TARP Fails and Trustee Speaks the Truth

Occasionally people in Government tell the truth. Usually this is a gaffe, but the Trustee in charge of the TARP program has written a well-researched and accurate report on the miserable state of the TARP program. I am impressed.

Today's featured property is a ridiculously priced Northwood tract home. I am not impressed.

2 BLUE SPRUCE Irvine, CA 92620 kitchen

Irvine Home Address … 2 BLUE SPRUCE Irvine, CA 92620

Resale Home Price …… $1,249,000

{adsense-ir}

{book1}

Do what I want cause I can and if I don't

because I wanna be ignored by the stiff and the bored

because I'm gonna.

Spit and retrieve cause I give and receive

because I wanna gonna get through your head what the mystery man said

because I'm gonna.

Hate to say I told you so.

I do believe I told you so.

The Hives – Hate To Say I Told You So

People ignore contrary or inconvenient information, particularly once they have made up their mind to do something. When our Government decided to act to save stupid wankers bankers, they ignored the obvious problems their solutions were going to create — or to be more accurate, Government officials knew public relations problems were on the horizon due to the way taxpayers are being defrauded, and that these problems would require a bounty of bullshit to smooth over, but saving corporate campaign contributors (and enriching Goldman Sachs) was deemed more important, so you and I pay the price.

I came across the story TARP overseer says bank bailout program has mixed results that lead me to the SIGTARP Quarterly report to Congress (PDF). When I browsed the report, I was pleasantly surprised to read robust analysis and an accurate evaluation of the success (or lack thereof) of the TARP program:

This time of transition provides an opportunity to take a step back and examine whether Treasury’s efforts in TARP thus far have met the goals of the program. On the positive side, there are clear signs that aspects of the financial system are far more stable than they were at the height of the crisis in the fall of 2008. Many large banks have once again been able to raise funds in the capital markets, and some institutions — including some that appeared to be on the verge of collapse — have recovered sufficiently to repay their TARP investments years earlier than most would have predicted. These repayments and the sales of the warrants associated with them have meant that Treasury (and thus the taxpayer) has turned a profit on some of the individual TARP investments; as a result of these repayments, among other positive developments, it now appears that the ultimate cost of TARP to the American taxpayer, while still substantial, might be significantly less than initially estimated.

Many of TARP’s stated goals, however, have simply not been met. Despite the fact that the explicit goal of the Capital Purchase Program (“CPP”) was to increase financing to U.S. businesses and consumers, lending continues to decrease, month after month, and the TARP program designed specifically to address small-business lending — announced in March 2009 — has still not been implemented by Treasury. Notwithstanding the fact that preserving homeownership and promoting jobs were explicit purposes of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (“EESA”), the statute that created TARP, nearly 16 months later, home foreclosures remain at record levels, the TARP foreclosure prevention program has only permanently modified a small fraction of eligible mortgages, and unemployment is the highest it has been in a generation. Whether these goals can effectively be met through existing TARP programs is very much an open question at this time. And to the extent that the Government had leverage through its status as a significant preferred shareholder to influence the largest TARP recipients to carry out such policy goals, it was lost with their exit from TARP. As important as assessing the effectiveness of TARP programs is, in the final analysis, TARP can truly only be a success if TARP is both managed well and its positive effects are enduring. The substantial costs of TARP — in money, moral hazard effects on the market, and Government credibility — will have been for naught if we do nothing to correct the fundamental problems in our financial system and end up in a similar or even greater crisis in two, or five, or ten years’ time. It is hard to see how any of the fundamental problems in the system have been addressed to date.

  • To the extent that huge, interconnected, “too big to fail” institutions contributed to the crisis, those institutions are now even larger, in part because of the substantial subsidies provided by TARP and other bailout programs.

  • To the extent that institutions were previously incentivized to take reckless risks through a “heads, I win; tails, the Government will bail me out” mentality, the market is more convinced than ever that the Government will step in as necessary to save systemically significant institutions. This perception was reinforced when TARP was extended until October 3, 2010, thus permitting Treasury to maintain a war chest of potential rescue funding at the same time that banks that have shown questionable ability to return to profitability (and in some cases are posting multi-billion-dollar losses) are exiting TARP programs.

