Group, gives KBDeltaVee a look at color trends in kitchens and baths for 2009.

"The soft economy and plummeting housing market has definitely affected the 2009 color palette. Many manufacturers are sticking to the basics. They are reframing from wildly spinning the color wheel, for concern of generating possible non-sellable goods.
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."

July Foreclosures up 55%

There were more than 272,000 foreclosures during July, up 55% from the same month in 2007, according to RealtyTrac. One in every 464 U.S. households received a foreclosure notice during the month.
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

NAHB Teleconference to Explain Housing Stimulus Act

NAHB will hold a panel to discuss the recently passed legislation on Monday at 2:00 pm Eastern time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Masco Sales Dip 15% in Second Quarter

Masco Corp. reports its sales for the second quarter were down 15% from the same period last year to $2.6 billion. North American sales were down 19%.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

A Haitian death squad leader (and CIA informant), said to be responsible for the deaths of thousands, who was supposed to have been deported in 1995, is convicted of mortgage fraud in Brooklyn. He was already serving time for a different mortgage fraud on Long Island.

Home Price Index Shows Record Drop in May

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Composite Home Price Indices showed record drops in May, with both the 10-city composite down 16.9% from May of 2007, and the 20-city composite down 15.8% in that span.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Feds Take Over Two More Banks

According to the New York Times, the F.D.I.C. has taken over First National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank, N.A.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Foreclosures More Than Doubled in Second Half

From Bloomberg:
"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. "

New Home Sales Down 36% in First Half 2008

Sales of new homes through the first half of 2008 totalled just 289,000 units, down 35.5% from the same period of 2007, according to the most recent figures from the Census Bureau.
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

Existing Home Sales Drop 16% in June

Sales of existing homes in June fell 15.9% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 4.86 million units. Single family existing home sales dipped 14.8% to a 4.27-million-unit sales pace, according to the National Association of Realtors.
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

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

Another in the series of revealing snapshots explaining how we got here:

"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."

Music To Your Rear

If you've ever wanted a toilet seat shaped like a piano or a guitar, why?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part $2.5 Billion

Here's the good news from Citibank's second quarter results: the bank only lost $2.5 billion.

Wachovia St. Louis Office Raided by Authorities

From the department of polite euphemism at CNN:
"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

Harvard Sees Home Improvement Slump Through First Quarter 2009

The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies sees a slumping economy and struggling housing sector continuing to hold down remodeling spending, a trend which will continue and intensify at least through the first quarter of 2009.

Remodeling spending was down 5.6% in the second quarter of 2008 from the level in the third quarter of 2007. Harvard predicts spending will slump 7.1% from that third quarter in the third quarter of this year, decline another 9.2% by year's end, and be down 11.1% by the end of the first quarter of next year.

Starts Down 30% Through First Half 2008

About 512,000 homes were started in the first half of 2008, down 30.0% from the same period of 2007, according to the Census Bureau. Single family starts plummeted 40.3% to 353,500 units over the first six months.
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.

Rueful Laughter Ensues

From the wicked sinners at The Onion:

“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

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

From the Los Angeles Times:
"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?""

June Kitchen Appliance Shipments Dip 10%

Shipments of kitchen appliances for June totalled 4.1 million units, down 10.3% from levels for the same month in 2007, according to the most recent figures from AHAM.
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

FDIC Halts IndyMac Forecloasures

From Reuters: "The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp has temporarily halted any foreclosures on the $15 billion of bank-owned mortgage loans found in IndyMac's portfolio, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said on Monday."

Sign of the Times

Which is sadder? That the Fed actually had to order this, or that this is news?

"...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

Robot Chef Works in Wireless Kitchen

The Technical University of Munich puts us one step closer to living like the Jetsons.

Beat the Summer Doldrums

The Retail Contrarian has tips for small businesses to keep employees motivated and productive during the Dog Days.

FDIC Takes Over Failed IndyMac Bank

California-based IndyMac Bank, which had specialized in risky mortgages, was seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It is the second largest bank failure in U.S. history and the fifth bank this year to fail.
The bank reopens today under Federal control.
FDIC says 90 banks are currently at risk of failing.

