San Francisco: Low-flow Toilets BIG Disappointment

That tag-line could become the new city motto.

Inquiring minds are seeing a pattern develop in the Green’ technology sector…the savings of the new ‘breakthrough’ technology never seem to be as great as advertised, nor are they as good for the enviornment as billed. A case in point is San Francisco’s low-flow toilets:

San Francisco’s big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink.

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite – better known as bleach – to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

For those keeping score, that 8.5 million pounds of bleach being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year.

Remember, the next time you’re in San Francisco, have a wonderful time…just don’t drink the water!

A tip of the hat to Louie

Fears Mount in UK with Huge Supply of For-Sale Homes

Somethings gotta give as homes begin piling up and approval of mortgages are a trickle.

Inquiring minds are looking at new real estate numbers coming out of the Britain and it is not any prettier there than here. It’s because the numbers released today show that the number of properties for sale is more than double the number of mortgages being approved:

The latest housing survey from property website Rightmove suggested there were 1.3 million properties for sale, but just 530,000 mortgages approved last year. It blamed the gap between supply and demand on a lack of affordable mortgage and concerns about the economic outlook among buyers. It suggested that some buyers who were unable to sell have taken their property off the market until it begins to pick up.

Miles Shipside, of Rightmove, said: “Not all properties marketed have to sell or stay on the market, with a percentage being withdrawn if they fail to find a buyer. “There is still a clear imbalance between supply left on the market and demand even taking this into account. Demand is restricted by mortgage availability and potential buyers economic circumstances.”

However, sellers are refusing to lower their asking prices, boosting them by 3.1 per cent this month to an average of £230,000, according to survey. Mr Shipside explained: “The number of forced sellers and repossessions are the key factor that drives down prices, and to date lenders have shown considerable forbearance in how they manage arrears and are wary of flooding some markets by putting lots of repossessions up for sale.”

Don’t you just love that first sentence of the last parapgraph…”sellers are refusing to lower their asking prices”. How quaint. In about 6 months we will see if sellers will have changed their collective attitude?

MERS Finally Wins One…And of Course its California

Inquiring minds are on California where once again, you guessed it, The (Formerly) Golden State takes a left turn past the outfield and is now standing outside the stadium (once again). It is sad watching what was once an incredibe state implode under its Leftist/Progressive/Socialist agenda. It appears to have now affected anyone in any leadership role within the borders of the state. A San Diego judge has just ruled that MERS Corp can foreclose on homes in California!

Merscorp, operator of the electronic-registration system that contains about half of all U.S. home mortgages, has the right to foreclose on defaulted borrowers in California, a state appeals court ruled.

U.S. courts have differed in recent years on whether Merscorp’s Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, unit has the right to bring a foreclosure action.

“Under California law MERS may initiate a foreclosure as the nominee, or agent, of the noteholder,” California Court of Appeal Justice Joan K. Irion in San Diego wrote in a Feb. 18 ruling.

MERS was on quite a losing streak recently:

The F-Bomb
Man vs. Bank
Follow-up to Utah’s “Man vs. Bank”
“MERS Corp Lacks Right”, Says Judge

If there is a wrong answer somewhere in the world…then the state of California will find it. Just let the state implode. It will be easier to pick up the pieces then.

Downturn at End of 2010 Was Biggest Drop in GDP in 2 Years

Could massive riots be in the UK's near future?

Inquiring minds are gazing across the pond at our cousin’s, the Brits, who surprised the economists. It is being reported that the economic downturn in the last quarter last year where the GDP shrank by 0.6%, was the largest GDP fall in two years:

The downturn – the biggest GDP fall since the second quarter in 2009 – was a surprise to economists who had expected the original estimates to be revised upwards.

Despite the ‘disappointing’ figures, which ended 12 months of economic growth, the Treasury remains defiant.

A spokesman for the department insisted: ‘The Chancellor said that the fourth quarter growth figures were disappointing and today’s revision doesn’t change that fact.

