Friday, August 29, 2008

Expired listing data...

I thought I'd share a new post about housing market data today. I don't normally track data for expired listing information, and I don't plan on doing so on a regular basis. But curiosity got the best of me on this fine day and I wanted to look at what kind of home is expiring on the market and compare that to homes that went under contract in July and new listings in July. I do not think the numbers or comparisons will shock you if you have been following along here for normal sales and listing reports on a monthly schedule.

The expired listings I am using are the ones that have expired so far this month, August. When I ran the report this morning, it showed 64 such expirations so far. According the data... wait a minute... I'm forgetting something. Oh yeah... the disclaimer...

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.

Now back to what I was saying, according the data these expired listing were on the market for an average of 414 days. Well over a year.

What do we know about the last year of this housing market?? Well, you are all free to editorialize all you want, but specifically the monthly average and median price figures have been noticeably lower over those months when we look at them in terms of year over year performance. We also know that sales in units is down to recent historical lows and that it is probable that 2008 will see less in total sales than 2007.

Basically the formula of holding price until the right buyer happens to come along is not working out all that well.

In the two monthly reports I offer each month I include information on the average home that is either newly listed in the previous month, recently found a buyer and is under contract, and obviously homes that actually sold. I'm leaving the sold data out of this as I think that newly listed, under contract, and expired listing data provides all the stark contrast needed.

Let's take a quick look at the average home from the different sets of data...

Units in July that were newly listed had 3.21 bedrooms, 2.2 bathrooms, a 2.0 car garage, included 1716 square feet of living space, and was built in 1994.

Units in July that attracted a contract from a buyer had 3.14 bedrooms, 2.1 bathrooms, a 2.0 car garage, included 1596 square feet of living space, and was built in 1994.

Units that have expired the listing contract so far in August had 3.17 bedrooms, 2.14 bathrooms, a 2.19 car garage, included 1686 square feet of living space, and was built in 1999.

Not much difference in the three average units, with the exception that the expired listings were newer by 5 years on average than new listings and listings under contract in July.

Now let's compare the average and median price for the three data sets...

Units listed in July...

Average asking price - $204,452
Median asking price - $165,000

Units under contract in July...

Average asking price - $157,439
Median asking price - $130,000

Units expired so far in August...

Average asking price - $225,599
Median asking price - $214,900

The data speaks for itself... and it certainly does not need 414 days worth of explanation.

There is no denying that this is an uncertain market. There are no guarantees that a buyer can be attracted at any price offered. But there is an identified pricing 'sweet spot' in this very market that sees successful activity each and every month. I still maintain that price is the overall number one factor in generating serious activity needed to produce a successful sale. Some might argue that 'location, location, location' still is... but with an estimated 14 months of inventory on the current market chances are 100% that all locations have plenty of listings to choose from.

Folks... unless you missed it somehow... this isn't 2005 any longer. The market has completely changed.

Perhaps some sellers were counting on that old fabled 'explosive growth' that many already in the community were touting (either hoping for or acting very afraid of... doesn't matter), in hopes that so many people were moving here that demand would somehow catch up with supply. Well, I didn't want to leave this post without at least offering you one chart to look at. In July the Census put out a press release about population growth. There you can find population data for Kingman. I took the data and made a chart to share. A look at Kingman's growth rates...

I get the feeling that when the data comes out again next July that we might see a negative percentage for 2008. Keep in mind that this data lags by a year.

Kinda funny looking at the data from 2006 to 2007. That was the same time that a select few in this community started getting all frenzied up that too many people were moving here and throwing out oddities like 'put the brakes on growth'. Wish granted it appears. People listened.

Whoops... I slipped into political mode there for a second. My bad.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that new growth is not happening. If sellers are hoping that this community grows itself out of this bad market, it may take quite a bit of time at this rate. It is likely that if you are a seller that you are trying to entice a local resident to move from one side of town to your side of town. Maybe an expanding family that needs a larger home (and is in good enough financial standing to afford it). If you are trying to entice a first time buyer with that average sized home... keep in mind that a first time buyer can rent basically the same home for around $600 to $800 a month (and rents are not going up yet at this time). Compare those rent figures to your mortgage payment.

The local community and the job market is not doing all that well to create new home buyers... especially at current asking prices. And let us not forget about the many foreclosures already and the market and the next wave that will hit the market.

I just hope that reality begins to at least set in some degree with those that have seen their listing periods expire this month. Listing a home at that price level is futile. Odds are better at the river in those big fancy buildings.

Sellers can sell... they do every month. But a couple of questions have to be asked; 1) Do you have to sell?? 2) Can you afford to sell?? If you honestly answer 'no' to either question then it is better to wait for another day (as long as your not facing financial hardships or looking at foreclosure) if you are looking to capture large doses of equity.

If you answer yes, you need to call me and let me tell you about how I can save you hundreds or perhaps even thousands of dollars in real estate fees. <-- shameless plug

To wrap up... your listing period just lapsed and you may be thinking about re-listing the home either with the same broker or a different one (or even on your own), don't pay attention to the new listing price levels... look closer at the units that recently sold (see last months sales report here or wait till the second week of next month for the next report). The solution is in those data figures.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taxes, incentives for alternative energy, national politics

While I have my opinions on 'national' politics, I try to refrain from writing about such things.

