Eric Wolff
Journalist

Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR)

Data collection, cleaning, and analysis is one of the primary ways I break news. I rely on the open source statistical package R to do my work, but I also use Google Spreadsheets, Excel, and Google Refine.

Using databases of county records, I wrote monthly real estate market updates and foreclosure reports in addition to enterprise reporting.

Highlights

Note: On October 1, 2012, U-T San Diego purchased the North County Times and transferred the NCT archives to its servers.

Fears recede of second crash from 'shadow inventory'
North County Times, August 18, 2012
Data Analyzed: County foreclosures and notices of default from ForeclosureRadar combined with transaction records from the county assessor offices.
For years, some real estate analysts feared that banks would suddenly release a wave of foreclosed houses, swamping the local housing market and sending house prices into a second collapse.

That second tsunami isn't happening, according to an analysis by the North County Times.

'This is crazy': Home ownership cheaper than renting
North County Times, April 21, 2012
Data Analyzed: Transaction records from the county assessor offices, combined with house rental data from the multiple listing service and craigslist
Monthly payments on a house are now cheaper than monthly rents on a similar house in most of North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties, according to an analysis of county-supplied and Realtor data.

Home prices in senior communities rebound
North County Times, September 23, 2012
Data Analyzed: Sale prices on homes in 55+ communities in the multiple listing service Home prices in senior communities in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties shot up this summer after hitting bottom last spring, according to a North County Times analysis of Realtor transaction data. A follow up on an analysis of the same data from a year earlier showing home prices in those same communities had fallen fast.

The bigger the loan, the longer to foreclose
North County Times, September 17, 2011
Data Analyzed: County foreclosures and notices of default from ForeclosureRadar
When it comes to foreclosing, lenders see some delinquent homeowners as more equal than others. Mortgage debt of more than a half-million dollars seems to get lenders to look the other way for an extra month compared with those who owe far less, according to a North County Times analysis of foreclosure records.

Foreclosure auctions getting pricey
North County Times, July 16, 2011
Data Analyzed: County foreclosures and notices of default from ForeclosureRadar
Competition at foreclosure auctions has become fierce in 2011 as more bidders battle over fewer properties, according to analysts and pricing data.The number of bidders ballooned this spring, as small-time investors entered the market and institutional investors started buying more, auction regulars said. And falling foreclosure rates reduced the number of properties available.

Some solar prices sky high
North County Times, February 5, 2011
Data Analyzed: Solar installations from the California Solar Initiative
Purchasing a residential solar power system can be complicated as it is, but a few companies have made the process more difficult by combining aggressive sales tactics with high prices.

Luxury home buyers ready to move
North County Times, Jan. 14, 2011
Data Analyzed: Sales from Sandicor, the Realtors' multiple listing service
While problems such as ballooning mortgage loan payments and job losses pushed many borrowers into fire sales or foreclosure, the type of person who owned a home priced over $2 million in North San Diego County or over $1 million in Southwest Riverside County typically had the funds to wait for values to rebound, real estate agents said. Now they're tired of waiting: While few need to sell, many want to sell, so they can downsize to a smaller place, retire and move closer to their children, or otherwise use their time and money. In the past few months, they've become accepting of lower prices just so they can get on with things, real estate agents said.

Foreclosure moratorium takes hold locally
North County Times, October 22, 2010
Data Analyzed: County foreclosures from ForeclosureRadar.com
A Bank of America foreclosure moratorium took hold last week, dramatically reducing the number of homes sold at auction or taken back by the bank in the last two weeks in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties, according to a North County Times analysis of data from Foreclosure Radar.