February 24, 2013

NOW is the time to buy or sell a house!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) isn’t known for deep thinking.  After all, this is the group that brought you David Lereah, America’s very own Baghdad Bob on the topic of forecasting home values.  But let’s take a closer look at the idea that NOW is always the time to buy. After all, if now is not the time to buy, then now is the time to sell.

Turns out NAR has that one covered.  They’ve got a list of the best places to buy and sell, NOW.  And guess where is the time to sell NOW.

That’s right.  Where it’s Special.

Asheville, NC Tops Best Places To Buy In 2013

Real Estate News   |  Feb 14, 2013   |  By: Lexie Puckett | Realtor.com

130222-nar-ashevilleThe new year started on a positive note in January, with inventories at record lows and list prices holding steady on a year-over-year basis. Whether this shows a continuation of the nascent housing recovery into 2013 will depend on a variety of factors, including the strength of the overall economy, the cost and availability of mortgage credit, consumer expectations regarding future housing prices, and the success of continuing efforts to stem the flow of new foreclosures.

If inventories remain low — and if list prices begin to rise during the next few months, as they did last year — conditions are ripe for additional house price appreciation in 2013. However, such gains are likely to be concentrated in markets already well into their recovery process, such as California, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and many sand states. Markets in the older industrialized parts of the Midwest and the East will likely continue to struggle without a significant turnaround in their local economies. However, if inventories in these areas remain high, it could effectively set the stage for further declines in housing values in these local markets.

2013 Best Places to Buy and Sell

With two months remaining before the home-buying season opens, sellers have a huge advantage. In tight markets, such as the top five “Best Places to Sell,” sellers benefit from better prices than they’ve seen in years. In our five “Best Places to Buy,” buyers will find plentiful inventory and prices that haven’t experienced the increases others have seen during the past year.

So wait, are they saying that there actually exist places where NOW is not the time to buy? Well… no, because they would never want to prevent suckers from giving them money interfere with the free market.  Also commissions.

Here are NAR’s Top 5 Best Markets to Sell a House NOW.  Except they didn’t say NOW, but you KNOW it’s THERE.

130222-nar-sacto1. Sacramento. No, really. Inventory dropped even more than here where it really is Special, leading to price increases of (get ready to scream) 40%.  You forgot to invest in Sacramento last year, didn’t you?

2. San Jose.  Prices are up 25% here and inventory isn’t exactly generous. But unlike Sacramento, San Jose wasn’t rebounding from a complete price collapse.

3. San Francisco. They’re just copying us, and not as well.

4. Phoenix. See Sacramento. Inventory is down 16%, but so what? They simply make more land. What they can’t manage to make more of here is water.

5. Washington, DC. “With a median price of $429,900, D.C. is one of the nation’s priciest markets…”  Right, NAR.  You want to see what you can get here, where it’s actually Special, for $430,000?  This.

130222-nar-sheriann1889 SHERI ANN Cir
San Jose, CA 95131

HOA Dues: $202/mo.
2 Beds
2 Baths
1,157 Sq. Ft.
$372 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1993
Lot Size: 435 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 1 day
Status: Active
HOA Dues: $202/month
Style: Contemporary
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara
Property Type: Condominium Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
Community: Berryessa
MLS#: 81305233

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, Feb 23: 1:30-4:00 pm
Sunday, Feb 24: 1:30-4:00 pm

Dwnstrs condo has bright & open flr plan. Newer carpet, hrdwd flrs in entry & ktchn. Interior has been freshly painted. Spacious patio off of lving rm. Gas stove, dual sinks & recessed lights in Kitchen. Mster bdrm has it’s own patio, walk-in closet, recently updated bthrm, 2 sink vanity. Attchd 1 car garage w/ laundry. Community has large pool, spa, sports court, bbq/picnic area. Great location.

And by “Great location” they don’t really mean “great location.”  Yesterday’s house was “great location.”  This place is “You’re less likely to get shot than on Story Road.”

Now, lest you think all those California metros filling in the first 3 on that top 5 list are some big honking coincidence, here’s some data ripped straight out of NAR’s January Trends report.  The blog entry linked above is distilled from this longer report.


It goes on to confirm what we already knew: It’s Special Here. Then again, it’s even More Special in Sacramento.  Want to know where else it’s surprisingly Special?


Anyone who doesn’t see Bubble written all over these tables simply is not paying attention.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

November 18, 2012

NAR survey says their website gets more traffic than anyone else

121117-survey-searchInman News has a fairly long piece about a new National Association of Realtards survey.  There’s plenty of self-serving results to this 120 item questionnaire that was sent to 93,000 homebuyers and gave them a whopping 8% response rate.