I'm not looking forward to the presidential election as of yet. Neither major party candidate has earned my support or vote as of yet (but I am leaning in one direction).

I'm a simple dude when it comes to taxes. I pay them. I just don't want to pay for more of them.

In keeping with the alternative energy theme to some degree I found this blog article that caught my eye today about the Obama's choice for VP and his record on raising taxes (or attempting to raise taxes).

Here is what I didn't like and how it applied to alternative energy...

Biden has reliably backed Democratic initiatives such as an end to IRS contracts with private debt collection agencies, tighter basis reporting requirements for securities transactions, and incentives promoting renewable energy production.

I'm not sharing this to start some national political debate, but I find it a bit awkward that the democrats like to say such things as we must 'take' money from one provider of energy (oil companies) and perhaps use that money to offer incentives for renewable forms of cleaner energy sources. This doesn't add up... and it is a reason why I detest national politics.


I may have read that wrong. The article that I read about VP Candidate Biden's tax policy record basically had a theme of rolling back tax cuts and other issues I feel that I am against. What I emphasized above does not actually state that Biden is against 'ending' incentives promoting renewable energy production... but I admit that when I first read the article... that is how I interpreted it.

I am in favor of offering some sort of tax credit to people that invest in renewable power (i.e. wind turbines) as a way to help establish a market for those products.

I've decided to leave the post anyway. I'm sure I can find other reasons not to be excited about the democratic ticket before November.

Important letter to the editor...

This one is about wind turbines and the city of Kingman adopting a new ordinance to allow for the use of energy producing products on your private property. Keep in mind that the City Council meeting will be on TUESDAY September 2 (Monday is a holiday).

From the letter...

On Tuesday, Sept. 2, in the City Council Chambers at 6 p.m., the wind turbine ordinance will be voted on. Please come out and be heard on this issue. People with less money or smaller lots and homes should not be discriminated against.

Question: Should just the people on half-acre or larger lots be able to have wind energy savings or should all city lots be able to have wind turbines? Come out and support this issue! Let's pack City Hall and show our support. The Skystream Wind Turbine meets high engineering standards. These wind turbines are engineered safer then an electric pole, street light, red and green signal light, trees and even the roof of a house. Before the Skystream 10 gauge steel pole would fall down, the wind would basically knock down your house. The pole and wind turbine will hold up in over a 140-mile an hour wind (hurricane-strength winds).

Read the whole thing right here.

National home prices fall...

Sure, that likely isn't new news to you. Home prices have been falling for some time and the national media is covering the reports as often as they can.

While I don't believe in the concept of a 'national' housing market, the factors that are affecting many markets all over this great country are based in similar fundamentals. Mainly supply and demand factors... as in tons of units on the market... and fewer buyers in the market. Same old -- same old.

Here is the article that talks about the record drop in prices for the 'national' market.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Election time, voting season begins...

Whether or not you think it is 'Duck season' or 'Rabbit season', now that the top national party conventions will be in our face for the next two weeks... it does feel a bit cartoonish (if that is even a word).

A little bit closer to home, the local state and county elections loom as well. I have my state senate and representative picks handled already and I look forward to casting my votes to the ladies and gentleman.

The Mohave County elections, on the other hand, have not been so clear cut for me. I'm staying out of the 'this is who you should vote for' routine. I'm still trying to figure out where my vote is going to. County politics is making the recent city elections held last spring look like a breeze. The city elections were very civil, candidates did not make things personal... for at least a couple of offices up for election in Mohave County though, the same can't be said.

I'll still offer this to Mohave County candidates though... if you'd like to have some space here at MOCO and tell the readers how you see the importance of private property rights and the need to protect and enhance those rights in this county... feel free to drop me an email.

Also... as of yesterday, members of the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors began their election for officers and directors to serve on the Board of Directors. For the first time in a very long time there are very difficult choices to make on the ballot. Part of the reason is that there were so many Members that were nominated to the ballot. But to be sure... there is plenty of quality that came with the quantity. I look forward to the results later this week and confidently feel that the Association will benefit with the new leadership, continuing the positive work and success that the 2008 Board of Directors contributed.

Good luck to all the candidates this voting season at every level.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Potential 'Good News'... again... in a week

So where did you catch Ironman or The Dark Knight this summer?? Well if you live in Kingman you didn't spend the cash within the current city limits and probably had to walk, bike, or drive 40 or so miles (one way) to catch the summer blockbusters.

Our good pal Dave Hawkins sent me the following article...



Kingman’s theater drought could end next year. The community has been without a movie house since Cinemark ended its run at The Movies on Stockton Hill Road late last year.

Cinemark would open at a new location under a site plan and conceptual elevation renderings submitted to the City of Kingman. "This would be the first step," City Planning Administrator Tom Duranceau said of the initial documents filed with the city.

The Mountain View Plaza project would occupy ten acres at Hualapai Mountain Road and Eastern Avenue. Undescribed commercial retail development is planned on a 4.15 acre parcel.

The 5.85 acre parcel would include 446 parking spaces, a two story 21,000 square foot commercial retail building and an eight screen, 26,000 square foot movie house to be leased by Cinemark.

Duranceau said the developers have not yet filed engineering or building plans. He said the project must conform to design standards specified for the Hualapai Mountain Road corridor.

