September 24, 2008

Home prices finally coming down in Los Angeles

Los Angeles home pricesIt's interesting to watch the housing market here in Southern California as it travels the long and painful road back to sanity as far as property values are concerned. Home prices are finally coming down in Los Angeles.

We've lived in the Los Angeles area for nearly thirty years. But there was a time where my work took us across the country: we moved to Oklahoma City for a year and then all the way to Tampa, Florida for sixteen months. And guess what? We found ourselves moving back to Southern California.

To tell you the truth, I liked Oklahoma City. We lived in the northern part of the city near a suburb known as Edmond. Nice country and great people! The tornados can be a bit much. We didn't have a "fraidy hole" — a protected room to which we could escape when the weather turned tough and spun around in a circle.

And Tampa? Not even our cat could warm up to Tampa. Not that it is a bad city. It was fun. The Tampa Bay Bucks played not too far from where we lived, and the excitement surrounding these football games was infectious. The people living there were quite friendly. And we could find the kind of food we eat easily. But Florida was not for us!

We moved back to the Los Angeles area and we arrived just in time for the shock of home values on the rise. Well, they had been on the rise for decades, but I mean really on the rise. So we waited for the prices for homes to come down. And we waited. And guess what? We waited some more! Only to watch the prices for homes skyrocket. One could get a shack for $550K. Quite frankly, we REFUSED to pay that amount of money when we knew that those domiciles weren't worth half that much.

Now, I know that living in a large and very alive city such as Los Angeles is going to cost. But the prices went to the ne-plus-ultra of absurd!

Now the prices are starting to come down into a range such that one can finally look at obtaining a suitable home in which to settle down.

My wife likes to joke about me wanting to “follow the buffalo” — not settling down. Well, I say what's wrong with following the buffalo? Nothin'!

However, it would be nice to own one's own home (again) and be able to pay it off at some point. It's just hard to justify paying a $5K per month mortgage. And I don't think everyone who lives in the Los Angeles area is a millionaire.

Yet it got to half a million bucks for a starter house!

I read in the news that financial institutions are reverting back to lending standards in use 20 years ago. Frankly, this "crash" wouldn't have occurred if these lending institutions hadn't relaxed their standards in the first place so that people could buy and sell, buy and sell … all that does is raise home prices. And it's not just the option ARMs either! Sorry to say, but people who are good loan risks may just walk away from their homes too. And start over.

I mean, if you were paying $5,000 a month and the value of your home dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars? That’s happened to people here.

A lot of foreclosures are occurring here in the Los Angeles area. Just in my area alone, I saw there were 613 Real Estate Owned Properties being sold by the banks. Well, “Real Estate Owned” means property owned by the bank. That means that those homes were not sold even at the bank auction — AFTER the bank took over ownership of the property.

Well, if you ask me, I think one should be able to get a fantastic home for 200K to 250K.

Yes, the housing prices are coming down. But it's still not sanity. What I mean is: THE PRICES ARE STILL TOO HIGH!

And it's unfortunate that we the taxpayers are going to be stuck with the unethical practices employed by such financial institutions as Bear Stearns and other Wall Street "institutions" that are being "bailed out" by the Federal Reserve. Translated: our government will make the people pay for it AGAIN!

Our government is a day late and 10 cents short. The saying used to be "a day late and a dollar short." But one has to figure in inflation — the devaluation of the dollar.

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