Archive for the ‘housing market predictions’ Category
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
There are many people who feel we are headed toward another real estate bubble. With scare inventory, increasing prices, bidding wars, multiple offer situations, governmental programs falsely inflating prices, and buyers willing to pay over appraised value to purchase a home, it is easy to see why many feel this way.
Today’s market is very different from that of the early 2000s. Let’s look at the differences to determine if a crash is likely:
1. Scarce inventory. The lack of inventory is problematic, and it is the biggest issue amongst buyers’ agents. It has led to some desperate measures on behalf of many borrowers in order to get their offers accepted in multiple offer situations, which are common (see below). Back in the early 2000s we did not have inventory issues. People were selling homes right and left, moving up. The ease at getting loans made it simple for almost anyone with a job to jump into the game and purchase a home. Today’s scarce inventory is definitely driving demand, but there are other factors that prevent the frenzy we witnessed years ago.
2. Tighter lending standards Back in the early 2000s, lenders were heavy players in handing out loans to anyone, even those who were not really qualified. Inventory was not scarce like it is today, and loans were very easy to obtain, with no-doc loans that bypassed employment and income verification – types of loans that are pretty much impossible to get today (unless one wants to go through a private lender and pay a very high interest rate). Today it is not easy to get a loan; even with strong employment history and good credit would-be borrowers have to jump through hoops.
3. Stricter appraisal standards. In the early 2000s appraisal standards were very loose – we saw drive by appraisals, and basically many appraisers were just gold stamping contract prices without deep scrutiny. Today appraisers will not do so, and must adhere to strict guidelines. Prices have increased in most areas, and appraisers do take this into consideration, but it is no longer a free for all when it comes to appraisals. The appraisers with whom I have spoken say they are not 100% caught up with what is happening in the market, and guidelines prohibit them from looking at only the last sale, which may be tens of thousands of dollars higher than other sales in the neighborhood in the last 6 months…thus they have to look at both in order to assess value.
For example, let’s say in your neighborhood 4 similar homes sold in the last 6 months at close to $450,000. A fifth home, also similar to the other four, then closes escrow at $500,000 (there could be many reasons for this – bidding wars, cash buyers, buyers paid over appraisal value, or a government agency could have falsely inflated the price – click here for more information on this.) You decide to list your home now, based on the $500,000 sale, and you do so. A buyer comes along who offers that price, but the home appraises lower. This is because the appraiser will look at all five sold properties, not just the last sale.
4. Buyers paying over appraised value. Many buyers don’t care what the appraised value is, and they are willing to pay the cash difference between it and their loan amount. This has been common in many areas, and is a factor in increasing comparable value. This tactic puts those buyers in the most expensive homes in their neighborhoods (which is never a goal, but what many feel they have to do to get their contracts accepted today). Back in the heyday of the early 2000s we didn’t really see this issue because we didn’t have appraisal issues. So this time around it is the buyers who are driving the prices higher due to the lack of inventory and the high demand.
I believe that we will not see another housing crash, based on the above factors. What I think will happen is that we will see the higher prices and lower inventory for a while, possibly until the end of this year, and then at some point things will level off. Many homeowners who have been underwater (their home is worth less than their mortgage balances) will find themselves no longer so due to rising prices. This will allow them to sell their homes, creating more inventory and less distressed property. At that point prices will simmer and stop escalating, and we will finally see a return to “normal” market trends.
Friday, February 1st, 2013
You have heard the term “shadow inventory.” It was initially coined to refer to the housing inventory that lenders owned, post-foreclosure, but had not yet placed on the market for sale. It has been feared for years and is the subject of much speculation – how much are those lenders really holding back? Since the inception of the term years back, it has been used broadly, as has included inventory that has not yet gone into foreclosure but may. The media has blown the term out of proportion, and the average American thinks it is something to really worry about…but it is NOT.