Fed Acts to Prop Up Fannie and Freddie

From the Wall Street Journal:
"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

GE to Spin Off Entire Industrial Unit

From AFP:
"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

Government Bailout Looming for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac?

From Bloomberg:
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
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.

June Foreclosures Jump 53%

One out of every 501 US households received a foreclosure notice in June, as the number of homes foreclosed increased 53% over the same month last year to 252,363 properties, according to RealtyTrac. Although that number was 3% below the May total, it still marked the second straight month with more than a quarter million foreclosures.
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

After Soft April, Dealer Sales Rebound in May

After a slump during April, dealers' kitchen and bath sales rebounded during May, according to the NKBA's Business Barometer Survey. Dealers reported an average of 15.9 kitchen sales for the month, up from 9.2 sales in April. About 22% said sales were higher than at this time last year, but 57.0% thought sales were lower. Average kitchen price reported was $27,241, up from $25,873 in April.

Dealers closed an average of 10.1 bathroom sales in May, up from 6.2 in April. Some 21.3% of those dealers responding thought bath sales were higher than at this time last year, but 41.3% said they were lower.

Dealers averaged 27.9 prospects in their showrooms in May, up from 27.1 in April.

Some 46.3% of dealers polled say they expect sales to go higher over the next six months compared o the previous six; just 30.0% saw lower sales volume ahead. More than half of dealers polled will be keeping the number of employees they have as-is; 13.3% plan to hire new employees, but 16.9% expect to lay employees off.

"Costs of doing business are up, sales are down; in the last two years the pie is getting smaller and there are more competitors looking for a slice. Our margins have dropped 23% from last year," said one respondent. Said another, "The economy is horrible. The banks are not lending money, consumers cannot get credit and everything seems to be upside down."

"People are wanting to redo their kitchens and baths but holding back a bit for now," one dealer added, while another said simply, "Worst economic times I've seen in twenty plus years."

However, another noted, "Stable higher end clients are still doing projects because their homes and life style have even greater importance."

Pending Home Sales Dipped 14% in May

The National Association of Realtors Index of Pending Home Sales slipped to 84.7 (100 = 2001) in May, down 14.0% from the same month last year.
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).

Fed Says No Rebound Until Next Year

From the New York Times:

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

Happy Independence Day Holiday!!

K+B DeltaVee will return July 8th. Until then, let's sing:
Be kind to your webfooted friends
For a duck may be somebody's mother...

Or you may prefer the actual words to the song, as penned by John Philip Sousa himself:
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.

Residential Construction Employment Dips 12% in June

A seasonally adjusted annualized total of 848,700 workers were employed in residential construction in June, down 11.9% from the same month last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in residential construction specialty trades totalled under 2.1 million for the month, down 10.0% from June, 2007.
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.

1st Quarter Home Equity Loans Fall Behind

From Bloomberg:
"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

Eli Broad on the Economy

From Bloomberg:
"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'.''

Happy Signed Independence Day!

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress of the 13 Colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, which was signed by Charles Thompson, the secretary of Congress, and John Hancock, the presiding officer. Copies were printed by John Dunlap and distributed to the states on July 4th. (Twenty four copies of that first printing still exist, includng the two in the Library of Congress.) Independence was first announced to the public in Philadelphia, July 6th, and around the fledgling country days and even weeks later.

When Hancock put his famous signature on the document, he said, "We must be unanimous, we must all hang together." Ben Franklin replied, "We must indeed all hang together — or else, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

The other signers of the Declaration of Independence added their "John Hancocks" between August and November of that year. Last to sign was New Hampshire's Matthew Thornton.

The first official printing with the famous signatures was in January, 1777. Unfortunately, the first edition omitted the signature of Thomas McKean of Delaware, who claimed to have signed in August and was added to later editions.

Fifty-six signed in all. The youngest signer was South Carolina's Edward Rutledge, aged 26; the oldest, Pennsylvania's Ben Franklin at age 70.

Eight months after the signing, John Morton of Pennsylvania became the first of the 56 to die.