  • To the extent that large institutions’ risky behavior resulted from the desire to justify ever-greater bonuses — and indeed, the race appears to be on for TARP recipients to exit the program in order to avoid its pay restrictions — the current bonus season demonstrates that although there have been some improvements in the form that bonus compensation takes for some executives, there has been little fundamental change in the excessive compensation culture on Wall Street.

  • To the extent that the crisis was fueled by a “bubble” in the housing market, the Federal Government’s concerted efforts to support home prices — as discussed more fully in Section 3 of this report — risk re-inflating that bubble in light of the Government’s effective takeover of the housing market through purchases and guarantees, either direct or implicit, of nearly all of the residential mortgage market.

Stated another way, even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car.

Kevin R. Puvalowski, SIGTARP's Deputy Special Inspector General, just earned my respect. The honesty and clarity of this assessment is remarkable for a bureaucrat — the program is not working, and the administrator says so. Perhaps I shouldn't be so cynical about our Government, but truth and reality are in short supply in Washington's public pronouncements, and this report contrasts and demands attention.

As Christopher Thornberg noted in Beacon Economics 2010 Orange County Forecast the main problem with our financial system is incentives and moral hazard, and Mr. Puvalowski hammers Congress with the truth — not that anyone is listening — but at least truth is being told.

Section 3 of the report (pages 109-130) contain great historical and current information on the GSEs, FHA and other programs the Government controls and uses to prop up house prices. It is worth taking the time to read in full:

Mechanisms for Supporting Home Prices

Supporting home prices is an explicit policy goal of the Government. As the White House stated in the announcement of HAMP for example, “President Obama’s programs to prevent foreclosures will help bolster home prices.”

In general, housing obeys the laws of supply and demand: higher demand leads to higher prices. Because increasing access to credit increases the pool of potential home buyers, increasing access to credit boosts home prices. The Federal Reserve can thus boost home prices by either lowering general interest rates or purchasing mortgages and MBS. Both actions, which the Federal Reserve is pursuing, have the effect of lowering interest rates, which increases demand by permitting borrowers to afford a higher home price on a given income. Similarly, the Administration is boosting home prices by encouraging bank lending (such as through TARP) and by instituting purchase incentives such as the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. All of these actions increase the demand for homes, which increases home prices. In addition to direct Government activity, home prices can be lifted by general expectations among homebuyers of future price increases. Figure 3.7 provides a graphic representation of the relationship between possible Government actions and their impact on home prices.

Little things jumped out at me as I scanned the report. Did you realize that the Federal Reserve's program of buying GSE debt has now printed more money to buy toxic mortgages than it previously held in Government Treasuries? The Federal Reserve's balance sheet is bloated and holding more waste than patrons at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Northwood is Immune?

When I saw the asking price on this home, I was floored. Can you pick out the estate asking $1,249,000 in the images below?

If the asking price was about half of what it is, the price may be reasonable, particularly when you factor in the upgrades, but I can see no justification for this asking price; in fact, I can see no rational for any price over $1,000,000. When I first saw the nearby 20 SILVEROAK for sale asking $958,000, I thought it was overpriced and likely to sit, but it wasn't so far out of reality to earn a WTF award; in contrast, today's featured property's pricing is beyond the pale, and both the realtor and the owner should be embarrassed.

2 BLUE SPRUCE Irvine, CA 92620 kitchen

Irvine Home Address … 2 BLUE SPRUCE Irvine, CA 92620

Resale Home Price … $1,249,000

Income Requirement ……. $260,092

Downpayment Needed … $249,800

20% Down Conventional

Home Purchase Price … $326,500

Home Purchase Date …. 12/19/1996

Net Gain (Loss) ………. $847,560

Percent Change ………. 282.5%

Annual Appreciation … 10.1%

Mortgage Interest Rate ………. 5.05%

Monthly Mortgage Payment … $5,394

Monthly Cash Outlays …..….… $7,110

Monthly Cost of Ownership … $5,100

Property Details for 2 BLUE SPRUCE Irvine, CA 92620

Beds 5

Baths 3 full 1 part baths

Home Size 2,900 sq ft

($431 / sq ft)

