Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

44 responses to “November Stats Preview: Foreclosure Uptick Edition”

  1. softwarengineer

    Active Listings Would Go Up IMO

    If the unknowns were clarified, like we probably need another chart on secret bank inventory held off the listings lest it cause more price plummetting….

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  2. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1 – With about 400 trustee’s deeds a month, and not all of those going to banks buying at their own sale, the banks are pretty well holding their own on clearing inventory.

    I’ve seen several lately where they go on the market very quickly after the sale date. One of those was somewhat atypical though of your averaged foreclosed debtor. Not only did they leave the place in great shape, and left the stainless appliances, they also left the appliance manuals for the new owner! Not all people live like pigs, and not all people blame the bank for their own problems.

    BTW, I’ve also noticed recently that Fannie is taking some deals at a significant number off list. One was so low I wondered if it was either a mistaken entry or an insider deal.

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  3. David S

    I’ve noticed that within my search criteria I am seeing more and more short sale listings that were last sold in the 90′s. I thought it used to be the last sale date for short sales landed in the middle of last decade or so. Rolling back to the 90′s now. And so completely these things are used up.

    Material for The Tim: on short listings, what is the date they were last sold, maybe trend it, maybe plot it.

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  4. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: David S @ 3 – Some people use their homes as ATMs, so the last sale date is rather irrelevant many times. If the creditor is WAMU, then it’s possible the amount of debt is about 120% of peak value for the house.

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  5. softwarengineer

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 2

    Good Point Kary

    It wasn’t a thorough analyses search, but I was at a Puyallup’s dealership getting my car’s oil changed…was reading the Tacoma Tribune real estate listings…..a nice looking from the outside 3 bdrm 1 1/2 bath house….$89K.

    The realtors were talking foreclosed and price collapse talk like us Bubble Heads, not jive. Perhaps they’re on a new method, honesty sells more now….???

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  6. softwarengineer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 5

    Perhaps a Better Reason for Low Inventory is Pig Headed Sellers Holding Off?

    Of course even pig headed sellers have to drastically lower prices too sooner or later….

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  7. David S

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 4 – So the question is whether there’s an uptick in the the number of ATM short sales that previously, irrelevantly sold in the 90′s versus the ones we know about from the middle of last decade. The latter does not surprise me. The number of ATM short sales from the mid nineties purchases I’m starting to see more of do surprise me, not that they are short sales, but that they seem to be showing up more prevalently in my search.

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  8. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: David S @ 7 – It probably varies widely by area and even neighborhood.

    At one extreme, if you live in a project built in 2007 probably 90% of the listings are short sales, and none of them are of the ATM type.

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  9. Kary L. Krismer

    By softwarengineer @ 6:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 5 – Perhaps a Better Reason for Low Inventory is Pig Headed Sellers Holding Off?

    Again, basic economic theory (supply/demand) indicates that at lower prices fewer items will be available for sale.

    Also, I would note that at the peak there were some people on the market not because they wanted or needed to move, but because of the price.

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  10. softwarengineer

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9

    Makes Sense in a Economic Book Sense Kary

    But my experience during the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 80s through the early 90s recession in Seattle was “pig-headed” sellers….they were much better off to stall selling back then [no under-water loans back then] and buyers quickly switched to brand new homes for 25% less than the over-priced used stock.

    Same thing today, builders are still erecting new homes at discounts increasing the supply as under-water homes head for foreclosure. Cramer recently blamed new home construction for the never ending price decline.

    IMO, throw the economics book away and take out the local Seattle history book.

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  11. No Name Guy

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 8

    RE: David S @ 7

    I saw one of these ATM homes down the block from me. Looked it up on Zillow (this was last year). Said it was a short sale. They bought about 95-96. They were listing for ~2x the last listed sale price. I thought to myself: “Ok you dumb@$$es, what, just WHAT did you blow that 100k+ on over these last 14-15 years? Bass boat? Cars / trucks? Casino? How many trips to where? Idiots.”