Seventeen went on to fight in the Revolutionary War. Richard Stockton of New Jersey, George Wallon of Georgia, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, and the wife of Francis Lewis of New York were all taken prisoner by the British. Another seventeen lost most or all of their property and wealth. Not one renounced the Declaration, or left the cause.

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

Freedonia: Cabinet Demand to Grow 4% per Year Through 2012

Demand for kitchen cabinets is expected to grow 3.9% per year through 2012 to $18.5 billion, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group. The study is priced at $4,700. To order, call (800) 927-5900.

May Residential Construction Spending Falls 27%

Spending on residential construction in May fell 26.9% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of $385.9 billion, according to the Census Bureau. For the first five months of this year, some $150.9 billion worth of homes have been built, 27.0% below the same period in 2007.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Low Hanging Fruit

Seth Godin gives some good advice for retailers and the rest of us.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Existing Home Sales Dip 16% in May

Sales of existing homes in May fell 15.9% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.99 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. Even though about a third of the sales last month were short sales that reflected foreclosures or distressed properties, there were some signs of shallowing distress. The difference between last year's sales rate and this year's has dropped for four consecutive months, from 23% in February to just under 16% last month.And the existing sales to date have also closed ground, from running 30.3% behind in February to just 19.1% in May, with 1.882 million units sold.
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.

Signs of the Times

Residents of St. Paul, MN are being asked to limit wastewater discharges from dishwashers and washing machines because a part of the city's sewer system has collapsed.

And Pennsylvania is facing a $20 billion shortfall affecting its drinking water and waste water systems. (Courtesy US Water News.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ammonite lav sink

Way cool. Via materialicious.

May New Home Sales Down 40%

Sales of new single family homes fell 40.3% in May from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 512,000 units, according to the Census Bureau. Through the first five months of 2008, some 236,000 new single family homes have been sold, down 37.1% from the same period of 2007.
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

Appliance Golf

Reuters reports on the "sport" of appliance golf, seen here, which consists of bashing refrigerators, washers and the like with sledgehammers.

S&P Home Price Index Down 15% in April

Through April of 2008, the Case-Shiller Composite-20 Home Price Index is showing a 15.3% decline in single family home prices from prices a year ago. The measure from Standard & Poor's finds that 12 MSA's around the country have now shown home price declines for eight consecutive months. Las Vegas and Miami are the two weakest markets; home prices have dipped nearly 27% in each.

June Consumer Confidence Hits New Lows

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dropped to just 50.4 (1985 = 100) in June, less than half of what it was in June of 2007. The Expectations Index portion of the survey slipped all the way to 41.0.
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

Ed Pell Discusses the History of Kitchens

With lovely and charming Elaine Mikk of Cabinet Discounters on her radio show Home Innovations, now marking its tenth anniversary. Give a listen.

Two Bear Stearns Managers Arrested

Reuters reports the Feds nabbed them this morning for their roles in the mortgage crisis.

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

Appliance Sales Flat For Major Dealers in 2007

Twice Magazine's Top 100 Appliance Retailers Report finds that white goods sales for those companies dipped just 0.3% in 2007 from 2006 to $25.03 billion.
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.

May Starts Plummet 32%

May brought no relief to builders, as housing starts plummeted to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of just 969,000 units, according to the Census Bureau, 32.1% below the pace for May of 2007. Single family starts crashed to just a 674,000-start rate, down 41.2% from May, 2007 levels. Those figures are the lowest posted in 17 years.
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%.

McGraw Hill Sees 31% Drop in Single Family Homes

From MarketWatch: Spending on single family homes will be down 28% in 2008, units down 31%.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Haven't you always wondered what would happen if you put a ping-pong ball, soap, or a lava lamp in a microwave oven and turned it on? Not to mention 17 other items.
Wonder no more.

Monday, June 16, 2008

May Kitchen Appliance Shipments Dip Just 5%

Nearly 3.3 million kitchen appliances were shipped in May, just 5% under the number shipped in May of 2007, according to the latest figures from AHAM.

