Category Archives: Tom’s Corner

“Flip This House”: Investor Speculation and the Housing Bubble – Liberty Street Economics

I found this article interesting in that it quantified what I have said before relative to how much of an impact residential investors had on the market. I suggest that you read the article on the site to see all the charts.


The charts reveal some astonishing facts. At the peak of the boom in 2006, over a third of all U.S. home purchase lending was made to people who already owned at least one house. In the four states with the most pronounced housing cycles, the investor share was nearly half—45 percent. Investor shares roughly doubled between 2000 and 2006. While some of these loans went to borrowers with “just” two homes, the increase in percentage terms is largest among those owning three or more properties. In 2006, Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada investors owning three or more properties were responsible for nearly 20 percent of originations, almost triple their share in 2000.

via “Flip This House”: Investor Speculation and the Housing Bubble – Liberty Street Economics.


AIG and Inequality : The Frontal Cortex

I don’t often time republish stuff but this was too good, and I wanted my regular readers to have a look at it!

Click the link for the whole paper, it is worth it.

AIG and Inequality Posted on: March 18, 2009 1:51 PM, by Jonah Lehrer

I know, I know: everybody is sick of hearing about those AIG bonuses. But bear with me for one more blog post, because I think the swell of populist anger can actually illuminate something interesting about the human response to inequality.

Consider the ultimatum game, that simple economic task where one person (the proposer) is given ten dollars and told to share it with another person (the responder). The proposer can divide the money however they like, but if the responder rejects the offer then both players end up with nothing.

via AIG and Inequality : The Frontal Cortex.


A quick note to express my thanks to all who read and contribute here. I appreciate the feedback, and of course the kind press coverage. I continue to refine and I hope improve our product.

In today’s difficult times it is all to easy to forget the blessings we share, family, home, country God. Even when there are large looming fears, as many are experiencing now, we need to be especially mindful of those things that are good.

May the blessing of Thanksgiving be with you and your families.

Best, Tom

Birmingham-area home sales off sharply for October -Birmingham News

I was pleased to provide data and commentary for the Birmingham News today. I wish the data was better, I hate reporting dismal numbers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


News staff writer

A plunging stock market and waning consumer confidence dragged Birmingham-area home sales down in October, a real estate expert says.

Tom Brander, who compiles a monthly statistical report on Birmingham residential real estate, noted in his blog that the value of area homes sold last month dropped by more than a third. He said the figure was surprising and the steepest his data has shown since he began tracking sales in 1999.

via Birmingham-area home sales off sharply for October –

Rough Real Estate Sales Results for October 2008 in Alabama

As a reminder we publish two free newsletters. You may subscribe to the Alabama newsletter here, which has our exclusive content. You may subscribe to our selected national news on real Estate here, which has selected articles having a strong bearing on the Real Estate Market from various sources, selected be me.

This month in all three markets we cover, Birmingham, North Alabama, and the Alabama coast, was as bad as anything we have yet seen. Against the backdrop of wall street meltdown, buyers have really gone into hibernation with dollar sales down on a month to month basis by 20-36% in all markets.

As always there are bright spots, a new resort with excellent sales down in Orange Beach. Reduced inventory levels in most markets.

New home inventories in the Huntsville area continue to have more months of supply than existing home inventories. The higher priced homes seem to be building supply in that market.

New homes in the Birmingham market in the $100,000-$200,000 and the $300,000-$400,000 ranges are at 6.8 and 6.6 months of supply, reasonable, except that the used home supply in those price ranges is quite large and comptetitive. The economy does not look like it is going to help out anytime soon.

Read our market by market summaries below, and of course if you’d like subscription information please leave a comment with contact information.

The Jefferson County Sewer Amendment passed!!!

Thank you all who helped to remedy this injustice! Link to

Subscribe to our newsletter Here. (no spam, you must click on the confirmation message that you will get which sometimes gets stuck in the spam filter!)

Local Amendment – Jefferson Sewer Bills – Ballot Issue
November 05, 2008 – 10:39AM ET
Alabama – 378 of 378 Precincts Reporting – 100%
Name Votes Vote %
Yes 158,661 63%
No 93,090 37%

Please vote on this Jefferson County amendment!!!

Please vote yes on the amendment to require the sewer board to collect only from tenants who have water service. This message was sent out by the Birmingham MLS board:

Please look for the Jefferson County amendment on the back of your ballot (last item) and vote YES.  Please talk about this amendment with your friends, family and neighbors to help increase awareness on this issue.