    It never sold. Sitting empty as a foreclosure. Next door neighbor to that one is trying to sell.

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  12. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: No Name Guy @ 11 – Seattle real estate prices didn’t drop for something like 20 years in a row. During most of those years the prices went up. There were a lot of people that would run up credit card debt and then refinance to pay off the debt, then repeat.

    Over that same time interest rates were generally going down, so their payments didn’t rise that much. What they were ignoring, however, was:

    1. That’s not a good long term strategy because you’re not increasing your net worth.
    2. The strategy falls apart completely if real estate prices don’t rise, because credit card interest is typically at high rates.
    3. That strategy makes selling harder almost no matter what real estate prices do.

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  13. Trigger

    To me this looks like that real estate might level off very soon and in a year or two it might start to appreciate slowly? Especially if unemployment levels start rising and jobs get created.

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  14. Doug

    @12

    Never convert and unsecured loan (CC debt) into a secured loan (mortgage). Just plain stupid in nearly all cases.

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  15. David Losh

    RE: Doug @ 14

    except for the past five years.

    Equity is equity. You either capture it or lose it. Right now, if you sell, you can capture some equity. However you a losing equity every day that you hold the property.

    So, people were able to capture equity with real dollars by taking cash out, then paying it back over thirty years. Now the second question is what the value of those future dollars will be.

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  16. Hugh Dominic

    RE: Trigger @ 13 – How did you reach that conclusion?

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  17. gr8day

    Softy @10- RE: New Home Builders

    I know quite a few people who have bought from a new home builder in the last 10 years, They all say the same thing – that homeowners with a 30 year old “used” home are asking the same price as a new home from a homebuilder. Plus the new home has more insulation, no mold, efficient furnace, better windows, etc, etc, etc.

    A couple of times, I went on the MLS/Zillow with them and saw what they were talking about. The “used” home was asking a premium price.

    Cramer should not blame builders for the price decline. Too many homeowners are asking too much for their “used” home. You would not do that with a car – you would not buy a 30 year old Ford Pinto for the same price as a new Ford________(fill in the blank – any model will do).

    If homeowners of “used” homes were asking a reasonable price, builders would be out of business.

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  18. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: gr8day @ 17 – Until 2007 new homes did sell for a premium. The problem for the developers though was that they couldn’t just stop on a dime. When they buy land it is sometimes years before they can start selling the first lot. That left a lot of inventory which needed to be worked through after the peak. And that meant they lowered their prices to the level of what you call the “used” houses. Still later, some developers were picking up improved lots really cheap, and that allowed them to cut prices even more.

    I think you’re mistaken though as to the quality of the new construction houses. I’ll give you insulation and electrical probably being better (depending on the age of the “used” house). But in many ways buying a new house is much more risky, with siding and foundation issues being the greatest risks. Beyond that though, another risk is you don’t have a clue what your neighborhood will be like in 5-10 years.

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  19. Kary L. Krismer

    I ran some numbers yesterday, and the non-distressed median seems to have recovered from last month’s fall. The distressed medians were very low–one of them below $200,000k. Of course, we all know those properties are exactly the same as the non-distressed. ;-)

    Short sales were toward the high end of their typical volume range. If would be nice to see that number quadruple, even though it would blow the hell out of the median.

    Number from NWMLS sources but not compiled or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

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  20. Mike S.

    RE: gr8day @ 17

    You get an established neighborhood with an older home, you often get much “harder” wood, which is just stronger than today much greener wood. Things tend to be more unique with older homes, built stronger in many cases as well. With an older home you know how the foundation is, with a newer home you often have NO idea how much settling will occur, or the strength of the foundation.
    New electrical can be had for relatively cheap, PEX plumbing is much easily to install now, making it cheap to install in an old home.
    Comparing older homes to older cars is WAY off base.