The tides of the real estate market have really turned in the past year. Lenders have created their own programs, along with federal and state programs, that have actually kept the foreclosure numbers down. Lenders are accepting more short sales and moving forward with less foreclosures, precisely because the lenders do not want to sit on inventory that they have to rehabilitate and sell. They are in the business of lending money, not selling homes.
I’ll put it another way: lenders do not want distressed inventory. In fact, Alex Charfen, founder and CEO of the Charfen Institute and regular commentator for MSNBC and Fox News, agrees that shadow inventory does not exist. He points to the actual bank holdings (which he has seen), and bases this assumption on actual communication with those at the highest levels within the lending institutions. He states flat out that “banks are not holding properties off the market.”
The bottom line is that “shadow inventory” is not a concern. In fact, if you want to be afraid of something real estate related, chew on this:
- It is less expensive to purchase a home then to rent. The last time in history that such was the case was in 1973.
- Housing is more affordable than it has ever been…BUT inventory is very low. Statistics say that inventory will take 3-5 years to shift. In that time, it is safe to say that interest rates will likely rise.
- Standards of getting a loan, while offering more protection for buyers than ever before, have shifted and it is now harder to qualify for a loan.
- Meanwhile, due to the lack of inventory and the greater demand in the housing market, prices continue to rise and competition is fierce – cash investors purchased 30% of homes in 2011 (and that number will likely be higher for 2012).
If you have been considering buying a home, now is the time. I don’t say this because I want to sell more homes, but because it is simply the truth. Many people waited back in 2006/2007 to sell – they saw prices rising like crazy and thought they would wait until they got just a tad higher, so they they could sell and reap bigger profits. Many of those people went into foreclosure or had to short sell their homes after the market plummeted. Don’t get left in the cold.
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Happy December everyone! I can’t believe the year is almost at an end (we won’t mention that I am completely unprepared for the holidays either). Here is what has been happening in the real estate market this week.
Foreclosure Moratorium for the Holidays. Some lenders are finding kindness in their heart to put in place foreclosure moratoria over the holidays, like they have done in the last few years. Fannie and Freddie have already announced a temporary moratorium on all foreclosures of single family homes and 2-4 unit properties for the holiday period, and all evictions will be delayed until after the New Year. California groups like Occupy L.A. and Occupy Santa Cruz are also trying to get lenders in their respective counties to place moratoria on foreclosures for the holidays. If you are facing foreclosure you can call your lender to see if they have instituted such a policy.
Fewer American Homowners are Underwater. A new study just published by CoreLogic concludes that the number of Americans whose homes are “underwater” (they owe more on their mortgage(s) than the current value of their homes) has decreased to 1 in 5. It used to be 1 in 4, so this sounds like good news, although there will be more foreclosures to come due to the large amount of negative equity in the housing market.
Reverse mortgages to have new requirements, may make it harder to qualify. Getting a reverse mortgage may soon be more difficult. Reverse loan originators will soon begin looking at the financial status of applicants, to see if they are able to cover the costs of homeowners insurance and property tax. The goal is to prevent future defaults. Reverse mortgages are obtained by borrowers over 62, and allow them to convert the equity in their homes into cash, which is used to live on. The loan is due, with interest, at the time the owners die, move, sell the home, or fail to pay homeowners’ insurance or property taxes.
Home values have declined in most markets; buying cheaper than renting in many places. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal it is cheaper to buy rather than rent a home in 12 major metropolitan markets. Home values also have declined in all but 5 markets. Low mortgage rates and timing make this a great time to buy for many buyers, and prices are predicted to continue to decline, mostly due to distressed sales. To read more on this study click here.
Monday, October 24th, 2011
There has been plenty of recent housing news that could effect the value of your home, so here are some of the latest updates:
Bill to allow visas to foreign home buyers. Congress is considering a bill that would allow foreign homebuyers to purchase residential property in the U.S., in an effort to stimulate the housing market. Buyers would need to spend at least $500,000 to obtain the visas, and would be allowed to split the money and purchase more than one home, as long as one property was at least $250,000. The buyers resident visa would be in place for as long as the buyer owned the home, and the buyers will have to live in their U.S. home for at least six months out of the year.
