Monday Open Thread (2012-02-06)

Here is your open thread for Monday February 6th, 2012. You may post random links and off-topic discussions here. Also, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like to see covered in an article, please make it known.

Be sure to also check out the forums, and get your word in the user-driven discussions there!

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About 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. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1

    Europe Mess and Seattle Economy Tied Together Like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum


    “…France and Germany insist no €130bn bailout for Greece unless it agrees harsh new austerity terms and reforms as European Commission warns ‘ deadline has already passed” for Greece….”

    Greece officially bankrupt now, its deadline passed.

  2. 2
    Tatiana Kalashnikov says:

    Greece is in a deep recession and further austerity cuts will just push the economy further down. They will need to at least partially default. My cousin goes to school there and she says the country is a mess.

  3. 3

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 2

    Yes Tatiana:

    Same in America, the country goes if Social Security supports goes, whether we like it or not.

    In Greece I heard they were very rich, with almost every home with a pool….getting used to massive cuts in government services and butcher axing retirements will be a bitter pill for them to swallow.

  4. 4
    Blurtman says:

    The wrongfull and inappropriate mortgage fraud settlement creeps forward to completion. What does large scale perjury and forgery have to do with settling to pay reduce a mortgage holder’s loan principal? Why is not the Washington State AG’s office pursuing criminal charges?

    Deal Is Closer for a U.S. Plan on Mortgage Relief

    “…as it stands now the deal would set aside up to $17 billion specifically to pay for principal reductions and other relief for up to one million borrowers who are behind on their payments but owe more than their houses are currently worth.”

  5. 5
    calvis says:

    To the RE agents out there:

    Is it true that you need to maintain (make monthly payments) to your MLS account or else you forfeit your real estate license? My wife got her license about 4 years ago which was going to be used to purchase property just for us, but we never have taken advantage of it. Since she does not do any listings the MLS service is not very useful to us, but they want us to keep making monthly payments. (Her credit card has expired and they are demanding a new credit card)

    Are there any ways to keep your license, but yet not pay the monthly payments to MLS? I am beginning to think that MLS is a racket if payment into the system is required. She would like to keep her license – after all she did some studying and passed a test to obtain it.


  6. 6

    RE: calvis @ 5 – What you probably want to look at is the DOL’s website for information on being an agent that does not have the license associated with a firm.

    The DOL probably doesn’t care whether you’re a member of the NWMLS, but it does care whether your license is associated with a firm with a designated broker. That firm probably would require that you be a member of the NWMLS, but that probably isn’t an absolute with all firms.

    Assuming the firm does require NWMLS membership, what you would want to check out is what the DOL rules are on changing a license from not being associated with a broker to being associated, and maintaining your license while not so associated. I’m not sure you can go through the renewal process while not associated with a firm. Also whether there are any limitations on how long you can be not so associated. Finally, note that if the license becomes totally inactive (not sure of the term), getting it active again may be more difficult than it was to get originally, because the requirements recently changed. All of that information should be on the DOL’s website.

    Backing up a bit, your plans seem a bit half-baked. You’d be better off using a rebate broker like Craig, and that way you’d have someone who knows what they are doing assisting you.

  7. 7

    RE: Blurtman @ 4

    My Experience With the State AG Office Has Not Been Good

    When I brought to their attention a few years ago that Acer had a warranty, but Circuit City closed down, so they had no place to make warranty returns; they ignored my complaint. Swallow the losses were their attitude. BTW, I’ll never buy another Acer product as a result now either.

    They’re in bed with the foreign/American corporations and banksters IMO.

  8. 8
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 7 – I did contact Rob McKenna’s office, and someone from the consumer protection group got back to me, saying they were inundated with inquiries regarding the mortgage fraud settllement, they were understaffed, and that for criminal fraud (which was the nature of my inquiry), the county prosecutor would have to forward a recommendation to the state AG’s office for them to take action. So I contacted the King County prosecutor. I can’t wait for their reply. Dan Satterberg – not really tough on crime, but vote for me anyway, you ignorant fools.

    Curiously, no one from the State AG’s financial fraud group replied to me. Too bussy pursuing Facebook spam cases, I guess.

    It also seems that the State AG will sit back and observe crime and do nothing until the county prosecutor asks them to. Bizarre.