‘It also doesn’t change the need to deal with the nation’s credit card – the country is borrowing more this year than is spent on the entire NHS.’

Notice what they compare the increase in borrowing to? Their version of Obamacare! You can just see how socialized healthcare saves money, can’t you? Remember that the NHS (of Britain) is the third largest employer in the world…following only the Army of The People’s Republic of China and the Railroad of India.

By reading father down the column, the reader is met with even more negative economic data:

– business investment was down 2.5% to £29.6 billion.
– manufacturing sector although up an anemic 1.1% was revised down from growth of 1.4%.
– construction (which boosted growth in the second and third quarter of 2010) output dropped 2.5% in the fourth quarter.
– Household spending also declined by 0.1% in the last quarter.

This spring and summer should produce some interesting organized events throughout Europe.

New New-Home Sales Down

Inquiring minds are looking that the new year has brought little cheer to new-home builders. Sales for new homes fell a shocking 11.2% between December and January and 18.6% from 12 months earlier:

The total number of new homes sold in January was a seasonally adjusted 284,000, down from 325,000 in December, the government said Thursday.

In total, the market is down 80% from its peak, which was set in July 2005, when the annualized rate of sales hit nearly 1.4 million.

The big problem facing developers is that they face significant competition from foreclosed homes, which sell at bargain-basement prices. In fact, 26% of all homes sold last year were foreclosures.

The numbers speak for themselves. It is hard to compete with foreclosures when they can be bought for less than the price for building.

4 in the 4th

Inquiring minds are looking at data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showing U.S. home prices fell 4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier as record foreclosures sapped the confidence of homebuyers:

The drop was the 13th consecutive year-over-year[SC editor’s note: this should have read quarter-over-quarter] retreat and the largest since 2009’s third quarter, the Washington-based agency said today in a report. Prices fell 0.8 percent from the prior three months. On that basis, economists projected a 0.6 percent decline, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Foreclosures discourage potential buyers who want to avoid price retreats because they sell at a discount, devaluing other homes. The share of people who intend to buy property dropped to 4.4 percent in February from 5.2 percent in January, according to the Conference Board, a New York-based research firm. Sales of foreclosed homes accounted for 37 percent of transactions last month, up from 36 percent in December, the National Association of Realtors said in a report yesterday.

More data showing that the housing crisis is worsening:

The share of homes in foreclosure rose to 4.63 percent in the fourth quarter, matching an all-time high set in the first three months of 2010, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. The combined share of mortgages in foreclosure or delinquent was 14 percent, about 1 in every 7 home loans, the trade group said in a Feb. 17 report.

These are frightening data.

It is just that simple.

Foreclosed Homes 26% of Home Sales Nationwide

Inquiring minds are looking at a report last Wednesday evening from RealtyTrac Inc. showing foreclosured homes accounted for nearly 26 percent of all U.S. residential sales during last year, according to of Irvine. That was down from 29 percent of all sales in 2009 but up from 23 percent of all sales in 2008.

Other data showed:

The report also shows that the average sales price of these foreclosure properties was more than 28 percent below the average sales price of properties not in the foreclosure process — up from a 27 percent average discount in 2009 and a 22 percent average discount in 2008.

A total of 831,574 U.S. residential properties either owned by banks or in some stage of foreclosure — default or scheduled for auction — sold to third parties in 2010, a decrease of 31 percent from 2009 and a decrease of nearly 14 percent from 2008.

Meanwhile sales volume of non-foreclosure properties in 2010 decreased nearly 19 percent from 2009 and nearly 27 percent from 2008.

A total of 149,303 foreclosure sales were recorded in the fourth quarter, down 22 percent from the previous quarter and down 45 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009 — despite a 21 percent monthly uptick in foreclosure sales volume in December.

The numbers are deteriorating. The only numbers going the ‘right way’ are distressed sales which decreased. Unforunately, these numbers don’t mean anything since banks are holding back an incredible amount of homes in shadow inventory.

