Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Out of Site, Out of Mind

Regarding the U.S.'s insatiable energy needs, I wonder...

Will we forget about this (6:45)...

Like we collectively forgot about this...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reminder - Real Estate is Local

Charleston and its surrounding islands provide a veritable cornucopia of luxury property. Like Spanish Moss, there is no shortage here in the beautiful Southeast, of spectacular pieces of paradise carved among Live Oak trees and Magnolias. Despite what I wrote just yesterday regarding the overall big - big picture in real estate markets; today, we're presented with the perfect opportunity to be reminded that real estate truly is a local thang.

From the Post & Courier, June 21, 2010:

Charleston County recorded its largest residential real estate transaction ever June 10 when an oceanfront Kiawah Island home changed hands for $14 million.

There are still some amazing sales out there. Oh, and mind you, this one sale is approximately equivalent to 10 houses selling all at once on the Isle of Palms; or 5-7 luxury homes selling simultaneously South of Broad. These are just hypotheticals, of course, but it provides a frame for the perspective of this sale. Wow. So, that's the good news. The bad news is that it might skew June's real estate sales statistics a bit once the final figures are tallied in the weeks to come. Nonetheless, good for Charleston County.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Macro Issues Predict More Housing Trouble

Admittedly, I haven't written about housing issues in a while. A false bottom created by the $8,000 tax credit kept things aloft for a bit, so I got busy working on other stuff finding it pointless to throw around opinions while buyers found motivation in the form of government issue tax credits. As many of us realized, the end of the tax credit hasn't been such a good thing for sellers in real estate markets across the land. I've held firm that remaining buyers out there will simply begin writing random $8,000 concessions into their future real estate purchase offers. Agents and sellers will probably be pretty surprised by the creativity of buyers who may, in the absence of the official government sponsored credits, quickly figure out how to privatize the loss via sellers already battered by housing deflation and negative equity.

Since the credit ended housing starts have declined sharply showing a drop in builder confidence. We've also seen new mortgage applications fall signaling fewer buyers entering the housing market. It seems even talking heads in the financial realms have begun to hum along to the double-dip housing market tune, and I can certainly understand their on-air laments, as I foresee a long period of flatness about to commence. After all, you can't re-inflate a bubble without more hot air. On the other hand, multitudes of factors affect national housing markets. Any one of them can sway the scales at any time. More importantly, housing is, and always has been local. Some locations see minute housing recoveries while others still suffer blindly with no idea when recovery will ever begin, undoubtedly, along with broken housing support mechanisms, like the GSEs and their ilk, clawing at the hope of any real near-term economic stabilization. In any case, I have found nothing to unglue my belief that it will take until 2011-2012 for real estate to level out. But, a whole lot of things can happen until then.

So, I leave you with Sunday morning reading should you desire to further examine current events contributing to the housing market correction. Of this set, I find China's announcement to allow the Yuan to appreciate this morning to be the most intriguing. As creditor to the United States, China's new-found flexibility will certainly be a market mover by next week, and over time, influence currencies, interest rates, manufacturing and global trade. It will be interesting to watch the outcomes unfold in this bold new move.

U.S. Economy: Factories Lead Rebound as Housing Falls, Bloomberg.

Housing Market Slows as Buyers Get Picky, New York Times.

Cost of Seizing Fannie and Freddie Surges for Taxpayers, New York Times.

World hopes China's yuan will rise, bring relief, Yahoo News.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alvin Greene As Real As It Gets

Between Argentinian mistresses, primary campaign racial slurring and a hodgepodge of state investigations, its hard to tell at any given moment what's really "real" when it comes to South Carolina politics. Just when you think you've got some of the madness worked out in your head, in swoops one, Mr. Alvin Greene, to twist the political spectrum in the Lowcountry even more ascew.

On Tuesday, it seems Mr. Greene somehow won the primary race for Senate with little campaigning, no fund-raising, no bellowing street-side signage, without setting a platform, creating a campaign website or attending a single democratic event. Something is smelly in South Carolina and it's not the oil slick yet.

Wednesday I heard a tidbit of this latest foul political tale while running past the television cleaning up the house. With few details, I thought to myself, surely, there was some mix-up with this Alvin Greene guy which would be cleared up in a day or two. Unfortunately, I was wrong. In just one day's time his story got freakier and freakier. As details have been published, we now also know that Mr. Greene is facing felony obscenity charges. When I finally caught the entire spread splashed in the headlines of the New York Times , I was shocked at the rate of speed with which South Carolina politics can go from simple weirdness to total twightlight zone.
Now Congressman and House Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn (D) wants the mystifying events surroundingMr. Greene's win investigated, calling him a plant. My gut instinct tells me that Mr. Clyburn might be right in his suspision. But who can really be sure at this point, anyway? While South Carolina's politics continue to both alarm and surprise, it seems Mr. Greene is about as real as it gets for the moment. Here in the Palmetto State political plants and other surreal beaurecratic hijinx occur with certain regularity, and unraveling Mr. Greene's questionable tale is just a spell in our current political reality.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Aside from a few informational tweets and such, indeed, I have remained somewhat quiet on the oil disaster occurring real-time in the Gulf. I think we all realize we're right on course for an epic environmental drama with far-reaching ramifications. From seafood prices to massive job loss, this historic event we watch unfold before us has only just begun, and I seem to be shocked silent in awe.

Yet, this disaster is simply a reflection of all the things that don't work/aren't working in our agreed upon social structure. We have done this to ourselves.

With fingers crossed we wonder what will happen here in Charleston. They've estimated oil could reach the Carolina coastlines around October, dependent upon the oil's entry into the ocean loop current. As if the oil isn't bad enough, reports show that nearly a million gallons of disbursements have been dumped into the Gulf as well. Oh, and by the way, hurricane season just started too. Imagine for one moment, a storm surge of pasty oil pushing itself up into pristine estuaries, harbors, marshes and onto land.

It's safe to say, I feel and sense the devastation. At the same time, I recognize this is a game-changing card for the oil industry.

In the meantime, I am making it a point to go out to the beach this week. And next. I'd like to enjoy the places I love....just in case. I'll try to pretend nothings wrong, and make some jokes to hide my pain for the insanities of man playing themselves out via a gushing hole miles under the ocean.

While I'm out, I leave you with the following -

July, 2008 Bush Lifts Ban on Offshore Drilling