May 4, 2013

Open Houses need Open Threads

Are you looking at any Open Houses next to a farm?

Photo credit thanks to Galen Ward.

 

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am






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

April 8, 2010

Gated Ghettos

And now, a guest post from Burbed reader Madhaus! Take it away, Madhaus:

From bucolic bliss to ‘gated ghetto’

Willow Walk bank-owned homeHemet’s Willowalk tract was family-friendly. Then the recession hit.

March 30, 2010|By Alana Semuels, LA Times

Home foreclosures have devastated neighborhoods throughout the country, but the transformation from suburban paradise to blighted community has been especially stark in places like Willowalk — isolated developments on the far fringes of metropolitan areas that found ready buyers when home prices were soaring but then saw an exodus as values crashed.

Vacant homes are sprinkled throughout Willowalk, betrayed by foot-high grass. Others are rented, including some to families that use government Section 8 vouchers to live in homes with granite countertops and vaulted ceilings.

The Los Angeles Times describes a gated community turning into a slum in just a few years.  Most of the properties sit empty, or are rented to large numbers of people.  Meanwhile, underwater homedebtors not only watch their investment fail, their supposedly safe and secure neighborhood is vandalized and taken over by street toughs.

Welcome to Willowalk. Oh, Willowalk isn’t in the Bay Area, it’s in Hemet.  People bought this far away from LA because they could get a luxury home in a gated community for under half a million.  The 5000 sf home bought by Eddie and Maria Lopez for $440,000 is now worth about $170k according to neighborhood comps.

Think it wouldn’t happen here?  It already has.  Hemet to Los Angeles is about a hundred mile commute.  Have you priced anything around Stockton (America’s Most Miserable City!) (80 miles) lately? Prices are at 2001 levels.

Google Maps Link showing commute from Hemet
Google Maps Link showing commute from Stockton
Link to Stockton Real Estate Prices over 10 years

Comments (33) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:15 am