  9. 9

    RE: softwarengineer @ 7 – Things like that they tend to monitor for trends, and then take action when they see a lot of issues. They will also pick their battles for ones they are likely to have an impact. In your case, for example, they would probably focus more on Acer rather than Circuit City, because Circuit City is dead.

    For example, I once complained about DirecTV and they did nothing, but later I think they did go after them.

  10. 10

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9

    Perhaps Kary

    But a letter to me, even a computer generated nonsense one, would have helped.

    When politicians don’t write back to me when I take the time to write them….they can kiss my vote good-bye next election.

  11. 11
    Scotsman says:

    Something for nothing? Of course not:

    Surprise! Borrowers get to pay for payroll-tax holiday

  12. 12

    RE: softwarengineer @ 10 – You should have received something! They do respond. Maybe they didn’t get it. Did you file it electronically or by mail?

  13. 13

    RE: Scotsman @ 11 – That’s been commented on before, back when Congress was in session. I wonder whose bright idea that was.

  14. 14

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 12
    Perhaps You’re Right Kary

    I may of got an email back from them, explaining they were doing nothing….perhaps that’s why I forgot about it….they might as well as sent me nothing.

    I was also su[ppose to get a phone call from the VP of Acer, he never took the time BTW.

    I gave up Kary and advise anyone be careful with electronics’ company warranties [like Acer] and/or buy an additional warranty from the store that sold you the unit….kind of makes that sale price a joke though.

  15. 15
    johnnybigspenda says:


    You should start a bubble blog in Canada. Here is one for example. The hate mail this guy receives and the blog comments are so similar to what people were saying here in 2007/8… scary.

  16. 16
    johnnybigspenda says:

    A buddy of mine lives in Toronto… he sold his place last year in anticipation of a bursting bubble. His comments:
    Some facts below,

    Four in ten retirees now quit work and still have a mortgage
    53% of Canadians now have no savings
    Over 70% are without pensions
    Four in ten can’t pay their monthly bills without borrowing.
    House prices have doubled since 2002.
    Household debt has swollen 40% in a decade
    Real estate as a percentage of the economy is at the highest level in 30 years – 27%
    Over a year ago CMHC convinced Parliament to boost its insured lending ceiling to a staggering $600 billion – about the size of the federal debt. Seventeen months ago there was $100 billion cushion left. By last autumn it was $60 million and in a few months it will be gone. It means taxpayers are on the hook (between CMHC and the national debt) for more than a trillion dollars.

    On a personal level, the average single family home in 416 is now $776,017, which is eight times the average GTA income (90k). Actually, it would take that family 11 years to pay for this if all of their take-home income ($70,708) was devoted to the purchase. This is a burden exactly 200% greater than in the US the year before that bubble burst. Furthermore, a 5% down mortgage with property taxes would be approximately $4000 or 68% of monthly income for the average family home….no wonder everyone is taking on more debt.

  17. 17
    David S says:

    If you factor in the bad weather last month then sales are extra super dupery specially impressive.

    “Those numbers are especially impressive considering a week was lost to bad weather, brokers said.”

    Rent on!

  18. 18
    ChrisM says:

    RE: johnnybigspenda @ 16 – “Four in ten retirees now quit work and still have a mortgage”

    Scary. I wonder if those predicting a bottom in housing have taken Baby Boomer demographics into account. There will be a ton of people (retirees) trying to sell their house in order to finance their retirement.

  19. 19

    RE: ChrisM @ 18

    I Read about a Year Ago

    The average person over 50 has like $27K saved for retirement.

    I’d say that was likely optimistic, I wonder if they factored in lost equity on their 2nd mortgaged house they bought in the 80s for $80K, but it now has a $300K cash machine loan on it and its worth like $250K today…..

    But by gosh they have a shiny new SUV in the driveway, stainless steel appliances and granite counters now :-)

  20. 20

    RE: johnnybigspenda @ 16

    You’re Right

    The depression is worldwide.

    No one is immune….when America catches a cold, the rest of the world gets pneumonia….they’re addicted to us buying their stuff and when we stop?

  21. 21

    RE: softwarengineer @ 19 – A couple of years ago there was a survey where a lot of people (I don’t remember the percentage) indicated that their best chance to retire was by winning the lottery.

    My thought was at least they’re not in denial.

