January 8, 2011

Massachusetts to Banks: Foreclose This!

After reading about the truly depressing tale of the Foreclosure Express Courtroom (the Rocket Docket) in Florida, here’s some good news provided you aren’t a bank or a bank shareholder.  Thanks to Burbed guest editor DreamT for passing this news item along.

Two Banks Lose in Foreclosure Cases

By ROBBIE WHELAN, ALAN ZIBEL and VICTORIA MCGRANE, The Wall Street Journal

housingThe highest court in Massachusetts ruled against Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp in two foreclosure cases that cast doubt over whether some home loans were properly handled when packaged into securitizations.

Justices in the state’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court’s decision to void foreclosure sales of two homes in Springfield, because owners of the loans couldn’t prove that the mortgages had been assigned to them. Both loans were assembled into mortgage-backed securities sold to investors.

Photo, above right: A Wells Fargo branch in San Francisco. Shares of the bank fell 2% on the ruling, and other banks saw share-price losses as well.  — Getty Images

Bank stocks fell on worries that Friday’s ruling could make it harder for financial firms to foreclose on mortgages that wound up in securities. The defeat also might provide ammunition to mortgage-bond investors who have accused and even sued servicers for what the investors claim is systematically shoddy loan documentation.

….

The Massachusetts case is a closely watched example of what some mortgage experts describe as “show-me-the-paper” cases over widely used procedures for transferring loans after they are made. Individual loans often are sold to an investor, with the new owner’s name left blank in loan documents to minimize paperwork hassles as the loan subsequently changes hands before being combined with other loans into mortgage-backed securities.

These cases only apply to Massachusetts, though.  Banks in California and nonrelevant parts of the country can continue to foreclose on homeowners without proving they actually own the mortgages in question.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am






January 7, 2011

Imagine

766 Thornton Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124
$359,500

Ahh, the Bayshore Boulevard. Its 76 gas station fills me with nostalgia. Gorgeous view on 101’s belly (and she’s a beauty, especially when she dances). The ultimate gas station before a convenient hop on Southern destinations. A neighborhood not afraid to shoot bullets THROUGH a gas station. Glorious times. I have to thank Sonarrat (who sent this over) because this property made me wish I was fifteen years younger.

Well, that was then, and the neighborhood surely has gentrified since.  Place has become huge. Lots of bathrooms. Lots of in-laws. Desirable owners.

But don’t just take my word for it!

I asked my 3-year old how best to describe the place for a highly-educated, very sophisticated audience.

He can work magic with scissors and glue, but still needs assistance with case, plurals and punctuation.

Here’s his take on it:

Huge Fixer upper with unwarranted price.  Wonderful property with “location potential”.
Very desirable owners: 2 upstairs, 1 downstairs. Use your imagination to see what you will be able to do (bedroom has a lot of bath)!
In-laws >> THIS << motivated!!!

Somehow he was not able to place in the word “reduction”. He probably did not want to offend RBA sensibilities.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: DreamT @ 5:02 am

September 18, 2010

WSJ’s Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Home

Many thanks to burbed reader nomadic for sending in this provocative essay. And if there’s one thing we can rely on the Wall Street Journal for, it’s got to be meaningless flamebait!

10 Reasons To Buy a Home

Columnist's name

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership. Brett Arends explains why owning a home is a good thing.
By BRETT ARENDS

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.

Sure, maybe there’s more pain to come in the housing market. But when Time magazine starts running covers that declare “Owning a home may no longer make economic sense,” it’s time to say: Enough is enough. This is what “capitulation” looks like. Everyone has given up.

[roiA0915]

The Sept. 6 cover of Time magazine: This is what capitulation looks like.

After all, at the peak of the bubble five years ago, Time had a different take. “Home Sweet Home,” declared its cover then, as it celebrated the boom and asked: “Will your house make you rich?”

But it’s not enough just to be contrarian. So here are 10 reasons why it’s good to buy a home.

1. You can get a good deal.
2. Mortgages are cheap.
3. You’ll save on taxes.
4. It’s your house; you can do what you want with it.
5. You’ll get a better home then a crappy rental property.
6. It offers inflation protection.
7. Sooner or later real estate prices will head up again
8. It’s forced savings.
9. There is a lot to choose from.
10. Sooner or later, the market will clear.

I had no idea The Wall Street Journal was a wholly-owned division of the National Association of Realtors.  The calendar says it’s September, not April, so this isn’t a joke they’re playing on us either.  Either this writer just came back from a Kool-Aid party or he’s heavily long in residential construction.  Then again, it seems this isn’t the first time he’s made a complete idiot of himself just to generate traffic.

This is the most bizarre mix of naiveté, insouciance, and out-and-out Lawrence Yunnery.  Just as an example, here’s Arends’ reasoning for #5:

In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you’re better off buying.

I don’t know where these “many parts of the country” are, but I suspect they’re in places where homes are so cheap, anyone who can buy already has.  In high-income, high-housing cost regions, such as New York City, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, rentals are readily available.  Knowledge workers are often on the move, and either won’t commit to buying, or simply rent their home out when jetting off to another assignment.

