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

September 13, 2006

Europeans are Funny: "First-time buyers borrow record amounts"

Guardian Unlimited Money | Property | First-time buyers borrow record amounts
First-time buyers risk over-stretching their finances by borrowing 3.24 times their income to buy their homes, the highest amount ever, it was announced today.[snip]
The average first-time buyer took out a mortgage of £110,000, 90% of the value of the property they were buying.

The typical income of a first-time buyer has increased from £32,285 to £34,216 since July 2005, an increase of £1,931. However, the average amount borrowed on a mortgage for a first property has increased by more than £10,000 over the same period.

The interest payments alone on the typical new buyer’s mortgage accounts for 16.7% of monthly income.

Oh my god… you’re kidding right?  Only 3.24 times an income? Interest being 16.7% of monthly income?
UK: 3.24 times your income. Interest is 16.7% of monthly income.
California: 8-10 times your income. Interest is 40% of monthly income.
It makes sense if you think about it – California is the center of the universe and very special. UK is not. That’s why it is essential you live here – you pay more, and as we all know, paying more is better.


Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 12:35 pm