Mortgage rates may be lowered. The Federal Reserve is considering lowering the mortgage rates again, as the current low rates do not seem to be stimulating housing and the economy. They plan to purchase more mortgage backed securities, with the goal that banks will be able to help homeowners with refinancing and stimulate purchasing, without causing inflation. Since most of the problems with refinancing involve problems with fees or restrictions, will this really help? This could create more mortgage rate risk for the Fed, and realistically how many people will it help? It certainly won’t do anything for the millions of underwater homeowners. It seems to me this is digging a deeper grave, but I am not a mortgage expert so I will leave this to those who are, but my gut feeling says this is not the best solution.
Next generation of homeowners have little confidence in housing. A new study released by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has found that the younger generation is less willing to purchase homes. Older respondents seemed to be more confident about homeownership after large declines, while younger participants felt opposite. Older respondents saw the drop in the market as cyclical, with the expectation of recovery, whereas their younger peers view the current situation as more permanent. Could this have an effect on housing in the long term?
Study says bank owned property sales may not peak until 2013. The latest study claims that we will see a lot more foreclosures, and therefore many more bank owned homes, until 2013. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts claim that although we will not see price drops as steep as those of 2008, we could see a 10% increase in these REO (bank-owned) properties from 2012 to 2013. For more details of the study click here.
State court voids home sale…could this happen across the country? A Massachusetts state court recently ruled that a home recently sold post-foreclosure was improperly sold, as the lender did not hold the title. The sale was found to be void. So what happens to the new owners? Certainly there will be a big lawsuit against the title companies. But if this becomes the standard who is going to want to purchase a post-foreclosure home? Home buyers rely on title companies to convey clear title…so isn’t this punishing the purchasers and not just the bank? After all, if the title company certifies title is clear and escrow closes, how would a homeowner have any reason to know that there was a problem with the title? I’m not even going to speculate as to how badly this would fare for housing and the economy in general.
HUD homes for only $100 down: In the spirit of stimulating housing purchases, HUD has decided to offer buyers the chance to purchase a HUD REO (lender owned home) for only $100 down…yes, you read that right, one hundred dollars. Of course there are restrictions: the home must be a HUD home (a home that is the result of a foreclosure on a FHA home loan), the sale must be for list price, FHA guidelines apply (you have to qualify for a loan), and the state of your purchase must be one that is listed. To find out more search the internet for HUD’s $100 downpayment program orvisit their site.
Thursday, October 6th, 2011
In the last few weeks we have seen what happens when Americans have had enough – Occupy Wall Street is a prime example. While for now these protests have been free of violence, if the economy does not start to improve that may not be the case. It is time to start doing something, and by this I don’t mean politicians sitting around and trying to come to solutions to which everyone will agree; frankly, Americans are tired of that.
If we want to fix the economy we need to focus on jobs and housing, plain and simple. Now, I know that there are a lot of people who will disagree that housing should be a focus for recovery, and I have read many blog posts and comments on blog posts stating so. However, let’s look at it from a historical perspective.
Housing is at the core of what it means to be American. The dream of homeownership has and continues to be strong, despite the economic situation. It is something tangible that defines who we are as a people – it means security, pride, community, somewhere to raise our children and hang our family photos, plant gardens and host holiday celebrations. If purchased correctly, your home is your future, and will grow equity (yes, I really believe this). Markets are cyclical, economies rise and fall. But a house is a home, and it’s value is irreplaceable.
We need to fix the housing market – it is the only way to really strengthen the economy. For those disbelievers, here is an example from my daily life. I have a short sale listing, and a well qualified buyer. The sellers and buyer have been waiting for the bank to approve the short sale for months. The bank wants $30,000 more than what the home is worth. The buyer’s offer is slightly above comps but it needs to appraise, so she cannot agree with the bank’s asinine logic. While the bank continues to throw more roadblocks in the path, the property is losing value. If the property forecloses and the bank relists it on the market, it will sell for less than the price that is now on the table.