Duranceau said developers envision a seven month construction campaign for the movie theater once all necessary approvals are secured.

City Council members Ray Lyons and Kerry Deering recently expressed frustration that local residents have had to travel to Lake Havasu City, Laughlin and elsewhere to enjoy a movie. They both speculated that Kingman may be the biggest city in America without a theater.

I'm gonna venture to say that whoever ends up being responsible for developing a new movie theater (and one as nice as this one sounds like it might be) is probably going to get a few free lunches once they open up the box office.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Consumer Alert from ADRE

Got this in my email today from the Arizona Department of Real Estate...

Consumer Alert

August 18, 2008

Most Arizona homebuilders continue to meet their obligations to customers however; there are some who are currently facing challenges in meeting their commitments to consumers.

“Homebuyers and their real estate agents have the right to know if a builder is in financial trouble and what the status of their earnest money or home completion is. The Department of Real Estate can help provide this information and give assistance to consumers in need,” stated Sam Wercinski, Arizona’s Real Estate Commissioner.

The Department is now posting information on builders who are in bankruptcy or are having financial difficulties so consumers can make informed decisions and take steps to protect themselves. A list of known builders is available on the Department’s website: Consumers should also reference the Commissioner’s Advisory No. 2 on the website's home page which provides guidance for homebuyers, real estate agents and others impacted by a builder ceasing operations.

Sam Wercinski

Arizona’s Real Estate Commissioner

Friday, August 15, 2008

Light reading heading into the weekend...

On the back of the news that appeared in the Miner today, I thought I'd share a little something about another community that we've talked about before. The article appears in the San Diego Business Journal. I copied the whole thing though because they want readers to register on their site to view some articles... like this one.

Mimi’s Café Led Santee Retail Surge
By LIZ WIEDEMANN - 1/21/2008
San Diego Business Journal Staff

Seven years ago, just one restaurant offered table service in the 17-square-mile city of Santee.
“It was very difficult to find more than one restaurant where you could sit down with a business client,” said Santee City Manager Keith Till.

In 2000, Santee was experiencing a problem called sales tax “leakage,” defined as the difference between total county sales per capita and local city sales per capita.

Sales tax revenues lagging behind other cities in the county indicated that Santee might be under-served with retail stores, especially given its residential population growth.

Santee’s response to lagging retail sales was the 2003 opening of Trolley Square, the 450,000-square-foot shopping center that brought in “big box” names such as a Target store, Chili’s Grill & Bar and Bed Bath & Beyond.

The city that once lost 38 percent of its residents’ taxable business to neighboring cities in 2002 managed to close that gap to 15 percent by 2005, according to a study sponsored by the city. The city reported $8.2 million in sales tax revenues for fiscal year 2007.

It Used To Be A Pile Of Dirt

City Councilman Jack Dale, who is credited with getting construction started on state Route 52 through the city, says that the key to economic development is good balance.

“I remember when this whole Town Center was just a pile of dirt,” said Dale, former two-time mayor of Santee.

Those 706 acres are now home to the Santee Plaza/Promenade center, anchored by Costco, Wal-Mart and The Home Depot.

“When you first start developing, you’ll go to the big gun chains. They have the employers, the representation and the rent. Then you grow the office and residential as the general plan allows,” Dale said.

A key element to the Trolley Square project was landing Mimi’s Café in early 2003, a successful effort attributed to the city’s participation in the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual spring conference.

The chair of the San Diego planning committee for the ICSC and Retail Properties Division representative for Grubb & Ellis | BRE Commercial, Mike Clark has served on the ICSC’s committee for five years and represented Mimi’s Café in coming to Trolley Square.

A Stampede

“Mimi’s thrives on the traffic that neighboring retailers provide, so the existing Target in Trolley Square and the Kohl’s and Wal-Mart at Santee Town Center were all part of that initial push, driving the herd of retailers to follow,” Clark said.

According to Clark, that herd may never have come to sleepy Santee if not for the foresight of Vestar Property Management, a division of Vestar Development Co.

Clark says that Mimi’s, like many of the newly located Santee tenants, originally sought a presence at El Cajon’s Westfield Parkway mall, but the option did not exist.

“Retailers were passing over the smaller Santee as an alternative, but Vestar Property Management jumped on the opportunity to pull all of the tenants who wanted an East County presence into Santee,” Clark said.

Now home to nearly 100 national retailers, Santee will likely remain primarily a neighborhood with some commercial space, Clark says.

“Specialty stores and luxury goods will probably remain in the regional malls,” Clark said.

More Retail Opportunities Coming

Some areas along Mission Gorge Road and Cuyamaca Street are becoming riper for renovating and rebuilding, says Till, and the completion of state SR-52 in 2010 along with new interchanges will present added retail opportunities.

Till says that additional soft goods would be a good fit for openings created by renovations.
“Hotels, more restaurants and sporting goods are other growth areas that this community could support,” Till said.

Dale says that he assessed Santee’s gaps in retail based on the Christmas shopping that he had to do out of town.

“I had to go to the mall for Victoria’s Secret, shoes and electronics,” Dale said.

Staying true to the original vision for Santee is Dale’s primary concern, he says.

“People come to Santee to own a home, benefit from good schools and enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in the county,” said Dale, a runner, who says he always wants to be able to run from his house along the San Diego River into town without touching asphalt.

