Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sales Of New Houses Plummet

Sales Of New Houses Plummet: "Sales Of New Houses Plummet
Rate Is Lowest In a Dozen Years

By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2007; D01

New-home sales in November fell 9 percent from the previous month and were down 34 percent from a year earlier, more dismal figures for an industry facing bloated inventory, declining prices and mortgage woes.

'Things remain pretty weak,' said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, a financial publishing group in New Jersey. 'We are still stumbling along in a rough patch. Inventory has to be cleared out.'

The Commerce Department reported yesterday that sales of new single-family houses declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 647,000 in November, compared with 711,000 in October and 987,000 in November 2006. It was the lowest sales rate since April 1995.

The median price of new houses in November was $239,100, up from $229,500 the month before but down from $240,100 a year earlier.

The Commerce Department reported a 9.3-month inventory of unsold new homes in November, up from 8.5 months in October. A six-month inventory is considered a desirable goal.

Industry experts gave little weight to the bump in the median price, saying the figure may not accurately reflect the ongoing price decline."


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tennessee ranks 11th in foreclosures

Tennessee ranks 11th in foreclosures
Nashville Business Journal
The latest foreclosure numbers put Tennessee at No. 11 in the nation, RealtyTrac Inc. says.
The number of properties in some state of foreclosure in November was 3,862 in Tennessee, with one property foreclosed for every 683 households. That's up 7.5 percent from November 2006.

Nevada, Florida and Ohio posted the top foreclosure rates.

Nationwide, foreclosures were up 68 percent from November 2006, but down 10 percent from October. That drop in the past month provides a glimmer of hope that the foreclosure boom might be winding down, RealtyTrac chief executive officer James Saccacio says.

"The 10 percent drop in November is the first double-digit monthly decrease we've seen since April 2006," he says. "This could indicate that foreclosure activity has topped out for the year, but the true test of whether this ceiling will hold will come at the beginning of next year - when we anticipate that a seasonal surge in foreclosure filings and another possible wave of resetting mortgages could place further pressure on the housing market. But, if the trend of flat or decreasing foreclosure activity we've seen over the past three months continues in the first quarter, it would certainly bode well for 2008."

RealtyTrac includes properties that are in default, up for auction or owned by the lender.

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rooker to be New Property Assessor

George Rooker is the only person to qualify to run for Property Assessor in the February Democratic Primary. No one qualified in the Republican Primary so he will win by acclamation.

I was surprised that he did not get a late filing opponent.

Anyway congratulations George

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Blue Dog at Christmas

Sorry Jim I just couldn't resist

Nashville-area home prices rise as sales fall - Nashville, Tennessee - Tuesday, 12/11/07 -

Nashville-area home prices rise as sales fall - Nashville, Tennessee - Tuesday, 12/11/07 -

By GETAHN WARD Staff Writer

"Buyers of Nashville-area homes in November paid a median price nearly 3 percent higher than a year earlier, a rebound from the previous month that observers said reflects the stability of the local market.

The median price of a single-family home — the point at which half sold for more and half for less — rose to $179,900 from $174,900 in November 2006, according to figures released on Monday by the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors.

The gain came despite a 21 percent decline in sales of residential properties and the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year weaker single-family home sales. Inventories of homes on the market also continued to increase.

'It's a pretty good indicator of strength of the market,' said Richard Exton of Manier & Exton, a local real estate appraisal firm. Exton, however, said the median price still could fall in coming months as increased competition leads some sellers to make concessions, although he said results could fluctuate depending on how many sellers pull homes off the market rather than take a lower price.

More than 22,300 properties were on the market at the end of November, up from 17,175 a year earlier."


Friday, December 7, 2007

New York Times - On Mortgage Relief, Who Gains the Most?

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — At least one thing is clear about President Bush’s plan to help people trapped by the mortgage meltdown: it is an industry-led plan, not a government bailout.

Although Mr. Bush unveiled the plan at the White House on Thursday, its terms were set by the mortgage industry and Wall Street firms. The effort is voluntary and it leaves plenty of wiggle room for lenders. Moreover, it would affect only a small number of subprime borrowers.