One eyebrow raiser is the net gain on sale of a home held 11 to 15 years.  Now, if you live in the Real Bay Area, you already know the answer to that because your money would have doubled in ten years.  But the survey says the typical seller gains 31 percent, or $54,000.  So the gains aren’t anywhere near enough, and this says the typical house is worth $174K. Since you can’t even buy a playhouse for $174K in the RBA, we know this survey was sent to the wrong kind of people.

And that explains some of the other curious results.

54% of buyers who used the internet used their local MLS site.  Can you even name your local MLS site?

More popular than “other” websites (such as Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, etc.) are local real estate agent sites and then realtor.com.  Followed by broker company sites. Uh-huhhhh.  And that doesn’t include mobile apps.

Nine out of ten buyers who used the internet to find their new home used a realtard in the transaction, compared to seven out of ten of those who live in 1950 and used the newspaper.  The discrepancy is explained by the fuddy-duddies either buying from a builder direct or buying a house from someone they already knew.  Not mentioned was the non-internet users also not familiar with another realtard tool: the telephone.

121117-survey-agentsMost important factor in choosing a neighborhood was its quality, followed by commute time, affordability, and closeness to family and friends.  Not mentioned at all was the #1 driver of home sales in the RBA: school quality.  Who gives a crap about the neighborhood if the kids get into a school with APIs over 900?

Buyers chose a realtard based first and foremost on their reputation, which is like saying people decide who to vote for in an election based on a politician’s honesty.  Whoops, that’s the second most important thing buyers look for.

And what did buyers expect the realtard to do for them?  The most popular answer was “Help me find the right home.”

You can see some highlights from the NAR report on their website.  Want the full report?  It will run you $150.

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

September 8, 2012

Calling things what their logos look like

120907-logos-oaklandThere’s a cute piece over on Buzzfeed that renames all 32 NFL teams according to what their logos resemble, instead of what the team is actually called.  For your enjoyment and discussion purposes, we’ll share the Bay Area entries.

F’rinstance, you may recognize this as the official sigil for the Oakland Raiders.  According to Buzzfeed, this is actually the Oakland Swords ‘n’ Severed Heads.  They left out that the severed head had an eyeball removed.  Sloppy, sloppy. 

120907-logos-sfAnd this design on the right, which breaks out of grayscale, is for the San Francisco Forty-Niners, right? Not if you name the team starting 120907-logos-sdfrom the logo.  Then it’s the San Francisco Abbreviations for San Francisco.

Here’s one more, and also from California. Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for the San Diego Cartoon Character’s Hair!

I hope you see where this is leading. 


Here is the corporate logo for a major tech firm, including a couple of guesses on how the image may evolve.  Got any better names for this company than the first thing that pops into your mind?  The far-future version looks more like Pac-Man.


Not a Bay Area company, but quite familiar to us.  Again, the last three entries are inspired guesses.  What is this a logo for, shampoo?  Contortionist classes?


This one’s tech-related plus the 21 December meteor strike leads to severe climate change.


Flags getting bricked, vaporized, sliced, englobed, dissolved and now, speaking of flags…


120907-logos-msA new logo was announced earlier this year.  Here’s the redesigned Greek flag at left, ready for when they leave the European Union.  We say it’s a Chanukah present.

Then the corporate parent got a logo update.  But when they changed the flag for the whole EU to go with…  We call it FourSquare®: A Way To Make You Pay $40 for a Game Court You Could Draw with a Piece of Chalk (ball not included).




120907-logos-narCan you identify these tech company logos?  More importantly, can you name these tech companies based on what each logo looks like? We get

  • 8 purple magnets
  • A half-screened green eye
  • Red cable-wrapped beachball
  • Now landing on red runway 1

Surely you can do better than this.  In fact, surely you can do best of all with this one at right.  Or discuss anything else you wish in this Open Thread.

Comments (36) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

September 5, 2012

NOT for the faint of heart in San Mateo

Sometimes, we receive a submission that tells us to drop everything else in the reader queue and post it at once.  Today’s real estate ruh-roh is from Burbed reader TB.  Once you see the pictures, you’ll see why those initials are so apt.

