Friday, April 1, 2011

Super Spring Selling Season® Inventory Update

Sadly, as anyone actively looking for a house can attest, there isn't much to report.

Same old shit, bigger pile.

Here is the November update:

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...and the most recent inventory:
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Sad. Just further decreases leading up to the (Supposed) Super Spring Selling Season®. Looks like this year is going to be a(nother?) total dud for prospective buyers.

Not only is inventory not ramping up in anticipation of selling season, it's down 4% from January (and down 14.5% from February 2010)!

But the dismal lack of inventory (let alone quality inventory) has only emboldened sellers and their wildly optimistic pricing. Check out the substantial jump in list prices (blue line) during the last few weeks:


Yes, I realize a $14 differential between List and Sold prices isn't that dramatic, but you have to compare it to 2010 when the List/Sold tracked within a few bucks.

What's more interesting is how late-2009 buyers -- who listened to the hype about "the bottom is definitely in" and gobbled the free government cheese without stopping to think how all that free first-time homebuyer cash was distorting the market -- now look like total boobs. They happily paid $273 per square foot only to see it drop to $248 just a year-and-a-half later.

That means if 2009 buyers bought a 1,500-square-foot home, they are now -$37,500 underwater. Just like that.


And, to be fair, they're living in a house and reaping tax benefits while I continue to rent and get slaughtered every year at tax time (...and live by the beach, save stacks of money each month, sock away retirement money, get my sink fixed for free, and drive an awesome car...but I'm digressing from my point).

My point is that there are other, largely intangible, reasons for buying a house with total disregard for timing the bottom precisely. I get that. But man, if you bought in '09 you must feel pretty foolish looking at these numbers. You overpaid big time and interest rates haven't changed that much. You would be in a considerably better position had you just exhibited a little patience.

But hey, maybe you don't even look at this stuff anymore. Frankly, that's a blissful ignorance that I'm looking forward to.

But, alas, with each round of bad news my dreams of buying in Long Beach fade even more. I'm just losing enthusiasm. And, as was the case when I started this blog years ago, Orange County provides so much more value for the money. And that has never been more abundantly clear than right now given the piss poor choices in LB. That's not an LA vs. OC thing -- it's just a fact.

I mostly want to buy so I can retire this blog that I love so much and move on with my life. It's no surprise to any loyal reader that I've recently undergone some significant life changes that affect the frequency of new posts. More job responsibility, new writing projects, more focus on friends and family and, of course, the most common impetus for reevaluation and change, heartbreak, have conspired to force The Long Beach Housing Blog to the back burner.

But, I truly miss the excitement of publishing a few posts per week that a bunch of people (some as far away as China and Australia) will read and hopefully get something out of. And of course I always look forward to the insightful, funny, informative comments.

But, alas, life is about stages.

And I sense that RE in the LBC's exit to stage left is fast approaching.


  1. Well, if you go it sure has been fun reading your work!
    I think we're at the beginning of a "Lost Decade" (or two) of housing, assuming things don't get worse, which I think they will.
    I'm just glad my wife bought this place a couple of years *before* the bubble started, and we were able to take advantage of the refinancing options that were out there during the bubble.
    At this rate (paying down a big chunk of the principle each month) we'll have the place paid off in about 5 years!

  2. It's been a joy reading you, and as a fellow LBC resident who longed to buy in Bixby Knolls or Belmont Shore, I fear there will be a glut of homeowners who no longer base their price drops on your electronic "wake-up call" about overpriced properties. The prospective buyer in me will miss your blog greatly; the editor in me will miss your wit even more. Either way, I'll continue to read until you go. Thanks, El Bee.

  3. Nooooooo! Don't relegate Morekaos to the OC blogs!!! I live here and need this input and laughs

  4. This has been, far and away, the best real estate blog out there. I hope you can find a way to keep sharing your wit and wisdom. But if not, thanks for all you've done so far. It's been a great ride.

    Jack (from the other side of the country, formerly from Santa Monica)

  5. I will will be sad to see you go. I have learned so much from your blog. I just bought a new home and my current home will be listed on Monday. I hope that 4240 Elko will not make your blog :) I hope you stick around. KC

  6. I have been waiting to buy since 2004. Finally threw in the towel when I was able to pick up a short sale at 10% under market in Foothill Ranch. Been living in Long Beach for 6 years and ready to be close to hiking and less crime.

    You are the funniest of the bubble bloggers, I hope to enjoy your writing in some other venue.

  7. Just a little advice from an avid reader. Don't shut it down. Just relax and post when you feel the twitch in your fingers.

    Don't feel like you owe us a weekly post or anything like that. I think when you just let it go, you will someday feel like jumping in again and pulling someones chain...

  8. Hey el bee,
    Completely understood if you do put the lights out on this highly entertaining piece o' the web-o-sphere (but hope you don't!). I'm Yikesboy and been reading and posting occasionally for a couple of years now. Unlike you, I have found that the time was right on and we jumped on a Cliff May Rancho home we could see the potential (even though it was horrendous looking cosmetically). We did get a great price per sq foot ($350 is great for a Rancho as you likely know) and we had enough cash to do about 4 weeks of serious but not expensive renos. The net result is that we live in what I would argue is the best neighborhood in LB with a sweet pool and we created inside a look that I've called "Beach-Modern".
    Anyway, hang in there as I believe we're in for a further 5% or more reduction in the next 12 months before things flatten out (for a long, long time).
    Yer yikesboy

  9. Yikesboy,

    $350 a square foot is amazing for a Cliff May -- even in very rough condition (which, yours sounds like it wasn't that bad). Sounds like you did really well.

    I'm pre-approved and ready to go...there just isn't that much inventory in the area I'm looking in (it's either overpriced junk or short sale head games -- and anything decent gets snapped up with all-cash offers). Frustrating.

    Anyhow, congratulations. Any interesting stories you'd like to share about your homebuying experience?

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Yikesboy,

    I wasn't sure if you wanted the blogosphere to see your address, so I haven't published your comment yet.

    By the way, your house is amazing. Very impressive. If you're okay with your photos and address being out there, I'll publish.

  12. Hey el bee,
    Appreciate the discretion mate. I don't mind as I removed all other galleries of photos other than "Rancho Before" and "Rancho After" and if you don't mind, we could rip this link down perhaps after a couple of weeks (enough time for your regular visitors to have a peek if interested).
    Sound like a plan?

  13. Nice place, yikesboy! I've always wanted a Cliff May house, but alas, even in today's rapidly correcting market, it would be too big of a stretch to buy one.

  14. Hear you drjim, you're right that they do command something of a premium and aren't for everyone (limited size, some have strange layouts and usually lack any insulation) but damn, something about the feel of them really works for us.
    Also this particular one has what we think is the perfect May layout- the garage is attached and faces the street with a short driveway. This doesn't waste any of the precious 5500 sq ft and I think is crucial to having a pool ;-)
    Anyway, keep looking as I think we'll see decent May homes soon for a bit of a discount...

  15. Hi el bee,
    Would you mind ripping down the link above? I want to restore the rest of the gallery.
    Thanks mate!