Lot Size 5,917 sq ft

Year Built 1998

Days on Market 4

Listing Updated 2/5/2010

MLS Number S604335

Property Type Single Family, Residential

Community Northwood

Tract Lexi

THIS IS IT!!! A beautifully remodeled Lexington home that shows like a model. The main living area has been opened into a spacious and elegant Great Room. The kitchen boasts granite counters, distressed hard wood cabinetry, double convection ovens, 5 burner range, built-in fridge/freezer, island with wine fridge, and more…. There are two entertainment areas, one down with surround sound and the other up in the added bonus room / loft. This home has a full bedroom and 3/4 bath downstairs and a full downstairs office. The outside is also an entertainers dream, with a large corner lot, the rear yard has a BBQ island, fridge, and sit up bar, covered eating area with a built in space heater and ceiling fan. There is a nice size yard and a raised 12 seat spa that is built into a vault. This home is a must see!!!

THIS IS IT!!! Is it just me, or do you smell the word shit in there somewhere?

This home is a must see!!! Can you feel the urgency?

entertainers dream? Perhaps Tempo MLS does not permit apostrophes?

Congratulations New Orleans Saints!

Sometimes Super Bowls are super duds, but last night's game was very well played by both teams on both sides of the ball, and I enjoyed the game thoroughly. As the Colts were driving for what looked like a game-tieing touchdown, only to be denied by a decisive interception, I thought it was a shame that one of these two great teams had to lose. The game was a marvelous capstone to a great NFL season.

60 thoughts on “TARP Fails and Trustee Speaks the Truth

  1. IrvineRenter

    Mortgage giants GSEs in limbo: In housing, a dangerous policy vacuum grows.

    THERE IS NO END in sight to the federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal said as much in a few phrases that promised nothing more definitive than continued “monitoring” of the two mortgage giants, which have been operating since mid-2008 in the legal and organizational limbo known as government “conservatorship.” The administration had said its plans for definitive reform could be expected “at the time of the budget,” not in the budget itself, so technically this doesn’t count as a broken promise or a blown deadline. Still, as the two agencies’ chief regulator, Edward J. DeMarco, gently reminded congressional leaders on Tuesday, conservatorship was intended as a “timeout” during which policymakers could reinvent the entities. With an election year upon us, that timeout is looking more and more like a cop-out.

    This is alarming. The Fannie-Freddie business model — “government-sponsored enterprises” (GSEs) with private shareholders but a public purpose, promoting homeownership — is a proven loser. In fact, Fannie and Freddie were in large part responsible for inflating the housing bubble that burst so disastrously in 2007. The market’s perception (correct, as it turned out) that the GSEs enjoyed federal backing enabled them to take on far more risk than their capital bases could support.

    Continuing to pump taxpayer money into Fannie and Freddie so that they can continue to securitize home mortgages — the Treasury Department has covered $111 billion worth of their losses so far — is justifiable as an emergency measure. Without it, the U.S. housing market would have collapsed: Fannie and Freddie now back the vast majority of new mortgages, and the homeownership rate has nonetheless fallen almost two percentage points from its 2004 peak of 69 percent.

    But the United States cannot afford the indefinite de facto nationalization of housing finance. The administration estimates that the GSEs’ losses will cost the government more than $54 billion in fiscal 2011, plus another $23 billion in fiscal 2012, assuming the White House’s economists have guessed right about the foreclosure rate and other variables. The entities’ debt totals more than $1.6 trillion, on top of the existing national debt of $12.3 trillion.

    Moving to a new model of mortgage finance is not easy because it provokes resistance from the old system’s stakeholders, who range from mortgage bankers to home builders to housing affordability advocates. They are not eager to face a future in which the federal government would not promote homeownership as aggressively as it once did. This is perhaps an explanation for the current policy paralysis, but hardly an excuse. Congress and the Obama administration need to set clear, consistent and sustainable limits on federal support for mortgage finance, and the sooner the better.

    1. Planet Reality

      Don’t worry, the private mortgage market will come back after every last dime of mortgage losses is paid for by the tax payer. Then the next housing bubble can be initiated with the private market syphoning all of the profits.

