Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Realtors - Yet Another Marketing Scam

Our friends at Realtor.com have taken to adding a new "survey" that pops up when you search on a zipcode and follows with a few questions.

One of the first is whether you are considering purchasing a home. Okay, fair enough.

But then they follow that question with this atrocity:

How would you rate the overall condition of the housing market in the area where you are hoping to purchase a home in next six months? Would you rate it as (please select the rating that best describes the housing market in this area):

  • Very hot (there are very few homes for sale in my price range; house prices are rising very rapidly)

  • Somewhat hot (there is a limited selection of homes in my price range; house prices seem to be rising faster than usual)

  • Stable (there is an adequate supply of homes in my price range, and house prices have been flat or moving up slowly)

  • Cool (there are a lot of homes for sale in my price range, and house prices have been slowly edging down)

  • Very cool (there is an abundance of homes for sale in my price range, and house prices have been dropping)

  • Not sure; I haven't been tracking the housing market that closely

This is horrid marketing at it's deepest and lamest. Notice how the choices all mutually exclude the fact that prices are too high, and that they are dropping just about everywhere. How about adding the following choices, you lying dill-holes?

  • Crappy (there are a lot of homes for sale that WERE in my price range 3 years ago)

  • Sucks to be a Seller (there is an abundance of homes that are expected to enter foreclosure in the next 3 years)

  • Laughable (I am enjoying renting while watching the REIC implode)

  • But My Neighbor Made a Killing (I can't sell my current Mc$hitbox for what my neighbor did in 2005, and I refuse to budge on price)

  • What Was I Thinking? (I bought into the hype over the past 3 years that "real estate always goes UP!", and now I'm stuck with upside-down investment property that I can't unload)

  • Comfortably Numb (there are more houses for sale than I've ever seen in my long life, and I expect to find a bargain as prices drop 30+% over the next couple years)

  • Not Sure (I am about to make one of the biggest financial decisions of my life, so I'm going to hand this job over to some "professionals" who aren't required to even possess a college degree and whose ethics lie somewhere between used-car salesmen and starving hyenas)

Editor's note: It's good to be back - I'm in a "great" mood today, as you can probably tell.


jayz said...

Right on, Jerry. Freakin' bunch of lying dirtbags trying to portray themselves as experts.

Just a bunch of jagoffs who need to be put out to pasture. Their lies will only prolong the pain.

Anonymous said...

I have become...

...comfortably numb

...since 2002


Missie said...

This is one of my favorite posts yet! I love it!

Your Answer options are far more realistic!!

sandi said...

Hilarious, Jerry!

That was like a fresh cup of coffee this morning.

CRAZY G said...

So, I took the dog for a walk the other day, and ended up talking to some guy down the street around the corner so to speak, and commented about the house across the street from him that was for sale by a flipper....
Well, It seems from the data, that the house is "currently" listed for $280K, and the flipper ""PAID $328K .....I commented to the guy about that, and he said 'it must be a mistake'....
More converstion with the guy, and it turns out he is a ""REALTOR""....
SSOOO!!! I gave him some of my thoughts about our current market, and I got the same old trite answers back, that real estate will still be going up.....
He said materials are going up!!!!
I SAID...""""NO THEY ARE NOT"""...They are down 30-40% from 1 1/2 years ago....Then he said labor is going up...."""I SAID, LOOK AROUND...DO YOU SEE ANYBODY WORKING ON THOSE 1/2 COMPLETED HOUSES OVER THERE!!!"""
Then he said...concrete is expensive....and I said YAHH!!! China is using it all...NOT US!!!
I said, housing inventory is the highest it has ever been PERIOD...he cringed!!!! I said debt is the highest it ever been period....he cringed again, and said he had to go!!!!
“Building Materials Holding Corporation, a leading provider of construction services and building materials to professional residential builders and contractors, today reported sales for the fourth quarter of 2006 decreased 26% from the same quarter a year ago.”

“Robert E. Mellor, CEO, stated, ‘Our fourth quarter results reflect the on-going correction of inventory levels which currently overhang the housing market. The rapid deterioration of our markets during the second half of the year has made for a very challenging quarter as homebuilders curtail production while excess inventory is absorbed.’”

