Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bubblicious Bench Update

The number of lockboxes on the bubblicious bench, as of Saturday, April 8th was 48. There are 2 buildings comprising the Halstead development, the first has been completed and the units have been released; the second building will, according to an owner in the first, be coming online in 6-9 weeks.

Number of lockboxes on this bench:
2/5/06: 26
3/18/06: 44
3/25/06: 47
4/8/06: 48

After having viewed the inside of the building, the total number of units in the 1st building is approximately 220. Given that the number of lockboxes is at 48, and the only units that would be subject to sales on the market are those in the first building, this means that approximately 20% of ALL available units in the development are on the market at this point.

The fact that at least 48 units from the first unit are on the market now, and that the 2nd (and, based on my observation, bigger) building is coming onto the market in a few months, there should be an overwhelming supply of Halstead units coming onto the market, depressing the price and further straining the flippers that are trying to sell in a less than ideal location.

A big thank you to the citizen reporter who sent this one in. The person is the same one who orginally informed Bubble Meter of the shrine to bubbliciousness. :-)

20 comments:

  1. where is the Washington Post?

    where is Washington Times?

    You are failing in your coverage of the housing bubble.

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  2. I can never get enough of that bench. It should be the symbol of the housing bubble for ever more..

    -x

    bubbletrack.blgospot.com

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  3. Some kind of timelapse image of the boxes waxing and waning would be the perfect bubble movie.

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  4. jim_a has it right. We need a "bubblecam." We can track the realtors as they get the keys. Leave a little sign and ask the better looking ones to show us their ... portfolios.

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  5. Does anyone have any good sites for actual sales in Nassua County, NY? I often use Newsday.com and ditech.com, they both have pretty good informaiton on recent sales, but are always atleast 3 months delayed. I assume this is due to numbers being reported quarterly, and time from contract signing to closing, but the delay often stretches 4-5 months. Also Zillow has no Nassau information.

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  6. bunger,

    This may be a county problem with Nassau. The reason for the delay is typically to record the property transfer at the county offices. Once it is recorded, then it typically becomes public knowledge and is accessible to sites such as zillow.

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  7. I'd be interested in Nassau as well, seeing that I grew up there and have parents who will be selling in a few year (yikes - if only they'd sold last year like I told them).

    Anecdotally, checking out some realty websites in my old town, there is nothing but inventory with very low sales.

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  8. Two things to keep in mind:

    (1) These lockboxes are not all for sales-- Rental Agents also use them frequently

    (2) As with any new building, there will be a bunch of units immediately for rent from the longer-term investors/landlords. This, in itself, does not spell doom for the market.

    I agree that there is a glut of units for sale, but just keep in mind that the glut of lockboxes is not completely representative.

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  9. No reasonable person would buy one of those units and rent it for negative cashflow !!!

    Those units are investor sales

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  10. What do you predict for the condo market here in NOVA Mattie ?

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  11. Just for sake of argument, it is possible that buying an investment with negative cashflow isn't ALWAYS a completely boneheaded idea. The benefits of buying your own home usually accrue only after a few years of inflation raise the rent that you would be paying as an alternative have increased but your principle and interest haven't gone up. The same would be true of property bought as an investment and rented out. It is possible that a property that was initially cashflow negative would with time and inflation become cashflow postive. Of course with the current rent/purchase prices the projected date of breakeven is probably never.

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  12. Guys,

    Check the MLS-- Currently there are 12 units for RENT in this building. This accounts for 12, a significant portion, of the lockboxes. Nobody knows why someone would choose to rent out an apparently cash-flow-negative property-- maybe they put down a large downpayment or signed a contract when prices were lower. But the point is that these rentals will not likely be for sale any time soon and will have no effect on condo prices. While I do think that the NoVa condo market is overbuilt and in serious trouble, I don't think that a bunch of lockboxes is a reliable indicator.

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  13. A Similar situation seems to have happened to another builder in Herndon (townhouse style condos). there were a bunch of units up for resale in the first set of units they finished building back in Sep-Oct. Quickly they seemed to have added a 'Will not resell for next two years' and a 'primary residence only' clause in their sale contracts to stop people from flipping their newer units.

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  14. Jim-A,

    I think your characterization of real estate as a hedge against inflation is the historical (and correct) interpretation. But, as you note, purchase prices have risen while higher rents (and the ability to pay them) have been driven higher by nothing more fundamental than higher debt servicing costs for speculative investors. I would venture that the historical inflation hedge role of RE does not apply when it is undergirded by a massive, unprecedented, unsustainable pile of debt which could cause a precipitous crash in home values. My prediction is deflation in things we want (2nd homes, investment props) and inflation in things we need (food, energy, water).

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  15. My building has three lockboxes on the railing, representing 37 percent of the units in the building. However, these units sold years ago. It's just that no one took the lockboxes off the railing.

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  16. mattie,

    Do I correctly surmise from your post that you are a broker or otherwise a participant in the Real Estate industry?

    I claim ignorance here, can the same property be listed both for rent and for sale in the MLS? If so, unless you also cite the number that are listed for sale in the MLS, your rebuttal is incomplete.

    Also, there is no way for you to know whether the units in the MLS are among those with lockboxes on the "bubblicious bench". (OK...I admit there are several ways you could know this, one being that you are one of the "investors" trying to rent). Those you cite in the MLS could be IN ADDITION to the number of lockboxes on the BB. That would then support the opposite conclusion that you are arguing (e.g. that there is an even greater inventory than implied).

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  17. mjh: IMHO it's not record debt levels that will drive housing (both purchase and rental) costs down. Yes, household debt service does decrease disposable income, but I think the the driver for rent decreases will be the the bubble driven oversupply of housing. In the drive to get while the gettings good, builders have built and/or rehabbed a large oversupply of housing. To come full circle it doesn't matter whether those lockboxes are there because some investor is trying to flip the property today, or rent it out at a (huge) loss to sell it tomorrow: either one represents an unsupportable speculative excess.

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  18. I viewed 3 of these units to rent and ultimately decided not to, since the area sucks.

    In any event, I wanted to point out that all 3 of those units were both for rent AND for sale--meaning the owner hoped to rent the unit, then turn around and flip it, with the new owner taking subject to the lease.

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  19. Whether for rent or not, I think this is the quintessential picture of the bubble for me. Thanks for the update.


    Simssays...

    http://www.AmericanInventorSpot.com
    AmericanInventorSpot.com

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  20. If you think this place sucks (at least it across the street from the metro so you can get the hello out of the hood) then consider the condos that are going to be built further down Gallows Rd in the "heart" of Merrifield. What a godawful place to live.

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