Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Smart Money Is Betting Against the Fast Money

This article originally appeared in Monday's Wall Street Journal. It basically describes the way hedge funds are playing the anticipated decline in home prices. Also, it partially explains why Wall Street has had such a huge appetite for mortages that often show a larger than average probability of default. In short, the hedge fund manager is able to buy the mortgage and insurance at the same time. When the risks of holding a mortgage that could default can be mitigated by buying insurance, then the true risk of default is not reflected in the price of the mortgage.

NEW YORK -- Bryan Whalen and Ike Spirou have never met. But through the world of modern mortgage finance, their fates are inextricably linked.

Mr. Whalen, who manages a multibillion-dollar mortgage-bond portfolio at Los Angeles-based Metropolitan West Asset Management, stands to gain if Mr. Spirou, a financially stretched homeowner in New York City, reneges on his mortgage loan. That's because Mr. Spirou's $360,000 loan was packaged with thousands of others into a bond, and Mr. Whalen has entered a newfangled derivative contract -- similar to an insurance policy -- that will pay off if enough loans in the bond go bad.

Full article...

Karagjozi Heartbroken

From the Asbury Park Press

TRENTON — Zuhdi Karagjozi, the owner of Kara Homes Inc., said Monday he was "heartbroken" about his company's bankruptcy and asked for relief from his lenders to help the company complete its unfinished homes.

If he secures financing, he pledged to work around the clock to complete the 300 homes that are under sales contracts.

"I care about my home buyers, and I care about my company," Karagjozi said after a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Buyers "knew that I put everything I had into it."

Full article...



Monday, October 30, 2006

Kara Financing Falls Through

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 10/30/06

BY DAVID P. WILLIS AND MICHAEL L. DIAMOND

TRENTON — A bankruptcy court judge today gave permission to Kara Homes to move forward with the sale and closing of nine homes.

Kara had hoped to get permission to restart construction of up to 300 homes, but a lawyer for the troubled home builder said the short-term financing to get the company started again had fallen through.

Full Story...

We have a running commentary going in the comments section with lots of important insight about Chapter 11 bankruptcies provided by SCProfessor. I've bumped this recent post by SCProf from the comments section to the main board because it is pretty interesting and deserves to be read.

"As I'll discuss, the salient points of this article are contained at the end (I've quoted it below). What you are seeing is a common sense approach by the attorney for the unsecured creditors committee. He is smart enough to know that if unsecured creditors are to get anything, time is an adverse factor and you need to sell, sell, and sell before secured creditor claims exceed the value of the collateral (something they likely do with regard to many of the estate assets). Always smart to fight over money than depreciating assets (and with the real estate bubble, KARA's real property holdings clearly fit within the definition of "depreciating").

The idea of a CRO (chief reconstruction officer) is one that I expect Zudi to oppose. As to whether or not he is successful is largely dependent upon whether the "white knight" lender rides off into the sunset. My guess is financing is a dead issue because there were simply no unencumbered assets with which to secure repayment of the new loan. Obviously, given the condition of this debtor with no real assets other than some sort of an ownership interest in affiliates, it certainly wouldn't make sense in the exercise of prudent lending practices to base repayment chances simply on a loan's status as a chapter 11 administrative claim. Clearly once the case is converted, well Chapter 7 administrative claims and secured claims are going to likely gobble up all the assets. Remember all those lenders have promissory notes that contain attorney fee provisions and you can be sure the costs associated with those "more than two dozen lawyers" are going to have to be figured into any sort of solution.

I'm guessing we are only a couple weeks away from a complete meltdown, with construction lenders, mechanics lien claimants, and others piling on with motions for relief from the automatic stay so they can complete their foreclosures. Interesting times, that's for certain.

Take care,

SCProfessor
------------------

A lawyer for the committee of unsecured creditors said he supported the sale of the homes.

"I hope this becomes the platform -- reduce real estate and homes to cash -- and we can debate who gets it later,'' said lawyer Michael D. Sirota of Hackensack..

More than two dozen lawyers representing banks, subcontractors and insurance companies, packed Kaplan's court room for the hearing. Among the other topics they discussed was the appointment of a chief reconstruction officer who would run the daily operations of the company.

4:11 PM"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Amboy Bank Says Everyone Remain Calm

I would find another bank to leave my money with. It sounds like Amboy Bank's officers are not too bright.

