Tuesday, August 11, 2009

4 Reasons the Recent Housing Upswing is Nothing More than a Temporary Slow Down on the Way to the Bottom

The current housing upswing in sales that is leading many clueless media pundits to claim the housing market bottom is near is noting more than a pit stop on the way to the bottom. I believe that this "upswing" is really a mirage. Below are 4 reasons why the real estate market is still headed down.
  1. Low priced foreclosure sales are artificially inflating sales figures. However, don't take my word for it. According this Forbes.com article, America's Best And Worst Housing Markets, Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist, states that "In many areas, low-priced foreclosure resales are boosting overall sales, which keeps overall home prices down."
  2. Cyclic sales are distorting the sales volume and sales price figures. Don't believe me? That's fine. Listen to a real estate appraiser. "Prices are supposed to go up in the spring; they're seasonal," says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a Manhattan-based appraisal firm. "The seasonality is playing tricks on our eyes."
  3. Government meddling is distorting the market. In addition to the normal spring bump in sales volume and prices, the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit is artificially causing a higher level of sales, particularly on lower priced homes where $8,000 is a larger % of the sale price. Buyers are rushing to buy homes and close on the purchases before the tax credit expires on 11/30/2009. Again, don't rely on me. The same Forbes article quotes Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist, as stating "Current trends may owe a lot to seasonality and the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit. As such, current demand may not be based on sustainable market forces. With negative equity rates high and unemployment continuing to rise, we have likely not seen the peak in foreclosure rates."
  4. More and more homeowners owe more than their homes are worth. According to the Deutsche Bank report mentioned in my recent blog post, SCARY STUFF: About half of U.S. mortgages seen underwater by 2011, 48% of homeowners will be underwater by 2011. The result of this will be that more and more homeowners will simply walk away from their homes as they give up on the notion that their homes will ever be worth what they owe.

SCARY STUFF: About half of U.S. mortgages seen underwater by 2011

According to this Reuters article, About half of U.S. mortgages seen underwater by 2011, a Deutsche Bank report states that "the percentage of U.S. homeowners who owe more than their house is worth will nearly double to 48 percent in 2011 from 26 percent at the end of March (2009)." According to the Deutsche Bank report, home price declines will affect "conforming" or "prime" borrowers (i.e. those that put 20% down, had documentable income and good credit" the most. The report goes on to state that 41% of prime conforming loans will be underwater by the first quarter of 2011, up from 16% at the end of the first quarter 2009 and 46% percent of prime jumbo loans will be underwater, up from 29%. The report goes on to state that 69% of subprime loans, will be greater than the underlying property value in 2011 (up from 50%) and 89% of option adjustable-rate mortgages (option ARM's), which artificially reduced payments by allowing payments to be lower than the interest due resulting in increasing principal balances, will be underwater in 2011, up from 77%.
In June 2009 Deutsche Bank covered 100 U.S. metropolitan areas and forecast home prices would fall 14% through the 1st quarter of 2011 for a total drop of 41.7%.

The Deutsche Bank reports stated that the regions suffering the worst negative equity are areas in California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and West Virginia. The report added that Las Vegas and parts of Florida and California will see 90% or more of their loans underwater by 2011.
The Deutsche Bank analysts stated that "For many, the home has morphed from piggy bank to albatross."
The Reuters article states that "the drop in home prices is fueling a vicious cycle of foreclosures as it eliminates homeowner equity and gives borrowers an incentive to walk away from their mortgages. The more severe the negative equity, the more likely are defaults, since many borrowers believe prices will not recover enough." (Translation: homeowners will walk away from their homes and give the keys back to the banks once they realize their homes will never be worth enough to pay off the debt.)

The above is more evidence that this housing market mess is far from over despite the nonsense you hear from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and the Obama Administration. There will be high numbers of foreclosures and short sales for years to come.

If you are a homeowner in Middle Tennessee who cannot pay your mortgage (due to losing your job, having your income reduced, illness, health problems, etc.), or your home is already in foreclosure, or you owe more than your home is worth, please contact me to discuss your options including loan modifications or short sales. I am a Middle Tennessee distressed real estate, short sale, pre-foreclosure (preforeclosure) and foreclosure REALTOR and Expert. I serve real estate owners, homeowners and investment property owners in Rutherford County TN, Williamson County TN, Davidson County TN, Murfreesboro TN, Smyrna TN, La Vergne TN, Eagleville TN, Lascassas TN, Rockvale TN, Christiana TN, Brentwood TN, Franklin TN, Nashville TN and Belle Meade TN. If you do need to short sell your home (a real estate short sale occurs when the sale proceeds are not sufficient to pay off all the mortgages and liens on the property/home), or you need a quick sale due to being in foreclosure, you can request short sale and foreclosure help and assistance on my website at Get Short Sale and Foreclosure Help and Assistance from a Middle Tennessee Short Sale and Foreclosure REALTOR and Real Estate Expert.

Fannie Mae Loses $14.8 Billion in 2nd Quarter of 2009

According to this Fannie Mae News Release, Fannie Mae Reports Second-Quarter 2009 Results, Fannie Mae lost $14.8 billion in the 2nd quarter of 2009. The news release states "Second-quarter results were driven primarily by $18.8 billion of credit-related expenses, reflecting the ongoing impact of adverse conditions in the housing market, as well as the economic recession and rising unemployment." Translation: loan defaults and foreclosures are killing them. Mark my words, this is only going to get worse.

Commercial Defaults Coming Fast and Furious

According to this Bloomberg.com article, Maguire to Surrender Buildings, No Bankruptcy Planned, Maguire Properties Inc., the largest office landlord in downtown Los Angeles, will give seven office buildings back to the lenders. The company has already given one of those buildings back to the lenders. They plan on giving the other six buildings back soon. According to the article the company told lenders "it will no longer continue to fund the cash shortfall" on the mortgages for the six buildings. Of the seven office buildings, two are already in default. The CEO of Maguire said that the company is not considering bankruptcy. According to the article, Maguire's decision is a sign that landlords in Southern California’s overleveraged office market can no longer make payments and may be forced to abandon properties.

In short, the real estate market is still in for a world of hurt in formerly fast growth areas such as CA, NV, AZ and FL. Rising commercial loan defaults will lead to large numbers of short sales and foreclosures. The coming ARM resets will cause even more problems. Together, they will wreak more havoc on the real estate markets across the US over the next 12-24 months. Only after these issues play out will we hit a true real estate bottom.