Please, someone tell President Obama so he won’t keep looking so foolish by saying that things are getting better every month.

Spain: 217 Bln Invested by Savings Banks Into Real Estate

Inquiring minds are back in Spain where a couple of days ago we wrote about British ex-patriots who have lost incredible amounts on their dream retirement homes:

Spain: Villa Values HALVED, Pensions Have Crashed

In this follow-up we present proof of just how badly Spanish leaders planned for the new “Golden Age” by investing way too heavily in real estate
and perching their country on the edge of an abyss:

A total of 217 billion euros has been invested by Spain’s savings and loan banks into the real estate sector, and 46% of this figure has been labelled “potentially problematic” by the Bank of Spain. These figures were announced today by the Governor of the Bank of Spain, Miguel Fernandez Ordonez, cited by EFE.

Twenty-eight billion euros of the 217 billion total invested into the sector are loans in default; payments for the same amount are still outstanding and present a certain measure of risk, while 44 billion euros in loans have been granted for land.

In his assessment of the recapitalisation decree for the savings and loan banks passed by the government, the governor said that the measure “was absolutely necessary”. “I am not in agreement with those who say that Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring”, the FROB, was sufficient, said Ordonez.

The governor also stated that the new regulation “aims to dispel doubts and uncertainty about the health of the Spanish financial system and seeks to restore faith in the markets”. Since the FROB has been established, restructuring and mergers in the sector have reduced the number of savings and loan banks from 45 to 17.

Spain looks to be in a death-spiral. With a birthrate of 1.2 and projected to lose over 50% of its population in the next 35 years, it is almost impossible for the country to regain traction.

See also: Spain: Villa Values HALVED, Pensions Have Crashed

Sugar Has Turned Into Salt

Inquiring minds are looking at the first-time homebuyers from 2008 who bought home. It sounded like such a great deal: Become a homebuyer and pocket up to $7,500 in a tax credit. Unfortunately, if you bought that house in 2008 (and received the credit), you must begin to pay it back – now. On your 2010 tax return:

The 2008 credit was available to qualified homebuyers who purchased after April 8, 2008, through the end of that year. The IRS has sent letters reminding folks who fall into this category, including 45,865 taxpayers in New York State.

Many have been caught off-guard. They either forgot that the credit was a loan, or believed the loan had been forgiven as Congress subsequently passed different versions of the homebuyer credit that did not require a payback.

“I had one client who called me in a slight panic,” said Jonathan Horn, a certified public accountant. “People are confused.”

If you got the credit and have sold your house or it is no longer your primary residence, the total amount you owe is due on the return for the year those events took place, with some exceptions.

But hey, at least home values have gone up since then!

Oh, yeah, that’s right…housing values have continued to decline. So the government pushed even more people into bad housing decisions.

It must be time once again for the 10-most-feared-words-in-the-English-language:

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.”

SD Foreclosures UP Just a little…

Inquiring minds are wondering when they will see things getting better in the real estate market. Afterall, wasn’t it the annointed one Himself, President Obama 6 months ago saying that we had ‘turned the corner’? Well, I know He is so much smarter than all of us great unwashed…but where’s the improvement? Dataquick’s newest numbers for San Diego show that foreclosures jump 34% in January:

Foreclosures rose to 959 in January from 715 in December, a 34 percent increase, the largest monthly jump since December 2009. Year-over-year, foreclosures fell from 986 in January 2010, or 2.7 percent.

There were 1,548 mortgage defaults in January, up slightly from 1522 in December, or 1.7 percent. Year-over-year, that number is down from 1,741 in January 2010, or 11.1 percent.

DataQuick spokesman Andrew LePage said the monthly jump in foreclosures could partly be due to “a little catch-up” after some banks froze foreclosure activity following discoveries of robo-signing, the practice of approving loan paperwork without proper review.

Anybody else getting the idea that the boy-wonder in the White House is maybe not understanding the issues of the day as well as he needs to?