      1. AZDavidPhx

        But as long as your kid can get nice monthly payment on a 30 year mortgage – it’s all good.

        What we really need to do is start selling houses to 13 year olds using 40 year mortgages. We can get them 10 year teaser rates allowing them to pay maybe 20$ a month out of their allowance from mom and dad; then just recast it when they turn 23. Viola. We could probably get house prices back up to peak in no-time and maintain “steady growth” for another decade.

    2. AZDavidPhx

      There is still an incredible amount of denial out on the streets. A lot of people are coming to the conclusion that everything is getting better. They accept the “Stock Market Gains” and “Growth In GDP” being reported by the for-profit media as reason to now be optimistic.

      Based upon my own interactions with people, the vast majority glaze over with “Huh?” when you bring things into the conversation such as interest rates, trade deficits, national debt. When you attempt to explain how the government interferes with the market via low interest rates, Dollar printing via “Borrowing”, and housing “Affordability Programs” you might as well be trying to explain how the government covered up Roswell.

      People for the most part are just not willing to try to understand how it all really works. They are willing to let the for-profit corporate media do their thinking for them.

      It’s quite frustrating the pervasiveness of “Willful Ignorance” being exhibited by people who believe that they are “in the know” because they read CNN or listen to Rush Limbaugh everyday.

      What amazes me the most is that in this age of information with so many sources of information – we have everything at our finger tips so long as we are willing to read and think yet this is too much to ask for many folks.

      1. awgee

        Sorry, but will have to agree with you. If you speak of deficits and the effect of them or the efect of government interference in the markets, people think you are a conspiracy nut and a doom and gloomer.

    3. AZDavidPhx

      I don’t understand why anybody even bothers to waste their breath anymore on what the government can and can not afford.

      Clearly the government can afford anything it wants so long as the rest of the global economy keeps investing in the ponzi scheme that is used to finance the deficit spending on imported goods.

      As we all know, debt is unlimited so any currency that is backed by debt can be created out of thin air ad infinitum as long as a greater fool can be found to purchase it.

      All this talk about “repaying” the national debt is just a fool’s errand. The entire thing is designed to never be paid off. The only thing it should mean to anybody is how much money is being stolen from you via inflation by the government.

    4. Alan

      The Republicans are blocking any reform of the banking/financial system, and will certainly block any proposed changes for the GSEs. Ditto health care reform, or for that matter social security, Medicare, Medicaid, military spending, literally anything if Obama tries. They have figured out that the worse things are and get, the more the Democrats take the blame. People will forget the disasterous Republican/Bush years and vote them back in.

      The Democrats (whether they want to or not, I’m can’t tell any more) cannot let house prices collapse, major companies (GM, Crysler, …) go out of business, government jobs get cut (for sure police, fire, prison, sanitation and teachers will be the first to go for maximum public pain), or no more unemployment insurance benefit extensions. However inevitable they may be and fiscally responsible to take the hits now rather than worse later, the blame and unpopularity from such serious economic and social blows will be taken by the Democrats.

      So it is hardly surprizing that there are people in the government who know exactly what is happening and why, but it still happens. Puvalowski’s report is not going to get much attention from either party or the media, and I doubt that he moves up in his career responsibilities.

      Sad to watch our country paralysed to inaction and going downhill. The only saving scenario I see is that the rest of the world does as badly and worse, with the Chinese taking a big dive when their bubbles pop.

        1. Scott

          Satire? You mean you actually believe the Republican and Democratic Parties are serious about honestly solving our economic problems? Wow.

          1. Woodbury Renter

            I wasn’t sure anyone could actually believe Obama’s canard that nothing has has been accomplished because of Republican obstructionism. It is divisions within in his own party and his inability to grasp the public mood which have been his foil.

            It is actually quite laughable to blame the opposing party when your own party controls the White House, Congress and Senate (with a filibuster proof super majority no less – until Brown is seated).

          2. whatever

            There were 60 democratic Senators, a large majority of democrats in the house, and a democratic President swept into office with something 70% approval ratings.

            But it’s all the republicans fault that nothing was done that Alan wanted? Wow…Alan is truly divorced from reality, and no facts presented to him will ever change his mind.

            It’s sort of sad.