San Diego Business Journal, Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved.
The path is already blazed. Enjoy your weekend everyone.

One step closer to some good news part 2

A major obstacle has been removed for the developers at Kingman Crossing. Read the article here.

A few bits from the Miner's article...

Several parties involved in the Kingman Crossing regional shopping center project on Tuesday managed to reach a preliminary agreement with the Federal Highway Administration regarding ingress and egress points for the development north of Interstate 40.

Mayor John Salem and representatives of Vanderbilt Farms both called the agreement a "significant step" toward the project's eventual construction.

I would have just been happy with a 'baby step'. Any step towards progress is welcome.

(Kingman Mayor John) Salem said he hoped the large Kingman presence would prove to the FHWA that the city is serious about moving forward with the project.

"This has been kind of the hold up as to why we haven't heard anything from Vanderbilt and Vestar for the last six or seven months," he said. "On a future agenda, more than likely we'll see representatives from Vanderbilt and Vestar, to see if Council wants to direct staff to proceed with any kind of proposals for funding mechanisms for the Kingman Crossing interchange."

Time to let Council know that this community does indeed want to see proposals for progress on this project. Call, write, email... Here is the city website. Let your voice be heard!!

"We were doing a number of things - due diligence - we were meeting with (FHWA,) we were meeting with ADOT," Stuart Goodman, a spokesman for Vanderbilt, said. "We were certainly doing what we needed to do in order to prepare ourselves for when the time was right to become actively engaged in the process in Kingman."

With an access agreement finally reached, Goodman anticipated an increased presence from the developers over the coming months.

"We're going to work with the Council, work with staff to go through the normal development process," he said. "It's a great location for the community and the region, so we're going to continue chipping away at it."

I have the sudden urge to break out some Barry White tunes on my iPod. This just feels good.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One step closer to some good news

The Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission approved some standards that will allow property owners the opportunity to utilize a wind turbine for electricity generation. See article here.

The first amendment would add general development standards for wind turbines to the zoning ordinance. These standards would allow for a single wind turbine on any size parcel, or two turbines for parcels larger than one acre.

The amendment calls for turbines to stand no higher than the maximum building height of the zoning district in which they are built, or up to 60 feet with a conditional use permit. The turbines would also have to be rated at 10 kilowatts capacity or less, and colored a non-reflective, neutral desert color.

Now the issue moves to the City Council for adoption. Talking with folks across the state of Arizona... if Kingman does adopt this, as I understand it, it may be the most progressive allowance of use of a wind turbine in the state. Other municipalities have allowed for use of a wind turbine on property with an acre or more, the Kingman amendment would allow for turbines on any sized lot.

One step closer to something actually very positive to promote about Kingman, one step closer to having the opportunity to cut my utility bills in half (or more) during the summer months when the AC is running.

I hope this amendment gets council support.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scissors time...

A little different this time.

I've mentioned before that the local newspaper upgraded their website and noticeably more comments have appeared below articles, columns, and letters to the editor. Often these comments are a source of entertainment for me (hey... there is no movie theater here in Kingman so entertainment sources are limited).

So today I won't be cutting, pasting, and responding to an article, column, or letter... instead I want to share a couple comments that appeared today below today's article about the NYTimes article that appeared over the weekend.

Here is the Miner's article about the NYTimes article

Now keep in mind that when you read the contributions made via Internet below the article that the oldest comments are at the very bottom and as new comments are made they are stacked on top.

So the first comment of the day...

Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Article comment by: .

Who are the one million people anticipated to move here? Could it be that when the NAFTA/CANAMEX highway opens our borders, all new residents will be non-citizens?

The first question the contributor asks stems from... I guess... the following from today's Miner article...

In the article, Mardian predicts an additional million people will migrate to the region over the next decade, then asks rhetorically, "Where are they going to live?"

I'll guess that writing a news article about another news article isn't all that much fun for a staff writer at a paper. Normally that kind of thing is left up to us amateur writers with blogs and such. I don't think the Miner or the staff writer were trying lead anyone astray... in fact the staff writer (James Chilton) and the Miner included the link to the NYTimes article so that any Miner reader could read the entire NYTimes article.

I suppose the context from the Miner's article alone could lead a reader to believe that a million people will migrate to the region over the next decade... but what is meant by region?? Which region?? The Arizona region?? The Mohave County region?? The Kingman region?? The 'sacred street of Seneca' region?? It isn't necessarily clear.

But if contibutor '.' (BTW... '.' is short for being too lazy to even make up a fake moniker to use when leaving a comment on the Internet) would have read the NYTimes piece for the complete context, he/she might have a better understanding. From that NYTimes article...

Both Mr. Mardian and Mr. Stevens say their companies are undeterred by the weak housing market, even as Las Vegas and Phoenix suffer some of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates and steepest home-value declines. Las Vegas in particular, they note, is on the cusp of yet another boom, with 50,000 hotel rooms expected to be added to the resort corridor by 2012.

“We can’t say we’re in a bad cycle right now so we should just stop what we’re doing,” said Mr. Stevens, whose company has about 500 $2,000 deposits on the first wave of Pravada houses and has billboards advertising houses starting around $140,000. “We can’t do that. You have to just recognize that we’re going to go through down cycles and up cycles.”