For the first five months of this year, kitchen appliance shipments are down 10.3%, to nearly 15.8 million units.

For the month, electric ranges, conventional wall ovens and cooktops were off 12.9% from May, 2007 to 401,500 units shipped; gas cooking appliances slipped 16.5% to 210,800 units shipped; and microwave ovens and ranges were up 8.6% to 913,800 units shipped.

AHAM recorded 822,400 refrigerators shipped during May, down 3.7% from the same month last year; 490,000 dishwashers shipped, a 10.8% drop; 420,900 disposers shipped, a 10.3% drop, and just 5,700 compactors shipped, down 35.2% from shipment levels for May, 2007.

Something Not to Miss

The Washington Post offers a three-part analysis of the mortgage crisis.
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

Brookfield Buys Maax for $225 Million Plus in Debt

The Canadian Press is reporting that bath manufacturer Maax is being acquired by Brookfield Bridge Lending Fund Inc., its senior lender, for the outstanding debt of $225 million plus.
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.

May Foreclosures Up 48%

From Yahoo News: "Nationwide, 261,255 homes received at least one foreclosure-related filing in May, up 48 percent from 176,137 in the same month last year and up 7 percent from April, RealtyTrac Inc. said.
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

Best Advice

Retail Contrarian gives some great advice for retailers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting Consumer Attention

Almost 87% of NKBA dealer-members plan to add or update displays in their showroom over the next 12 months. Hope you're planning to promote that change to your local market.

Above you see the way IKEA is promoting its expansion into Brooklyn's Red Hook district, a portable display designed to look like a giant IKEA carton.

Here's an amusing blog report on it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Round 10

Evander has been kayoed.

May Construction Employment Falls 5%

Construction employment in May fell 5.1% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted 7.26 million workers, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Residential construction employment fell 10.5% in May to 862,900 workers, and residential specialty trade employment dipped 9.3% to just under 2.10 million workers nationwide.
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.

Cel-e-brate Good Times...Come On!

June has been declared National Homeownership Month.
Is too!

Sex, Lies and Foreclosures

From the New York Times (who said it was staid?): "One of their homes caused a scandal when it was featured in the local newspaper as being used for sex parties promoted on the Internet. (The report said that some partygoers had to pay a fee, but that others had been admitted free in return for agreeing to allow the party organizers to use videotapes of their party activities.)
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

6% of Mortgages in First Quarter Were Delinquent

The delinquency rate for mortgages in the first quarter hit a record 6.4%, according to the most recent figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association. That figure does not include loans on which foreclosure has begun, which made up another 2.5% of all U.S. mortgages. Both figures are the highest since 1979.
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.

April New Homes Sales Down 42%

Sales of new homes in April fell 42% from the same month last year, to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 526,000 units. Through the end of April, about 196,000 new homes have been sold, 38.6% below sales for the same period of 2007.
At the current sales pace, there is an unsold inventory of homes that would last 10.6 months.

The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

And for the First Fifty Who Call, a Set of Steak Knives Absolutely Free!

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!

More News I Wish I hadn't Heard

The latest jobs report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds that planned layoffs by U.S. companies in May passed the hundred-thousand-worker mark, 46% higher than the number of planned layoffs in the same month last year.

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outlines how a developmentally disabled worker who makes $9.25 per hour got saddled with a $103,500 mortgage for a house worth $63,000 that he didn't know he was buying.

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ed McMahon (yes that Ed McMahon) is being foreclosed upon because he can't afford the mortgage he got. McMahon is 85 and broke his neck 18 months ago.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Consumer Confidence at 16-Year Low

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dropped in May to 57.2 (1985 = 100), 47.3% below the mark for May of 2007.
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

K+B Delta Vee Will Be Dark Next Week

Vacation will end on June 3, after which the blog will resume.

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.

Existing Home Sales Dip 18% in April

Existing home sales fell 17.5% in April from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.89 million units, according to the most recent figures from the National Association of Realtors. Existing single family home sales were down 16.1% year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.34 million units.
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

Scenes from the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

A San Francisco television station gets its mitts on training videos from an area savings bank, teaching its employees how to deceive customers when giving out home loans.