  2. Planet Reality

    The magic number at the bottom for these larger Irvine homes will be $899k. This is with a loan of $729k and down payment of $170k. The income level of the purchasers will vary based on risk level.

    1. IrvineRenter

      I agree. It is not a coincidence that TICs pricing for new homes topped out near that price point.

      1. phil

        Speaking of which IR, I don’t think I ever saw your analysis/opinion of the TIC Woodbury offering. Is that the topic of a future post or was I asleep at the wheel?

        1. Woodbury Renter

          Finally walked accross the street to check out Montecito and Carmel. Have to admit that I like Montecito Plan 2. Not going to pay $760k just for the base model, probably minimum $850 with normal upgrades.

          That’s OK, rep on site claims that Montecito is sold out until Phase 3 next year.

  3. wheresthebeef

    Only in California:

    bought at 326K in 1996
    listed today for 1.25M

    This is truly better than winning the state lottery. Most of my internet stocks didn’t give me this type of return.

    1. AZDavidPhx

      Just look at how well the top 10% of boomers have done since then and it all makes sense.

      As long as they can keeping goosing the first time buyers with gimmicks and free candy, it will enable these sellers to keep stroking themselves and having house swapping parties with their fellow cohorts.

      1. Marc

        Hopefully no first time buyer is stupid enough to pay for this guy’s retirement. Anyting above a %3-4% annual appreciation rate is not justified.

    2. Geotpf

      This house is not worth $1.25 million. It, however, seems to be worth about $1 million even, based on Redfin’s auto-comps. (The definition of “worth” is “what somebody is willing to pay for it”.) Now, of course, that number is probably higher than it “should be” due to government meddling.

      Tripling your money in 14 years ain’t a bad deal-they should take it and be glad.

      1. Swiller

        “Tripling your money in 14 years ain’t a bad deal-they should take it and be glad.”

        Right there is the mentality that pisses me off. It’s OK for them to ride the fraud for a sh1tload of cash, but if someone buys it and loses it due to over-pricing, THEY are scumbags. Does anyone even SEE why this generation of dirtbags has caused the economical problems? As long as your a$$ comes out clean with the money, no harm. no foul. Screw the people coming next!

        We need a market correction to the likes no one has EVER seen. I would very much like prices to collapse and homes drop 6 figures overnight. Then I would like to see all the high and mighty so filled with contempt and judgment have to live in homes they are upside down in. They would squeel like stuck pigs and cry like a rat eating onions.

        1. Chris

          So I would assume you would buy a SFH in Irvine when the median price is around $100k, right?

          Don’t we all…..don’t we all…..

          1. Swiller

            Actually no. I have worked in Irvine since 1986 and have seen firsthand what it’s like to live there. It’s nice and all, but definitely not my cup of tea, I prefer a little freedom and a nice large lot so I can’t shake the neighbors hand while I take my morning pee. (Some of the older areas have nice large lots…old Turtle Rock for example). Even the California homes, Greentree, and Colony sections are decent, but way over-priced.
            What I would like to see is homes come back into line with incomes, or at least CLOSER. The system is being gamed by those whom are on top and control it, and it’s backed by the very people they are screwing.
            Prices will drop further in Irvine, but only after the next wave hits, which should be later this year. I look for depreciation of homes by December. June is a good tipping point for state bankruptcy and some other good things…we shall see.

        2. AZDavidPhx

          This would be great, but when you understand the fraudulent foundation of our monetary system you realize it is not going to happen dramatically like that.

          The government is going to run the printing presses 24/7 to cover the losses by the debtors who fall off the wagon. In the meantime it’s going to be a PR blitze to convince everyone that everything is getting better and to keep slaving away to pay those mortgages in order to snare investors into coming back to buy MBS’s so the Fed can stop doing it.

          It should be pretty obvious at this point that the Fed’s program to buy up MBS is about to be extended for an ‘extended’ period of time. They may not even bother with a fake expiration date next time.

          The upshot is this is going to be a SLOW Japan style bust with rapid inflation at some point.

        3. Alan

          “As long as your a$$ comes out clean with the money, no harm. no foul. Screw the people coming next!”