    I really have to wonder whether the Social Security safety net made people prepare less for their own retirement, thinking SS was a retirement plan.

  22. 22
    Tatiana Kalashnikov says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 20RE: Blurtman @ 4

    So up to one million borrowers will see relief..What about the millions who lost everything already?! This idea seems so wrong to me. We are near the end of the crisis and suddenly we help those who by chance are the last to lose their homes?

  23. 23
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 8 – You will soon find out that all AGs exist to assist big business whether it is fraudulent or not. After the crooks have cleaned all the rubes out and the public starts screaming and the complicit media stops supporting the crooks temporarily the regulators will step up, make a lot of noise, and maybe prosecute a few of the low hanging fruit criminals to make it look like they are doing something. This is the pattern that has existed for at least 100 years in this country. The problem is that every cycle gets worse and not better. Unless you are a big name or contribute a lot of money to support the criminal enterprise that exists in business and Congress you will be brushed aside no matter how valid your complaints are. You are peeing in the wind.

  24. 24
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21 – I honestly believe that most people did not expect to arrive at retirement and have the entire global financial imploding. For generations the public has been taught to believe in the system and they are now just figuring out they are up shit creek without a paddle mostly through no fault of their own. They have been fleeced by the elite and our Congressional crooks and they are even slow to recognize that with all the media and political hype. When their family starts starving they will get it and they will revolt. Any wonder why it is so easy to get food stamps, stay in your home when you have not paid your mortgage in two years or have collected unemployment for two years? All delaying tactics to keep the public from revolting.

  25. 25
    Blurtman says:

    What the hell is Rob McKenna doing? This moron wants to be the next governor of Washington state?

    Missouri Attorney General Files Criminal Lawsuit on Robosiging

    What is striking about the indictment by a Missouri grand jury is that the Missouri AG Chris Koster has decided to challenge the banks’ party line that robosigning and related abuses were mere “paperwork problems.” He’s called robosiging what it is: forgery. The 136 count indictment is for forgeries and false declarations, and the targets are LPS subsidiary and its founder and past president, Lorraine Brown. From a press release by Koster:

    Today’s indictment reflects our firm conviction that when you sign your name to a legal document, it matters,” Koster said. “Mass-producing fraudulent signatures on millions of real estate documents across America constitutes forgery. When you file those documents in our state, you are committing a crime under Missouri law.

    The forgery and false declaration counts each allege that the person whose name appears on 68 notarized deeds of release on behalf of the lender is not the person who actually signed the paperwork. The documents were then submitted to the Boone County Recorder of Deeds as though they were genuine…

  26. 26

    RE: Blurtman @ 25
    I’ll betcha McKenna gets in too. The voters in this state like weasels.

  27. 27

    By Pegasus @ 24:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21 – I honestly believe that most people did not expect to arrive at retirement and have the entire global financial imploding. For generations the public has been taught to believe in the system and they are now just figuring out they are up “chocolate” creek without a paddle mostly through no fault of their own.

    True, there were those hit by bad timing, and it’s been going on for years. One of the worst things about California denying the laws of supply and demand during the energy crisis was they destroyed (literally bankrupted) two major utilities and harmed many more. Those are the types of things that retirees or those close to retirement would have invested in.

    Then a few years later the next group gets hit by falling house prices. I saw a lot of examples of people who retired a year or two late, and lost a lot of money because of that.

  28. 28

    RE: Blurtman @ 25 – Robosigning is entirely different from state to state. In other states you have court affidavits signed–not in Washington. In Washington there are relatively few statements of fact which have to be made to start the foreclosure ball rolling.

    Do you even have any evidence that there was Robosigning in Washington?

  29. 29

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 22

    Two Years Ago The Stimulus Were to End the Crisis

    As Kary stated the flow of distressed properties appears constant today, does that mean the end?

    IMO, the end of the crisis is possibly when we stop thinking about it, the economic factors or selling atmosphere may be unchanged; but our individual growing attitude of hope in the midst of calamity can mitigate it. Perhaps we just get used to it and the crisis appears over, kind of like $3-4 gasoline going up from $1; at first it was horrifying, then after a while it bothers us less than when it first appearred.

  30. 30
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 28 – Forgery and perjury are crimes in Washington state. As the Washington State AG is a willing participant in the robosigning mortgage fraud settlement, you can deduce your own conclusions.

