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How The MJM Reports (Their) Bad News

By Greg L | 17 June 2008 | Local Economy, Prince William County | 21 Comments

The MJM reports today on the improving residential real estate market in Prince William County, acknowledging that sales are up and foreclosures are down, and even discloses that Prince William County’s market recovery significantly outpaces what is happening elsewhere in Virginia.  If readers were looking for some sort of narrative to help them understand all of this, however, the MJM again demonstrated their inability to provide that service.  In one of the driest, mind-numbingly statistic-laden listings of market data in recent memory, readers might well think the intent here was not to inform them, but to actively encourage them not to read an article that the paper felt compelled to publish in some fashion.

I’m sure MJM readers got a whole lot out of this:

According to year-over-year statistics from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, the number of active new listings for single-family detached units in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park registered only slight increases in May.

However, active and new listings in those areas rose 22 percent and 10 percent, respectively, for single-family attached units.

In that category, active listings went from 1,881 in May 2007 to 2,293 and new listings increased from 609 in May 2007 to 671.

Sales for detached units jumped 89 percent from 254 in May 2007 to 481 last month, according to NVAR.

Attached units didn’t see quite the same boost, but sales still increased 73 percent with 294 in May 2008 compared with 170 at the same time last year.

Year-over-year statistics for May showed a drop in the average sales price for homes in the three municipalities declined with a 36 percent drop for attached homes and a 33 percent for detached dwellings.

Stackhouse said foreclosed houses are contributing to that decline, but that there’s been a slight trend up, with sellers getting about 88 percent of the original asking price. That’s up from 86 percent in January, she said.

The editorial board of the MJM has made it pretty clear that they don’t particularly care for the policies adopted by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors over the past year.  As one of the major cheerleaders of the doom-and-gloom crowd that have opined that the county is setting itself up for an economic disaster, they no doubt were eagerly awaiting confirmation that their predictions were correct.  Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, the opposite has happened and Prince William County is leading the area real estate recovery.  That leaves the MJM in quite a bind.

As the primary local newspaper, the MJM can’t just ignore the story.  When something so dramatic as we have seen happens, they can’t afford to not say anything about the market at all.  The alternative is to fulfill the need to write about it, but to do so in such a way that no one will bother reading the article.  If that was the intent here, this article spectacularly succeeds.



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21 Comments

  1. Johnson said on 17 Jun 2008 at 10:22 am:
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    MJM- a bunch of 8 year olds forced to do a report on why lying is wrong. Petulent liberal children.

  2. me-n-u said on 17 Jun 2008 at 12:00 pm:
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    What will be interesting is the upcoming school year. If the RE. market stays strong and ESOL classes decrease or stay the same as they are now, I would think that EVERYONE could conclude that the resolution is working.

  3. DPortM said on 17 Jun 2008 at 12:32 pm:
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    My brother is buying a home in Sudley and settlement is this week. Last week he was advised by the mortgage company that the lending requirements were changing and he was going to have to put 25% down as opposed to 20% - and he has excellent credit.

    I doubt that illegal aliens will be buying up these foreclosed properties - so I don’t think ESOL classes will go up. The only way for illegal aliens to get into these foreclosed homes now is for “investors” to buy them and rent them out to illegal aliens.

  4. Taco Truck Ted said on 17 Jun 2008 at 1:20 pm:
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    DPortM said on 17 Jun 2008 at 12:32 pm:
    My brother is buying a home in Sudley and settlement is this week. Last week he was advised by the mortgage company that the lending requirements were changing and he was going to have to put 25% down as opposed to 20% - and he has excellent credit.

    I doubt that illegal aliens will be buying up these foreclosed properties - so I don’t think ESOL classes will go up. The only way for illegal aliens to get into these foreclosed homes now is for “investors” to buy them and rent them out to illegal aliens.