          LOL! That is capitalism, the free market and Ayn Rand. The flip side is socialism. Hasn’t Palin and the Tea Partiers taught you anything? 🙂

          1. matt138

            The responsibility is on the “people coming next” to be educated – something Ayn Rand supports. This blog does a great job of doing just that.
            The free market efficiently weeds out the unscrupulous and poor decision makers. Nobody is still sending money to Madoff.

            You cannot change the reality of a business transaction. A seller will sell to the highest bidder. Both parties are consenting. A foolish buyer is just that – foolish. Hopefully a foolish buyer learns from past mistakes.

            This can never be prevented by gov/t.

          2. Swiller

            Wrong. People buying homes have to use the SYSTEM. If the system had the proper regulation, you would NOT get a sub-prime, alt-a, or interest only loans. Try and buy a home NOW with those terms. You see, the SYSTEM backed the fraud with money and stripping regulation, they control all the cards, yet you seem to feel like the little guy does. All we debt slaves do is APPLY for the money, the banksters create these sh1t products to drive up the price of homes illegally (remember….fraud).
            Man, when will people see outside the BOX?

        4. Geotpf

          Unlikely. In SoCal, the market seems to have spoken, saying that places like Irvine get very minimal drops in value (while places like Riverside get 60-70% drops from peak). It’s a flight to “quality”-namely that location beats all and apparently is worth an insane premium.

          1. Marc

            I don’t think we have seen the end of the story yet. And I don’t see that “quality” in Irvine either. Corona Del Mar, 1 minute from the beach, maybe, but Irvine? Reality check?
            The economy will take a second dip and with it the Irvine house prices. Once the FCBs realize that they are buying at inflated prices (what else would you call a 10% annual house price appreciation?) that will let even more air out of the bubble.

          2. klar_8

            If true, then why are there huge losses in areas considered even higher quality than Irvine, like Laguna Beach, Shady Canyon (although this is technically Irvine), Newport, etc.?

            Irvine has two things going for it. One, very few loans were subprime, thus missing the subprime implosion. In contrast, Riverside, as a poster child of the subprime loans, was smashed from the subprime crisis. Two, a majority of Irvine’s housing stock falls within reach of the higher conforming limit. This enables future homedebtors to obtain the necessary subsidized loans to keep the façade up for the time being.

            So I consider Irvine’s apparent price stability merely happenstance due to timing. The somewhat stable prices are not attributable to a flight to quality any more than any other location.

          3. phil

            And don’t forget to add the onslaught of Option ARM related foreclosures which haven’t come to market yet. So many homes bought during 2005 and on were purchased with exotic mortgages there is no way it doesn’t eventually result in depressed prices. The only issue is when and with the banks playing the games they are (along with govt. support), it could be a while. I’m interested in hearing people’s opinions on the timing.

          4. lowrydr310

            There were a lot of Option ARMs taken out before 2005. I’m guessing when the 5 year option period was up, they sold their homes. Imagine someone who bought in 2003 has to sell in 2008. Clearly Irvine homes in 2008 were *selling* well above their 2003 price, thus allowing the game to continue for the time being. This same scenario would work out for homes bought in 2004; Option ARM buyers could have potentially gotten out unscathed.

            We’re now entering the period when the bought-at-bubble Option ARMs start to recast. Get ready! There WILL be pain through 2012…

  4. rkp

    The foreclosure post on friday was excellent. However, I’d like to see examples of trustee purchases that didn’t turn out well to learn from.

    Also some great comments in the post that were unanswered such as contacting banks before the trustee sale.

    1. IrvineRenter

      We haven’t looked for 3rd parties that overpaid, but that might be an interesting post or two. On Saturday, I featured a property where the bank overpaid and now is flipping for a loss. Tomorrow, I have a property the bank is hoping to flip for a profit.

  5. lowrydr310

    The high end is NOT falling!

    “More prosperous American shoppers seem to be defying continuing high unemployment levels and economic uncertainty to renew their spending on luxuries such as jewellery, fashion and cosmetics.”

    Things are getting better, so it’s time to start spending again (that is, if you have any money left to spend after paying your inflated mortgage)

    1. Chris

      And this surprises you? DJIA is still above 10k, ya know. The lemmings follow this as still a good sign to buy, buy, buy.