Should the bank accept the offer and let us open escrow, here is what will happen:
* If we get all the distressed inventory off the books the housing market can finally start to return to a “normal” housing market.
* Once the new buyer closes escrow she will hire contractors, painters and handymen to fix up her new home. This creates jobs.
* The buyer will purchase furnishings and items for her new home – this contributes to spending.
* The buyer will pay property taxes on the new home, and a mortgage. This puts money in the economy (rather than having the property sit for possibly a long time, empty)
* The sellers can begin to heal their credit, so in less time they too will be able to go back into the market as consumers
* The neighborhood will benefit from distressed properties selling, from both not having them sit abandoned and need maintenance, and because the longer they sit on the market the more the value of neighborhood homes will drop.
* The lender can get one more house off their books, avoiding foreclosure – which could cost them lots of money and legal fees. If lenders have less foreclosures they will be less resistant to lending, allowing more buyers to qualify for loans, which stimulates purchases.
Do you see, just from this one example, how housing relates to the state of the economy? All of the above effect the attitudes of Americans – it will create less fear, a more positive outlook, the desire to go out and consume once again.It is one spoke in the wheel, I know, but it does relate to what is going on out there, and if we ever want to fix the economy we need to work on housing. To me this is plain and simple. What do you think?
Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Have you been considering buying a home, maybe for the first time, maybe to move up or down? Have you been waiting for the market to hit bottom, for prices to fall, for loan rates to get lower? Guess what? It is that time. Yes, I am a Realtor, and my telling you this may sound self-serving, but let me tell you why that is not the case:
1. Rates are still low. They will get higher – that is something I would be money on. There are a few reasons why. One is that they have been historically low for a long time and it is inevitable. Another reason is that there could be some big changes coming up in the loan industry (see below), which will make them rise.
2. Qualifying for a loan is not going to get any easier. Lenders are still reeling from the housing crash and make it difficult to qualify new borrowers (believe me, I have seen it happen to my own clients). If the new rules pass in September, come October 1 loan limits will decrease, meaning buyers will have to put MORE money down in order to qualify for a loan, and limits will be lower so that means less of a loan (buyers will have to buy smaller homes, or maybe even consider different areas/neighborhoods).
3. Down payment requirements could rise. If the loan limit rates decline the downpayment amounts will increase. Borrowers will have to pay more money up front to get a loan. This will make buying a home a pipe dream for many Americans.
4. There are still some great loan products out there. FHA loans require much lower downpayments and better interest rates. If the new limit restrictions pass they will have an effect on these loans.
5. Selling a home could get much more difficult. If the loan rates change it may effect sellers the most, especially in higher priced areas like San Diego county. Buyers who could qualify for a loan to buy a home may no longer be able to afford that much house, so sellers may have a hard time finding qualified buyers. Many homeowners may not be able to sell their homes, which could lead to more foreclosures. Property values will go down, but who will buy these properties? One theory is that the lenders will simply rent them out rather than try to sell.
6. It is a great time to negotiate! With the market slower than usual for the time of year, and the many well-priced homes out there that are available (especially short sale and lender owned properties), buyers are in the driver’s seat as far as negotiations are concerned. There are some stubborn sellers out there, but if you encounter that situation you can always find another property that is ripe for negotiation.
7. Learn from who is buying now. If you look closely, especially in the attached home market, you will see many investor buyers. As I have said before, this is a sign. It is a sign that now is the time to buy. I am personally working with multiple investor clients right now, and they are getting great deals on short sale and lender owned properties.
I get asked all the time what the market is like, how we are faring here in North San Diego. The market is doing much better than in some other areas of the country, but we are still struggling a bit. Prices have come down, and will likely continue to do so. If the new loan limit reductions pass it will create qualification problems for many buyers and for sellers as well. Right now you can still lock in a very low rate (today’s conforming rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage is 4.5% with no points). There is a decent amount of inventory out there.