120904-fallon-realtor732 Fallon Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401

Beds: 3 bed 
Baths: 1 bath
House Size: Not Available 
Lot Size: 0.11 Acres
Price/sqft: Not Available
Property Type: Single Family Home
Year Built: 1950
Neighborhood: Not Available 
Style: Fixer-Handyman Special
Stories: 1 
Garage: 1
Status: Active
County: San Mateo
Area: San Mateo County Approximately 1000 acre(s)
120904-fallon-garage1 total full bath
5 total rooms
1 stories
Type: Detached
1 car garage
Attached parking
Lot size is 20 or more acres
Utilities present: Sewer System Public, Water Public

We don’t often link to Realtor.com, and the missing info coupled with the conflicting info may be why.  They don’t know how big this house is.  The lot is 0.11 acres.  The lot is approximately a thousand acres.  The lot is at least 20 acres.  Close enough!

Let’s see if Redfin is any help.


732 Fallon Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
$299,000; reduced from $425,000 on 8/31/12

3 Beds 
1 Baths 
— Sq. Ft.
Built: 1950 
Lot Size: 5,000 Sq. Ft. 
On Redfin: 9 days
Type: Detached
Stories: 1
Community: San Mateo
MLS#: 40586991
Style: Fixer/Handyman Special
View: Other
County: San Mateo

NOT for the faint of heart. Major fixer, needs everything including foundation work. All offers will be considered.

Moving over to Redfin has provided way more information than the Official Site of the National Association of REALTARDS®.  We now know how old the listing is, we have the previous price, we have a lot size in a more useful measurement, we now know this is a short sale and that the listing is out-of-area, we have a Double Dog Dare Description of this property, and we have one of the first listings on Burbed ever to have a View of Other.  What could Other be when the default of “Neighborhood” really means “No view from this house.”  This suggests this home has something worse than no view.

No wonder all offers will be considered!  TB observes:

the photos probably don’t do the place justice.

They certainly don’t!  Have a look at them after the break!


Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

June 10, 2012

Round Up the Usual Suspects

Sometimes a real estate website will ask us to pass along some content they think might be of general interest.  Have a look at this “analysis” of home buyers from Movoto.


The Usual Suspects: Breakdown of American Home Buyers

Who is the typical home buyer? The answer isn’t surprising. According to National Association of Realtors, the largest category home buyers are married couples. After this it’s single females, single males, and unmarried couples.

But that doesn’t mean each group looks for the same thing. Below are the four largest groups of home buyers. How do you compare?

120609-breakdown-nar-reportThe infographic itself (the above image is just one item from it) appears in the Movoto blog entry before the introductory paragraphs we quoted above. That’s a pity.  In the graphic, we don’t learn until the very bottom that the information it’s based on comes from those brilliant housing geniuses from the National Association of Realtards.  NAR is the wellspring of unbiased, spin-free information from professional real estate agents who have your best interests as their number one priority, that is if by “your best interests” I actually mean “their maximum profit.”

See the full infographic when you click on through, plus a few more comments from us.  But there’s more inside that NAR report than what Movoto offered, so perhaps we’ll be cherry-picking our own observations from this “study” at some point.  And of course, we welcome your observations.  Catch you on the other side.


Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:14 am

November 12, 2011

Special Weekend Open Thread Extra: Nearly NARmal

imageHere’s a great place for an Open Thread: right on top of a Can You Top This letter from the President of NAR (the National Association of Realtards). 

This is Ron Phipps’ letter to The Wall Street Journal in its entirety, because you won’t want to miss one single stupefying word of it.

Thanks very much to Burbed reader PKamp3 for mentioning this exchange in comments.

The Wall Street Journal would have people believe that hard-working, middle-class families are not affected by lower conforming loan limits, when nothing could be further from the truth ("More McMansion Subsidies," Review & Outlook, Nov. 1). The representatives in Congress who support higher loan limits understand that this is not a partisan issue, as you are trying to make it out to be.

The majority of markets impacted by the loan-limit decline are not high-cost areas. For example, more than 100 counties throughout the Midwest and more than 200 counties in the South have seen loan limits decline by more than $64,000.

And despite how your editorial tries to position the issue, the loan limits are not the same as reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Allowing the mortgage loan limits to expire in October was an arbitrary decision. Creating more market disruptions before reforming mortgage markets will only hurt our recovery.

The Senate measure to reinstate the limits is temporary—restoring the higher limits while the housing and mortgage markets stabilize. Recently, economist Mark Zandi said policy makers could shore up the housing market by "extending the current higher conforming loan limits that are set to decline in a few weeks." Borrowers, not taxpayers, will bear the entire cost of the higher loan-limits provision.

As people across the country are trying to gain a foothold in these trying times, we need to give them the resources to do so. The National Association of Realtors applauds the members of Congress who are standing up for America’s families rather than turning their backs on them.

