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Here's that "froth" thing again: Builders hold lotteries for eager new homebuyers.
O'Brien Homes started holding a monthly housing lottery for its 228-unit development called Fusion in Sunnyvale, Calf., after seeing throngs of prospective buyers camp out at the openings of other new condo complexes in the area.Here's my Greenspan imitation: "Don't worry, it's only some sections of the country. Besides it's well supported by the fundamentals. And as we all know, home prices never drop."
Each month, as new sections of the development came under construction, roughly 50 buyers would show up at O'Brien Homes' sales office hoping to be picked for one of the 10 or so sites available. The participants were already pre-qualified for a mortgage and had their down payment in place. After being assigned a number, they crossed their fingers and waited for each bingo ball to be plucked from the tumbler.
"Some people would come back month after month," said Frimel. "It got very frustrating for them."
Adding to that frustration was that home prices rose virtually every time a new group of homes went on sale. The two-, three- and four-bedroom homes started out between $420,000 and $620,000. The last grouping went for $555,000 to $815,000, a 32% increase.
Even with the price hikes, buyers kept returning. O'Brien started issuing returnees an extra bingo ball. If they lost for four straight months, they would get five chances the next time.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock