Thursday, September 15, 2005

"L.A.'s Housing Market Surges..."??

In an article titled L.A.’s Housing Market Surges, Ignores Gloom (Los Angeles Business Journal - 9/12/2005), Andy Fixmer reports that there are more sales of homes in August 2005 compared to August 2004. It is unclear what this is. However, I do know that there were some extremely large condo projects coming up for sale such as one of the largest on Lincoln and Jefferson in the Playa Del Rey area.

The Artile states:

L.A. homebuyers in August shrugged off increasingly dire warnings of an overheated housing market, driving prices higher while stepping up the pace of purchases.

The median price of an existing single-family home in Los Angeles County in August was $520,000, according to data provided by Melville, N.Y.-based HomeData Corp. That compares with $425,000 for the like period a year earlier and $515,000 in the previous month.

Meanwhile, the number of L.A. County home resales rose to 12,107, a 9.1 percent jump from the 11,094 homes sold in August 2004. August’s sales volume was up nearly one-third from the 9,294 homes that traded hands in July – evidence that despite news reports warning of risky mortgages, overbuilding and speculation, buyers continue to be aggressive.

“People are quite anxious to take advantage of still-low interest rates,” said Stanley Smith, a senior vice president with Sotheby’s International Realty. “At the same time I wouldn’t call it frantic behavior. The appearance of a frenzy is really just a large number of buyers bidding on a limited number of homes for sale.”

Smith noted that interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages continued to hold steady, and even fell compared to where they were last year. “Traditionally this is our slow time,” Smith said. “The fact that there has been this huge strength in the market belies the traditional market trend of slow sales in the summer.”

Assuming a 30-day escrow, most of the home sales that closed in August were based on buying decisions made in July. That’s when an intense period of media coverage was predicting a looming correction. Further, a Credit Suisse First Boston analyst’s report warned that public homebuilders were vulnerable to a bubble and raised concerns of overbuilding and the rising use of risky adjustable-rate loans.

Christopher Thornberg, a senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast, said it will take more than repeated warnings from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and doom-and-gloom media coverage to change people’s behavior.

“Look at the stock market in 2000,” said Thornberg, who has warned of a housing bubble for nearly three years. “Economists were screaming from rooftops about a bubble and it didn’t deter anyone.”

Heating up
While the median home price in L.A. County has shot up by $45,000 since May, some economists and real estate professionals say they can see signs of weakness. For example, the median home price for August rose just $5,000 from July, slightly less than 1 percent.

Mitch Ohlbaum, president of lender Legend Mortgage, said that with so many buyers in the market competing for a limited number of homes, that’s a modest uptick. “You are seeing a lot of increased sales in fringe communities, which is driving up the overall sales numbers,” he said.

There have been other hiccups during the housing boom and economists warn that trends must play out for months before they’re certain. “One month does not a trend make,” Thornberg said. “There’s a certain amount of momentum in any market and that can be part of why prices continue to go up.”

Thornberg also warned that extrapolating data could be useless in a market so sensitive to statistical glitches, such as a sudden drop in mortgage interest rates.

Some of the communities that saw the highest increases in sales volume in August were also among the region’s most expensive neighborhoods.

There was a 95 percent spike in the number homes sold in the Calabasas ZIP code of 91302 during August, when 76 homes traded at a median price of $1.3 million. In Bel-Air’s 90077, 24 homes – a 166 percent increase from a year ago – were sold at a median price of $1.8 million.

Other wealthy enclaves saw the number of homes sold increase sharply, while prices remained flat.

In Beverly Hills’ 90210 ZIP code, 42 homes were sold compared with 19 a year ago, an increase of 121 percent. But the median price of a home in the district remained nearly flat, at $2.4 million.

And in Santa Monica’s 90402, there was a 144 percent jump in the number of homes sold, but the median home price held steady at $2.4 million.

“I think the rate of appreciation for homes has certainly slowed, which is good for everyone,” Smith said. “We don’t want to price everyone of out of the market.”

It may be too late for first-time homebuyers. Many find it difficult to save for a down payment at a rate fast enough to keep pace with rising values. Just as many first time buyers get close to having a traditional 10 percent or 20 percent down payment, home prices rise and they find themselves without enough funds to secure a mortgage.