    Some of the newer construction I have seen around the Puget sound in downright shoddy. Moisture barries done so quickly, cement foundations hurried to be finished not curing properly. I could make a good sized list about newer construction.

    Give me an older home that was built slowly, the right way and has had time to settle on its foundation, in a good neighborhood any day.

    Moving into a half built culdesac? Flipping a coin on your neighborhood. NO THANKS.

    That being said I do like the mainvue homes being built, but it still doesnt change some of the issues you get with new homes.

    Dont forget established vegetation too, nice trees, lawns, bushes, lot sizes, ect…

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  21. David Losh

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 19

    Short sales and bank owned properties are the Real Estate market place.

    I was asking myself one day how a good looking guy like a Kary Krismer was looking at some dirty stinky bank owned property. Usually that kind of stuff is left to guys like me. When I actually looked there were a lot of bank owned in Seattle. The when I look at the $200K to up to $500K range there are tons of short sales.

    Bank owned, and short sales are like all of the “exotic” financing that have always been available. When mom, dad, and the kids started using ARMS, interest only, balloon payment financing things blew up. It’s going to be the same for the “distressed” property market.

    If people buy today thinking that “distressed” means a bargain they will lose money. Banks aren’t stupid. Banks are selling for the BPO, or better in some cases. You don’t get to see the BPO. Banks are averaging returns as they can. Some banks are in serious trouble, like Bank of America, but all banks have policy, and procedure for selling off assets. In today’s market place losses can be off set by other investment opportunities.

    Actually that is neither here nor there. What is a bigger problem is the losses of personal wealth that are happening right now. These distressed properties are weighing down the entire market place. Lower prices, lower equity, more payments being made on equity losses, all add to a reduction of personal wealth, for all of us.

    The second part about falling Real Estate prices is all the people who purchased in the last five years are stuck with the property they own. Without the 4% appreciation in pricing there is another loss in the cost to sell. Telling people they should plan on putting 20% down is a loss, and that they need to plan on being in a place for 15 years is another loss of move up buyers in the market place.

    All you need to know is that the shear volume of bank owned, and short sales, is predictive of further losses in Real Estate.

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  22. Kary L. Krismer

    By David Losh @ 20:

    Banks aren’t stupid. Banks are selling for the BPO, or better in some cases. You don’t get to see the BPO.

    Banks are stupid. If they weren’t stupid it wouldn’t have taken BAC 4 years to realize that they need to have a more prompt response on short sales.

    I don’t know why you think selling for above a bank’s BPO is in any way important. Of course though they won’t let you see a bank’s BPO. Why would a seller tell you information regarding what they think the property is worth? To the extent they did show something like that to you, it would likely be a marketing piece.

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  23. Kary L. Krismer

    By David Losh @ 20:

    I was asking myself one day how a good looking guy like a Kary Krismer was looking at some dirty stinky bank owned property.

    Because I have clients looking to buy houses, and ignoring REOs would be stupid. While there are increased risks with bank owned properties, they are typically sold at significant discounts, making it worth while to many buyers.

    I do appreciate the agents that put in the pictures showing how disgusting the property is. Not all buyers want to buy a fixer, so it’s nice to be able to exclude a property without actually visiting it.

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  24. David Losh

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 23RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 22

    Those “discounts” of today are next years full retail.

    By the time the bank owned gets to mom, dad, and the kids, it’s already been passed over by investors. Any “investor” who makes money with today’s bank owned is just lucky. They are waiting for the idiot buyer.

    The idiot buyer syndrome is a function of, again, today’s Real Estate professionals who are telling them now is a great time to buy. It’s not.

    I’m talking about the shear volume of underwater, or bank owned properties three years after a crash, or correction.

    Banks, in the past, could sell short, and average out those losses against other properties. Today, the volume of properties coming back, or selling short doesn’t give banks any wiggle room. They are relying on the market place to absorb properties for as much as the market will bear. That’s why they don’t dump short sales.

