Thursday, December 2, 2010

Foolish Banks Foreclose Again

This article, The Abysmal State Of Mortgage Finance As Shown By One House, Two Foreclosures, absolutely hits the nail on the head and shows that bankers regularly hit their thumbs with hammers. This "lending into sink hole" needs to stop. "Saving" the housing market cannot be defined as artificially propping up housing prices with taxpayers paying up the huge losses on the long way down to the bottom that result from this foolish and reckless policy. I personally know of a very similar situation involving a home in Murfreesboro Tennessee, but this one is even worse. A builder defaulted on a construction loan secured by a vacant lot and the house next door that was 99% complete. On 10/20/2008, the bank (Pinnacle Financial Partners – The "Official bank of the Tennessee Titans"), foreclosed and took the properties back as REO's. On 5/29/2009 the bank resold the house and lot to a home buyer through an online auction company for $264,400 (including the 5% auction premium). At that time I was personally interested in buying the house (not the lot - it has little value in this market), but was only willing to pay in the $190K's including the auction premium. Obviously, I was grossly outbid by this foolish buyer (I wonder if they were a tax credit buyer?). Here is the really scary part. The bank, Pinnacle Financial Partners, loaned that buyer $236,696 (i.e. about 90% of the purchase price) on a "non-qualifying" basis. This means the buyer essentially got a no-doc/stated income type of mortgage loan from Pinnacle Bank. Of course the reason the bank did this was to artificially inflate the price that they would get for the property when they were selling it as an REO. Less than 6 months after this bogus sale closed I received a postcard in the mail from a REALTOR marketing this same house for sale. Apparently, the buyers of this home needed to sell rather quickly after buying it! Their attempt to sell the property failed (they were asking in the low $300K's), and, as a result, on 10/12/2010 the bank foreclosed on the house and lot for the 2nd time in less than 2 years. The really, really scary part is that I personally know that this very same bank did the same exact thing with other properties with the same bad, but, predictable, results. This bank was practicing what I call "incestuous lending", which is very similar to what Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA are doing when they offer all types of incentives and special financing to entice buyers to buy their foreclosures so the banks can essentially take a dead asset off one side of their books and replace it with a questionable asset on the other side of their books. It's like saying someone who never repaid the personal loan they owe you and you just say OK and let their brother or sister guarantee the payments even though they are just as reliable. Meanwhile, you still haven't received any actual money, just a promissory note with another name on it. A person who works for a major bank recently told me that once a home is foreclosed on there is an 80% chance that it will be foreclosed on again within 10 years. Now I know why. The banks keep inflating the prices of their REO's by obtaining buyers who are lured into the purchase by the banks' artificially easy to get and artificially cheap financing. In other words, the banks are getting generally unqualified and ignorant buyers who are overpaying for the foreclosed properties. Therefore, it should be no surprise that these same home buyers end up in financial trouble in such a short period of time at such an alarming rate. In addition to the buyers who bought homes at the top of the market, those who bought homes with no-doc/stated/exotic mortgages, those who bought homes with subprime loans, prime borrowers who have lost their jobs or suffered a reduction in income, we now have to add the foolish foreclosure buyers who overpaid in a declining market to the list of homeowners who have a high risk of defaulting on their mortgage loans. This mess just keeps getting worse. Home prices are going to keep declining for quite a while (see: Home Prices Decline Again and The Truth About Home Prices).  As a result of all of this, I know there is going to be a lot of short sales and foreclosures over the next several years.

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