Friday, January 27, 2006

Speculator Exits Early at a Loss

Back in November of 2004, a speculator put down a 50K deposit on a to be built single family house located in Fairfax , VA ( Northern Virginia, DC suburbs) . Stanley Martin is the homebuilder for this development. The 50k deposit included the usual deposit plus extra money for special options. The home would be built and settlement would occur in September 2005 for 1 million dollars. The plan was to then sell it a solid profit.

September 2005 came and the speculator realizes that the housing market has radically changed. The speculator came to his senses and decided NOT to settle (buy). Instead, he lost the 50K deposit.

Despite the 50k loss, it was still a wise decision to exit early. A 50K loss is better than a larger loss.

24 comments:

  1. this is so vague and lacking of hard facts. i'm curious why you put a post up like this.

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  2. Ouch. 2006 may be a long year for sellers. If investors leave the market, and sellers stubbornly stick to 5% discounts off last year's prices, there won't be too many sales.

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  3. "this is so vague and lacking of hard facts. i'm curious why you put a post up like this."

    What sort of hard facts are you looking for?
    ------------------------------

    It was posted because it is just one example of what is increasingly happening to speculators in the bubble markest, that is they are losing large sums of money.

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  4. Is this a specific factual example or an opinion? Please provide the details or state if this is an opinion.

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  5. This is a factual example. What other details do you want?

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  6. Yo Condo Watcher - that it was a "wise decision" to walk away is David's subjective opinion. He's entitled, it's his 'blog.

    That this sort of thing is going on is not really subject to anyone's opinion. It simply is what it is. The gig is up, get over it.

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  7. Without more facts (ie. specific houses or at least streets, possibly names of the parties involved) there is no way to verify that this is true.

    Otherwise, it becomes just more of the rumor and speculation that surrounds the market right now (ie. are house prices declining? or holding steady? Is the bubble bursting? or just no longer increasing?) And it is obviously true that different people can have different motivations for starting/spreading rumours (rumors that serve the teller's interests). I have no idea whether this post is true or not; and my point is that I have no way of finding out.

    As to the market, I certainly know of concrete examples where prices were lowered from the asking price, but then the property sold. So what does that mean?

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  8. David is right. This is going on. I have personal knowledge. I was able to get my deposit back on one new condo because the builder failed to deliver within 24 months (a provision in the contract). Others, without a legal background, were bullied into closing.

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  9. "Without more facts (ie. specific houses or at least streets, possibly names of the parties involved) there is no way to verify that this is true. "

    It's called an anecdote. I don't believe the author said, "This invariably happens in DC area real estate transactions". Instead, the implication is, "Here's an example of the kind of thing I've been talking about". It's up to the audience to decide how relevant or representative it really is. As it happens, this particular anecdote doesn't seem out of step with a host of other indicators, many of which we can see for ourselves in classified ads and on the streets of our neighborhoods.

    Jeez, I often suspect that half the world's problems would vanish if everybody enrolled in Philosophy 101, Introduction to Logic.

    --sglover

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  10. I totally believe that this is happening. And I know this is David's blog - I happen to like David's blog, especially for its great postings such as the recent pic. of the "For Sale" signs in NoVa, the story of the house in Silver Springs, etc.

    I think there are many other people who enjoy this blog as I do.

    Just in case anyone doubted my intentions...

    Are the new home sales numbers out?

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  11. Losing 50K just like that - what percentage of Americans can afford that?

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  12. The problem is, when someone loses 50K, they keep their mouth shut. But when someone makes a paper 50K, he shouts it to the rooftops (often neglecting to discuss the renovation and closing costs).

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  13. "The problem is, when someone loses 50K, they keep their mouth shut. But when someone makes a paper 50K, he shouts it to the rooftops (often neglecting to discuss the renovation and closing costs)."

    Exactly. Astute post.

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  14. "Jeez, I often suspect that half the world's problems would vanish if everybody enrolled in Philosophy 101, Introduction to Logic."

    If I remember correctly, when I took logic, it was a 300 or 400 level course. Philosophy 101 is usually a general introduction course to philosophy as a whole.

    At any rate:

    1) I stand by every word in my original post, logicially speaking.

    2) I wasn't responding to David's post exactly, I was providing some more explanation as to why some people in the comments section wanted more information.

