Friday, March 31, 2006

Blame the Media

A few of the Realtors of that I have spoken to are both cognizant and dismissive of the real estate bubble and have suggested that the media is at least partially to blame for the bubble talk. (Likely instead of all the open house signs on seemingly every corner for the past 12 Sunday.)

From Business Week


“Some of these realtors I spoke to were looking to blame the inevitable cyclical nature of real estate on something. Many of them are coming off their best year ever in the residential real estate business, but they seem to have forgotten that like stocks, real estate goes up and down. When business gets tough, that’s when it is time to start thinking out of the box and get creative.”

Full article…

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mortgage Rates Moving Up

The bond market had been cooperating nicely the past few days if you are a real estate bear. The yield on the 10 year treasury has moved above 4.8%, which should result in higher mortgage rates by next week. The higher yields seem to be due to the new view that Fed Chairman Bernake is not an inflation dove and that he will continue to raise rates even if it means tanking the housing market. Also helping matters is the strength of the economies of other countries, in particular Japan. The general idea is that interest rates will continue to rise in the US as long as the Japanese economy continues to improve. Very simply, as the economy in Japan improves, interest rates there go higher and more money is invested in Japanese bonds. In order to keep too much money from flowing to Japan, US interest rates have to move higher in order to compete with the higher Japanese rates.

Bell Labs About to be Sold

The Bell Labs property in Holmdel is about to be sold. I would guess that it is probably one of the biggest privately owned pieces of property in Monmouth County. The buyer of the property does not seem to have any concrete plans as to what to build there, but I’m sure it will include residential homes eventually.

“The long-anticipated hammer may be about to fall on Lucent's sprawling Bell Laboratories Research and Development facility in Holmdel.

The 472-acre property and the 2 million-square-foot office and laboratory structure, a staple of Holmdel's landscape for more than four decades, has gone under contract with a Pennsylvania development firm, initiating a six-week due diligence process, John Skalko, a spokesman for Lucent Technologies, said on Thursday, just hours after employees were notified. “


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Eastern Monmouth MLS up to 3,509

Last week the number of houses for sale on the MLS for eastern Monmouth County was 3,434. The number of houses for sale in the area broke the 3,500 mark this week.

Now that there are so many “For Sale” signs and open house balloons on the weekends, I think that even the most sheltered and clueless Monmouth and Ocean County citizens might be starting to realize that something is going on in the housing market. Most people at the Shore do not read this blog, or others like it, and I bet very few pay attention to mainstream media reports about the housing bubble. However, even if the uninformed made it a point to not pay attention to all of the housing news and “boring” stories about some guy named Bernake raising interest rates, they still most likely see many more for sale signs driving to the mall or the Shoprite now compared to only a few months ago. In short, I bet more than one person, who could have cared less only three months ago, is probably thinking to themselves; “why are so many houses for sale?”

The Danger Years

This article points out the delinquency rates on mortgages typically peak in the third or fourth year of the loan.

NEW YORK ( - Millions of mortgage borrowers are entering their "danger years," when delinquencies peak and owners risk losing their homes.

Although borrowers are often told that the first year is the hardest, delinquencies have historically reached their highest points during the third and fourth years of mortgages, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
"As a mortgage ages, things can go wrong," he says.

There are a few forces at play: After years of strained budgets, borrowers may have little in savings to draw on to handle a crisis; this is also the period when major repairs begin to crop up; finally, many home buyers go through life changes, including starting a family.


There are Still Some House Hunters

I am not in the market for a new house in today’s market, but I know some people who are. Setting aside all of the reasons I have not to buy a house, its interesting to hear what these potential buyers have to say about the current market. In general, I think the potential buyers I know are borderline angry between a house’s on-line or newspaper or Realtor description and the state of the actual house. One buyer said they were pretty incensed when the three bedroom they went to look at turned out to be a two bedroom with a dining room that could be converted into a third bedroom. This example of false advertising seems to be pretty prevalent and is discouraging potential buyers from even bothering to visit additional listings.

My personal favorite example of false advertising is this house in Little Silver. The pictures on the listing clearly suggest that the house has a bulkhead and waterfront views of the Shrewsbury River. I know exactly where this house is and it is not on the river at all and does not have a bulkhead or a view. In fact, as measured by Google Earth in a straight line, the distance between the house and the bulkhead is 1/5th of a mile or about 1,000 feet.