First Quarter Saw Largest Home Price Drop Ever

U.S. home prices fell 1.7% in the first quarter of 2008 from the fourth quarter of 2007, the largest quarterly price decline on record, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's seasonally adjusted purchase-only home price index. The index dropped 3.1% in the first quarter from the same period last year, also the largest dip in the Index's 17-year history.
Allowing for inflation, OFHEO says home prices dropped 7.7% over the latest year.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

K+B DeltaVee is one year old today!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Deal on Housing Rescue Bill?

Reuters is reporting that the Senate Banking Committee has struck a deal on a bill to create a multi-billion dollar mortgage rescue fund and provide a new regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Home Depot First Quarter Sales Down 3%

First quarter sales at Home Depot dipped 3.4% from the same period of 2007 to $17.9 billion. Same store sales were down for the quarter by 6.5%.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lowe's First Quarter Sales Down 1%

Sales for Lowe's dropped 1.3% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year to $12.0 billion. Same store sales dropped 8.4% in the same period.
During the quarter, Lowe's opened 20 new stores, and now has 1,554 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Scenes From the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

The Oregonian finds a development company that apparently swindled lenders, suppliers, contractors and its own employees.
"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

Klaatu Nikto Burritos

The European Commission is spending more than a million euros (more than $1.6 million) to develop a robot that can work in a kitchen.

April Starts Down 31%

Housing starts in April dipped 30.5% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.03 million units, according to the most recent figures from the Census Bureau. However, that figure was up 8.2% from March's pace.
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.”

GE Dumps Appliance Biz

General Electric announces plans to get out of the appliance business after 101 years, due to the current housing slump. The conglomerate may sell the division outright, or create a strategic partnership or a spin-off to shareholders. Published reports put the appliance division at $7.2 billion in sales, with about 13,000 employees worldwide.

Among other pioneering developments, GE was the first to develop the calrod (right) in 1915, the self-cleaning electric oven in 1963, and electronic controls for cooking appliances in 1967. It began in the 1880s as a spin-off from Thomas Edison's laboratory. It introduced an electric range in 1906, an electric refrigerator in 1917, and an electric dishwasher in 1932, under two major brands, Hotpoint and GE.

Some perspective from Tennessee, site of Appliance Park.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

April Kitchen Appliance Shipments Down 10%

Some 3.08 million kitchen appliances were shipped during April, a 10.2% drop from levels for the same month in 2007, according to the most recent figures from AHAM. Almost 12.5 million kitchen appliances have been shipped in the first four months of 2008, an 11.5% drop from the same month last year.
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.

Future Will See a Networked Home

Wired looks at the future of homes. "The CEOs found common ground pushing a vision of the future where light switches are superfluous and any device that uses power is networked, easily automated, and far more energy efficient. "

I, For One, Welcome Our Insect Overlords

Nothing to do with kitchens or baths, but this and this are just weird and in the news on the same day.

New Homes in Hawaii to Require Solar Water Heaters

All new homes in Hawaii will be required to have solar water heaters installed starting in 2010 under a law approved recently by the Legislature, according to US Water News Online. The publication notes that solar water heaters will reduce the Aloha state's residents' electricity costs between 30% and 35%.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nearly a Quarter-Million Foreclosures in April

According to RealtyTrac. "Foreclosure filings were reported on 243,353 U.S. properties during the month." That's the highest number since the company began tracking them, and more than double the rate for April, 2007.
More from

Friday, May 9, 2008

Crisis Now Affecting Prime Mortgages

USA Today reports that 2.3% of prime mortgages were delinquent in February, up from 1.4% a year earlier.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Scenes from the Mortgage Crisis, Part Next

Courtesy of the Palm Beach Post:
"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

Feds Probe Lender Fraud

The New York Times reports that the FBI and IRS have formed a joint task force to investigate mortgage lenders who handed out loans with little or no proof of the earnings or assets of borrowers.
You might recall that an Oregon newspaper got hold of a JP Morgan Chase internal memo advising employees how to do just that.