"Amboy National Bank, beset by nearly $108 million in potentially bad loans this year from two major real estate borrowers, has a message for its customers:

Everything will be all right.

Amboy officers said last week that their bank — listed as one of the most profitable in the country — will be able to cover any losses on loans made to embattled real estate mogul Solomon Dwek and Kara Homes, a major developer that has filed for bankruptcy.

Old Bridge-based Amboy, which has nine branches in Monmouth County, said it could maintain its fiscal strength by using reserves set aside for bad loans, profits from the privately held bank and, if necessary, the bank's own cash and other holdings."

Full article...


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sales Up, Prices Down

"A barrel of economic news concerning housing hit this week, and none of it points to market decline coming to an end soon. True, new-home sales were up, but that gain came at the expense of prices, which took their biggest tumble in 36 years. Existing-home sales fell for a sixth straight month, and existing-home prices posted back-to-back monthly declines for the first time in 16 years.

But the bad economic news does have a bright side. There is now such worry about housing and what it might mean for overall economic growth that the Federal Reserve was inclined to leave interest rates unchanged for a third consecutive meeting. And that thinking has had a positive effect on long-term mortgage rates, which have remained low by historical standards even as housing declined."

Full article...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"I think we overbuilt the market"



From the New Transcript, a local paper

snip...

[Tucciarone believes Kara Homes' difficulties are rooted in a downturn in the housing market, a market he describes as "super-saturated" with upscale homes.

"I think we overbuilt the market," Tucciarone said. "Once you out-build the market there's no one left to buy the homes. It's not just Kara, I think we overbuilt the state."]

Full article...

Welcome to East Rumson NJ

If Sea Bright merges with Rumson, will they call the town Rumson or Sea Bright or something else? I can imagine Sea Bright property owners would be all for changing the name of their town to Rumson. The jump in properties values in old Sea Bright would be astronomical. I'm surprised Sea Bright never changed its name to East Rumson for that reason alone. Fair Haven could then change its name to West Rumson.


"SEA BRIGHT - Though he is not Charles Dickens, borough resident Andrew Mencinsky has authored a proposal to merge his hometown and its neighbor across the river.

To Mencinsky, the result could bring the best of times to both towns and help alleviate taxing conditions that have created the worst of times in New Jersey.

In Sea Bright, Mencinsky pitched his idea to officials, including Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, during the Borough Council's Oct. 17 meeting."

Full article...


Hipsters Find real Estate

There has been a ton of articles the past few days about the real estate market. I found this one particularly grating.

"October 26, 2006 -- Vintage dresses, asymmetrical haircuts, chunky eyewear, The Shins - just your typical evening in Williamsburg. But instead of Bob Pollard 7-inches or why the new season of "Veronica Mars" sucks, the hot topic on Tuesday was real estate.

Douglas Wagner, president of real-estate firm Benjamin James, was onstage at the Black Betty bar along with attorney Scott Eisenberg and mortgage broker Lee Hamway, as part of the "Homebuying for Hipsters" seminar. The event was conceived by Benjamin James broker Eve Levine, who wants to help the city's creative classes house themselves."


Full article...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

4622 Homes on Eastern Monmouth MLS

Last week there were 4668 homes. Although the number of homes is off from last week, there was a slight uptick in the past two days according to a long-time reader and contributor to the comments section. Here are Lyndsey's observations:

"There's a bit of a bounce today in inventories after a drop of about 2 percent Jersey Shore wide since September's peaks.

Three of the four regions saw an uptick with only W. Mon drop by just 5 listings (from 2727 to 2722 at about 10 a.m.)

No trend off a single day, but if inventory were to start to rise going into November, that would be a very VERY bad sign for the the housing sector of the economy.

Lindsey"

"People are skittish"

From Today's Asbury Park Press

BY DAVID P. WILLIS
BUSINESS WRITER

The bankruptcy of Kara Homes, one of the largest home builders at the Jersey Shore, has more than enough victims: customers, employees and scores of creditors owed millions of dollars.

It has also placed a cloud over the New Jersey home building industry as potential customers wonder just how strong other builders are and if more may be following Kara into bankruptcy court.