So, here is my pledge to you: I will do my best to help you find the right property, at the right price – if you don’t there is no pressure at all. Use me as a tool to help you, because that is what I am here for. I will provide all the information you need about any home we find. You don’t need to sign any agreement, I won’t make any demands on you. I offer you honesty and professionalism, and all you have to do is call me. I will be around all weekend. 760-310-9466
Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
Home Prices Show Slight Increase Heading into Summer. San Diego home prices rose slightly in April over compared to March, 0.4%, ending a four-month price dip across the county. Prices were still lower than they were the same time a year ago, and analysts claim the rise is due to the start of the spring/summer buying season.
Median Market Time for San Diego County Homes Rises. San Diego County homes showed an increase in median market time in May, up to 70 days, according to Realtor.com, lower than the national average of 92 days. Normal market time in the county is about 50-60 days. Median market time is the average time a home is listed on the market. In these more challenging times it is imperative to start a home sale at the right price, so speak with your agent about area comparables, amenities, condition and location of your home and neighborhood to attain the best price and attract buyers.
Half of pending properties in California are short sales or REOs. This may come as no surprise to those who follow the market, and it is great news for buyers. A recent study by the California Association of Realtors found that 28% of buyers who bought property last month purchased REO (lender-owned, or post-foreclosure) properties, and 19% of pending homes sales last month were short sales. The good news, aside from the fact that this inventory is being sold (leaving the market to push toward normalcy), is that these properties are priced lower than traditional sales, allowing the buyer to get a great deal.
Oversight Mandated for National Banks. As part of the regulatory settlement for the robo-signing scandal, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has announced new rules by which all national banks under it’s supervision must adhere. The rules basically require the banks to assess their own foreclosure management processes by September 30, 2011. Banks are also ordered to suspend foreclosure proceedings while working with homeowners on possible loan modifications (this is big news)…although the languages does state “when possible.” Hmmm. There are a slew of other rules as well, so let’s hope this will be a start to lender oversight.
Fannie and Freddie Offer Deals to Save Buyers Money on Home Purchases. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are sweetening the price of homeownership by offering great deals to buyers. Sitting on over 200,000 foreclosed homes combined across the country, these two companies are eager to dispose of their inventory, so if you are a new homebuyer (sorry folks, no investors allowed) you could be eligible for up to 3.5% of the home price paid in closing costs. They are also rewarding your real estate agent with a $1200 bonus. FYI: to qualify for these programs the home must close escrow by October 31 for Fannie homes and September 30 close dates (with contract dates no later than July 31) for Freddie homes. For more information go to http://www.homepath.com/ (Fannie) or http://homesteps.com/ (Freddie).
Monday, June 13th, 2011
Downpayment increase rule under debate: If you haven’t heard, banking industry regulators have a rule on the table that would require buyers to pay a minimum of 20% down on home purchases. Although many lenders require this already there are some loans that can be obtained with very little money down, such as FHA loans (which require only 3.5% down). This has stirred much debate amongst buyers, sellers, Realtors, economists and politicians, with studies concluding that 30% of the home sales market would be decimated.
Congress’ intention in raising downpayment rates is to provide stronger borrowers, thus preventing fewer loan defaults in the future. But many groups, including the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are vehemently opposed to such legislation and have been lobbying against the proposal. I will keep you updated.
Mortgage Servicers in the Hot Seat Again: At least 14 regulated mortgage servicers have been scolded by banking regulators for negligence and misconduct in servicing, or failing to properly service loans. The U.S. Treasury also recently released a report indicating performance by the 10 largest HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) servicers. They found 4 need substantial improvement (including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase), and are withholding future financial incentives under the program to the 3 mentioned above until improvements are made and problems addressed.