The plan was the target of criticism from consumer advocates who said its scope was too narrow, and from investment firms, who said it went too far. Others warned that the plan, by letting some stretched homeowners off the hook, could encourage more reckless borrowing in the future.

“The approach announced today is not a silver bullet,” said Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., who hammered out the agreement. “We face a difficult problem for which there is no perfect solution.”

The heart of Mr. Bush’s plan is a cautious attempt to help troubled homeowners by persuading financiers to freeze mortgages at low introductory rates for five years, but without actually forcing the hands of lenders and investors who hold the mortgages.

One of the financial industry’s lead negotiators estimated that at most 20 percent of subprime borrowers whose payments will increase sharply over the next 18 months — 360,000 out of 1.8 million people — would qualify for rapid consideration of a special five-year freeze on interest rates.

The number of people who actually obtain help would be smaller, because each borrower would face tests aimed at weeding out those considered too hopelessly in debt and those who make too much money to justify relief.

In one curious twist, the plan could eliminate many who have good credit scores or managed to improve their credit scores, because the good ratings would be a sign they do not need help.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Home prices start to feel economic pinch - Triangle Business Journal:

Home prices start to feel economic pinch - Nashville Business Journal:

Home prices are rising in most areas of Nashville, but some pockets are taking a hit from high inventory and showing falling prices.

Nine out of 38 ZIP codes in the Nashville area reported price declines in the last six months. The same study a year ago showed only one ZIP code with a price decline, says Jeff Jolly, a Crye-Leike Realtor who did the study.

The ZIP codes that cover Belle Meade and Germantown were the only two areas where sales increased. Those areas had the highest price jump of 27 and 20 percent respectively.
Overall, sales are down 16.6 percent in the six-month time frame.

Agents maintain the numbers show the market is slow, but remains strong when compared to other U.S. cities.

Wealthier buyers in areas such as Belle Meade are less affected by economic downturns, and Germantown has become a hot new spot to live in the downtown area, says Shirley Zeitlin, owner of Zeitlin & Co.

But new homes going up in Germantown which command higher prices and a few high-priced home sales in Belle Meade could have helped bring up the average, says Richard Exton, principal appraiser at Manier & Exton Real Estate Appraisers.

Rural Joelton reported a 9 percent drop, the highest of the 38 areas, and one Franklin ZIP code, 37069 - the most expensive with an average price of $550,300 this year - saw a 3 percent drop in average price from $567,344 last year. MORE

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Deal in the Works To Freeze Rates on Subprime Loans -

Deal in the Works To Freeze Rates on Subprime Loans -

"Mortgage rates for homeowners with spotty credit histories would be temporarily frozen under a nearly completed agreement between top Bush administration officials and a broad alliance of Wall Street's biggest banks, mortgage investors, nonprofits and consumer groups.

The plan, which could be announced next week, is designed to prevent soaring mortgage delinquencies from escalating into a full-blown foreclosure crisis that would threaten the broader economy, according to several people involved in or familiar with the discussions. " MORE

Thursday, November 1, 2007

North to Step Down - Rooker to Run Blogs » Blog Archive » North decides to move on: "by Michael Cass Davidson County Property Assessor Jo Ann North has decided not to seek re-election to a fifth term, she announced today. North, who has held the office since 1992, said she’ll endorse her top deputy, George Rooker, and serve as his campaign treasurer. The election will be held in February. “After consulting with my family, and great deliberation, I decided it was time to turn the reins over to someone else,” North said in a news release. “I can do so with great pride in the accomplishments achieved during my 15 years as assessor and with the knowledge that the office can be placed in good hands with George Rooker Jr. ready to step up and continue the progress.” The release said North implemented “numerous new technologies which have improved the accuracy of property appraisals.” North was the first woman ever elected to countywide office in Davidson County when she won an at-large seat on the Metro Council in 1979. She served in the council until 1991. She is married to Steve North, an attorney and former Circuit Court judge who serves on the Metro Sports Authority. Their son Mark is a member of the Metro school board. This entry was posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2007 at 12:42 pm and "

