May 31, 2006

WSJ: Making realtors feel like A-listers (so they'll pimp your overpriced condos)


Tell me this isn't working anymore... But then again, vanity, stupidity and corruption go hand in hand... The perverse corruption between developers and realtors, and this type of payola, will be fodder for the Senate 2008 housing bubble hearings...

Hoping the Sizzle Will Sell The Steak in Condo Slowdown

At a party in Fort Lauderdale last month, guests in clingy cocktail dresses grooved on stage with singer Wyclef Jean and even tried to pull off his black-and-baby-pink striped tie.

A week later, in Las Vegas, party-goers attended a reception hosted by actress Pamela Anderson, who was surrounded by a small army of models dressed in black bikinis, white hard hats, tool belts and yellow "Do Not Cross" construction tape.

The latest dispatches from the Hollywood glamour circuit? No, it's real-estate developers wooing real-estate brokers and potential buyers of high-end condominiums.

The growing glut of expensive condos is pushing high-performing real-estate brokers and deep-pocketed potential buyers onto the "A" list.

By supplying them with coveted party invitations and celebrity access, developers hope to reduce the backlog of high-priced luxury condominiums before rival developers can flood the slowing sales market with even more new properties.

Developers are going all-out -- with celebrities, showgirls, circus performers and fireworks displays worthy of the Fourth of July. Sales incentives ranging from alligator-leather-covered notepads in Manhattan to $10,000 diamond-encrusted cuff links in Fort Lauderdale are dangled before guests.

In Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Manhattan, an estimated 167,600 luxury units are due to hit the market in coming months. In Las Vegas, where 62,600 new condo units are planned, there's greater pressure because projects often are larger and developers can't get construction financing to build without selling a certain number of units in advance. Three condo projects already have been canceled and a half dozen are being re-evaluated in light of slowing sales.

Developers say the parties are a bargain considering the prices of the condos, and they generate far better returns than dropping the prices of units does.

71 comments:

mr. smith said...

I don't get it....if Janet Jackson flashes boob at the Superbowl, the whole country rises up in righteous anger.

If RE developers hire models to flash boob at marketing events, then that's just business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Sell Condos to the suckers !!!

Sell it to the Foreigners

Sell it to the Mexicans

not to me, sorry !!!!

new 200 Mbps BROADBAND over POWER LINES said...

Mortgage Applications Drop 1.9% - Index Hits 4 Year Lows

----
UPDATE 1-US home loan demand falls as interest rates climb
Wed May 31, 2006 7:01 AM ET

By Julie Haviv

NEW YORK, May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. mortgage applications fell last week, reflecting a decline in home refinancing loans as interest rates climbed, an industry trade group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity for the week ended May 26 decreased 1.9 percent to 541.9 from the previous week's 552.6.

Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 6.66 percent, up 0.05 percentage point from the previous week, and matching a four-year high touched two weeks ago.

The MBA's seasonally adjusted purchase mortgage index fell 0.2 percent to 395.5.

The purchase index -- considered a timely gauge of U.S. home sales -- was also below its year-ago level of 462.7.

The group's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications decreased 4.8 percent to 1,409.0. A year earlier the index stood at 2,142.1.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 34.9 percent of total applications from 35.7 percent the previous week.

Historically low mortgage rates have fueled a five-year housing boom, helping support the U.S. economy's recovery from recession despite uncertain business investment.

Analysts differ on whether or not there is a housing bubble, but most agree that the market is cooling off from its record run.

Fixed 15-year mortgage rates averaged 6.22 percent, down from 6.23 percent the previous week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) increased to 6.09 percent from 6.02 percent.

ARMs have been a refuge for cash-strapped consumers seeking to buy a home with low initial mortgage payments. Rates on ARMs, however, have been rising less than fixed rates, which is possibly why demand for floating-rate products increased last week.

The ARM share of activity edged up to 30.7 percent of total applications last week from 30.5 percent the previous week. It was the highest ARM share since late January.

The MBA's survey covers about 50 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.

john in va said...

keith,
Did you see the reference to HP on Motley Fool?
http://www.fool.com/News/mft/2006/mft06053103.htm?ref=foolwatch

Lose That Mortgage?
By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
May 31, 2006

As I was traipsing around the Internet the other day, I stumbled upon a blog titled "Housing Panic," where I read an interesting post. The writer asked for anyone's thoughts on this question:

"Anyone thinking of cashing in stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, etc., to pay off your mortgage instead? Say you have $200,000 in disposable financial assets, and a $200,000 mortgage. What do you do? ... My goal -- rent 'til this sucker blows over, then buy my next house for cash. No more mortgages for me..."

Anonymous said...

Tell me, is this the egalitarianism you were blaming for the housing bubble?

Vote republican- watch things get worse.

Anonymous said...

