Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Argonne, Baby, Gone: UPDATE II


This dummy is still around?

The listing says "77 days" but don't be fooled -- this thing has been begging for nearly a year with absolutely no interest. Tiny square footage aside, it's obvious that the rabidly delusional pricing is the primary cause of its long, sad tenure on the MLS.

The current wishing price is $595,000, a whopping $5,000 discount since we last checked in last March. Aggressive!

Anyhow, it appears the last realtor didn't work out (probably suggested lowering the price to, you know, actually get it sold...which is exactly what sellers afflicted with My Place Is Special Syndrome -- MYPISS -- don't want to hear) so the new listing agent, instead of doing some actual work, decided he'd just fire up MS Paint and fuzz out the Century 21 sign from the old listing photo:

309 ARGONNE Ave, Long Beach, CA 90814

Can you believe this lazy turd?!

Gee, with a consummate pro like that on your team, I'm positive you'll find that full-price buyer during the 2011 Super Spring Selling Season(tm). This year is your year, bro!


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The price was "$610,000" and changed to "$599,999"

We're officially below what he paid in September 2008 -- just a scant year and a half ago. After commissions, this will represent a $37,000 loss. And that's assuming this piss-ant price reduction garners a sale.

The bottom was in 2008? HORSESHIT.


Welcome Patrick.net readers!

And thanks Anon for sending this property in.

309 ARGONNE Ave, CA 90814
Wishing Price: $610,000
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 883
$/Sq. Ft.: $691
Lot Size: 2,520 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1923
MLS#: P720288
On Redfin: 26 days
Down Payment: $122,000 (20% down)/ $24,000 (FHA, although the loan amount would just exceed the jumbo limit, let's assume you could get a gov't loan)
Income Requirement: $174,000
Monthly Nut: $3,300 (conventional)/$3,800 (FHA)
Description: Beautiful 'Turn Key'home [SIC] in Belmont Heights. Do not waste your time with Short Sales! Standard Sale here. Home boasts hardwood floors throughout home, NEW kitchen with granite countertops, wood cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, ceramic floor, bay window, recessed lighting, designer paint throughout and french doors to rear patio. An updated bathroom w/ ceramic tile and new plumbing. The garage has been completely finished with drywall, insulated, lighting, electrical & laminate flooring and offers you approximately 190 Sq. Ft of additional space for your office/gym with a french door entrance from the patio. New double paned windows throughout, new washer & dryer, new electrical/plumbing, new air unit & energy efficient water heater. Private patio offers you outdoor living room to entertain or enjoy secluded mornings/afternoons. .. Customized closets in bedrooms. Landscaped to be drought resistant. Award winning school district. Walk to the beach, Belmont Shore, Colorado Lagoon, golf course's [SIC] & parks.

Yet another 2008 loser!

Seriously, what were people thinking buying in late 2008? Don't they read this blog? I wonder if we'll be saying the same thing about 2009 buyers?

It only took this guy 18 payments before he figured out he couldn't possibly afford this place. And now he's looking for an out and is optimistically asking $9,000 more than he paid a year and a half ago, hoping to somewhat mitigate the pain of a -$28,000 loss (all in commissions).

This asking price seems based on the assumption that he perfectly timed the bottom in '08 and the housing market has been steadily recovering ever since.

I guess he doesn't read the news:




Yes, massive government intervention, artificially low interest rates, manipulated REO supply, extend-and-pretend HAMP tomfoolery, and free ponies in the form of first-time homebuyer tax credits have helped to stem the housing free-fall, but a slowdown in price declines is very different than an increase in values.

If you go from losing two quarts of blood per hour to half a quart, you're still losing a half a quart of blood! Slowing down the blood loss is very different from stopping the bleeding, mounting a full recovery, and being discharged from the hospital.

Unless he gets aggressive with his pricing very soon, our misguided seller could easily end up without a chair once the game of Government-Manipulated Musical Chairs comes to a grinding halt. I'd do whatever I could to sell now instead of taking my chances with higher interest rates, the elimination of homebuyer incentives, and more foreclosures on the market (and in the pipeline).

Once government attempts to keep home prices inflated (and, ultimately, unaffordable) run out of steam (or political support, or funding) and home values are allowed to return to some semblance of normalcy, sellers like this will regret not taking a big hit earlier. Because that "big hit" will look like what you find in the bottom of a clothes dryer compared to the massive loss incurred as a result of sticking to your guns and demanding a batshit-crazy wishing price in an worsening selling environment.

Peep the listing history:

Feb 03, 2010 - Listed $610,000
Sep 02, 2008 - Sold $601,000 (7.7%/yr)
May 23, 2008 - Price Changed $660,000
Apr 08, 2008 - Listed $695,000
May 26, 1993 - Sold $192,500

This dude probably thought he was getting a smoking deal in September '08 when he negotiated a 15% "discount" from the original $695,000 asking price. I bet he was quite proud of himself for "stealing it" for only $601,000 ($680 per square foot).