The anticipated Vegas boom translates into an additional 113,500 new resort-related jobs alone, according to calculations by Bill Lerner, a Deutsche Bank gaming stock analyst.

“There’s going to be another million people here in the next 10 years,” Mr. Mardian predicted. “Where are they going to live?”

Clearly the developer (Mardian) believes that Vegas is due for another million people moving into the Vegas region over the next decade. Mr. Mardian is also wagering his money that some of the people in the Vegas area could possibly move to his new proposed development located in Arizona, which is not located in Kingman and is actually closer to Vegas than Kingman.

The entertainment for me is that the comment contributor assumes the worst with his/her first question (OH NOEZ!! A million people will be moving next door to me)... and of course follows that up with another doozy question aimed to scare others that this million person migration will consist of ILLEGAL ALIENS. OH NOEZ!! And not likely.

My question... why do anti-growth people use scare tactics to try to make their points??

Onto the next comment...

Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Article comment by: NIMBY

here we go again, pimping us to New York now, and all points west - we better get better traffic control if we are going to stuff more people in this town. And more officers in the Gang Task Force and more police & sheriff officers.

Stuff more people into this town?? Here are some rough estimates. Kingman city boundaries cover about 30 square miles. There is an estimated 14,000 rooftops (think residences) currently. I quickly did the math and there is basically one rooftop for every 1.37-acres of land within Kingman. Really 'stuffing' them in aren't we??

But 'NIMBY' is onto something, Kingman sure could use some more traffic control... namely for Stockton Hill Road. I suggest some new infrastructure projects that connect other parts of town over or under the Interstate. This would offer up some new access routes and possibly even take traffic off of what many Kingman residents think are overused roads right now. Problem though... I'm willing to bet that the aptly named 'NIMBY' and others like him/her are against such projects.

That again leads to the scare tactic... "OH NOEZ!! We'll need more police as the population grows". Come to that conclusion on your own there Sherlock??

I guess that about does it for the scissors for today... What's that?? You thought I was going to take on the latest column from a RAID PAC guest columnist you say?? Why would I?? I basically agree with her on this from her column...

We, all the people in Kingman, not just the merchants, business owners and realtors, need to join in to create the personality that will draw in tourists driving past Kingman on Interstate 40. We need them to stop in our city and bring money to our businesses and additional sales tax to our city.

Sure I realize she is speaking of the downtown Kingman area and not new commercial districts actually located off the Interstate located further east that could not only attract business opportunity from passing through motorists on I40 but also provide more services (shopping and entertainment) for the folks that live in Kingman (not to mention improved access routes for local motorists, emergency services, and a new hospital)... but I agree in general.

However somebody still is going to have to pay the bill for any improvements made no matter where they are located. For now I'll just say (again) that I'm in favor of public/private partnerships as a means to get that bill paid for needed improvements throughout the community.

Scissors Seacrest out...

Digging out??

I'm always trying my best to get a clear understanding as to what comes next as it relates to my business... the buying and selling of real estate. As I've stated before, this is my first 'go-round' as a professional in a down market. I really do not know what happens next but I am making efforts using real time data (in our local market) and relying on the experience and expertise of other folks that I have come to know and respect... others that have been around the block before and are in better positions to know what to look for.

Of course, now that we have access to the Internet any one of us can spend some time looking for the latest news about what others are preparing to do on a more macro level.

Today I find this article linked here about Goldman Sachs preparing to purchase gobs and gobs worth of private-equity investments.

A few points from the article below...

While the mainstream media reminisces about the heady days of the private equity bubble with all the fondness of a first-date discussion of past romances, Goldman Sachs is betting big that the unwanted, unloved deals of the past few years are still valuable.


This -- and the fact that Goldman has more money lined up for similar investments -- signals that the smartest investment bank in the world is bullish on the prospects of many of the recent buyouts, and is taking advantage of sellers willing to unload the illiquid equity stakes at a discount. That's bad news for the sellers but good news for the market: in spite of the aggressive leverage used and the market's downturn, the equity is still worth buying. The aftermath of the private equity boom appears to be playing out with a resounding "plink" rather than the crash that many had forecast.

Also this...

Further evidence of how relatively well the aftermath of the LBO boom is playing out comes from the recently filed quarterly earnings of Century 21/Coldwell Banker parent Realogy. Taken private at the height of the private equity and real estate booms, this highly-leveraged deal would seem to be a great candidate for a blow-up. For now that doesn't appear to be the case. The company reported EBITDA of $161 million and a net loss of $27 million -- nothing to brag about but, given the size of the company, not a total disaster either, given that this is the toughest real estate market in recent memory.

So do I know what all this exactly means?? Nope but I find some of the wording somewhat positive. I know that at this point that I've basically fallen for all the 'doom and gloom' hype. All bad news all the time sort of takes its toll on me as it has for many others. Yet like I said at the top, I am learning as best as I can during this downturn. You see, I fully expect that real estate markets will one day, some day, bounce back and 'normalize' again and the cycle will begin anew.

Maybe the cycle won't have the record highs and the record lows the next time, and hopefully the future rise and fall won't be nearly as dramatic... but as one person worthy of my respect always says... my crystal ball is as cracked as anyone else's. I realize there is nothing I can do to affect the cycle on a macro level... all I can do is better prepare myself and my business in the future to be better able to serve my clients in the best possible manner.