I’m sure burbed readers will find plenty of fault with this list, and so conclude with this simple rebuttal:

Top 10 Reasons Not to Buy a House Now

10. Enjoy the bankruptcy-free lifestyle
9. Can live close to work no matter where work ends up being
8. No public record in county recorder’s office of where you live
7. Time Magazine finally catches up with a trend that you’ve been ahead of for years
6. When you’re tired of being underwater, you just climb onto the shore and towel off
5. Three words that don’t apply to you: Monthly equity burn
4. You want to have all your cash on the sidelines with interest rates this low
3. Payback for those smug jerks showing off the toys they bought in 2006 from mortgage equity withdrawal
2. Landlords have plenty of people to evict ahead of you if you’re a few days late with the rent

And the Number One reason not to buy a house now:

1. It’s the economy, stupid.

Update: Looks like several burbed readers couldn’t wait for this article and the party has already started.  Here are some of the lists they’ve come up with so far.

From burbed reader Alex:

Top 10 reasons to delay buying a home

1) better deals are coming
2) mortgages will get cheaper
3) you’ll save more by avoiding the impending price drop
4) you don’t have to maintain the house (change light bulbs, draino) if you rent for a while longer; if your big sh*t clogs the toilet, just call the property manager
5) for the same amount of money, you can get a much better rental than a crappy house
6) you’re protected against deflation
7) it’s forced saving by not throwing your money away at depreciating assets
8) real estate ain’t going up for a loooooong time
9) there will be even more to choose from in a few years
10) the market will clear in a few years when the shadow inventory is finally put up for sale and the government stop d*cking around with their feeble market-propping measures

This would be a perfect list if only the author had properly spelled out the word “ducking.”

From burbed reader DreamT:

Top 10 reasons to buy a home now

1. If you don’t buy it, someone else will. You wouldn’t want to be a loser, would you?
2. Grass will be greener than your current place, which has none.
3. You can mock the renters, or treat them with contempt, or just haughtily ignore them
4. Now you Belong!
5. Your wife’s happy. Your kid’s happy. If your family’s normal, you’re therefore happy.
6. Nothing worse than idle money sitting on a savings account. Make it work for you! An empty savings account is a good savings account.
7. [Another burbed reader] will be your friend, or your BFF if you’re Chinese and like to eat at Dynasty.
8. You’ll get promoted, just like [Another burbed reader]. It’s inevitable.
9. You can stop wondering when is a good time to buy. Done!
10. You missed your chance yesterday. Care to make the same mistake again today?

Top 10 reasons not to buy a home

1. Surprise – you don’t own it – the bank does, then whomever you pay property tax to who can repossess your property.
2. No matter how many times you water the plants, they still die – or they grow too fast.
3. That roof shingle flew off again, and what’s up with that toilet anyway. Oops, what’s that sound, was that the tree?
4. You’d only get pissed off at the renters who don’t keep up their grass and litter the sidewalk. Not to mention the ruffians who dare walk on Your neighborhood park.
5. There’s no money left for a good old hostile takeover.
6. You can walk away when the meth lab in the garage explodes. The owner’ll clean it up.
7. You’ll have enough money left to buy that promotion.
8. You don’t have to suffer any kind of kinship to [Another burbed reader].
9. You can mock the homeowners who turn blue every time a foreclosure rears its ugly head in the neighborhood. And nothing compels you to check zillow valuations six times a day.
10. You were smart enough not to buy in 2006, you’re not going to be dumb enough to buy now!

Please add your owns lists on the best reasons to buy or not to buy.  That is today’s question.

Comments (29) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:19 am

April 28, 2010

Condo living in Santa Clara for under a million

Thanks to Burbed reader DreamT for this guest post!
Beds: 3
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 2,157
$/Sq. Ft.: $449
Lot Size: -
Property Type: Townhouse
Style: Contemporary, Mediterranean
Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 2010
Community: Santa Clara
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81011793
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 38 days
Top Cupertino Schools, these rare find brand new 12 Mediterranean style town homes and 2 single family homes located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Low utility cost, quiet neighborhood, close to shopping and commute. All the homes are built w/ top of line material and workmanship. Hardwood & lush Berber carpet, gourmet kitchen w/ granite counter, beautiful balconies, durable concrete tile roof, A/C .

You no longer need a million dollars fair and square to reside in Santa Clara! For the meager sum of $969,000, acquire a townhome within spitting distance of Gorgeous Freeway 280, and admire hapless commuters from the beautiful balconies while sipping nearby Barefoot Café’s confections.

Really, look no further – you won’t find anything more Mediterranean in the heart of the Silicon Valley! The Safeway across Stevens Creek rivals Monaco’s best resorts, the nearby flat-top Eichler wannabes rival Old Nice for age, and you have to see the Berber carpetting – I was told it contains real Berber blood as flame-retardant, since abestos is now out of style.