Say, you don't suppose the buyers of those high-end condos own multiple properties, do you? I read about a buyer in my Northwest city who was so charmed by the lofts here she bought one for the couple of times a year she visits her son from NYC.

Is that more of that egalitarianism? Think it has anything to do with the income inequality pursued by republicans that has given the top 10% a HUGE windfall in the last 30 years?

Perhaps you'll see that when each wealthy family has 52 condos to live in one week a year each....

new 200 Mbps BROADBAND over POWER LINES said...

How many Unlicense and Illegal immigrants/day laborers hired by well-known Homebuilders in your area to build your houses ????

fortune.com

Immigration reform could kill the housing boom
Up to 40% of home building is done by undocumented aliens. But no one's talking about what a crackdown could do to real estate prices.
By Jon Birger and Jenny Mero, FORTUNE
May 31, 2006: 12:20 PM EDT

brokersleaveyoubroke said...

I don't get it....if Janet Jackson flashes boob at the Superbowl, the whole country rises up in righteous anger

As I remember it, a couple of self rightous clowns in the FCC rose up in anger but the rest of the nation did a collective yawn.
As far as business as usual, you better believe that a few of the really high rollers got a lot more then a flash of boob.

mr. smith said...

My goal -- rent 'til this sucker blows over, then buy my next house for cash. No more mortgages for me..."

I haven't had a mortgage since 1990 and will never have one again...it's great. And here's how to do it...

Start small with a fix-upper house. Buy w/cash. Or have a small mortgage that you can pay off quickly. Then live free but save an amount equal to what you would have paid for rent/mortgage. Of course you will need to do the fix-up work in your spare time(elbow grease).

So...you are banking away all the money that you would have otherwise been paying for mortgage interest or rent and applying it toward your next level-up house(which could be a fix-upper or not).

Sell your fixed-up house for a profit. Then take that profit + your accumulated savings + accumulated interest and buy the next house(s) with cash.

And you will never again have to apply for a mortgage. Plus you will be secure in your retirement years as you will not have to come up with the montly cash for mortgage/rent.

Dan said...

Keith post this headline article on CNN right now.

Immigration reform could kill the housing boom
Up to 40% of home building is done by undocumented aliens. But no one's talking about what a crackdown could do to real estate prices.
By Jon Birger and Jenny Mero, FORTUNE
May 31, 2006: 12:20 PM EDT


(FORTUNE Magazine) - For the home building industry, the immigration debate raging in Washington is anything but abstract. It's the biggest issue nobody wants to talk about.

Frank Fuentes, president of the Hispanic Contractors Association, queried his 20 largest member firms about speaking with FORTUNE, and not one was willing.

More from FORTUNE
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Sony prays for PS3 salvation

The Good Life guide to summer reading


FORTUNE 500
Current Issue
Subscribe to Fortune




Real estate survival guide
Welcome to the dead zone
The great housing bubble has finally started to deflate -- here's how to weather the fall. (more)
See 19 dead, dying and safe markets



"They're scared to death of being raided," says Fuentes.

By FORTUNE's estimate, up to 40 percent of new-home construction in the U.S. is being done wholly or partly by undocumented immigrants. Fuentes suspects the percentage in his home state of Texas is closer to 80 percent.

According to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 36 percent of insulation workers, 29 percent of roofers, and 28 percent of drywall installers are "unauthorized workers."

Big builders don't employ construction workers, legal or illegal. They hire subcontractors that in turn hire the workers who do the actual sawing and hammering.

"The entire home building business is outsourced," says A.G. Edwards analyst Greg Gieber. It's unclear whether this setup will protect builders should the feds start enforcing immigration laws more vigorously.

In May, Fischer Homes, a leading builder in Kentucky and Indiana, was raided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and four Fischer supervisors were charged with harboring illegal aliens.

Court papers filed by ICE accuse Fischer of using subcontractors "to provide a layer" between it and some 75 illegal workers. That layer, the feds contend, "does not relieve Fischer of the responsibility to ensure that their contractors are employing a legal work force."

A crackdown on undocumented workers would shrivel an already tight construction labor market. Lee Wetherington of Lee Wetherington Homes in Sarasota, Fla., estimates that 70 percent of the workers employed by his subcontractors are Hispanic immigrants.

"If for any reason we lose that work force, you're going to see the time required to build a house double or triple and the cost of new homes increase 30 to 40 percent," Wetherington says.

He insists that there just aren't enough native-born workers available to meet demand and points to Sarasota County's 2.3 percent unemployment rate.

His company built 300 homes last year. Without immigrant workers, "we'd have been lucky to build 75," he says.

Wetherington does not know how many of those workers are undocumented, but he suspects it's the majority. He recalls an incident last year when the arrival of workers' comp officials spooked laborers into thinking an immigration raid was underway.

"Everyone scattered," he says. "The entire site just cleared out."