Maybe Rates Go to 6%

The strategist at Brown Brothers thinks the fed funds rate could go to above 5.5%.

From the Dow Jones Wire

“How about 6%? By not changing its forward-looking language, the Fed signaled that it remains committed to raising rates by 25 basis points at each policy meeting for the near future, says strategist Andrew Burkly at Brown Brothers Harriman. "Although the fixed-income markets are still pricing in a cyclical peak of roughly 5% for fed funds, we continue to expect the peak level will be between 5½% and 6%." The bottom line is that "data-dependent" means the Fed will continue to raise rates until the data gives a compelling reason not to, Burkly says.”

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Eastern Monmouth MLS Inventory Chart

Inventories are growing nicely going into the "busy" spring selling season.

KB Buyer Cold Feet

This is an interesting article about KB Home cancellations.


"But overall orders for KB Home dropped 16 percent. The company's domestic orders fell 12 percent, paced by slides of 30 percent in the Southwest, 25 percent in the West, and 10 percent in the Central region. The declines were heavily driven by order cancellations, which grew from 25 percent last year to 32 percent.

On one level, the cancellation rate can be viewed without alarm. It's actually closer to normal levels than the year-earlier figures. But it does support the notion that housing in general is moving away from the boom conditions that have been powering company financial performance and homebuilder share prices. Also, KB Home acknowledged that cancellations usually result from a buyer's inability to get financing but lately it's occurring among buyers who do qualify but get cold feet."

Full article...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

No Parking in Red Bank

Danny Murphy of Danny's Steak House weighs in on the lack of parking in Red Bank. He is absolutely right about how the lack of parking, or the fear of getting towed if you do find a spot, causes shoppers to go elsewhere. You know where it's free to park and you won't get towed, The Grove, two miles south of Broad Street.

"As I drove through Red Bank yesterday I counted the number of empty stores on Broad Street and West Front Street. I stopped counting at thirteen and had not gone done Monmouth Street or the side streets. The thought crossed my mind that we were going done the same road we went down over twelve years ago when we were “Dead Bank.” The reasons for the stores being empty maybe different then they were years ago but the coming results could be the same."

Full article...

"I know a pretty little place in Southern California...

...down San Diego way."

Here are some observations from California.


"The Hopebuilder, Lennar, had a booth on the tournament site. I stopped by out of curiosity (it doesn�t hurt that it was manned by an attractive woman) to pick up the brochure. She informed me that if you buy a Lennar home within the next two months and produce your ticket stub you will get a $5,000 discount on top of any other promotion. She gave me a coupon for the discount in case I lose my stub. Basically, one can produce any of the 200,000 or so tickets sold to get the discount. On the map of �Lennar Communities� being built in the Valley I counted 17 sites. There are many more national Hopebuilders and even more local developers. Just last year, I read that the ground was broken on a planned community (a small city in N. Palm Springs to house thousands), I believe by a local developer. The increased supply will continue, even as the demand plummets, for at least a year, or two."


Eastern Monmouth MLS at 3434

Last week there were 3373 homes listed for sale on the MLS for eastern Monmouth County. Unless the number of new home sales are even worse than they appear, I think the inventory number will peak in about a week or two just from seasonal effects alone. However, the spring selling season is clearly going to be short lived and we are probably going to head into the slow summer months with record numbers of homes for sale.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March Cold Holds off Spring Selling Season

The weather in Jersey this week is miserable. It’s been colder for the past four days than any four consecutive days we had in January. I don’t know if it’s the cold, or the traffic on this board or the real estate market in general, but I’m sensing that the “busy” spring selling season is not materializing. I get the feeling, mainly from talking to friends that are interested in buying, and a few Realtors, that houses are so mis-priced to the high side that it is not even worth the trouble to attend an open house or scan the MLS system for deals. I think that many prospective buyers have decided that they are not going to spend this spring and summer fretting about finding a good deal and will wait until next fall, at the earliest, to start looking again. There does not seem to be any urgency to buying a house since there are so many available, and it seems like even the topic of real estate is a little stale.

We’re Going to 5.25% by the Summer

Today’s big news was Ben Bernanke’s indication that the Fed will continue to increase rates since there is little chance of a recession.

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time in nine days after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke indicated interest rates will continue to increase and a measure of inflation rose more than expected.