So is what Goldman Sachs planning to do going to help 'dig out' the real estate market??

I've had a few interesting discussions with some folks that have tried their best to explain to me what may be happening right now at this moment... and how it may help to, at the very least, stabilize the market. Now don't take that as meaning that folks are going to move money around just to save any market... nope... investors are going to make opportunities for themselves (i.e. put large sums of money in their pockets) and it may lead to stabilization of said real estate markets.

Here goes my best explanation... anyone that feels the need to correct my line of thinking or add to it in any way is welcome to in the comments. I'm not an expert on this stuff (and I don't even pretend to play one on TV).

Investors will be looking to purchase portfolio's of non-performing loans from current holders of paper that qualifies as such, and do so for pennies on the dollar (let's say 25%). This will be done in huge volumes of dollars with thousands of non-performing loans in the mix. Keep in mind that the original holders of the loans have probably already written down the loans and taken huge losses (somebody has to bleed).

Now the new holders of the loans will contact the non-performing borrowers and inform them that they can inquire to get a new loan on their home for perhaps half the amount that they owe on the original purchase. Example... a buyer bought a home for $200k in 2006 using a crazy toxic loan program and now rates are resetting putting the borrower in jeopardy of foreclosure. The new loan holder is telling the borrower that if the borrower can get a loan for say $100k on a refinance that the borrower is good to go. Hopefully with a new mortgage that is affordable to them and life can go on.

Keep in mind that the new loan holder bought that $200k loan for $50k and is willing to now sell that $200k loan for $100k. If the borrower manages to get a new refinanced loan for $100k, the new loan holder (who will no longer hold the note if the property is refinanced at $100k) will come out with a $50k gross profit.

The home buyer in 2006 that is facing foreclosure might find themselves in a position to keep the home at a more affordable rate, less foreclosures take place, prices still ease as time goes along, but markets begin to stabilize as a result.

While the home purchased in 2006 probably doesn't appraise for the price in 2008, it likely will appraise for half the original purchase (probably higher than that amount actually). This means that lenders will be able to lend... maybe this leads to sellers will be able to sell... buyers will be able to buy (once a bottom is established in the local market buyers would probably be more likely to buy in greater numbers).

That was probably a overly simplistic explanation... I'm sure I left out technicalities. I wanted to share though because I'm finding those conversations very interesting (even if I don't fully understand all the technicalities). Could this actually be a plausible scenario that leads to market stabilization??

A few shots from high country

I mentioned earlier this week that I took the weekend off for some fishing and R&R in the Williams and Flagstaff area of Arizona. I managed a few nice photos and wanted to share.

These two (above) were taken at Kaibab Lake near Williams on Saturday morning. I didn't get many great pics here because the fish started biting.

After Kaibab... we stopped in Williams for lunch then it was off to Dogtown Lake for the afternoon. We were greeted by an early afternoon rain storm but once that passed we tried our luck here. The fishing wasn't all that great in terms of quality fish but the afternoon temps and sunset made up for all that.

We woke early and hit upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff on Sunday morning and were treated to beautiful skies and favorable conditions. This was the first time I had been to this lake... and I already cannot wait until the next opportunity comes to head back out there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

July Sales Report (2008)

A British pop band from the 80's named 'Bananarama' had a song titled 'Cruel Summer' (sorry if you know that song and now gets stuck in your head). While I doubt they wrote the lyrics to describe the Kingman housing market, this summer sure has been a bit more cruel than even last year.

Now you will see some numbers pop towards the up direction (average sale price and average sale price per square foot), but overall I still tend to think that July was a poor performing month. The biggest surprise that I noticed was that foreclosure sales were down as compared to the previous month (but I will include the foreclosure data at the end of this report).

Oh yeah... disclosure time...

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.

Listings and sales in units chart:

New listings out pace sales in July by over two and a half times. Not so good.

Average listings and sales averages chart:

In July, we saw three sales that closed with prices over $400,000 (there were none in June) so I'm sure that is where the spike in average price occurred.

2005 through 2008 unit sales chart:

The last three months of July are a bit bunched, perhaps making this level 'normal'. Still... we are off from last years pace and if this is the hot selling season then this year will no doubt finish below last year in terms of production. If it wasn't for the high inventory of available listings it would be easier to accept the new level of 'normal' production.

2005 through 2008 average price chart:

The limited amount of sales in July allowed for a few higher priced sales to affect the average price higher than it might likely be. The monthly figures for average sales has been very inconsistent this year and last year as compared to 2005 and 2006.

2005 through 2008 median price chart:

Median price for July 2008 fell 11.05% as compared to the previous July.

The price range for units sold in July was from $71,675 through $490,000.

Average SFR statistics:

The average home sold in July had 3.14 bedrooms, 2.2 bathrooms, a 2.16 car garage, included 1,665 square feet of living space, and was built in 1997. The average hold sold for an average of $115 per square foot of living space.

It took an average of 129 days of marketing to attract a buyer to come to an agreement and a total of 165 days from the first day of marketing to the close of escrow.

Sellers reduced price $14,152 to attract a buyer on average from the first day of marketing, and conceded another $12,160 to the buyer in the transaction. The total average price concession for the homes sold in July was $26,312 (12.1% total reduction).