The California Association of Realtors reported last week that the percentage of L.A. County households able to afford the median-priced home in July stood at 14 percent. That’s down 3 percentage points from the year-ago period and down from 15 percent in June. Statewide, 16 percent of the population has the income necessary to afford the median priced home. Nationwide, the figure stands at 49 percent.

High prices have pushed many local buyers into the market for condominiums and town homes, which tend to be a cheaper alternative. However, values of those properties have also soared.

For August, the median resale price for an L.A. County condominium was $400,000, according to HomeData figures, up from $325,000 in August 2004. Condo resale volume for August rose to 2,768 units from 2,422 units in August 2004 and 2,096 units in July 2005.

Recent California single-family home values have outpaced all previous spikes in the state’s housing prices, said Thornberg. California home values increased 55 percent during the mid-1970s and by 45 percent during the last-1980s. Meanwhile, in the last four years the statewide median home price has increased by more than 80 percent. “It’s completely off the charts right now,” he said.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Alternative resource for people being crushed by debt

I came across some interesting info about an organization based on the 12 step anonymous ideaology that may be of value to people in L.A. who are being hammered by higher costs of living and increased debt.

The primary purpose to to help people recovery from "compulsive debting" and to find serenity. This might also include "cumpulvise saving", which would be kind of like the oppisite of uncontrolable spending or debting. I suppose those people might be similar to the loved ones and family members of an alcoholic. They might be, in essesne, an enabler. Perhaps they are in a co-dependent situation or have developed a co-dependent behaiour in relationship to money by growing up in a home in which there was uncontlled or compulsive debting, caring thier coping mechanism into adult hood.

Also people who have some emotional barriar that keeps them from earning more or having a better quality of life. they speak of how self-esteem can play a part in causing people to over spend or to go into overwhelming debt.

From what I understand this program was first started sometime in the 1960's or 70's in New York by some people that were in "recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. They had become sober in that program but found themselves with problems of debt. Having learned and found recovery from the problems of drinking alcohol, they applied the 12 step concept to this new problem that they faced in thier sobriety.

The program is design like the other 12 step programs in that it based very closely on the 12 steps of AA and thier traditions. that includes having meetings where people can share their "experience, strength, and hope", find a sponsor in the program to help guide them and encourage them in their path of recovery.

Additionally, the Debtors Anonymous added a few things. They do something called "Pressure Relief groups"(AKA PRGs). Those take place in either "mini", "emergency", or in full form. The "mini" or "emergency" PRG's are for short meeting of the person under pressure from some thing, with 2 people(they recommend 1 male and 1 female in PRG's). During that meeting the person shares what is causing the pressure. The people listening, the people listening then comment on what they think about what has been said, with a focus on using the tools they have found through the DA 12 steps and traditions. They will work together to build an "action plan" in addressing what is causing the pressure and how to relieve it using the DA principles in concrete ways.

They also host workshops, that supplement those above things. One example of one of these is have panel discussions, learning about credit, dealing with holiday spending, etc.

The program is free. They do collect donations to cover costs of the meeting space, and to provide literature and help fund the operation of the main organizations offices.

In Sourthern California, the SoCalDA, in addition to maintaining a DA meeting schedule, produces a newsleterr that comes out about once every month or two. That newsletter has a listing of the current meeting schedule in Sourther California. It often includes specail articles written by DA members. It also has contact info for the organization and a list of special events coming up.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Made In The USA

"Made In The USA: Worker Owned Cooperatives" is a 37 minute documentary on Worker owned Cooperative around the United States. It delves into how they started. Why they stated.What it is like to operate one, etc.

Money Masters - How International Bankers Gained Control of America

"Historical documentary that traces the origins of the political power structure that rules our nation and the world today. Nation after nation, including America, has fallen prey to a cabal of international central bankers.

Their vast accumulation of wealth concentrates immense power and despotic economic domination in the hands of the few central bankers "who are able to govern credit and its allotment, for this reason supplying, so to speak, the life-blood to the entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands the very soul of the economy so that no one dare breathe against their will." A worldwide tyranny is gradually being imposed, hidden to most, by THE MONEY MASTERS."

This documentary is hosted at
There is more info, include links to view online or download the documentary "Money Masters - How International Bankers Gained Control Of America" at this link

If you want to view the entire documentary, this link is to an 89 megabyte Windows Media file of it

Once you have seen it, Please post your comments on what you think about it. What things did you find most interesting or liked the most about it?