"People are skittish," said Carolyn Villani, vice president of sales and marketing at Paramount Homes of Jackson. "People are waiting to see what happens to Kara and what happens to other builders. They are concerned about everyone right now."

On Oct. 5, East Brunswick-based Kara Homes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying the real estate market's slowdown hurt sales and scared off lenders…..

Full story….

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rentals and Reduced Inventories

I drove through Monmouth Beach and Long Branch over the weekend and noticed a number of houses that had been listed over the summer as "For Sale" are now listed "For Sale" and/or "For Rent." One house in particular has been vacant since about July but the asking price is still the same now as in July. It looks like some owners, who are reluctant to cut prices, are going to try to get their asking price next spring and try to offset their negative cash flows with rental income while they wait for the spring "bounce", which I don't think is coming.

Stubborn Sellers

Blogging has been slow the past few days because of problems with the blogger platform.

Also, sorry about the spam in the comment section. I'll try to edit out the extra long posts that are causing the problem. Unfortunately, I'm having problems getting to the editing application because of the spam.




By Patrick Rucker
Reuters
Tuesday, October 24, 2006; 1:34 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At a recent meeting with her Las Vegas real estate firm's 200 agents, Joanne Levy told them they needed to deliver a stark message to clients.

They would tell them that unsold homes are at a record level and sellers need to lower their prices.

Full article...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

CEO's Mom Blames Employees for Kara's Collapse

Have at it.

snip...

[His mother agreed, saying while Zuhdi Karagjozi was very hands-on at construction sites, he didn't pay enough attention to other operations of the company.

"One person can only do so much, and unfortunately a lot of people they hired weren't doing what they should have," Rose Karagjozi said. "They were getting paid high salaries and sitting on their rear ends."

When the housing market turned sour, Zuhdi Karagjozi had trouble making tough choices, she said. He waited until the last minute to cut staff, laying off 110 people two days before his company filed for Chapter 11. He tried to negotiate with banks to keep the company afloat, but refused their demands to relinquish control, she said. ]

Full article...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Slow Sales in Long Branch

We could see that sales were slowing in Long Branch this time last year. The Asbury Park Press apparently just noticed. Although its encouraging to see local coverage, it's too bad that the only experts the APP can find are local Realtors, who are practically required to paint a sunny as picture as possible when talking about local market conditions. I believe at least one Realtor in the article has a property that he/she is trying to flip. What else are they going to say? Now is the worst time to buy.


"BY DAVID P. WILLIS
BUSINESS WRITER

LONG BRANCH — A boom in townhouse and condominium construction has been a vital part of oceanfront redevelopment in the city, but the market here is not immune from the slowdown affecting the rest of the real estate industry.

Attracted by Pier Village, the oceanfront Victorian-style complex of shops and restaurants, builders rushed to put up 225 townhouses and 530 owner-occupied condominiums and rental units in the past five years, according to city Planning Director Carl Turner.

Full article...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"New Jersey weirdness is infinite."

Not real estate related.

Issue 27 of Weird NJ is out.

To hear Mark Moran tell it, New Jersey weirdness is infinite.

["Our files are still overflowing with material that we haven't published yet,'' he said.
"Sometimes it take years for a story to fully come together. Certain tales are just like a fine wine … and we will tell no tale before its time.''

Moran, along with partner Mark Sceurman, has devoted his life to collecting all that is strange and bizarre in the Garden State and putting it in one spot: Weird N.J. Magazine … the 27th volume of which has just been published.]

Full article..

4668 Homes on the MLS for Eastern Monmouth

Inventory is coming down from earlier highs. I would guess that listings are expiring and not getting relisted rather than sales getting done. Some people also seem to prefer to play landlord and are renting their homes rather than selling them. Jersey City and Hoboken is starting to see more of this and rents, which had been strong all year, are, anecdotally, starting to ease.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Kara Tries to Secure New Funding

As a number of people have pointed out in the comments section, Kara is trying to get a new loan for $5 million to pay off people who left deposits with the builder and to fund operations. The company willing to lend Kara additional money is not exactly known for funding bankrupt companies, or solvent companies for that matter. If I were a creditor of Kara, I would not be that encouraged by the latest news.

From the Asbury Park Press

BY MICHAEL L. DIAMOND
BUSINESS WRITER

Kara Homes Inc. says it has lined up $5 million in financing to resume building the homes it has already sold and to reimburse buyers who canceled their contracts before the home builder filed for bankruptcy protection.