    I could also go into the accounting of foreclosure losses, but what’s the point?

    The fact still remains the Real Estate market is churning with this idea it’s great time to buy because there are these “bargains” in distressed properties couple with “historically” low interest rates.

    A lot is going wrong.

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  25. Kary L. Krismer

    By David Losh @ 24:

    Those “discounts” of today are next years full retail.

    By the time the bank owned gets to mom, dad, and the kids, it’s already been passed over by investors. Any “investor” who makes money with today’s bank owned is just lucky. They are waiting for the idiot buyer. .

    As to next year’s price, no one knows that, but it is irrelevant if you want to buy a house today. Next year’s price could always be higher or lower than today’s price.

    As to investors vs. owner occupied, typically owner occupied get the advantage (at least if you consider Freddie, Fannie and VA typical).

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  26. David Losh

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 25

    A buyer can get a better deal from an individual than bank owned or short sale.

    What that means is that Real Estate agents will have to go to work and find properties to sell to the buyers.

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  27. ChrisM

    RE: Mike S. @ 20 – For me, emphasis on the lot size. I’m amazed that people would consider something like a 4500 (or less) sq ft lot! Especially when there’s a 2400 sq ft McMansion dwarfing (is that a word?) the lot.

    “Survivor bias” is the phrase you’re looking for. I agree – I’d rather have a well built old house than a very shoddily built (and approved by the county…) sparkly new McMansion.

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Survivor_bias

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  28. Bingo

    RE: ChrisM @ 27

    I’d rather have a well built new home than a shoddily built old home. Remember…every old home was once a new home. I agree that homes that have “survived” have structurally stood the test of time. However, the furnace is now old, the water heater is old, the appliances are old, etc. Plan design has also evolved (eg, not a lot of split levels being built these days). You pretty much need to remodel an old home to get a great room, more electrical outlets per room, bigger closets, updated kitchen etc. But, choose your builder wisely.

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  29. Kary L. Krismer

    By David Losh @ 26:

    A buyer can get a better deal from an individual than bank owned or short sale.

    Anything can happen, but we’re talking about in general. In general the price on a bank owned or short sale will be less.

    Now if by “deal” you mean something other than price, like having a statutory warranty deed or normal inspection rights, then that’s an entirely different matter.

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  30. Kary L. Krismer

    By Bingo @ 28:

    I’d rather have a well built new home than a shoddily built old home. Remember…every old home was once a new home. I agree that homes that have “survived” have structurally stood the test of time. However, the furnace is now old, the water heater is old, the appliances are old, etc.

    How many houses do you see today built with 2×6 rafters on 16″ centers? How many houses do you see built today with cedar siding? The old homes were once new, and when they were they were much better than today’s homes in most areas (insulation and electrical being the main exceptions).

    A furnace or water heater on an older home can be newer than the age of the house, and in any case the cost of such items in minimal in the scheme of things.

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  31. Bingo

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 30

    So…every old home is better than every new home? Nice try.

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  32. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Bingo @ 31 – I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying construction methods were generally better in the past than today. Also, the skill level of the construction worker is much lower. Today they don’t even seem to know how to install vinyl siding.

    So, just using siding as an example, you could be left with an inferior modern product that was improperly installed. That’s a much bigger deal than a 10 year old hot water tank.

    When we were looking for a house we excluded anything built this century.

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  33. David Losh

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 29

    I looked at solds and the number of “estate” sales stands out. That for one, and the other is to look for homes that have a seller who is close to retirement, or past. Some of the homes owned by owners who are in a stage of going to assisted living are well cared for, and the price may be a secondary concern to emotional issues such as passing the home onto a family.

    Bank owned is all numbers. I looked, online, at several, and I am amazed at how many there are, that are asking, and selling for $160 per square foot, and better, that need at least $50K worth of work. $225K seems to be the average price, and at that price there are a few private sellers whose properties seem to be in better shape, and better presented. There was one at $54 per square foot that, of course was a tear down, but it put the lot price at well over $180K.

