WEBCAST: California housing bubble about to burst

September 19, 2006 1:15pm

•  Stockton, Fresno among state’s markets in jeopardy

•  Arizona, Florida markets also at risk

Several U.S. real estate markets including Fresno and Stockton in the Central Valley are facing a bust as real estate prices driven to unsustainable levels by years of activity by real estate speculators and increased reliance by homeowners on low down-payment, short-term adjustable rate mortgages have created a glut of motivated home sellers, says House Buyer Network, a Marietta, Ga.-based company which buys and sells distressed properties.

California saw a 196 percent increase in motivated sellers since August but unlike Florida and Arizona, the bust in California has been more widespread with a full seven counties seeing motivated sellers triple or more: Alameda County (650 percent increase), San Joaquin County (450 percent), Orange County (375 percent), Fresno County (333 percent), San Bernardino County (300 percent), Riverside County (222 percent) and Los Angeles County (194 percent).

“We’re seeing some trends that lead us to call certain markets literally a ‘bust’ market,” says Duane LeGate, president and CEO House Buyer Network, in an interview with CVBT. “The San Joaquin Valley area is a bubble spot.”

He says the current California market reminds him of the depressed home market of the mid 1990s.

“You’ve got the makings here of the perfect storm,” Mr. LeGate says. “I can see prices going down by a good 20 percent in the markets we’re calling ‘bust.’”

((Listen to an interview with Mr. LeGate by clicking on the link below.))

Also in trouble, says the company, are markets in Arizona and Florida.

In just the previous year, the amount of Arizona property processed by the company each month has soared by 235 percent, almost exclusively as a result of increases in cities in Maricopa County (243 percent increase). Surprise, Ariz., is living up to its name by showing the biggest increase with as many quick-sale homes in August 2006 as in all of 2005 combined, says the Georgia company. Mesa was next with a 400 percent increase, followed by Phoenix at 307 percent.

Florida has seen the second largest year-over-year increase -- climbing steadily by 219 percent since January 2006 alone. The increase there was led by Dade County (400 percent increase), Lee County (338 percent), Palm Beach County (318 percent) and Hillsborough County (210 percent).

The company did not provide the raw figures for its percentage calculations.

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