      Inflated mortgage? Nah, after readjusting it to 2% and using the unspent cash buying 4% long-term CDs, they’re off to the la-la-land, laughing all the way to Goldman Sachs.

      1. AZDavidPhx

        That photo for the article is great!

        The masses lining up like they are in a soup line, the guy on the right holding the AF bag in his mouth.

      2. AZDavidPhx

        And I guess you have to be a more prosperous American to read that article more than once a day. If I go back to it, it says I have exceeded my daily allowance of one free article. I love it!

      3. newbie2008

        With U6 at 20% were will be lots of salary increases and bonus for WS. The corp office and WS are two places when you really screw thing up, you’ll get a retention bonus and options reset to the new low price instead of keeping the option price as the time of hire.

        Better buy before prices goes up.

    2. Swiller

      No things are not getting better for “average” americans, in fact, they are getting worse. But if you are wealthy, time are flying high now!! It’s so simple to see, yet most refuse to accept. The rich have been getting richer and richer since Reagan started the regulatory stripping AND the lowering of taxes by the filthy rich. More money from US, is going into fewer and fewer hands. So luxury items are going UP in price because there is more demand. Home prices in Corona Del Mar, Balboa Island, Newport Coast are going UP in value while the servants…the chattel…US, just keep spinning the hamster wheel.
      Everything is wrapped up into it and the crony system can only hide itself for so long. Why don’t you look up and see how huge luxury yachts are selling in this “depression”. This is nothing more than the roaring 20’s all over again, but this time, the system is in on it and there will be no Pecora trials, and there will be no change until everything collapses. Sh1t, it’s just life anyhow, most could use a few days of hunger and no shower to bring them back to reality.
      There will be blood before this all ends, it’s inevitable, ask the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ssssshh Swiller, who won that football thing on TV anyhow?

      1. AZDavidPhx

        That’s the dirty little secret. What you have is disjoint “middle class” that is composed of Boomers that profited greatly from their inflated asset portfolios combined with a younger generation of working poor that work middle class jobs but are just getting by hoping to achieve the same “success” as those before them and willing to go along with the program to get there and are more than willing to carry the water.

      2. Geotpf

        My estimate is that this millenium, the lower and middle classes has gained absolutely no ground until 2008, and then lost some since then, excluding advances in technology. (That is, people probably live slightly longer since new drugs and surgical techniques were invented, people have fancier cell phones, faster computers, and larger televisions, that sort of thing.)

      3. whatever

        I have a friend who is a yacht salesman. 100% commission. He’s broke, no sales. Drive along PCH near Balboa, ask those brokers how business is doing – the ones that are left.

        Throw your firebombs somewhere else or use facts instead of emotional rants divorced from reality.

    3. tlc8386

      Someone has to pay for all those heloc’s why would the prices fall? They are built into the price.

      The only thing to do here is to rent unless you can find a fixer cheap or build your own home.

      The new homes still have mello roos and high HOA’s.

      Irvine is one big trap for any new homeowner. Too many people in the pockets of your pants.

  6. Geoffrey Chaucer

    With my self-esteem issues, association pools make me feel like a Bushwood caddie. Unless you can guarantee a high-diving Lacy Underall, for $1.2 million I want my own pool.

    1. IrvineRenter

      I always enjoy your comments. Is LifeTwo your site? Are you a blogger there? Short of getting the The Canterbury Tales, I would like to read more of your writing.

  7. no worries

    Great read on Dr Housing Bubble

    Focus on LA but speaks volumes of Irvine IMO. Mostly restates stuff said here in the past of course (comparing metrics etc) but a worthy read.

    “Where the housing bubble still lives…”

    http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/where-the-housing-bubble-still-lives-263-zip-code-analysis-for-los-angeles-county-28-percent-increase-in-l-a-cpi-from-2001-to-2009-but-county-home-prices-still-up-by-70-percent/?source=patrick.net

    I do wish he’d more clearly described the other “variable” in the price escalation – low interest rates and low money down still available. What percentage of the discrepancy is “payment affordability” playing? Although if we are to return to normal lending standards eventually, his “spread” still stands.