    A spot lot builder can find lots for $150K because the people who own these bought well, took rental income, and now want to unload a depreciating asset at their cost.

    In the world of numbers a private party has more latitude that they are willing to share.

    Let me emphasize, again, that it is the shear volume, the vast number, of short sales, and bank owned in particular, that is predictive. This post is about foreclosures. There must be a saturation point where “investors” in foreclosures call it quits, and the prices, at auction start declining.

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  34. David Losh

    RE: gr8day @ 17

    It depends on the new home, and used home. Greg McGar in Seattle turns out an excellent product on spot lots, at a reasonable price, some others, not so much.

    Building used to be a noble profession, like, let’s say, farming. Now that builders are the engine that drives the economy they get “special” treatment that has lead to some blight for a lot of areas. Builders don’t need to care about the product. It was the mortgages that they generated, in bulk, that were bought sold, and traded.

    I am also prejudiced by that fact resale on new construction has always been non exsistent until the past ten, or fifteen years. In the distant past you bought, and paid off a property, except for that 4% appreciation from inflation. The numbers for a return on “new” were dismal. Now we have second, and third owners of “new” that have lost a significant amount of equity. New construction is still, to this day, selling for construction cost pricing.

    A buyer of new construction is pretty much stuck. There are no up grades, or add ons that can increase the value.

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  35. David Losh

    I gotta get some work done today, but I did get through a few sold properties in the 710 area, $320K seems to be the sweet spot where prices are normal. The low tier makes more sense now.

    Holy Cow!!! Is it 2006, again! What’s with the pricing! Multiple offers?! 4 days on the market for a bank owned?!

    Holy Cow! and if you used a discount broker, or out of area, you paid over list price?!!!!

    What the heck happened?

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  36. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Bingo @ 31 – One more point on this topic.

    The earliest bad idea in new construction materials was aluminum wiring. I think that was mainly in the 60s.

    Then we had plastic pipe with a lifespan of about 5 years.

    Then we had LP and other composite siding (a lot of that stuff has issues).

    Then we had houses built too tight to be healthy.

    With the exception of the last problem, none of those problems are cheap to fix. What will be the next bad material that is cheaper but claims to be just as good?

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  37. Jonness

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 19:

    I ran some numbers yesterday, and the non-distressed median seems to have recovered from last month’s fall.

    I recently looked at a nice custom home tax assessed that $750K. After going through it, I considered it to be worth about $550K (its list price after a recent price reduction). It sold two days later for a lowball offer of $430K (replacement cost about $700K). The owners owed $300K on it, and it had been sitting empty for 6 months. IMO, it was a distressed sale because the owners could no longer afford to make payments on it and their other house at the same time.

    I’m thinking a significant portion of “non-distressed” homeowners are significantly distressed. The question is, are they financially healthy enough to hold on for better prices in better times? Many probably are, but from now on, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the ones who aren’t.

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  38. Jonness

    By Mike S. @ 20:

    Dont forget established vegetation too, nice trees, lawns, bushes, lot sizes, ect…

    And older homes are often on the cherry lots that are no longer available to builders.

    I looked at one today built in 1957 with good bones on a fantastic low-bank waterfront lot next to a marina. The home is nothing to write home about. :) It’s in good condition but very dated. The first thing I noticed was the cement asbestos siding. That made me wonder about what other asbestos might be hiding in the home, so I watched a few videos on it. I was surprised to learn asbestos was put in kitchen tile, ceiling tile, roofing shingles, plaster, and a bunch of other products I had not known about. Supposedly, asbestos was used up until the mid 1990′s in some things.

    It make me leery of buying the old house on the cherry lot and doing a remodel. How much danger is there in taking on a project like this as a DIY?