Two-year note yields surged above those of longer-maturity debt as traders raised bets on the number of times the central bank will lift borrowing costs after Bernanke said low long-term yields aren't a sign of a slowing economy like in the past. A government report today showed wholesale prices excluding food and energy rose in February.

``We're a little bit more bearish than what's built into the market,'' said Donald Ellenberger, who oversees about $5 billion as co-head of government and mortgage-backed securities at Federated Investors Inc. in Pittsburgh. He said there is a ``decent probability'' the Fed increases its target rate to 5.25 percent from 4.5 percent now.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Perks Don't Show up in Median Prices

One of the frustrations of real estate bears has been the lack of price moves to the downside, despite the huge increase in supply. Many have pointed out though that ugrades and incentives do not show up in the final price paid for a house. For example,when a seller has to throw in a $4,000 plasma TV to close a sale, the value of that TV is not subtracted from the the final sales price that is reported to the county.

"Home buyers across the U.S., take heart: 2006 is shaping up to be your year.

As the real estate cycle gets put on cool, the balance of power is shifting from the seller’s corner to the buyer’s. And homebuilders are responding with plenty of perks, especially in areas like Las Vegas and San Diego, where there is a lot of new home construction and where there is not much diversity in what is being offered, said Nicole McAllister, director of development, for the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California.

“Buyers ought to do alright this year,” agreed Stephen Melman, director of economic services at National Association of Home Builders, a Washington, D.C. trade group which surveys developers on the use of incentives."

Full article...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Greetings from You Know Where

As much as I would like to see housing prices come off their recent highs at the Shore, I would also like to see Asbury retain some of its new found value so that the town doesn’t slide back into its former decrepitness. It would be nice if the boardwalk became a destination again for local Shore residents. The downtown area is actually showing signs of life, years after local businesses, like The Asbury Park Press abandoned the area for the relative rural quietness of western Neptune. USA Today did a story today about the redevelopment of Asbury Park.

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — The past and future collide in this fabled town by the seashore.

Calico-colored pavilions, unused for decades, dot the beachfront. The skeleton of a high-rise condominium tower that once promised progress hovers nearly 20 years later as a symbol of failed development. Boarded-up windows loom where life used to be.

Now there are signs of rebirth.

Asbury Park, the onetime "Jewel of the Jersey Shore" celebrated by Bruce Springsteen's debut album 33 years ago, is slowly emerging from a decades-long decline. The town is putting in high-priced condominiums where abandoned buildings once stood, sprucing up the facades of faded storefronts and rebuilding its storied boardwalk.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lots of Houses for Sale on Long Island

Ask any Realtor in Monmouth or Ocean counties and they will tell you the Jersey Shore is singularly unique and prices will never go down here because the Shore is 1. Close to the cultural attractions of NYC, 2. Close to the beach and 3. Close to Wall Street bonus money. Despite the assertion regarding the Shores uniqueness, the three attributes I described also perfectly describe the attractiveness of much of Connecticut and all of Long Island.

Given the dearth of local media coverage regarding real estate related matters, it’s probably useful to take a look at what is happening in other markets that are similar to the Jersey Shore market. Newsday has an article today that tells us that sales activity in Queens and Long Island is slow and inventories are up substantially year-over-year.


“That stalemate has led residential inventory to climb 67 percent on Long Island and a stunning 82 percent in Queens from February 2005 to February 2006, according to data released yesterday by the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. What's more, the number of home sales is down slightly compared with a year ago.”

Full article….

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

MLS at 3373 this Week

Last week the MLS for Eastern Monmouth County was at 3345. I think we are entering the “busy” selling season. As was pointed out in yesterday’s post that we linked to, the next 60 days will be telling as to what direction the market will head in for the remainder of 2006. Many of the real estate bears, me included, think that sales this spring are going to be lousy and that there is going to be a lot of inventory on the market in the seasonally slow summer months. At that time, people who have to sell will start to drop there asking prices more noticeably than they are now and a buyers market might begin to emerge.

Monmouth Foreclosure Data

The Monmouth County Sheriff makes public new foreclosure information every Friday. When I first started this blog last year I looked at the foreclosure list every Friday to try to discern a trend but did not notice anything special. I occasionally check the foreclosure data now and then but I still don’t see a substantive increase or decreases in foreclosures in Monmouth County. Moreover, I’m not exactly sure if I am analyzing the data correctly since I think I could be double counting. In any event, if you know anything about foreclosures and the terminology take a look at the Monmouth Foreclosure data and see if there is a better way to track this information so that it is meaningful.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Next 60 Days

This is an interesting article from Prudent Bear.

