Sonoma Housing Bubble

Pulling the cork out of Sonoma's bubbly housing foolishness

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sonoma Co. Too Costly to do Business

"American Home Shield is moving almost half of the jobs at its 200-employee Santa Rosa call center to other states, saying it is too expensive to operate a telemarketing facility in Sonoma County."

"Based in Memphis, Tenn., American Home Shield sells service contracts that cover repairs or replacements for heating, plumbing and electrical systems, water heaters and major appliances."

"With the housing market mired in a downturn, American Home Shield has been cutting costs. Home sales have fallen nationwide with California, including Sonoma County, hit particularly hard."

"The home warranty company, a major employer in Sonoma County for two decades, said Thursday it will move all 90 telephone sales jobs in Santa Rosa to call centers in states with cheaper business costs."

"The job losses are another blow to the region's economy. Sonoma County has been losing jobs monthly since the middle of last year and the housing slump has contributed to the weakening."

"It's largely a reflection of real estate. They boomed during the boom. And now that home sales are down, it ripples throughout the economy," said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board."

"About 50 jobs at the Santa Rosa center were previously eliminated, mostly by not replacing workers who left the company, spokeswoman Susanna Weston said."
"It was a very challenging year in real estate," she said. "So we looked all over the business to save money without compromising our customer experience. We haven't been hiring a lot of positions."'

"Founded in 1971, American Home Shield moved from Dublin to Santa Rosa in 1986. The company moved into a new West Coast headquarters in the Santa Rosa Business Park in 2005, where it leases a 36,000-square-foot building."

"But the cost of doing business in Sonoma County is two to three times that in the other states, led by rent, commissions, payroll and benefits. "All that rolls up and it's much more expensive," Weston said."

"Sonoma County business costs are 10 percent higher than the national average, Ben Stone said."

"It's a business decision and call centers are usually operated in low-cost areas," he said.

"Company officials led by President Dave Crawford informed sales staff Thursday that the jobs, along with some support positions, would be gone within two months. The workers can relocate to call centers in Iowa, Tennessee or Georgia, and the company is offering assistance with moving costs."


At 1/26/2007 08:05:00 PM , Anonymous tom stone said...

rough times ahead for our was booze,dope, tourism and real estate/construction.this downturn will not be good for tourism. and real estate/construction related businesses will die a horrible death...that huge new lowe's in cotati will be closed in a couple of years.i predict the potgrowers and methmakers will do ok,but i'm not too sure about the high end boozeries.i have some neighbors with small vineyards and i wonder if this will hurt them too...hey maybe those chinese billionaires will develop a taste for pinot?

At 1/27/2007 12:14:00 AM , Blogger wide-right said...

So Lowe's will pack it up? How is the downturn in the "county economy" going to slow the outside tourism? Are the Sonoma vines going to stop being managed? So should I expect that Hwy 101 will have rot all over it in the 707 area code? So a pot grower will do okay, and every rental in the area will not need annual improvements? Oh, just no improvements purchased at Lowes. The home-depot in windsor will be fine. And Gallo of the Central Valley will become the winery tourism destination. Yes, there will be a decay in total receipt sales in the county but I think our daily local diet of expense will have an impact first. What local businesses are going to feel an impact if local spending fell 20%? Is it Kaiser or is it Togos? I think it is far better to track the local bakery sales receipts first before we jump into the "small vineyards".

I do like these few RE blogs for tracking purposes. I am rather surprised at the "listed" price of homes in the wind/heald area by the $/sq ft. There are some obvious listings that are directly inflated b/c of the amount owed vs. the actual projected sales figure. If I owed the BofA over $250 a sq/ft, after commission I would be very concerned. Please keep the local posts coming. I REALLY enjoy the local input. G/L to all.

At 1/27/2007 12:33:00 AM , Blogger Athena said...

The tourism will continue as it always has. But take a look around during the week. Look at the empty shi-shi cafes... look at the touristy shops, the streets in the center of town and the parking lots... empty. Our economy has been built on buying and selling houses to each other and the money made by locals during the boom were realtors, mortgage brokers. The rest were the faux gains from their new found debt is wealth paradigm.

The economy hasn't ever regained any solid growth since the end of the tech-boom in 2001. The jobs gained in the five years after that crash were housing related- construction, realtors, mortgage brokers... the housing pyramid scheme has collapsed. It has expanded far beyond the supply of greater fools. tsk tsk for those who were suckered in by their delusions of grandeur... Cinderella has left the ball and Goldilocks is nowhere to be found in the wreckage of our bubble based economy.

It will get ugly and we intend to be here giving the local viewpoint on the bubble.

Did you know there are more realtwhores in California than there are people in Wyoming?

Did you know there are enough realtwhores in California to fill the stadium hosting the superbowl this year 7 times over?

1 in 70 Californians is now a licensed Realtor.

As of December there were more than 521,000 licensed Realtors in California.

There are more licensed Realtors in California than the population of Long Beach, the state’s fifth-largest city.

At 1/30/2007 08:08:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your employer actually pays for your house. The fact that your house costs 4X national average is a sign to your employer he can save a bundle elsewhere. Of course you may want to live on less in a desirable area (sonoma is barely so, but I'd agree compared to say New jersey or Minnesota) so they ahve to pay you more to say live in Kansas. In spite of that, its cheaper to move to Kansas. I know, I worked for several companies that did it. Of course some others moved to India and china.

At 7/10/2008 03:21:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find your blog very interesting. The thing is that I have been looking for a company that provides home warranty protection services. And here I found American Home Shield. The company seemed to be the right choice. But recently I also happened to bump at, where I checked out the customers’ reviews concerning the company. In fact, not all of them are positive.


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