Fire on the mountain, lightning in the air

We had our first grass fire today. Originally I heard Sherman Island out in the Delta, but now they’re saying some other island. There’s a slew of ’em up in the Delta, so who knows. April 11 is sure pretty early to be coming home to this kind of smoke in the air. It’s nice that the weather has taken a turn for the better, should be an awesome weekend in these parts. It was 82 degrees in San Francisco today.

I’m sticking with my current favorite topic, foreclosures. It spawns the spam, but I’ll deal with it so that I can impart some information. The difference between the smart guys and the Bart Simpsons of this world is simply information. Oakland’s City Attorney just filed an action against a guy alleging unfair and predatory business practices. My gut says this is grandstanding. I don’t think the City Attorney has spit. I think this guy walks away with a little muss on his jacket and that’s about it, because I don’t think he crossed the line. I might be wrong, but my gut says this is grandstanding. I think this is up there with Cuomo and the suit against the appraisal company. I don’t think they’re great guys, I just don’t think they did what they’re accused of. Time will tell. I do know that there are some pretty crummy deals going down out there. I saw one a couple of weeks ago. The mother had deeded the house to the son, who proceeded to take out $250k loan and essentially smoke it. Then he never made a payment and the loan on the home, which the mother had lived in for nearly 40 years, was foreclosed by the bank. Now, there isn’t a law called felonious stupidity, but if there were, it would come in to play here. Except the mother is/was/continues to be cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Whacked. Insane in the membrane. She cut holes in the drywall and installed shelves in the frame of the house. She installed medicine cabinets throughout the place and hung things all over the ceiling. It was a virtual fun house. She’s now moved out and the place is being renovated by the bank for sale. As a title officer, I know that the deed to the son is voidable. She may very well have been incompetent when she signed it. If the deed to the son is void, then the mortgage is invalid, title has failed and the crazy old gal gets the place back, plus a fat check for damages. In this case, no one has attacked the title or the foreclosure, but this is one of the most dangerous ones I’ve seen. This deal right here is why you buy title insurance. The $2000 that was paid on this one would reap hundreds of thousands if the title were attacked. Pretty good ROI.

What a fool believes…

I saw this on the Mortgage Cicerone this morning.  It’s actually not an April Fools joke, it’s pretty well thought out.

I was sitting in a bond closing a couple of months ago and the guys were playing with maps.live.com.  Most of them were high powered attorneys and had never seen it.  It’s something their paralegals probably all know about, but they didn’t.  So as the closing was winding down the guys are pulling up their houses and pointing them out to each other.  In bond closings the attorneys are from all over the country.  One guy was from Newport Beach and he was pointing out his house and it’s proximity to Nicolas Cage’s place.  Another was a young gal and she lived in a planned development in Orange County.  Another guy lived around the corner from Warren Buffett.  He told us a story about how he would have his driver take him down on Sunday mornings to pick up the paper, sometimes in his pajamas.  That kind of made him a little Doris Duke-ish to me.  Anyway, if he’s picking up WFB and the like, we’d better be paying attention.  There’s a reason why he’s as wealthy as he is.  And Berkshire Hathaway is trading at $133,400 per share.

I sold a house in downtown Concord in December of 2006.  When I listed it my realtor said “Why would you want to sell now?”  To me the answer was simple.  The market was in decline and if I sold in December 2006, what I picked up next would cost me even less.  As it turned out, I sold a downtown 1253 sq ft. 3/2 in a transitional neighborhood with a pool that was completely remodeled for $555k.  I waited six months and picked up a 1376 sq ft 3/2 in an established neighborhood on a 1/4 acre for $489k and remodeled it for around $25k.  A year earlier this place would have cost me $620k.  I saved on transfer tax, mortgage cost and property taxes.  The answer was “I would sell now because the next place will cost me even less.”  I was right.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

And I feel fine.

mn_home_sales.jpg

Thanks to the Chronicle for the graphic. I thought it was important because of the mild uptick last month. It is my opinion that if the Bay Area real estate market hasn’t hit the bottom, we’ve touched it. One of the real estate blogs (I would quote them if I could remember where I saw it-feel free to ping me and I’ll add your link in right <here>) suggested it was like jumping into a river when you touch the bottom with your feet and a bunch of silt comes up and then you touch it a few more times before you settle enough to know that you’ve touched bottom. Yeah, like that. The worst of this is really over. Yesterday’s Chronicle had a graphic showing the nation and then the Bay Area. We actually ticked up last month. I think we’ll tick down again as we settle in, but I think the worst is over now and the morning sun is shining like a big rubber ball. There’s still going to be big problems in Richmond, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood and Disco Bay, but if you’re kissing the mountain, things are starting to stabilize.

We’ve had some funky weather going on. It’s almost as if we want to have a false spring. It’s really a little early for the trees to be flowering out, although it’s nice to see it. Not so nice on my allergies, but nice to look at. I’m waiting until this weekend and then I’ll be putting my vegetable garden in the ground. I’m hoping it won’t get under 35 after this weekend. It was 35 this morning at my place, but I think that was an aberration rather than the norm.

I got an email from Mark DeSaulnier’s office. It went something like this:

You’re invited to an Environmental Fair

There will be numerous environmental organizations on hand to provide you with tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint, recycle, and conserve water and energy while saving money at the same time. Free compact florescent light bulbs, re-useable shopping bags and other money saving tips will be available.

Saturday, April 5, 2008
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

California State University, East Bay — Concord Campus
4700 Ygnacio Valley Road
Concord, CA 9452

I got on his list by protesting his breed specific ordinance. As the owner of two wonderful Doberman Pinschers, I am opposed to breed specific legislation and in favor of responsible dog ownership. But, I always give credit where credit is due and he’s sponsoring an Environmental Day which happens to be the same time there’s an e-recycling event going on at CSEB. What’s good for the environment is good for our mountain.  I’ve got some e-junk that’s be heading over there that afternoon.  See ya’ll there!