  31. 31
    Scotsman says:

    Is That Fear? (Bank Short Sales)

    Banks, accelerating efforts to move troubled mortgages off their books, are offering as much as $35,000 or more in cash to delinquent homeowners to sell their properties for less than they owe.

    Lenders have routinely delayed or blocked such transactions, known as short sales, in which they accept less from a buyer than the seller’s outstanding loan. Now banks have decided the deals are faster and less costly than foreclosures, which have slowed in response to regulatory probes of abusive practices. Banks are nudging potential sellers by pre-approving deals, streamlining the closing process, forgoing their right to pursue unpaid debt and in some cases providing large cash incentives, said Bill Fricke, senior credit officer for Moody’s Investors Service in New York.

  32. 32

    By softwarengineer @ 29:

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 22

    Two Years Ago The Stimulus Were to End the Crisis

    As Kary stated the flow of distressed properties appears constant today, does that mean the end?.

    What I said was REOs seemed to be down for the month, but I haven’t updated that since the 2nd. Short sales have been fairly constant, at a level well below demand (pending short sales)

  33. 33

    RE: Blurtman @ 30 – Probably a great settlement for some states (e.g. Washington) and bad for others.

  34. 34

    By Scotsman @ 31:

    Lenders have routinely delayed or blocked such transactions, known as short sales, in which they accept less from a buyer than the seller�s outstanding loan. Now banks have decided the deals are faster and less costly than foreclosures,

    If only someone had been listening. I’ve been saying that for years.

    What’s sad (for banks) is they would not have to give money away if collectively they simply processed short sales in a reasonable time. But an individual bank cannot control that, so they have to give money away.

  35. 35
    Scotsman says:

    RE: johnnybigspenda @ 15

    But Canada is different.. /sarc

  36. 36
    Scotsman says:

    RE: johnnybigspenda @ 16

    Ouch! Canada does the U.S. one better! Those stats, if true, are much, much worse than similar numbers for the U.S. as we entered our peak bubble years. The ending will be even more spectacular.

  37. 37
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 34 – There are those in the know that state that the reason that bankers are now pushing short sales is because they can’t produce the legal paperwork to foreclose. More than one way to keep skinning cats.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 33 – How is this good for Washington state?

  40. 40
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 38 – You are 13 posts behind.

    From my source, Deep Purple: Robosigning occurred because the banks did not properly transfer notes to the mortgage trusts. Why did they not? So they could lend out the mortgages as collateral in the shadow banking system. Timmay likes this type of stuff. He enabled Lehman to abuse this repo process, thereby defrauding their investors by making LEH look healthier than it was. You may notice no one, not Corzine or that former twit of a CEO at B of A who was bullied by Bernanke and Paulson, goes to jail for conspiring to mislead investors. Wasn’t there a law called Sarbanes-Oxley at one time?

    Accordong to Deep Purple, the robosigners are backdating transfers. This is illegal, and must also trigger IRS penalties. Forgetting about these little “abuses” is likely included in the mortgage robosinging fraud settlement. But that’s just Deep Purple’s view of things.

  41. 41
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 40 – curious….does Deep Purple post publicly?

  42. 42

    By Blurtman @ 39:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 33 – How is this good for Washington state?

    I presume it gives the state something for what is probably a questionable cause of action. The way the foreclosure process works in Washington, most of the things discussed in other states are more likely to be irrelevant. Thus cases here are weaker, meaning it’s a better settlement for us than other states.

  43. 43

    By Blurtman @ 40:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 38 – You are 13 posts behind.

    From my source, Deep Purple: Robosigning occurred because the banks did not properly transfer notes to the mortgage trusts.

    Doesn’t matter. In Washington possession of the notes is mere perfection of the interest, or at least that was the case under the prior version of the UCC here in Washington. So if the assignee trust was in bankruptcy it would matter, but otherwise, no.

    There are some states (at least one anyway) where the interest actually has to be recorded in the real property records for it to be valid. That’s clearly not the case in Washington.

    That’s part of why I’m saying the settlement is probably good for Washington but may be bad for other states.

    BTW, I find it a bit ironic that my main complaint about MERS is that they tried to come up with a system that worked in all 50 states, which would be extremely difficult, and now the AGs of the various states are making the same mistake. They shouldn’t be dealing collectively in pursuing the entities.

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