November 3, 2012

Stockton: Gateway to Exurban Misery

Burbed has often featured links to real estate and economy pieces on the weekends, provided by both local and national news sites.  Today’s article comes from The Guardian, based in the United Kingdom.  Its excellent reportage capturing the civic death throes of California’s 13th largest city (4th largest in the Central Valley), and its British perspective offers an outsider’s look at some of our issues we can’t see ourselves.

Stockton, California: ‘This economy is garbage’

The middle-class families Obama claims as his bedrock are suffering in a city where foreclosure and violence are rampant

Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, Friday 2 November 2012 13.12 EDT

121102-stockton-gatedIn some towns, visitors are warned to keep an eye on their stuff, or to watch out late at night. In the Californian city of Stockton, the anxiety is more precise – and it kicks in early. “Take care downtown after 5pm,” one local person told me. “Don’t hang out too long.”

A few hours later, I saw what she meant. Almost as soon as the offices shut, the city centre empties. Then the sun goes down and a different cast takes to the streets: the homeless, the drug dealers, and clusters of young men patrolling up and down on bicycles.

Stockton ranks among America’s 10 most dangerous cities, and everyone here seems to operate under a self-imposed curfew. The commuter admits she doesn’t dare go to the cinema after 8pm; the father expects his 18-year-old daughter home by 10 – “and she totally gets why.” Others prefer not to go out at all. All give the same reason: the spiralling number of violent crimes.

Last weekend, the city notched up its 60th murder of the year, up from 24 for all of 2008. At just under 300,000 residents, this river port has about the same population as a London borough. Imagine a couple of your neighbours getting killed every week, and you’ll understand why almost all the conversations here touch on a recent homicide.

TL;DR: Sucks, crime, cuts, crash, foreclosure, not the Real Bay Area, affordable big houses, long commutes, upside down, civic decay, life downgrade, bust redevelopment loans, abandoned shops, cheap rentals, farmland. We highly recommend this piece but warn you it has a somewhat high bummer factor.  If you’re the type who gets weepy and emotional reading about mortgage rates going up 0.1 percent, we suggest you read this with either a supportive friend or a drink with plenty of kick.  This is a news feature with a Steinbeck vibe by way of Manchester.

Fortunately, this is also your weekend open thread, so you don’t just have to talk about this essay, or Stockton, or the crap house you toured today that might as well be in Stockton, or the demographics of Weston Ranch versus Brookside. 

You’re all ready for our Fantasy Real Estate League, right? This is going to be great!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

June 30, 2012

Stockton Declares Bankruptcy; Burbed Declares Open Thread

Stockton, Calif. files for Chapter 9 bankruptcy

StocktonMove stops a barrage of lawsuits and allows the city breathing room, city manager says

SAN FRANCISCO — Stockton, California, became the largest city to file for bankruptcy in U.S. history on Thursday, after years of fiscal mismanagement and a housing market crash left it unable to pay its workers, pensioners and bondholders.

The filing by the city of 300,000 people followed three months of confidential talks with its creditors aimed at averting bankruptcy.

“We are now a Chapter 9 debtor,” Marc Levinson, the lawyer who filed the city’s voluntary petition in the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento (Case 12-32118) told Reuters.

Pleadings in support of Stockton’s eligibility for Chapter 9 bankruptcy will be filed on Friday, Levinson said.

120629-stockton-kawlumStockton, home of the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation.  And the winner of Forbes’ “America’s Most Miserable City” not once but twice! We offer this as a cautionary tale to any of you considering buying a house that is NOT in the Real Bay Area.  When your definition of “Real” is so flexible that it includes the 209 area code, you have officially drunk the Realtard Kool-Aid.

Stockton now has to open their books to a Federal Judge, and we are going to open this thread to anything you wish to discuss.  Did you visit any Open Houses in Stockton this weekend?


Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

November 21, 2010

This Could Never Happen in the RBA. Could It?

Today’s feature is a guest post by Burbed reader SEA.  Wow, Southern California just has a thing for squatting in a foreclosed house you no longer own.  Thanks very much, and I’m sure all the people who hate the Most Expensive ZIP Codes series thank you even more.


What happens when amateurs compete with professionals?

“Since the day that we were married, we have been working hard, and saving our money for the day we purchase our dream home. With the depression of the housing market, we believed the time has finally come for us to find our house.”

“The owners of the house had just foreclosed on, and were awaiting eviction. Already were several buyers lined up to purchase up this home as soon as the previous owners were removed (contingent offers had already been placed.) Since the house was at already pushing the limit of our budget, we could not afford to raise our bid and have a chance to outbid the others.

“Today is October 28th, the day we should take possession of the home. What we found out early this morning is that the pervious owners have no intention of leaving. In fact, they filed for bankruptcy — this automatically puts a stay on the eviction process.Even though the house is not theirs, even though they agreed to move out, the eviction is instantly frozen.”

The Full Story is at Evict Struiksma.

Let’s see… No professional would buy this place with the former owner inside, but this guy thought it’d be a good idea. I’m not a bankruptcy attorney, but deals in the past can get undone by a bankruptcy court–preferential payments for example. Ever had a bankruptcy court ask for cash from you? It’s not a fun experience to have to pay back the cash you were owed.

Also bankruptcy filings have spiked, so courts and judges are experiencing heavy loads, and, it’s been my personal experience that judges are a bit more sympathetic to these foreclosures–the end result might be the same, but additional time might pass.

What’s even more comical is there is a Short Term Occupancy Agreement that provides for certain fees and expenses to be paid by the “occupant,” such as attorney fees. I have no idea what David Potts, or the attorney for that matter, was thinking about how to collect from someone who has gone through foreclosure. Isn’t bankruptcy likely?

I’m sure this house will be left in pristine condition, if David Potts can survive financially…

Oh, and now that it’s in bankruptcy, I doubt that David Potts could legally just go pay the guy to leave. Rather than expect magic for free, I’d have paid the occupant to leave before the bankruptcy was filed, but when you spend every last dime on the purchase, well, uh, what kind of contingency planning is that?

I know; I know. This could never happen in the RBA.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am