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.

Countrywide Deal on the Rocks?

Reuters is reporting that Bank of America is going to renegotiate or walk away from its deal to buy the troubled lender.

Friday, May 2, 2008

HCN: Home Depot Closes 15 Stores

Home Channel News reports that Home Depot is closing 15 of its stores, laying off about 1,300 workers, and has axed 50 future openings.

March Residential Spending Slumps 20%

Residential construction spending fell 19.7% in March compared to the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of $451.4 billion, according to the most recent figures from the Census Bureau. That mark was down 4.8% from February's pace.
Through the first quarter of 2008, residential spending totalled almost $95.8 billion, down 19.1% from the same period last year.

April Construction Employment Down 5%

The construction trades employed 7.275 million workers in April, from the same month in 2007, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Residential construction employment dipped 10.8% for the month to 860,600 workers, while residential specialty trade employment fell 8.7% year-over-year to 2,116,400 workers.
The construction unemployment rate in April increased to 11.1% from 8.6% during the same month last year.
Weekly earnings for construction workers in April averaged $822.68, down 0.3% from March; hourly wages averaged $21.48 in April, up 0.2% from the previous month. Those figures were about 4% over the figures for April, 2007.

And the Headlights Work!

Metallo Arts uses YouTube to promote its range hoods...

Thursday, May 1, 2008