Friday, October 12, 2007


Why is gas $2.51 at the Home Depot in Smyrna, $2.59 at the Shell in Smyrna and $2.82 at Exxon and BP on Wedgewood and in Green Hills?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

US House Staffers Advised They Need Vaccines before Attending NASCAR Events

Update: The delegation was not attending NASCAR races but visiting health care centers, detention facilities and other operations where they could be exposed to communicable diseases. : Charlotte news, events, Panthers, Bobcats, jobs, cars, homes: "Staff who organized the trips advised the NASCAR-bound aides to get a range of vaccines before attending -- hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza.

Rep. Robin Hayes, a Republican from Concord, took umbrage when he heard about it.

'I have never heard of immunizations for domestic travel, and as the representative for Concord, N.C., I feel compelled to ask why the heck the committee feels that immunizations are needed to travel to my hometown,' Hayes said in an Oct. 5 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the Homeland Security panel.

'I have been to numerous NASCAR races, and the folks who attend these events certainly do not pose any health hazard to congressional staffers or anyone else,' Hayes added. Lauri Wilks, vice president of communications for Speedway Motorsports, which owns Lowe's Motor Speedway and other tracks, said Wednesday that immunizations aren't needed for the race. 'There's no health risk that we know of,' she said, laughing. 'We have never had any disease outbreak during one of our weekends.'"


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What ails you - Homes sales down 25%

The following is the first paragraph sent to members of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors announcing that September 2007 sales were down 25% compared to September 2006.
Greater Nashville home ales [sic]decreased 25% in September, Third quarter
figures are down 17% and year-to-date numbers are down 11%. Home prices have
actually continued to increase, as has inventory. You can click here for additional details on current closings, as well
as historical data.

Now obviously they meant home "sales", but I thought is was almost Freudian that what they were thinking was "ails"

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Home Sales and Prices Fall Sharply - New York Times

Home Sales and Prices Fall Sharply - New York Times:

September 28, 2007
Home Sales and Prices Fall Sharply
Sales of new homes plunged in August to their slowest pace in more than seven years as tighter credit and rising inventories continued to weigh down the housing industry. The grim statistics could foreshadow further economic weakness in the fourth quarter, analysts said.

New-home purchases fell to an annual pace of 795,000, an 8.3 percent decline from July, as the number of months needed to sell off builders’ inventories rose to the highest level since March, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

The median price for a new home was down 7.5 percent from a year earlier, to $225,700, the steepest monthly price drop since December 1970.

The sales figures were released as KB Home, a large Los Angeles builder, reported a $35.6 million loss in its fiscal third quarter, or 46 cents a share, in contrast to a profit of $153.2 million, or $1.90 a share, in the period a year earlier. KB Home had a 32 percent drop in revenue, to $1.54 billion.

The latest data gave a fuller picture of the distress in housing-related industries, where the subprime mortgage crisis has led to turmoil in the broader credit market and to increases in foreclosures. On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors reported a 4.3 percent drop in August in sales of existing homes, and another large home builder, Lennar, recorded the largest quarterly loss in its history.

Last month’s drop-off in new-home sales was focused primarily in the South and the West, areas particularly hurt by subprime-lending problems. The seasonally adjusted pace of new-home sales is now down more than 21 percent from last year." MORE

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Small donors rewrite fundraising handbook - Print View

Small donors rewrite fundraising handbook - : "Small donors rewrite fundraising handbook By: Jeanne Cummings September 26, 2007 09:57 AM EST KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On a table near The Cashew’s upstairs bar, Nicola Heskett is laying out an array of pens and donor information forms as Jason Moehlman strolls in, still sweaty from the muggy evening’s air.

He slaps down a $20 bill to cover the recommended contribution for the Kansas City Lawyers for Barack Obama Happy Hour. “Uh, would you mind using your credit card? I think it’s a little cleaner,” says Heskett, 36, a first-time, small-time bundler for Obama who is helping to rewrite political fundraising playbooks this cycle.