As reports dribble in about real estate pricing weakness in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, Orlando, New York and even San Diego, Silicon Valley scoffs. Local home owners insist no such weakness is apparent in Silicon Valley. Except for a "meaningless," and strictly "seasonal," decline in unit volume (see, "Test of the High,", which will quickly be reversed in the next 60 days (aka "spring selling season").

Full article...

Monday, March 13, 2006

I’ll Decide when its a Buyer’s Market

The real estate industry seems to have a number of buzzwords and clichés for the state of the current market. Although few Realtors will admit that prices have stagnated, many are quick to point out that the market has switched from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. In the context of the 5 year boom in housing prices, the contention that all of a sudden, the market now favors buyers is idiotic. At best, prices in most areas of the country have been flat to slightly down for only about six months, maybe nine months at the most. This is a good start for buyers, however, until prices start to noticeably trend down, I would not call this a buyers market. In my opinion, a more favorable buyer’s market will be noticeable when the price comparisons are down at least 10% year-over-year, which I don’t expect to happen until the third quarter of 2006 at the earliest. However, even if the price declines are noticeable, it should be up to the buyer to decide if it’s a buyers market and not the opinion of an addled Realtor desperate for a sale.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Too Wet For Open Houses - Where are all the Signs?

It rained pretty hard today at the Shore and it did not look like there were as many open houses going on this week as last week. Unfortuneately, I didn't get a chance to go to any open houses today. However, I was sort of interested in going into an open house in the new Bluffs development along Ocean Avenue in Long Branch. (These are the townhomes that were built on property siezed under eminent domain rules.) I did not see any open house signs there and I noticed something kind of strange to me. There were no for sale signs around the development either. This is strange because the MLS system has a ton of condos in this development as listed for sale. Moreover, there used to be a number of for sale signs. In any event, I would not be surprised if the owners of the properties up for sale reached an agreement to limit the amount of advertising they do so that the development doesn't look like it is owned by a bunch of speculators.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

McMansion Flipping in Sea Bright

A reader pointed out that there are now 6 super-luxury Kara Homes for sale in Sea Bright. These brand new houses were built on the site of the old Tradewinds Beach Club. (You can see the ad at the Kara Homes Website Here.)

There will eventually be only 20 homes here, so its pretty interesting to see so many houses already up for sale. I don't even think all 20 homes have been built yet.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Median Sales Price

This chart shows the quarterly median sales prices for houses in the Monmouth / Ocean area according to the NJAR. The original data points can be found here,

Eastern Monmouth MLS at 3345

Last week the count was 3282. Each week we take a look at the number of homes for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for eastern Monmouth County. The number of listings has been growing steadily since about mid-January. I think we are seeing real signs that housing sales and prices peaked sometime in the second half of 2005. As we enter the “busy” Spring selling season, we should begin to see signs of lower prices as buyers decide to stay on the sidelines and the first of the most over leveraged speculators begin to list their investments to sell.

Shore Squeeze


["Our property values are increasing about 2 percent per month," Troiano, Wildwood's mayor, said in September. People see "for sale" signs everywhere when they visit Wildwood and think the homes aren't selling, he said. "They are selling," he said. "What people are doing is flipping them. This is crazy."

Troiano said Friday that "sales have slowed down a bit" in the last month or so, but not as much as in other towns around Wildwood, where home prices are higher.

"We're going through a bubble like other places," said Wildwood Crest Mayor Carl Groon, whose town's median home prices jumped 137 percent, to $315,000, from 1998 to 2004.

Joseph Hoey, president of Weichert Realtors/Hoey Group, which has four offices and 125 real estate agents in Cape May County, says the market has cooled. There have been "some minor drops in prices of new construction," but that was because people had inflated prices, Hoey said. "It's self-adjusting right now."

Hoey says he does not believe that the market will crash as it did in the early 1990s, and he is opening another real estate office, in Cape May Court House.]


Realtor Radio Commercial

I was listening to WABC radio yesterday and heard a commercial that touted the high ethical standard of Realtors, which was paid for by the National Association of Realtors. The commercial briefly describes all of the positive attributes of Realtors and noted that they must pass an ethics course if they wanted to use the Realtor designation. I would characterize the commercial as defensive. Given some of the comments on this blog and others about dealings with some Realtors, it looks to me like the NAR is trying to head off the upcoming public relations debacle when the real estate market cracks later in the year.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Treasury Action Points to Higher Mortgage Rates

Over the past few trading days, yields on 10 T-bonds have started to move higher and hit 4.72% today, which was the highest intra-day yield since June 2004.