    Hi DPortM,
    Jag visit is Q’ed up, but has not happened yet. TTT

    http://www.zillow.com/aerial/DualMapPage.htm?zpid=37520815

  5. Johnson said on 17 Jun 2008 at 2:12 pm:
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    Perhaps we should descend on the MJM office parking lot en masse and run around in a circle while screaming, “The sky is falling! The Resolution is dooming us!”

  6. DPortM said on 17 Jun 2008 at 2:55 pm:
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    TTT - keep me apprised - hopefully you will get the correct response this time!

  7. Taco truck ted said on 17 Jun 2008 at 3:59 pm:
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    DPortM said on 17 Jun 2008 at 2:55 pm:
    TTT - keep me apprised - hopefully you will get the correct response this time!

    Roger That!

  8. Sara said on 17 Jun 2008 at 4:20 pm:
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    Once again, I think your optimism about the real estate market is either delusional or purposefully twisted to make your readers feel good about the economic devastation that you and your cohort have helped bring upon PWC. I went to the house auction yesterday in Manassas. There were 4 great houses and one that was a great property, but in a neighborhood that some would consider marginal. Four of the houses were bought by speculators, for under $130,000, and two of those went for $70,000 (on Stonewall) and $84,000 (in Georgetown South). I don’t see this as a cheery prediction for the RE market in the county.

    As we were waiting around for the auction to start, I was able to chat up several speculators. They are not in any way concerned about Manassas or PWC neighborhoods, in fact, one man told me that once he has the houses in shape he rents them to Latinos or “whoever else I can get in there to cover costs.” He plans to put 4-5 single men in each property, which he says, at the moment is working pretty well (financially). His plan is not to sell to families, but to hold on until he can make a profit, which he expects will be MORE THAN FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, as he said “if I’m lucky.” This man was in construction and renovation, and seemed to know a lot about the foreclosure market. He said that the lull you’re reporting right now is just that—a lull, and his real estate connections told him there is going to be another big surge later this summer as properties that have recently been vacated are soon going to be into the foreclosure process.

    So, before the collective back slapping and self-congratulation starts, consider this: these properties are more than likely going to house other Latinos or working poor people. That means low-end renters who have no connection or commitment to the community, owned by people who have a goal of profiting off the misfortune and suffering of others.

    Of course, time will tell, but I think you should stop misleading people about how great things are going Greg, and get out of the house a bit more and see what’s really going on in the community. -SC

  9. MP Resident said on 17 Jun 2008 at 4:27 pm:
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    “The only way for illegal aliens to get into these foreclosed homes now is for “investors” to buy them and rent them out to illegal aliens.”

    You can bet that’s what will happen given the condition of some of these properties. Why bother fixing it up when you can just rent it out to an illegal? They won’t care about the rotted floors, water in the basement, electrical problems, leaking water, etc.

  10. Sara said on 17 Jun 2008 at 5:24 pm:
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    Oh, I think they care a great deal about the conditions of the homes they live in, but they don’t often have a choice. However, even the soulless specular seems to have more compassion for his immigrant tenants that you would–he does fix the houses before he rents them, albeit modestly.

    You know, MP Resident, your arrogance here is amazing. Have you ever even spoken to an immigrant? How do you know what they do and don’t care about? When I read posts like this, I think that you really deserve the mess you’ve created here. -SC

  11. A Reader said on 17 Jun 2008 at 6:30 pm:
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    Our new reputation for being tough on illegals is a positive thing. We must continue to roll up the welcome mat. We must demand that our laws be enforced and that zoning violations be investigated and prosecuted. I think police offices enforcing child carseat/seatbelt issues (and checking immigration status) would be a great way to save children’s lives and be a way to make the illegals feel very uncomfortable.

  12. sahdman said on 17 Jun 2008 at 8:36 pm:
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    Sara,
    I can’t speak for Greg, but I was at the Lowes on 234 the other day and didn’t see an illegal in the whole store. Last week I was at a home depot in Fairfax and it was crawling with what I suspected were illegals. They are probably remodeling their new rentals in Fairfax.

