Commentary: Sign of the Times
Home builder D.R. Horton is advertising it's "UnAuction event," which as best I can tell is like having a foreclosure auction without the foreclosure. "Auction prices without the hassle!" is the tagline on the promotional Web site just launched to promote the event. Covering 23 neighborhoods in Southern California, the "unauction" will offer discounts of up to 50 percent on unsold inventory homes. (Read that number again: a 50 percent discount on new homes). And just where are these values to be had? Kern County. Ventura County. San Bernardino County. Riverside County. Imperial County. For the uninitiated to California's geography,
all most are in the so-called Inland Empire -- the area of the state that's been hardest hit during the ongoing housing slump.
This story gives me a chance, BTW, to relay a sidenote from the flight home last week after ASF 2008. I ended up sitting in coach across from a gentleman who bought four beers during the three hour flight from Las Vegas to Dallas; well-dressed, wearing a grey suit. Upon landing, he pulled his luggage out from underneath the seat, which sported his full name and title as a very senior executive at D.R. Horton.
When he noticed I was scanning his luggage tag, what was his response? To turn the tag over and hope nobody saw his name, his title, or who he worked for. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what has become of the nation's homebuilders. A sign of the times, I guess.