NEW YORK ( - Bond prices slipped Monday as investors digested another installment of economic data, pushing the yield on the benchmark note to its highest level in over a year-and-a-half.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 10/32 to 98-09/32, pushing its yield to 4.72 percent, its highest level since June 2004, and up from 4.69 percent late Friday.

The 30-year bond tumbled 24/32 to 96-20/32, yielding 4.71 percent, up from 4.66 the previous session. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The five-year note declined 4/32 to yield 4.74 percent, and the two-year note was relatively unchanged, yielding 4.76 percent.


NY Times Real Estate Issue

The NY Times Magazine covered a lot of real estate over the weekend. I'm sure that many Shore residents had a chance to read some of the articles, but if you didn't here is a link.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Movie Scene Trivia Time

Name the '80s movie this scene came from.

Hint: If you have extracted all of the equity out your house, and recently bought a 28 foot boat and but actually only bring home $60,000 from your job as a Realtor, you may see this type of professional, played by Emilio Estevez in this picture, this summer.

Any Open House Observations?

I went to a few open houses over the weekend. There were definately a ton of open houses to choose from down the Shore. Here are a few observations.

-Of the five open houses I attended, 2 of the owners were Realtors trying to sell their investment properties. (I always like to see Realtors doubling down. When the commision dollars dry up because of a lack of sales activity, there's nothing like having the rest of your net worth in an investment property that won't sell.)

-One seller was a family that was building a custom house somewhere in Ocean county but still living in their old home. I got the impression from the Realtor that the old house has to be sold pretty quickly or else they would be carrying to mortgages.

-When I asked about nearby comps at another location, the Realtor said a nearby house sold for $xxx (an impressive amount for the neighborhood) back in May 2005. I mentioned May 2005 was a long time ago, but no current comps were forthcoming. Also, there were three other similar houses for sale on the same street.

-Helpful Hint for Realtors. When I say I know the area very well, do not try and shorten driving distance times for me. I know almost exactly how long it takes to get from Lincroft to the ferry in the Highlands. I also know that getting out the Highland's ferry parking lot on a Friday night in the summer will add at least 1/2 hour to whatever other town in Monmouth County you are trying to get to. If you tell me that the new eminent domain condos in Long Branch make for an easy 45 minute commute to NYC, I know you're bull shitting me because it takes 15 minutes to drive to the ferry, and another 40 minutes (minimum) on the boat.

Friday, March 03, 2006

“Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty

And meet me tonight in Atlantic City”

The NY Times has an extensive article today about the real estate market in Atlantic City. It looks like the appeal of Atlantic City is that it is cheap relative to the other shore towns up and down the beach since there are many parts of AC that would rival Camden in decrepit ness. The article didn’t specifically mention that condos were being bought by “investors” however; I would imagine some of the demand in AC has been investor related. Many real estate investors seem to confuse affordability with value. They think that since an area is affordable, it must posses some untapped value, sort of like when amateurs by the stock of bankrupt companies because that can acquire 50,000 shares for $500, even though the value of the stock is close to zero.

“THE view outward from Brett Wartenberg's 20th-floor luxury condominium in Atlantic City is a thing of beauty, a sweeping panorama of the Atlantic Ocean, the historic Absecon Lighthouse and the shoreline of nearby Brigantine.

But glance straight down, onto the streets of the Southeast Inlet neighborhood, and the majesty fades. Decrepit row houses patched with plywood are scattered among vacant lots; plastic bags of trash slump against them. Pigeons peck on empty Doritos bags and stray cats prowl the deserted streets.

Dr. Wartenberg, 41, a chiropractor whose full-time home is in Medford, N.J., is unfazed. He paid in the $400,000's more than a year ago for his new condo at the Bella, a redevelopment of an existing apartment building. High-floor units in the project are already listed at substantially more than he paid. “


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Conform or Be Cast Out

A Realtor down in North Wildwood wants to advertise that he will charge a 2% commission. He is apparently catching some grief from other Realtors because of his plan. Read the entire story and tell me if this whole thing sounds like price fixing, or collusion or worse on the part of the real estate industry.