    And that construction slum lord you spoke with. Why is he buying in Prince William? He could house his workers in Fairfax, Arlington or Alexandria and not have to worry about the rule of law. I would take his “speculation” with a grain of salt.

  13. Anonymous said on 17 Jun 2008 at 9:39 pm:
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    Every comment has some truth here, and the idea that houses are selling may be true. They are selling for low prices to carpet baggers hoping to cash in down the road. Wait til they find out they are going to pay to repair homes too! With a permit! I still see new foreclosures every week. It is not over.

  14. MP Resident said on 17 Jun 2008 at 11:01 pm:
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    “How do you know what they do and don’t care about? When I read posts like this, I think that you really deserve the mess you’ve created here. -SC”

    The mess I’ve created? I was not complicit in the mortgage fraud that was taking place. [1]

    As far as the conditions illegal aliens live in, there is a direct correlation between the quality of the tenant and the quality of the property. A poorly maintained property that is in unsafe condition is going to get those tenants that the owners of nicer properties will not rent to.

    [1]http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2008-06-02-mortgage-fraud-las-vegas_N.htm

    The most interesting part here:

    “There’s a close correlation between states with foreclosure problems and states with mortgage fraud problems,” says Sam Garcia of MortgageDaily.com. “There’s a good portion of foreclosures that probably resulted from some form of mortgage fraud.”

  15. MP Resident said on 17 Jun 2008 at 11:02 pm:
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    “those tenants that the owners of nicer properties will not rent to”

    Specifically those that cannot pass a credit check and income verification.

  16. MP Resident said on 17 Jun 2008 at 11:05 pm:
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    Incidentally, I don’t like slumlords, and it’s ridiculous that you’d think that my pointing out what slumlords do is somehow condoning it.

  17. MP Resident said on 17 Jun 2008 at 11:13 pm:
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    Oh Sarah, the house didn’t sell for anywhere close to $10,000 did it?

  18. wine please said on 18 Jun 2008 at 12:16 am:
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    Sara, I speak to several immigrants every day…one from Ghana, several from Pakistan, India, Mexico & Central America, and even a few from the Ukraine. Yet the difference is that all these folks that I see and speak with are LEGAL immigrants…and all of these people I’ve asked have told me how irritated they are with the illegal immigration problem because they all went through the proper channels to come here. The ladies at my sons’ daycare are especially frustrated because many of them are Latino and don’t like to be casually lumped-in with those who are breaking our laws. They have kept up with their visas and several (that I know of) are working towards citizenship; their English is good and one of the ladies is always asking me how to say certain things because she wants to know English, she wants to fit in, she wants to do well at her job caring for children, she wants to be able to understand her daughter’s teacher at school, etc.
    And the Rule of Law Resolution certainly didn’t create the mortgage crisis…that was the greedy lenders; the greedy brokers; the stupid people who thought they could live beyond their means. Not that I know any of the commenters here personally, but I doubt very few, if any, are in job positions that helped over-inflate the house prices or were/are part of the lending industry. Even if they are, one or two people aren’t going to ruin the market nationally. Plus, the market decline started right about three years ago…long before the Rule of Law Resolution was voted on and enacted. The data that Greg references is solid data that you yourself can easily check…if you see an error in his math or analytical skills, he always seems very open to corrections.
    So maybe think before you speak; back up your claims with evidence; don’t point fingers at people you know nothing about.

  19. freedom said on 18 Jun 2008 at 7:53 am:
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    WooooooHooooooooo, I’m with YOU, wine please!! :)

  20. MP Resident said on 18 Jun 2008 at 9:55 am:
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    Sarah is obviously more into “feeling” than “thinking”, so I doubt she’ll be looking at any data.

  21. El Guapo said on 19 Jun 2008 at 7:42 am:
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    This post is funny. Greg criticizes the media for printing the facts without spin. That’s great. Of course the facts still show that PWC has consistently had a higher foreclosure rate, higher loss of home values and higher rate of vacant houses than neighboring counties. It says more about Greg than about the conditions of the market that he can actually look at all the data an convince himself that this is good

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