Home Sales Expected to Rise This Year: Some economists, like Lawrence Yun – chief economist for the National Association of Realtors – predict sales for the remainder of the year will improve for the following reasons: more jobs, stock market wealth is on the rise, apartment rents are climbing, conditions of high affordability continue, home values are at historically low levels, investors are out in the market nice again looking to hedge against inflation, lenders starting to shorten lengthy short sale processes, and the number of foreign buyers has increased due to market conditions. Of course there are other factors to keep an eye on, like gas prices and the fate of Congress’ attempt to increase down payments on home purchases (see above), but there seem to be strong factors indicating this may in fact be true. Let’s hope so.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
It’s official: we are headed toward a double-dip in the housing market; some areas are there already. The second dip is not as bitter as the first, in fact it may tend to be sweet for many, so rather than feel terrified like we did the first time, this is the time to take a bite and not worry about your figure.
Standard and Poor’s (yes, I note the irony) Case-Shiller index, the nation’s foremost authority on housing market statistics, released their much-anticipated report this week that confirmed what many already assumed: the housing market seems to be headed down. In fact, the report indicates that housing prices have fallen more now than they did during the Great Depression. This depresses many people.
Actually, for those who see good in the bad, beauty in the ugly, this news should be somewhat celebrated. If you are a seller it means it will be a harder time to sell, and you will need to price your home accordingly or you will accrue market time with no offers. BUT, if you do price and market properly the silver lining is that there will be buyers out there, so look at it as a chance to sell your home (it just may not be for the amount you anticipated). If you do not have to sell and do not have much/any equity in your home, you may decide to wait a bit.
If you are a buyer this is really your time. The biggest challenge will be the lenders, of course. But if you have an experienced mortgage broker and you make sure you are prepared before you shop, you will be the proverbial kid in the candy store. Short sales and foreclosures (lender-owned properties) will be your best bet for your dollar, and negotiating power will likely be strong, as distressed properties are not going away any time soon.
The bottom line is this: if you work with a great mortgage person and truly understand the programs out there, as well as the loan amount for which you can qualify, you are off to a great start. Spend time really visiting the properties that fit your needs, and gathering information about neighborhoods, amenities and floorplans. If you play it smart you will likely end up with a home purchased at a great price, which will accrue equity as the market heals. Good luck!
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Amidst all the news of double-dipping in the housing market, falling prices and an increase in lender-owned properties, there is one thing that may be a silver lining in the doom and gloom news these days: lenders will likely start to approve short sales much sooner and more often.
As housing prices drop across the nation lenders have realized that in order to prevent an inundation of foreclosures they will need to stop the delay of short sale acceptances. This I feel is necessary if we are ever going to improve the housing market.
The current state of the market indicates that with the depletion of home values there will be more homeowners finding themselves underwater with their mortgages. If you are planning on staying in your home for a long time this doesn’t mean you should run out and short sale your property. On the contrary, as long as you can pay your mortgage you should stay put. As with any market, things will eventually rebound and you will be happy you didn’t damage your credit and let your lower real estate taxes (in most cases, if you have owned for some time) go by the wayside.
It is also important to look at your hyper-local market when taking into consideration all the gloomy news. For example, here in North San Diego the default rate has been DOWN for the 17th consecutive month. According to ForeclosureRadar this computes to 1.7 per 1000 defaults, a low number compared to other parts of California and the nation.
Foreclosures are also down in North San Diego. ForeclosureRadar states that only 1 of 1000 homes were foreclosed upon in April.
But have lenders truly embraced the short sale option? Some seem to think so, and one economist was quoted as saying exactly this. However, as an agent currently waiting for approval on two short sales I will believe it when I see it. I must say that in general response time is quicker than it used to be, but we still are waiting long periods in most cases (a few months at least).
Another factor that comes into play with getting short sales approved more quickly is the skills of the listing agent or his/her negotiator. This can make a big difference in approval time, so if you are considering selling your home as a short sale, the most important question you need to ask your agent is how she plans to negotiate with the lender(s) once an offer(s) is received.