Sharpie Parties Taint Foreclosed Homes
As if just being abandoned and written off was not enough, party revelers are using Facebook and Twitter to further attack foreclosed homes. Their weapon of choice: Sharpie magic markers.
Invitations are sent out via social media, and the guests receive Sharpie pens on arrival. Fueled by alcohol, they collectively go on a destructive binge, drawing graffiti on the walls, ripping up floors and flooding bathrooms.
The Sharpie parties are sprouting up in ghostly streets dotted with boarded up homes and unkempt lawns, according to Reuters. In California county alone, at least six such parties were reported in recent times.
“The Sharpie party is the newest twist here,” Larry Morse, the district attorney in Merced County, California, told Reuters.
“It’s a growing fad among young people, especially the Twitter crowd,” said Andy Krotic, a California Realtor®. “They throw a big party, everyone gets a Sharpie, and they are invited to write on the walls and spray paint.”
The phenomenon perhaps began with the movie Project X which told the story of a house-wrecking party made possible by online invitations. Earlier this year, Texas, Florida and Utah saw these house-wrecking bashes. The destruction parties are issuing a death knell on these already abandoned homes. Foreclosed properties struggle to find takers. If damaged badly, their chances of ever finding occupants gets even slimmer. A blighted home is also a curse for a neighborhood and a street. Hopefully, this phenomenon of crowd home-bashing will soon come to pass.
Housing Starts Take an Unexpected Fall
Some depressing news from the housing market again this month. Groundbreaking on U.S. homes dropped 1.1 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 746,000, according to the Commerce Department.
According to a Reuters poll the median forecast was for a 757,000-unit rate. The news casts a shadow of gloom over the industry, which was in a celebratory mood earlier this year – a mood sparked by rising home prices and home building activity.
For six years, the industry has suffered big losses because of unemployment, declining home values, rising foreclosures and strict lending practices. Things were beginning to turn a corner, but the July report shows that there are still speed bumps on the road to recovery. The one bright spot on the recent Commerce Government report is that new permits for building homes increased 6.8 percent to a 812,000-unit pace.
The fall in new home activity was mostly in the single-family home segment where groundbreaking dropped 6.5 percent. Multifamily home starts jumped 12.4 percent.
Home Depot has High Hopes for Housing Market
Home improvement retailer Home Depot said it is raising its profit view and its hopes for the housing market, according to Reuters.
Home Depot optimism is sparked by improvements in the California and Florida markets, which were worst hit by the housing bust. The two states are now among the best performing states, according to company officials.
“The worst of the (housing) crisis is behind us,” Barclays analyst Alan Rifkin said, according to Reuters.
Along with the housing market, Home Depot took heavy losses during the slump. In California and Florida alone, same-store sales, a key industry measure, plummeted 20 percent. The economic downturn forced people to put a hold on home purchases and major improvements. But things are changing.
Shoppers are now loosening their purse strings. According to a recent report, even though home starts were down in July, permits were on the rise.