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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This is like playing Monopoly, only one guy is given all the cash at the beginning of the game, and everyone else gets just $200.

Today, I heard a story about the "Magnificent 8" a group of wealthy real-estate speculators here in San Diego, mostly former realtors and brokers, who made a killing during the boom times of the last 20 years in San Diego Real-Estate. Now they work together to take advantage of the foreclosure market, they hang out at the county court house, and when foreclosure properties come up for sale, they buy them up with $80-million in rotating investment capital. Last year, 2009, they made $250-MIlLION!

This group has operatives that pre-inspect each property, they never touch anything that doesn't have at least 25%-35% margins (i.e. being sold under market value). They stake their claim, out bid everyone else, and then flip the homes, selling them for a quick profit. They work together, and don't step on each-other's toes, so the auctions seem legitimate, but there is no real competition.

Now these properties, foreclosed on by banks, are what we paid for in the bank bail outs, and will be paying the debt on for the rest of our lives through the national debt. The banks are writing them off against massive profits as they consolidate into a virtual Monopoly. And what is truly crazy, if you get 'upside down' and loose your job in this economy, can't make payments, get foreclosed upon, the Bank will not let you refinance down to the market price, even if you could make payments at the lower price. So, you can't buy your own home at the price it will go for at auction.

But even if you do have someone in your family with the credit or cash to bid on a property, the "Magnificent 8" will bid up the property till it's within 5% of market value, so that you can't make any profit by selling it, or flipping it as they do. This keeps the little guys, their only competition, out of the game.

Nothing wrong with wolves becoming scavengers, right? At least someone is making money in this economy. Seems economic injustice just leads to more economic injustice. I'm not a Pollyanna, I know the game. Capitalism is not a FAIR system. Those with the biggest bank accounts always win. But that is why we have the government, to regulate, and create a fair opportunity for the poor, right? So, why are we allowing this kind of unfair competition?