Hey, dummy, 15% off of something overvalued by 50% is still overpaying by 35%.

It's the Men's Half-Yearly Sale analogy: Nordstrom gives you a 20% off coupon and you go suit shopping. You find a tough-looking pinstriped Hugo Boss with a $1,000 price tag. After running the numbers you're thrilled to pay only $800. Wow, a $200 savings! I'd be stupid not to buy!

But you didn't do your homework. And you failed to notice the suit was $700 last week. You see, the night before the sale, the price was jacked up by 30%, meaning a suit that used to be $700 with zero discounts just cost you an extra $100 with a coupon. But, that doesn't matter because buying it on sale "felt" like a better deal. After all, the initial asking price of $1,000 was such a big number, $800 by comparison seemed like a more drastic "savings."

Realtors and home sellers similarly rely on Americans' complete inability to do math.

I know plenty of people who use peak pricing as the yardstick, and compare today's prices to that insanely lofty, easy-money-bullshit-fueled number to feel better about overpaying. What they should be doing is starting at pre-bubble pricing and comparing today's asking prices to that number. If more people did so, they would realize prices have a long way to go before they are in line with traditional home value appreciation.

Back to the property at hand: the lot is tiny but the location is great. The interior, although cramped, looks pretty nice too and the listing description mentions a decent amount of upgrades and goodies.

The solo bathroom is straight out of Scarface, but it's nothing a basic remodel couldn't fix. You know, because you'll have so much spare cash after making that $3,300 monthly payment.


However, the backyard patio looks pretty cool:

And with only 883 square feet of living space, I'm sure you'll be spending quite a bit of time out there to offset the terminal claustrophobia.

I particularly like this photo of the junk accumulating the driveway:

For some reason, the first thing that came to mind was this:

What, you don't see it?

From what I can tell, little bungalows like this rent for around $2,000 a month. Let's be generous and say this could rent for $2,200 given the location and interior quality. So now you're paying $1,100 more per month (or $1,600 more if you go FHA) for "pride of ownership." Does that make any kind of sense?

Knowing that the bottom will arrive when the monthly rent approaches the Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance (there is debate about how to calculate this. Some say not to consider the tax refund because that money will largely be eaten up by maintenance and ancillary ownership costs. Others, mostly commission-based, suggest factoring in what you'll get back in tax refunds, which lowers the "buy" aspect of the rent vs. buy calculation and just happens to make buying more easily pencil out. I personally think the latter approach is dangerous because of the likelihood taxes, fees, insurance, and ownership costs will increase in the future given the impending state and federal fiscal issues), this asking price is way out of line with reality.

How far out of line? By (roughly) calculating pre- and post-tax monthly payments, in order for this to make sense as a purchase the price needs to be between $450,000 at the low end and $510,000 at the high end.

As you can clearly see, $610,000 for this snuff box is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overpriced.

However, I am confident a knifecatcher will step in long before the asking price drops below $510,000, but I'm just pointing out what it would take to make any kind of financial sense and ensure you're not overpaying.


  1. Although I think Argonne, Baby, Gone is the perfect moniker, I'd like to contribute that these delusional sellers "Argonne a need a bigger boat!" My cynical way of thinking is convinced that there is a person somewhere near that has some money burning a hole in their pocket and that the patience gene is missing from their DNA structure. I bet this home(web) finds another buyer(fly)soon. I wonder if we could set up a Greater Fool Hall Of Fame that lists the top 5 homes that have trapped the most fools over the last decade. I have seen some homes listed that have had at least three seperate foreclosures. I bet there has to be one in LB that has had 4.

  2. Anon,

    "Argonne a need a bigger boat!" HAHA. These 2008 losers are quite a mystery. Hadn't they learned from everyone else's mistake about overpaying for properties?

    I agree that given the dearth of quality properties out there (although small, it's hard to argue that it's not a quality property), someone is bound to bite eventually. But the problem isn't buyers -- it's quite obviously the seller.

    I guarantee you he's had several offers for $575,000, was "offended" and "shocked" and flat out rejected them. He barely has any equity and it's obvious that he has no room to budge on price (otherwise, why the hell wouldn't he have dropped it by now?). And being right up against the wall dividing Taking a Loss and Walking Away Without a Scratch, I think it's clear which side he believes he is entitled to be on.

    And although a surge in inventory suddenly flooding the market would be the nail in the coffin (it's all but guaranteed that won't happen), it's interest rates that he really needs to worry about. In the year that he's been fucking around on the market fishing for fantasy prices, buyers have lost significant financing power. I bet he and the Fed are hoping rates can be contained for just one more Super Summer Selling Season.

    Time will tell.

  3. Dude. LBCs got nothin on MP


  4. Sucker is going to take a big loss. Unless he wants to pull it off the market and sell it, oh, say, sometime about 2025 or so...