OOHH YAH!!! I checked the realtors house online, and it turns out he paid $375K for his house, and has a $300K mortgage on it.....
SSOOO!! ""IF"" the house across the street from him sells for 'less than' $280K....

ft lauderdale said...

yep, and a headline coming soon from the realtors "our survey shows most people want to buy a house and think the market is fine" type garbage.

CRAZY G said...

So, I took the dog for a walk again this A.M., down the same street as my 'realtor' acquaintence...
There were 27 recently constructed houses on that street..With ""ONLY 9"" garbage cans out there, and many, many for sale signs....
Seems the house next door to my realtor acqaintence is for sale/rent also...
SSOO!!! Someone could rent next door to him for $1500/mo....
Let's dice some numbers here 'if' we may......
He's got a $300k mtg @6% [?] = $18,000/yr.....taxes on $375k @ 2.1% = $7500/yr.....HOA dues =$1000/yr....Insurance [?] = $2500/yr...Payment towards principle @ $10,000/yr..
This dude is in @ approx. $3500/mo, and I can park my HUMMER on my drive @ $1500/mo....
And ""REALTORS"" are telling me I'm stupid for not buying ""NOW""....

And ....P.S. ""IF" the flipper across the street sells for $250/280k....I think you'll see brown fecal matter running down his drive way!!!

Anonymous said...

Realtors are just a bunch of silly gooses. Once you understand their quandry and how bad things are for them right now, you can deal with them much more effectively.

crazy g said...


Toll, Centex, Lennar Join `Moron' Speculators in Land Grab Bust

By Bob Ivry

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Brian Tuttle owns so much land that he paid $3.6 million to get rid of 125 acres ready for development in the middle of Florida's Palm Beach County.

``In 2005, I was a brain surgeon, and in 2006, I was a moron,'' said Tuttle, who walked away from his deposit on the land rather than lose even more money buying it and building homes on it. ``The only good news is that I'm not alone.''

The worst housing slump in 16 years made a lot of smart money vanish. D.R. Horton Inc., Pulte Homes Inc., Lennar Corp., Centex Corp. and Toll Brothers Inc., the five biggest U.S. homebuilders, said plummeting land prices cost them a combined $1.47 billion in the fourth quarter.

Builders paid more for land during the boom because home prices were rising, too. They didn't realize speculators were pumping up demand by buying houses to sell quickly. When prices reached a point where speculators quit buying, homebuilders were forced to abandon so much property they helped create a glut that drove down land prices more than 9 percent last year, according to data compiled by New York-based research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc.

``Homebuilders allowed their own enthusiasm for price increases on houses to affect their decisions on what they would pay for land,'' said Mike Inselmann, president of Metrostudy, a real estate research firm in Houston.

The decline in land values reveals the role short-term buyers played in the housing boom, when the median U.S. home price rose to $276,000 last June from $177,000 in February 2001. Industry executives, including Toll Brothers Chief Executive Officer Robert Toll, estimated that about a quarter of their houses were bought by people interested only in flipping them -- buying and selling quickly rather than moving in.

`Dried Up'

Louis Genuario Jr., a regional builder in Alexandria, Virginia, said speculators may have made up about 40 percent of housing customers. In some new condominium complexes in suburban Washington, every buyer was a speculator, Genuario said.

``When land came on the market, you competed against national homebuilders who were flush with money and speculators who were jumping into the market and trying to resell it immediately,'' Genuario said. ``The price was high and the supply became limited. Then the market stopped when you couldn't get people to buy because it exceeded their ability to pay. Now we see land that's been on the market for months.''

These days, the speculators are looking foolish, too. In Florida, where they helped inflate land values as much as 10-fold from 2000 to 2005, prices have dropped by as much as 50 percent.

``The land market has dried up,'' said Alex Barron, an analyst at San Francisco-based JMP Securities LLC. ``Most builders are on the sidelines because they expect prices to go down another 30 percent.''

Florida Market

St. Joe Co., Florida's biggest private landowner, said yesterday the average price per acre of land it sold in the fourth quarter dropped to $1,900 from $4,100 in the third quarter.

Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant in Deerfield Beach, Florida, said land prices in his region will keep falling. He said investors are waiting for prices to hit bottom, probably in the second half of this year.

``It's going to be pretty ugly,'' McCabe said. ``Lots of people will lose money and a lot of paper wealth will be going away.''

Henry George wrote in his 1879 book ``Progress and Poverty'' that land's boom-and-bust cycle is natural because land isn't produced by human labor and prices can be manipulated by owners who are able to delay selling to get higher prices.

Speculators discovered Florida real estate in the 1920s, when the low cost of borrowing and improved transportation made second homes in the warm climate attractive to wealthy Northerners.

Tokyo Palace

At one point, a third of Miami residents were real estate agents, according to economist Jacob Freifeld. Some prospered by selling swampland to unsuspecting speculators. After a hurricane swept through the region, causing property prices to drop, many speculators left the Florida market and sunk their money into the stock market in the years before 1929.

Japan's land prices skyrocketed in the late 1980s, fueled by low interest rates and easy credit. The peak came in 1991, when some Japanese boasted that the land under the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, home of the Japanese emperor, was worth more than the gross domestic product of Canada.

After the bubble burst, Japan was stuck in the mire of a stagnant economy for at least a decade, said Mark Thornton, an economist in Auburn, Alabama, with the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

``Japan in the 1990s tried to prevent the collapse of the bubble, so the correction took much longer,'' Thornton said.

Polo Club

Brian Tuttle's latest deal to go bad was a housing development he planned on the site of the Gulfstream Polo Club in Lake Worth, Florida, on what he calls the largest undeveloped tract in the 40 miles between Boca Raton and Jupiter on the state's Atlantic coast.

Tuttle owns about 100 acres of the land, and he put down a $3.6 million deposit to reserve an additional 125 acres in 2005. If he chose to buy the land, he would pay $310,000 an acre, almost 10 times more than the $33,000 an acre he paid for his first parcel there in 2000. The land represents about 2 percent of his total acreage.

Two years later, land values have fallen by as much as 40 percent. Tuttle said it was impossible for him to make enough on the deal, so he chose to give up the deposit rather than buy the land.

``I'm just this humble guy and I didn't see prices going this low,'' Tuttle said. ``The big guys didn't see it either.''

In the last three months of 2006, the publicly traded homebuilders were forced to write down the value of their land, a practice mandated by accounting rules. When a company expects to lose money on a budget item such as land, it must account for the loss at that time rather than incurring the losses in the future.

Option Costs

Fort Worth, Texas-based D.R. Horton, the biggest U.S. homebuilder, took inventory impairments and land option write- downs of $270.9 million in fiscal 2006, up from the $17.1 million that it claimed during the prior year.

Lennar of Miami, the third-biggest U.S. homebuilder by market value, incurred costs of $494 million for land write-downs and canceled options in the last three months of 2006.

Homebuilders typically buy options to purchase land from landowners like Tuttle. In exchange for paying a percentage up front, builders can decide whether to develop the property without the expense of owning it.

Pulte, the second-biggest homebuilder, wrote down $350 million last quarter on the sliding value of land and deposits it won't exercise.

The unpredictable outlook for land prices is hurting Pulte's ability to plan ahead.

Tighter Rules

``Our earnings visibility going forward remains limited due to rapidly changing market conditions and uncertainty regarding possible future land-related charges,'' CEO Richard Dugas Jr. said in a Jan. 31 statement. ``Given this fluid environment, we aren't in a position at this time to provide full-year guidance for 2007.''

Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers, the biggest U.S. builder of luxury homes, reduced the land it controlled by 19 percent in the second half of 2006.

Centex, a Dallas homebuilder that's the fourth largest in the U.S., disposed of 56 percent of the land it controlled between March and December 2006.

Shares of homebuilders rose 28 percent in the past six months, based on the Standard & Poor's Supercomposite Homebuilders' Index, as investors anticipate a recovery in the housing market later this year.

Florida Widow

Lenders have been less bullish. They've toughened loan requirements and tightened the availability of funds, said John Levy, a real estate investment banker in Richmond, Virginia.