Bonus Charts:

The average price per square foot fell 11.5% as compared to the year before.

Foreclosure Impact:

In terms of units sold, of the 51 sales reported for July -- 10 were listed as foreclosed on (19.6% of units sold).

The price range of foreclosed units sold for July was from $102,000 up to $165,000.

The average price of foreclosed units sold for July was $122,890 (35.7% lower than the overall July figure).

The median price of foreclosed units sold for July was $115,000.

The average foreclosure home sold in July had 3.1 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 1.9 car garage, included 1,499 square feet of living space, and was built in 2000. The average hold sold for an average of $82 per square foot of living space. Owners of foreclosed on homes conceded 15.1% off the initial offering price.

The weekend and the New York Times..

Yeah, I was going to post the sales report from last month over the weekend... but I was invited to escape the heat and head for the higher country for some fishing. It is hard to say no to those types of things. A few bass, trout, and pike later... I have to say I feel pretty good.

Also... over the weekend our little fair area got a pretty nice write up in the NYTimes. A reader emailed me the link yesterday and I bet many of the locals have already seen the article.

Just in case you haven't... here it is. The article appears in the old fashioned hard copy of Sunday's edition on page A-20.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

$7 bucks for a pillow and blanket maybe isn't that bad, I'd pay that to avoid this

Most folks in Kingman are talking about this already, but this might have a chance to make national news. A Kingman resident had rough experience flying back to Vegas recently after visiting family back east. Complete with loud children, witnessing an altercation, and her -- herself -- being removed from the plane in handcuffs when all was said and done.

The Miner covers the whole thing and here is the link. Sure is a different spin on 'flying the friendly skies'.

Lake levels rising??

Earlier this year I posted a couple of different sides of the water issues as they pertain to the Colorado River reservoirs.

First there was this post that included a report by experts that claimed that Lake Mead had half a chance to be all dried up within 20 years.

Then came this post about the very good winter the Rocky Mountains were having and the hopeful expectations that the run off from all the snow would raise Lake Powell perhaps 50 feet or so.

Now comes this report from a couple of days ago about the results of the runoff.

Runoff this year neared 110 percent of the long-term average, enough to push Powell's water levels to their highest since August 2002.

It is now 63 percent full, still 67 feet below the full mark.

Under the new operating guidelines, when Lake Powell reaches target levels, the bureau will release water into Lake Mead until it reaches its own target. The process is called equalization, and it is meant to share the benefits of the river's flow.

Bureau officials expect Lake Mead to reach its target level this fall.

Now I don't know what the 'target' level is for Lake Mead... and I doubt that it means we'll see the lake fill back up to the water line again in the photo below...

... but I'll take the good news for the lakes. New fishing spots hopefully.

(Hat tip to Mr. Chambers for sharing this article on the Topix board)

Links to read

Believe it or not... I'm not the only one writing posts on blogs in this whole wide world. I always find good stuff and should be sharing a bit more. I find two goodies today and link them below.

The first one is on whether or not the real estate market is bottoming out or not. Plenty of good local information from Napa Valley real estate. See it here at Napa Valley Address. This was actually written a few weeks ago but it endures.

The other post is about blame and makes an interesting comparison to baseball. You'll find the article here at BloodhoundBlog. Be sure to read the comments as well... good stuff.

Meanwhile... I'm working on the sales reports for last month. Hope to have that up either tomorrow or over the weekend. Preview... the numbers are less than they were last year.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Realtor fees are always negotiable...

I get referred to as an 'Evil 6%er' at times. This term is usually used by a person that reads anti-real estate industry blogs that like to point the finger and blame anyone or anything for everything they perceive as the reason for something negative. There is no need or reason to argue with the folks that frequent those sites and then mimic what they read... as most don't have a reason or a need to buy or sell property in the first place.

I'll admit that I will catch up with a few anti-real estate industry blogs at times, I find them a good source of laughter for the most part. I've even posted comments at times on a few of the blogs, but some my comments do not make it through to the blog because I bluntly write such horrible things as "all Realtor fees are always negotiable"... and that kind of ruins the fun for the blog's author.

Well today... this 'Evil 6%er' is once again highlighting the fact that fees are negotiable. Below is a link to an article from MarketWatch. I ask that you read the whole thing. Plenty of info, and plenty of useful info for anyone thinking of buyer or selling in the current market... especially as it pertains to any chosen professional relationship one may enter into with a real estate practicioner.

Haggle on real-estate commissions.


Monday, August 04, 2008

A guest post

About a month ago I received an email from a woman named Sarah Scrafford asking if she could post an article here on this blog. She writes articles for a luxury home website and wanted to guest post here to increase her writing profile. I'm happy to oblige Ms. Scrafford on her request and I've copied the article she has written below.

Playing Favorites -- How to Make the Final Buy Decision

You’ve saved enough for the down payment, you’ve lined up a lender for the mortgage and you’ve shortlisted a few homes that suit your needs. House hunting is fun, but not if you can’t seem to make up your mind about which home is perfect for you. As you oscillate between one, the other and the rest, other people may walk away with what may have been the best choice for you. Delay may cost you dear, not just when you lose a prospective home to another buyer, but also when one appreciates to beyond your allocated budget. If you’re unable to make up your mind about which home to put your money on, here are a few pointers to help you reach a final decision:

· Neighborhood Niceties: A good neighborhood that’s safe and crime-free with respectable families is worth every penny you’re paying for that new home. It’s an added bonus if you’re within a stone’s throw of good schools, shopping districts and parks.

