Friday, April 17, 2009

Tennessee Foreclosures Filings Increase Nearly 20% in March 2009

According to this article in the Memphis Busines Journal, RealtyTrac: Tennessee foreclosures up in March but trending down in 1Q, foreclosures increased in March 2009 compared to February 2009 by 19.7% and by 13.1% when March 2009 was compared to March 2008.  According to the article, the overall foreclosures in the 1st Quarter of 2009 are 16.3% lower than the 1st Quarter of 2008.  Unfortunately, the writer of the article used an article of the title that misrepresents the facts.  The sad truth is that in order for foreclosures in the first quarter of 2009 relative to 2008 and still have foreclosures soar in March 2009 by 19.7% it means that in January 2009 foreclosures dropped substantially, but that drop was followed by huge increases.  It is normal for foreclosures to be low in January so this is not abnormal.  However, a near 20% increase for March is not good.  According to the article, Tennessee has one foreclosure filing per 263 households.  That ranks 17th nationally.  For comparison purposes, Pennsylvania (my home state) has only one foreclosure per 464 households.  This means Tennessee’s foreclosure rate is 76% higher than Pennsylvania’s rate.  Not good.  Contrary to whatever nonsense and spin is out there in the media foreclosures are going to increase for the next several months, if not longer due to general economic problems (think unemployment) and continuing financial problems (think bank failures).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Home Prices Still Need to Decline More to be "Affordable"

Home affordability is a reltaive thing.  However, that affordability should not be based on interest rates.  It should be based on income and housing prices - in other words the cash value of the home.  According to this Wall Street Journal article, Home Prices: Low, But Still No Bargain, home prices do indeed need to fall more.  I agree with this overall assessment.  Of course this will lead to more foreclosures as more homeowners experience negative equity situations.  If you do factor in financing then there is another problem: the looming commercial real estate crisis (more on that soon).

Monday, April 6, 2009

President's "Making Home Affordable" Program Not Enough to Stop Foreclosures

According to this Inman News article, Negative Equity: a housing timebomb, President Obama's Making Home Affordable Program (MHA)  will only have a small impact on reducing foreclosures because it igores one of the key drivers of foreclosures: negative equity.  The article also mentions that investors being excluded is also a problem with MHA.

As usual, I predicted this before the "real media".  Per my blog post on March 5, 2009 regarding the new government foreclosure programs, since investors are excluded and many people have negative equity in their homes the government foreclosure programs (now labeled MHA) will not be successful in significantly reducing foreclosures.

Higher Unemployment = More Foreclosures

According to this New York Times article, unemployment increased in March 2009 with another 663,000 jobs lost bringing the total jobs lost in this recession to over 5,000,000.  No doubt this will mean more foreclosures.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Recent "Sales Uptick" Not Really Good News for Real Estate

According to this article, Riskiest Places for U.S. Homeowners, there are several places in the country (mainly parts of CA, FL, MI, TX and parts of the Midwest) where things will get significantly worse.  However, even outside of those places things are not likely to improve.

"While the National Association of Realtors estimates existing-home sales rose 5.1% nationwide in February, foreclosures are still on the rise. Dr. David Berson, chief economist of mortgage insurer PMI Group, says the sales uptick simply reflects re-sales of foreclosed properties.

"Sales will turn up before the recession ends," says Berson, but they will be at lower prices. That does little for those who already bought homes during the boom and now face the dual forces of negative equity and job loss. "Delinquencies and foreclosures lag behind unemployment," he says, "and unemployment lags behind the recession."

I think it is clear that while the recent sales uptick is nice and presents some people hope it is more likely just a sign that prices were dropped on distress sales and foreclosures.  It is only when the distress sales and foreclosures decline significantly and regular sales increase and prices increase can this poor real estate market be deemed "over".  Until then the market is still in decline.