The East Brunswick-based builder filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court requesting permission to proceed with the plan. The motion is scheduled to be heard Thursday by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael B. Kaplan.

Full article...

Monday, October 16, 2006

What About Tradewinds and Other Questions?

Did Kara make any money off of its Tradewinds property?

How many Tradewinds properties have been sold?

Were the last few properties sold at a discount?

Does Kara own any unencumbered property?

Does Kara own any options to purchase property?

Has Kara walked away from any options?

How much of an equity cushion did the banks want when Kara bought local property?

Why would Amboy Bank and Magyar Bank take such a big position, relative to the size of their total loan portfolios, with Kara?

Did Kara approach any of the large public homebuilders in the hope they would be bought out?

Are any of Kara's creditors claims being traded? If so, what's the market?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Attention Ex Kara Employees

Some of you have vistited this blog recently and posted various comments in the comments sections. Many of the comments pretty entertaining and appreciated.

As long as you are using this forum to "vent", perhaps you can answer some questions about the local real estate market in general, and how it might have played a part in Kara's recent filing. Specifically,

When did the market turn on Kara (ie. last summer, last spring, etc.)?

Was there a specific development that was especially draing from a cash flow perspective?

Were there a lot of speculators buying Kara homes? If so, what developments saw more than normal speculator activity?

Amboy Bank Should Not Have Been Surprised

If Amboy Bank was surprised, then they really should not be collecting deposits and loaning out other people's money. Real estate prices have been completly detatched from fundamentals since at least 20o4 and there has been plenty of warnings since early 2005 that people and developers were eventually going to have problems making loan payments.


From today's Asbury Park Press


"When Kara Homes filed for bankruptcy this month, Amboy National Bank of Old Bridge was listed as the largest creditor with $58.2 million in loans.

When local real estate mogul Solomon Dwek's $400 million empire was frozen by a judge following charges of bank fraud, Amboy was again the largest creditor — for $49.7 million.

Just as Amboy has been surprised by the loans gone bad, a real estate market in decline could spell financial trouble for other local banks and thrifts that have lent heavily for housing developments and commercial real estate, bank analysts and federal regulators say."

Full article...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wall Street Bonuses, the Beach, It's Different Here

A report from Long Island, where "it's different here" compared to the Jersey Shore.

From Newsday

[The new normal of real estate -- For Sale signs on every block and slipping prices -- is here to stay, at least for a little while.

The median price of a home in Nassau County was $480,000 last month -- 4 percent, or $20,000, lower than a year ago, according to data released Thursday by the Long Island Multiple Listing Service. Suffolk prices, meanwhile, remained virtually flat, with a median of $402,800, less than 1 percent above last year. Queens prices gained 5.8 percent, with a median of $490,000.]

Full article...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Here Comes the Credit Crunch

I guess New Century got a little tired of buying back mortgages put back to it by some clever hedge funds.


"IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- New Century Financial Corporation (NYSE: NEW - News), a real estate investment trust (REIT) and one of the nation's premier mortgage finance companies, today announced the first of a series of additional lending best practices that its operating subsidiaries, New Century Mortgage Corporation and Home123 Corporation, will adopt in order to continue to provide customers with fair and informed access to credit."

Snip...

The changes that the company plans to adopt consist of enhancements to disclosures, controls, product design and underwriting. These changes include:

Tightening underwriting guidelines for its adjustable-rate mortgage
programs for at-risk borrowers. This includes using the fully-indexed
rate minus 1 percent as the qualifying rate for these borrowers.
Full Crunch Measures...

4703 Houses on the MLS for Eastern Monmouth

Inventories were virtually flat with last week. Although I wonder if we inventories in the area have been undercounted all along.


"WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Seven U.S. real estate brokerage firms unfairly blocked some home sellers from their listing service, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday."

Snip...

"The agency settled its complaints against Information and Real Estate Services, LLC of Colorado; Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc., of New Hampshire; Williamsburg Area Association of Realtors, Inc. based in Virginia; Realtors Association of Northeastern Wisconsin, Inc., and Monmouth Country Association of Realtors, Inc. of New Jersey."

Full article...

More Shore Damage than a Hurricane

Kara Homes problems further south.


"STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — Tim and Nancy Rogers thought they had found the perfect second home when they moved into their townhouse in January.

They had researched several different developers and found Kara Homes to be highly reputable.

“Nancy's brother, Bob, bought a home through them three years ago and he had nothing but great things to say about them,” Tim Rogers said.

After shopping around at several different Kara Homes properties in the Stafford Township area, they fell in love with The Landings.

“We wanted to live in a place where we didn't have to mow our own yard and The Landings made the most sense for the dollar,” said Tim Rogers, 57, who is a retired firefighter."



Full article...

Kara Shoul Maybe Fix the Seawall

BRIGHT - On a site along the town's sea wall, 18 of the 20 homes to be constructed at the Tradewinds at Sea Bright development stand proudly.

Whether or not the other two homes that development builder Kara Homes of East Brunswick was to build will be constructed any time soon remains to be seen.

Last Thursday, Oct. 5, the beleaguered Kara Homes filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, according to Patrick Turner, an attorney for the developer, which has constructed homes statewide since 1999.

Full article...

Monday, October 09, 2006

More About Kara

I bet the solvent home builders are almost as mad at Kara as the employees and customers. No matter how much cash and access to credit a big homebuilder might have, the prospective customer is still going wonder if their deposit money is safe. New home customers should ask the big builders to post a performance bond just like businesses and government entities do when they have a big project built by a construction contractor.


Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Kara Homes Inc., the New Jersey builder known for so-called McMansions, filed for bankruptcy after $250,000 discounts failed to lure buyers.

The closely held East Brunswick, New Jersey-based company sought Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Oct. 5, saying it owes $296.84 million to lumber, concrete, electrical, plumbing and woodwork companies while holding $350.18 million in assets, primarily unsold houses and land. One property for sale is the 6,319-square-foot, five-bedroom ``Buckingham'' model with a three-car garage, listed for $1.5 million in Freehold, New Jersey.

Full article...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Burglars Hit Kara Homes

Actually, at this point, the thieves are stealing from a long list of creditors.


"GALLOWAY — Police are looking for thieves who stole enough loot last week to furnish an entire office after burglarizing a work trailer used by troubled home-builder Kara Homes Inc.

After gaining access to the trailer through the front door, without forcing entry, the thieves took a computer, six chairs, two leather couches, a dining room table, a coffee table and a copying machine, said Sgt. Paul Dooner of the township police. Police theorized that two thieves were involved, because of the size of the couches."

Full article...

General Unsecured Creditos

From the Star Ledger

Snip...


"Dozens of Kara customers are in a similar fix. Officials of East Brunswick-based Kara, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization late Thursday night, did not return calls for comment.

But Kara Homes' bankruptcy attorney David Bruck said late Fri day customer deposits would be re turned to homebuyers who decided to cancel their contracts.

"The company plans to reorganize by building out its homes under contract and perhaps selling off some properties in order to re turn to its core business at a more manageable level for these times," Bruck wrote in an e-mail."

Full article....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blame it on the Housing Slump

This story about a furniture store in Brick mentions the slump in housing. Not for nothing, but don't furniture stores in Brick, especially if they are located on highway 9, go out of business pretty much every month? Have you ever driven down route 9 in Howell or Lakewood or near Brick and not seen a "Final Liquidation" sign or a huge "Going out of Business" placard?


I think Mustafa suckered the Asbury Park Press into giving it free advertising.


From the Asbury Park Press

[BY MICHAEL AMSEL
STAFF WRITER

BRICK — Christian Fine Home Furnishings on Chambersbridge Road is closing its doors on Nov. 30, a liquidator for the store said Friday.

The home furnishing store, which has been in business here for 4 1/2 years, is closing because of poor economic conditions, said Hector Mustafa.

"You see a lot of furniture stores like this going out of business these days," Mustafa said. "I guess this may have to do with the housing slump."]

Full article...


Amboy Bank About to get Stiffed Again

According to the Asbury Park Press, Amboy Bank is one of Kara's largest creditors. Amboy recently got stiffed by Solomon Dwek.


"Amboy National Bank has suffered its second blow this year after a home building company filed for bankruptcy Thursday.

Amboy holds $58.2 million in loans with Kara Homes Inc., one of the largest home builders in Monmouth and Ocean counties. According to the bankruptcy filing, it is the largest creditor to Kara Homes.