You will also humiliate the neighborhood’s previously priciest sale, a jolly mustard-colored 1955 3/2 rancher that sold in 2006 for $950k. Gosh, you will actually single-handedly double all of the neighborhood’s house values! What are you waiting for? You be da king! (on a Berber carpet)

Lest I forget, your kids will be eligible to attend Cupertino School, but with such top of the line material and workmanship, not to mention Berber carpets, this is almost an afterthought.

Maybe you should offer above $1M after all. Pride of ownership should not come cheap.

Comments (47) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:13 am

April 26, 2010

Buy your very own Cupertino Canyon

Thanks to Burbed reader DreamT for this guest post!

0 STEVENS CANYON RD, Cupertino, CA 95014 Offered at: $2,198,000 — Active

image
PRIME 20 ACRES IN URBAN SERVICE AREA NEXT TO AFFLUENT UPSCALE HOMES*PRESENTLY COMPRISED OF 3 ADJOINING PARCELS*PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING PLANS AVAILABLE*CITY SERVICES AT PROPERTY*SUBDIVIDE OR DEVELOPE FOR GRAND PRIVATE VIEW ESTATE*10,000 SQ FT MAIN HOME W/SEPARATE GUEST RESIDENCE PERMISSABLE*OTHER USES INCLUDE: RESIDENTIAL CARE HOME*RELIGIOUS RETREAT*RECREATIONAL*WINE TASTING/GROWING*HORSE STABLES

Cupertino school don’t impress anybody these days – how about you buy your own canyon instead? After all, which of your friends can claim they live at address 0 of famed zip 95014 (to be fair, the real address is 11041)? Which of them managed to squeeze horse stables (seating 40), a personal religious retreat and a residential care facility, all on their own property?

True, these and the 10,000 SQ FT MAIN HOME W/SEPARATE RESIDENCE may only be fantasy drawings (also known as Engineering Plans), but what matters in the Silicon Valley anyway is unleashing Potential, enabling Creativity, and planting palm trees in Woodside – not maintaining some historical monstrosity that nobody will let you tear down!

Buy this canyon, but most of all don’t forget to build a garage in there – where you will start the next Hot Startup, Fresh Out of Cupertino (‘s Depths)!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:59 am

April 26, 2009

Blue Collar, White Collar, Silicon Valley

A while back, Burbed reader DreamT made this comment:

Can you park a space shuttle, a fire truck, or a blimp in this Fremont house? | SF Bay Area Home Price and Mortgage Insanity Blog – Burbed.com
DreamT Says:
April 16th, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Ask a $25k earner his social strata and he’ll say he’s middle class. Ask a $250k earner and he’ll also say he’s middle class. In fact, the $250k earner points out he cannot afford a house “in the Silicon Valley”
The differences are where you want to see them. They’re in the eye of the beholder, and speak about who you are rather than what you see. The concept of “blue” versus “white” collar, originally meaningful when you had full segregation of management vs floor workers, closed door offices, different clothing, different “villages” – it never applied as little as in recent times’ Silicon Valley. You say so yourself by pointing out they are only divided by a street that’s not even an Expressway. What segregates people in the bay area is their nationality or ethnicity, and the timing of their arrival in the bay area, rather than their income, education or even job. The parents of fellow Engineers I worked with, grew up and still live in Palo Alto. They were what you’ll call blue collar and they still live in your neighbors.
As anon asks, what makes you a white collar? Your job? No, if you live in a dirt cheap place littered with pickup trucks, right? So, your education? Same thing. Your lifestyle and house location? No, since you could have a traditional blue collar job since the 70s and live comfortably in Saratoga. So, moving up to Palo Alto and buying a Porsche makes you a white collar family, suddenly? Is that what you’re reduced to assert?

Which brings up some interesting questions. What does it mean to be blue collar or white collar in Silicon Valley? Does it even apply?

Similarly, what is working class in Silicon Valley? What is middle class? What is professional class?

Here’s what the Mayor of San Jose had to say:

Wealth-Less Effect: Earning Well, Feeling Otherwise
Proposed Tax Increases on Six-Figure Earners Highlight Mounting Costs of Living — and the Relativity of Prosperity

San Jose, Calif., Mayor Chuck Reed calls a family living in Silicon Valley earning $250,000 “upper working class.” That is about what two engineers working at a technology firm can expect to make, but “a family earning $250,000 a year can’t buy a home in Silicon Valley,” he said.

James Duran owns a human-resources company in Silicon Valley and is president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in California. He supported Mr. Obama, but is worried about the tax proposals. He has laid off some employees in recent months and has been wondering how he can fund an extension of those workers’ health-care benefits.

Mr. Duran said he and his wife earn about $400,000 annually, but “I’m barely getting by.” They have high property and state taxes, as well as college tuition and savings to cover. “I’m an Obama man, but this side of him is a difficult pill for me,” he said.

Is $400,000 for a 4 person family middle class in Silicon Valley? Is that white collar?

It sort of makes sense… after all, we’re a very very very special place with an mix of smart people that’s impossible to find anywhere else.

What class are you?

Comments (107) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am