    2) I also think your post is entirely correct (except for the last part about philosophy courses). You seem to be saying, as an anecdote, it doesn't matter whether David's post is verifable or not. (ie. the post, by its very nature, doesn't have to be verifiable.) If that's true, I guess I would say the post has very limited value. The post would have much more value--be a better post--if there were some verifiable information in it, since I don't know David (although I am sure he is a very nice guy) and I don't know his motivations. (Indeed, it is certainly theoretically possible that either David, or the person who told him this story, invented it for their own reasons.) I am simply saying that, as a generally skeptical reader, I would like a way to verify this information. Otherwise, it just becomes more noise in the real estate world. I guess you are saying that's all that it is.

    3) I certainly recognize that, since it is David's blog, he is absolutely free to post anything he wants--any story he heard, verifiable or not.

    4) I like this blog. And I suspect that the anecdote is true.

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  15. Jeez...that was a bunch of nonsense.

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  16. Jeez...I was thinking just the opposite: so obviously true as to be trite.

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  17. "If I remember correctly, when I took logic, it was a 300 or 400 level course. Philosophy 101 is usually a general introduction course to philosophy as a whole."

    At the university where I first took logic courses, freshmen had three options for their Intro to Philosophy course: ethics, metaphysics (I think -- no pun intended, by the way), or logic. The latter started with argument forms and validity, and wound up with symbolic logic. The department also offered a junior-level logic course that began with symbolic logic and moved on to the predicated calculus. To this day, no class I've ever taken before or since has been as generally valuable as that beginning logic course.

    Since I thought I saw this dead horse twitch a little: Later on, when I returned to another university to (finally) finish an undergrad degree, the Computer Science department required all their prospective students (mainly freshmen and transfers) to take a 100-level discrete math course that covered (among other things) symbolic and quantifier logic. So there are various routes to studying logic. But it should really be first taught in first grade, and every year thereafter....
    --sglover

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  18. I stand corrected about philosophy/logic classes.

    (Although in my experience, I'm not sure making everyone take such a class would be much help. Most people in my class were god-awful at it. Maybe you're right: starting in the first grade would help.)

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  19. David, I enjoy reading your blog- a gem of a blog in the DC Metro area. But I have to agree with some other posters that the lack of details (zip? how you came to know of it- first hand?) doesn't help this post. I like the credible aspects of your blog and hope you keep it up because I view this blog at least daily. Thanks.

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  20. "But I have to agree with some other posters that the lack of details (zip? how you came to know of it- first hand?) doesn't help this post."

    I do not know the zip off hand but I could look it up. My source is highly reliable. [ do people really have a reason to doubt this story? ]

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  21. My personal experience is that those who are most suspicious of others are so because THEY lie and therefore think all people do. I have seen this many times in my (former) profession. It rarely occurs to truly honest people that someone is out and out lying to them.

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  22. I put down a 25K deposit on a half million dollar house 3 years ago, which represented 5%, so 50K on 1 mil seems reasonable.

    In our situation, we felt forced into closing. When we got the loan documents a week before closing the terms were much worse than we had anticipated. The lender was not up front with what he could get us in the form of a loan. We thought we were going to get a 30-year fixed and ended up with a 6-month LIBOR. (Ack). We were using the builder's lender, of course, as they won't give you nice incentives otherwise.

    Thankfully for us we could sell at a profit a few years later, and the LIBOR was great from 2003-2005. (Not so good now!!) Selling was helpful for us because the costs of the loan were so much we ended up digging ourselves into a hole. We couldn't take on a lot of extra work as we had three kids under 6 years old and didn't have any grandparents or other reliable babysitters. So we sold and are now renting and are very happy to be free of the burden.

    Since we have money in the bank now our hope is to buy some land and save up for a house. I don't want a big loan. By now I'm sick of lenders and credit of any kind. Although I've seen some decent offers from places like ING Direct that seem to offer low, basic closing costs.

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  23. Gotta have a reference or it looks made up.

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  24. anon 2:39AM - why don't you simply call some builders and see what their policies are and if any "ready to move into" homes are available. Builders don't spec build. These are cancellations.

    BTW, I think Oprah is looking for a highly suspicious, ever questioning fact checker. You are very questioning but don't seem to want to do your own homework.

    Anyone with some familiarity with the market knows some people are bailing.

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