· Future Factors: Unlike other major purchases, a home is an investment and not just an expense. So when you buy your house, make sure it’s in an area where prices are bound to go up. Appreciation is good, even if you’re not planning to ever move out. When the value of your home goes up, you can use it to finance a second mortgage or take out a home equity line of credit.

· Compare and Contrast: Look around at the houses surrounding your prospective home and size up what your neighbors have in relation to you. This is not a case of the keeping up with the Joneses, but just a measure of how you can value your home when compared to the rest of the homes in your neighborhood. If your house is larger than most, it’s not going to fetch a higher price than the other houses on the block because neighborhood rates dictate the sale price of a house. In this situation, a house of a similar size in another neighborhood with houses bigger than or equal to yours would be a better option.

· Commute Considerations: Traveling to and from the office or your place of work is something you have to do on a daily basis at least five times a week. So it makes sense to choose a home that’s closest to where you work, all other factors being equal. You’ll save a huge amount on your gas expenditure besides being able to cut your commuting time considerably.

· Pros and Cons: Make a list of all the features that you desire in a house and another list of all that you absolutely do not want. Then visit each house and make a list of all its pros and cons. Compare all your lists with the master-list and choose the house that offers the most advantages.

Buying a home is a significant decision and one that’s important to the general wellbeing and satisfaction of your family. Home is where the heart is, so make sure your heart makes the right decision when it’s time to buy.


This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of luxury homes for sale. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

Thank you Sarah for your article, I hope the readers enjoy it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

July Listings Report (2008)

A day late?? Yep. A dollar short?? Always.

The listing and pending numbers have slipped a bit in the 'bad' direction (inventory up and new pending contracts down a bit)... adding the foreclosure data last month gave the opportunity to break down the data a bit differently to see just how much of an impact these kinds of listings are having on the local market. In just the second month of mining foreclosure data you will see in this report dramatic changes.

Of course before we get to that... the disclaimer...

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.


As of August 1, total listings available for single family residence equals 613 (back up from 594 on July 1). The total number of units that are listed as 'foreclosure' listings is 75. The rate of new listings taken per day in July was 4.2. Compared to last years total listings available on the market are down by 18.4%.

There were 130 new listings taken in July (up as compared to 109 in June). The total number of units listed as 'foreclosure' listings for July was 39. The average asking price for the new listings is $204,452 (down from last months $206,556). The median asking price is $165,000 (up a bit from $156,400 previously). Newly listed units are down just one unit from last year and the average initial offering price dropped 17.5% as compared to July of 2007.

The average newly listed home in July has 3.21 bedrooms, 2.2 baths, a 2 car garage, with 1,716 square feet of living space and was built in 1994. The average asking price per square foot of living space is $119. Lastly, 38 of the new listings were actually re-listed either by the same or different broker. 15 units listed last month are already under contract and of those none closed in July.

The original price of new listings last month was from $39,900 through $795,000.

Units under contract:

As of August 1 there are 88 total units under contract (down a couple compared to the number of 90 last month). Of these, 38 were listed as 'foreclosure' sales.

50 units entered into contracts in the month of July (down a few from the 53 the previous month). Of these, 27 units were listed as 'foreclosure' sales. The average asking price for homes that received contracts was $157,439 (down quite a bit from $190,165 last month) and the median asking price for July was $130,000 (down from the previous months $152,450 figure). Units entering contract are actually up from July of 2007 by one unit and the average marketing price is down 23%.

The average home that went under contract in July has 3.14 bedrooms, 2.1 baths, a 2.0 car garage, with 1,596 square feet of living space, and was built in 1994. The average asking price per square foot of living space for listings that entered contract in July was $97. It was also priced $14,256 higher when it first was listed as compared to its current asking price (the average price reduction was $13,972 last month). The average marketing time to reach a contract was 87 days (from 90 last month).

The advertised price of units that entered contract was from $39,000 through $380,000.


Inventory shot back up over 600 units again, but when you look closer at the possible reasons it is not a surprise. The 're-listed' new listings were up 21 units and the foreclosed listings were up 11 units as compared to the previous month. A noticeable change.

New contracts seem to be remaining steady so far this summer but the foreclosed listings have the momentum and are seeing much more action. This no doubt is leading to the downward pressure on price. I'm hearing through the 'grapevine' that some listings are getting multiple offers and that could be true for the most aggressively priced homes on the market. I have not actually had a multiple offer situation as of yet so I can't validate things heard from other professionals. However, it does seem logical that buyers will respond to what appears to them as being a 'good deal' in terms of price. The homes getting contracts are doing so in less time on average over the last few months.

Price is still the main factor (shocking as it may seem). Supply... meet demand... uh... demand... where did you go??

I suspect that total sales will be lower than they were last year at this time, I'll know for sure when I run the numbers sometime next week.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Delay on the listings report

My schedule won't allow me the time to present the report today, so please check back again tomorrow in the am hours and I'll have that thing lined up and ready.

Quick peek... not good news. Inventory numbers appear to be up, listing numbers up... while pending sales are down.