``Six months or a year ago if you wanted to do a development deal on land, all you had to do was walk into any bank and they couldn't do it soon enough,'' Levy said. ``The music on that has stopped incredibly quickly. Now you walk into the bank and they say, `We don't do that.'''

Margie Bushnell is one land speculator who said she's willing to wait to get the price she desires. The 77-year-old widow from Flagler County, Florida, owns a half-acre parcel on Highway A1A in the coastal town of Hammock. The carrying costs are killing her, she said. She's paying property taxes of $4,500, triple what she paid when she made the purchase three years ago.

``It's an extremely lot of money,'' Bushnell said. ``I'm retired and it's hard for me to come up with that.''

Bushnell is offering the land on Craigslist.com, a free on- line advertising site. A year ago, her price was $699,000. Now she's asking $650,000. She said in a half-whisper that the land, zoned mixed commercial and residential, could be had for $595,000. She's ready to wait another year for a buyer at that price.

How much did Bushnell pay for the half-acre in 2004?


CRAZY G said...

Crazy G. ...


He's relieved that you'll be smelling it soon...

YES!!! Boys and girls, the situation is dire, and it will be coming to a neighborhood in your community soon!!!

jayz said...

Totally righteous articles, G.

I had no idea what the deal with raw land was - holy freakin' crap!

CRAZY G said...

Follow Crazy's 'ill-gotten' logic on this one 'if' you may...

The insurance companies have been raising rates, and cancelling policies just to get the hell out of Florida...The politicans have 'boxed' them in with no-cancel rules, denial of increases, etc, etc......
"""NOW"", Citizens Insurance, is supposedly going competitIve [LOL]...
Private insurance companies can't cancel, nor raise rates.....SSOO!!! What are they going to do?????


The private insurance companies will do something ""QUIRKY"", to turn their customers away, so they don't have to cancel, and the customers will walk over to Citizens, and into Harms way!!!!

"IF" Good Neighbor State Farm, put bars on their windows, and and AK-47's in their shooting portals, You'll know it's time to leave the Good Neighbor alone...
And "IF" Allstate, smears fecal matter all over their hands, you'll want to get a 10' pole to shake hands.....

The cure, is going to turn out to be worse than the disease

sandi said...

Hi, does anyone know if the state's new reinsurance plan cover the recent tornado damage? The destruction would certainly qualify as "catastrophic".

CRAZY G said...

The """AMAZING"" conclusion to all this >>>>> "" IS """<<<


You gotta be 'crazy' to pay $500k to buy a house....you gotta be crazy to pay $6000/yr for hurricane insurance, you gotta be crazy to pay $8000/yr in property taxes.....

It's a helluva lot cheaper than me paying for it!!!!

CRAZY G said...


He's going to go on record now, and tell you what's going to happen to them.....

Somebody, is going to come along, with a spray can of paint, and mark it....>>>""MT""<<<
Then, the looting will begin, and you know something.....

""NOBODY"" will stop it, because, the flippers deserve it....
Who you going to call, a flipper???, and tell him to get his house fixed....
The police???....they ain't got time for crap like that!!!!

Park a car on the street, and let it sit there for 6 mos, and come back and see what it looks like, "if" it's still there....


Anonymous said...

"MT" - I like it! And the HOA's will foreclose if the fees aren't paid.

CRAZY G said...

We have a couple of those foreclosed houses here in our community NOW....

I drive past one a couple of times a day.....I can see the pool from the street, and it's a 'nice' shade of slime color....The grass is 'not' tended, and the place is beginning to look a little 'ratty'..

I have NO idea, of how the HOA fees are paid....approx $1000/yr in here.....But, the taxes gotta be running $4000-5000/yr, and you simply cannot avoid those....

I guess when-ever the potential buyers sit down to do the deal, all the numbers will pop out at them.....

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Kim said...

I recently used http://www.naplesrealestateguys.com for my most recent real estate purchase. They are friendly, familiar with all the area and know their stuff! If you are looking for a Florida Realtor then Naples Real Estate is the way to go! I would never go to another realtor again.

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