“But one local agent is finding that while he's free to reduce his rates, letting potential clients know is a little more difficult.

Donovan Rankin, owner and broker of Coastline Agency in North Wildwood, had his ads, pitching a 2 percent commission plus a reduction fee, rejected by two real estate guides because the pitch was deemed “too controversial.”

“They told us they couldn't run them because other agents would get upset,” Rankin said Tuesday.

The ads, which have appeared in other, non-real estate publications, argue against paying brokers the almost-standard 6 percent commission rate and promise sellers the same access to buyers.

Frank Vogel, publisher of the Wildwood Properties guide, initially accepted Rankin's ad, but then scuttled it after mulling it over with other advertisers.

Vogel told Rankin he couldn't run the ad because he was taking a lot of heat for it.


Who Needs Red Bank if You Have Manhattan?

I though this was an interesting article from Bloomberg. Manhattan has gotten safe enough over the past ten years that it is not a requirement to move to the suburbs once you become a parent. Additionally, higher bonuses on Wall Street have enabled many families to buy bigger apartments reducing the need to move out of the city to find more living space in Lincroft. It seems like this trend could affect the Monmouth County area real estate market over the long term. If moving to Monmouth County is no longer a requirement to raising a family, then I would think that demand in our area, over the long term, might decrease. On the other hand, know one wants to be stuck in the City in the middle of July on a Saturday, so I wonder if the Shore area would eventually revert back to being a mostly seasonal type destination for New Yorkers and Hobokenite’s, like it was at the turn of the 20th Century through WWII.


[``There is a generational shift,'' says Kathleen Gerson, a New York University sociology professor with the Council on Contemporary Families. ``Parents want to blend a child-centered life with an adult-centered life. They see the city as a place to stay rather than to leave.''

Staying Put

The jump in kids under 5 years old is dominated by a 40 percent rise in white children, whose families were once quickest to depart for New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester County and Long Island.

Manhattan's surging pre-school population is outpacing gains in American cities including Philadelphia and Washington, where the number of kids under five grew 7 percent in the same four years. The increase was 8 percent in Boston, 9 percent in Houston and 24 percent in San Francisco. In all five New York City boroughs, the increase was 16 percent.

Parents say they're staying in part because Manhattan is safer, with the crime rate down 71 percent in 2005 from 1990. Murders in the borough plunged to 25 from 124, and burglaries fell to less than 3,000 from 16,000.]

Full article...

How Condo's are Sold in San Diego

Professor Piggington, who covers the real estate bubble in San Diego, linked to this photo montage of an open house type of event for a condo building in San Diego. The marketing effort of these condo's apparently includes hiring attractive models to pose as attractive barely dressed neighbors.

I think there is a business opportunity here. Create a service that provides attractive normal neighbors for people trying to sell their properties. Maybe you can also pay rude, annoying or ugly neighbors to go for a drive when showing a particular house and replace them with the models for a few hours.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More Work for Foreclosure Companies

The Walls Street Journal carried an article today about “Mortgage Field Services” companies and how they are starting to get ready for a surge in foreclosure. Basically, a mortgage field service company is a person or company that a bank hires to secure a property after it has been foreclosed on. The service company goes into a foreclosed house and shuts off the utilities, cleans up any messes and changes the locks on the doors to preserve the value of the foreclosed upon property.

Apparently, according to the article, the housing boom of the past few years resulted in few foreclosures so there was not that much work to do if you were a mortgage field servicer. However, it seems that work is picking up.

[Kevin McFalls, the owner of JKM Mortgage Field Services, Baltimore, where Mr. Seabrease works, says he already has noticed an uptick in business in the Washington and Baltimore areas. Mr. McFalls expects a surge in assignments from lenders over the next few years. Rick Taggard, the owner of a field-services company in Porterville, Calif., agrees: "All of us are just waiting, and when it turns around, it's rags to riches again."]

More… (subscription required)

Eastern Monmouth MLS at 3282

Last week the count was 3229

Inventories continue to climb ahead of the "busy" spring selling season. Inventories had actually been higher all week and reached 3318 on Tuesday but fell back to the 3282 level over night. A couple of the other blogs observed an overnight decrease and some have concluded that the decrease from Tuesday February 28, to Wednesday March 1, was due to expired listings being removed from the MLS at the end of the month. This makes sense and I would expect to see a sharp increase in the first week or so of March as those expired listings are re-listed.