  8. OCMan

    IR and others,

    Seriously, if this house was listed at 50% of the current price, that would be reasonable? I mean, I would want that to happen but the way it’s going in Irvine, I’m not so sure. Not only when price drops, people will jump on, but I saw it over the weekend in Woodbury.

    I visited Carmel and Montecito, two new SFHs ranging form 2100 to 3000 sq. ft. at 800k to 1 mil. First two phases were sold out. These only opened a couple of weeks ago. I am loosing my hope on Irvine being affordable for middle class family unless you are FOB with a lots of doe.

    I have not totally lost hope but may be Irvine is different and may be Irvine has too many rich foreign people. I wonder why can’t they go buy homes in Newport or Ladera and leave these track homes alone.

    Very frustrated not not seeing the light at the end…

  9. sopapia

    i totally agree. i saw that home and i couldn’t believe the asking price. it’s higher than about 3-4mo ago. it’s a 1.2mil box… not a very pretty one at that. majority of the northwood pointe housing prices for a larger sized house are >1mil. i was wondering who has >1mil to spare to snatch up all these houses?

    1. Serenity Now

      I’m not sure how many of these folks are out there, but if you bought a house in the late 90’s for $400k, you can still probably get close to $800k for it today. If you sold it to buy this POS, you don’t need 1 million to spare, you only need to borrow a little more than $500k+ to get into a “million dollar home”.
      Hopefully there are a limited number of these guys coming in with equity competing against those of us who struggle to eke out a down payment.

  10. newbie2008

    How is bailout of the little guy behind in payments called a moral hazard and a bailout of WS banks called essential?

    To Swiller,
    The FHA is the new sub-prime lender. Only 3.5% down instead of a negative down payment. Opps. I misspoke. With the tax rebates and some move-in incentives (credit for undiscovered repairs and other kick backs), the negative downs are back in style.

    Currently the taxpayers are left holding the bag by way of loan modifications, refinancing and bailouts and finally goes to the taxpayers.
    With the new FHA subprime, the taypayers will directly stuck with the bill and will not need congressional approval for another round of bailout. It will be automatic.

    1. Swiller

      You are absolutely right. I forgot about the 3.5% down with the $8,000 kickback (sounds like illegal deals…you put the down, I’ll kickback more than the down).
      Yes, giving money to banksters is what this generation has been raised to do, so of course bailing THEM out for trillions of dollars while they live and party like kings, is much more preferable than giving principal reduction to their fellow man (who is as wretched as they are in the debt hamster wheel).
      Reward the masters, punish the servants. Some things never change.

      1. newbie2008

        time to end the gravy train for both free loaders — the banksters and equity withdrawers. The equity withdrawers will start fresh with reasonable credit scores after 5 years and justice will be served with non-recourse in all states if they didn’t walk away with over $100,000 in their pocket with the equity withdraw.

  11. Cal_Renter

    I failed to see how propping up housing price is good for this country. There is nothing economically gained by artificially inflating an asset that produce essentially nothing. The policy makers have gone blind with the mantra of supporting housing price at all cost. Why?

    High housing price essentially saps resource from individuals borrower to investors. The disposable income that would otherwise go to various industry through consumption is now concentrated into servicing mortgage debt. If this is allowed to continue indefinitely, there will be nothing else an over stretched home owner can buy. Then the only way for these home owners to buy anything, is to have them go into more debt. It’s a vicious cycle. We’ve seen it in last few years. We are essentially making the same mistake by propping up housing price. Are the policy makers really that dense?

    1. zubs

      Policy makers are given millions of dollars by the banks who hold these mortgages. The campaign financing assures the policy makers will try to keep the bubble from deflating.

      It was funny to hear Obama’s state of the union when he was against the Supreme Courts decision to give free speech to companies. Every politician receives campaign contributions from big business.

      1. Geotpf

        It is illegal for a candidate for Federal office to directly receive donations from a corporation, and has been for years.

        1. Swiller

          Your right Geotpf, but it’s also illegal to invade a foreign country based on false intelligence reports.
          It’s also illegal to “cook the books” something that seems to be standard business practice with banksters and home values.
          It’s also illegal to drive faster than 65 on the freeway in So.Cal.
          I’m thinking ya get where I’m going.

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