Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tenants are such liars

Some properties just seem to have a dark cloud over them. We purchased and renovated a nice home in Cheektowaga last year. We were unable to flip it and so after dropping $16k in holding costs we rented it out. Meanwhile the loan interest rate ran up from 7.9% to 11.1% and makes the property a money loser every month.

We thought we found some great tenants for the property, but 3 months ago they started paying late. Last month I payed a visit to them on the 10th and the husband said that his wife had the check and they would drop it off as soon as she got home from work. Well, I didn't get the check until the 20th.

Now in June it's the 24th and still no check. I went over to the property last night since both their phone numbers are all out of service. The lawn hasn't been mowed for a month and the inside looks like a disaster. There was a notice on the door from a Rent to Own company. I called the number and the store manager told me that they wanted to pick up some appliances since the tenants told them they were moving to Illinois!

I talked to the lady next door and she told me she had seen the tenants within the past 2 days. I tracked down another phone number for the husband through his employer. As soon as he answered and I told him who I was he hung up. Minutes later his wife called to tell me she was in a hospital in Illinois due to a heart attack (she's in her thirties) and couldn't talk because she had a tube in her mouth! This is too rich. Her husband makes his sick wife who has tubes down her throat call me rather than telling me she is sick??? (and she wanted to know how the #?!% I had gotten her brothers phone number?)

Of course, the wife told me they will pay the rent - the check is in the mail

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bernanke signals end of peak oil pricies

Yesterday Ben Bernanke signaled that the US was going to start supporting a strong dollar policy. This will no doubt start to stop the run up in commodity prices, especially that of oil. A look at gas prices in the chart above shows how irrational the market is at the moment. A smart, high risk trader would certainly short oil futures. If I had the cash I would also buy US dollar futures.
The gloom and doom crowd is predicting $6 a gallon gas prices. It's more likely that by year end we will be at half that price.

Update: from Senate hearings:

“Speculators now account for about 70% of all benchmark crude trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from 37% in 2000, said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the investigations subcommittee.”

Since then, oil has risen by more than 300 percent. Any questions?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Banks Panic - One size property drop for the country

During the past 3 weeks I've received 3 letters from 3 different banks about HELOC's on 3 different properties in 3 different towns. Each letter essentially cut off all of the credit in the HELOC. Each bank claimed that the property values had dropped drastically in the past year in "my area" and so, by the terms of the HELOC agreement, they were, without providing any comps or data, going to revalue my houses 20-30% lower.

Now certainly in some areas of the country when housing prices were increasing 20-30% a year and with prices are crashing back to reality this makes sense. But in Western New York housing prices never increased more than 2-3% a year during the great real estate boom. And data from the local Realtors showed that last year was the first time prices increased a lot - a whopping 5%!! I've been watching real estate sales this year and they are pretty brisk and there is no sign of price drops - quite the contrary.

But in order to prove this, I have to hire an appraiser and shell out $400. This I'm not going to do. So the banks are doing their best to hurt the local economy by over-reacting to their poor choices in other areas of the country earlier in this decade.

The average time to foreclosure is 445 days in NY. I sometimes think about punishing these banks by just collecting the rent for a couple years without paying the mortgage. Unfortunately, the fools that run these institutions never pay the price for their stupidity.