-----------------------

Where the growth (still) is in real estate. More here.

Small businesses face immigration hit. Full story.

From the June 12, 2006 issue

Dan said...

Keith, post this article from CNN:

Immigration reform could kill the housing boom
Up to 40% of home building is done by undocumented aliens. But no one's talking about what a crackdown could do to real estate prices.
By Jon Birger and Jenny Mero, FORTUNE
May 31, 2006: 12:20 PM EDT


(FORTUNE Magazine) - For the home building industry, the immigration debate raging in Washington is anything but abstract. It's the biggest issue nobody wants to talk about.

Frank Fuentes, president of the Hispanic Contractors Association, queried his 20 largest member firms about speaking with FORTUNE, and not one was willing.

More from FORTUNE
Serwer: Oil plays, Tiffany and a little help from my friends

Sony prays for PS3 salvation

The Good Life guide to summer reading


FORTUNE 500
Current Issue
Subscribe to Fortune




Real estate survival guide
Welcome to the dead zone
The great housing bubble has finally started to deflate -- here's how to weather the fall. (more)
See 19 dead, dying and safe markets



"They're scared to death of being raided," says Fuentes.

By FORTUNE's estimate, up to 40 percent of new-home construction in the U.S. is being done wholly or partly by undocumented immigrants. Fuentes suspects the percentage in his home state of Texas is closer to 80 percent.

According to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 36 percent of insulation workers, 29 percent of roofers, and 28 percent of drywall installers are "unauthorized workers."

Big builders don't employ construction workers, legal or illegal. They hire subcontractors that in turn hire the workers who do the actual sawing and hammering.

"The entire home building business is outsourced," says A.G. Edwards analyst Greg Gieber. It's unclear whether this setup will protect builders should the feds start enforcing immigration laws more vigorously.

In May, Fischer Homes, a leading builder in Kentucky and Indiana, was raided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and four Fischer supervisors were charged with harboring illegal aliens.

Court papers filed by ICE accuse Fischer of using subcontractors "to provide a layer" between it and some 75 illegal workers. That layer, the feds contend, "does not relieve Fischer of the responsibility to ensure that their contractors are employing a legal work force."

A crackdown on undocumented workers would shrivel an already tight construction labor market. Lee Wetherington of Lee Wetherington Homes in Sarasota, Fla., estimates that 70 percent of the workers employed by his subcontractors are Hispanic immigrants.

"If for any reason we lose that work force, you're going to see the time required to build a house double or triple and the cost of new homes increase 30 to 40 percent," Wetherington says.

He insists that there just aren't enough native-born workers available to meet demand and points to Sarasota County's 2.3 percent unemployment rate.

His company built 300 homes last year. Without immigrant workers, "we'd have been lucky to build 75," he says.

Wetherington does not know how many of those workers are undocumented, but he suspects it's the majority. He recalls an incident last year when the arrival of workers' comp officials spooked laborers into thinking an immigration raid was underway.

"Everyone scattered," he says. "The entire site just cleared out."

-----------------------

Where the growth (still) is in real estate. More here.

Small businesses face immigration hit. Full story.

From the June 12, 2006 issue

tom stone said...

hoookers,gin,a few well placed cameras and YOU have a full price buyer!

Anonymous said...

Funniest quote of the day:

"Wetherington does not know how many of those workers are undocumented, but he suspects it's the majority. He recalls an incident last year when the arrival of workers' comp officials spooked laborers into thinking an immigration raid was underway.

"Everyone scattered," he says. "The entire site just cleared out."

uknowwhoiyam said...

Holy crap!

Ft Lauderdale now has an 11.4 mo. (!) supply of unsold inventory.

USA today: http://tinyurl.com/oxamm

uknowwhoiyam said...

Did you see the reference to HP on Motley Fool?

From the article:
"My own answer would be that for most people, it's smart to keep the mortgage."

Heh, mine too.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing about Las Vegas. I sold my home there on June 4th, 2005 and left for the midwest. I sold the house at an exhorbitant price in two days with seven offers. I told my realtor (whom I negotiated a 4.5% commission with) that I believed the market there would crash and i wanted out. She was absolutely convinced of the opposite. The people who bought my home asked me, why are you selling? I told them honestly I anticipated a real estate crash beginning any time. They laughed and expressed their doubt. When I sold the house, there were approx. 8500 sfh's on the market in the Las Vegas metro. When I looked today, there are over 20,000 and the houses aren't selling. Builders are lowering prices and throwing in every amenity possible, and houses are staying on the market with most having to be reduced. Yet if you read the Realty.com local realtor monthly overviews, they pooh pooh the reality of the crash with all kinds of excuses and voluminous explanations and refer back to heyday statistics for backup. The market peaked in June-August of 2005 and it's now obvious to everyone it's in free-fall.

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Anonymous said...

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