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  39. Jonness

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 25:

    As to next year’s price, no one knows that, but it is irrelevant if you want to buy a house today.

    Unless you buy a house today, and tomorrow you have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on your investment. Then it does matter.

    Over the past 7 years or so, it’s been one of the riskiest times to buy a house since the Great Depression. Judging from the macro-economic picture in Europe these days, this risk has not yet abated.

    But most RE agents don’t deal in risk. To them, there’s never a better time to buy than the present. Unfortunately, their clients are continuing to lose money on their home purchases during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

    People need to be careful in this economy. This is not your average garden-variety recession. Don’t be fooled into thinking we are about to turn the corner. Instead, wait until we actually turn the corner. Then act.

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  40. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 37:

    The owners owed $300K on it, and it had been sitting empty for 6 months. IMO, it was a distressed sale because the owners could no longer afford to make payments on it and their other house at the same time.

    That’s not technically a distressed property, because there is equity. It’s an equity sale.

    But that is one of the items I’ve mentioned for years to look for if you’re looking for a bargain. An owner of a vacant house is more likely to negotiate, especially where they’ve already bought another house.

    Clients will often ask when I’m showing a house what we should offer. That cannot be determined until you fully research the seller. Just having some idea of the mortgage debt is not enough.

    BTW, yesterday Losh hit on another situation where they may be likely to bargain–estate sales. If you have 5 heirs, every $25,000 of price reduction only affects the parties by $5,000. Also, they may have a desire to wrap things up. Not all estate situations are good, however. Some heirs are more unrealistic than probably what the decedent would have been.

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  41. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 38:

    By Mike S. @ 20:
    Dont forget established vegetation too, nice trees, lawns, bushes, lot sizes, ect…

    And older homes are often on the cherry lots that are no longer available to builders.

    I looked at one today built in 1957 with good bones on a fantastic low-bank waterfront lot next to a marina. The home is nothing to write home about. :) It’s in good condition but very dated. The first thing I noticed was the cement asbestos siding.

    Are you sure that wasn’t cedar side shingles? Most the homes I’ve seen with asbestos siding are much older.

    Asbestos can be an issue, but as you mention it’s mainly an issue during major repairs. The big one you didn’t mention is popcorn ceilings.

    On the other hand, asbestos isn’t necessarily as big of a problem as you would be lead to believe. The best solution is typically encapsulation if that is possible.

    Lead based paint can lead to similar issues in remodeling.

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  42. Kary L. Krismer

    By Jonness @ 39:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 25:

    As to next year’s price, no one knows that, but it is irrelevant if you want to buy a house today.

    Unless you buy a house today, and tomorrow you have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on your investment. Then it does matter.
    .

    Not unless you want to sell at that point.

    It’s like stock and the paper gains and losses you have while holding it. Irrelevant unless you sell or have to sell.

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  43. David Losh

    RE: Jonness @ 37

    I’ll just mention that 1957 was the Cadillac year for construction in Seattle. It was the perfect storm of good materials, good contractors, and attention to building well.

    The comment you made is about people who are losing equity every day they don’t sell. Holding out has cost sellers billions of dollars. The only time they can realize the equity is if they sell or refinance.

    I talk with several people who sell the family home, for little, or no, tax consequence, then bank the money in a trust for the kids. It’s a smart move in most cases. These people rent.

    What we are also going to see with this decline in Real Estate prices is a loss of generational wealth. The reason we are seeing so many estate sales now is that the families realize that holding the family home is a loss. Some may rent out the home, but splitting rental income is a hassle.

    What that means is that as time goes on there will be less, and less inherited wealth for the middle class.

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  44. To the Students from the Dec 6, 2011 LO CE Class at Rockwell Bellevue : National Association of Mortgage Fiduciaries

    [...] Read more from Seattle Bubble about local Puget Sound foreclosure statistics and how the WA State Foreclosure Fairn…. [...]

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