For over six years, the Birmingham Association of REALTORS has been attempting to solve the problem of Jefferson County extending credit to tenants and later expecting property owners/landlords to make good on services not paid for by the tenant.  Legislation passed several years ago on this issue was fought by the county and overturned due to earlier acts relating to sewer bonds which have been paid off for years.

The current county policy does not require a credit check, and tenants may run up thousands of dollars in sewer fees.  Tenants may even move away before the property owner is made aware of the debt.  The county seeks liens against the property owner for the credit the county extended to tenants.  The county then expects the property owner to bail out the tenant who would not pay.  There is no policy in place to keep the same tenant from moving to the next property and repeating the same “flush and skip” routine.

Look for the amendment on the back of your ballot.  Thank you for your support!

Your yes vote will end a very unfair policy, now being followed by the Jefferson County Sewer Board. The policy is probably illegal anyway. (just when you hoped they could not do anything else!)

Reasons to be cheerful in troubled times

A friend pointed this out to me and I thought it made good sense.

Read the whole article by clicking on the link.

This is a sample of the type of national information that my OTHER FREE (not this one which mostly has our local information!) newsletter sends out “Real Estate From Around The Internet” Click on the link to subscribe.

I generally highlight meaningful economic and market related material from authoritative sources, and you get it in one message, I think You will find it a good read, as always you can cancel it ant anytime and no spam!!

Reasons to be cheerful in troubled times

By James Altucher

Published: October 21 2008 05:33 | Last updated: October 21 2008 05:33

These are serious times so let’s get down to business. Here are seven reasons to be bullish.

• Oil prices have halved. People will now be able to pay back their subprime loans. Banks will have to start writing up the subprime debt that caused this whole mess.

via / Wealth / James Altucher – Reasons to be cheerful in troubled times

Residential permits drop, but builders encouraged by recent sales numbers

We provided some support and background for this report in today’s Birmingham Business Journal by Lauren B. Cooper.

Sales for the five builders in the last 12 months totaled 915, with an average price ranging from $140,000 to $307,000, according to the Rudulph/Brander Monthly Birmingham Area Real Estate Report, a locally published report that cites the Birmingham Multiple Listing Service.

“The big guys are much more sophisticated about value,” said Tom Brander, publisher of the report. “They know, ‘I’ve got to move it and I know what my value point is. I have to make the company survive, not the house.’”

Therefore some of the largest builders have the shortest supply of inventory, he said.


According to Brander’s report, the company has sold 271 new homes in the last 12 months for an average price of $307,000, the highest price of the five local builders.

Belcher said Signature concentrates its efforts on marketing properties within the realty community, working closely with agents and firms to help sell the homes.

“Mentally, with our sales agents, it has shifted to more of a counseling approach rather than a selling approach,” he said. “We are counseling buyers on whether they should be buying.”

Brander attributes much of the success of the larger home builders in the area to cohesiveness and aggressiveness in moving inventory.

“There is a cohesive, consistent message from the local home builders association and these builders are close to the banks based here, which are telling them, ‘Get rid of the inventory, because we don’t want it.’”

Last month, the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders held a blitz for its members, which offered new homes from numerous builders at deep discounts, resulting in an uptick in sales and contracts.

The monthly Rudulph/Brander report released earlier in the week showed that new home sales increased 9 percent in September, the second month in a row the area saw an increase, and that inventory of new homes on the market fell slightly to eight months.

Local new home sales jump 9 percent

We got Picked up By the Birmingham Business Journal Today 10/13/2008 In an Article Buy Lauren B. Cooper. See our full commentary here.

Birmingham area new home sales rose 9 percent in September, while existing home sales fell nearly 7 percent in the month, according to a recent report.

According to the Rudulph/Brander Monthly Birmingham Area Real Estate Report, a locally published report that cites the Birmingham Multiple Listing Service, 330 new homes sold last month, compared to 302 in August.

Total dollar sales fell 5 percent to $238.9 million in September from $252.3 million in August, a decline that was expected for this time of year, and a 17 percent decline from September 2007, said the report.

The inventory of new homes on the market decreased to eight months in September, compared to 9.1 months in August and 8.3 months in September 2007.

The report said that sales of existing homes fell 6.9 percent to 1,035 last month, compared to 1,112 in August. Inventory of existing homes is at 11.3 months, with 2,663 homes on the market.