Ron Phipps

National Assn. of Realtors

Of course this is 100% Grade AAA horseapples and every one of us should feel stupider for having wasted three minutes in reading it.  In fact, this is such toxic waste even the WSJ editorial page couldn’t leave it without a response as an unsigned opinion piece.  (It’s behind the paywall, but the best way to find it for free, should this link not work, is to search for its title with teh Google.)

The Realtor Subsidy

Crony capitalism on parade.

To understand why 90% of U.S. mortgages are still underwritten by taxpayers, look no further than the nearby letter from Ron Phipps of the Realtors lobby. He makes clear that the Realtors, like the rest of the housing-subsidy crowd, are working hard to get Congress to reinstate a $729,750 loan-limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees.

Notice how Mr. Phipps doesn’t mention that dollar figure, perhaps because it makes a howler of his claim that the loan-limit reduction in October to $625,500 is somehow a blow to the "middle class." As House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus and several colleagues note in a November 7 letter to GOP appropriations conferees, "the lower loan limits only affect a very small slice of wealthier homeowners in high cost areas." Only 1.3% of all loans done by Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Housing Administration would be affected by the change.

imageAnd it goes on from there.  I’m sure you could write your own takedown of Phipps’ inane, self-serving, logic-free effluvia, and in fact I bet you could have a lot of fun with it.  I am chucking a bit noting the Wall Street Journal use the terms “crony capitalism” and “lobby” as if they’re bad things.  Should we look forward to them setting up a tent (mink-lined, probably) in Zucotti Park?

Here’s a few more things the WSJ neglected to mention but I’ll bring up.

  • The “non-high-cost areas” affected purportedly include more than 100 flyover counties in the Midwest and 200 in the South.  Phipps neglected to tell you how many total counties are worth flying over, but I suspect it’s more than 300.
  • A free clue: Georgia has 159 counties.
  • Borrowers will bear the entire cost?  Oh, now borrowers fund their own tax deductions?  Then why is the deficit so high?  Do corporations fund their own R&D credits too?
  • And remember, this is your Weekend Open Thread!
Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 pm

May 8, 2011

Cheapest Homes in 40 Years? Not Even Close…

Cheapest Homes in 40 Years? Not Even Close…

I have been wanting to discuss a horrifically misleading article for a week now: Americans Shun Cheapest Homes in 40 Years as Ownership Fades.

It is an object lesson in how an industry spokesgroup, engaging in biased analysis, used poor econometric models to create misleading data. That led to others making bad assumptions based on that data, which in turn leads to an unsupported conclusions. To wit, that home prices are now cheap (they are not) and home ownership is being shunned (it is not). Thus, the end result is a misleading Bloomberg.com article on residential Real Estate that is unfortunately based on these terribly flawed NAR metrics.

The reality is quite different than the spin. No, it is not, as objective data reveals, especially cheap.

This flawed data/PR flack/spin approach is how the NAR manages to get a false and misleading claims printed in major US media on an all too regular basis. “The most affordable real estate in a generation” nonsense in Bloomberg is only the latest hoodwinking they have pulled on journalists. Recall back in 2009, the Wall Street Journal and IBD were both snookered by the NAR’s seasonal adjustments (we discussed this here, here, here, and here).

Given the NAR’s track record when it comes to data analysis, anyone who makes any sort of purchase based on NAR spin is a fool who will get what they deserve.

All of this leads to our present discussion of Home Affordability. Back in 2008, I wrote an analysis of the Realtors’ model titled “NAR Housing Affordability Index is Worthless.” As you can see from the chart below, during the entire boom period of 1996-2006, there was but ONE MONTH where the NAR index said homes were not affordable. Indeed, that chart period extends from 1985 to 2008 — there was but a single month of over-priced houses.

How on earth did home prices NEVER become UNaffordable during the greatest run up in housing prices ever in the United States history? What sort of model refuses to allow homes to ever be perceived as unaffordable? We could only get that sort of thing from an industry source.

What? The NAR making things up? Providing skewed and biased information that might lead people to be interested in buying real estate?

That’s impossible!

But, if you do think it’s possible – check out the full article.

That said, I’m not sure why this matters…. isn’t unaffordability a sign of good financial health? I seem to recall that everyone was a lot happier back in 2006 when housing was unaffordable. Therefore, there’s only one way to restore happiness in America…

Comments (8) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am

April 17, 2011

Join the Realtor Party!

We are the REALTOR® Party: An energized movement of real estate professionals fighting to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country.

Now more than ever, it is critical for REALTORS® across America to come together and speak with one voice about the stability a sound and dynamic real estate market brings to our communities. From city hall to the state house to the U.S. Capitol, our elected officials are making decisions that have a huge impact on the bottom line of REALTORS® and their customers. Through the support of REALTORS® like you, the REALTOR® Party represents your interests.