A bank analyst said the bankruptcy puts Amboy in a difficult financial position, and could be a harbinger of things to come for local and regional banks if the real estate market continues to decline."

Full article...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jersey Shore Becomes Bubble Central - (Temporarily)

The Dow Jones Wire Service carried the Kara bankruptcy news early this morning. (This is the news feed that Wall Street reads.) Kara Homes looks like it is the first large home builder to fail in this cycle and so it seems to be recieving a lot of media attention. In addition, the major bubble blogs are covering the situtaion in full force drawing attention (unwanted attention to some, no doubt) to the Jersey Shore.

What is clearly of concern to followers of the home building industry is that the market seems to have soured so fast, and in an area that is probably not as "frothy" as places like southwest Florida, Vegas or San Diego. I don't doubt that the Kara's predicament is going to be examined pretty closely to see if there are any similarities between their business model and that over the larger public home builders.

In the meantime, see if Kara owes you any money.

Link to Kara Chapter 11 Filing

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kara Home Rumor Substantiated

We posted on Tuesday night that there was extra traffic coming in from people using the search terms on Google "Kara" and "bankruptcy." As it turns out, this was an early hint that Kara was about to file. This morning, the APP confirmed that Kara is about to file for Chapter 11 protection.

From Today's Asbury Park Press

"Some companies have filed documents with the Monmouth County clerk's office, saying that Kara Homes Inc. of East Brunswick -- which anticipates filing for bankruptcy -- has not paid them for work.

For instance, Whitman Construction LLC said that Kara owes $44,326.75 for siding and roofing work done on a project in Sea Bright, according to a Notice of Unpaid Balance and Right to File Lien.

On Sept. 12, H&D Prime Construction Inc. filed a notice that it was owed $146,323 for supplying and installing siding and stucco at Kara at the Tradewinds in Sea Bright."

Full story...


Please see the comment sections for some interesting comments by a former Kara employee.

Here are some more comments from local blog redbankgreen.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

2705 Homes on MLS This Week

Last week the count was 4764.

I think the decrease was mostly due to the normal end of the month data purge. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if inventories decrease slightly as we go into the holidays and then pick up again in January.

Kara Rumor is Still Unsubstantiated

People keep finding my sight using various search terms that contain the words "Kara" and "Filing" or "bankruptcy". In addition, there is an interesting comment in the comment section from someone claiming Kara has already filed as of today.

Despite the apparent added interest in Kara in the last two days, I have yet to see any article in the mainstream press that would say with certitude that the company has filed.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kara Homes Question

Is something going on with Kara Homes?

I ask this because a number of people on my sight today have arrived here by typing into Google "Kara Home bankruptcy."

I'm not saying that they have filed, only that the search term has been used a number of times today.

Must Resist Price Drops

I went to visit a development of a well known publicly traded home builder whose name rhymes with mole mothers over the weekend. What impressed me was the lack of information the sales person was willing to voluntarily disclose. When I asked how many “units” were left, the sales person said he didn’t know. When I asked how many units were going to be built and then asked how many units were actually sold, I was able to use an extremely complex “subtraction” algorithm and deduced that a little less then half of this particular development had been sold.

The more interesting part of my discussion with the salesperson was prices. He said that he would be more than happy to negotiate any sort of upgrade that they had available. Basically, if the upgrade existed, it would be thrown in for free if I bought the place. When I asked why not just drop the price, the sales person said that because this was a Fortune 400 company, its investors do not like to see price reductions. Basically, at this point in the cycle, this builder would rather take a hit to its gross margin then actually lower the asking price.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Even a Dog Could Do It

From the Courier Post

[It's been two years since real estate customers competed furiously to buy houses, scribbling purchase offers and casting them like bouquets at sellers' feet.

Powered by low-interest mortgage rates and huge buyer demand, New Jersey's residential resale values exploded 85 percent over the last five years.

Camden County's statistics are typical. Here, a $110,600 home purchased in 2001 would bring $202,700 today -- an 83 percent increase.

"Two years ago, even my dog could have sold real estate," said Anthony Yula, manager of Budd Realty in Woodbury. "Hang a sign around his neck and get him to bark, and the house would have sold."]

Full article....