The rise of the baby bundlers — people who ask friends and family to donate for a candidate and then direct the money to the campaign — is adding a face-to-face dimension to tactics used in 2004 to spur an explosion of Internet donations.

The influx of these new players, combined with unorthodox appeals by the candidates, also is fundamentally reshaping the parties’ donor bases."

Economic News 9-26-2007

Durable goods orders fell 4.9% in August to reverse most of July's 6.1% gain. The sharp decline was led by a plunge in civilian aircraft orders. Orders for motor vehicles were also weak. Excluding the transportation sector durable goods orders fell 1.8%, still weak as demand for big ticket items was upset by financial market turmoil and labor market weakness in August. However, unfilled orders have been rising strongly; suggesting capital spending will increase this quarter.

The MBA mortgage applications index fell 2.8% to 654.2% for the week that ended September 21. The purchase index fell 7.3% on the week while refinance application increase 3.3%. The slight uptick in mortgage rates last week dampened purchase activity with many buyers possibly holding off until the Fed rate cuts pass through to longer term rates. Refinancing is holding up because of the high number of mortgagors encountering resets.

The Treasury's auction of $18 billion in 2-year notes was met with strong demand today. The notes received a high yield of 4.000% and garnered a 3.29 bid-to-cover ratio. Indirect bidders, which includes foreign central banks accounted for a strong 36% of the accepted bids. Treasuries reversed early losses after the strong auction results, to end little changed on the day. The 10-year note was up 1/32 to 100-31/32 to yield 4.62%.

Weak economic data today increased the chances of more fed rate cuts this year. Fed funds futures traders are pricing in an 86% chance for a quarter point rate cut in October and are pricing in a 64% chance of one in December. More data on tap this week will continue to shape the interest rate outlook. New home sales and the final print of Q2 GDP are due out Thursday and personal income, which includes a key inflation gauge, construction spending and consumer sentiment, will be out on Friday. The data will likely confirm housing's drag on economic growth and still subdued inflationary pressures.

John Cherry
Parkview One
925 North Point Parkway, Suite 400
Alpharetta, GA 30005

Monday, September 17, 2007 / World - Greenspan alert on US house prices / World - Greenspan alert on US house prices

US house prices are likely to fall significantly from their present levels, Alan Greenspan has told the Financial Times, admitting that there was a bubble in the US housing market.

In an interview ahead of the release on Monday of his widely-anticipated memoirs, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve said the decline in house prices “is going to be larger than most people expect”.

But Mr Greenspan said that his successors at the Fed – who meet on Tuesday to set interest rates – would have to be careful not to ease rates too aggressively, because the risk of an “inflationary resurgence” was greater now than when he was Fed chief.

Mr Greenspan said he would expect “as a minimum, large single-digit” percentage declines in US house prices from peak to trough and added that he would not be surprised if the fall was “in double digits”.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan Blasts Bush

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan "says the Republican party to which he has belonged all his life deserved to lose power last year for forsaking its small-government principles," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Greenspan delivers the withering critique in his memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World."

"In the book, scheduled for public release Monday, Greenspan writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb 'out of control' spending while the Republicans controlled Congress. He says President Bush's failure to do so 'was a major mistake.' Republicans in Congress, he writes, 'swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose.'"

According to Bloomberg, Greenspan rips Bush "for pursuing an economic agenda driven by politics rather than sound policy, with little concern for future consequences."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Google Sponsors $30 Million Moon Contest

Google Sponsors $30 Million Moon Contest

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Google Inc. is bankrolling a $30 million spaceflight contest for private companies to safely land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video to Earth, the Internet search leader said Thursday.

The grand prize could be worth up to $25 million.

If the competition produces a winner, it would prove a major boon to the emerging private spaceflight industry and mark the first time that a nongovernment entity has flown a lunar space probe.