As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you…

Vote for REALTOR® Party Candidates.

Act on REALTOR® Party Issues.

Invest in RPAC.

So now it’s time to…

Join the REALTOR® Party.

Get other REALTORS® involved

Download the mobile app!

Learn how the REALTOR® Party is forging a new path with a bipartisan, issue-oriented approach to politics.

Learn about the issues the REALTOR® Party will be fighting for this year.

Take Part in the "We Are the REALTOR® Party Photo Challenge!

Learn more about the REALTOR® Party

Share on Facebook: Share

Yesterday I mentioned that the National Association of Realtors feels they are fighting for their very survival.  To do so, they are rallying their members to join their political arm (and doubling their dues in the process).

But you don’t have to be a NAR member to join in the fun.  Head on over to the Realtor Action Center and find out how you can make sure Realtors aren’t threatened by all these woes that they had nothing to do with, such as mortgage fraud, irresponsibly marketing homes to people who couldn’t afford them, or misrepresenting real property as an investment by people who aren’t qualified to be investment advisors.

The above copy from NAR shows what consummate professionals they are.  The very beginning of this new mission begins with a sentence fragment.  You can be assured there isn’t a single member of this fine organization who has any idea why that’s a mistake, either.

This is an Open Thread.  Feel free to weigh in on the the NAR, the Realtor Party, or any housing topic you wish.  Seen any cute Open Houses yesterday?  How about cute Realtors?  No?  Then check out these hot numbers, like Zebra Lady.  Rrowl!  Which one do you want to personally handle your escrow?

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:13 am

April 16, 2011

Priced Out of Marriage Forever in China

For Many Chinese Men, No Deed Means No Dates

By ANDREW JACOBS, New York Times, Published: April 14, 2011

(Photo, r. Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times.  A billboard promoting real estate in Beijing. Amid a real estate boom, men are finding themselves lovelorn as women hold out for a mate with property.)

BEIJING — In the realm of eligible bachelors, Wang Lin has a lot to recommend him. A 28-year-old college-educated insurance salesman, Mr. Wang has a flawless set of white teeth, a tolerable karaoke voice and a three-year-old Nissan with furry blue seat covers.

“My friends tell me I’m quite handsome,” he said in confident English one recent evening, fingering his car keys as if they were a talisman.

But by the exacting standards of single Chinese women, it seems, Mr. Wang lacks that bankable attribute known as real property. Given that even a cramped, two-bedroom apartment on the dusty fringe of the capital sells for about $150,000, Mr. Wang’s $900-a-month salary means he may forever be condemned to the ranks of the renting.

Last year, he said, this deficiency prompted a high-end dating agency to reject his application. In recent months, half a dozen women have turned down a second meeting after learning that he had no means to buy a home. “Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find a wife,” said Mr. Wang, who lives with his parents, retired factory workers who remind him of his single status with nagging regularity. “I feel like a loser.”

Who knew?  Wang Lin may feel like a loser, but as far as these women are concerned, he is one.

kenshohi-cover3Look, Spring Bounce is here.  Do you feel a renter is a loser?  Or is that the case only in China?  Consider that in Japan, with its 20 years of deflation, most twentysomethings feel that buying nothing is the best strategyThis NY Times article on the same subject was written before the devastating earthquake and tsunami, though.  Will the reaction against the conspicuous consumption of forty and fiftysomething Japanese continue through the national emergency?  Or will the youngsters rally and buy property for the good of the nation?

Well, how about this?  The National Association of Realtors feels they are fighting for survival now.  Doesn’t that make you want to run out and a buy another house so they can?

This is an open thread.  Share your thoughts on the above ideas, or any Open Houses you may visit, or anything you like.

Comments (71) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:25 am

April 12, 2007

NAR to adjust the median

April 12, 2007

globeandmail.com: Rare drop in U.S. housing prices forecast in 2007
“We’ve never seen a distortion of this effect. . . . This is a weird event,” NAR spokesman Walt Molony said.

That’s because house prices are rising in a vast swath of the country, including much of the mid-Atlantic, the Northeast, Midwest and Texas.

It’s just that homes there generally cost less, skewing the national median price.

Mr. Molony said the distortion is so significant that the NAR is working on an adjusted median price to better reflect what’s actually happening in most of the country.

Oh sweet! A new method of accounting. Expect an “adjusted median” to be the new hotness, replacing the old “median”.

Yep, this is going in the quotes file.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 7:19 am