Google partnered with the X Prize Foundation for the moon challenge, which is open to companies around the world. The Santa Monica-based nonprofit prize institute is best known for hosting the Ansari X Prize contest that led to the first manned private spaceflight in 2004.
The race to the moon won't be easy or cheap. Teams have to raise money to build a roaming spacecraft that will be tough enough to survive a landing and have the smarts to complete a set of tasks. Each rover must also be equipped with high-definition video and still cameras to document the journey.

The rules call for a spacecraft to trek at least 1,312 feet across the lunar surface and return a package of data including self-portraits, panoramic views and near-real time videos. Participants are also responsible for securing a launch vehicle for the probe, either by building it themselves or contracting with an existing rocket company.

Whoever accomplishes the feat by the end of 2012 will receive $20 million. If there is no winner, the purse will drop to $15 million until the end of 2014 when the contest expires. There is also a $5 million second-place prize and $5 million in bonus money to teams that go beyond the minimum requirements.

Details of the Google X Prize are to be revealed at the WIRED NextFest technology show in Los Angeles.

The competition comes at a time of revived interest in lunar exploration among foreign governments since the Cold War space race. Governments including the United States and those in Europe and Asia are gearing up to return to the moon.

Japan's space agency, JAXA, plans to launch its long-delayed orbiter SELENE from a remote Pacific Island on Friday. NASA next year will rocket a lunar orbiter and impactor, the first of several lunar robotic projects before astronauts are sent to the moon next decade.

Government lunar missions can cost upward of hundreds of millions of dollars, but the X Prize Foundation and Google hope the private sector can do it for considerably less.

The partnership between Google and the X Prize Foundation comes as no surprise. Earlier this year, Google co-founder Larry Page hosted a star-studded charity auction for the foundation at the company's Mountain View headquarters. Page is a trustee of the X Prize Foundation.
Google has had previous forays into space albeit via the Internet by launching Google Mars and Google Earth, Web browser-based mapping tools that give users an up-close, interactive view with the click of a mouse.

The X Prize Foundation is also holding competitions in rapid genetic decoding and creating super-efficient vehicles, but the moon prize is by far the largest in its history since it was founded in 1995. The Google X Prize is second richest space prize, next to the $50 million pot being dangled by hotel magnate Robert Bigelow to any American team that can rocket a manned spacecraft into orbit by 2010.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Election Results

It is Sunny - Go Vote

The clouds have parted, the sun is shining, the temperature is pleasant, so you have no excuse not to get out and vote.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Inventory of Homes Pushes Nashville to a Buyers Market

The Greater Nashville Assocaition of Realtors reports today that the inventory of homes exceeds a six month supply, 6.6 months to be exact. Any thing under six months is considered a sellers market. This is the first time in at least 7 years that the August inventory exceeds a six month supply, or a considered a buyers market.

There were 3,359 home closings reported for the month of August, according to figures provided by the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors®. This represents a decrease of 10.9 percent from the 3,772 closings reported for the same period last year.

Year-to-date closings for the Greater Nashville area are 24,778, down 9.2 percent compared to the 27,294 closings reported through mid-year 2006.

A comparison of sales by category for August is:

Closings - Residential - Aug. 2006 - 3,772

Closings - Residential - Aug. 2007 - 3,359

Closings - Condominium - Aug. 2006 - 3,036

Closings - Condominium - Aug. 2007 - 2,643

There were 2,896 sales pending at the end of August, compared with 3,440 sales that were pending at the same time last year. The median residential price during August was$189,719 and for a condominium it was $162,346. That compares with median residential and condominium prices at this time last year of $184,000 and $140,000 respectively. The average number of days on the market for a single-family residence was 64 days. Inventory at the end of August was 22,396. That compares with an inventory of 16,670 at the end of August 2006.

"Available inventory is considerably higher than last year at this time. That means buyers have more choices, so price and condition of properties for sale have become increasingly important," Richard Courtney said. "Based on the number of homes sold in August, the inventory represents about a 6.6 month supply, which is a reasonable balance in the housing industry. "